Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Lk 8:16-18 Trying To Be Irrelevant

Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By KATIE GROSS

Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.”

As a high-school student, I have heard many a homily about this Gospel reading.  Sometimes, this reading is picked for school Masses or special occasion Masses even when it is not the reading for the day! On the surface, the Gospel does seem to contain a wonderful sentiment—we should make the most out of our gifts, right? We should shine the light that God has given us as bright as we possibly can by going into the world and doing incredible things. I would agree with that. However, while I do agree with the popular interpretation of this Gospel, it also raises an important question—what is the light Jesus is talking about?
 
The popular interpretation of human beings being the light of the world is correct. After all, the parallel of this reading in Matthew chapter 5 says, “You are the light of the world… neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick.” However, notice that in this passage from Luke, Jesus does not once say the word ‘you.’ He simply mentions ‘the light.’ What does that mean?  We may be the light, but the light is not created by us. The light shines through us through no act of our own power.
 
That is the temptation that we have to resist—making ‘the light’ about ‘you’! I remember being a little freshmen and getting so hyped up about how I was going to go out after school and change the world. I was going to eliminate poverty, fix corruption—all by myself! It wasn’t really until I started getting into some service projects and mission work that I saw I couldn’t really do that. My own will and my own power are like little grains of sand compared with all the suffering, injustice, and pain in the world.

We recently read a reflection in theology class by a priest named Henri Nouwen who abandoned a very scholarly position at Harvard to work in a South American community for the handicapped. His words speak better than mine ever could:
 
“Since nobody could read my books, the books could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to school, my twenty years at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard did not provide a significant introduction… In a way, it seemed as though I was starting my life all over again… These broken, wounded and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things—and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments…. the [Christian] of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter and success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.”

What?? A vocation to be irrelevant? That is countercultural. But it is the truth. We are only the “light of the world” inasmuch as we bring the light of Christ to others. We are instrumentsWe are like the moon—we may give light, but only because light is given to us by the Son (I love that pun!). Acting on our own volition, we are entirely irrelevant.

At our baptism, we receive a candle—we receive the light of Christ. Don’t hide it. But at the same time, always acknowledge who gave that light to you—acknowledge Him who set you apart to be His light in the world!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mt 20:1-16a Taking a Chance

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus told his disciples this parable:  "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.  After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.  Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' ...And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise.

Never write anyone off.  In today's first reading, we are reminded at how different we are from the Lord.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways" (Is 55:8).  So what exactly are God's ways and thoughts?  Let's not forget we can know God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we can understand God-Almighty in the humble life of His Word made flesh. 

So what exactly is God so great at?  Forgiving.  God forgives like no other and in ways that we cannot even fathom.  His mercy and forgiveness are deeper than the oceans and as "high as the heavens above the earth" (Is 55:9).  God loves to forgive.  He loves to give people a second chance, third chance, fourth chance, etc. 

We must never write anyone off.  This is the great lesson from today's first reading. 

Do you give people a second, third, even fourth chance?

Never write anything off.  From today's second reading, we are reminded at how every gesture of ours, every decision of ours, every thought, word and deed of ours and every moment in our lives - including our death -  can be significant.  In the eyes of God, nothing is insignificant or too small to go unnoticed, not even our death.  For "all things work together for good for those who love God" (Rom 8:28) and everything can move the human heart, mind and body closer to Him.

As St. Paul states:  "For to me life is Christ, and death is gain" (Phil 1:21).

We must never write anything off as being inconsequential.  This is the great lesson from today's second reading. 

Am I prepared to teach others how to live and how to die?

The Lord went out at 9:00, noon, 3:00 and 5:00 pm.  The Lord is constantly calling out to us to come join Him and His amazing work of salvation.  He goes out at all (random) hours of the day looking for all types of (random) people.  It doesn't matter the hour of the day or even the fact that it is close to the end of the day (the End Times?).  It doesn't matter who He finds:  wealthy, poor, healthy or unhealthy.  The Lord is on a mission from His Father to get as many people to work for Him, to change into Him, to live through Him.  That's the mission. 

Never write anyone off.  Never write anything off. 

Are you envious because I am generous?  What's the obstacle to our success?  Jealousy.  Jealousy is a terrible thing.  It kills the heart, mind and soul.  It cripples the body.  It enslaves the human heart.  It kills the soul.  The definition of jealousy is really sad.  In fact, it is sadness at someone else's happiness.  Ugh!  How awful!!!

We all like to compare ourselves to others.  But some of us live and feed off of it, and just like any drug, it can feed not only our addictions, like vanity, but also give us the greatest highs and/or the lowest lows.  In other words, it can make us feel like we are the greatest or make us feel like we are the lousiest.

It's not worth it!

A few days ago, I was walking around the track in our parish hall.  I was on my 5th lap when this elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace, blurted out to me "I wish I could keep up with you."  I told her, "You don't have to.  You should never compare yourself to others, including me?"  I would never have said this to her if it were not for the fact that I had been meditating on today's Gospel passage. 

Good for me; bad for her!  Oh well...

Today's parable is a reminder - a warning - to never to compare ourselves to others.  Never!  But if we must, then let's be honest and compare ourselves to Jesus Christ. Now that's healthy.  That's being honest.  Comparing yourself to your neighbor is not honest or healthy.  It is superficial.  But comparing yourself to God is beneficial.  It is profound, refreshing, rejuvenating and rewarding.

God never writes anyone off.  And just like in today's Gospel passage, even the slightest effort on our part will be rewarded richly, fairly and justly. 

Are you envious because God is generous?  Don't be, for He is being very generous to you right now.

Never write anyone off and never write anything off is the same as saying take a chance and take someone back.

It's what we have been called to do. 

"The Church acts like Jesus.  She does not give lectures on love, on mercy.  She does not spread a philosophy, a path of wisdom throughout the world. ...Of course, Christianity is all this, but as a consequence, in reflection.  The Mother Church, like Jesus, teaches by example, and uses words to illuminate the meaning of her gestures." - Pope Francis

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lk 8:4-15 Holy Randomness!

Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.  "A sower went out to sow his seed.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up.  Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.  And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold...Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

The seed is the word of God.  Since the dawn of man, God has thrown His Word out there to all sorts of people, even when His Word became flesh. 

Jesus interacted with all kinds of people: the rich and the poor, the important and the unimportant, the influential and the insignificant, the powerful and the vulnerable, the strong and the weak, the healthy and the unhealthy, the religious and non-religious, the Jews and the pagans, the believers and unbelievers, the intelligent and the ignorant, the sinful and the saintly, the good and the bad.

In some of His interactions, the Lord spoke; while in others, He remained silent.  But in all instances, He left His mark, His footprint, His forgiveness, His compassion, His mercy - His seed! - where you would least expect it.  And for the most part...they grew.

People changed, and changed for good.

The beauty of Christianity lies in its challenging creed, specifically in the "forgiveness of sins."   

This is gigantic!  It is earthshattering.  It is so novel, dangerous and exploratory!  Talk about boldly going where very few have gone before.   

To the untrained and unstrained eye, this business of "salvation" and the "throwing of seeds" may seem all so random.  But to God it is not. 

It is all holy randomness.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lk 36-50 On God's Radar

Thursday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By JENNIFER BURGIN

He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 
The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

About ten years ago, on my way to work, I got stuck in traffic on a feeder road toward the interstate.  Two stop lights emerged one after the other. Not realizing, I ran through the first red light because my eyes focused on the second green light.  As I waited to cross the intersection, I heard a tap, tap, tap on my driver's side window. Two bicycle cops stood next to my car while a third officer carried a radar gun. I rolled down the window.  "Is there a problem, officers?"  I asked calmly. One of the officers replied:  "Ma'am, you just ran that stop light back there.  We need for you to pull over out of traffic."  I was like, "What the....? Are you kidding me?"   I fumed in anger.  Here I could hardly move my vehicle in this traffic mess, and I get pulled over by bicycle patrol.  How ridiculous!  I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I blasted my horn (repeatedly) while shouting out profanities (not very lady-like!) Two of the cops laughed at my spectacle while the other one remained serious.   "Ma'am, if you don't calm down we'll take you over to the jail.  It's only on the other side of this street."  Uh oh.....Let's just say I reversed the bad attitude, apologized, and accepted the ticket with a "Have a nice day."  I was late to work carrying in my wallet a hefty $200 traffic citation. 

Shortly after the incident with the cops, I went to confession. I humbly asked for the Lord's forgiveness.  My mother always warned me that if I ever ended up in jail she would never bail me out.  This run-in with the bicycle cops forever stamped mom's warning into my stubborn brain.  

Police vs. God's Radar We are all sinners, like it or not.  We make errors, blunders, and mistakes.  God's radar detector is aimed at us 24/7.  It's not the same as a police officer's radar gun ready to pull us over and slap us with a fine for speeding.  God's radar is like a heavenly telescope watching our every move, ready to assist us at any moment. He knows when we've done things wrong , giving us the opportunity to seek forgiveness.  We should realize His presence and pray, pray, pray.  When a situation occurs out of our control, we know that God is in control.  Bad circumstances do not last forever.

Pharisee vs. Sinful Woman  In today's gospel reading, the Pharisee is critical of the sinful woman washing Jesus' feet with her hair.  What a disgraceful act.  Does Our Lord not know what kind of woman she is?  Jesus knows precisely who she is!  In fact, Jesus appreciates her great humility.  The feet can be a smelly, and dirty part of the body, especially after walking around in the desert; yet, the sinful woman bathes them with her tears.  The odor doesn't bother her.  She doesn't mind the dirt.  All she wants is to show how much she loves Jesus.  A simple, loving touch from a sinner is all Our Lord needs to pour out his graces. 

Have you been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a while?  Maybe it's time to make an appointment with a priest.  Remember that God's radar is always keeping an eye on us - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Take the opportunity to seek out forgiveness.  It will strengthen and encourage you!

"Oh Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising you discern my purpose from afar.  You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you...."  - Psalm 139


This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Lk 7:36-50 Are You An Effective Team?

Thursday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that [Jesus] was at table in the house of the Pharisee.  Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him..."

Friend of sinners.  Not only is Christ an expert at taking our worst day and turning it into an amazing blessing, but taking the worst of sinners and turning them into the greatest among saints!  This is what He did to this woman.  This is what He did to St. Paul

"[Jesus] appeared to James, then to all the Apostles.  Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.  For I am the least of the Apostles, not fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective" (1Cor 15:1-11).

Changing hearts, minds and souls - lives - and turning them right-side-up is what Christ does best.  This is what the Church does best.  May we never fall into the temptation of the world and stop forgiving others. 

We, Americans, do a lot of things well.  Forgiving others is not one of them.  We are hesitant in forgiving people.  In fact, I would even dare to say we dare others to not be forgiving.  I would even go so far in saying we threaten others who forgive others.  If you don't believe what I am saying, then take a look at the recent spat of news and you will know what I mean. 

What does it mean to forgive someone?  It means to give people a second chance.

"Simon, I have something to say to you...Do you see this woman?  When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven...But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."

Openness.  What can we say about the woman who came to Jesus?  We can say she was courageous.  Absolutely brave!  It took a lot of courage for her to come out from hiding and into the open.  It took a lot of faith for her to approach the Son of God.  What will He do to me?  What will He say to me?   It took a lot of humility on her part to walk into the home of a Pharisee and admit her guilt. 

Today, I had the wonderful experience of sharing the Good News with the freshman at John Paul II High School.  What a great group of kids.  But I must admit...our graduates from All Saints simply shined above and beyond the rest!  They greeted the retreat team with smiles and hugs.  Their enthusiasm and joy helped fellow classmates to get into the spirit of the retreat and break down their interior "barriers" and artificial "masks."  They led from the beginning till the very end of the retreat. 

I am so proud of them!  We were a highly effective team.  God bless you!

Are you an effective team player?  Are you helping others to regain their relationship with the Lord?  Are you giving people a second chance? 

Simon didn't get it.  None of the Pharisees got it.  Holiness is not something to boast about but a solemn duty to get down and dirty with those who are looking for a second chance. 

Changing hearts and minds and souls is what Christ did best.  It is something we need to get better at.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

1 Cor 12:31-13:13 Loving like a Christian


Wednesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
 
By BENEDICT AUGUSTINE

“When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.”


 
This passage of Corinthians probably ranks among the most well-known in Bible; it is certainly the most famous words Paul ever wrote. Christians and non-Christian can recognize these words since nearly every wedding ceremony includes them. As they hear it read, the groom and bride can look at one another, meditate over the meaning of love and apply it to their own relationship: their love is patient, kind, humble, trusting, hopeful, strong. Although context of the passage frames love in a theological sense, not necessarily a nuptial sense, the newly weds will insist on treating Paul's love as a worthy description of the love they have for each other. While this may aptly serve the occasion of a wedding, understanding Paul's words as some schmaltzy ode to love ultimately cheapens its meaning.

 
First, one must consider Paul's audience. He writes this chapter on love in his letter to the Corinthians, a group of believers having problems working together because of their passions and jealousies. Far from exalting passions or the married life, Paul actually hopes to quell the passions and caution against married life (see 1 Corinthians Ch. 7). He reprimands the Corinthians for having cliques and division among themselves and for mishandling the Eucharist. Thus, when he speaks about love, he means love in the Church, between members, and love for God, which should unite all members. Marriage applies to this passage insofar as the couple intends to serve the Church together, raise their children in the faith, and have their relationship reflect Christ and His Church.

 
In order to make his logic of love apparent, Paul couples his discussion of love with his discussion of maturity. His mention of putting “aside childish things” sounds nice on its own, but it does not make as much sense when coupled with his discussion of love. Paul wants to make the point that children grow out of their ignorance, their silliness, and their overall helplessness; in other words, the “partial” life of a child passes away and the completeness of an adult sets in. In the same fashion, a person may know God partially as a child partially knows the world, yet he will eventually mature into a complete knowledge of God. Paul himself admits to knowing God only somewhat:  “At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.”

 
This still does not resolve the question of why Paul juxtaposes these two ideas, love and knowing God, until we realize that love helps us to know God because God is love. Love serves as the foundation of the other two theological virtues, faith and hope, because love “believes all things” (faith) and “hopes all things” (hope). This love finally enables one “to endure all things” like sin, hardship, and even death so that one can finally experience God “face to face.” At the point that we experience God in heaven, hope and faith become unnecessary: we see the God we trusted and believed in, and we finally join with the God we always hoped for.

 
Until we love as Paul explains so eloquently, we remain children, ignorant and self-indulgent.  Love helps people mature out of their childish notions of God to a much richer and more resilient understanding of God. Jesus compares his generation to “children who sit in the marketplace” who complain that the world does not meet their expectations and, what is worse, does not even pay attention to them. They do not love the messiah or his prophet, but choose rather to contradict them out of pride. As a result, they never learn to love, but only to desire—which they mistakenly regard as “love.” Needless to say, this selfish love, that prevailed in the Roman empire as it does today, does not endure but fades into irrationality. Like a child, the man who loves falsely cannot recognize himself, let alone God and His Son.

 
Therefore, let us love as Paul tells us to love. It will not only make us strong and happy, but it will make us wise. In love, we may come to know ourselves,  our neighbors, and the Holy Trinity. With such knowledge, our lives will finally be complete and Heaven will have arrived.

 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

LK 7:11-17 An Opportunity for Surprise


Memorial of Sts. Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs

By KIM ELENEZ

 The other day a saw a story online where a woman in a Starbucks drive-thru line paid for the person behind her. Then the next person did the same. Then the next. Then the next. Apparently this went on for 10 hours. Did those people know it had been going on that long? Did they realize they were part of something so big? As the hours went on I’m sure some did, but many probably did not.

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.

In today’s gospel Jesus continues to do His thing. The crowd that accompanied him likely varied from true believers to skeptics waiting to see something happen. Well, they hit the jackpot.

As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.

Also in today’s gospel, a funeral is happening. The crowdthere likely varied from close friends to sympathetic acquaintances. They were not waiting for anything to happen. In fact they were very much stuck in the expectation that nothing would happen. What was done was done, this son was gone and that was that. They were having a very bad, but predictable day.

“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Two crowds came together. Strangers with very different expectations, ideas and plans for that day. But the Lord connected them forever through his act of surprise andgrace.

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.

Once this miracle took place, the gospel tells us that the story spread far. I can imagine the commentary – “The most fascinating thing happened in Nain. Did you hear about it?” And then unlikely but delightful things would continue to happen. Believers were formed. Perhaps people would encounter other people who had already heard about it, and they would look at each other in amazement. A bond would form because they had heard, and they would share different aspects of what they heard, compare notes, etc.

This is a human truth. We walk into many days thinking we know what is about to happen, then inevitably – bam! Something happens that we didn’t see coming. Some days the bam is bigger than others; some days it’s exciting and some disappointing.  We bond with unlikely people over these occurrences. It’s unites us in knowing.

Do you think the woman who started that “pay for the guy behind you” coffee chain had any idea what she was starting? Doubtful. Though not even close on the scale of Christ’s miracles, this simple act of surprise and grace had an effect on both the people in line and all who hear the story. We delight in these stories because they remind us of the good of the world and the joy of being connected to each otherA glimmer of Christ’s surprise such as this will unite us and then change us. Inch by inch.

Whether you buy someone’s coffee or something much more significant, what will you do today to seize the opportunity to surprise? Don’t make just random acts of kindness, but rather create frequent acts of grace. Christ performed these glorious miracles for so many reasons;seek ways to share a piece of His grace where ever you can.


This meditation was written by Kim Elenez, wife, mother and media executive in Raleigh, NC. Kim converted to Catholicism in 2012.