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!

Intimacy and our priestly celibacy

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 18 August 2022
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, QC, 2018.

Intimacy with God and with others is a journey that is often long and difficult, painstaking but so wonderful. It is a process with highs and lows but something that could come out as a precious gift we must keep and nurture.

Mr. Webster defines intimacy as “close familiarity or friendship” or simply, “closeness”.

But being close does not necessarily mean intimacy. True closeness in intimacy means finding and sharing a “sacred space” with someone that is built on mutual trust and sincerity where we bare our true selves to offer it to the other person. It is in this sacred space where intimacy grows as we become “engaging” with the other person, even with God, like in bantering.

There is one beautiful incident in the gospel I always love relating with the topic of intimacy, the story of the Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter.

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”

Matthew 15:21-23
Photo by author, Caesarea in Israel, May 2017.

Here we find the first difficulty with intimacy which happens often in the most unexpected situations like Jesus going to a foreign territory where we are not most comfortable or most at home, where we are so uncertain with everything and everyone.

Is it not that is when we grow intimate with others and with God, when we were in the most desolate situations, when we were weakest when suddenly somebody came to strengthen us in our journey?

It was not a simple walk in the park though because it was as if like adding salt to our injuries when at our lowest point in our lives we were asked to even go lower, bare our vulnerabilities further until we were stripped naked of our pretensions and defenses, standing naked and true.


"That is intimacy, of still believing, of being sincere, of still being beautiful and good in the worst situations with one's self with the other person.  It is a sacred space where anyone can come and be welcomed, be affirmed, or simply be safe for a moment while the storm is passing through you."

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.

Notice how Jesus tested the Canaanite woman to see how engaging she could be in their conversation, of how willing was she to get closer to him and be intimate to gain his healing.

But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:25-28

I like this part; it was more of the woman bantering with Jesus than bargaining. Try situating yourself there as if the woman was already feeling close with Jesus, engaging him in their conversation when he used the colloquial expression “dog” used by Jews at that time to refer to Gentiles or pagans. Of course, there was no any racial or malicious intent on the part of Jesus in using that common expression of his time; in some translations, he used the word “puppies”.

And that is where intimacy kicked in: when the Canaanite woman told him how dogs – or puppies – eat just the scraps from the master’s table. Here is a woman baring everything to Jesus, taking off all her defenses totally accepting the realities of life, of them outside the own circle of Jesus who was a Jew but still believing in him and in herself that she is worthy of attention, of healing for her daughter.

Photo by author, sunrise at Lake Tiberias, Israel, May 2017.

That is intimacy, of still believing, of being sincere, of still being beautiful and good in the worst situations with one’s self with the other person. It is a sacred space where anyone can come and be welcomed, be affirmed, or simply be safe for a moment while the storm is passing through you. This is very true for those who had undergone surgery when you were there on the narrow operating table, naked and everything, just praying and hoping everything would go well, without any complications later. That is why I admired doctors more than ever because after a surgery and you visit them for follow up consultations, it is as if he had not seen the worst in you, still friendly and casual. Most of all, trying so hard to keep you well and healthy!


"Intimacy is the reason why everyone says life is a journey."

To be intimate with Jesus is like continuing the journey with him in foreign territories like when a man and a woman get married not knowing what’s really in store for them or a young man getting ordained as priest or a lady taking religious vows without realizing the real weight of Christ’s cross to carry. Many times in life, we just forge on in life with our family and friends, and with God most especially, engaging him in conversations even debates to show him how convinced we are in ourselves, in our cause, in our prayers. We grow intimate only with someone who is willing to accept us.

Intimacy is the reason why everyone says life is a journey – you always have a companion, somebody you break bread with which is the literal meaning of “companion” from the Latin terms cum panis.

The most beautiful part of this journey in intimacy, whether with God or with another person is that as we become one in being intimate with the other, the more we become free, not constricted nor limited because the more we love, the more we trust each other that even when we are not together physically, we can still be intimate — because intimacy is actually a spiritual reality, a gift only God can give for those willing to take the difficult journey.

That is why, we priests remain celibate: our celibacy is the clearest sign of our intimacy not only with Jesus our Eternal Priest but also with you, our flock, the people of God which is the Church.

When parishioners give their pastors a good chance to pray and recreate to nurture their intimacy with Jesus, the more priests value their celibacy, the more they are true and faithful in serving the people, the Body of Christ, the Church.

Anyone who finds true intimacy finds true love who is God alone. That is the essence of our celibacy as priests. And that is why, priests and religious, as well as married couples and singles joyful in their state of life too who have found intimacy would never venture to look for other “loves” because they have already found God, our true intimacy. It would be madness to any priest to break his vow of celibacy or, even to married couples to go on extra-marital affairs when you already have God. Amen.

May you find and experience intimacy in your life journey.

Photo by Ka Ruben, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 04 August 2022.

Good news is when truth hurts

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop & Doctor of the Church, 01 August 2022
Jeremiah 28:1-17   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 14:13-21
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Acacias in UP-Diliman, QC, April 2022.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father 
for this gift of the month of
August, of another 31 days
for us to be better and stronger,
firmer in faith, vibrant in hope
and unceasing in charity and love.
On this first day of August when
we celebrate the memorial of 
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, patron
of moral theologians, we pray 
for the grace of accepting and 
embracing, owning the truth,
avoiding lies and falsehoods always.
I have heard and experienced the
veracity of the expression "truth hurts" -
so true and so painful indeed!
Let me not be like Hananiah who
prophesied in the name of the Lord
falsely in today's first reading,
sugarcoating the true situation of
the Israelites held bondage in Babylonia
for its wickedness; instead of telling them
the painful truth of their exile, Hananiah
lied and spoke of "good news", of deliverance
from Nebuchadnezzar and a return of 
the stolen vessels of the Lord's temple.
Give me the courage to tell the painful
truth, to stand by it always even if it is
unpopular like your prophet Jeremiah 
who spoke of your truth during the
Babylonian Captivity: of the need to
reform their lives and ways, to atone for
their sins and go back to you, O God;
let me keep in mind, dear Jesus, that
a good news is only good when it is 
difficult, uncomfortable, and disturbing
like the feeding of the vast crowd in the 
wilderness; a good news is not good at all
when there is no Cross.
Remove me, O Lord, 
from the way of falsehood
and favor me with your law;
take not the word of truth
from my mouth, for in your
ordinances is my hope (Ps.119:
29, 43).  Amen.

Jesus Christ, our reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 13 May 2022, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
Acts 13:26-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 14:1-6
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.
Your words today, O Lord Jesus Christ
are so timely, so perfectly meant for us
these days:  "Do not let your hearts be
troubled. You have faith in God; have 
faith also in me" (Jn.14:1).
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
in believing so much with ourselves,
forgetting you and God in the process;
help us accept the many realities
in life, help us to move on with life,
and most of all, stop from being 
bitter and being unkind with others;
make us realize we cannot have the
truth when we are apart from you.
It is so timely that on this 105th
anniversary of the first apparition 
of your Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Fatima, Portugal that our gospel
is very much the same truth she had
revealed to the three children and 
to the world:  that you alone, Jesus is
the true reality in this life for you 
are "the way and the truth and the life,
that no one comes to the Father
except through you" (Jn.14:6).
It was at Fatima where your Mother
told us how your way is always 
accessible and leads to fulfillment, 
so unlike our many ways in this world
that change and disappear, sometimes
become obsolete.
It was at Fatima where your Mother
assured us too that there is no other
way nor a secret road in life except you,
dear Jesus.
It was at Fatima where Mary brought us
back to reality of you Lord Jesus that
no one comes to Father except through
you.
Help us dear Jesus,
through our Lady of Fatima,
to return to you again in 
the sacraments of Penance
and Eucharist, to trust in you again,
to follow your Person as the way,
the truth, and the life.  Amen.
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Easter is going out, not coming in

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Easter, 27 April 2022
Acts 5:17-26   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 3:16-21
Photo by Cristian Palteng, 16 April 2022, Easter Vigil at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for making 
this Easter Season so special:
our first major celebration since 
the pandemic began in 2020 with
our church gatherings always the
target of lockdowns and restrictions;
but this Easter, we have risen with you, 
dear Jesus, when we were finally allowed 
to gather and celebrate the Eucharist
without much restrictions.
Make us realize this fundamental truth
of your Resurrection, Lord Jesus:  that Easter
is more of coming out than getting in.

The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, and led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

Acts 5:17-20
So many times, you have come
to set us free, Jesus, from our prison
cells of self-doubts, cynicisms, 
hopelessness, pains and hurts, 
guilt and sins but we refuse to 
believe you are risen, that you
have conquered evil and sin, darkness
and death; open our minds and our
hearts, Lord Jesus, to believe and accept
the love you have freely given us.
Let us go out to you, sweet Jesus,
to bask in the warmth of your light 
and truth that we are loved.  Amen.

Holiness is being true

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Holy Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Isaiah 50:4-9   +   Matthew 26:14-25
Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 31 March 2022.

It’s Holy Wednesday, also known as Spy Wednesday, the night Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus Christ to the chief priests in exchange of 30 pieces of silver (Mt.26:14-15). Tonight is the night of traitors, of betrayers, of those not true to us!

This is the reason why in most parishes after the Mass tonight, there is the ritual of tenebrae or gradual turning off of lights and extinguishing of candles in the church to show how momentarily darkness and evil prevailed in the world when Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Photo from saopedroesaopaolo.com.br.

To betray literally means to hand over a loved one to pain and sufferings like when a husband is unfaithful to his wife, when we spill the secrets of our friends, when we answer back our parents or refuse to obey them, when children waste their money on their vices and other non-essential things instead of studying their lessons while their mother or father is toiling day and night abroad as an OFW.

Betrayal is so painful and most unkind because we exchange or “sell” our loved ones like commodities for someone or something less in value; imagine the pain a betrayer inflicts on the someone who gave everything, with all the love and care only to be “traded” for lesser value? It is said that during the time of Jesus, a slave can be bought for 30 pieces of silver; how foolish Judas must have been in exchanging Jesus who loved and cared for him for a slave! And that is what we are too when we betray God and our loved ones – fools to replace someone so precious for anything else!

Betrayal is rebelling against a loving God, a beloved one, turning our back from them who are most true to us. And that is the short of it: betrayal is not being true.

Holiness is being true; holiness and truth always go together.

The word true is from the Anglo-Saxon treowe or tree. For them, truth is like a tree that evokes a sense of firmness, of being rooted in the ground. When our words and actions are not firm, shaky and always changing, flimsy or “pabago-bago” as we say in Filipino, then it must not be true. It must be a lie and not true at all because it is always changing or shifting.


Photo by author, St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2019.

Truth is always firm, does not change and remains true forever. It may be concealed or covered by lies for sometime but sooner or later, truth will always come out. It cannot be deleted. That is why the Greeks referred to truth as aletheia or phusis, the blooming of a flower that cannot be hidden and would always manifest or show. Jesus himself assured us that “nothing that is hidden will not be revealed; nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Lk.8:17).

Closely linked with the word true is trust which also came from treowe: the Anglo-Saxons saw in the tree not only firmness but also rootedness or connectedness. The firmer the tree, the deeper are its roots. And that is what a true person is – always trustworthy, someone who can be trusted, someone who values relationships or ties and links. Traitors betray their loved ones because they do not value their relationships; a true person is always trustworthy because he values his relationships. A true and trustworthy person is one who would always listen to God and others, not insisting on his own plans and agenda like the Suffering Servant of God.

The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

Isaiah 50:4-6
Photo from Pinterest.

Remember the scene of the scourging at the pillar in the film The Passion of the Christ (2004)? Biblical experts say that gory scene was very true as it was the most painful aspect of the Lord’s passion next to the crucifixion; every time the knuckles would hit the body of Jesus, a piece of his flesh is torn off. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged in the belief that people might pity him when seen so tortured and bruised, perhaps agree to let him go freely.

But it did not happen as the people shouted more for his crucifixion.

And that is what happens when we betray our loved ones, including Jesus: the more we become indecisive in life like Pilate, the more we also betray them because we could not stand for what is true. That is also when we hurt them more and ourselves in the process too.

So often, traitors are not aware of their betrayals, believing in their wrongful and misplaced convictions, forgetting the people who love them most. Many times, we absolutize the truth, forgetting that only God is absolute. Most of all, that truth is a Person, Jesus Christ who said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn.16:6). Being true, being holy is always directed to a person, not just a conviction.

So be careful by being true always with one’s self, with others and with God.

What makes you forget the truth and be untrue to others?


Lord Jesus Christ,
teach me to be true and holy
not only to you but most especially
to the people you give me,
those who love me truly and dearly;
make me like a tree,
firm and reliable, 
dependable and trustworthy,
most of all, deeply rooted in you
through then people I love and care and serve.
Amen.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA7-News, January 2022.

The evil that is pretense

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 16 November 2021
2 Maccabees 6:18-31   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 19:1-10
Photo by author, 2020.
Once again, O God our Father,
your words today are as timely as
the news headlines, perfect in 
reminding us to remain faithful
and true to you, most especially
to be men and women of integrity,
resisting all forms of pretense, of 
deceiving in purpose for whatever 
reason.
Teach us to be firm like your 
servant Eleazar who strongly turned
down offers to save his life by 
pretending to eat pork as ordered
by their pagan conquerors; 
he chose death than deceive 
and mislead the people,
specially the young ones.

He (Eleazar) told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think a ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myslef worthy of my old age.”

2 Maccabees 6:23-27
Teach us also to be like
Zacchaeus, who despite his 
being a publican and a sinner,
made no pretense of being 
good or holy before Jesus
when he passed by the city
of Jericho; he did not pretend to
be tall or of any stature that he 
made the great effort to climb
a tree in order to see Jesus passing;
most of all, he shed all kinds of
pretense in himself when he vowed
to Jesus to repay people he had extorted
money from.
We pray, dear God, for our nation,
for our voters specially the young
people to closely examine the integrity
of every candidate running for office
so we may choose men and women
who are "models of courage" and 
"unforgettable examples of virtue"
(2 Maccabees 6:31).  Amen.

The complicity of hypocrisy

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church, 15 October 2021
Romans 4:1-8   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 12:1-7
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At that time, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven – that is, the hypocrisy – of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.

Luke 12:1-2
Dear God our Father,
as we remember St. Teresa of Avila
who bravely fought for what is true
and sublime, help us also to fight
hypocrisy that is so rampant
these days of mediated communications.
From the Greek word hypokritein
for "masks", we keep on putting 
fake fronts on ourselves thinking
we would look better to others and
the world when in fact we end up 
like actors and actresses,
or worst, as clowns making fun 
of our very selves.
Help us realize the evil that is
hypocrisy as your Son Jesus Christ
reminds us today in the gospel
of how it acts as an accomplice 
to every sin that leads us to the 
eternal fires of hell or Gehenna.
St. Paul explained it so well in 
continuing his exposition about your 
righteousness, O God, how you have
justified Abraham not with his works
but with his deep faith in you; that,
the more we believe, the more we 
obey you and your laws that Jesus
had summarized in the law of love.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

St. Teresa of Avila, Office of Readings, 15 October
O most blessed
St. Teresa of Avila
who sought the truth of Jesus
Christ in deep prayers and works
of sacrifices, help us to be true;
teach us to take off our masks,
especially our religious hypocrisies
for nothing is concealed with God;
most of all, let us have a taste
of that sweet union in God
found in our being honest and true
to him always.
Amen.

When people malign us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XVIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 03 August 2021
Numbers 12:1-13   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 14:22-36
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA7-News, Batanes, September 2018.
Dearest God our Father,
you are just, always demanding 
us to be fair and just like you,
to never malign and bear false
witness against one another
especially those serving you.
We pray, loving Father
for those among us buffeted
with nasty talks, malicious
stories and gossips especially 
fake news that besmirch one's name
just to make them or their masters look good.
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses
on the pretext of the marriage he had
contracted with Cushite woman.
Now, Moses himself was by far
 the meekest man on the face of the earth.
So at once the Lord said to Moses and 
Aaron and Miriam, "Come out,
you three, to the meeting tent."
Then the Lord came down
in the column of cloud,
and standing at the entrance of the tent,
called Aaron and Miriam.
When both came forward, he said,
"Now listen to the words of the Lord:
Why, then, did you not fear to speak
against my servant Moses?"
So angry was the Lord against them
that when he departed, and the cloud
withdrew from the tent, there was
Miriam, a snow-white leper!
(Numbers 12:1, 3-6, 8-9)
Please, Lord, keep us
 and those being maligned
 to be meek like Moses,
 remaining kind to those
who speak ill about us, especially those
supposed to be closest or dear to us.
Jesus said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat
and began to walk on the water
toward Jesus.  But when he saw
how strong the wind was
he became frightened; and,
beginning to sink, he cried out,
"Lord, save me!"
(Matthew 14:29-30)
Give us, O God, the courage
and strength to withstand the fierce
winds of criticisms and lies hurled
by our detractors, unlike Peter
let us never doubt the love and mercy
and protection of your Son Jesus we follow.  
Amen.