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, June 8, 2012

Mk 12:35-37 Jesus Is Lord

Mk 12:35-37  Jesus Is Lord
(Click here for readings)
As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said, “How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David?  David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said:  The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’  David himself calls him ‘lord’; so how is he his son?”  The great crowd heard this with delight.
Throughout the entire week, we have read how the Pharisees, scribes, chief priests, elders and Herodians were attempting to trip Jesus up.  They never succeeded.  They never arrested his ideas.  They only succeeded in arresting him, and only temporarily. 
Christ taught the crowd and the crowd was delighted.  Finally, they thought, someone who speaks to us from the heart.  Someone who not only believes but witnesses to the truth they preach. 
But what is even more impressive, more impressive than a heart-filled preacher or a person who lives what they preach, is a person who can relate the truth of the Word of God and the Word made flesh with the confusing words coming from the crowd.   That is an achievement!
I recently read from the Public Research Institute that 62% of millennial Catholics (born between 1988 and 1994) say “present-day Christianity is judgmental”.  I have a few problems with this.  It is one thing to say to someone “You’re so judgmental”, but it’s actually a much smarter thing to be able to recognize how judgmental that statement you made is. 
I don’t have a problem calling some of our youth very judgmental because I’m judgmental too.  It takes one to know one.  And I know plenty of them.  I know how quick they are to judge their mom or their dad or their teacher or their friends.  So, I don’t find it surprising in the least that they would be so judgmental to their Church?  It’s who they are!  So let them!  Let them learn from their mistakes, unless it kills them.
I know enough to know they love their parents when they let them get what they want.  I know enough of them to know they hate their parents when they don’t get what they want.  Why would the Church, Holy Mother Church, not suffer the same growing pains parents suffer from?  
I know our youth are happy with their Church when the Church judges something to be good and right that they think it’s good and right.  I think the problem begins when their Church declares something to be bad or wrong when they think it’s good for them and it’s their right.  That’s when the Church becomes “judgmental”!  But it’s actually the moment the Body of Christ (or Holy Mother Church), invites them to be meek and humble of heart rather than scornful, threatening or insulting.  Only you Lord have the words of eternal life!   
But my biggest concern with this survey is the very low percentage (62%) of Catholics who think Christianity is judgmental.  I would have hoped and prayed that 100% of our youth would have agreed that Present day Christianity is judgmental.  [Notice, they don’t say that “Christians” are judgmental; they say “Christianity” is judgmental].  That’s important because we judge issues, not people!  We tell it the way it is, just like Christ.  If anything, Christians are far nicer than our “present-day” youth who judge issues poorly and people harshly!  Did you ever hear the Holy Father call someone a jerk or stupid?  Did the Holy Father ever use an expletive before the word “gay” or “atheist” or “socialist” or “communist”?   Did the Holy Father ever speak directly or harshly about a President or Dictator or Puppet?
We are only judge issues and forgive the mistakes that people make.  Unlike many of our present day youth, we do not insult or use vulgarities or throw punches or stones or bricks or even pies at our elderly, our parents or friends or teachers or politicians or “enemies” because they take a stand that we oppose. 
To never pass judgment on anything would be like never saying anything is right or wrong.  It’s like saying to our ancestors: “We have nothing to learn from you!  Go back to your dead!”  It’s like saying to our history professors, “Who cares if we repeat history!”  It’s like saying to our professional Shrink, “I ain’t got nottin to learn from my past mistakes!”  God forbid we would be so na├»ve to think this way. 
How funny it is that 38% of our Catholic youth say that Present-day Christianity is not judgmental?  How sad it is that more than 25% of our Catholic youth leave the Church by the age of 24.  Do they think it is different from ‘Ancient-day’ Christianity? 
Here it is!  Here is the biggest problem facing our youth:  no one dares teach them right from wrong, good from evil, holy from unholy.  Today it’s all about diversity!  It’s the key word!  A local Catholic school prides itself by saying, “We are a ‘diverse’ school.”  We are proud of our “diversity”.  That’s right!  Actually…that’s neither right nor wrong.  No one is wrong.  No one is right.  Nothing is bad.  Nothing is good.  If we were only talking about a child’s height or race I wouldn’t have a problem with it.  I wouldn’t have a problem with it because it isn’t a problem.  But that’s not the problem.  It’s not a child’s height or race we are discussing.  It’s a Catholic child’s faith.  And a child’s faith will determine the important decisions they make and the serious consequences they take.  Their faith will determine how well they live the rest of their life:  for better, for worse, in sickness or health, death or eternal life.
Our present-day Catholic youth that come from our Catholic Universities appear to never get more than a scratch from the sword that is the Word.  Although many of our youth participate in “Social Justice” missions almost none participate in Gospel missions:  Go throughout the whole world and preach the Good News.   As a result, our Social Justice has become their Peace Corp.  It’s all about doing some good and feeling some good about oneself without ever experiencing the pain that Christ experienced:  rejection.  It’s become a safe way to win the approval of the crowds while never getting the opportunity to have stones thrown at you for preaching the Good News.  There is nothing wrong with the Peace Corp.  But there is something even greater to offer in His Corp while in His Church and School. 
To bring clean water to poor areas is great.  To bring people to baptism is even greater.  There is nothing wrong with sharing some of our bread and wine.  But our Lord would love to share his Body and Blood.  There is nothing wrong with fundraising to remove a sadistic leader as the head of a child army.  But don’t we have kids with guns here?  Don’t we have kids here with all the clean water in the world but no clear idea of who Jesus Christ is? 
Jesus is not a social worker.  He is much more.  Jesus is not a revolutionary.  He is much, much more.  Jesus is not a protest marcher or a liberal or a conservative.  He is much, much more.  JESUS is LORD.  He is the same, yesterday, present-day, forever.  Our Catholic youth need to know that NOW.

8 comments:

  1. Father,
    Your point is well taken. I believe your observations are accurate. I think you have hit the nail on the head. You appear to know the problem well. You have the interest of those who agree and most likely most if not all who read this do agree.

    I never thought of it that way. We are all about doing good things that make us feel good, which makes even difficult things easier to do. Doing things that no one would consider anything but good is easy.

    It is interesting that you pointed out social justice as a 'ministry' that fits that mold.

    What I find even more telling is that Pro life, although it is a social justice issue has pretty much been separated from social justice and often set against social justice by people in the church. I'm not referring to lay people although they are included.

    It is true that on the surface, the pretty side of pro life, having parties to raise money is easy and commendable, helping young women get their lives in order is commendable, teaching youth is very good, donating money is good as well and so is praying at home and in church or walking with a crowd in pro life walks. All of those things seem to fit into the doing good to feel good category.

    But what I see that may be more comparable or equal to spreading the gospel, the whole gospel, not just the feel good parts, is putting yourself out there and risking your well being, taking the criticism, the nasty remarks to your face and behind your back, the judgments that are made about your intolerance and your judgmentalness all the way down to the possible physical pain and suffering that you are risking when you get your hands dirty and do the work no one else wants to do.

    Praying in front of abortion mills, sharing the truth about abortion in black and white ....and red with honest and accurate descriptions and pictures that cannot be refuted or glamorized with those who are ignorant and misinformed is a more noble thing. Risking your reputation by standing out and making a stand against the lies of abortion in front of those who do not agree with you, speaking up in groups at school, work, social gatherings family events and even unfortunately, church where the truth is considered a taboo subject like sex used to be, would be self sacrificing and I believe walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

    You have told us what needs to change.

    But I didn't see any suggestions on how to do it. It seems like some suggested changes or actions that we can apply to spread the gospel and risk persecution and share in Jesus' cross would be helpful and challenging for those of us who are ready and willing to do good just because it is what Jesus wants us to do, not because we personally get anything out of it.

    I believe it will take courageous adults like priests, school administrators, youth ministers, teachers and parents to make the changes and go toe to toe with the resistance without compromise, that need to be made in the schools, churches and other organizations where youth gather for the young to get that message and follow that path, the more noble action of giving one's self purely out of love of others and Jesus.

    Any suggestions out there?

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    Replies
    1. Nothing changes unless it changes from the top. As you said, it is very easy to do things that no one can complain about. It is a far better thing to do what is Christian.

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    2. "It’s all about doing some good and feeling some good about oneself without ever experiencing the pain that Christ experienced: rejection. It’s become a safe way to win the approval of the crowds while never getting the opportunity to have stones thrown at you for preaching the Good News."

      I see that God gave us different brains for a reason…. the different ways we analyze, create, perceive things…. not so that we can argue, but so that we can see the way each other thinks.

      I look at Mother Teresa, who became a Saint, by loving mostly Hindus. She did not try to convert them, evangelize to them, etc. That is why India paid so much homage to her when she died. She continued to say that she was "not a social worker". She said that she was doing it for Jesus in each person, seeing Jesus in each one, the poorest of the poor. She did not hide that she was a Catholic, but in the same moment she SHOWED Who God is, what Love is, not with words, but actions.

      I guess even Catholics are diverse. I see it one way, you see it another. But I thank God that He gave us all the same yearning: “to love and be loved”! It may be diversity in our brains, but unity in our hearts that drive us all to the same One.

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    3. The diversity i criticize is not the diversity you speak of. I disagree with you on the charism, scope and work of Mother. She did not try to convert them, evangelize them? Are you sure? I think she did. I think her sisters did too. I think the poverty they lived and the chastity they embraced and the obedience they held on to was just as powerful as the work they did. And the work they did opened a dialogue that never existed before. Just like Catholic schools in mission territory. You forget that most of the sisters that joined her were not from Europe. They were from India. And they were not raised on Christian homes but converted to Catholicism.
      Why can't we be all one faith, one baptism, one mind and one body? Why does it always have to be limited to one sentimental heart? In everything i read, Christ prayed that they may all be one, not diverse.
      My concern is not that we forget the poor but that we forget to give them Christ. Do it in a ton of diverse ways if you want, but do it please.

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    4. Thanks for your response. I used the wrong word – evangelize. Yes, I agree: she did indeed evangelize, by her actions. Precisely what you said: how they lived! It was by her/their examples!. What I should have said was that she showed them what Christ would have looked like if He were living in her time. I just never heard or read any of her writings that talked about how she tried to explain Catholicism or the doctrines of our faith to anyone. This is my point. Maybe I am too judgmental of the Catholics speakers on Catholic radio who maybe are so in love with Catholicism that I hear always about how we can “reason” with our secular friends into converting. Can we laity really evangelize to our secular (diverse) neighbors without them first seeing us living out our faith by doing “social work” or first seeing them as Jesus (and not just another person to convert)? (Isn’t there a price to pay, a seed to die so as to produce good fruit?) As Christians, our motives would really be doing “good works” for Jesus. There is nothing to hide there! Would this not be a way to show that there is a loving God by first seeing us not only love one another, but also loving strangers in need? Once the "diverse" do not feel threatened (b/c we are loving, not the ulterior motive of converting), then their defenses would lessen and we could dialogue. Jesus does the converting. This is how I see sincere (not sentimental) love being given. What is my real motive? Loving or converting? I just don't see it as both. Which one is more important to me? This is what I understand Love to be. This is what I should have said about Mother Teresa. She gave her life for the poor, doing so many acts of Love, sacrificing, paying a huge price! The consequences were conversions.

      Jesus taught us very well by His parables, teachings, beatitudes. But He transformed us by His Love, His Passion.

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    5. Hey Father, just wanted to comment on this "oneness" issue. "Jesus prayed that they may all be one, not diverse." That is why we are here on this earth! This is our homework -the culmination of our very existence in this age! Only when we are consumed, as Jesus is in the Eucharist, will we begin to see this oneness. You are so correct! It is in oneness not diversity that the world will believe that Jesus is Lord of all, for all ages. But how do we arrive at this place? This is my prayer that I know God will honor: I have only one Spouse on earth, Jesus Crucified and forsaken....

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  2. Excellent points, Father. I’d like to share an additional spin on your thoughts. Hope I’m not too way off.

    For some strange reason, the nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie" popped into my mind after reading your post. I remember as a child holding hands with other children and "all falling down" at the end of the song. I recently found out that the rhyme speaks of the Black Plague during the Middle Ages. The "ashes, ashes" part of the song referred to the funeral Mass. I see the society we are in now as a sort of “Plague of Judgment.” We hold hands in a circle and judge one another over and over and over until “we all fall down” into this sea of misunderstanding, indifference, and apathy. The 38% of the Catholic Youth who believe “Present-day Christianity is not judgmental” may not understand what “judgment” really means or have any clue that we all are prone to the judgmental spirit. It’s a reality of the Christian faith.

    I think diversity is a good thing. I think it brings about an understanding of different cultures and attitudes. However, I see how diversity can run opposite of the Catholic social issues (i.e. gay lesbian rights). How can we better integrate diversity within the framework of Catholic social teachings? You spoke the other day about a need for a required semester course in Logic. Maybe we should encourage our Catholic youth to take a semester course in Catholic Social Teaching & Apologetics? Get them focused on the truth of the “issues” we face in the Catholic Church today. Encourage them to stop “judging” the issues that they do not agree with. Maybe with better education from our clergy, administrators, and catechists we can present the "Jesus is Lord" message and discourage judgment.

    Blessings,

    -Jennifer

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  3. It seems to me that so many of us consider 'evangelization' to generally be conversations about God, the Bible, their faith...trying to convince others of their "truth" in a way that is straight to the point that may start out like, "Have you been saved?", "Do you know where you will spend eternity"....or going door to door with a "Bible or something they consider a Bible".

    In my experience, (I have been on the receiving end of that MANY times. I guess I look like I need saving or they know I'm Catholic and believe I'm on the road to hell) I have felt judged by them because I don't accept their take on how to obtain salvation.

    That very popular approach puts many people on the defensive and walls go up. I believe, it may very well actually send some Catholics to learn the truth about their own religion and become "more" Catholic, like many of us.

    The tried and true way to evangelize is the way Mother Theresa did it. She did it with her love and actions. She did it in a way that opened people up to God's love, a way that could not be denied or debated. She lived what she believed. She Shared God and she ministered to Him.

    People could not look at her and not see God.

    Yes, there were people who were against her. I've read about people who claimed she was going to hell because she didn't 'confess Jesus as her Lord and Savior with her mouth and believe it in her heart". She did not say the 'magic' words. First of all, how do they know? Even those people admitted her love for God and His people but assumed her condemnation because she didn't follow their (made up) rules for salvation.

    I also believe those that were against her, where against her BECAUSE they saw God in her.

    I believe her approach is the best even though it takes time. In the meantime while we are living the faith, trying to be an example, we ourselves are growing in holiness. So it is a win win!


    Benedicamus Deus!

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