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!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

John 15:1-8  Bearing Some Fruit
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.”
The Lord demands from his disciples that they remain in him because “without me you can do nothing.”  He was being nice.  He should have said, “Without me you will do horrible things.”  Yes, without the Lord, without being grounded, connected, attached or rooted in the Lord, we end up being some creepy crawler.  Without the Lord, we end up falling to the ground and rotting away.
An apple is an apple regardless of whether or not it is on the tree or on the ground.  While it is on the tree, it has the potential of bearing good fruit.  But while it is on the ground, it has the potential of rotting away.  What causes the fruit to fall?  The wind.  A storm.  An animal.  A disease.  Gravity.  Time.  
A baptized individual remains a Christian their entire life.  Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.  It cannot be removed, washed or tossed away.  And if he fights the good fight, he will be welcomed as a Christian.  If he falls to the ground, he may be welcomed as a bad Christian. 
What causes a Christian to fall?  Pride.  Greed.  Lust.  Anger.  Gluttony.  Envy.  Sloth.   These seven deadly sins are just as brutal as the elements in nature.  They are just as powerful as gravity and disease.  They are forever near us and it is only a matter of time before we experience their powerful forces.
But like in the case of an apple, a Christian is a Christian no matter what.  But a Christian can be just as rotten as an apple off a tree.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  Remain in me. 
Remain in me.  What exactly does it mean to remain in the Lord?  It means to follow his commandments; to live his life every day of your life.  It also means to reach out and to proclaim the Good News and the bad news to all who will listen.  Is it possible?  Of course!  And we must do it. 
We are all sinners.  You hear this very often.  It’s depressing.  But the good news is that it is not true.  We are not all sinners.  Some of us have been redeemed.  When we were baptized, we no longer were sinners.  When we do a perfect act of Contrition we are no longer sinners.  When we go to Confession we are no longer sinners.  So why do we insist on calling ourselves sinners?  Because it is an excuse for acting like a sinner!  Stop making excuses for yourself.  St. Paul referred to Christians as Saints.  If he can do it, so can we.  We were all born sinners.  We don’t have to live like one.  We don’t have to die like one.
We shouldn’t judge.   That’s correct.  But what exactly does that mean?  Does it mean we have to keep our opinions, our Good News, or the Lord's Commandments to ourselves?  Does it mean we cannot say to someone, "Hey, you're breaking a commandment?"  Does it mean that we cannot speak boldly about sin or grace?  Does it mean that we must turn a blind eye and turn the other cheek when it comes to teaching the faith of the Church?  Does it mean we cannot criticize anyone?  Of course not!  The Lord, who was God and man, called Pharisees hypocrites.  He told prostitutes to sin no more.  He called a Syrophoenician woman a dog.  He said of those who harm children, “that it would be better that they had never been born.”    What the Lord does not want us to do is take over his job; specifically, to judge someone unworthy of salvation.  He did not want us to become Pharisees and right people off.  The Church has never sent anyone to Hell.  The Church has never claimed that Judas, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao-tse-tung, Truman, Mohammad, or Buddha were in Hell.  It doesn’t mean that some or all are not there, it means it’s not us to decide.  That’s why the Lord says, “Do not judge AND do not condemn.”    Does it mean the Church has no authority to tell men to be faithful to their wives?  Does it mean the Pope has no authority to tell Melinda Gates that her four billion dollar contraceptive campaign is misguided and will kill unborn children?  Of course not!  The problem isn’t that we are saying these things.  The problem is that we are not saying it enough.  And for this reason, we are not bearing much fruit lately.
“[Go throughout the world and] proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations” (Ps 96).  Alleluia!


  1. Father, I'm biting my tongue here....

    We are still all sinners even if some of us have been redeemed!! Baptism wipes away the effects of original sin. Confession wipes away our mortal sins. However, all Christians and non-Christians have a propensity to sin. It's a matter if they chose to or not. Sin lies awake and festers waiting for the prime moment to attack!!! Not even some of our Saints (Mother Theresa, St. Paul) were completely immuned! Venial & Mortal sins do not completely go away with Baptism and do not go away with one trip to the Confessional. If we weren't all sinners, then why did our Holy Fathers institute confession??! The only two non-sinners include the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christ himself! I agree that many people use the "we are all sinners" as an excuse to do bad. We are all called to be Saints. But, to flat out say that it is "not true" we are not all sinners doesn't make sense to me. I can see naive people thinking, "Well, Father says we are not all sinners. That's a good thing! If I do x,y,z then maybe this isn't really a sin after all? I've been redeemed through my Baptism! I've done my first reconciliation and no longer have the "sinner" label." Ok, I know this sounds ridiculous. But think about though...Sigh. Anyway, I've taught my 1st communion class the concept that we are all sinners! It's clearly written in our textbooks. But, now you are saying the opposite?

    (Ok, I'm taking a quick breath now...)


  2. Check your catechism. Does baptism only wipe away original sin? Does confession only wipe away mortal sins?

  3. I have to side with the first commenter (Jennifer) here.....we are all sinners, and we can become sinners again as soon as we leave the confessional by our thoughts and desires. The problem that the non-Christian, atheist, secular world has with Christians is that we don't acknowledge our own guilt, that we don't rise up and voice our anger over those "Christians" that are picketing the funerals of service men, or the "Christians" that burn Korans or the "Christians" that speak with such hate and ugliness and without compassion when it comes to politics, sexual orientation, abortion. No one is going to listen to us until we acknowledge our mistakes, our sins, and actually start to act like Christians. Personally I'm going to work on the pole that is sticking out of my eye before I tell my brother about the splinter in his.

  4. Hate to say this, but it really sounds like you and I are saying the same thing. Let me see, you say..."We can all become sinners AGAIN." Two key words here: CAN and AGAIN. We "can" become sinners means we weren't just a few minutes ago. And "Again" means a change. Therefore, I can be a sinner, then a Saint, then a sinner again. Correct? If so, then please tell me where I don't make that clear in my meditation. No one would argue with that. But what you just said confirms what I said. If we CAN become sinners AGAIN, then it means we can become SAINTS AGAIN. Christians are saints preciously for the reason that they recognize their sin which, by the way, is hard for an atheist or secularist to buy into considering that sin would acknowledge right from wrong, which would acknowledge good from bad, which would acknowledge evil from holy. The example you share is an example of what I would consider a misinformed or "bad" Christian, but still a Christian by virtue of their baptism into Christ.
    Now, you are more than free to avoid telling someone that they have a splinter in their eye but I don't think the Apostles hesitated even with the splinters and poles in their own eyes? We help. Regardless of whether or not we are ourselves crippled by sin.

  5. I agree with you, Father. After all, didn't God give us the freedom to choose between right and wrong? Thankfully He's always there to pick up the pieces when we fall!

  6. I don't understand why there is so much conflict. Father Alfonse, I see what you mean in your beautiful meditation, we all have a tendency to sin, but when I go to confesion I feel free of sin, (at least at that moment) Of course I don't know how long I am going to keep it like that, I ask God to give me the grace not to sin again and the rest depends on me.
    Thank you so much for your blog

  7. I really like the reference to St. Paul's exhortation to be saints. Sainthood is something that can occur, with His grace of course, here and now--it's not reserved only for the afterlife. Also, remember that in teacher training we learn that individuals develop from concrete thinkers at early ages to teenagers and adults who are capable of abstract thinking. So it's entirely appropriate to present concepts in very concrete, black-and-white terms to young children. But we as adults can be taught and challenged with hyperbole and other styles of persuasion to think about the never-changing Truth in new or different ways. Christ Himself used hyperbole, for example.

  8. Didn't our Father create us in His image and likeness? Doesn't that call for us all to be perfect as He is perfect? Don't we choose to NOT be like Him by making stupid decisions day in and day out? We were not created to be sinners, it is a choice we make. Thank you Jesus for loving us......... enduring your Passion on our behalf so that we could spend eternity with you!

  9. Father Alfonse,

    I do not understand the conflict either. Why did you decide to literally throw the Catechism in my face? The answer to your questions is **no**. Baptism does not only wipe away original sin, and confession does not only wipe away mortal sins. I'm sorry that my thoughts were disagreeable to you. Everybody reads and interprets your meditations differently. The whole "we are not all sinners is not true" paragraph was confusing to me. But, now I have a better understanding.

    BTW, normally people do not type in all capitol letters unless they are screaming at another person. You can emphasize with the ** instead.

    God Bless you, Father.


  10. I don't think it's too surprising that people may read the comments and determine that there seems to be conflict when a commenter challenges the veracity of the blogger's post. There's a difference between asking a question about the post (e.g., "I wasn't clear what you meant by... Could you explain further?") and opening a comment with a sentence that seemingly contradicts the assertion in a post, followed by three exclamation points.

    I didn't get the impression that the use of capital letters implied unnecessary emphasis in any way, especially since only certain words were emphasized that were critical to the points being discussed, not an entire statement or remark about the personal qualities of someone.

    I also didn't get the impression that the Catechism was "thrown in the face" of someone. It seems that we should expect in discussing points of the faith that it's likely the Catechism will be referred to for clarification.

  11. Comments are always welcomed. :-) But sometimes they get off the meditation. I received a few more comments today that in my opinion would not be good at this time to publish. I hope no one minds me making this decision, but I will be shutting down the comments for this meditation only. You are more than welcomed to comment on the other meditations. :-)


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