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!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mk 6:14-29 Behind the Scenes

Mk 6:14-29 Behind the Scenes

(Click here for readings)

“The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Heb 13:7)

In today’s reading we take leave of John the Baptist and go behind the scenes to witness the circumstances that led to his murder. Here is a man who grew strong and courageous. He preached repentance and baptism - renewal. He lived between this world and the other. He was the herald who announced the coming of the Lord. He worked among his people and suffered as they did. He sacrificed for them in spirit and in flesh. He lived a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. He was executed by those who lived a life of pride, vanity and sensuality that translated into filth, perversion, gluttony, immaturity, immorality, possessiveness, obsessive-ness, weakness, cowardice and disorder. Such men rule(d) the world! How they achieved power and position only gives credibility to the “Ruiner of the World.”

This is the time, place and life of the Baptist. He is remembered while all others are forgotten. He is in Heaven; all others are orphans. God loves a humble heart. God will love us if the Baptist and his ways would be preached and lived by us today. How the world needs men and women of his holiness!

If you think about it, the Law of Marriage is what did him in. The defense of this holy bond is what does us in today. The Love of God demands justice to his creation, his laws, and his people. Many still lose their heads in defending the same institution as John did. But as the psalmist puts it so brilliantly, “God’s way is unerring, the promise of the Lord is tried and true; he is a shield to all…The Lord lives! And blessed be my Rock!” (Ps 18) There is no greater guarantee of life everlasting!

Although the circumstances of the death of John are well known, we must never forget who is truly behind the scenes. The devil wishes for us to stumble and fall. He knows that his greatest threat to creating havoc is holiness – personal holiness. John is not great because he stood up for what was right, good and holy. John is great because he was a holy man and that is why he stood so tall.

This morning I did some house cleaning. In Dallas we are ill-equipped for snow and ice. All my appointments have been cancelled and that is one of the reasons why I have been able to get my meditations out so quickly! While I was cleaning the rectory, I stumbled upon a small gift box given to me for Christmas. I had already removed the pen from inside but I wanted to open the box up again. Why? I have no idea. When I did, I noticed that I had not removed a “gold” book mark that was inside. What was written on it struck me, “You serve the Lord our God so faithfully” (Dt 15:10). The experts say that first reactions are usually the correct ones. Well, I immediately thought to myself, “If they only knew.”

I wish I could say that I serve the Lord faithfully. But I prefer to say that I need your prayers! We all need each other’s prayers. What got John the Baptist through the dark nights in the cold, damp, filthy and lonely cell that became his daily scenery were the events that were going on behind the scenes: the prayers of many faithful men and women who carried him through another day and into eternal life.


  1. Fr. Alfonse,
    As you mentioned we all need each other's prayers. You ARE a faithful man of God but you aren't perfect, none of us are. You are lifted up in prayer daily.

    For my meditation this morning I reflected on today's Psalm and wanted to share it with your followers.

    “The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge, of whom should I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

    Growing up I lived in fear. My mom was an alcoholic and I had to tiptoe around her, never knowing what would set her off. She would spew hateful words at me. I was also afraid that one of her many attempts at suicide would one day be successful. I was afraid another sibling would die in a tragic auto accident. I was afraid my dad would creep into my bedroom again.
    Even as an adult my fears ran deep. I was afraid my husband would leave me, afraid I would have another miscarriage, afraid to speak my mind.

    But scripture tells us that we don’t need to be afraid. “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50) Jesus spoke these words to his disciples. They were afraid when they saw Jesus walking on the water. The disciples had Jesus with them and they were still afraid.

    People have told me that if I had more faith then I would not be afraid; that the opposite of fear is faith. But to me, the opposite of fear is courage. To do things you aren’t afraid of is easy; but to step out into the unknown takes courage. “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.” (Isaiah 12:2)

    God knows everything about me. He knows how I have been hurt. “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.” (Psalm 27:10) He understands my fear. He is patient with me and for this I am grateful. He knows that I have trouble trusting others, and at times trusting Him. I think at times that he is pleading with me, “Trust me. I will not forsake you! Be still and know that I am God.”

    My heart is so anxious at times that I can’t hear God’s gentle whispers. He is calling me to come to him and that he will give me rest (Matthew 11:28) He wants me to have the peace that I long for. “I will heal them, and reveal to them an abundance of lasting peace” (Jeremiah 33:6).

    As part of my healing, I have had to go back to those dark places in my life so that they can be brought into the light and be healed. This has been very painful, frightening and has caused me a lot of anxiety. But God has been with me, he has blessed me with faithful disciples that want to help me be healed. And looking back, they have helped me to see that Christ was with me all along.

    I continue to struggle with being afraid. But now I turn to God in prayer, I turn to scripture for his words and turn to my friends that he has blessed me with to provide the love and support I need. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flame shall not consume you… Because you at precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:2, 4). GOD LOVES ME!

  2. Let the past be gone and move forward into God's light. Blessed be all who suffer.

  3. Father I smiled when I read the part "If they only knew". Here's the thing: the vulnerable you, the humble you that admits to not being perfect, the outspoken you, the kind-hearted sweet but still kindda tough and gruff in a New York kind of way you, the you that is also a man, not only a priest, the you that is also a son, a sibling, a grandson, a friend, a fellow shopper, a fellow movie-goer, the you that stands in line like the rest of us out in the chaos called life....shall I go on?

    All of the above YOU and then some is what makes you so special and what He produced. Don't be so hard on yourself padrecito. It's all good.

    Have a sweet, quiet, peaceful day. (the snow)

    p.s. Please pray for me and my husband. We're driving out to Oklahoma today to see a concert, Lady Antebellum, at the casino. Expensive concert tickets one of my daughters gave us for we feel we must give it a try, the drive there.

  4. I frequently pray for everyone around me. I forget at times to pray for myself. Am I wrong in feeling this way? We are encouraged to pray for others and not necessarily ourselves. I only hope someone is praying for me. I know this sounds selfish so is this wrong? I always want to offer prayer to others and especially those who have no one to pray for them.

    I've enjoyed quiet time in the snow this morning. I was truly reminded of God's beautiful nature today. God bless everyone.

  5. You should always pray for your needs. Although God knows what you need before you ask, you should always humble yourself to the One who loves beyond all human and conceivable limits. "Give us this day our daily bread."

  6. Thank you Fr. Alfonse. God bless you.

  7. To anonymous #1:

    Thank you for your beautiful reflection! It was very helpful to me today.

    Trust and courage can be so difficult. I am confident though, that despite all our failings, if we humbly come before the Lord, day in and day out, and beg for His grace He will strengthen us. He will remind us of His immense love. The deepest and darkest recesses of our souls have been made clean! And we can walk with that deep inner peace and confidence that comes from knowing we are loved beyond all imagining!

    God Bless you! And have a great day : )

    - Jessica

  8. Dear Jessica,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

    I have found great comfort and peace during my time before the Blessed Sacrament, attending daily Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently.
    I also make note cards out of Scripture that speaks of God's love and mercy for me. This is where I get my strength to continually move forward, being drawn into His love for me.

    Blessings to you!

    - Anonymous #1

  9. Dear Fr. Alfonse-

    "If they only knew. . . ."

    What then?

    People would talk.

    What then?

    You would have twice as many folks lined up at your confessional!

    We tremble at confessing to a plaster saint, but gladly spill our guts to a priest who is a sinner like ourselves.

    My spiritual director wants you cloned. . . .



  10. Father Alfonse, you rock.

    Thank you for being so authentic, so real, and so honest. You inspire me to work harder at that every day!


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