The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, 28 September 2020
Job 1:6-22 >><)))*> >><)))*> + <*(((><< <*(((><< Luke 9:46-50
How great it is, O God our loving Father that on this Feast of our first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, our readings today and even yesterday were all about words and how we must “walk our talk”.
San Lorenzo Ruiz remained true to his words that if given with a thousand lives, he would give them all to God when he chose martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan in 1637 along with 15 others that included nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two laymen, and two consecrated women.
Exactly the same way Job is the best example of fidelity and complete trust in God when after losing all his children and properties in just one day, all he said was…
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.
So many times, Lord, we say so many things without really meaning them well, when our words and actions do not jibe at all.
Sometimes, all we have are good intentions, lacking in actions.
And worst, there are times when we our words reveal dark intentions in our hearts that cannot escape you.
Help us to be true to our words, to be your witnesses in this world where words mean so cheap that even if we say more, we still mean nothing at all because our words are empty.
Through the intercession of San Lorenzo Ruiz, grant us the gift of martyrdom, of witnessing to your Gospel not only in words but most of all in actions. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXVI-A in Ordinary Time, 27 September 2020
Ezekiel 18:25-28 |+| Philippians 2:1-11 |+| Matthew 21:28-32
Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
We priests and religious pray this beautiful hymn by St. Paul every Saturday evening. It is also proclaimed on Palm Sunday to show us Jesus Christ’s self-emptying (kenosis in Greek) to offer himself for our salvation. It is the most important text of St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians that has played a vital role in the discussions of Christ’s preexistence.
Seen in the light of the gospel this Sunday, it is also part of St. Paul’s moral exhortation to the Philippians and us living today to be united as one in Jesus by following his pattern of kenosis that is similar with his teachings that “the first will be last, and the last will be first, that the greatest is the servant of all.”
It is the fundamental model of Christian life, the very essence of following Jesus by denying one’s self and taking up one’s cross but also the most difficult to learn and put into practice as it is exactly the opposite of the way of the world – “upward mobility” — of being rich and famous, of being in control that had divided us with massive walls of indifference, hate, and antagonisms making peace and joy more elusive.
Christ’s kenosis is the only way up in life to be back in God that leads us to unity, peace, and joy.
In this time of the pandemic when we are supposed to be more united and kind and nice with everyone, St. Paul’s call to imitate Jesus Christ’s kenosis is very timely and relevant, calling us to soften our hearts by emptying ourselves of our pride unlike the chief priests and elders of Israel to whom the Lord addressed his parable this Sunday.
Our sense of entitlement
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
Beginning today in three successive Sundays, Jesus teaches us again in parables to soften our hearts and let go of our pride that we are better than others, that we deserve more than what is due us like those early workers to the vineyard in last week’s gospel.
In a sense, today’s gospel tells us that there are too many works to be done in God’s kingdom that we have to keep going, imitating Jesus and be careful of falling into the same trap of those workers in last Sunday’s parable who felt entitled to more pay because they worked longer than others.
Notice how Jesus directly addresses his parables in these three Sundays to the same crowd of “chief priests and elders of the people” who have always felt favored by God for being of his “chosen people” since Abraham’s time. They always looked down at others specially the “tax collectors and prostitutes” considered as sinners.
They are not just people from the past who have lived during Christ’s time more than 2000 years ago. Even among us today, there are still chief priests and elders who continue to live and exist!
And here is the rub — among these people who may really be good in faithfully keeping the commandments of the Lord, praying and doing all kinds of devotions and charities are also the worst. Their religiosity are tied only to themselves and never to God, without any love at all.
Keep in mind that every time we feel entitled like the chief priests and elders of the people, it means our hearts have gone hard and cold like the elder son of the merciful father of the parable of the prodigal son or the early workers hired to the vineyard last week.
So many times it happens that those who are supposed to be on higher moral grounds turn out to be without any roots and grounding in God at all, becoming harsh and judgmental of others, more sinful than the ones they condemn.
Like the chief priests and elders of the people in the crowd listening to Jesus, they start as the vida only to end up as the contravida like when there is a “black sheep” in the family or a “rotten tomato” in class, that instead of helping them rise from their sinfulness, they who are the ones who condemn and sink others deeper into their holes!
That is why God questions, stirs their hearts through the prophet in the first reading,
Thus says the Lord: You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
Always examine our hearts for we must all be converted again and again.
We must keep on praising and thanking God for his mercies like in our responsorial psalm this Sunday because he gives us all the chances in life to change and become better persons. Here we find a semblance with the gospel the other Sunday why we must forgive without limits because God’s love for us is infinite.
Actions, not intentions, judge us
Last Monday we celebrated the feast of St. Matthew, the tax collector called by Jesus to become one of his Twelve Apostles who also wrote one of the four gospels. It is very interesting to know that in all gospel accounts, tax collectors and prostitutes are always grouped together because they are the worst sinners at that time.
Tax collectors not only enriched themselves with excessive collections from the people but were seen as traitors who worked for the Roman colonizers of Israel at that time. Prostitutes, on the other hand, have always been considered very low because as women supposed to give birth for the awaited Messiah, they have “dirtied” their womb. Together, tax collectors and prostitutes were seen as the worst sinners in Israel because they have sold their souls to the devil; hence, they were considered beyond redemption, beyond hope, a scourge to their families and to the community that nobody would want to deal with them.
And so, it was very radical, out-of-this-world and totally unimaginable for everybody then when they heard Jesus telling them how “tax collectors and prostitutes” were entering the kingdom of God before the chief priests and elders of the people who were considered very holy at that time!
It was a serious warning to them and us today from the Lord who reminds us that our actions judge us. The parable is an echo of his warning that “not everyone who calls him ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter heaven” (Mt.7:21). St. Matthew is very particular in his gospel account of the complete jibing together of what we say and what we do, of “walking the talk”.
We have so many sayings expressing this important lesson of today’s parable by the Lord like “A single act of good deed is always better than the grandest and best intention” and “Actions always speak louder than words.”
In this time of the pandemic when church attendance is limited and we are advised not to sing and reply aloud in the Mass, it is best that we examine how we have become mechanical in our celebrations without realizing the gravity of things we say like when we acclaim after the gospel proclamation “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!”: do we really work hard in his vineyard or are we like the other son who said yes but did not go? When at the end of the Mass we are told “Go in the peace of Jesus Christ” and we say, “Thanks be to God”, do we really go home at peace or still having that festering anger or dislike to someone?
Make your joy complete. Ask Jesus to soften your heart. Take a step backwards like the first son though at first he seemed so bad to disobey his father in refusing to follow his command, do not be ashamed to take back your words and do what is right.
Be careful not with your words but with your actions for which the Lord would judge us in the end.
Find solace in St. Paul’s beautiful hymn this Sunday: the lower we go down, the higher we are lifted up like Jesus. Nobody had ever gone wrong and lost in life going down, of being humble. Many men and women have gone to oblivion, lost and forgotten when their ivory towers collapsed, burying them in the rubble.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August 2020
Revelation 21:9-14 >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> John 1:45-51
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus, the “Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” to reveal the Father’s immense love for us all. He was not contented in just telling the prophets of Old Testament how he loved us that He came and lived with us in you, Lord Jesus!
And that is why we also rejoice on this Feast of St. Bartholomew, a.k.a. Nathanael, who was introduced to you by another Apostle you have called earlier:
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How did you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
O dear Jesus, like St. Peter in the gospel yesterday and now St. Bartholomew, you are telling us anew to never be contented with mere words, with the “what” of who you really are, that we must always “come and see you” in order to experience your very person and truly know you.
I really wonder O Lord what your words meant that before Philip called Nathanael-Batholomew, you have seen him under the fig tree; however, I am so convinced that in your words, Nathanael-Bartholomew must have felt something deep inside him that he threw himself totally to you as your Apostle.
Most of all, teach me to remain simple and hidden in you, Jesus that like St. Bartholomew, despite the scarcity of stories and information about him except this little anecdote from the fourth Gospel, he remained faithful to you until his death by flaying reportedly in India.
May we imitate St. Bartholomew who had shown us that more than words, what matters is our oneness in you, Jesus, without any need for us doing sensational deeds, earning thousands of “likes” and “followers” in social media because only you, Lord, remains extraordinary above all. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIX in Ordinary Time, Year II, 04 June 2020
2 Timothy 2:8-15 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 12:28-34
Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.
2 Timothy 2:14
For today I just wanted to be silent before you in prayer.
But, you spoke a lot in that silence. Or, did I?
You know very well, Lord, how we have been silent since the start of this quarantine period due to COVID-19 pandemic. We bore everything in silence as much as possible, giving our government officials and lawmakers a chance to redeem themselves.
After all, we are in this mess because of their refusal to listen what others have been saying for the safety of the country, speaking of diplomacy and friendships among the originators of COVID-19, not knowing two of them have been infected with corona while here visiting. One eventually became the first fatality of COVID-19 outside China.
Those in government have always been doing all the talking that has always been non-sense and rubbish. They thought that the more words they used, the more things get clearer.
That is the problem, Lord: those in government like many of us your people are not aware that your silence always precedes your speaking; that your words are full of power, full of life, the fullness of meaning because every word comes from silence.
We humans, especially our elected officials, are all speaking out of noise and void, not from silence which is fullness.
We keep on talking in the hope and belief that the more we talk, the more our words become meaningful.
Lately, it is the opposite that is happening: the more our government officials speak, the more their words become empty while their tongues get sharper like swords, inflicting more pain and causing more shame.
They speak of lies after lies after lies hoping they become true if repeatedly said but the more they are lost.
They speak so tough, complete with warning against violators of quarantine rules but they are the ones who fall into their own pit, becoming like dogs eating what they have spit.
They speak of opening shops and offices, but they are closed to the plight of the commuters.
Worst and most unkind of all, they speak shamelessly of blaming the people for all their woes in this time of pandemic quarantine while they were busy silencing us the people, closing ABS-CBN and just this week, surreptitiously passing the anti-terror bill that silences all critics of this administration mired in profanities, lies, and insincerity.
They make so many laws, using so many words, and yet not a single word proved to be good like the scribe who asked Jesus:
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Lord God of power and might, you are the only we have always count on for our protection and salvation.
You know what is in our hearts and you know very well what we are willing to do if you just say so.
For the sake of peace in our country, let our leaders eat their words or at least, keep their mouths shut to stop all their shows and start to listen, accept and love.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Week IV-A, 26 January 2020
Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ><)))*> Matthew 4:12-23
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.
The Bible clearly tells us everything in the beginning was dark. And since then, almost everything has always begun in darkness, like human life itself, or every new day, even new year!
Some relatives and friends have been complaining to me how 2020 started off with a lot of darkness.
And I totally agree with them!
Since the Christmas Season until last Friday, I have been officiating funeral Masses for parishioners and friends as well as praying for some relatives and friends who have passed away this January abroad. Also included in this vast swathe of darkness are some relatives and friends diagnosed with serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
In the news we find so many darkness at the start of 2020 like fears of World War III when an Iranian military officer was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 03; the January 12 phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano now threatening a catastrophic eruption anytime; and, this fast-spreading new corona virus from China that is reportedly so deadly.
Everything is so dark at the start of 2020 and January is not even over yet!
Darkness leads us into light
Even our readings today speak about darkness, especially the beginning of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ after John the Baptizer was arrested.
When Jesus heard John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Napthali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled.
However, these same readings assure us that not all darkness are gloomy after all. In fact, it is in darkness where we see the light of the gospel shining brightly.
Despite that dark note on the arrest of John the Baptizer, we actually have here the beginning of the good news of salvation with the start of the preaching and public ministry of Jesus Christ.
Darkness is always a prelude to light, like chaos is to order.
Sometimes, we need to experience some darkness for us to realize the need to be enlightened, to see more the beauty of light, to seek light – most especially of the love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ who had come to us on the darkest day of the year, December 25.
See how in our lives when bad things have to happen first before we can learn our lessons so well or find particular values we now treasure in life.
Sometimes, God allows us to be plunged into darkness to find him, to see him, to desire him and eventually have him.
First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
Jesus comes to us in darkness
Darkness in the bible signifies sin and evil, failures and disappointments, struggles and sufferings, and finally, sickness and death. No one is immuned from darkness.
But with the coming of Jesus Christ who conquered evil and sin, darkness has become a blessing, an invitation for us to find him, to listen to him, and to follow him.
Fram that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make yo fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus opted to start his public ministry and preaching in the “darkest region” of Israel at that time, among the peoples living in darkness of sins and lack of meaning and directions in life. He comes to us most of the time during our moments of darkness to enlighten us and give us direction.
That makes every darkness a blessing in itself for that is when Jesus – the Gospel himself – shines brightly.
Let everything begin in the words of Jesus
Right away at the start of his preaching and ministry, people began following to listen to Jesus in Galilee, particularly at Capernaum where he used to preach in their synagogue near the shores of the Lake of Galilee (a.ka., Tiberias).
Everything began with the words of Jesus Christ: the sick were healed, those possessed by evil spirits were cleansed, sinners were forgiven, and those troubled found comfort in him.
Most of all, people found meaning in life as experienced by the first four disciples of Jesus, Simon and his brother Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John.
They were all rich and money was not a problem because they owned fishing boats that was very expensive at that time. Simon Peter is believed to be a very successful fisherman with many hired workers while the brothers James and John were beginning to learn the trade from their rich dad.
All four grew up together, worked together, most of all shared the same darkness in life, searching for meaning and direction in life that they have finally found in Jesus Christ while listening to his preaching. And that is why they immediately left everything and everyone behind after being called by Christ!
Very surprising was the attitude of Zebedee also who did not even bother to call or drag his sons back to their boat to help him because he must have felt and seen the bright sparks within his sons who have finally found meaning and direction in life through the preaching of Jesus Christ – “the Word who became flesh” – according to John who later wrote the fourth gospel account.
Such is the power of the word of God who cleanses us of our sins, empties us of our pride and foolish self to be filled with the wisdom and light of Jesus Christ.
In a decree issued last week, Pope Francis has declared every third Sunday of Ordinary Time as “Bible Sunday” to emphasize the importance of praying the Sacred Scriptures, listening to God himself present in his words found in the Bible.
Even today, everything begins with the words of Jesus Christ: that is why it is the very first part of the Mass, equally important with the Eucharist.
We can never experience Jesus Christ in his Body and Blood at the Holy Eucharist or even among our brothers and sisters gathered in the celebration of the Holy Mass unless we first meet and experience him in his words.
Most of all, we can never experience him in person without praying the Sacred Scriptures because according to St. Jerome, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ.”
Is there ay darkness in your life these days?
Try dusting off that bible you have kept in a little corner of your shelf — read it, study it, and pray it.
Be surprised in its powers for,
“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart”
1 Samuel 1:9-20 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 1:21-28
Hanna replied to Eli, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and she left..
1 Samuel 1:18
While praying over your words, O Lord, of that scene at the temple when Eli mistook Hannah to being drunk while praying intensely to you for a child, it reminded me of Taal Volcano’s restive behavior, of her spewing ashes and causing tremors.
But despite all these, Taal remains lovely and magnificent.
Sometimes, Lord, that is what exactly we need in life: to think kindly of others always.
The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
Mark 1:22, 27
Purify our thoughts, Lord, to always think kindly of others.
To always have that disposition for silence and being non-judgmental with others to always listen to them and be open to their thoughts and feelings as well.
Like you, Lord Jesus Christ, enable us to share in the power of your words, to speak with authority by entering into that daily union with you in silence and prayers.
May we learn also from the gentle Taal: to be still and silent, to speak only when necessary so that everyone listens intently to her inner rumblings when she finally “speaks”.
We continue to pray for those severely affected by Taal’s eruptions, most especially that they may remain kind with people and nature alike in this trying moments of a major calamity.
We pray for businessmen to have a heart, to think kindly of those affected by Taal’s eruptions and stop jacking up prices of much needed goods. Amen.
Monday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, 11 November 2019
Wisdom 1:1-7 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 17:1-6
It is the start of work and school today, Lord.
Thank you for our jobs, thank you for our schools, thank you for the food and clothes we have.
Thank you very much for the gift of self and most especially for the gift of others.
Unfortunately, O Lord, they are the ones we always hurt with our painful words, and yes, with all sorts of profanities.
If our words were like swords or clubs, or even at least like thorns of the cactus, everyone of us would be beaten black and blue or worst, mangled.
For wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips; because God is the witness of his inmost self and the sure observer of his heart and the listener to his tongue. For the spirit of the Lord fill the world, is all embracing, and knows what man says.
Bless us today, Lord, to be like St. Martin of Tours who always spoke with humility and gentility, full of wisdom and kindness to everyone. Most of all, bless us to be like him to see you Lord among everyone and treat them with respect and dignity always.
Fill us with your wisdom, Lord, especially our public figures that they may never let speak evil of anyone and be an occasion of sin as you warned in the gospel today.
Help us to bring back decency and kindness especially in our language for indeed, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:34).
Today is “throwback Thursday”, Lord. We call it tbt. And I cannot resist humming that song by the Extreme, “More than Words” as I prayed over your words for today.
How amazing is the power of a word, especially your words, Lord. Whatever you said came into existence for you words and your being are one. In your goodness, you shared this great power of the words with us that we are your only creatures able to communicate using words.
Before you went back to the Father, you told us to keep your words, to remain in your love so that our joy may be complete.
How sad that we have taken this for granted as we desecrate words of their sanctity and true meaning.
How sad that so often we never meant what we said. We have to multiply our words in order to be meaningful, for others to believe us and trust us.
Help us to regain the sanctity of words, of “palabra de honor” that has long been gone in a world of words that lie, mislead, and deceive.
Help us rediscover anew your words of life, Lord, like the Apostles who relied heavily on your words when they met at the Council of Jerusalem to resolve their first issues as a Church.
May your words guide us anew so we may discover the true meaning of life that in the process, like the ancient peoples, we may express in more than words our great love for you through our wonderful works of art and charity with others. Amen.
*Were you touched by our prayer today? Share us your thoughts and touch other hearts too. If you have prayer intentions, we'll be glad to pray for you. Follow us for your daily recipes for the soul. God bless! fr nick
40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday of Week 1, 13 March 2019 Jonah 3:1-10///Luke 11:29-32
Open “the ears of our hearts”, O Lord, to always heed your words especially in this holy season of Lent when your readings are so rich and meaningful. So many times we are like your contemporaries, “an evil generation always seeking signs.” (Lk. 11:29)
Or, like your reluctant prophet Jonah: we cannot believe your words, always trying to escape responsibilities and mission from you to proclaim your word.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s bidding.
How funny and even insane, Lord, for us to run away from you, hide from you like Jonah because we find your words so simple, doubting its powers to move and change people.
But when like Jonah we proclaim your words, we are amazed and surprised at its efficacy not only with the people they are directed to but most of all with us. Your words indeed are alive and so powerful especially if our whole heart is humbled and contrite from our sins.
Help us to always recognize your presence in your words for you are the Word who became flesh. Take away our stony hearts and give us a natural heart that beats with firm faith, fervent hope and unceasing charity and love. Amen.