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, July 6, 2012

Mt 9:9-13 Smiles and Mercy

Mt 9:9-13  Smiles and Mercy
The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” 
While I was in Hawaii, I saw a man standing at the corner preaching Hell and the end of the world.  Near to him was a little girl singing "Soul Sister".  The man had a crowd of two listening to him.  The little girl had a crowd of nearly a thousand listening to her.  The difference did not go unnoticed to me.  I was standing next to the little girl who was singing to me.
There is no mention in scripture of the Lord ever laughing.  And there is hardly any mention of him ever smiling.  Since we tend to write what we remember (and what we most remember is what we find most unique and shocking), this tells me that the Lord did an awful lot of laughing and smiling. 
Scripture does not retell the obvious; it shares with us the unique and mysterious.  For example, it does not remind us that the Lord breathed, that’s obvious.  Rather, it reminds us of the time when the Lord stopped breathing.  The Evangelists did not wish to share with us that people were dying to see the Lord.  Instead, they recount to us those who were raised from the dead.  We know, for instance, that the Apostles often traveled without food.   They often point this out and in detail. 
I suspect that the Lord did not speak often.  Why?  Because the Apostles recorded every single parable he said; every single encounter he had; and every single point he made.  This is something we do not do easily, especially with those who lecture us.  What is obvious is who often went missing.  The Lord valued solitude.
I believe the Lord smiled and laughed very often; which means he cried very little.  No wonder, the Apostles were shocked to see the Lord cry at the death of his close friend.  No wonder why it was a memorable moment.  The Lord’s laughter was seen by all, but not his crying.  It must have gotten to the point that his smile and laughter was so common that it was taken for granted.  His crying must have  been shocking.
Many of us can remember the day our father cried.  Not many of us can remember the day he laughed or smiled. 
Mother Teresa laughed and smiled so much that we could hardly tell that she worked with the poorest of the poor.  But when she did cry, it did not go unnoticed.  In fact, it sent shockwaves throughout the faithful.  Why?  Because she didn’t do it often.   
Holy people know how to smile and laugh.  This is important.  And the reason why they know how to smile and laugh is because they do it often.  It becomes such a habit that it hardly gets noticed…like their habit!  The Saints know how to laugh because they know how to love.  And to love means to know how to sacrifice. 
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  Doesn’t the Lord ask us to make sacrifices?  But now he's telling us that he doesn’t want our sacrifices!  I’m so confused!!!  Which one is it??? 
To show mercy is to show love.  To love requires sacrifice.  It isn’t a question of either or, it is a question of which comes first.  Love always comes first in everything we do.  Mercy is required before an honest-to-God sacrifice can be made!  There is no other way.  If we follow the commandments out of fear of the Lord, then we will never convince a living soul to follow the Lord.  But if we follow the commandments out of love for the Lord, then we will convince all the souls around us.  How will they really know the difference?  By the smile on your face!   
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…and my lips!


  1. Father Alfonse! Talk about smiles and laughter: I went to see the "Katy Perry Part of Me" movie today. What a fun show! I think you will enjoy it. I didn't realize some of the songs I enjoy she's the artist who sings them. She's very talented. I love the smiles she brought to the teens/tweens during the concert footage. :)

    Despite the heat and having to pay a ton of $$ to fix the AC in my car today, I've managed to keep a smile on my face and a little spring in my step. I agree with you Our Lord probably laughed and smiled a lot. He definitely had a sense of humor. Can you imagine a world with no smiles, no laughter, no happiness, and no mercy? Not a very loving existence. I'm making a honest effort to smile more often. It makes me feel good, and it brings about warmth to those around me.



  2. “If we follow the commandments out of fear of the Lord, then we will never convince a living soul to follow the Lord. But if we follow the commandments out of love for the Lord, then we will convince all the souls around us.”
    2 great lines! I have often thought why “fear of the Lord” is the first step in wisdom. Fear & respect, yes; but it’s just the first step. The second step is keeping the respect and slowly letting go of the fear. The third step is the same as the second and so on until we gradually reach a little more wisdom every day, with a capital W: Almighty Respect which spills over to falling in Love….perfect Love casts out all fear. We don’t have to cast out our fear b/c God does it for us when we love. We don’t think about ourselves when we truly love, so it’s easy to see how fear leaves us. It’s a divine journey! Just by loving the one person God puts in front me in every moment (step by step), I can grow in wisdom. Thank you Father Alfonse for these words of Wisdom.

  3. aww, this made me smile.
    Thank you, I really needed it.

  4. These words written about our Jesus' laughing and crying really stand out for me in this meditation. I've never given it much thought actually because it's not a subject that comes up so therefore often when I read the Gospels, I can mostly feel the frustrations that Jesus must have felt so much of the time due to the ignorance of his disciples. Parable after parable and he still had to ask "Come on already, don't you get it?!" (those are my words) I've always felt, while reading some scripture, that he must have always had it in the back of his mind the death he would endure and it must have been like a dark cloud hanging over his head. But of course! He had to have laughed and carried on just like all normal men do! Who would have wanted to hang around with him day in and day out if he would have constantly been all serious all the time!?! This has opened my eyes to the obvious, I'm happy to say, but kind of ashamed that I've never really thought about him this way.

  5. One of the most perfect scenes that describes Jesus' mentality to me is when he invited everyone around Him to start dancing right before His passion! What a way to go out!! Through this scripture I see more of why the saints were absolutely thrilled to die a martyrs' death. What a grace! It's what you have been talking about - sacrifice & love to the point that it is not about me anymore - it's only about Him and my neighbor. Please Lord, guide me so that I may also dance with a smile as sacrifice/love is asked of me!

    1. Just curious--what scene/Scripture about dancing are you referring to? We are told that the apostles sang hymns after the last supper, before going to the Mount of Olives, but that was a solemn scene, and no dancing is mentioned.

      Love the insights in this meditation.

    2. Wow. I can’t believe I was called on this!! You are good! I saw “The Promise” play like 20 years ago, and I remember Jesus dancing in a circle w/His closest friends, apostles, singing joyfully this hymn that you speak of; it’s interesting that they put that part in the play! It was not only this image that I remember; I am also intrigued with the Gnostic Gospels. I know they are not approved by the Church; however, in The Acts of John, there is an absolutely beautiful, long passage of Jesus, dancing in a circle w/His apostles while He is singing these praises of His Father. He also sings the praises of The Word, The Spirit, suffering: This mystery consumes me: as much as we try to avoid suffering and pain, it seems this is the answer that Jesus is trying to convey to us for true freedom and fulfilment for ourselves – it’s union w/Him!! Whatever temptations He allows in my life, I am starting to see through them – He wants something more from me. Get through this temptation well (do not sin but see what I am trying to tell you through this) and I will give you more grace. Then, I will give you a bigger challenge, all for My Glory! I might give you dark times, but not w/out Me…it may just seem like I’m not there. Today, someone told me: Life is scary; so what, go through the unknown, walk through that door. Once you do, you see that you have more courage than before. Anyway, I just want to be able to dance through my trials w/a smile, and then I know God will give me more challenging trials wh/ I am looking forward to, only b/c I know He is w/me, doing everything..even though it may not seem like it. I pray that He gives me the grace, strength and courage to continue on that path until I am w/Him forever. Thanks for questioning (:
      Father Alfonse, what ever happened to the phrase, “offer it up”. I try to live by that in every moment – isn’t this an integral part of our Catholic faith that we give whatever sacrifices/love God is asking of us to live w/courage and a smile – only to build up the Body of Christ? I never hear of it anymore. Why not?..... what a loss.


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