When troubles happen

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 17 May 2021
Acts 20:17-27   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 16:29-33
Smoky skies from the northern California wildfires turn the sky a glowing orange in San Francisco, California on 09 September 2020. Photo by Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

What a blessed Monday you have given us today, our loving Father, filling us with so many hopes for better days ahead of us. Yes, work has piled up for most of us with so many demands and targets to be met, so many obligations and responsibilities to fulfill this week, not to mention our many concerns in the family and with our very selves.

But, like the apostles in the gospel today, we are joyful even if we do not fully understand everything in life because you have assured us of your loving presence especially when troubles and problems arise.

"Behold, the hour is coming 
and has arrived when each of you
will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, 
because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that 
you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world."
(John 16:32-33) 

Truly, indeed, Lord, troubles have never stopped coming our way especially since the start of this pandemic.

We have so many worries and anxieties at the moment but we are thankful to your love and mercy. Your blessings and grace far outweigh all the troubles we have at the moment. Your kindness is more than enough as you give us everything we need.

Teach us to be content and grateful. Most of all, to remember and reach out to those with less in life, those who go through more troubles these days.

Like St. Paul who chose to travel “through the interior of the country down to Ephesus” instead of taking the usual and easier route to meet more people in need and rarely seen by almost everyone.

Give us the grace today to be one with those having many problems and troubles today. May our presence make them realize they are not alone, like you, dear Jesus who is always with the Father.

We pray most especially today for those going through many troubles whether by their own making or by others. Amen.

Prayer to work centered on the Lord like St. Joseph

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, 01 May 2021
Genesis 1:26-2:3   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 13:54-58
Photo by author, site of St. Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth beneath the chapel in his honor, May 2017.

God our loving Father, we praise and thank you for the gift of St. Joseph whom you have called to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of your Son Jesus Christ here on earth. In him, you have shown us the value of sharing in your work to nurture earth and its resources.

Most of all, in St. Joseph you have taught us to work centered on our Lord Jesus Christ by integrating work with family and with fatherhood to become truly a provider not only of food, clothing and other material needs but most of all in providing love and guidance to the family.

In St. Joseph, the motivation and the purpose of work is solely to serve Jesus Christ which is very evident in the gospel today.

Jesus came to his native place
and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son?"
(Matthew 13:54-55)

How beautiful that in the “wisdom and mighty deeds” displayed by Jesus, the people remembered St. Joseph the carpenter – what a marvelous job he must have done in forming and providing for our Lord!

He must have worked diligently for you, dear God, never focusing attention to himself so unlike these days when we have categories of workers like those doing “white collar jobs” and “blue collar jobs”.

Dearest God our Father, in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic when so many people have lost work and are now suffering the adverse effects of quarantine, we pray in the most special way for our workers to please protect them from all harm and sickness especially those working in the hospital.

We pray for those trying to find work these days so they may continue to provide for their families.

Photo by author, Chapel of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Israel, May 2017.

Open our hearts on this year of St. Joseph as proclaimed by Pope Francis last December 8 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his proclamation as patron of the universal church:

The crisis of our time, which is economic, social, cultural and spiritual, can serve as a summons for all of us to rediscover the value, the importance and necessity of work for bringing about a new “normal” from which no one is excluded. Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work. The loss of employment that affects so many of our brothers and sisters, and has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, should serve as a summons to review our priorities. Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!

Pope Francis, “Patris Corde” #6

O most chaste St. Joseph, pray for us! Amen.

Being clothed with Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXVIII-A in Ordinary Time, 11 October 2020
Isaiah 25:6-10     ><)))*>     Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20     >><)))*>     Matthew 22:1-14
Photo by author, Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Holy Family, Guiguinto, Bulacan (2018).

As we end the series of teachings in parables by Jesus directed to the chief priests and elders of the people, St. Paul concludes his Letter to the Philippians in our second reading with words so moving for a man awaiting trial and sure death, giving us a glimpse at how this great Apostle of the Lord looked at the most ordinary things in life.

Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live in abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:12-14

Wow! Here we find St. Paul at his best and finest, with his mastery of language at the service of his innermost thoughts and feelings, indicating his transformation from the many hardships and difficulties he had gone through as an Apostle and suffered as a prisoner.

Like St. Paul, there are times we experience that perfect balance in life called equilibrium when we are able to bridge the distance between our mind and our heart with Jesus at the center amid so many trials and difficulties.

Most of all, we see in this short passage how St. Paul accepted both living in need and in abundance with calmness and composure because of Jesus Christ who strengthened him!

What an encouragement for us all in this time of pandemic to remind us of learning to adjust to situations, that true peace within comes not from abundance or scarcity of material goods but of letting go and letting God in our lives. St. Paul witnessed to us the centrality of the Lord’s teaching of denying ourselves, taking our cross and following Jesus.

Most of all, in St. Paul we find what is to be clothed in Christ or “to put on Jesus Christ” (Rom.13:14) by accepting God’s invitation to salvation through his Son as the parable of the wedding feast tells us in our gospel this Sunday.

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants… Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

Matthew 22:1-4, 5-7

Do not ignore God’s invitation; carpe diem (seize the moment).


Photo by Angelo N. Carpio, January 2020.

Jesus continues to direct his parables to the chief priests and elders of the people not really to shame them and expose their sinister plots against him but more in the hope of converting them, of giving them the chance of getting into God’s kingdom in heaven.

That is how great is his love for everyone, especially the sinful even if they would not admit it — just like us!

Keep in mind that Christ speaks always in the present and this parable is also meant for us who feel “entitled” in may ways like the chief priests and elders at that time. Interestingly, today’s parable to a large extent has to be taken in the context of the Sunday Mass, the prefiguration of the wedding feast in heaven to which we are all invited.

But how can we get to the wedding feast in heaven if we feel so sure like the chief priests and elders that we refuse to accept God’s invitation?

The Eucharist is the summit of our Christian life where we receive Jesus Christ in words proclaimed, in his Body and Blood, and among the people gathered. Every day Jesus is inviting us to partake in his Sacred Meal to be nourished and get our bearings in life through him like St. Paul.

See how before the pandemic, people refused to celebrate Mass and other Sacraments; but, when quarantine measures were implemented with the suspension of public Masses, everybody wanted to go to churches and receive the Sacraments, specially Holy Communion and Baptism, as well as Confession and Anointing of the Sick!

Photo from Shutterstock/Aleteia.

After seven months of pandemic, many of us have learned to adjust to the new situation but sadly, many have gone back to totally ignoring the Sunday Mass. Worst is at how some have considered online Masses as “video-on-demand” making Jesus Christ a “commodity” anyone can have when most convenient. Pope Francis had reminded us last summer that online Masses are not the norm but a response to the pandemic. Nonetheless, we still have to dispose ourselves properly when celebrating with online Masses like in actual live Mass in a Church and strive to be punctual and avoid doing other things during the online celebration.

In giving us these modern means of communications, God continues to invite us to come to him and gather in his name as a family in our homes for the Sunday online Masses and other liturgical activities that nourish our souls so essential in these trying times. Like the king in the parable today who had to invite guests thrice to his son’s wedding feast, God gives us all the opportunities and chances to celebrate in his gift of salvation through Jesus in the Eucharist which is the summit of Christian life.

May we not miss every opportunity!

When I was assigned to our diocesan schools during my first ten years in priesthood, I used to tell my students that God’s mercy and forgiveness are unlimited but there are acts that can have irreversible consequences like getting involved in a murder, getting pregnant outside marriage, or being caught in a video scam. I would tell them that God will surely forgive you and give you many chances in life while people like your family and friends including those you may have hurt may also forgive and accept you; however, you cannot escape the consequences of those acts that will surely limit your freedom and change forever your situations in life. Bottomline is, do not let yourself be missed out in accepting God’s invitation to his feast of life and salvation by following the path of holiness that beings in the Holy Mass.

The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah directs our attention to “that day” when God would save us and welcome us into heaven symbolized by the feast or banquet with great food and drinks. The good news is we are all invited to his feast, assured with a seat and it would only be our fault to not make it there, either by refusing it or not getting dressed properly.


Being properly dressed is always a sign of maturity.


Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images, 09 February 2020, Baclaran Church.

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, good and bad alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

As is often the case in his parables, Jesus pulled a surprise when he added another parable to this parable of the wedding feast that could have easily ended in the annihilation of those who rejected the king’s two earlier invitations.

God is the king who was so good that he never tired of inviting guests thrice to the wedding feast of his son, and this time he opened it to everyone! And here lies the clincher: though everyone is invited, guests were expected to come in proper attire.

We have learned at a very young age of getting properly dressed in an occasion. In fact, dressing properly is a sign of maturity. Some people especially in this age always claim what matters is the inside of the person not the outside appearance like clothes; but, they forget that the outside also indicates what is inside of us!

Clothes speak a lot of who we are and what we are that even St. Paul used several times the metaphors of clothes like “putting on the Lord Jesus” or being “clothed in Christ” as we have cited earlier.

See how the king went to meet the guests not just for pleasantries but for inspection that immediately his eyes caught the man not dressed in a wedding garment. The king was even courteous addressing the man as “my friend” when asked why he came not in a wedding garment.

Try to imagine the scene with that man “reduced to silence” meaning, he was guilty of not putting on a wedding garment even if he knew that was the occasion he was going to. He had been remiss of his duties and obligations, just like the wicked tenants last week or the merciless servant last month.


"Many are invited, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14) 

St. Matthew never failed to remind us these past weeks that our faith has no value if not translated into actions, if it does not bear fruits. Today, he reminds us to be properly dressed to become a part of the wedding feast of the Lord, of the need to be clothed in holiness, in charity, and kindness with others.

Moreover, with just barely two months to go before we end the liturgical year to usher in Advent in preparation for Christmas, Jesus tells us today to never feel so sure, even “safely assured” of getting into heaven like the chief priests and elders of his time that even if we celebrate Sunday Masses weekly, online or actual, nothing is final yet in this life until we all get into the hall of the wedding feast in heaven when we are judged for our good deeds.

For the meantime, let us not miss joining the “rehearsals” for that feast – the Sunday Mass we celebrate weekly when he invites everyone to come. Be sure to be properly dressed for the occasion, literally and figuratively speaking. Amen.

A blessed week to everyone!

Photo by author at Silang, Cavite, 22 September 2020.

Of wages and gifts

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorials of St. John Eudes & St. Ezechiel Moreno, Priests, 19 August 2020
Ezekiel 34:1-11 >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> Matthew 20:1-16
Photo by author, Pulilan, Bulacan, February 2020.

As we go through more difficulties and sufferings during this time of pandemic, your words today dear God speak so well of what we need most – a true shepherd who will care for the lost and injured sheep.

Yes, you have fulfilled, O God, your promise a long time ago to Ezekiel that you yourself will come by sending us your Son Jesus Christ to look after and tend your sheep after the shepherds of Israel have miserably failed in their duties and responsibilities.

Unfortunately, there are still so many shepherds today in government even in Church who continue to pasture themselves!

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who has been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; I swear I am coming against these shepherds.

Ezekiel 34:2-4, 8, 10

Teach us, O Lord, through the examples of two great shepherds of souls whose feast we celebrate today: St. John Eudes who was one of the early pioneers in propagating devotion to your most Sacred Heart and St. Ezechiel Moreno who served for 15 years in the Philippines and later in South America where innumerable cancer cures were attributed to him.

St. John Eudes and St. Ezechiel Moreno showed in their lives of faithful and loving apostolate for the poor that shepherding is always a gift, never to be counted or equated nor even be seen in terms of wages and pay like in the gospel.

Remind us sweet Jesus in the midst of this pandemic when we are called to be good shepherds like you, may we always see your call and mission to us as gifts freely given not as tasks or work to be compensated by material things because you believe in us.

May we always go the extra mile in answering your call, O Lord, which is in itself a tremendous gift we must cherish for we are not even worthy at all to receive. Amen.

From Google.

Doing the work of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, 01 May 2020

Genesis 1:26-2:3 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 13:54-58

Photo by author of the site of St. Joseph’s shop in their home at Nazareth found beneath the Chapel of St. Joseph near the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel. May 2019.

As we start the third extension of our quarantine period, you have gifted us O God, our loving Father, with this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to guide many of us working at home during this time of the corona pandemic.

St. Joseph must have been a very good father to Jesus at Nazareth and a very wonderful carpenter too to their neighbors that long after he had died, the people still remembered him being the father of the Lord.

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is he not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”

Matthew 13:54-56

Remind us always, O Lord, that like St. Joseph, our main task in life is to do your work in the way you would want it to be done because all our work is just a sharing in your creation completed in six days, setting aside the seventh day of sabbath as a day of rest in you.

In this time of the corona virus when many of us are working at home with almost all establishments including churches are closed, may we find again the true meaning and value of all work and material endeavors in the light of Jesus Christ who did and spoke only what you willed, our heavenly Father.

May we break free from our works and be not their slaves that have destroyed our personal and family lives as well as our environment as we pursued in recent years material wealth and fame now useless in the face of COVID-19.

May we always find you, Lord, in all our work and undertaking as our only fulfillment. Amen.

Photon by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, March 2020.

Prayer to See Love Anew

LMC
Breakfast Recipe-Prayer, Monday
19 November 2018, Week XXXIII, Year II
Revelation 1: 1-4; 2:1-5///Luke 18:35-43

            Praise and thanksgiving to you O God, loving and merciful Father!

            Thank for making me realize on this beautiful Monday that doing so many good things are not enough if there is no love.  So many times I am blinded by the ministry, by the work to be done, by the people to be helped out, even by you, my God, that I do so many things for you without any love at all.

            I’m sorry, Lord.  There are times that ministry and service, even the very life of holiness become a task or a work to be done and completed, empty of any love at all.  There are many times I see myself becoming like the Ephesians in St. John’s vision filled with energy and vigor in the mission but empty of love.

           Heal my blindness, O Lord!  Let me regain not only my sight to see things clearly but to see you most especially in your essence, in love.  Let me see love in everything I do, love in the people I meet and serve.  Let me see, O Lord that love you have filled me with so much that I have forgotten and even refused to share sometimes.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

1-corinthians-13-2

It’s the Position Seeking the Person

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Monday, 12 November 2018, Week XXXII, Year II
Titus 1:1-9//Luke 17:1-6

            Thank you for this Monday, Lord Jesus Christ.

            Remind us on this first day of work that it is the position seeking the person and not the person seeking the position.  Remind us of the meaning of vocation that every position and task in our lives is a call from you to serve.  Remind us that every position, every authority, every power comes from you and it is always a sharing in your work not for our personal interests.

            On this first day of work, St. Paul’s letter to Titus invites us all in the Church and in the civil society to remember that every task, every work, every position you give us is “to set right what remains to be done” (Titus 1:5) to maintain or restore order and harmony among  us.

            May we heed your warning “things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur.” (Lk.17:1)  Many times, sins happen when we desire and get positions not meant for us, inflating our egos, and thus, start lording over everyone.  Grant us the humility to always be one in you and with you like St. Josaphat who shed his blood for unity and harmony among the people.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

leadershipnot positionS

*Photo from Google.

Be A Responsible Giver

LordMyChef “I-Like-Mondays” Quote, 29 October 2018:

“You don’t have to wait until you’re very rich to start helping others.  and exactly like blood, you can only give away a certain amount, depending on your capacity, so you can remain healthy and able to keep helping others.  Like blood, money is a blessing that should be shared, but you must be a responsible giver.”

Edgar “Injap” Sia with Kristine Fonacier, “Life Principles” pp. 88-89.

fishing

From Google.

 

 

On Decision-Making

LordMyChef “I-Like-Mondays” Quote, 22 October 2018:

“I think success is a series of correct decisions.  Every decision that’s made today was made because you thought it was right today; and, as a leader and a business founder, that’s your job- to keep making decisions all day.

For ten decisions you make, maybe seven will be perceived as immediately correct.  While others may not perceive the other three decisions as right, if you’re blessed, it will turn out correct in the long run.  And that blessing comes about as a combination of instinct and guidance.”

Edgar “Injap” Sia with Kristine Fonacier, “Life Principles”, page 106.

MaiTokyo1

Photo by Dra. Mai Dela Pena, Tokyo, Japan 2018.  Used with permission.

Why Work?

LordMyChef “I-Like-Mondays” Quote, 10 September 2018:

“And unless you’re an astronaut, it’s not the work we do that inspires us either.  It’s the cause we come to work for.  We don’t want to come to work to build a wall, we want to come to work to build a cathedral.”

(Simon Sinek “Start With Why”, page 135.)

DSCF0855

Photo by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, Church of Dormition, Jerusalem, April 2017.