Learning from Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr, 23 November 2020
Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5     >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>     Luke 21:1-4
Photo by Red Santiago, his youngest son at prayer in our Parish, 21 November 2019.

Two things have struck me today, Lord, in your words: first is how St. John could say “No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth” (Rev. 14:3) when he heard them singing before you in his vision of heaven; and second, how did you know that the “poor widow put in more than all the rest” (Lk.21:3) into the treasury?

Of course, you are the Son of God, Jesus, who knows everything and can read everything in our hearts but, aside from that fact, one thing that truly best describes you is how you can give up anything even your very self for us, completely trusting the Father like a child.

In the gospel, you must have seen how the poor widow thought more of God, more of the temple, more of those in need than her self that she gave two small coins’ offerings worth a fortune for her. She was willing to let go of everything she has for God because she trusted him so much!

May we keep in our minds and in our hearts that it is when we are able to give up what is most precious in us that we truly love because that is also when we truly have faith in you that whatever we lovingly surrender is never lost but gained in eternal life like the 144,000 souls singing the new hymn for the Lamb in heaven seen by your beloved disciple.

As we close the current liturgical year this week, teach us, Lord Jesus, to learn more of these things from you so we can prepare ourselves for your daily coming especially this coming Season of Advent leading to Christmas.

Like St. Clement, may we entrust everything to God’s providence and care our whole lives. Amen.

When feeling helpless

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Week XXX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 31 October 2020
Philippians 1:18-26     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Luke 14:1, 7-11
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

It is the end of another month, of another week as we brace ourselves for a super typhoon directly hitting our region. And yes, God our loving Father, we are scared, we are worried, we feel helpless most specially for our little brothers and sisters, those who have always been suffering in life like the poor, the elderly, the sick, the marginalized.

But if there is one thing we have learned from COVID-19 these past eight months is to wholly entrust everything to you, O God, to completely surrender and rely on you alone.

Let us grow deeper in faith, more fervent in hope and be unceasing in our charity and love for others so that the Gospel of Jesus your Son may always be proclaimed.

Help us imitate St. Paul, though imprisoned and almost certain of facing death, no trace of helplessness is found in him; on the contrary, he was so full of power coming from his deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.

Philippians 1:20-21

Enable us in the power of the Holy Spirit to humbly submit ourselves to you, dear God, confident that you always have a specific place and seat, a role to play for us — if we can learn to first stand up for you like in today’s parable by Jesus.

May the coming typhoon be an opportunity for us to let our faith be expressed in words and in deeds. Amen.

Primacy of love

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, 01 October 2020
Job 19:21-27     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Luke 10:1-12
Photo by author, white roses at our altar, 2019.

On this Memorial of the most loved saints of today, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, I pray O God parents who have lost a child, those diagnosed with serious illness, and those heavily weighed on with simultaneous trials and problems in family.

It is so refreshing on this first day of October that we celebrate the life and holiness lived in total simplicity by St. Therese, a modern Job in our time after she had undergo many hardships and trials at a very young age as a contemplative nun.

I pray dear God for those feeling almost crushed by so much tribulations in life, those about to give up, losing hope and meaning or those who could no longer find their sense of mission amid the heavy or enormous weights on their shoulders.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him, and from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.

Job 19:25-27

Most of all, dear God, as we go through so many difficulties in life during this pandemic, may we be more loving not only in words but in deeds, even the most simplest deeds like St. Therese:

Photo by author, 01 October 2019.

Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation… O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Office of Readings, 01 October, Volume IV

May we break all walls that divide us as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ your Son, almighty Father.

Most of all, heeding your Son’s call, we pray to you O God our harvest-master to send us with more laborers for your abundant harvest (Lk.10:1-2) of people hungry and thirsty for you and meaning in life. Send us workers in your field whose hearts are filled with love and fervor in doing the mission of evangelization wherever they may be like St. Therese, who, despite her being a cloistered in a monastery, had become patroness of the missions in prayers and in her little ways for God.

Indeed, when there is enough love in one’s heart, there is always so much to give and share with everyone hungry and thirsty for love. Amen.

Trusting God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest/Doctor of the Church, 30 September 2020
Job 9:1-12, 14-16  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>   Luke 9:57-62
Photo by author, city of Jerusalem from Dominus Flevit Chapel, May 2017.

God our Father, sometimes I feel our situation today is very much like during the time of Job when sickness and destruction are all around us with the threats of death no longer lurking out in the dark but most present and getting nearer to us even at daylight.

And that is why lately, I have felt very much like Job too that I want to engage you in a conversation to ask you why all these things happening to me and those special to me. I am so afraid, God, of getting sick that I chill inside when I hear those dear to me going through surgery, chemotherapy, and dialysis.

I feel like asking you why these things going on, why them getting sick instead of just praying for them but, every time these things cross my mind, I just feel like Job:

Job answered his friends and said: I know well that it is so; but how can a man be justified before God? He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning. Should he come near me, I see him not; should he pass by, I am not aware of him; should he seize me forcibly, who can say him nay? Who can say to him “What are you doing?” How much less shall I give him any answer, or choose out arguments against him! Even though I were right, I could not answer him, but should rather beg for what was due me. If I appealed to him and he answered my call, I could not believe that he would hearken to my words.

Job 9:1, 10-12, 14-16

I wonder, Lord, if my faith and trust in you have deepened during this pandemic or, have I just become passive with how things are going on, getting used to the new situations, blankly hoping things will soon get better.

Have I really learned to trust you more than ever, surrendering everything into your hands like Job as I have realized too your immeasurable greatness, your being God beyond my limited knowledge and understanding that you make me wonder and be awed with your transcendence?

Yes, Lord, deep inside me amid all these fears and questions is the conviction you can never be doubted, that all I need is to completely trust you and strive to be good. Thank you for that grace as I continue to pray for healing of those dearest to me.

Let me grow closer to you as your disciple, forgetting everything about myself, surrendering myself to you in complete trust unlike those called by Jesus to follow him in the gospel today filled with many alibis and excuses.

May I have the devotion and discipline of St. Jerome whose memorial we celebrate today in finding you, loving you, and following you in the Sacred Scriptures as well as in the people we serve.

Like St. Jerome, may I have the courage to contemplate like Job on things beyond this world and life like death and eternity without bargaining or haggling with you except to trust in you completely. Amen.

Photo by author, mosaic on the wall of the Chapel of St. Jerome in a cave underneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where he had lived for 34 years until his death in 420 devoting himself in prayers and studies of the Sacred Scriptures while directing some women like “Paula” towards holiness (May 2017).

“What will there be for us?”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 18 August 2020
Ezekiel 28:1-10 <*(((><< || + || >><)))*> Matthew 19:23-30
Photo by author, Petra in Jordan, May 2019.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me… And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”

Matthew 19:27-28, 29

“We have given up everything and followed you, Lord. What will there be for us?”

Oh! how often we tell this to you, Lord Jesus, as if we have given so much for the sake of your kingdom.

Sometimes, it is not really a question we ask but a reminder to you of our “goodness” and “benevolence” with others, of how good we have been when in fact whatever we give and share are all from you.

Forgive us, O Lord, when most specially in the midst of pains and sufferings, we ask you “What will there be for us?” in order to remind you of our rewards, or entitlement as if you forget them or that there is such a thing at all with you.

Photo by author, 2019.

We are sorry Lord in counting the costs and most of all, in demanding so many in return.

“What will there be for us?” is often the question we ask when we doubt your generosity and fidelity to your promises to us.

Like Ezekiel in the first reading, remind us O Lord to keep in mind not to be “haughty of heart”, that “we are not god despite our many achievements brought about by our intelligence or beauty” (Ezekiel 28:1-7).

Dearest Jesus, you have given us with so much and we have given so little; teach us to give more of ourselves, more of our time, more of our treasures, and most of all, more of you to others. Amen.

To be known and still be loved

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, 22 July 2020
2 Corinthians 5:14-17 >><}}}*> >><}}}*> >><}}}*> John 20:1-2, 11-18
Painting by Giotto of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene from commons.wikimedia.org.

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:

Today as I prayed on the feast of your beloved Saint Mary Magdalene, my sights were focused on your beautiful exchange of names on that Easter morning at your tomb.

It is so lovely and so deep, and very personal for all of us whom you love so much despite our many sins like St. Mary Magdalene.

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

John 20:14-16

You called her by her name, “Mary” and she called you by your title “Rabbouni” – what a beautiful scene of two people loving each other so deeply, so truly! You – humbly and lovingly accepting the sinner, and she – submitting herself to you as disciple.

You have expelled seven demons from her, you have known her so well even her darkest secrets and sins, and despite all these knowledge, Lord Jesus, the more you have loved her that you called her by the sweetest word she could ever hear in her life, “Mary”.

The same with us, sweet Jesus: every day you call us by our names, each one of us as a person, an individual, a somebody not just a someone. You love us so much in spite and despite of everything. We are not just a number or a statistic to you but a person with whom you relate personally.

From Google.

Help us to realize this specially when darkness surrounds us, when self-doubts and mistrust abound in us without realizing your deep trust in us, in our ability to rise again in you and follow you.

Teach me to trust you more and love you more like St. Mary Magdalene, to give and offer my self to you totally as yours, calling you “Rabbouni” or Teacher and Master.

Let me give up whatever I still keep to myself, whatever I refuse to surrender so that I may enjoy the intimacy you offer me as a friend, a beloved, and a family in the Father.

What a joy indeed to be like St. Mary Magdalene, fully known and fully loved by you, dear Jesus.

May I learn to know and love others too like you so I may proclaim you to them. Amen.

Let nature remind us of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 20 July 2020
Micah 6:1-4, 6-8 <*(((><< )) + (( >><)))*> Matthew 12:38-42

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father for this beautiful Monday! We are midway through the month of July in this challenging year. Yes, 2020 is heavy for most of us with all the various problems we are going through but you have never left us, O Lord.

And that is why, Father, we also wonder what else have we not done that would set things right again?

Let us heed your words, O God.

Let us be reminded of your ways, of your very self by nature around us!

Hear what the Lord says: Arise, present your plea before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voices! Hear, O mountains, the plea of the Lord, pay attention, O foundations of the earth! For the Lord has a plea against his people, and he enters into trial with Israel. O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:1-3, 8

Forgive us, merciful Father, for being “an evil and unfaithful generation” always looking for signs of your loving presence.

Teach us to trust you even if we cannot understand your plans.

May we learn from nature around us that thrives so well in your loving care – full of life, full of zest even without so much attention, reminding us of your saving power in Jesus Christ. Amen.

All photos by author except bougainvillea with our parish church by Gelo Nicolas Carpio in the collage above.

God our Lord and Master

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 17 June 2020
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Dome and side altar of the Malolos Cathedral photo by author, 2019.

Glory and praise to you, our mighty God and Father! Truly there is no other Lord and Master of all but you alone from whom all good things come, even greater things than we can ever expect!

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” “You have asked something that is not easy,” Elijah replied. “Still, if you see me taken up from you, your wish will be granted; otherwise not.”

2 Kings 2:9-10

How blessed was Elisha to dream big, asking for a double portion of the spirit you have granted his mentor Elijah!

Most often, we just have to trust you, we just have to believe in you as source of everything so we may be bold and daring enough to ask for greater things.

Help us believe in you, Lord.

Most of all, let us love you totally and unconditionally for you know everything what is deep in our hearts as Jesus your Son taught us in the gospel today. Amen.

Shore of Galilee at the back of ancient Capernaum where Jesus lived and preached. Photo by author, May 2019.

What’s up on the mountain?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week X, Year II of Ordinary Time, 08 June 2020
1 Kings 17:7-16 <*(((>< + ><)))*> Matthew 5:1-12
Mount Sinai range at sunrise, May 2019. Photo by author.

Your words today Lord brought memories of childhood when I would always look up to the mountains, wondering what is up there or how wonderful it must be up there.

As I grew up, that fascination with the mountains remained until I had the chance to climb some of them and learned one very valuable lesson: it is so nice to be up on the mountain but always difficult.

One has to pour in a lot of planning and preparations, most of all, more sacrifices.

There is always that inverse proportionality when it can take so much efforts to ascend, always painstaking while every descent is always less than half the time and energy.

Most of all, every ascent to the mountain calls for trust, a great deal of trust in you, Lord, because anything can happen. In fact, one has to always expect the unexpected when ascending a mountain.

But rewards are so great and the feeling is always liberating and free.

Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2018 photo by author.

Teach me, Lord, to be like your Prophet Elijah, to always dare to climb mountains, to rely on your providence for water to drink and food to eat because more than these is the nourishment you provide for the soul and being of anyone willing to come near you.

Like your disciples and the crowd who followed you, Jesus, bless me with courage and trust to follow you up every mountain, listening and following your teachings.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:1-4

How blessed indeed, O Lord, to be high up on the mountain with you for heaven is no longer that far, so reachable with you — especially when beside your holy Cross. Amen.

Urgency and Trust

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Saturday, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, 25 April 2020

1 Peter 5:5-14 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 16:15-20

Statue of St. Mark and his symbol the lion below him at the western facade of St. Mark Cathedral in Venice, Italy. Photo from Google.

Lord Jesus Christ, as we move into the final week of April and face – with dismay – the extension of this enhanced community quarantine into May 15, the celebration of the feast of your evangelist St. Mark today gives us the much needed boost to persevere in these trying times.

In writing the first gospel account, St. Mark stressed two important things that are very helpful for us today in this time of the corona virus: urgency in proclaiming your gospel and trust in you.

It is something very similar to Stephen Covey Jr.’s concept of “the speed of trust” that when there is trust among people like in a relationship or a team, speed goes up wherein costs are minimized, productivity is increased due to trust.

Give us the grace to trust in you, Lord Jesus, so we can urgently proclaim your gospel of salvation most especially at this time when people are feeling worn out by this lockdown.

So many people are already suffering not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

Help us to bring them more joy and hope, healing and renewal not only through our gifts and financial aid but also with our presence and concern for them.

Let us not worry in doing your work with the assuring words of St. Peter in the first reading:

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.

1 Peter 5:10

Like in the beginning of the gospel by St. Mark, may we always proclaim your good news Lord whenever and wherever there is a wilderness, emptiness, and weariness among peoples for you are always faithful in enabling us to fulfill your work. Amen.

Nuns bringing relief goods to remote villages in this time of Luzon-wide lockdown due to COVID-19.