Hearing, coming

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 19 January 2023
Hebrews 7:25-8:6   <'000>< + ><000'> + <'000>< + ><000'>   Mark 3:7-12
Photo by Dra. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2022.
Open our ears and our hearts,
God our loving Father, 
to always hear your voice,
to heed your calls in Jesus Christ
so that like the people in the gospel
we too may come to him.

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.

Mark 3:7-8
In the fourth gospel, John
tells us how Jesus invited 
Andrew and companion to
"come and see" where he stayed;
in a beautiful manner, Mark
tells us today how people
"heard and came" to Jesus!
"Coming" to you, O Lord,
is always accompanied either
by seeing as a result of coming
or by hearing that leads to coming.
How ironic,
even ridiculous
in our time with all the earphones
and earplugs and pods stacked in
our ears listening, hearing the 
cacophony of sounds and noise
of the world and everyone peddling
lies after lies but we would not 
even bother to hear nor listen 
to the gospel and stories of Jesus Christ!
In fact, we are so busy listening
to others and the world without
ever hearing our true selves
at all!
Teach us to listen,
to hear and follow your
voice and calls, dear Jesus
for you alone is our perfect 
mediator, our perfect high priest
"who is always able to save those
who approach God through him,
since he lives forever to make 
intercessions for them" (Heb. 7:25).
Refine our listening
pleasures and abilities
that touch our very core
not just our senses,
massaging our ego;
may we have the courage
to hear and listen to what is
true and just, no matter how
painful they may be
for it is only in that way
we can be healed of our
many diseases and maladies.
Amen.

Benedict XVI, the modern John the Baptist

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Christmas Weekday, Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus, 03 January 2022
1 John 2:29-3:6     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     John 1:29-34
Keep me true to you,
God our loving Father,
and most of all true to myself
as your beloved child so I would
always recognize Jesus Christ
in our midst like John the Baptist.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1
How did John recognize Jesus
coming to him for baptism in 
today's gospel?
I am sure that it was because
of this truth, of being your child,
loving Father;
indeed, beautiful souls
recognize beautiful souls;
John was so genuine and
Jesus was the purest
because he is truth himself
that John could boldly claim
Jesus is the lamb of God,
the one he had said as coming
though he did not know him
(cf. Jn.1:29-31).
What a beautiful scene of two
genuine souls
recognizing each other!
If we could just replicate it daily
in our lives too,
beginning in our home!
In our modern time that
is so very much like the time of Jesus
when people have turned away from you, God
including those who claim to be Christians
yet promoting abortion and same sex union
as well as priests and bishops
supposed to be the light of reason,
decency, and morality but are not,
we are so blessed with your humble servant,
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
His was a genuine soul,
a most genteel person so maligned
by many especially the Western press
 and some clergymen
for his fidelity to the Lord's teachings,
truly a John the Baptist who pointed us all
to go back to Jesus Christ especially
in the light of the sex scams that have rocked
the Church;
his writings are simply the best,
in itself like the gospel exposing your
truth in words so understandable;
most of all,
he lived in all simplicity and humility
that he was able to see
eternity.
Most dearest Jesus,
grant me the grace you gave
Pope Benedict XVI:
may I also say before my death
in all sincerity and truth,
"Lord, I love you".
Let these words be
impressed on my soul
and be my guide
in life.
Amen.

Daily presentation to the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog 
Monday, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 21 November 2022
Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 21:1-4
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we enter today this final stretch
of the current liturgical calendar,
you gave us the Memorial of the 
Presentation of your Blessed Mother
as an occasion for us to present ourselves
to you fittingly like her.
Help us to always remember your love
and mercy, Lord, so we may remain on track
on your path of humility and obedience
like Mary; may we always remember
your call to holiness and to mission
being sent like you by the Father;
may we always remember like Mary
to be always truthful and clean in our lips.

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and then Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.

Revelation 14:4-5
Help us imitate, dear Jesus,
that poor widow at the temple area
who gave everything she had - 
"two small coins" - into the treasury box;
grant us the grace to be like her,
to be like your Mother Mary,
to be like your grandparents St. Joachim and St. Anne
who offered their whole lives, 
their whole livelihood to God
because they believed,
they trusted, and hence,
they loved without measure.
Amen.

Inviting Jesus into our lives

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 15 November 2022
Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 19:1-10
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
when many times in life
we appear to be so good and pious,
religious and devout in our religion
when in fact we lack faith in you
like the people of Sardis:

“I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent.”

Revelation 3:1c-3a
Your words are so timely, Lord,
as we ourselves often hear the same words,
of how our Church is dying
because we are already dead in our faith;
we have been so complacent in our faith,
so focused with 
duties and obligations,
rites and rituals,
tasks and schedule
but so empty of YOU.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Maranatha!
Give us the holy longing
and desire of Zacchaeus to meet you,
to exert every effort to be with you
and to be filled with you!
But the most truest of your words today Lord
and most disturbing are your words to the
Church in Laodicea:

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Revelation 3:15-16
Let us be clear with our stand in you, Jesus;
let us be firm in our faith and in our resolve
to follow you like Zacchaeus who gave
half of his wealth to the poor and repaid four times
those he had extorted money;
let us come to you with sincere hearts
and humility, empty us of our pretensions
and fill us with your presence and truth,
Lord Jesus!
Amen.

Walking in love, walking in truth

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2022
2 John 4-9   ><000'> + <'000>< --- ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 17:26-37
St. Martin of Tours, Patron of our hometown Bocaue in Bulacan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
today you confront us with
the two contrasting attitudes
we disciples should have,
walking in love and 
walking in truth.

To walk in love is to live in love
which is to love one another
as you have loved us, Lord Jesus,
even to the point of giving our very selves
in love for another just like you.
Of course, we know it so well
and we have said so much about it
but have miserably failed in truly loving
like you because, O Lord, we have failed
to walk in truth; love and truth
always go together!
We cannot truly love when 
we live in lies and falsehoods,
when we are not sincere and faithful;
most of all, when we choose to be
blind and deaf 
to what is true and good.

For this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Anyone who is “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

2 John6-7, 9
Grant us, Jesus, the grace of walking in love
and walking in truth like St. Martin of Tours,
a great Saint who taught us in his life
how these two contrasting attitudes
perfectly go together in witnessing your gospel.

Upon seeing a beggar on a cold winter night,
he cut his cape into two without hesitation
to share it with the beggar freezing in cold;
he was not yet baptized at that time that
you appreciated it Lord by appearing to him
in a dream with the other half of his cape.

After he was baptized, as a soldier of
the Roman army, he realized that war
and the gospel are incompatible that he
refused to fight in a battle by declaring
"I am a soldier of Christ; I cannot fight."
Threatened to be jailed for cowardice,
St. Martin volunteered to be sent unarmed
to the frontline when just before his
commanders challenged his offer,
their opponents sued for peace,
preventing any battle.
After his discharge from the Roman army,
St. Martin founded monasteries
and soon his holiness became known that
he was elected Bishop of Tours in France,
faithfully serving you Jesus by
walking in love,
walking in truth.
After his death,
 his cult spread and was so popular
in Europe, proof that indeed,
"whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it"
(Luke 17:33).
St. Martin of Tours,
Pray for us!
Amen.
An icon of St. Martin giving the other half of his cape to a beggar; photo from blog.obitel-minsk.com.

Putting on Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 27 October 2022
Ephesians 6:10-20   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 13:31-35
Photo from forbes.com, 2019.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in this age of affluence
when we are so concerned 
with how we look,
on how people see us
that we strive to buy 
and put on the most 
expensive and luxurious
clothes, shoes and bags,
accessories and gadgets 
to impress people, 
to make known to everyone
that "we have come", 
of who we are, of what we have
achieved;  make us not forget
that what matters most is 
our inside not the outside.
Most often, we are like
actors and actresses,
or worst, clowns who see
life as just a show - a palabas 
as we say in Filipino - 
that we forget the more
essential and important things
found inside us like our loving
and kind hearts, beautiful mind,
filled with your peace and goodwill.

Brothers and sisters: Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the spirits in the heavens.

Ephesians 6:10-12
Let us be dressed in your
humility and kindness;
clothe us with your justice 
and truth, wear always your
peace and power wherever
we go as we share you Jesus Christ
to everyone we meet.
Amen.

Praying not to be deceived

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 24 October 2022
Ephesians 4:32-5:8   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 13:10-17
Photo by author, 2018.
Lord Jesus Christ,
help me to be kind
to one another, 
compassionate and 
forgiving as you have
forgiven us (Eph.4:32);
let me live in love
by being true always
to you in words and
in deeds.
In this world and life
saturated in media whose 
only concerns are profit and
influence, let us not be deceived
with its colorful displays of images,
and most especially of talks and 
languages full of obscenities and
curse, reducing persons into things
who can be dispensed in the name of
"human rights" and then portrayed as cool
and progressive; worst, many of them
claim to be your followers as Catholics. 

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:6-8
Give me the courage,
Lord, to stand for what
is true and good like you
in healing the crippled woman
who was bent and incapable of
standing erect;  let me choose to
do what is right and pleasing
to you, doing justice to everyone,
following your straight path
of kindness and compassion
for everyone especially the weak
and powerless.
Amen.

To come in peace and goodwill despite the chaos and darkness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Anniversary of the Last Marian Apparition at Fatima, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> Luke 11:47-54
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
God our loving Father,
thank you in sending us
your Son Jesus Christ
who in turn gave his own
Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
as he died on the Cross
to be our Mother too!
How wonderful
that in her last apparition
at Fatima in Portugal
105 years ago today,
she came bringing peace
and good will like when
Jesus was born more than
2000 years ago; it was the 
same message that St. Paul
brought to us through the
Ephesians as he described
Your magnificent plan
for us in Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Forgive us, merciful Father
in the name of Jesus Christ 
Your Son, in refusing to accept
this beautiful offer you have 
given us expressed clearly 
105 years ago today in Fatima,
Portugal by the Blessed Virgin Mary
who introduced herself as 
"the Lady of the Rosary";
despite the miraculous dancing 
of the sun, many still refuse to
believe and heed her call 
to return to You in Jesus Christ
through conversion,
of turning away from sins
and following the path of holiness,
of being filled with You.
Give us the grace that
like Mary in Fatima,
may we show others 
an alternative vision of
the world wherein 
all things are restored in
Jesus Christ by bringing
the light of your truth
against the world's 
darkness of lies and fake news;
like Mary at Fatima
may we lead people back to
you through the Sacraments 
especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession
instead of worshipping 
and adoring the modern gods
of gold and glamor the world 
offers so easily but treacherously.

Purify our devotion to Mary that
is rooted and focused on Christ
so we may instill hope and joy 
to so many people today 
in despair amid the harsh
realities of this life due to
the ongoing pandemic
with the persistent problems
of war and violence, 
poverty and inequalities, 
and lack of respect for life
and dignity of every person
regardless of color, belief,
and gender.
Be patient with us,
God our Father;
with Mary whom you
have sent to us in Fatima,
may we find our way
back to you in Jesus Christ
along with the conversion of
sinners and unbelievers
including our brothers and
sisters who profess to believe
in you but promote a culture
of death, leading a life
of evil and sin contrary to
your vision of living
in communion with you
in Christ.
Amen.
Our Lady of Fatima,
Pray for us!
Photo from pinterest.com.

Becoming like John the Baptist

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist, 29 August 2022
1 Corinthians 2:1-5     ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><     Mark 6:17-29
Photo from catholicworldreport.com, “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist” (1869) by Pierre Puvis de Chevannes.
Grant me the grace,
O dear Jesus Christ,
to be like John the Baptist,
truly your precursor in being
the first to receive you
and proclaim your coming
in words and in deeds by
being the first to suffer a 
similar passion and death like yours
by standing for what is true and good,
just and fair; let me be the first, O Lord, 
to disturb the many Herods of our time
with your gospel's power and wonders.

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

Mark 6:17-20
Let me first be a reminder, dear Jesus, 
that there is a prophet in our midst 
who speaks your words for
the sake of the poor and marginalized;
let me be the first to have courage in
proclaiming the mystery of your
Cross, confronting evil in all its forms,
never toning down your message 
to please the rich and powerful 
Herods of today with their systematic
control of lives in its many aspects;
forgive me Jesus for failing to be a
voice in the wilderness like John
preparing your way, straightening
the paths of our lives by turning away
from evil and sin, embracing your
gospel of life and holiness.
Amen.

Finding our proper place

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 28 August 2022
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 ><}}}*> Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 ><}}}*> Luke 14:1, 7-14
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan City, 31 December 2021.

Sometimes I feel life in the Philippines is a daily game of musical chair with each of us trying to secure our favorite seats in the bus or jeepney or train, in the classroom, in the church, in the restaurant. Everywhere.

And the favorite seats are always the ones at the back of the room most especially in churches and those nearest the door like in buses and jeepneys.

Most funny of all is when you find our kababayan in airports here and abroad rushing to board the plane as if they would not find a seat already paid for!

All because we put too much premium on our seats that mean power and control, even prestige although no one among us would admit it. In fact, our usual excuse of being seated at the back is due to shyness which is not true at all! More truthful is the fact that too often, we choose our seats for personal convenience that seats are everything for us.

But, unknown to many of us, what truly matters most in life, in being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not where we sit but where we stand which is the gist of our gospel this Sunday.

On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.

Luke 14:1,7
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images, Baclaran Church, 09 February 2020.

See how Luke had briefly compressed in his opening lines for this Sunday’s gospel the gravity of Christ’s teachings today about discipleship. Setting was the most important day of the week for the Jews, the Sabbath, celebrated right in the house of a leading Pharisee.

Wow! It must had been a big party with all the “who’s who” that everybody was trying to get a piece of the action with all eyes on Jesus being observed carefully.

But, why?

To impress him? To be closer to him? To test him as most often would happen with him when in a gathering of people?

I find the scene overloaded with meanings that concern us when unconsciously we also “closely observe Jesus” whenever we would pray and celebrate the Sunday Mass in our parishes. There are times we forget God in our prayers as we are so preoccupied with our very selves, so focused and even insistent on what we believe and hold on to whatever we are asking from him. The “me, me, me” and “I, I, I” attitudes of being right, of being good, of being deserving and of course, entitled. Hence, the confiteor and kyrie are merely recited just for the sake of saying we are sorry for our sins even if we do not really mean them because so often, many are either late or do not examine their consciences.

Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

Luke seems to be having some shades of humor when he noted how the “people carefully observed Jesus” at the dinner without them realizing the Lord himself had already and easily unmasked their pretensions and true characters of choosing the places of honor at the dinner that he had to tell them a parable about choosing the lowest seat!

When we come to the Lord most especially at prayer and the Mass, or even to a party and dinner for that matter, our main attitude must be of humility; to be invited to any party is an indication of our special relationship with the host. Multiply this to the highest degree in coming to the Holy Mass and simple prayer because it is God who gives us the grace to come to him, who values so much our relationship as Father and beloved children.

That is the point of Ben Sirach in the first reading, tenderly addressing the reader “My child, conduct your affairs with humility” (Sir.3:17), indicative of a relationship.

Every Sunday Mass is a banquet of the Lord like that Sabbath dinner Jesus attended in the gospel. No need to choose our places of honor because we are already honored by Jesus to celebrate “in him, with him and through him”. It is the very reason why we must celebrate Mass every Sunday as good, practicing Catholics.

Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

Prayer and Mass are moments we strip ourselves naked before God who welcomes us to come near him even before we say sorry for our sins, even if we are not worthy of being in his presence at all. Recall the story of the calling of Nathanael or St. Bartholomew the Apostle last Wednesday; like him, Jesus had already seen and known us with joy long before we have approached him!

Every prayer moment, every Eucharistic celebration like a banquet on a Sabbath Jesus attended in the gospel today is an occasion for us to be truthful and sincere, to be our true selves, to be humble. St. Teresa of Avila said that “humility is walking in truth.” Just be yourself before God.

That is why Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk.14:11). In the end, when we die, we shall all be placed in our proper places before God; hence, the need for us to be humble and sincere with who we really are. Do not try to be somebody else not you because God knows everything, even the hair on our heads.

Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14
Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

The first parable was addressed by Jesus to the guests while this second parable was meant for the host; however, both parables are meant for us all who are all guests of God in this big banquet called life that leads to eternity.

First of all, just be our true and best selves in prayers and in life for we are all honored in Jesus Christ as God’s beloved children.

And if we live and act like Jesus our Host making him the most important guest in our hearts, then our hearts become big enough to welcome everyone, especially “the crippled, the lame, the blind”, making us inclusive like Jesus himself and not exclusive as our seating arrangements would often reveal.

The right attitude in being a guest and a host in this life is to imitate God in the responsorial psalm “who made a home for the poor”, of being like Jesus welcoming everyone with love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, care and understanding.

Again, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews beautifully reminds us today in the second reading that the ultimate goal of our Christian life is communion with God that starts here in this life on earth. Every Mass is a “dress rehearsal” of our entrance into heaven because

Brothers and sisters: You have not approached that which cold be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy and darkness… No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven… and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

Hebrews 12:18, 22, 23, 24
Photo by author, Makati skyline from Antipolo City, 13 August 2022.

My dear fellow journeyers in Christ, the blessedness of this Sunday shows us how fast time flies, that in a few days, it would be September, the beginning of the -ber months, the approaching Christ the King celebration to close our liturgical calendar.

Before thinking of Advent and Christmas, we are reminded today of “Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk.9:51, 13th Sunday, June 26, 2022) to face his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Along the way are invitations to join him too in banquets; let us not seek the seats of honor but instead be firm in making our stand for Jesus on the Cross by being loving and merciful like him. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!