Praying to “smell like sheep”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 22 February 2021
1 Peter 5:1-4     + + + + +     Matthew 16:13-19

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:

On this feast of the Chair of St. Peter when we celebrate the sacred office of the Papacy you have bestowed upon St. Peter as your Vicar here on earth, I pray for us your priests.

Help us your priests to heed the call of Pope Francis to “smell like your sheep” which is so attuned with the call of St. Peter himself in the first reading:

Beloved: Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples of the flock.

1 Peter 5:2-3

Forgive us, dear Jesus, when we your priests demand so much from your flock that we forget to serve them faithfully and lovingly.

Forgive us, dear Jesus, when we your priests are allured by social media and all forms of glitz and glamor that unconsciously we have replaced you, making our selves as the new gods to be worshipped and adored by the people.

Forgive us, dear Jesus, when we your priests abandon your flock and go with the world that we look and smell like the rich and famous.

Chair of St. Peter in Rome. Photo from wikicommons.org.

Give us the courage and determination to first of all be centered in you, to pray daily and most of all, celebrate the Holy Eucharist with love and devotion so people may see you more, experience you more, hear you more and taste you more.

May we spend more time and energy with you, dear Jesus in prayers because it is you whom we must know first on a daily basis. Let us come to you always in Caesarea Philippi, your place of confronting us with that crucial question “But who do you say that I am?” that we never hear nor answer because we have left you. As a result, people are still confused of who you really are when we fail to live and serve in you.

May we keep in mind that the Primacy of St. Peter’s office, of our ministry and of every kind of leadership in our home and schools, offices and government is always the PRIMACY OF LOVE IN YOU. Amen.

The authority of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 31 January 2021
Deuteronomy 18:15-20  +  1 Corinthians 7:32-35  +  Mark 1:21-28
Photo by author, ruins of the old Capernaum where Jesus lived, May 2017.

As Jesus began his public ministry last week by the shores of the Lake of Galilee calling his first disciples, Mark presents us beginning today some glimpses into the life and person of the Lord in Capernaum where he grew up and would temporarily base himself.

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit… All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:21-23, 27-28

First thing we notice with Jesus is his devotion to Judaism, his going to the synagogue at sabbath to worship God his Father; later we find how during major feasts he would also come to the temple at Jerusalem. What a beautiful reminder that personal faith and relationship with God has to be expressed and lived in a community like in our parishes.

In this glimpse into a typical sabbath day in the life of Jesus, we also find the reason why he launched his ministry from the province of Galilee and not at the center of Israel which is Jerusalem: and that is to serve the poor and marginalized, those neglected with nothing in life who always felt left out and forgotten by everyone.

That is no longer true as we heard him declared last Sunday, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:15).

The author with friends and former colleagues at the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus preached on sabbath (May 2017).

A new teaching, proclaimed with authority

Mark tells us twice in our short gospel this Sunday how the people experienced Christ’s having authority in the way he spoke that was so unlike their scribes. Most of all, the people were amazed at his authority and power of words that expelled an “unclean spirit” from a man at their synagogue.

It was definitely something totally new and different that they wondered if it were a new kind of teaching, not knowing it was already God right in their midst in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh!

Today Jesus is teaching us the real meaning of power, his power of authority that actualizes persons and communities. Like the first disciples he had called last week, the people at the synagogue felt his words affecting them within. Their hearts must have been stirred and moved that they felt so good, moving them to share it with everyone that they all shared in the joy of hearing something new, something fresh and uplifting.

And it did not stop there.

The people then witnessed Jesus how drove away with his words an unclean spirit from a possessed man. They were amazed more upon seeing the possessed man freed from unclean spirit that “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.”

Such was the impact Jesus made on that day of sabbath at Capernaum that continues to our day especially when we gather for the Sunday Eucharist if we can only share in his authority.

Authority as power is always a service that sets people free.

Photo by author, a column among the ruins of the Capernaum synagogue in Galilee, May 2017.

The word authority came from the Latin verb augere, augeribus meaning “to make something increase” or become better. Akin to the word authority is also the word “author” as in the writer of a book or of a document whose words are regarded as true and correct, worth listening and following.

Therefore, real authority is not just having the power over the people to rule and subjugate them as most of us would always think.

Authority in the real sense is service, the power to enable and empower people so that they may become better persons, that they may mature and transcend themselves to grow as persons with so much potentials for change and development.

True authority always leads people to freedom from darkness and sins, sickness and evil that brings out their giftedness as beloved children of God.

That is the authority of Jesus who declared that he had come to serve and not to be served by giving his life as a ransom for many (Mt.20:28) so that we may all have life in him as our good shepherd, a life in abundance (Jn.10:10).

Jesus is the prophet promised by God to Moses in the first reading who shall come to his people to speak to them his very words of life. And by tracing our being prophets with authority to Moses, the first reading gives us too the only criterion for recognizing the true spokesperson of God: he must always speak the word of God that is always actualizing when spoken with humility and sincerity.

Notice how in our language and culture the close linkages of words and authority are so clearly pronounced and recognized: we call people with authority as “mga taong may sinasabi” because people who wield power always have a say in everything.

But what are they saying? What words would always come out of their mouths? Are they life-giving or inducing death, glorifying evil?

So many times, people say so many things that are nothing and senseless. Ang dami-daming sinasabi wala namang sinabi! That is how we call people without impact and true authority: walang sinabi.

Photo by author before celebrating a Mass at the back of Capernaum near the shore of the Lake of Galilee, May 2017.

How sad these recent years, we priests and bishops complain so often how people would no longer listen to us in the Church.

Could it be that this is due to the fact we have stopped speaking the words of God, when all we care to speak of is what we know, what we think of so we would be powerful and famous specially in the various social media platforms? (See https://lordmychef.com/2021/01/27/from-the-ear-to-the-heart/)

We say so many things but fall on deaf ears, no impact, no life at all because they are not the words of Christ whom we have long forgotten.

Worst, how tragic when we impose our own words, insisting our authority on the people that most often is self-serving, far from true and loving service of Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to that ideal of lay-empowerment when we would not let people speak or at least listen to their voices and thoughts in running their parish?

Before we can make people listen to the words of God, we in the Church must be the first to listen to his words that come to us in a life of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist. What a hypocrisy on our part when we who are supposed to be unmarried and celibate who are “anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1Cor.7:32) would not even spend time to pray and listen to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily.

Every day especially in every celebration of the Mass, Jesus comes to us in his authority to set us free from our fears and anxieties, sickness and sins, anger and resentments, compulsions and addictions among other things that hinder us from truly experiencing the beauty of this life.

Let us all pray today for us to have a share in the authority of Jesus Christ to set us free from our being deaf and dumb, blind and lame in the Church that is also his Body. Amen.

The old and charming Church at Baras, Rizal.

Christ the King: never imposing, always inviting

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of Jesus, King of the Universe, 22 November 2020
Ezekiel 14:11-12, 15-17  >><)))*>  1Corinthians 15:20-26, 28  >><)))*>  Matthew 25:31-46
Photo by author, Chapel of the Graduate School of Theology, ICMAS, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 11 November 2020.

We Filipinos have a saying – sometimes taken as a riddle (bugtong) – that goes, “Utos ng hari, hindi mababali” that literally means the command of the king is unbreakable, always absolute.

Kings exist primarily to unite and help the people especially the weak, the suffering, and the voiceless; hence, kings are portrayed with strong bodies as well as sound minds to render justice. But, as we all know, power corrupts people that once kings like politicians have tasted the sweet elixir of authority and fame, everyone and everything is forgotten except one’s self interests.

And that has always been how kingship is seen based on power and supremacy, always imposing and domineering, insisting in their “power trips” that lead to divisions among peoples even nations that eventually, instead of serving others, they become the ones being served.

Exactly the opposite with the kingship of Jesus Christ that is not based on human power and authority but on the loving service of others, especially the weak and the marginalized. It was a radical move, of moving back to the very roots of kingship by God himself as prophesied by Ezekiel in the first reading. No wonder in Israel, kingship is closely seen in the imagery of shepherding.

Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so I will tend my sheep. I will rescue them… I will pasture them… I will give them rest… The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal…

Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 16

This is the essence of our celebration today of the Solemnity of Christ the King: Jesus is in the other and within us, the Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us” that the greatest honor we can give him as our King is to lovingly serve him in one another. See our many images in art of him suffering and dying than regal as a king because Jesus is truly one with us in our most difficult and trying times. That is why he is the only one truly a king!

“Ecce Homo” by Murillo, from wikipediacommons.com.

Christ the King grounds us to God and others again

When Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925, the world was going through a lot of changes in every sphere of human life – for better and for worst – following the many advances in science and technology as well as in thoughts and ideas.

This continues to this day in our own age with its own twists that are more pernicious with everyone trying to reign supreme as kings and queens in life no longer with a scepter that was like a “magic wand” to get everything done but with the cellphones that can either build or destroy anyone with the slightest touch of ones’s fingers!

How sad that as the world had shrunken into a global community interconnected by modern means of communications invented to bring us all together, we have actually grown more apart from each other, polarizing us even further with every color of the rainbow signifying so many groups, agenda, and beliefs.

Worst of all, with these modern means of communications, we have become more focused with gadgets and things than with persons.

What an irony that we can be so close with those miles apart from us yet we hardly notice nor even recognize the persons seated next to us. Long before COVID-19, we have always been socially distant from each other, have always failed to appreciate or even look at the warmth and beauty of the human face now covered with a mask because we have always been “washing our hands”, escaping from our responsibilities as our brothers and sisters’ keepers.

See how in our readings this Sunday Jesus Christ is reminding us to go back to our solid grounding in God who dwells in each one of us.

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Matthew 25:31-32
Photo by John Bonding, Architecture&Design Magazine, 25 May 2019 via Facebook.

I have always loved this photo above that speaks perfectly well of our situation today, of how most of us are missing so much in life when everything is “media-ted” that we no longer touch ground as if we are “floating on air” with everything reduced to a mere show or “palabas” that must be caught, kept, and shared in Instagrams instead of being enjoyed in our collective memories.

More tragic is the fact how most of these are often fake and not true at all, leaving many of us empty, even alienated that have resulted in many instances of depressions and suicides.

What an irony when everybody is claiming to be their own king or queen and master, of being free from religions and God, the more they have become unfree and empty! The more our egos and self-interests reign, the more chaotic we have become with peace and fulfillment most elusive.

When Jesus is our only King reigning in our hearts and relationships, that is when we find fulfillment in our lives as we discover our rootedness in God and interconnectedness with others.

When Jesus spoke of separating the goats and the sheep, we are reminded of how these animals can sometimes be indistinguishable — exactly like when we fail to recognize our loved ones and persons nearest to us.

And true enough, even Jesus has become indistinguishable among us right in our homes and most of all, among the suffering people like the hungry and thirsty, the strangers and homeless, the sick, the poor we have stripped not only of their clothings but also of their dignity as persons, and those imprisoned.

Recall what Jesus told Pilate at his trial, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth…” (Jn.18:37) that “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1Jn.4:16).

All this comes to full circle today as Jesus tells us, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt.25:40) and “what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt.25:45).

Jesus will surely come again

As we have reflected these past two Sundays, Jesus is coming again at the end of time to judge us if we have been faithful and loving to him through others. He himself assures us of his return as he declared When the Son of Man comes in his glory” and not the conditional If the Son of Man comes”.

The key is not to know the when and how but to be vigilant, of being awake, always finding Jesus our king with the least among us which is the truest sense of kingship — never imposed on others but always recognized and imitated. In Filipino, “sinusunod, sinusundan at tinutularan; hindi nasusunod”.

St. Paul reminds us anew in the second reading how Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross had decisively won over sin and death; but, he is coming again to fully establish his kingship when he vanishes sin and death completely to pave the way for new heaven and new earth.

When he comes again, will anyone recognize him among the poor and suffering like the hungry and thirsty, the sick and imprisoned, the strangers and homeless, and the naked? May we all have the eyes of a child who sees God in everyone and everything! Amen.

A blessed Sunday to you all!

Photo by a parishioner of his son, Red Santiago, praying in our parish, November 2019.

Sharing the light of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Memorial of St. Teresa of Calcutta, 05 September 2020
1 Corinthians 4:6-15 /// Luke 6:1-5
Photo by author, 25 August 2020.

By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26 August 1910-05 September 1997)

One of the great joys I have come to treasure lately, O Lord, is the grace to have lived in these interesting part of history among some of the great modern saints of our time like St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta whose Memorial we celebrate today.

I practically grew up during her time when she was called a “living saint”, a very small woman in stature clad in her usual white and blue-striped habit, always wearing a smile, radiating with your light, sweet Jesus Christ.

Yet, deep in her fragile-looking body was a rock-solid faith in you, Lord, that enabled her to accomplish so much to alleviate the sufferings of so many people!

She knew so well our time marked with material affluence amid spiritual and moral bankruptcies that she went to serve the “poorest of the poor” not only in India but in the entire world. She was a soul filled with your light, Lord, burning with love for you with the sole desire to be your love and compassion to the poor.

Thank you, dear Jesus for being present with us through saints like St. Mother Teresa.

Like her, I pray that I may remain faithful to you than be successful by becoming your light to the world plunged in darkness of sin.

Like St. Paul before her, use me, Jesus, to heal the world of its wounds and divisions by remaining faithful and true to your words that you are the “Son of Man, the lord of the sabbath.”

Like St. Mother Teresa, may I share you Jesus, only Jesus, and always Jesus. Amen.

A statue of St. Mother Teresa in their Mother House in Calcutta, India. From devdiscourse.com.

Nobility of motherhood

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Monica, Married Woman, 27 August 2020
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 24:42-51
Photo by author of a pilgrim writing petitions to the Blessed Mother at a Madaba Church in Jordan, May 2019

This prayer, O Lord, is specially offered for all mothers as we celebrate today the Memorial of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, one of the great Saints of the Church.

Thank you, dear God our Father for St. Monica and all the other mothers who have offered their whole lives forming and transforming their children to reflect your image and likeness of holiness.

Truly, the gift of motherhood is one of your greatest grace ever bestowed to the human race for because of mothers, countless men and women selflessly work for peace and development.

This selflessness of mothers, in working hard for the success of their children, is the nobility of motherhood which is also a call for everyone exemplified by St. Paul in our first reading today:

I give thank to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all the discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you await for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:4-7

What a beautiful trait of every mother like St. Monica to imitate St. Paul’s joy, thanking God for the maturity of their children, to see their sons and daughters growing deeper in faith, hope, and love.

So many mothers can forgo their own career, forget their own well-being for the sake of their children. So often, they hide their tears when they are deeply aching from our many sins and lack of concern even respect for them because they do not want us to go out of focus with our goals in life.

To your question, dear Jesus, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?” (Mt.24:45) — there is no other most faithful servant true to your calling except our mothers, Lord!

Photo from Google.

Bless all mothers today and always, Lord; lighten their burdens, be their joy in moments of sadness, clarify always their minds and their hearts so that every decision and action they take may always be through the leading of your Holy Spirit like in the experience of St. Monica.

Strengthen their faith especially of mothers who have lost their spouse or children to COVID-19 and other sickness and accidents; fill them with hope in you when things are getting so rough and tough for them especially at this time of the pandemic.

Many mothers are also suffering not only from COVID-19 but also other sickness during this pandemic. Heal them, dear Jesus.

Keep them healthy not only in body but also in mind, heart and soul so that they may continue to lead and enlighten their families in moments of darkness and trials.

Most of all, like St. Monica, fulfill their dreams and prayers for their children.

Likewise, dear Jesus, we remember and pray today for the souls of all the mothers who have gone ahead of us, now with St. Monica whose only request on her death to her sons was to bury her anywhere by including her always in St. Augustine’s celebration of the Eucharist. Amen.

St. Monica, pray for us especially for all the mothers to be like you!

Our hands that pray and serve

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe Week XXV-C, 22 September 2019

Amos 8:4-7 ><}}}*> 1 Timothy 2:1-8 ><}}}*> Luke 16:1-13

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Our hands are a microcosm of our very selves.

They always reveal something about us. Medical doctors say our hands’ texture and color indicate our health condition. Psychics always read our palms to see our past, present and future. And every suitor always asks for the hand of his beloved for marriage.

In fact, it is always fascinating to observe the hands of a man courting a woman. See how he would always hide his hands inside his pockets or at his back as he puts his best foot forward to impress the lady he is courting. If he wins her heart, they get engaged and that is when they keep on holding each other’s hands until they get married.

There are a lot great beauty and profundity in our human hands that always come in handy for daily living!

“It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.”

1 Timothy 2:8

I love St. Paul’s expression of men praying “lifting up holy hands” which is the sum or integration of prayer and action. Very picturesque, showing us how we must conduct ourselves with God and one another by living in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. That is why today until next Sunday, our gospel from St. Luke would be challenging us on how authentic our life is as seen from last week’s parable when we experienced God as a loving Father embracing us despite our sins.

This Sunday, the Lord is asking us, “what’s in our hands”?

What are we holding on, literally and figuratively speaking?

Whatever our hands touch and hold are always linked with our whole selves. They cannot be separated from our body for our hands extend us to other people and even with things. Our hands reveal the balance or imbalance within us, the truth and lies we hold on deep inside us.

Photo by Jim Marpa in Carigara, September 2019.

“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Luke 16:13

In our gospel today, Jesus is not asking us to “dirty our hands” with sin. What he wants us to realize from his parable is to be like the wise steward or “hired hand” who used all his resources and intelligence in securing a sound future by doing something finally good to those he had cheated.

Like that hired hand, what are the main concerns of our hands? Do we use our hands for good or for evil? Would we dare to use our hands extensively to achieve eternal life by entering through the “narrow door” Jesus told us last month by keeping our hands busy in doing good, serving the poor and needy?

Our hands are a blessing from God, including the fruits of its labor.

How unfortunate that like during the time of the prophet Amos whom we have heard in the first reading today, we use these very blessings from God to curse and trample others especially the poor and the weak. How ironic and sad that the very hands we use to care for others are the very same hands that beat and even kill others perfectly expressed in the term “blood in one’s hands”. Worst of all, the very hands that pray to God are the same hands that hurt others!

Betania Tagaytay, August 2017.

The late Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila used to narrate a short story about the gracious hands of God. He said that most of the time, the hands of God caress us, pat our shoulders and even soothe us whenever we are in pain. But, sometimes, the hands of God tap us, even “spank” us when things do not seem to favor us. What matters most, according to Cardinal Sin, whether we are caressed or tapped, the same touches come from God’s loving and healing hands always filled with grace.

In the gospels, we find many instances of Jesus using his hands to raise the sick, to touch the eyes and mouth in restoring senses, and to bless, break and share bread with his friends and sinners alike. When he expressed his immense love for us and the Father, Jesus stretched out his arms and offered his hands on the cross on Good Friday.

Just imagine how with all our sins, God with a stroke of his hand can make us all vanish but chose not to do so and let our trespasses pass. Like the master in the parable we have heard, God is giving us all the opportunities to work with our hands in lovingly serving the people he has entrusted to us in our homes and offices, school and parish, and community.

But unlike that master who still fired his hired hand despite his resourcefulness, God is not judging us into doom. In is infinite love, God gave us Jesus Christ his Son to bring us back to him in eternal life. It is for this that we lift up our hands to him every day, especially in the Holy Mass we celebrate. The best prayer we can offer God is for these “blessed hands” to reach out to everyone in love and forgiveness, kindness and peace. Amen.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Laugh and be holy!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Saturday, Feast of St. Lawrence Deacon and Martyr, 10 August 2019
2 Corinthians 9:6-10 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< John 12:24-26
“Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, with Two Benedictine Nuns” by Jacobello del Fiero (1425) who introduced “International Gothic” painting style in Venice using elegant and bright colors. The two Benedictine “witnesses” are nuns believed to belonged to the San Lorenzo convent in Venice who commissioned del Fiero to paint the scene. Photo from Rijksmuseum via useum.org.

Praise and glory to you, God our loving Father for the gift of humor.

Yes, Lord, thank you in giving us funny bones, for enabling us to laugh – and be holy!

Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

Keep us cheerful always, Lord, like St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, patron saint of chefs and comedians.

It was pure grace of love for Jesus Christ and his Church that St. Lawrence suffered so much with a lot of sense of humor and joy.

When Emperor Valerian asked your deacon St. Lawrence to bring him all the treasures of the Church of Rome he was tasked to safeguard, he asked permission to leave jail to gather them.

And he was so witty and courageous that when he returned, he came with the poor as “treasures of the Church” that made the emperor so furious and ordered St. Lawrence be roasted to death on a giant gridiron.

Again, in the midst of intense pain while being roasted alive, St. Lawrence never lost that spark of wit and humor when he told his tormentors to “turn me over, I am done on this side…have a bite.”

As a deacon, teach us, O Lord, to serve like St. Lawrence with a deep sense of dedication and passion plus a lot of smiles and joy!

Everybody is so stressed out these days, Lord, for so many reasons like traffic and lousy services everywhere, including in our parishes.

Thanks be to you, O God, we do not have to suffer so much like St. Lawrence.

Give us the grace of wearing always a warm smile and cheerful face to serve those in pain and suffering.

Let us laugh a lot, Lord, to share with others the real fruits of our work in you. Amen.

Deacon’s dalmatic and stole. Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019, Malolos City.

The need to be proud sometimes

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Wk.XI, Yr.I, 20 June 2019
2 Corinthians 11:1-11 >< )))*> >< )))*> >< )))*> Matthew 6:7-15
The Our Father Church outside Jerusalem where Jesus is believed to have taught his disciples the “Lord’s Prayer”. Photo by author, 05 May 2019.

For the second straight day, Lord, I could identify with St. Paul in his feelings deep within, the urge to brag something in your name!

Brothers and sisters: if only you would put up with a little foolishness from me! Please put up with me. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “super apostles.” Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:1, 5-6

You know it so well, Lord Jesus why I have been complaining a lot lately as I have told you yesterday: I feel so tired in life because I feel shortchanged. Not that I am asking anything in return but like St. Paul, it pains me so much when some people miss the love and dedication we pour upon our ministry.

Until now, Lord, we have those “super apostles” St. Paul called, preying on your sheep as false servants who seduce people like the snake only to feed on their egos and fatten their wallets.

They are everywhere, Lord. Not only among priests but also among other professionals.

It is so consoling to hear St. Paul today in our first reading of how we sometimes need to brag a little, to be proud of our efforts so the people may know and realize the sacrifices we make for them because, we love them.

We pray Jesus for all the silent workers, the silent servants who continue to lovingly serve you in others. Send them your proverbial “pat on the shoulder” to console them, O Lord, in their darkness and anguish. Let them shine in their true colors in you! Amen.

Santorini, Greece. Photo by Dra. Mai Dela Pena, 2017.

Refresh My Heart in Jesus

washingfeet
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Thursday, 15 November 2018, 21st Anniversary of Diaconal Ordination
Philemon 7-20//Luke 17:20-25

            Alleluia!  The Lord shall reign forever!  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.

            Twenty-one years ago today, Lord Jesus Christ, you gifted me with six of my other classmates the Holy Order of Diaconate.  For 21 years, you have never left me Lord Jesus Christ as I continue to serve you despite my many limitations and sins.

            How wonderful O Lord that on this day as I remember my diaconal ordination, St. Paul writes Philemon about his slave – servant – Onesimus.  And how perfect is the request of St. Paul to Philemon to be my prayer too on this joyous occasion, “refresh my heart in you (v.20)”, Lord Jesus Christ.

            Refresh my heart in you Lord by letting me behold always that the Kingdom of God is among us when we serve as you willed in the washing of the apostles’ feet on Holy Thursday.

            Refresh my heart in you Lord by letting me behold always that the Kingdom of God is among us when we proclaim the gospel in words and in deeds, destroying barriers of race, gender and class among us.

             Refresh my heart in you Lord by letting me behold always that the Kingdom of God is among us when we live in harmony with one another in you Christ Jesus, letting go of our many “perceived” privileges and entitlements that betray the truth of your gospel.

            Twenty-one years ago, O Jesus our Eternal High Priest, every morning I have the same prayer before you:  “Here I am Lord, send me.  For every here and now, let me do your will.”  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

Photo above from Google, Jesus washes feet of Apostles on Holy Thursday when He asked us to serve one another like Him (see John 13:12-15).

Photo below taken last year during our annual clergy retreat in Tagaytay clockwise from center Fr. Arnel Camacho, Fr. Joshua Panganiban, me, Fr. Ed Rodriguez our class president when we were ordained, Fr. Romy Sasi and Fr. Len Hernandez.  God is so good with us.  Pray for us to “refresh our hearts in Christ”.  Salamuch.

46120876_190560618494458_4763504827349073920_n

Living In the Lord

fields_of_hope_by_moroka323-d7z9etp
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Tuesday, 13 November 2018, Week XXXII, Year II
Titus 2:1-8, 11-14//Luke 17:7-10

            Lord Jesus Christ, your birthday is fast approaching as the weather is getting better with chilly mornings, warm sunshine during the day tempered by cool breeze blowing to remind me of the changing of seasons, of the coming end of the year.

             What a beautiful reminder to us all of living in your presence, growing and maturing in your loving service, O Lord!

             Like Titus in the first reading, help me “to say what is consistent with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1) based on your teachings.  Help me to live as older men and women of faith who are “temperate and reverent in behavior, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance.” (Titus 2:2-3)   Help me to be “a model of good deeds in every respect, living temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.” (Titus 2:7, 12)

              Let me take delight in you O Lord Jesus Christ, my Master, faithfully doing what I am obliged to do like the “unprofitable servants” in your parable today (Lk.17:10).  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

*Photo from Google.