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 4, 2012

Mk 9:2-10 The Punch Line

Mk 9:2-10 The Punch Line

(Click here for readings)

“Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them…They kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.”

The older I get the less logical I become, and I am so proud of myself. I think logical people are very boring people. They always think they know the punch line.

We all love a surprise. I think it is because we were created in the image and likeness of God who is full of surprises: good and bad surprises. But in reality, I know I can honestly say that God is full of only good surprises – it’s just that sometimes we have to wait many years to hear the punch line or turn on the lights and say “Surprise!” or blow out the candles.

I was a bit surprised when my first assignment as a Diocesan priest was at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church out in Richardson. But I was even more surprised when a police officer pulled me over the very first time I drove out there. What surprised me even more was learning how low the speed limit was on Jupiter Rd! When the officer came over to my car, I immediately told him, “Officer, I am so sorry but I am running late for Mass. I need to get to the Church as quickly as possible.” He looked at me and said, “You’re running late sir?” I said, “Yes, Officer.” He told me, “Ok…then I will write your ticket quickly.” Right then and there I knew he was a Baptist.

A while back, while I was on a flight, I struck up a conversation with a young Jewish woman. We were talking and talking about superficial things when she suddenly changed subjects on me and told me that she no longer practices her faith or any religion. I asked her why. The answer is all related to today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis (Gen 22:1-18).

God put Abraham to the test.” This young woman was furious with God! She said, “How can a loving God do what he did to poor Abraham? I mean, He told Abraham ‘Do you love me? Prove it. Kill your son so that I know you love me more!’ How disgusting is that! How could God joke around like that?”

She had a point. But I was just as blunt as she was. I told her, “For me, the story of Abraham and Isaac is the most beautiful story in the Old Testament. The problem is: you didn’t wait for the punch-line. It came and went, but it can still be found in the New Testament.

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and sacrifice him for me...” I am sure these words were like a dagger in Abraham’s heart. The amazing thing about all of this is the fact that Abraham did not rebel or curse God. In fact, he remained silent. Why? Because Abraham knew that his Father loved him.

“The next morning, Abraham took his son and they went up the mountain…” Going up the mountain was Abraham and Isaac, father and son. Abraham was carrying a lighted lantern. But in reality, going up the mountain was The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Little Isaac carried chunks of wood for his own sacrifice like Christ carried his Cross for his own sacrifice. Isaac asked his father, “Daddy, where is the animal for the sacrifice?” Abraham’s reply was instinctive and very providential: “Don’t worry son, God will provide.” Little did he know how true his words would one day be.

“Do not lay a hand on your son.” Overwhelmed with joy, Abraham must not have noticed the Lord’s voice shaking. No, Abraham, you will never have to sacrifice your son, your only son, the son you love with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. You don’t have to do it. I will do it. I will sacrifice my beloved Son, my only Son, the Son I love with all my heart. I will sacrifice Him for you; for all of you.

That is the punch line! A punch right in The Father's heart.

Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain. They were surprised at what they saw. Allow the Lord to surprise you too! You don't have to cheat, lie or steal to write your own ending! Things don't always have to go your way. You don't have to shove your storyline down God's throat, especially when it comes to boyfriends and girlfriends and your very own life! How boring! How insulting! Allow the Lord to surprise you! Allow Him to wash your feet, give you a cross and change your life. The Apostles didn’t know what rising from the dead meant. They would soon find out. SURPRISE!!!

I don’t have to drive 65 mph in a 40 mph zone. I don’t have to be so logical and boring. I don’t have to replace God’s punch line with my own! I don't have to run away or hide from God's surprise party for me. I don’t have to ruin all His surprises by being so sinful or so practical and logical.

Heavenly Father, your Son transfigured himself to reveal his true identity and radiance. Help transform us, we pray, into the image and likeness of your Son, surprising all who are around us.

The Lord has given us 40 days and 40 nights not to become more practical or logical but to be more loveable and faithful.


  1. Dear Fr. Alfonse-

    We were surprised to have you assigned to St. Joseph's, too. You were different from any other priest we had ever seen: conservative and faithful to the Magisterium, but down to earth and full of pastoral mercy for sinners like myself.

    We were also surprised, shocked and saddened to have you transferred out after just a little over a year.

    We were changed by your ministry and example. You are greatly missed.

    But you have left your mark upon us and we will never be the same as we were before you came here.

    With affection, respect and gratitude,
    Jan Nathan

  2. Father Alfonse,

    I agree with Jan. You were a wonderful surprise to all of us at St. Joseph! I remember hearing your first homily about getting stopped by the Richardson cops twice in a two week period and thought to myself, "Wow, I can really related to this priest! I can't believe how authenic he is and so funny!" Before you came to St. Joseph, I did not attend Mass in over a month. I was on the brink of changing parishes, possibly leaving the Church for a while. My faith was at the lowest point it had been in many years. Then to my pleasant surprise you appeared! Ever since my life has completely turned around. I have a new found zeal because of your influence. Even though I'm sad you left St. Joseph , I felt consoled your new assigned parish was still within reasonable driving distance. I love being able to come visit St. Monica on Saturday evenings and still fulfill my commitments at St. Joseph on Sunday mornings. I really enjoyed last night's homily. :)

    Having worked in a scientific career, I've been trained to think logically and systematically. It's difficult for me to get out of that mindset. I agree it is quite boring when it comes to my faith. The element of "surprise" definitely makes life much more interesting. I was surprised, literally shocked, when you invited me to become a catechist and actually said I'd be good at it! Wow...for a single woman like me I was floored. How on earth would I be able to manage children when I didn't have any of my own? Boy, has it been a challenging yet rewarding experience. I love all of my children even when they misbehave and don't pay attention. I look so forward to seeing them make their first communion next month!


    -Jennifer :)

  3. I understand the feeling of wanting more, of feeling dry and empty, of longing to go maybe somewhere else to meet that need . . . but then maybe my longing was selfish in a sense . . . maybe I was expecting what was expected from me . . . maybe I was dry because I was not putting in what I needed to get out . . . maybe that was my wilderness time and if I did not endure it and go through it Asking, Seeking, and Knocking for the right things . . . maybe I would have missed the BIGGER Surprise that was in-store for me and my family!

    Are we to follow God or follow a priest? Are we to limit God by saying that I only get it when this priest is speaking and I don't get anything when this other priest is speaking? I get it! I do! I have felt those same feelings . . . but at the same time who am I to limit God?

    Father Alfonse is GREAT! He is "Funny Alfonse" to my daughters . . . he was and is a great gift to my life and my journey . . . he definitely has a gift from God and passion for God! He definitely has been blessed with the whole package of what is expected from a priest - BUT every priest brings a different gift for each one of us at a different stage in our life. Personally, looking back the last 5 years at St Joseph I can say we have been blessed to have a continuation of great priests.

    Look at Moses he wasn't a great speaker but God helped him, that did not stop God from using him. God loves the underdog, the one that doesn't seem to have what it takes so who are we to say how bad someone is? We are not perfect ourselves . . . I heard someone say tonight "If a priest is not a good public speaker then he should not become a priest." Maybe we need to say "If a Catholic is not a good listener then s/he should not be a Catholic?"

    If I missed the connection or the ability to see the gift God wanted to share with me through a particular priest, then that was my fault . . . How many times did I pray for that priest? How many times did I ask the Holy Spirit to help me hear what I needed to hear instead of complaining? How come with some priest my husband connected more and not me? How come I connected more with others and not him?

    Personally, we connected with the ones that were more like us and we sort of took longer to connect with the ones that weren't. But maybe, just maybe, we needed to pay harder attention on what God had wrapped up for us?

    The beautiful thing now is that Father Alfonse is everywhere, everyday and we can still continue to connect through his blog and get to read his inspirational perspective, but we also get to hear our priests and their perspective, and then if we go even further we can listen to Monsignor Don's Pastoral Reflections on the Sunday's Homily! ( I just recently unwrapped that blessing) and then we can even listen to EWTN Mass and get another perspective.

    I guess what I have learned going through the emotional roller coaster is that we will always be able to get what we need, and God will always speak to us where we are at, as long as we allow the spirit to open up our heart and not grumble at what we perceive to be whatever we make it out to be.

    1 John 4:8 for he who knoweth God knoweth love for God is love! What is love? Are we walking in love? Are we seeing our priest with love? Are we seeing Jesus in our priest? Are we loving our priest unconditionally? Can we do more for our priest? Can we sacrifice like our priest?

    Thank you Father Alfonse for continuing to persevere and sacrifice yourself for all of us. You are truly a blessing wherever you go and may the Spirit continue to use you and allow you to keep on lighting fires within the hearts of all!

    FYI you are definitely on the top of my list of favorite Priest!

  4. Ok, Anonymous, I'm the one who said if priests are not good speakers they should not become priests. I'm insulted you would quote me verbatim and make it sound so awful. It was not meant in a negative way. (Maybe you shouldn't eavesdrop on other peoples conversations!) Is terrible when somebody uses another person's words out of context! I was making a point of how necessary it is for a priest to be able to effectively communicate. They should have the ability to speak in a way that helps evangelize the faith. The friend I was speaking with agreed with me but also pointed out the gifts and talents of all the clergy. Some may not be the best homilists but they are wonderful counseling married couples or confessions. Absolutely ridiculous for you to say if a Catholic wasn't a good listener he or she shouldn't be Catholic. Maybe we should all as Christians listen to one another in love and concern, not in an eavesdropping manner to then embarrass that person by posting it on this blog.

    Yes, we are all called to follow God, our Lord Jesus Christ! A priest is a conduit to building a nurturing relationship with God. Some of us do feel better connected to some clergy versus others. It shouldn't be the fault of a person if they feel drawn to a more charismatic priest compared to one who's a little more introverted. Anyway, I don't want to be upset but in the future mind what you quote from others when you don't understand the context or even know the person! You never know who is reading your words.

    But, kudos to you for getting a compliment from Father Alfonse! That must brighten your day!

  5. OMG Anonymous 2, Who are you? Why so angry? Why so on edge? Give it a rest, will you? Not everything is a potential fight. simmer down. goodness!

  6. Please, let's keep the discussions focused on our meditations (mine and yours).

  7. Anonymous #2 (for I don't know your name nor who you are or your face) I am sorry for hurting your feelings in anyway, those were not my intentions.

    The thing is that sometimes we leave not just because we don’t understand the priest, or because we don’t like the music or because we don’t like the message, we leave because it is not comfortable for us and the point of not walking away from the wilderness is that is where we can grow.

    The dryness was a test in my life, again "my wilderness". I wanted more but God was trying to give me what I needed right where I was at and it took a lot of pain to finally realize what a wonderful gift was in front of me how real it was and how wrong I was! I was focusing on the wrong thing - the people and their actions, instead of the deeper understanding, instead of what needed to be transformed in me. I then was able to see those Catholics around me that were hidden before that were not just going through the actions but that would go every morning because there is more than meets the eye. The reverence towards the LORD, our Mighty King fully present and seeing the letters from the songs and prayers and readings coming out of the plain format and touching my heart was a wonderful experience I would have missed out on.

    My context was not you, or what you meant, it was about me hearing myself and you put it in the right words. You are not the only one who feels this way or has made this comment before or at least thought about it or actually acted upon it. There is a lot of people who do not like a priest and write nasty letters to the superiors saying how bad they are. Trust me it was not meant for kudos for he does not even know who I am it was just a reflection of a combination of hearing all of our justifications to our actions when we do not get what we expect to get.

    I am sorry I used your words I should have changed it, but personally it helped me see ME summed up in those words. I never said it that way, but bottom line - That is exactly what I meant. My initial reaction was disappointment every time a priest I connected with left, abandoned us, left us hanging when we had just understood! But the surprise God gave us every time was a continuation of the story and I kept on growing. Sometimes getting passed an accent would make me frustrated, but the funny thing is that when I allow the spirit to help me, I understand extremely clear and then WOW thank you Jesus because I was able to hear your message through him.

    My point is this, If we constantly justify our actions by saying hey if it is not this priest I will not understand it, then what happens when we don't have that priest anymore? What happens when that priest gets called to another state? Sometimes God takes away from us the very thing we hold on to the most. I understand why so many Catholics leave the church, we all look for a connection, but this is how the Spirit HIT me with the answer . . . ok - is it right to divorce your spouse just because you do not understand him/her? HE is absolutely right - marriages get stronger from the struggle of understanding each other, & we both have to bring something to the table & listen with the heart not our logical flesh or personal understanding. We must dig deeper. I am nobody, just trying to figure out things myself that is all. May God Bless us all and help us through our Lenten life long journey!


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