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!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mt 8:5-17 Surprise Yourself and The Lord

Mt 8:5-17  Surprise Yourself and The Lord
A centurion approached Jesus and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”  He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”  The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the words and my servant will be healed.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
He handed it right to me.  What I was hoping for he placed in my hands.  He gave me his credit card.
While I was up in Michigan, working as the Executive Director at an independent Catholic school, I was placed in charge of raising money for our fledgling little school.  It needed students (like most schools) and it needed money (like all schools).  We needed to raise a ton of money.  Where to begin… Well, as a young priest, I decided the best way to raise money would be to get to know each family.  I began meeting one family after another.  Without knowing it, I had scheduled a dinner with a wonderful family.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  As I drove up to their home, I realized for the very first time that this family had money.  The husband had been very successful in his business and he was not reluctant to show it off.  As we ate, I mentioned our school and how we struggle in paying our bills.  As soon as I finished, he pulled out his wallet and handed me his credit card.  I couldn’t believe it.  He said to me, “Is this what you need?  Go ahead and take it.  Use it as you need.”  I was shocked and I said the stupidest thing I have ever said in my life.  I said, “No, its okay.”
As I returned to the rectory, I recounted to an older priest what had happened.  He shook his head and told me flat out, “You should have taken it.”
But I think my “stupid” response surprised me as much as it surprised the husband and wife I ate with.  And I was right.  Instead of taking the money and running, he gave me back the reason for my priesthood; and I gave him back the reason for his faith.

That evening, I realized what it meant to be a priest.    I didn’t want to go back to my room and label this family “Rich” and another family “Poor”.  I didn’t want to think this family was “a leader” family while other families were not.  I didn’t want to visit people to see if they had money or with an agenda in mind.  I wanted to be a priest, like Jesus Christ, who spoke to people regardless of who they were:  rich, poor, Romans, Tax Collectors, Pharisees, sinners.  I didn’t want to start being wishy-washy; that is, telling people what they wanted to hear for fear of not getting what I wanted.  I wanted to tell everyone what they needed to hear, regardless of lost “opportunities”. 
That evening, and without knowing it, I started a relationship, a friendship, with a man and his family that was based on faith and trust, and not on wealth, influence, position or power. 
A few years later, this man who had everything, lost just about everything...but not his faith.  As for the school, it was saved by other very generous donors of whom I had nothing to do with.  I’m so happy!    
Unfortunately, so many of us seek friendships to serve selfish purposes.
Do you try to get to know someone because you seek something from them?  Do you operate with an agenda in your relationships?  Are you trying to convert someone?  If so, then surprise that person just like the centurion surprised the Lord.  Put the agenda down and put that person in its place!  Let them be your agenda!  Let them be to you what you are to the Lord:  a soul.  Let them know they have a friend.  Do not attach any strings to it.
The Roman soldier surprised the Lord by asking him for a favor.   And the Lord surprised the Roman soldier (as well as the crowd and his disciples) when he began to listen to him, speak to him, and accept his request to heal his slave.  But the centurion's greatest surprise occurred when the Lord said to him, “I will come and cure him.”  
What?  You will come into my house?  You would do that for me?  To enter into the house of a pagan, would have meant to be labeled ‘unclean’.   The centurion could not believe it!  He had everything he could have asked for and wanted in his hands.  With that, the centurion surprised himself and the Lord when he said, “You don’t have to come to my house.  Just say it and I know it will happen.” 
Some things are more important than others.  Some things are not that important. 
This young soldier came to the Lord in good faith; actually in better faith than anyone else.  And the Lord responded in good faith; actually in better faith than anyone else.  When the Lord spoke to someone, he spoke to them as a human being; a soul.  Christ saw through the fa├žade of fa├žades, agendas, political and social status.  He saw through the sinner as well.  He went straight to the heart of the matter.  In everyone he came in contact with, he saw an opportunity to show the Father’s unconditional love; the most important thing of all.
Where to begin…
Begin with Christ.  Begin with faith.  Do everything out of faith.  Allow the Lord to be the one who carries the burden of providence.  Allow the Lord to be the one who directs your heart and mind. 

11 comments:

  1. Put the agenda down and put that person in its place!  Let them be your agenda!  Let them be to you what you are to the Lord:  a soul.  Let them know they have a friend.

    Oh boy, I needed to hear these words today! My soul has been suffering tremendously this past year as a very close friend of mine came to me a year ago in distress about the soul of her non-Catholic husband. The stipulations he put down regarding going to Mass with her and their children were bringing her down. Her kids enjoyed visiting the neighborhood non-denominational church with their friends so my advice was to take her husband to visit this church and see how he would react. Well, he loved it, and they've not been back to the Catholic church since, and I feel totally responsible for her leaving Jesus behind on the altar. She told me that having communion at this Bible church felt the same as receiving the Eucharist. I am shocked and distraught! I've been quietly ministering to a few of my "former Catholic" friends, shepherding them home by my love for our faith, and because of me, my dearest friend leaves the faith? :' ( Sadness fills my heart.

    Lord, let me love all my friends as they so deserve, no matter where they are in their walk with you, or even if they don't know you. Shepherd me, move in me, and let your light shine through me for all whom I come in contact with, that they may see you through me. Lord, direct my heart and mind always.

    Much peace and love,
    Suzie
    +JMJ+

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  2. Suzie

    We are never responsible for anyone else's actions.

    In fact accepting responsibility is a form of pride. Your friend left the Church to appease her family. She left Jesus to make peace with her husband and her kids.

    If she believes that communion in a Bible church is the same as the Eucharist, then she doesn't know the faith or she has truly committed a serious sin by willfully abandoning Jesus.

    One day she will discover the shallowness of a Bible church, she will get tired of the theatrics and she will see the 'man behind the curtain' is a mere human who is operating independently and is free to make up the 'rules' as he sees fit.

    Just keep praying for her and planting seeds. Planting seeds is your only job. The Holy Spirit takes it from there.

    God bless and let go of the guilt, if that is what you are feeling. Just be an example and keep praying.

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  3. In fact accepting responsibility is a form of pride.

    I think we could believe in this statement in some situations, such as watching our children receive their first Holy Communion, or anyone celebrating an anniversary of some sort, an accomplishment. I don't believe pride in all situations is a sin. Pride certainly does not apply here. Would you say that St. Peter felt this pride in accepting responsibility for denying Jesus the way he did? Shouldn't we think he probably accepted responsibility for his actions but felt more sadness, regret, humility, and guilt, certainly not pride?

    For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. Phillippians 1:29

    We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

    Peace <>-<

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  4. I knew that was going to strike someone wrong.

    You missed the point. I was not talking about taking responsibility for something she did, didn't do, or should have done.

    I was talking about the pride of believing that her actions or words had the power to make her friend do anything.

    That is a pride in her ability to have power over the woman.

    If she had a gun to her friend's head and told her what to do, then she would be free of pride for the woman's actions. That would be different. Still sin, but different, and I believe a mortal sin if she knew what she was doing.

    Your example does not apply to the point I was making. And I'm not sure how your scripture applies either

    My understanding of what Suzie felt bad about was that she felt responsible for her friend leaving the Church. Sure she should feel bad that her friend left the Church and very concerned for her friend's soul. In fact her friend's soul may be more at risk than that of the husband and the kids. Hopefully my point in that comment is understood.

    If you meant she was suffering for Christ because her words influenced her friend's departure from the Church, I can agree. Christ is truly suffering for that. It does apply,in that sense, but that is not how it sounds to me like you mean it considering your words above.

    And I am not judging Suzie's actions. Her actions were what she thought were best. They were an attempt to help her friend, to hopefully bring her husband around to the side of truth.

    I don't see any sin in any of it, except the sin of pride for taking responsibility for her friends actions. What if her friend's husband didn't like the other Church and wanted to go to the Catholic Church? Would she take responsibility for that? Would she feel like her words and actions converted the husband? I don't believe she would.

    Suzie sounds, and, from her others posts that I've read, she sounds like a very loving, sensitive woman who ministers to others in the name of Christ.

    My comment was not a stab at her or a judgement of her character. We all have pride and it comes up in ways that we do not even realize it.

    I have done similar things myself. Sometimes I do feel responsible for their failure and sometimes I even feel responsible for their success. They are different sides of the same coin.

    Hopefully my point is more clearly understood by all, especially those who felt like I was judging and attacking Suzie.

    I can tell she is a very loving woman who I would be honored to have as a friend.

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  5. I may not have made my last point clear and Fr may completely disagee. He is big into not spoiling our kids with too much positive reinforcement. And I agree with too much and unwarrented praise but I think without it at all we do as much damage. Either way we need to be saving for their therapy instead of college because therapy will be more benificial throughout their life than college. In fact they will be more likely to be more successful in college and life if they pay their own way.

    Off the subje, paying for college is not on the good parenting list.

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    Replies
    1. Off the subje, paying for college is not on the good parenting list.

      This is a harsh statement and I couldn't disagree with it more. I grew up with nothing in material matters, however the best gift was the gift of guiding me in my faith. We haven't spoiled our children with tv's in their rooms and a big house for them to disappear into some corner to hide away. However, one of the best gifts we've given our children outside of bringing them up as strong Catholics, is paying for their college education. Our children carry over a 3.0 gpa and take their schooling very serious and have admitted they wouldn't even have gone to college because of the expense and the concern about paying off their loans.

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  6. the last comment doesn't make sense without the two before it. I don't think they were inappropriate in any way or did you not get them?

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  7. I guess you didn't get my other two posts in response to Peace <>-< So I will attempt to recap.

    I knew that statement would ruffle some feathers.

    The pride of believing that she had the power to make her friend do what she did is the pride I am speaking of. Her friend chose to do what she did. Had she been holding a gun to her friend’s head, then she could be culpable for her friend’s action. That’s what I was saying.

    What if her friend’s husband hated the other church and he went back to the Catholic Church? Would she take responsibility for his conversion? I don’t believe she would.

    From what she said, how she said it and from her other posts, it seems to me that Suzie is a very loving, ministering, sincere woman who truly cares for those around her.

    I have done the very thing that she did many times, (taking responsibility for someone else’s actions, when they had free will and could have chosen differently) so I am not condemning her or accusing her of any horrible crime.

    I didn’t realize the pride in what I was doing until someone pointed it out to me. Actually knowing that now makes it easier for me not to carry guilt around for things I have no control over. That knowledge has given me freedom.

    I imagine Fr. Alfonse has to deal with this often. He is not responsible for the actions of those he advises no matter which way it goes.

    I imagine she did feel sadness, regret, humility and guilt. We don’t have to feel pride to be acting out of it. And we do't have to be guilty to feel guilty.

    We are all guilty of pride in many ways. Many that we are not aware of. We may have the best of intentions and still fall into pride. The devil is very sneaky. He is very good at making something look good that is actually not good. Just because we are not conscience of sin, when we commit it doesn’t mean it’s not a sin. It’s not a mortal sin, but it can still be a sin.

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  8. I do believe Peter felt guilty for denying Christ. He was guilty. Suzy didn’t do anything to deny Christ or to hurt her friend. I don’t see how your comment about Peter is related to this at all.

    And I’m not sure what your scripture reference from Phillippians has to do with this situation either unless you are referring to Christ’s suffering that her friend is inflicting on Him due to her friend leaving the Church. It is obvious that Suzy is suffering with Christ there.

    Yes all things work for good…..That doesn’t mean all things are good, Jesus makes them good.

    And I don’t believe being proud of someone’s accomplishments is a sin. We should show our children that we are proud of their right choices and actions. Positive reinforcement encourages them to continue to strive to do what is right. The pride comes in when we take credit for their accomplishments. (maybe we are using the word pride where another word would be more appropriate). I am not talking about praising a child and rewarding them for every little thing they do where they end up believing they are the center of the universe. But letting them know we love them and our proud of them is important. Without the love, acceptance, affirmation and encouragement from our parents, we pay for it for the rest of lives or until we consciously work on overcoming it. That emotional support is as important as food, water and shelter. With food, water and shelter, they will survive physically, but their mental and emotional care is something they will take with them wherever they go in life and in every single relationship they will have in life.

    That is where I was going with the not paying for college part. I’m not saying paying for college is bad or wrong. What I was saying is that if we don’t give our children those things that I mentioned above, our money would be better spent on the therapy they will need rather than paying for their college. They can pay for their own college, you know. Paying for your child’s college is above and beyond your responsibility as a parent. And it's great if you can do it. I do know those who can't afford to pay for their kids' college and they feel like failures as parents.

    I think it is great that you are able to give your children a college education, but not every parent can and they should not feel like bad parents because they can't.

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  9. Holy cow, ok, wow, it's me, Suzie. :) Thank you all for your imput. It's much appreciated and I will certainly keep in mind all your thoughts.

    Pride? I'm not sure that's the underlying emotion, but even if it's a hidden emotion deep in my soul somewhere, I'll take that into consideration while I do a little soul searching. I'm feeling more sadness than anything. I'm sure I'm not the only person my friend consulted with prior to leaving the Church, and I'm pretty sure she was already thinking about seeing what would happen if they went to this Bible church, temporarily anyway. And no, I didn't put a gun to her head, ;) but I just felt that my words may have given her the "OK," she was looking for. I first, secondly, and thirdly insisted she visit with her parish priest about this, but she wouldn't consider it. I'll just keep praying that she comes home.

    I love the scriptures references actually, as I do feel as I'm suffering with Christ here, and maybe the second reference can be applied to the happiness their family is feeling right now? She has been my "go-to" friend for all things Catholic Church related, and I feel as though I've lost that. But I love her dearly, and I'll continue to minister to her as the Holy Spirit works through me at His will. Since then, the Lord has blessed me with some wonderful new Catholic friends that I can share my faith life with - God is so good!

    As far as the Peter reference, I totally get it. I often, in all humility call myself Peter! There is a song by "Third Day" called "Can't Take the Pain", and it ministers to me often!

    Father, if you think this is something I need to bring to confession, please let me know. :)

    Much peace and love,
    Suzie

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  10. Do you try to get to know someone because you seek something from them? Do you operate with an agenda in your relationships? Are you trying to convert someone? If so, then surprise that person just like the centurion surprised the Lord. Put the agenda down and put that person in its place! Let them be your agenda! Let them be to you what you are to the Lord: a soul. Let them know they have a friend. Do not attach any strings to it.
    This is what I mean by co-existing; I'm sorry that I can't find the right words to say.

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