The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church, 01 October 2021
Baruch 1:15-22 ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]'> Luke 10:13-16
Glory and praise to you,
God our loving Father in heaven
who opens so many ways for us
to be with you, to experience heaven
while here on earth; Tuesday you showed us
the path of martyrdom of St. Lorenzo Ruiz
and companions; today, we celebrate
your Little Flower, St. Therese of the Child Jesus
who taught us her "Little Way" to you
with her writings, prayers and short life.
But we all know that whether
it is the "big" way of martyrs or the "little way"
of St. Therese, it is always one and the same path
of Jesus Christ our Lord who is "the way and
the truth and the life" (Jn.14:6) that we implore
you dear Father through him your Son
that we may be gifted with docility and trust
in you like that of a child.
Most of all, may our obedience and trust
in you dear God be rooted in that love for you
which you have sowed ever since in our heart
and soul if we could only be humble enough like
St. Therese to admit:
“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”
St. Therese of the Child Jesus
O merciful God our Father,
in this age of social media where
everyone is vying for exposures
and shots to prominence,
make us realize that life is not a show
to perform but a gift to cultivate and
nurture in our relationships with you
through others; give us the sense of
sinfulness to be ashamed of our arrogance
and pride before like Baruch and St. Therese:
During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed, “Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem… We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us… but each one of us went off after the devices of our own wicked hearts, served other gods, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God.”
Baruch 1:15, 18, 22
May this pandemic period
be a purifying process for us, O God,
that in the midst of sufferings and
hardships like St. Therese we rediscover
and realize your loving presence
in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 08 September 2021
Micah 5:1-4 ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> Matthew 1:18-23
We rarely celebrate birthdays in our liturgy, except for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25 and of his precursor John the Baptist on June 24. Feasts of the saints are often based on the date of their death or when their remains were transferred for proper burial.
Today is different: it is the birth of the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And so we celebrate!
Nine months after her Immaculate Conception celebrated as a Solemnity on December 8, we now have the Feast of her Nativity which is lower in status or ranking of celebrations. Nonetheless, aside from Jesus and John the Baptist, her birth is still celebrated as it is the completion of her Immaculate Conception by St. Anne.
But in this time of the pandemic when everyone’s birthday celebration is kept at the simplest level unless you are a police general or a corrupt government official or a callous lawmaker, it is good to reflect anew on the significance of a birthday. Thanks a lot to Facebook in making every birthday so special, alerting everyone of someone’s birth every day.
"Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ."
In his 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the great St. John Paul II beautifully expressed that “Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.”
What makes that so true with every birthday beginning with the Blessed Virgin Mary is God’s great mystery of becoming small, of being a little one. In the birth of his Son Jesus Christ, God revealed to us that true greatness is in becoming small, in being silent. Even insignificant.
This we find right in the place of birth of the Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.
“You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”
And if we go further, we find this true greatness of God in being small found also in the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary who came from the obscure town of Nazareth, the only place in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament. Recall how the Apostle Bartholomew (Nathanael) belittled the Lord’s hometown after being told by Philip that they have found the Messiah from Nazareth, saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46).
Nazareth was totally unknown.
And so was Mary!
That is why it is so disappointing and sad when many Catholics unfortunately led by some priests have the misimpression of portraying Mary as a “beauty queen” with flawless skin and Western features when she is clearly Middle Eastern woman. Worst of all is the pomp and pageantries we have in the recent fads of processions and coronations.
How sad we have missed how the Blessed Virgin Mary as the model disciple of Jesus was the first to embody his teaching of being small like little children with her simplicity and humility so very well expressed in her 20th century apparitions in Fatima, Portugal and Banneux, Belgium.
Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic that has given us so much time and opportunities to “reboot” or “reset” our priorities in every aspect of our lives, including in our religious devotions and faith itself.
With a total stop to those Marian “extravaganzas” that have been going out of control in recent years, the pandemic is now teaching us in this Feast of the Nativity of Mary of the need for us to rediscover the values of being small and simple, silent and hidden.
Enough with our imeldific celebrations even in our religious gatherings that have sometimes become egregious display of wealth and power.
Being simple and small like Mary, both as a child and as an adult, enable us to see again the value of life and of every person.
The more simple and true
we are like Mary and Joseph,
the more Jesus is seen
and experienced in us!
Aside from the lack of any account on the birth of Mary, we heard proclaimed today the birth of Jesus to teach us that truth expressed by St. John Paul II that in every person comes Jesus Christ. The more simple and true we are like Mary and Joseph, the more Jesus is seen and experienced in us!
That is why when we greet somebody a “happy birthday”, what we really mean telling him/her is “I love you, I thank you for making me who I am today.” Through one’s simplicity and littleness in Christ, we are transformed into better persons because we are able to have glimpse of God’s love and kindness.
The true joy of celebrating a birthday is not found in the externalities of gifts and parties and guests with all the fun that come along. In this time of the pandemic as we learn to celebrate simpler birthdays, we are reminded of life’s beginning and direction that is eternal life.
And how do we get there? Through death or dying – the one reality in life Jesus has taught us in his Cross which we have avoided that has suddenly become so common these days of the pandemic.
Like in the birth of Jesus Christ, we are reminded by every birthday that life is precious because it is so fragile – any infant and every person can be easily hurt and harmed, be sick and eventually die.
Like Mary and Joseph, the little Child born in Bethlehem asks us, even begs us to take care of him found in everyone among us. Let us be more loving and kind, understanding and caring, even merciful and forgiving with one another not only in this time of the pandemic.
Such is the wisdom of God in making life small and fragile so that we may care and value it because there lies also its greatness. The best birthday greeting we can express to the Blessed Mother Mary today is to start being small and simple like her to share Jesus with everyone. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, 06 June 2021
Exodus 24:3-8 ><}}}'> Hebrews 9:11-15 ><}}}'> Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
The one most important thing this pandemic has cost us for over a year now is the simple joy of presence of our loved ones. For more than a year, we have stopped or limited our visits and celebrations with relatives and friends for fears of spreading the virus especially to our older folks.
It has become so insane for many of us, most especially with those health protocols when even couples were prevented from riding together in bikes!
But at least, the pandemic had taught us the value and importance of presence of everyone, of being present to those we love who, unfortunately, many have also died this year due to the virus and other sickness without us even seeing them at all.
This is the gist of our celebration today, of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ: the simplicity of God and his simple presence among us.
For the second Sunday in a row after the Pentecost, we celebrate another major feast of the Lord in Ordinary Time to show us that our God is a reality, not just a mystery of the Trinity that we cannot fully understand nor explain.
When Jesus Christ said
"this is my body" and "this is my blood of the covenant",
he brought to new significance
the insignificant gestures of hosting a meal
and the insignificant food of bread and wine
so common among peoples in every nation and culture.
The simplicity of God.
Last Sunday we celebrated and reflected on the central mystery of our one God in three Persons called the Holy Trinity. Today we celebrate his meaning and reality as a person, a God who relates with us in the most personal manner with his presence.
Recall our basic catechism of God being perfect – all knowing, all powerful, and always present because of his main attribute: his simplicity.
In our world that has become so complicated like our Facebook relationships or with all those gadgets and apps we have including our “intelligent” cars and homes, God remains so true, so real, so present with us because he is simple. No fuss, no nothing. Just pure presence among those who are willing to be still and simple. And present in the moment.
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
Mark 14:16, 22-24
See the simplicity of the story, the simplicity of Jesus Christ who took the initiative to prepare everything for their Passover meal that his disciples “found it just as he had told them”.
When Jesus Christ said “this is my body” and “this is my blood of the covenant”, he brought to new significance the insignificant gestures of hosting a meal and the insignificant food of bread and wine so common among peoples in every nation and culture.
During their supper, Jesus gave a new meaning not only to their Passover meal but even to our most basic and common act of having a meal, of eating together to become a celebration of life, not just to feed one’s body but also one’s soul!
In becoming human like us, sharing in all of our experiences except sin, Jesus leveled up our very being and lives at his Last Supper when he established the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to be the everlasting sign of his loving presence among us and thus, revealed to us the deeper meaning of the common meal we used to take with everybody as a giving and sharing of our very selves with others.
Brothers and sisters: When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by human hands… he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his won blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption… cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
Hebrews 9:11, 12, 14
Like Jesus Christ, it is not really the food and drinks that we share whenever we eat together and dine with others but our very selves. No wonder, in every celebration and milestone of our lives, from a simple date of a young man and woman trying to get to know each other to weddings, birthdays, and other significant occasions, there is always a meal we host to share our joys, our triumphs, our lives with others.
And the most beautiful part of these meals we share with everyone is the deeper meaning we convey that it is essentially a thanksgiving to God for all of his abounding love and grace poured upon us which is the meaning of the Greek word “eucharistia”.
Our presence in the Lord with others
The word present, of being here now, is the other word we use to refer to “gift” like when we say birthday present or Christmas present. And that is the meaning of this Solemnity of the Lord’s Body and Blood: God as the gift and the giver in Jesus Christ.
In the Holy Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ wholly, nourishing us, blessing us, and most of all, enabling us to offer also ourselves to him through others.
But, are we present to him?
Are we willing to give ourselves to him?
From the very start since God entered into a covenant with his chosen people, he had shown his simple presence demanding nothing except our simple presence too to him and with others. This is the meaning of the offering of blood which symbolizes life, our sharing in the life of God.
But unlike the pagans, we offer our selves to God not to lose but to transformed our lives in him. With Christ’s self-sacrifice on the Cross on Good Friday foreshadowed by his Last Supper on Holy Thursday, we discover how life given to God is not lost but saved which is the meaning of the ratification by Moses of the covenant in the wilderness with the Israelites:
Taking the book of the covenant, Moses read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of life.”
Every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, we ratify the new covenant of Christ with us, when we give our great “Amen” to him like the Israelites at the desert, vowing to “heed and do” whatever he told us. That is also the meaning of attending a party or a dinner hosted by a relative or a friend: we renew our ties with them, promising to be there to give ourselves to them especially in times of need and danger.
But, how willing are we to remain true and faithful, always present to God, our family and friends especially in this time of the pandemic?
What a tragedy that while celebrating the Sunday Eucharist, we turn away from God in our sins in the same manner we turn against those people we share meal with and attended parties they hosted.
Let us be still
in the calming presence of God
in Jesus Christ's Body and Blood.
He is more than enough
to suffice all our needs and longing in this life.
Like the bread and wine,
we can all be transformed
into his Body and Blood
to be a present to others.
In celebrating this Solemnity of the Lord’s Body and Blood on this second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we are challenged in our faith and conviction of truly being present like Jesus before him and with others in our daily life especially in this time of the pandemic with so many in great need of basic necessities.
Like the Lord Jesus Christ, do we take the time and effort to prepare for every Sunday Mass celebration as he prepared their Passover meal?
Jesus is not asking us to be particular with the details. All we need is the essential: our very presence with the Lord. Simply be our selves: no need to fake anything, to be somebody else because Jesus loves us as we are.
It is good to remember on this Solemnity too how take simplicity for granted as being bare, without much fanfare and even spectacle as we always want something to feast our eyes on like what we have done to many of our rites and rituals. We are never contented that less is always more that many times, our religious celebrations have become banal in nature with all the pomp and pageantry we have added like to our processions. Instead of turning to God, our attentions had turned into our very selves, clearly a case of “triumphalism” when we “exaggerate” even spiritual activities.
Let us be still in the calming presence of God in Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood. He is more than enough to suffice all our needs and longing in this life. Like the bread and wine, we can all be transformed into his Body and Blood to be a present to others. Amen.
Maybe you have been asked so many times with the question, which do you prefer to hear first, the good news or the bad news? Usually we say it all depends to our mood and temperament or to the gravity of the situation. Sometimes, we ask for the bad news first so we can suffer earlier and enjoy the good news later. Or, we ask for the good news first to soften the impact of the bad news.
Our gospel this Sunday is still set in the pagan city of Caesarea Philippi and we heard Jesus giving his disciples – including us – with a strong dosage of “bad news” after hearing last week the good news that he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Our gospel today seems to be a very big, bad news for everyone, with things getting worst before getting any better which the Lord had promised to be only in the end that nobody knows when!
See how Jesus started by saying he would “suffer greatly at the hands of elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised again.” Not only that: he now calls Peter as “Satan” from being the Rock last Sunday after giving the right answer as to who he is.
Like Peter, we would probably say the same thing to Jesus why make suffering and death central to life that is meant to enjoy?
Like Peter, the Lord is inviting us today to focus more on the good news than on the bad news of suffering and death which for him – the Paschal mystery we call – is actually the best of good news!
Jesus Christ’s pasch is the best of good news!
What we have heard as “bad news” from the Lord is his first prediction of his coming pasch or Passion, Death and Resurrection. He would be announcing this prediction of his pasch two more times as they near Jerusalem.
From the He brew word pesach that means to pass over, it connotes suffering and death into new life. It came from the Exodus experience of the Chosen People from Egypt into the Promised Land during the time of Moses, taking its fullest meaning in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became human like us in everything except sin, “passing over” from eternity to temporal, from Passion and Death to Resurrection.
Authentic discipleship does not require us to seek suffering; no, God is not sadistic as some people with twisted minds would say. However, being faithful to Jesus, witnessing his gospel values bring enough of these sufferings and deaths but on a different level and meaning. We realize that life is a daily exodus, a passing over from darkness into light, from ignorance into wisdom, from sickness into health, from death into new life.
Like the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading, we discover that the more we follow God, the more sufferings we encounter in life but at the same time, we cannot let go of him because his attraction is so powerful! There is something so deep within, so profound and fulfilling in us we realize that living in the ways of God, in the gospel values of Christ can we truly find lasting joy and peace – even if we have to die in our very selves in the process.
You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. all the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me… But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Jeremiah 20:7, 9
Thinking in God’s ways
Today Jesus is assuring us that there is no such thing as “good news, bad news” with him. The good news/bad news question is really a non-question to disciples of Christ because whatever suffering and death we embrace in him is a sharing in his very life.
Hence, Jesus Christ’s good news is in fact the bestest news we can ever have. Always.
The key is to think as God does, not as human beings do as Jesus pointed out to Peter.
Three things I wish to share with you about thinking in God’s ways:
First is to accept and embrace pains and sufferings not for their own sake but as a way to cleanse our selves to greater glory. As we have said, God is not a sadist; we need to be cleansed like every thing in order to bring out the best in us like diamonds or any precious stone or any material.
Polishing and honing always mean “subtractions” with so many shaving and cutting of the rough edges to bring out the beauty and sharpness of a thing.
Man’s ways has always been to avoid every pain and suffering. No wonder, the most prescribed medicine worldwide is said to be the pain killer. But, experience has taught us this is not true and cannot be the norm of life. Like every gym enthusiast would tell you, “no pain, no gain”. Pain and suffering is part of life and the good news is, Christ has made it holy for us.
Second is to be silent in order to be able to listen to every sound and thus, heighten our sensitivities not only with our true selves but also with God and with others. In this age of social media and instant communications, silent has become a rare commodity. It is always easier to speak even without thinking much than be silent. That is the way of the world: speak out loud, make noises, and let everyone hear you — until they get tired of you.
Third is the most precious in God’s ways of thinking — the way of hiddenness. This is God’s most evident way of making himself felt, experienced, and yes, seen by being hidden and invisible.
Last Thursday we celebrated the memorial of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who narrated the story of how she got sick at Ostia in Italy with his brother hurrying to get back home to Tagaste in Africa so that when she dies, she would be buried there. St. Monica “reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts”; then, she looked at St. Augustine and told him to bury her anywhere, asking one thing only from him: that he remembers her always in his celebration of the Holy Mass.
So many times, we are so concerned with our popularity that whatever we do has to be made known to everyone to see specially by those so-called “followers” with their “likes” that even up to death, some would spend a fortune for lavish funerals and even mauseleoum.
That’s the way of the world of everybody making a statement, of being known as present, always seen. In the movie “The Devil’s Advocate”, Al Pacino played the role of satan who said it so well at the end after tempting Keanu Reeves, “vanity…vanity is my most favorite sin.”
See the life of Jesus Christ: more than half was spend in hiddenness and silence. He worked only for three years characterized by so many instances of silence and hiddenness too and yet, his impact continues to this day and hereafter.
Beginning with last Sunday after asking us who do we say he is, Jesus is inviting us to follow him in his Passion and Death to be one in his Resurrection. This is also the call by St. Paul in the second reading:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Jesus is not asking too much from us, no need for any fanfares on our part; simply come to him with our true self, no matter how sinful and incomplete we are. Remember, all is good news with him and you never lose in him. Amen.
Almighty God and Father, on this Memorial of the Queenship of Mary our Blessed Mother, we join her in that most beautiful song of praise to you, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Lk.1:47).
Remind us always, O Lord, specially in this time when we exaggerate everything that unlike the royalties of the world, Mary is our Queen not because of power and wealth nor of fame and popularity but precisely due to her humility and weakness before you.
In this time when we are so fond of “triumphalism”, when we overdo even our devotions and prayers to praise and glorify you, remind us O Lord it is not your way as shown to us by the Blessed Mother Mary.
Let us keep in our minds and hearts that Mary, along with all the saints, are venerated because of their obedience to you, fulfilling your will at all times, making you present among us in our weaknesses and helplessness.
We pray for more simplicity and humility, above all, sincerity in our devotions to Mary and the saints that lead to more authentic faith in you alone who is our God Most Holy.
Like Mary our Queen, may we always say “yes” to you O God our “King of kings”. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2020
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ><)))*> 1 John 4:7-16 <*(((>< Matthew 11:25-30
O most Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours — make me small and little in standing, hidden and unknown among many, simple and humble in a world now measured in influence, popularity, and following.
On this Solemnity of your Most Sacred Heart, I thank you dear Jesus in choosing to be small and little, always hidden in the simplest things of life like soft voices of kindness and mercy, reason and wisdom, gratitude and love.
You have shown us that to be truly loving like you, we have to be small and little like children.
Most of all, free to be ourselves as beloved children of the Father!
Free from inhibitions and guilt to truly express the love and joy within.
Help us, Jesus, to cast all our worries to you, to take your yoke that is easy, burden that is light.
It is so difficult to love when we are burdened by many concerns and considerations, when we cannot be our true selves that we lack spontaneity, of being natural and easy.
In the same manner, it becomes hard for us too to love or even please someone who sees him or her self bigger than reality, when they see themselves as “big shots” and “heavyweights” who have to be pleased and “followed” or affirmed.
May we always keep in mind the words of Moses so applicable also to us today:
“It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.”
O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, you have given us your heart that bleeds due to the thorns of our sins, yet aglow with the fire of your immense love and mercy.
May we come to you, today and always to find rest, to learn from your gentle and humble ways so needed in our heartless world. Amen.
40 Shades of Lent, Monday, Week III, 16 March 2020
2 Kings 5:1-15 ><)))*> + <*(((>< Luke 4:24-30
Praise and glory to you, O God our Father for this Monday, our first working day and most of all, when all plans for community quarantine are put to severe tests. Please give us the grace to be simple and faithful to you.
In the eerie silence of this past weekend while many have finally stayed home and hopefully reconnected with you and family, we still need your tremendous grace to change our ways to become better persons and disciples of Jesus your son.
We pray most especially for our leaders in the government today to be sincere and simple but also professional, efficient and exceptional in serving the people.
Please, we pray O God, enough with our callous and grandstanding politicians who act like the king of Israel in the time of the Prophet Elisha who tore his garment and exclaimed against the friendly request of the king of Aram for Naaman’s healing, always seeking attention:
“Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!” When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.”
2 Kings 5:7-8
Come to us, O God, send us a prophet who can stand up against these people playing gods and cast them down from their thrones. They have long been a burden to your people like those enemies of Jesus at the synagogue of Capernaum.
Likewise, keep us simple and faithful too, O God, that we learn to be obedient and cooperative in this time of serious emergencies. Like Naaman, help us to set aside our biases and other inclinations, thinking only of the good of the country.
Let our prayers and pieties bear fruit in more authentic service especially to the poor and those with less in life. Amen.