Reaching out

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 16 July 2021
Zechariah 2:14-17   >><}}}'> M <'{{{><<   Matthew 12:46-50
Photo by author, Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Family, Guiguinto, Bulacan 2018.
And stretching out his hand
toward his disciples, he said,
"Here are my mother and brothers.
For whoever does the will of my
heavenly Father is my
brother, and sister, and mother."
(Matthew 12:49-50)
Praise and glory to you,
our dear God and Father in heaven
for always reaching out to us
your sinful children.
Since the Fall of Adam and Eve,
you have never failed to be the
first to reach out to us 
who always flee and hide from you.
In the fullness of time,
you reached out to us in the most 
unique way by sending us your Son
Jesus Christ who was born of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, our dear
patroness of the beautiful Mt. Carmel
where many hermits have sought refuge 
as they intensely reached out to you in prayers.
How wonderful it is, O Lord,
that when the Carmelites led by
St. Simon Stock asked for a sign
so they may continue with their mission,
the Blessed Mother appeared to him,
stretching her hand, reaching out 
to give him the scapular as a sign
of divine protection in this life to eternity.
When your Son Jesus Christ
offered himself for us on the Cross,
he stretched out his hands, too
reaching out to you, Father,
for us your beloved children;
when his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
appeared to us on many occasions
she also stretched out her hands to us.
What a beautiful gesture,
dear God our Father,
by your Son Jesus Christ and his Mother
to always stretch their hands
reaching out to us who keep on
turning away from you to sins;
teach us, O Lord through Mary
to stretch out our hands too to you
in praise and thanksgiving
and most especially to others
in our loving service and care for the needy
as a sign of our reaching out to you, O God,
who wants us all to reach you in heaven.

Praying like San Padre Pio

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Feast of St. Padre Pio, 23 September 2019

Ezra 1:1-6 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 8:16-18

Chapel of San Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, 2017.

Praise and glory to you, O Lord our God and almighty Father! You never cease to amaze us, doing great marvels for us your people. Despite our sins, you always make yourself present among us in so many ways.

In the first reading from Ezra, you have used the pagan king of Persia, Cyrus, to be the instrument in fulfilling your promise to Israel to bring them back home from their Babylonian exile.

In our modern time, you have sent us San Padre Pio to prove and show to us that worrying is useless in this age when we believe and rely more with science and technology than with you, a loving and personal God who had come to us in Jesus Christ.

Teach us to be like San Padre Pio to “pray, hope and not worry” by embracing Christ crucified, by bearing all the pains and sufferings in love contrary to the ways of the world seeking power, wealth, fame, and pleasures.

From Google.

May we befriend silence and prayer than the noise of the world; may we persevere in patiently waiting for you than be in the foolish “rat race” with no winner at all; and, may we believe in things we cannot see with our eyes contrary the modern dictum to see is to believe.

Give us the courage of San Padre Pio to bring out your light, Lord, especially at this time when people claiming to be liberal and progressive are calling for so many rights that are outrightly wrong, destroying the human person, family, and society.

May our hands bear the wounds of your crucifixion, Lord Jesus, like San Padre Pio in praying to you and serving you through those most in need. Amen.

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

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

The power and grace from stretched hands

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Wk. XVI, Yr. I, 23 July 2019
Exodus 14:21-15:1 >< }}}*> >< }}}*> Matthew 12:46-50
Holy Family Chapel, Sacred Heart Retreat and Spirituality Center, Novaliches, July 2017.

Thrice in our readings today, O loving Father, we heard “stretching of hands” to impart your power and grace. What a beautiful gesture so that today, we also stretch our hands in praising and thanking you God for all your love and kindness.

Stretching of hands is a gesture we usually do to you and others when we are pleading for something or when we express surrender or submission. We also stretch our hands over people and things to show our power or your power passing through us.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea ,and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land…

Then the Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back to the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers.”

Exodus 14:21, 26

In our gospel, when your Son our Lord Jesus Christ identified his family, he used the same gesture to show his grace and blessing of making us his family, making us one in him and with him.

And stretching his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, my sister, my mother.”

Matthew 12:49-50

Keep us always in the protection and care of your powerful and loving hands, Lord, that are always stretched upon the sick especially the bed-ridden and seriously ill, to those who have to work far from their loved ones, those who have to deal and handle with delicate matters and situations.

Continue also to stretch your hands upon us, Lord, to shower us with your blessings especially the fresh graduates, for the newly weds, for those working hard for their families, for those pursuing their stars and dreams with passion and determination, and for those getting tired and weak with their many burdens and load on their shoulders.

Help us also, Lord, to be like you on the Cross when you stretched your hands to express your deep love and mercy for each one of us. Give us that power and grace to stretch our hands in your name to be your instruments of change, healing and joy to everyone especially those in pain and sufferings. Amen.

Holy Family Chapel, Sacred Heart Retreat and Spirituality Center, Novaliches, July 2017.