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, November 8, 2010

Luke 17:1-6 I Am Sorry

Luke 17: 1-6 I Am Sorry

(Click here for readings)

“I am sorry.” Are these not the hardest words to say? Are they not the hardest words to accept? And yet, we are more than capable of giving them and receiving them. In the mystery of creation, the Lord placed in our hearts the ability to offend and to ask for forgiveness. Only man can offend and only man can forgive. This is truly a divine mystery. If we were simply animals, we would move on, relinquish, or fight back. Our animal instincts would instruct us to be weary and to never let our guard down.

And yet the Lord instructs us, “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” In both cases, the Christian is called to a much higher form of evolution. A forgiving man is the highest form of humanity! It is the stuff of champions. It is holiness! And we have been called by the Lord to constantly help our brother. Regardless of how many times he pushes away, falls down or insults us to our very core.

I remember learning this lesson in the novitiate, in Italy. A young brother (that is, seminarian), a mere seventeen year old, would often lose his temper and take it out someone. Today, I can sympathize a great deal with this young man. I can only imagine how it must have felt to be a teenager, in the seminary, away from home and learning a new language. Well, the Novice Master placed him in my care. It was not such a good idea. One evening, after a youth event, I stuck around to talk to a group of parents. This seminarian was eager to get home as quickly as possible and not to lose our ride. In the end, I made us late and we missed our ride which meant we had to walk all the way back home. He was furious with me and swung at me! He nearly hit me. I reported the entire incident to our Novice Master and he calmly told me to continue working with this brother. I told the priest that I could not handle him and that if he tried to hit me I would hit him back! “You cannot do that”, he told me. “You do not have permission to do that.” I asked him, “Then what am I supposed to do?” He calmly told me, “It is obvious…you take the punch. Isn’t that what our Lord did?” He continued, “If you want to be a holy priest, that is, the only type of priest the Lord accepts, then you must live like him. Take the punch.”

We are all called to be holy; which means, we are all called to be like Christ. Isaiah, in his canticle, reveals to the world that "The Lord goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; he shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might." (Is 42:13) What is the might of the Lord? What is his battle cry? I will tell you what it is, "I forgive you." This is why our God is above all other gods. Why the Lord can do whatever he wills. He could crush me, annihilate me, obliterate me. Instead, he forgives me. In the sight of the Lord all knees shall bend, all men shall fall from their horses. Women will bow before him and kiss his feet. Why? Because no one has ever shown greater love than He.

“Lord, increase our faith!” The Apostles were not embarrassed to ask for it! They knew they needed it. “Lord, increase my faith!” May I dare say it, but I truly believe that forgiveness is the greatest sign of holiness. How we forgive our neighbors, our relatives, our family members, our friends and enemies is the greatest sign of faith we can give to our neighbors, relatives, family members, friends and enemies. How I ask God for forgiveness and forgive myself is the greatest sign of the living God present in our lives. Let us not lose the incredible opportunity the Lord has given to all of us, to imitate the Lord and to rise to a higher standard of human living – the highest form of evolution – the Saint.

Jesus reminds us, “Sin will inevitably occur.” May the Lord in his kindness allow us to be his hands and feet, his eyes and lips, his face, his faithful followers who search out, reach out and help carry the wounded and weary and bring them back to the fold. May the Lord grant us mercy and compassion, the tools that Christ used to bring us back to him.


  1. Beautiful Father, just beautiful! What a powerful meditation! It is about forgiveness.
    For those who desire to live the life required to be a Saint, we must be able to say "I am sorry" and also be able to forgive and move on. As ones who have given their life to Christ, He has placed us all in each other's care to watch out and protect and guide along the narrow path. He has instructed some that they need to learn to take the punch because that is what they are called to do. He has given them insight, clarity and a heart of forgiveness.
    Thank you for your dedicated service to your spouse, The Church and your children, us! :)

  2. "I forgive you!" is the battle cry. How wonderful! Like peaceful warriors we pave our way. Thank you Father! Praise God!

  3. How do we know we've truly forgiven? We can choose in our minds and on our lips to forgive, but it seems that it has to happen in our hearts before it is real forgiveness.

    How do we control what's in our hearts if not through our minds?

    And once we've forgiven a person over and over for the same offense, are we required to remain in the relationship? Seems kinda dumb to do that if we don't have to.

    Does not forgetting about something or making a mental note about an offense against us mean we haven't forgiven?

    I know this is not a question and answer thing, but I'm pretty sure that I am not alone with these questions and maybe you don't have time to answer, but since forgiveness is SO important and it seems to be the theme today, I thought I'd ask.

  4. The question you ask is similar to a question I hear very often. How do you know when you love someone? The answer is obvious: when you stop asking the question. How do you know when you have truly forgiven someone? When you stop asking why. Forgiveness is act of the will not an intellectual discourse. It is an act of faith for sure but it is an action. "Father, forgive them...". If you want to forgive someone, then ask the Father to forgive them. This is what Jesus did.

  5. Father Alfonse,
    I'm confused...Perhaps because I'm not seeing things with the eyes of faith, or I'm not very good with forgiveness (that I know is true!)
    But I don't think it is right that your Novice Master said you have to "take the punch". Yes, the Lord did take it. Or rather he choose not to deny the Truth: That He is God, and that He has the power to forgive sins and save us. (Wasn't that why the Jews wanted him crucified? For blasphemy?)Christ gave up his life for the salvation of those he loved, and because he would not deny the Truth.
    Though we can offer ourselves for the sake of another (such as St. Maximilian Kolbe did.) I do not think we are required to allow violence to be done to us. Rather, I think we are called to protect the value and the dignity of our own life.
    Now, I'm not saying that you should have retaliated in anger, but I do think one is called to self-defense. I think it is poor advice to say that one must allow oneself to be subject to violence. (Though the Brother in case was no more than a boy with little self-control.) We must forgive. And forgiveness is an action, which corresponds to justice. In the case you mentioned you would not be “taking the punch” in order to protect the brother from someone else, or even ‘saving’ him. So I don’t see how it can be right not to defend one’s self.
    Well, I didn't mean to be so opinionated...I really don't mean any offense! Please explain how I am misunderstanding what you were trying to say, or how I am misunderstanding forgiveness. Thank you for your dedication to these daily meditations! :)

  6. Forgiving at first is an act of the will.You want to forgive! and you pray for the ones who've hurt you; no matter what!
    People hurt others by being puppets of the devil and the only way to get the devil back and to make him pay for what he has done is by spending the rest of your life helping as many people as you can; in exchange, God will restore what has been taken from you and you will be able to forgive!

  7. I hope that seminarian actually never hit you. Did he eventually learn to control his temper? Did he get ordained. My problem with impatience and having to have everything neat and in order is probably just as bad, but I am working on it

  8. Since there has been so much talk about forgiveness today. I have a wonderful true story to share!

    My spouse and I have been married for many years almost two decades. We have had some difficult times. I use to have a hard time with forgiving. My spouse has hurt me deeply on more than one occasion in our marriage. It would take me years to recover, I still have some wounds. I ended up building a wall around my heart to protect myself from any further hurt. But what that did was cause me to look for companionship in other places. I never did anything physical or would have but I looked for what I was emotionally missing from my spouse.

    However, a few weeks ago, my spouse and I had a totally honest conversation!!! It was wonderful!!! I mean we communicated like we haven't in years! I was completely honest and so was my spouse! Since then I have started breaking down the wall around my heart and have let my spouse back in. God always turns everything to good!

    With saying that, as a person who use to take years to forgive, it is just not worth it to hold onto a grudge. Tomorrow could be the day to meet God, and I know I want to shoot right up like a rocket to see the face of God!

    Praise be to God for His healing power and the grace he has showered onto my marriage. I am truly grateful to Him!

    And I see a lot of going back and forth in previous conversations. What I have come to fully believe is that verbal communication is the best way to express such deep thoughts. Otherwise, things can be totally taken out of context when you don't see body language and such...just a thought.

    Thank you Father Alfonse for your service to our diocese. God Bless you!

  9. This is just what I needed today. I have been struggling, trying to forgive a wrong done to me. But for the last several days I have let my hurt and anger rob me of my peace. I have tried to make him see how much his words hurt me but to no avail. He won't even admit that his words cut like a knife much less apologize.

    I have gone to Mass every morning full of hurt and anger and know that I can't receive the Eucharist with this hate in my heart.
    But during the Mass my anger dissipates and God's mercy washes away my sinful thoughts and desires.

    But by the end of the day all that hurt and anger consumes me again. I want to lash out and say hurtful things. I want to make him hurt as much as I am hurting.

    I hate feeling this way because it is so unlike me. I wonder where this ugliness comes from and who is this person I have become?

    But after reading the meditation and comments
    I know that I can't do this on my own. So this will be my prayer, "Father forgive him for he knows not what he does". How can I pray "forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me" when there is no forgiveness in my heart?

    Heavenly Father, help me to love as you love and to imitate you in all ways but especially in forgiving others.

  10. Dear Jessica,
    The one and only thing to remember here is that evil NEVER destroys evil...LOVE does!

  11. I was wondering for what purpose was the young brother in your care? Was it so you could run interference or to help him learn to control his temper and change his behavior?

    This made me think of something I heard years ago from a priest. He told me that someone had said to him, “God loves us just the way we are.” And he disagreed. Saying, “No, he doesn’t. He wants us to change, to become more like Jesus”. Then months later I had another conversation with him and the topic of a personality trait of his, that can be offensive came up, and his response was, “You Know that’s how I am”. I thought about it for a long time and wondered which is it? Does God want us to change or does He love us just the way we are??

  12. Dear Anonymous,

    You are right, I agree, that "evil never destroys evil..." But is self-defense evil? And are we supposed to allow evil to destroy us? I don't know if in the specific case of the seminarian, that prehaps self-defense wasn't called for. But I question what one is to do in other cases. Such as in the case of abusive parents? Or harmful family memebers? Then, of course, there is the is the question of 'just war'...Prehaps I belabor the point. Yet, I think there must be a way to forgive and still not accept the injustice of others...

  13. Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309, lists four strict conditions for "legitimate defense by military force" Or "Just War":

    the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    there must be serious prospects of success;
    the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

  14. Dear Anonymous,
    I don't think you are belaboring the point. I think forgiveness is something we all really struggle with.

    My Spiritual Director told me that forgetting and forgiving are two different things. You can forgive someone for the wrong they did to you but you are not expected to return to an abusive relationship.

    I was sexually abused by my father and as soon as I was able to move out of the house I did. I also moved away from my family because they continue to believe that if you don't talk about things then they aren't really happening.

    I have forgiven my father but I will not allow myself to be alone with him. I don't trust that he would not try to harm me again. Now that I am an adult and can protect myself there is no reason to intentionally put myself in harms way because I have forgiven him.

    Even in less extreme situations it is the same. When my friend betrayed me, at that moment I turned the other cheek and did not retaliate with hateful words. I have forgiven her but I will not give her the opportunity to continually betray me.

    God doesn't want me to put up a wall around my heart because I have been abused. It takes a huge act of faith to let down my guard, make myself vulnerable to having my love rejected but it is worth it because there have been many instances where my love has not been rejected. I feel God's love surround me even in the midst of my pain and I know that His love is sufficient.

    I hope this helps.

  15. Looks like forgiveness is a hot topic.

    Father, you really stired the pot this day.

    It's interesting to see all the different perspectives expressed.

    I'm glad to see some passion come out of the 'bloggies' for a change!

    We all know Father Alfonse has passion coming out his ears (and his mouth) (and his pores)...!!!

  16. You are right about forgiveness being such a hot topic. It is a daily reality that all of us struggle with. Whenever feelings are expressed, it may open an old wound. Those who are offended can easily offend others. Forgiveness, is a form of love where I am looking for the good of the other. The pratical application of it is what makes it tough.

  17. Dear Anonymous,
    I also have a very similar story of being abused by my Father. I too will not allow myself to be alone with him, not necessarily for my sake but for his sake...not to cause any sort of temptation for him. Because I now know there is an issue and I will be held accountable. I have also forgiven him many times over. In fact, my spouse noticed and confronted me. I had to share honestly with my spouse both sides of the story because they already suspected and knew. They see the way my and friend's face light up when we see each other. My spouse has known since the beginning and has shown tremendous mercy and compassion because I asked them to.
    When one finds something out about a person and the other person will not talk verbally or if one just get bits of pieces of information one can only guess or assume what is going on. I was not sure exactly what my friends issue's are or were and I was not sure If my friend was crying out for or needed immediate help. And to tell you the truth, the latest thing was VERY scary. I reacted in fear. I am sorry if I hurt or betrayed my friend.
    I have been dealing with visual temptations this past week but knew that the devil was behind it so I did not bite. I have been praying to God for strength and healing for me and my friend. It has been a very hard week.
    But see this is the thing, I can choose to walk away but I know it would devastate my family. I can be loving and cordial for God and their sake. But if it is too much for my friend, I totally understand. I can be made the evil one, the devil, so it makes it easier for my friend to cut me from their life to not have temptation to think of me as their possession. I have peace with that. I will always care and pray for my friend until the day I die. God Bless!


Updated: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. Comments must be concise and to the point.Comments are no longer accepted for posts older than 7 days.