Lent is trusting God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 31 March 2023
Jeremiah 20:10-13   >>> +++ <<<   John 10:31-42
Photo by author, 20 March 2023, Sacred heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City.
God our loving Father,
I am a sinner;
forgive me for always turning 
my back from You,
for refusing to love
like Jesus Your Son;
but, despite my being a sinner,
You know very well how I love you,
You know everything about me,
how I strive repeatedly
because I trust in You.
I believe in You!
Like the psalmist,
I sing this day,
"I love you, O Lord,
my strength...
In my distress I called
upon the Lord
and cried out to my God;
from his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him
reached his ears"
(Psalm 18:2, 7).
Like Your prophet Jeremiah,
I could hear people, 
even those closest to me, 
denouncing my efforts to be
just and loving,
living Your precepts;
I could hear their whispering,
"on watch for any misstep of mine"
(Jeremiah 20:10).
Worst, 
like Jesus Christ,
some have tried harming me
with their words and deeds!
Sometimes, I feel so low,
so sad how good would be
rewarded with evil by some.
But I trust in You, 
dearest Father;
let me witness
Your love and mercy,
justice and kindness
despite my sinfulness
and weaknesses.
Be my strength and
my surety.
Amen.

Practical blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 05 February 2023
Isaiah 58:7-10 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 2022.

We are still at the sermon on the mount by Jesus Christ that opened last Sunday with his teachings on the beatitudes. We have reflected that the beatitudes are actually Jesus Christ himself that are supposed to be the very disposition of his disciples by being like him who is “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “afflicted”, “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”, “merciful”, “clean of heart”, “peacemaker”, and “persecuted”.

Every disciple is already blessed in Christ because blessedness is primarily a being like status in Facebook, not a mere doing. What a dignity we all have in Jesus in being called blessed! That is why this Sunday Jesus is teaching us the practical side of our blessedness, of being “the salt of the earth” and “light of the world” that call on the characteristics and demands of being like Christ, of conforming to his gospel of salvation.

See that being a salt and a light perfectly match the beatitudes when we say, “Blessed are you who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world”! For this Sunday, let us focus on the call of being the light of the world.


After praying over today’s gospel, I saw on a friend’s FB this post from Meralco inviting anyone interested in becoming a lineman. The tag-line was very catchy, “Handa na ba kayo maghatid ng liwanag?” (Are you ready to bring light?) with a hashtag, #BuildingABrilliantFuture.

From Meralco/fb

I felt the Meralco advertisement so brilliant, extolling the great honor of being a lineman who brings light to homes and schools, offices and factories, and everywhere. Requirements are actually minimal except for that most important thing of not having fear of heights. Of course!

But, Jesus Christ’s call to us all is more pressing, more important. More than the linemen building the facilities that will bring light to towns and cities, Jesus invites us to be the light ourselves.

Jesus alone is the light of the world. The light we carry is his. We are all Christ-light who reflect the very light of Jesus Christ in our good works and loving service to others, in our witnessing to our faith.

Words are not enough to bring his light to the world. The light of Christ shines brightly in us when we are witnessing truth and justice, kindness and mercy among our brothers and sisters, when we bear all pains and sufferings in continually working for peace and uplifting of the lowly despite so many accusations by those in power. Here we find that being the light of the world is to put into practice the beatitudes of having a clean heart, of being peacemakers, and being persecuted. It is when we work on them that our light shine before others that upon seeing our good deeds, it is God whom they glorify and not us:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5;16

See the following verses when Jesus described in details his teachings of being good, of witnessing his gospel values, he also warned us his disciples to never do good deeds for the sake of being known and popular. It is very clear that in being the light of the world, it is God who must be seen in us not our selves. Living the beatitudes is not having the most “likes” and “reactions” in Facebook nor of being viral nor trending. Moreover, it is definitely not being an “influencer” whatever that word means.

At the same time, Jesus Christ’s call for us to be his light ourselves is also a call for us to work as a community, not just as individuals. It is perfectly good if every disciple will shine brightly as a light of Christ but it is better when all disciples as a community of believers shine in gospel values!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco Park seen from OLFU-Quezon City, 01 February 2023.

How sad that lately, the world has grown darker not only because of fewer men and women sharing the light of Christ with their witnessing of the gospel but because nations and regions have abandoned the faith. Many are getting de-Christianized on a wholesale basis these days.

Nobody seems to care at all anymore of not going to Mass face-to-face while everyone is so glued on their cellphone and computer screens without a whimper of opposition or rejection even disdain with all the trash coming out in social media like TikTok so saturated with sexual content ranging from same sex relationships to display of too much skin and use of indecent language.

Making matters worst are the many priests and religious lacking understanding in communication who do all the stupid things on camera that instead of evangelizing are demoralizing the faithful. And the tragedy is how most of these media practitioners in the Church are simply playing on novelties than creating innovations in employing the modern means of communications that result in just creating cults around themselves and miserably fail in evangelizing the people. This is the message of St. Paul in the second reading, reminding us that faith rests on the power of God than in the personality and eloquence of the priests and bishops.

Christ’s call for us to be the light of the world is a resounding call we must all respond to in this present age through deep prayer to be immersed in the person of Christ, the light of the world. It is only Jesus and always Jesus whom we must share and give to the people by realizing and affirming our prophetic functions in denouncing the ways of the world of injustice against the poor and the hungry like what Isaiah described in the first reading.

The world badly needs prophets these days, men and women like Christ who are “light rising in the darkness who would turn gloom into midday” (Is.58:10) for indeed as the psalmist declares, “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.” Amen.

Have a blessed and illuminating week ahead in Jesus Christ!

Photo by author, 01 February 2023.

Maturing in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 09 January 2023
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17
Photo by author, September 2022.
God our loving Father,
thank you for this most wonderful 
Monday when we close 
the Christmas Season 
with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 
we also celebrate the feast 
of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo 
which is the most popular
devotion in our predominantly
Catholic nation. 
As you opened the heavens
with your outpouring of love
and life upon us today like
what happened at the baptism in Jordan,
open our minds and our hearts, Father,
to recognize Jesus as your Anointed One;
most of all, may our double celebrations
this Monday remind us of the need for us to mature
in our faith in you.
Photo from flickr.com by Mark S. Abeln, Resurrection Cemetery in Affton, Missouri, USA, 16 November 2010.
Fix our eyes on your Chosen One,
Jesus Christ, upon whom you have 
put your Spirit who brought forth
salvation to us all,
not crying out,
not shouting,
not breaking a bruised reed
nor quenching a smoldering wick;
let us imitate the gentle humility
of your Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ
in whose person you have made your
covenant, a light for the nations,
healing us of our infirmities of 
body and most especially of soul,
not yielding to anyone nor anything
because you and him are one
(cf. Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7).
Let us continue the teaching of Peter
in the house of Cornelius with our own
experiences and meditations, with our
own witnessing "of how God anointed 
Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. 
He went about doing good 
and healing all those oppressed
by the devil, for God was with him"
(Acts 10:38).
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 09 January 2020.
God our loving and merciful Father,
let us see Christ's presence and
coming in our lives daily,
his coming out of Jordan
with your mission to save us,
to journey with us in this life;
most of all, let us heed your voice,
Father, to be one in Jesus in all
sufferings and trials, standing 
and fighting for truth and justice
even to the point of death on the 
Cross because he is your beloved Son
with whom you are well pleased
(Matthew 3:16, 17).
Lord Jesus Christ,
our Nuestro Padre Nazareno,
make us realize that more than
the devotions and panata,
more than that lovely robe of your
royalty as King of kings,
help us penetrate your dark skin
in Quiapo to realize your being
called "Nazarene" does not only mean
your origin, Nazareth, but most of all,
from the Hebrew word "nezer" or shoot -
that you are, O Lord Jesus is the "shoot
from the stump of Jesse" (Is.11:1),
the one completely consecrated
to God from your mother's womb
until your death on the Cross.
Make us realize this, Jesus Nazareno,
that we too, in our baptism, are 
consecrated to God:  let us manifest
your love,
your justice,
your humility,
your healing,
your mercy
in our lives.
Amen.
From google.com.

Along with Christmas comes the Cross

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Octave of Christmas, Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr, 26 December 2022
Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59     ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>     Matthew 10:17-22
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 24 December 2022 in Paco, Obando, Bulacan.
Dearest Jesus:
when I was a child,
I have always wondered
how did it happen you were born
in December then suddenly in April
you died on the Cross?
Now I have grown and learned
about history and most of all about life
and living, I have realized the beautiful
truth of your coming:  you became like us
not to remove but to be one with us
in our sufferings even death
so that we may be one with you
in your Resurrection!
Thank you for this wonderful
reminder of your Christmas Octave:
your Nativity is also the feast of your final coming
when you will be surrounded by your angels
and saints like St. Stephen our first Martyr,
tomorrow by St. John the Apostle, your beloved,
and on Wednesday by the Holy Innocents.
Along came with Christmas comes also the
Cross of Good Friday!

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 10:17-18, 22
O Lord, indeed, let us
"beware of men" who forget 
that looming behind your manger
is also the Cross;
let us "beware of men" who have
commercialized and trivialized
your birth, focusing more on
happiness and fun, not even joy as
you have described at your Last Supper;
let us "beware of men" who have taken you
away from Christmas, worshipping money
and things and all that glitz and glamour of the world;
let us "beware of men" who forget the poor
and marginalized, the old and infants especially 
those in their mother's wombs;
let us "beware of men" who insist on changing 
the rules of marriage and sex according to their
selfish and truncated views on life and relationships;
let us "beware of men" who deny your Cross!
Like St. Stephen, help us Lord Jesus
to always look up to you in heaven in
prayers and sacrifices, witnessing your gospel
and your Cross, remaining faithful and true to you,
upright and decent in living, defending life and justice
without condemning nor judging our persecutors.
Amen.

Refresh my heart in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church, 10 November 2022
Philemon 7-20   ><]]]'> + <'[[[><  ---+---  ><]]]'> + <'[[[><   Luke 17:20-25
Photo by author, 25 October 2022 in Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Your words today are so lovely,
dear Jesus, spoken through St. Paul
in his letter to Philemon asking him 
to take back his former slave Onesimus:
"I, Paul, write this in my own hand:  I will pay. 
May I not tell you that you owe me your very self.
Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord.
Refresh my heart in Christ" 
(Philemon 19-20).
So nice of St. Paul to ask Philemon
to "refresh my heart in Christ"...
but, can we refresh one's heart in you, Lord?
Are you not the only one who can refresh our hearts?
Dearest Jesus,
many times in life like St. Paul
when we face so much difficulties,
we seek rest and affirmations 
that you are still with us,
that you have never left us
not because we doubt you
but because we feel tired,
we feel weak,
our spirits sag;
but when we hear people
doing your work,
expressing their faith, hope and love
in you in the most extraordinary ways
like doing the almost impossible,
our hearts are renewed,
our hearts are refreshed in you!
Like Philemon who had been cheated
or placed on the losing end when his slave Onesimus
fled from him; it must be so difficult for him
to take back Onesimus, to forgive and forget
his transgressions, most of all, 
to regard him as a brother without casting 
any doubts on his conversion
and reason for being a Christian.
So many hearts must have also been
refreshed in you, O Jesus Christ,
by the saints like St. Leo the Great
in his great works explaining your 
mystery of Incarnation,
in his touching homilies,
and handling of the barbarians
attacking Rome at that time;
his zeal and faith in you in achieving
so much feats as a pastor and administrator
refreshed many hearts in Christ
in those dark times following the fall of Rome
that until now upon learning his story
others continue to strive to be holy;
The Good Nurse is another notable
disciple you have used to refresh our tired
hearts in setting things right even if the
big bosses could not stand up against
systematic evil in their organizations.
Indeed, Lord Jesus,
"the Kingdom of God is among us"
not outside observable things
as you explained to the Pharisees 
its coming in today's gospel (Lk.17:20-21);
 touch us and fill us with your grace
to do your works, to be more loving and kind,
merciful and forgiving
so that in our witnessing, 
in our apostolate and ministry,
in our daily living of your Gospel
we may refresh the hearts
of those with sagging spirits
and joy in making you present
in the world.
Amen.

Prayer against complacency

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 08 November 2022
Titus 2:1-8, 11-14   ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< === ><]]]'> + <'[[[><   Luke 17:7-10
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we approach the end of the year
before we get carried away
with the excitement of your birthday
that is Christmas, help me focus on you
more earnestly these days.
Do not let me be complacent.

Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table?’ When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Luke 17:7, 10
Forgive me, Jesus
when there are times I feel so entitled
to you after I have done your assigned
task and mission;
let me keep in my mind always
that more than fulfilling the will of the Father,
what matters most is our relationship with God.

Do not let me be complacent in being good,
in being faithful,
in being a good example to others
as St. Paul instructed Titus
to remind everyone,
both the elder men and women,
 and younger men and women too!

For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:11-14
Keep me temperate,
dignified, self-controlled,
sound in faith, love and endurance,
showing myself as a model of good deeds
in every respect, with integrity in teaching,
dignity, and sound speech 
that cannot be
criticized.
Amen.

Prayer to be good

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 07 November 2022
Titus 1:1-9   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. Be on your guard!

Luke 17:1, 3
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for this great Monday!
Thank you for reminding us how sin
will inevitably occur in this life,
in this imperfect world.
Bless us, dear Jesus,
to be always on guard;
guide us and keep us strong
with clear mind and conscience
to never allow ourselves to 
cause others to sin;
Like St. Paul reminding Titus today,
help us to be blameless before you
and others, "not arrogant, 
not irritable, not a drunkard, 
not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain"
(Titus 1:7).
Help us, dear Jesus,
to be on guard by being good always
like being "hospitable, a lover of goodness,
temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled,
holding fast" (Titus 1:8) 
to your Gospel message of
love and mercy, 
kindness and justice.
Amen.

Guided by the Holy Spirit

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, 12 October 2022
Galatians 5:18-25     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     Luke 11:42-46
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.
Come, O Holy Spirit,
guide us in our daily life;
give us the courage 
to do what is good,
to follow what is true,
to practice justice,
most of all, to love
until it hurts.
So often
we are focused 
with the flesh 
with the corporeal
with the material
aspects of life that
only lead to dissension
and divisions among us
because of our pride
and selfishness
that evil thoughts form
and preoccupy our minds
that we eventually express in
our words and then in deeds.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.

Galatians 5:19-21
Be the "silent guest 
of our soul" (St. Augustine),
O Holy Spirit so we may
fulfill the law of Jesus Christ,
the law of love; 
overshadow us
with your fire and zeal,
power and wisdom,
gentleness and kindness
so we may remain with
Christ crucified
witnessing his loving
service to one another
without imposing 
heavy burdens on them
as we bring out your goodness
and presence within them.
Amen. 

Seeing Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 22 September 2022
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 9:7-9
Photo by author, sunrise at Our Lady of Fatima University in Antipolo City, August 2022.
Your words today, 
O Lord our God are
"greatly perplexing" 
that I feel like Herod
the tetrarch in the gospel
"trying to see" you,
Jesus (Lk.9:7-9).
So many times
I have prayed before
asking you how I 
wanted to see you
because "all is vanity
in this world; nothing is new
under the sun.  Even the
thing we say as new has already
existed in the ages that
preceded us" (Eccl.1:2,9-10);
and so, what else is there
for us to see in this world,
in this life but you, 
dear Jesus! 
But, how can we see you
truly, O Lord Jesus, so that
we may also find the meaning
of this life amid all the vanities
around us?
When a group of Greeks
came to Jerusalem and
requested to see you
just before Good Friday,
you replied through Philip 
with the falling and dying 
of a grain of wheat 
(Jn.12:20-26) to show us
that in order to see you,
we have to learn to look
through your Cross; 
that we can only see you, 
Jesus, in your Passion
and Death to see your glory
in your Resurrection.
Forgive us, Lord,
when so many times
we wax our desire to see you
with novelties and sentimentalities
of the world that are simply 
vanities like Herod the Tetrarch;
let us go down to our knees
before you on the Cross,
commune with you in
prayers before the Blessed
Sacrament and most especially, 
live by witnessing your pasch
in a world so fascinated with
drama and effects
than with essence
that is love willing to
suffer and die like you
on the Cross.
Amen.

Getting up to follow Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, 21 September 2022
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13     <*{{{{><  +  ><}}}}*>     Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, Lake Tiberias from the side of Capernaum where Jesus called Matthew to follow him.
You never fail to amaze me,
Lord Jesus Christ with your
unique manner and ways
of finding us, calling us, 
and loving us.
Of your Twelve Apostles, 
only five were called while
working:  the brothers Simon
and Andrew, James and John
who were fishermen and 
Matthew, a tax collector;
the first four belonged 
to the most ordinary 
and lowliest job of the time, 
fishing, while Matthew did
the most despicable job of
collecting taxes unjustly for
Roman colonizers making him
both a sinner and a traitor.
But, you have your plans
that are so different from our
ways when you told the Pharisees
and scribes that "Those who are well
do not need a physician, 
but the sick do... I did not come
to call the righteous
but sinners" (Mt.9:12, 13).
Thank you, Lord Jesus
for still calling me when
I was at my lowest point in life,
when I was most sinful,
when everyone was rejecting me;
thank you, Jesus,
for believing in me,
in calling me to come,
follow you; help me to rise
from my pit of anger and
bitterness, hopelessness 
and desolation like Matthew,
leaving all evil and sins
to follow you
and share you with 
everyone.
Help me, Jesus,
to write the fifth gospel
according to my life
like Matthew
by "living in a manner
worthy of the call I have
received" (Eph. 4:1).
Amen.

St. Matthew,
pray for us!
Caravaggio’s painting, “Calling of St. Matthew” from en.wikipedia.org.

*You may also want to check our reflection on Caravaggio’s painting “Calling of St. Matthew” by clicking this link:

Following Jesus in lights and darkness by Caravaggio