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 22, 2012

Mt 6:19-23 Where’s The Beef?

Mt 6:19-23  Where’s The Beef?
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  But store up treasure in heaven.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Do you remember the little old lady in the Wendy’s commercial that shouted out “Where’s the beef?”  Well, she did more than boost sales for Wendy’s.   This catchphrase became an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event, product and even person.  “Where’s the beef?” now means more than just beef. 
Where is Christ in your Christianity?  If you are buying a hamburger, you would think that the most important ingredient in the hamburger would be the burger, not the bun, or tomatoes, or onions or the lettuce.  Of course, all these ingredients are important in a hamburger, but the essential, not accidental, item in a hamburger should be – must be – the meat! 
Christians are good people, wholesome people, nice people.  We help others.   We give.  We are generous.  We are compassionate.  We are a community that helps others regardless of who they are.   But what makes Christians different from non-Christians?  What is essential to being Christian?  The answer is obvious; it comes from our name:  Christ. 
If we give our time, talents and financial treasure but do not receive Christ's Word, Christ’s sacraments and Christ’s graces, then we will give...something, but not everything.  If we are good to people but are not good at being Christ-like, then we will do what is possible, but not what is impossible.  This is why so many of us see holes in just about everything we do; in our “social justice curriculum” and even in our homes.  We give a lot and get a lot done, but we just don't ever seem to be able to seal the deal.  As a community, we give tons of food and clothing but are we sharing our faith, hope, and love?  Are we giving what all people need now and in the end?  While we are giving our love are we also sharing our faith in Jesus Christ?
Where is Christ in my life?  We grow up with tons of goals to achieve.  We want to be this.  We want to do that.  We want to go here.  We want to see this.  We want to experience that.  And there is nothing wrong with any of it, except for the fact that some of our goals were illusions while most of them changed with time.  It’s true.  I notice it with myself.  What seemed so important in my youth, no longer interests me in my maturity.    I see it too. I notice how young people love to dress while old people love to be able to dress.  Fast cars are at the top of the list for many young men and near the bottom of the list for many young dads.  We shouldn’t feel bad for our dads.  We should actually feel proud of them.  They get it.  They’ve grown up.  Career is important, like the lower bun of a hamburger.  Money is important, like the dressings.  Family is important like the top of the bun.  But what matters most must be Christ.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  He is the reason for it all.  Where is Christ in my life?      
Where is Christ in your children?  We spend years of our life to give our children the best.  We really do.  And that’s a lot…maybe too much.  After all, what went wrong with our children?  How did they screw things up so bad?  How did they become so narcissistic, pessimistic and problematic?  Maybe, just maybe, while we were chasing our dreams our kids were having nightmares.  While we were enjoying work, they were terrified of school and ‘friends’.  Could it be that while we were building our dream home, they were already thinking about selling it?  I see the way moms and dads treat their kids.  They have only the best in mind.  They spend and spend and spend a lot of money to get a safe car and safe car seats; they spend to buy organic foods, use organic detergents and live in ‘safe’ neighborhoods.  They want their children to receive the best education possible.  They lock the doors at night and turn on the alarm to keep their children safe and sound.  So what are we doing wrong?  Why are our kids acting like bullies, criminals and delinquents?  Why are our kids wasting their youthfulness on drugs and sex?  Why are our kids cutting themselves, abusing themselves and killing themselves?  You ask, Are they starving?  I say yes!  Are they dying?  Yes!   Are you kidding?  No!  How could they possibly be starving and dying if we are giving them everything?  We are not giving them everything.  We have given them just about everything but not everything.  We have taught them just about everything except the most important things.  We have given them just about everyone except the most important One.
What’s missing in our children's lives?  Christ!  They are starving for Christ.  Our kids are dying for Christ.
There are a wide variety of people that influence our children:  mom, dad, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, actors, actresses, musicians, performers, etc…Some people have more influence than others.  Some people think they have more influence than others.  Some people have way too much influence, period.  But there is someone who is just dying to love our child, influence our child and be the most significant other in their life:  CHRIST.  There is something our kids could use more of and, I promise you, it will never mess them up:  faith, hope and charity.
Our treasure is our faith in Jesus Christ and the fruit of our treasure is our personal holiness. 
Who would not want that for themselves, for their children and for our world? 

14 comments:

  1. What a beautiful meditation. I couldn't agree with you more. If we put Christ in the center of our lives this world would be a paradise!!!!!
    God bless you Fr. Alfonse.

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  2. Very good, Father. This mediation grabs my attention..... I like your analogy. Here’s another spin.

    Where's the beef? (Where's the soy burger for Vegetarians like myself?) . How do people enjoy their hamburgers? Do they like them rare, medium/medium well, or well done? I think of “well done” as those who believe in Christ and all of His teachings, following his ways and centering their lives on Him. The “medium/medium well” meat eaters pick and choose what they want to believe in but generally follow Christ. (Will they hold the mayo? Will they add extra cheese?) The “rare” meat eaters prefer to have very little to do (or nothing to do) with Christ & the Catholic Church. They don’t seem to mind when they get sick from E.Coli poisoning. (Bad undercooked burger!) They will mask the rancid taste by piling it high with tons of dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, etc (representative of all the secularism and consumerism of our culture). And those two toasted buns on top of the burger? I think of those as the other two components of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit and God. The “meat” (Christ) wouldn’t be the same without the top and bottom buns (Holy Spirit & God)!

    (Sorry if this sounds totally corny…)

    Blessings,
    -Jennifer

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  3. Father Alphonse, you really hit a homer today!
    I have a nine year old and this meditation made me realize we are relying too much on his faith formation and the parish. What you said should be obvious, in hindsight, but I needed to read it. I hereby resolve to have a real conversation with my son about Christ and the importance of our rich faith within the next week.

    Jennifer, please leave the theology to the professionals! (Just giving you grief. I don't like over-cooked beef.)

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  4. Excuse me, leave theology to the professionals? Ouch! Not a very nice thing to say.

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  5. P.S. What happened with freedom of speech, Dear Anonymous? I think if Father thought what I wrote was so awful from an "amateur" he would not have posted it. I really get tired of the personal attacks: "You miss the point!". "The devil is in the details." "Don't you get it?". Very rude and insulting. I would never say that to anybody else. I sometimes wonder at the "Christian like" behavior of some of the people commenting on this blog. Not much room for thinking differently or out of the box unless it's straight from the righteous words of Father Alfonse.

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  6. I liked very much this article.
    My experience with my family and friends family is aligned with what the article explains and defends.
    Luiz

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  7. But it's ok for teens to want a fast car and fun clothes, right? And to mature into the other stuff.... Just because we think slow cars aren't as fun doesn't mean we aren't mature!?!?!

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  8. This meditation reminds of a time when a coworker shared with me that his daughter asked him who Jesus was and who God was. He said her friends were talking to her about them at school. He said he could not believe she was asking this question. He just figured she already knew. He said he told his wife, "We need to go back to church." I couldn't believe what he was telling me. I knew he was Catholic, but I had no idea he never went to church. I couldn't believe he had never spoke of God or Jesus to his children. I did not know what to say, I was in shock. I don't know many people who do not believe or know of Christ. All I could bring myself to say was that I couldn't believe it and that I was glad that he was going to do something about it. That was at least 2 or 3 years ago. I believe he is still going to church. His daughter just made her confirmation this past May. Praise God!

    I know that I myself need to continue to talk to my daughter about Christ. I always try to get her to read your blog especially when it has to do with teens. I pray we are getting through to her. She loves reading other kinds of books and watching videos on the internet and on TV, but of spiritual things they don't interest her much. I will continue to try and pray. She is a good kid with a good heart and she does have alot of faith. I try not to worry to much.

    Thanks again Father Alfonse for all you do and may God bless you and keep you ever so close to his heart.

    PS.

    I like reading and meditating from the righteous words of Father Alfonse. Who I believe will be blessed Father Alfonse one day.

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  9. Those who know me know better. I know myself too. But in place of praises and flowers you can give me your prayers.

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  10. Jennifer

    I am sorry you are so sensitive. I did not make the comment but I didn't see it as a rude remark. I imagine if Father did, he would not have posted it.

    It is unfortunate that you have no trouble saying what you think of posts that you do not agree with and are critical of Father but cannot take a little criticism yourself, if that is what you considered it.

    When you post comments you are taking your chances that others may not agree with you. There is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box but you have to allow others the same privilege.

    Not a criticism or attack, just an observation:)

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank-you for your honest observation. I'm glad to know you did not post the original comment.

      I've been commenting on Father's blog for a while now. It's not until after his trip to Miami that people started heavily "interpreting" my comments. I do accept criticism when I feel it is warranted and not a personal slap. Also, I'm open to hearing the opinion of others. It keeps things interesting. However, didn't Father remind us not to chew and spit at one another? I may be sensitive, but is that a fault? Perhaps it is. I know my former employer criticized me for "sensitivity" for years and years. It is not a part of my personality I can change overnight. (Father knows all too well the nightmares I encountered at my old job. Enough to scar someone for a lifetime.)

      I find it interesting that people are quick to criticize me and find fault with me but they are less quick to challenge Father Alfonse? I'm very surprised anybody really cares about what I write much less take the time to critique line by line - quote by quote. I think the focus should be kept on Father Alfonse's meditation and on the Gospel. I'm a nobody but Father Alfonse is a somebody. He is very gifted with his words. He encourages me to take his thoughts and reflect on them in a new way.

      I'm sure Father Alfonse is criticized more severe than any of us can imagine. Those of us who comment typically enjoy his style. He's a good example of someone who can accept criticism with grace. I imagine it takes a lot of practice, patience and prayer. :)

      I don't think anybody really enjoys being criticized. Do you? It's even worse when it's from people who don't even know you and certainly don't know your background. In terms of "leaving the theology to the professionals", aren't we all called as Christians to theological reflection? Aren't we all called to take the Gospel message and make it relevant to today's culture? My analogy with the well-done, medium, rare cooked burgers could've been rearranged to one's own preference. If you don't like an over-cooked burger, then that could symbolize "not being a Christian/not-believing in God". If you enjoy a medium cooked burger then that takes the rank of someone that is 100% in line with Christ and the Church's teachings. Yes, I think it is necessary for us to learn from the theology professionals. On the flip side, I should not be discouraged from theologically reflecting on a given message and expressing it differently. (I don't think Father considers himself a Theologian. He certainly prefers not to go into high theological discussions.)

      Blessings,

      -Jennifer

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  11. Jennifer

    I will continue to pray for you every day.

    We all have past wounds to heal. Many of those wounds do not heal with the passage of time and when they are poked, they can resurface and hurt us all over again. And quite often it is much easier to lick our wounds rather than get the professional help that can truly heal us.

    God is The Healer but he has also given us others to help us along the way.

    That is 100% from my heart. I've been hurt very deeply, I've been criticized, I've been defensive, I've felt attacked by the words of others. And I've taken personal responsibility to use the 'tools' he's given me to heal and become the woman he made me to be. I am not there by any stretch of the imagination but I am farther along than I would be had I not reached out.

    I don't believe anyone likes to be criticized but it is part of life and a part that often helps us grow.

    I am sorry you feel like you've been chewed up and spit on/out. I can't believe anyone intended to do that. Sometimes it is our perception and judgement of the motives of others that end up causing us the most pain.

    I do believe sensitivity can go both ways. I know it does for me.

    I don't know anything about deep hamburger theology so I can't comment on that.

    God Bless You

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  12. I just remembered that when Father first started his blog, he told me he hoped that people would be able to help each other with their comments.

    I know that I have gained insight, comfort and encouragement from the comments. Sometimes I don't agree and there have been times when I got a little or a lot of criticism. Sometimes that criticism or difference of opinion has helped me see the other side of an issue or has helped me see where I need to change and given me something (else) to improve about myself.

    Yes sometimes the comments go way off the subject but so does his meditation. I believe it all goes where the Holy Spirit leads it. Only the Holy Spirit knows who may need to hear something that seems irrelevant to everyone else, but answers some question or a dilemma or offers encouragement or consolation for someone 'out there'.

    If there is anything that Father deems inappropriate, he can and will not post it. I believe he allows some criticism because it has the potential to have some value to someone, either the writer or a reader.

    I don't know if he still feels the same way about helping each other and I realize that I am making an assumption about his motives.

    Just a thought about making comments off the meditation:}

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