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!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mt 3:1-12 II Sunday of Advent (Children's Meditation)

Mt 3:1-12 You Brood of Vipers!

(Click here for readings)

Wow! These are really harsh words that St. John the Baptist used when he saw the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

These are nothing compared to what the Lord may say to me if I do not repent for my sins and ask Him for forgiveness. It is just a matter of time when I will be held accountable, for all eternity, for the hate or hurt, shame or pain I may have given to others. It is only a matter of time. I am one breath away from eternity.

But isn’t St. John being hurtful, mean and hurtful by using these harsh words? No. The truth sometimes hurts, but it is much better than the pain we will experience at the hands of the devil. After all, he doesn’t love us. His pain is not meant to heal but to hurt. His words are not meant to warn but to warm us up and put us in the furnace of hopelessness!

Let us never forget. Sin impedes us from reaching our greatest desire: Love! And it prevents us from reaching our greatest Lover, God, who is Love. After all, we were created in his image and likeness. Therefore we desire what he desires: Love. We were created to be with Him, for Him and in Him. With sin we always fall short. We begin to settle for less. Instead of love, we settle for lust. Instead of friends, we settle for fans. Instead of marriage, we may even settle for living together. Advent is a time of anticipation, a time of hope! Yes! I can do better! I can live better! I can be better!

We do not have to settle for sin or being sinners. We don’t have to be a viper, a snake, or worse, some creature made from the depths of the earth. Read the amazing life of the Hymenoepimecis wasp. It turns its prey, a spider, into something it was never created to be. This is exactly what sin does to me, to all of us: It poisons us. It poisons our day, ruins our nights and confuses our family and friends. Sin destroys what is good, worthy and holy in us. Sin turns us into animals or even worse: a monster. St John the Baptist looked like a monster, but was a lamb. The Pharisees and Sadducees looked like angels on the outside but were devils on the inside.

This Advent, we are called to look out for the coming of the Lord; to look towards the heavens and to search for the star. If I want to live well and happily; if I want to experience the best in life, then I need to know Him who created me. I need to know who my Lord is. By knowing Him, I will know myself better. I will know what is expected of me. I will live my life to the full. Christ makes all the difference in the world because he is out of this world!

This advent, ask yourself the following questions?

Do I have a hard time forgiving others? Do I have difficulty being patient with my family and friends? Is it hard for me to be more giving? Is it painful for me to reach out to others? If I answered yes to any of these questions, then I am not fulfilling my greatest desire: to love. I need to look to Him and learn from Him. How did the Lord forgive? How was the Lord patient with me? How is he patient with others? What did the Lord do to reach out to his enemies? How did the Lord love His Father and others?

May God help us all in discovering the beauty of our faith and reaching our greatest desire ever. Amen.


  1. You talk a lot about forgiving others that hurt us and going to Confession frequently and asking the Father to forgive us for our sins, but you don't mention asking for forgiveness from the person that we hurt.

    I think it is so important to acknowledge the pain we have caused others whether it was intentional or not (if they are hurting because of something we did, even if we did not intend it to hurt, the pain for them is still the same).

    And if the pain we inflicted has caused the person to turn away from us and they are no longer willing to speak to us, how do you go about apologizing for the pain you caused and seeking their forgiveness? Do you write them a letter and hope they read it and at least know that you reached out seeking their forgiveness?

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

  2. Wow! Good question Anonymous #1.

    I was wondering the exact same thing as I was reading the meditation this morning. In fact I had to think... did I write that?

    A few days ago someone's comment was about asking for forgiveness from those we've hurt intentionally or not.

    I was wondering why you don’t ever mention that. You only focus on asking God for forgiveness and forgiving others.

    Is that because it’s not important to humble ourselves and ask for their forgiveness?

    It seems like just going to confession and asking God, is the easy way out and it doesn’t help the people we’ve hurt that may still be suffering because of what we did to them. Yes, I believe they can forgive us without us asking but that probably doesn’t alleviate their pain, especially when it was someone who trusted us or someone we had an intimate relationship with.

    Does going to confession and doing the prescribed penance just wash it all away?

    Aren't we going to be accountable for reparation when it's possible or time in purgatory?

    And what about when we've hurt someone who’s turned away from God because of us? Aren't we accountable for that?

    I hope you will take the time to answer. Obviously there are others who have similar questions.

  3. To the First Anonymous - Yes. It is important that you seek their forgiveness. If they reject it, then welcome into the world of carrying another's cross. Forgiveness should never be rejected, regardless of what pain they have cause you in the past. This is the beautiful lesson of our Lord on the Cross. "Forgvie them Father..."

    It is a different story with regards to seeking forgiveness for some pain that was never intentional. You cannot sin if you do not know it. You will not be held accountable by God as to how someone interpreted your words or actions. Here again, you carry a cross that does not belong to you. Does that make sense? Comments are welcomed!!!

  4. No that doesn’t make sense.

    I have to say that I have hurt people many times and 90% of the time, hurting them was not my intention, It may have been out of pride, arrogance, stupidity, ignorance, selfishness, self righteousness, even out of love or what I considered to be love.

    Are you telling me I am not accountable for my actions that hurt them, if my intention was not to hurt them? That it is their problem if they are hurt?

    That’s what it sounds like you’re saying to me.

    Sounds like a Pharisee loophole to me.

    Even if that is true, how loving is it for me to let someone suffer with pain that I caused even if it was not intentional and I am not accountable to God for it?

    Sounds like some kind of work of mercy that is being neglected by 'washing my hands' of it if I'm not 'legally' accountable.

    Also sounds like a perfect opportunity to practice humility, something a real Saint would do.

  5. I don't want to be contrary but what about someone who gets drunk and beats their kids?

    They do not intend to hurt them, they may just intend to help them behave better or whatever.

    And they are drunk, so they my not even be aware of their actions.

    Yes being drunk may be a sin, but doesn’t sound like the rest is if it’s not their intention.

  6. The list you give above (pride, arrogance, stupidity, etc...) are all sinful reasons to say something, except out of love for that person. It is one thing to admit that you said something out of pride, arrogance, etc... It's another thing to assume the person said it to you for those reasons. If we were obligated to ask for forgiveness every single time we say something out of sincere love for the other but it hurt them, then we would have to ask for forgiveness all the time. For example, let's say your comments above were very hurtful to me. What you are saying is that I should get an apology regardless of whether or not it was your intention.

    Instead, this is what I am saying: I will assume your intention was noble. Therefore, if I have a problem with it I will assume it is out of my own lack of humility or vanity or self-righteousness that I am hurt by your comments. I offer it up to the Lord and thank him for allowing me to carry this small cross for him.

    The way I look at it, the Lord never asked anyone to apologize for what they did to him. Instead, he took the initiative and forgave them saying "they know not what they do."

  7. I was Anonymous #1 and I am glad to know that I am not the only one who struggles with this.

    Regarding your comment Fr. Alfonse. It may not be a sin if the hurt was not intentional but I still think it warrants an apology or at least an acknowledgement that we caused them pain if we are aware of this. If we know we caused someone pain, then take the time to see why they were hurt by our words. Maybe our words triggered something that we know nothing about and if we take the time to find out why they were hurt, then maybe it gives us an opportunity to help them in another area.

    I think if we realize we hurt someone by our words or actions and because it wasn't intentional we refuse to even give it a second thought then that is where sin comes in. I think at that point it is out of pride or selfishness that we refuse to see things from the other person's perspective.

    I am sure there are many times that things I say or do may cause pain to someone and if I did not mean to hurt them or am not aware of the hurt, then I do agree it is not a sin. But once I am aware that I hurt them and refuse to acknowledge it, then yes it is a sin.

    There would be a lot less hurt among family members and friends if we acknowledged the pain we cause another whether it was intentional or not.

    As someone mentioned above, what a great opportunity to practice humility!

  8. To anonymous 1:
    My 2 cents here, speaking out of experience in this subject: No,don't write them a letter. Chances are they will interpret it all wrong, especially if they have been hurt by you already. If you need to ask for forgiveness, you MUST do it in person. This way, chances are much better that the message you intend to send is more likely to be received as intended.You need to see them face to face, eye to eye, body language to body language. Your message/apology/explanation can still be rejected and received all wrong, but at least you have a better chance. Don't be afraid to face this person you seek forgiveness from. (easier said than done, right?)

  9. continuation from last comment...oopsie, I sent it too soon...To anonymous 1: You say this person won't even talk to you anymore. Still don't write them a letter. Maybe send a simple card with a simple invitation to meet for coffee, ice cream, whatever,so you can talk, and if they don't respond, send them another invitation maybe 6 months later. I would keep sending them forever if that's what it took. It's worth it. Just make the note simple, sweet, 1 or 2 lines. Don't scare them off again with a letter, just a little note/invitation to talk...just my 2 cents here...

  10. Father,
    I think what we have here is a misunderstanding, which is often the case when people are hurt unintentionally. (And communicating with email, texting, letters....really anything but face to face.)

    I guess I am coming from my own experience. Using hypotheticals are so confusing.

    Here's my experience:
    I told my young adult daughter that she was irresponsible, selfish, immature, manipulative and a few other things that I believed were true and I thought would help her to improve herself.

    At first she was shocked and angry, then she settled into being hurt.

    I still believe she is all of those things but it did not help, it has pushed her into a depression.

    If I am understanding your line of reasoning. I have nothing to ask for forgiveness for, and it is her fault for taking offense with something that I meant in a loving way.

    But it doesn't feel right to me because even though my intentions were loving, (I was using tough love), she is hurting and I caused it.

    Maybe it's my sense of unfounded guilt, but it seems like I am the 'authority' and my actions are what has put her into this depression but it seems like what you are saying is that I am not responsible, she is because she took it wrong.

    Even though it sounds like you are saying I did nothing wrong, I am not responsible for the state that she is in, it still seems that because I love her, I should humble myself and ask for her forgiveness, if only because I love her and she is hurt so deeply.

    ps. Nothing I said above was even intended to be towards you. Maybe you knew that, you were just throwing that in to make a point.

  11. As I was reflecting on your blog this morning, “The truth sometimes hurts” stood out to me.

    I agree with that statement. I must say that I used to feel completely justified by sharing the ‘cold hard truth” when I felt it was necessary. Until I got a dose of ‘truth’ that knocked me down so hard it did more damage than the ‘truth’ itself was actually causing. That’s when I 'examined my conscience’ and discovered that there was a better way to deliver the truth without ‘leaving marks'.

    I realized it can most often be expressed in a way that does not slam in your face. The ‘deliverer’ of the truth that truly gives it out of love considers the ‘receiver’s’ feelings and looks for a way to get their message across with gentleness and compassion, (like Jesus) and not smack you in the face with it then be surprised when the recipient is hurt by their intention of ‘love’. When it is given with sincere love, it will be given in a way that does not shock and cause their ‘target’ to become defensive and feel attacked or judged or condemned. The person handing out the ‘truth’, as they see it, should be humble and open to the recipient’s expression of pain, lack of understanding and whatever emotions and feelings accompany the news. They should be willing to discuss it and be humble enough to admit they are wrong if it turns out to be true. Quite likely the recipient will need to let it soak in before they can respond, especially if it is a surprise and hard to accept. When the person handing out the ‘truth’’ is humble it allows the recipient to feel truly cared for and will make them more open to consider it and accept it and spend their time correcting it rather than trying to defend themselves and recover from the pain it caused.

    When the giver of the ‘truth’ is arrogant and feels and shows that they are justified in their assessment, it creates mistrust, defensiveness and a reluctance to accept it. Does that make sense?

  12. Reading what you are writing I would agree wholeheartedly. This is why I don't like to write comments :-) It is truly a case by case situation. No generalizations. If anything, please take as guidelines what I write, but you must follow the Holy Spirit. There are so many particulars that can completely change a situation from one to the other. Remember: the greatest desire we all have is to be loved. So if I have to say something that may hurt, I must follow up with a lot of love.

  13. To anonymous who hurt his/her daughter:

    Goodness, it's the hardest thing to be a parent, a good parent, that is. I'm exhausted!

    I am a 51 year old mother of 3 grown daughters, 2 oldest are married.Youngest in college.My heart is happy to say that my girls love me immensely and value my opinion a great deal, and I have learned that if I ever have anything negative to say to them, even if it's the smallest thing,like maybe comment about their appearance, they get quite hurt, and I don't want that.I learned a long time ago to let these things go.

    Yes, of course, if my daughters were irresponsible, law breaking, drunks, drug addicts, adulterers, child abusers, (shall I go on?), of course I would talk with them but only after I got educated and prepared for what I was about to say to them,never speaking in haste.I would only speak with specifics and then with possible solutions.No vague, judgemental talk. I would first tell them the truth which is that I loved them and always will no matter what, but their actions, not so much, then I would offer options, solutions, ways they could relate to what I was trying to say, etc.,and if they were acting 'badly' of course I would be extra firm and straight serious, with no cutsie soft talk.But to be vague and to judge them personally on their way of doing daily things,things that are not wrong but different than what I would want, then no, I don't say anything. It's not worth it. I see too many mothers of daughters who push too hard and who are constantly trying to make their daughter into something they truly are not.(no, I'm not saying this is you, I'm just saying)

    I want my girls to be authentic to themselves,to do what God wants,to listen to their heart and soul, not to the crowd, and to more than anything, I want them to compassionately love wholeheartedly.

    Thank God for my girls.

    If it was one of my daughters that I had hurt so bad they would not talk to me anymore, heck yes I would keep trying to talk with them and as I said before, I would send them messages to ask to meet with them, I would leave messages on their phone, mail them notes,whatever it took, but I would never ever give up.It's too late to take it back,to erase the words that caused the pain you've already caused. Pray about it,humble yourself and give it to God...but learn from your mistakes.

  14. Well said, Father!
    And I think that if we truly are loving and have prayed over and over about the situation, and ask the holy Spirit to speak through us, when we talk with them about whatever sin is hurting them, they will see that our "tough"love is genuine love. And, yes, it can hurt, but not because of the person showing tough love. The hurt is caused by the sinner's own guilt, because(if it has been truly done out of love and there is no ulterior motive), they know deep down what they are doing is wrong. That is why the love of God must nurture them afterwards through us-though prayer, example, and love.
    Sin is a choice. To be told we are in sin, hurts the ego, because it is so easy to make ourselves our own gods, as Fr. Alfonse has said before. However, if no one loves enough to call sin, SIN, then is anyone really loving? And I think that if God has put you in a position to courageously talk with someone about sin, you should be the first to admit you are a sinner too. Fr. Alfonse, you are a great example of that. You are so honest about your own struggles with sin, and it is such a good example for us all. We cannot point out the plank in another's eye until we take out our own, and that is why honesty and Confession are so important. Confession humbles us before the Lord and others. It takes us out of the comfort zone of the world, where "anything goes," and allows us to see the ugliness of evil. We are confronted with the truth of our actions. We are honest with ourselves and God. And then, by the grace of God, and His wonderful gift of forgiveness, we can change our lives and live for Him!
    We can't help others if we haven't helped ourselves. And if we are trying to help others, we had better make sure that we are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
    No, there is no "Pharisee loophole." God did not create loopholes. Humans did, and if we find ourselves looking for them, then not all is well within. We are so human, aren't we?! God has given us everything we need. Why do we feel the need to create more? He has already given us TRUTH. There is no need for anything else! How crafty Satan is. We must be aware for ourselves and others.
    Thank you once again Fr. Alfonse, for these meditations. You are like the master gardener, encouraging us to prune away so that we can bear much fruit!
    God bless!

  15. Jenny,

    I think your comment is full of wisdom but one thing I have to disagree on is that if the "tough love" hurts, than the hurt is because of the sinner's (receiver's) own guilt.

    The words I received were very hurtful and the action he was commenting on is about as far from sinning as you can get.

    The pain is not only from his words but also from the betrayal. The tender part of my heart is now hardened again and I am praying for God to heal me because I hate feeling this way. My heart was very hard for a long time from childhood abuse and I finally was stepping out in faith and making myself vulnerable to love.

    I know there is a lesson in here somewhere and I know that God will reveal it to me but I just need to give it some time and a lot of discernment through prayer.

    Somehow Fr. Alfonse you forgot to followup your hurtful words with lots of love.


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