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, March 25, 2011

Lk 1:26-38 Presence as Present

Lk 1:26-38 Presence as Present

(Click here for readings)

The prophets were sent by God; the angel Gabriel was sent from God; Jesus was sent by His Father; the Apostles were sent by the Lord; the disciples were sent by the Apostles, and every Christian is reborn through the Lord’s disciples. The presence of the Lord is felt by all, one way or another.

God is with us! This is the greatest annunciation! God dwells among us. God is present among us. God begins it all, like in the beginning: Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you! Our ancestor's response cannot be my response. It must be an heart warming, arms open acceptance, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” No questions, no doubts, no bargains, but tons of fear.

A Christian’s presence should always be a present, a gift to another. This is frightening. It means to relinquish power and to transfer it over to another. God is hidden in Mary’s womb. God travels along his mother’s path. God is obedient to creation. How beautiful as long as that gift is not manipulated and distorted due to evil.

In today’s dialogue, I am amazed at how brief it all is. There are no “what if’s…” or demands or certain conditions and guarantees requested. Mary is frightened. Not in her mission but in this angel. Is this angel an angel from God or from below? She knows perfectly well why she should be on guard. After all, it was a fallen angel that deceived Eve; a fallen angel that promised glory and honors. The angel makes himself clear: there will be no glory, no honors. Simeon drives the point home, “a sword shall pierce your heart” (Lk 2:35).

Mary’s remarkable fiat is all the more remarkable once we place ourselves in her life. Her life is not much different than ours: a life of tears, fears, hard work and little comment. But her presence is felt throughout the world, even in the netherworld. She is a walking earthquake. She makes her presence felt.

Mary’s beauty is uncovered when she discovers the meaning of her life. Her presence is the greatest gift she gives to the world, and she has been called to be a present for many.

I learned seven years ago that talent and titles are not necessarily necessary to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes we think that if we were in a higher position, or accumulated a little more wealth, and/or possessed better skills, we could make more of a difference in the world. This is what I thought, until I was sent to Mexico to train in being the head of a school.

In 2003, after being ordained a deacon, I was sent to a tiny town called Aguascalientes to train under the leadership of a priest who had been in charge of schools for many years. He was the best. I got there and began my three month training by being his gofer. He told me flat out that he didn’t have time for me. I thought, “Great, another brilliant idea from the top brass.” We would drive together to school and then I would spend the entire day in a tiny cubicle reading over manuals written in Spanish.

Then one day, I heard the kids outside during recess. I went out and started talking to them. They asked me a ton of questions, “Where did you come from?” “What are you doing here?” My answers weren’t too thrilling, especially since they were in a horrible Spanish. I really didn’t know what to say. But the kids invited me nonetheless, “Want to play soccer? Want to go to lunch with us? Come visit our classroom! Come over to our house. Want to come to my recital? Our play? When I saw a kid alone and outside his classroom I would come over and talk to him. I got to know many by doing that!

The three months went by fairly quickly. I was kind of sad to leave and get back to Rome. The day before my departure, I was invited to a surprise party. I didn’t know exactly what the occasion was for, but I got there and we were all waiting for the head of the school to walk in. As the door began to open, I saw everyone around me getting excited. The head of the school walked in, but there was no applause, no shouting, no “Surprise!!!!” Instead, he walked over to me, and as he did, the crowd began to come around me. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Surprise! The party is for you!”

For me? Yes, he replied. The kids and their families wanted to thank you for all that you had done for them. You see, to be the head of the school means to be among the kids, teachers and families. When they are there, you’re there. When they are not there, that’s when you’re in your office.

Presence trumps all other things: titles, business skills, managing skills, human resources skills. Presence is more important than being able to fix the plumbing, the roof, the car. Your presence is what makes the gift you give special.

Presence is the reason why we love Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They [are] were a present to each other in the good, the bad and difficult times of their lives.

May we learn to be a gift to others, and may the Lord protect us from those who wish to take advantage of our presence.


  1. Beautiful Meditation Father!

    Mary's "yes" just amazes me every time I think about it. It is just so beautiful. A fourteen year old virgin, a simple girl who was frightened and said "yes" without hesitation. Did she stop and think like I would of all that could happen to her if things went wrong? She could be stoned to death! No, she just said "yes". She took that leap of faith and stepped off the cliff...fully believing that everything was going to be okay and God's Will was going to be done.

    I know God has been working on me this past year to stop thinking so much and just step off the cliff. As a family we have taken the first step off the cliff and decided that I will not work outside of the home anymore. My job is to be a mother and to be fully present for my children, totally engaged in their lives. He is either going to catch me or teach me how to fly. I am already seeing fruits with our little sweet first grade rascal. I am also learning to budget every single penny and trust that He will provide for all of our needs.

    This has been an incredible year. He sure has taught me a lot. I am so truly thankful to Him.

    God Bless You and please feel better soon!

    You are in my prayers!


  2. The best principals are the ones that 'mingle' amongst the kids, the ones that play ball with them sometimes, the ones that sit with them at lunch sometimes, the ones that approaches them when they are walking along the hallways and greet them, talk with them. Yes, these are the best ones, the ones that get up from their desk, their paperwork, their bureaucracies and really do their job.

  3. Thank you Father. This filled my heart today. I can't wait to share with others. Hope you are feeling better.

  4. Father, your posts and homilies always seem so relevant to challenges i am facing. Since joining our parish, you have challenged us to have faith and be patient. You've urged us to "make the leap". So what is your counsel to us families who have given our best to do that, but do not see/feel presence -- nor communication, leadership, vision, or management skills from our administration?

    Teri above is right, but i would add to her "best principals" description, "and put themselves in positions to be seen, care passionately about what their students' parents think, are open to and seeking of their criticisms, and involve them in meaninful ways..." Now add "faculty too" to the paragraph.

    So many of us have "stood in" and given our best, communicated our concerns the best we know how to, offered constructive criticism and ideas for improvement, volunteered and offered to help fix things...but feel like nothing will change as it falls on deaf ears, or worse, ears that hear just fine but don't want to listen or change.

    Is this how you must have felt having been assigned to Mexico and dealing with a non-responsive administration?

    Thank you for your "presence" here. God has truly blessed our families as you have become more present in our kids lives, and shame to the faculty who do not take advantage of this gift but rather complain of the "disruption" (where is our "catholic identity we so proudly tout as a value?)

    BUT -- Not to minimize your presence here or in Mexico -- you had a couple clear "advantages," so to speak: you didn't have your own kids for whom you felt a great responsibility, time was on your side, and you took a vow of obedience! Given that, you could have bided your time, but instead your choice was a good one -- to engage, to be present, stick to what you knew to be right, and work for the best where you felt you could make an impact.

    As parents, we face a different challenge -- do we show our "presence" and keep offering our "presents" of time, talent, and treasure, hoping with blind faith things will improve when there is much evidence after 2 or 3 years that it will not? Or, do we go find another alternative, as way too many of our truly valued, vested, faithful, caring families are now doing now for their children?


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