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, March 11, 2012

Jn 2:13-25 Zeal For My Father’s House!

Jn 2:13-25 Zeal For My Father’s House!

(Click here for readings)


Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area…He said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”


What would the Lord say today? I wonder…“Take these donuts out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a coffee shop!”


Once upon a time, I used to love to go visit other churches, and not just Catholic ones. I haven’t been able to do so recently, but when I did, I tried to find out what the “competition” was offering. About a year ago, I went to visit a mega-church that was and still is a converted movie theatre. I picked up one of their free brochures and read through it. I was immediately taken aback at the title, “Top Ten Reasons to Avoid Church!” But since you cannot judge a brochure by its cover, I proceeded to read through it. My fears were confirmed.


Now, I will admit and never deny the reasons people give to not go to Church. But, what I really found disturbing was how these superficial reasons, found in the brochure, were justified in the brochure! And what this church’s solutions were. I went over to the information booth (previously the ticket counter) and asked the attendant, pointing to the title of the brochure, “Don’t you mean the ‘Top Ten Excuses to Avoid Church!’ The point was missed, and for a reason; in fact, for "Ten Reasons". For them, these excuses were legitimate reasons and they had worked hard to fix them. Here are some of them.


Reason #1: Its so boring! Really? What is boring? Is God boring or am I boring? The brochure went on to say, “Not us! We use humor, dramas, original videos and upbeat music to communicate a positive message.” Really? Doesn’t all that get boring eventually? Doesn’t novelty become elderly? And what does “positive message” mean? Does it mean we tell you what you want to hear or give you what you want to see? Does a church need professional actors and actresses to make the Gospel come alive? Is that the Good News? Or do we proclaim what St. Paul proclaimed: "Christ crucified!" (1Cor 1:22)


Reason #2: They want my money! “We don’t”, the brochure continues, “we encourage first time guests to not give to the church. The service is our gift to you. So, leave your wallet at home…unless you want to eat at the Cheesecake Factory after church.” I don’t think anyone really has a problem giving money to a church, even first time guests. What I think people have a hard time giving money is for a pastor’s mansion; their wardrobe; their fancy cars and their fancy wives and children. Christ’s Apostles received gifts constantly, but they were still seen picking the wheat from the fields because they were starving! What does your Church do with their money? What does your pastor do with his money?


Reason #3: The kids will hate it! “Your kids will have a blast! They’ll be dragging you back with them each week to KidStreet, our rock’em, sock’em theatrical production where kids and their parents learn about God together.” This reminds me so much of Disney world and reminds me so little of God’s world: Heaven! Do we want to worship God our way or do we want to worship God His way? Maybe we should ask those Jews who were dancing and singing and rock en around the clock all night with their golden and false idols! We know how that all ended! God loves a good time, but not a waste of time!


Reason #4: The pews are a pain in the @#*! “Not here! We have comfy, cushioned theater seats with cup holders. Bring your latte!” I wish life were like that! But I wonder why our ancestors didn’t do the same thing? Why in the world did they make pews a pain in the @#*!, especially after they spent all day working like a dog! Why didn’t they make Church more like a theatre or a spa? Maybe, because they needed to do some penance? Maybe, just maybe, they needed to do some sacrifices for their sins.


In our attempt to bring more people to Church, I hope we never advertize the wrong things but advertize Christ’s unconditional love and timeless plan of salvation. We tend to seek that which makes us comfortable. It's no wonder we advertize things such as free donuts and coffee; a welcoming atmosphere; surround sound; a lively band or choir or music, etc. Would the Lord be driving these things out? I think so. At least, he would not be promoting them so much! I love what St. John writes at the end of today's Gospel: "Christ did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well."


What Christ did that day, (making a whip out of cords and driving people out), will not even come close to what we did to him on another day. Maybe that’s the reason why we do what we do, say what we say and pray like we pray.

13 comments:

  1. Beautiful meditation! funny and deep at the same time. I wouldn't change our Catholic Church for any other church in the world!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Fr. Timothy answered a question for me this morning in his sermon.

    St. Joseph's had a pastor for the first 20 years who was really bad news. Yet we have four men, including Fr. Timothy, who came up through St. Joseph's and became priests.

    I wondered how this was possible.

    In his sermon, this morning, Father stated that we do not go to Mass for great sermons. When he was a child and a young man here, he never heard a good sermon. But his mother pointed out to him that we were here for what was on the altar.

    I have recently had to confess as sin , going to some weekday masses at another parish in order to avoid my non-preferred priest.

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  3. It should be Reason #4 (not #2)The pews are a ..... LOL!. I'm here at the Arboretum reading your post among God's gorgeous tulips, laughing my @#* at this story. Did you wear your uniform while visiting the mega-theater/church??! Unbelievable! :)

    Blessings!!

    -Jennifer

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    1. So am I I think this post today is great. Knowing Father Alfonse I am sure he wore his uniform since he is such a cheerleader for the faith. When one goes into a church and you can't tell whether it is a church or a theatre then that is a problem and I am at home laughing my @#* off didn't make it to mass today because I had a fainting spell yesterday so i am following my doctors orders to take it easy for a few days

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  4. Surely he wouldn't wear his uniform. He may be proud to be a Roman Catholic priest, and he has a right, but he is not an idiot. You cannot go incognito dressed like a priest to a theater where half the people there are ex Catholics who go there exactly for the reasons mentioned on the brochure.

    We may not have motivational speakers, theater seats and big screen tv's (in the sanctuary) but we have Jesus Christ himself body, blood, soul and divinity at our mass every single day in every single Catholic Church across the world!

    We have Jesus Christ in the flesh 24/7 for anyone to visit. Every time I go in there, the first thing I say is thank you Lord for always being here waiting for me. And He is!

    Why do we keep it a secret? Why are we, the lay people not out there telling the world, everyone we know this? Because they may think we are crazy, lying or stupid?

    I would rather that then God think I am Lazy, ashamed and indifferent!

    I invite the 29 million people who read this blog to go out tomorrow and tell one person this truth. With the law of averages, we would get at least hundreds of converts, they just have no clue.

    Maybe we start with our estranged relatives. Or not. They may be the hardest to convince.

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  5. Well, maybe Father should answer the question I posed about "Did you wear a uniform?" before we banter back and forth guessing the answer. Of course Father Alfonse isn't an idiot! He's !@#$ smart visiting the "competion" of our area churches to see what goes on inside. I think if Father appeared in his uniform he would definitely not "keep secret" his Catholic identity. He'd be a witness to the faith, not at all ashamed or indifferent. Even if he didn't wear his uniform no matter. He was still present amongst the rockin and rollin' theatre church to give us an insider viewpoint. He presented his case well of how Jesus' "temple" of faith can be a shear mockery and used in ways that do not present a positive, inviting message. Jesus may just say "Stop making my Father's house a movie theatre with high def sound and plenty of popcorn & cokes to pass around!" Alleluia, Jesus!

    -J.

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  6. Of course I did not wear my uniform!!! I went with a former member of this church who is now a seminarian at Holy Trinity!!!

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  7. LOL!!! Much to do about nothing.

    The point is that nothing is worth leaving Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity. For, NOTHING no matter what happens inside the Church or outside and we.who are blessed beyond measure need to share what we have with those who are less fortunate:-)

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  8. The headline reads, "Bowling alley loses faithful".

    http://now.msn.com/living/0312-church-bowling-alleys.aspx

    Of course, we have our cappuchino bar in the Forum at St. Joseph's. Then there is adult volleyball, casino night, bake sales, pancake breakfasts, KofC spaghetti dinners, breakfast with Santa Claus, circle of friends going by bus to Branson, Mo, fall festivals, fish fries during Lent, silent auctions, raffles for new cars and trips to Las Vegas, and who could forget the typically Catholic phenomenon of Holy BINGO! Oh and I think we do have a bowling team, The Holy Bowlers, but they use commercial lanes. . . . .All of the above except for the Forum with cappuchino bar are obligatory for a church to be considered Catholic. . . . . ;)

    As a convert, I found all of the non-religious things that Catholics do to be even stranger than the religious practices. . . .

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  9. Jan - You do bring up a valid point from the viewpoint of a convert. Your comment really inspired me to take this reflection to a deeper level. We may laugh at the mega churchs making a carnival out of bringing people into the hands of Jesus. We may condone the methods used to bring people into communion with God. However its obvious to me these evangelistic Christians probably think our seemly over-religious and uncompromising truth is appalling.

    We all agree that this post is humerous and provides an example of how we can miss represent Christian faith in superficial and ridiculous ways. However its so important as Catholics not to think of our beliefs as superior to other faiths. We cannot and should not use pride as a stepping stone for conversion. I can very well see people from the mega church reading this post and thinking: Those @#%& Catholics with their rigidness! How dare they criticize our evangelization style!

    Just food for thought.....BTW Father and the others may think my uniform question was stupid, pointless and nothing to do with the meditation. However, showing outword sign of being a Roman Catholic woud have put a whole entire different spin on the story.

    -Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer-

      Shortly after my conversion, I found myself sitting in a bar (I used to do that a lot. The Quiet Man was an Irish pub on Knox street frequented by students, lawyers, hippies, and artists.) talking to a lady who was a dancer at another club and a man who was an extremely rigid Catholic.

      The lady asked me why I became a Catholic. Before I could answer, the man said, "Because it is the one true church. . . . .etc, blah, blah, blah. . . "

      When he shut up, I gave my own answer: "Because it felt like home to me."

      That man did not like my response. It is because of people like him that I am wary of any Catholics who seem too rigid, too sure of themselves, too focused on something other than the Love of God.

      We need to be bold, but humble when proclaiming our faith.

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