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!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Luke 12:32-48 Baby, You're The Greatest!

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your belongings and give alms...for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be... Much will be required of the person entrusted with much."

As a child, I loved watching reruns of two shows:  "The Honeymooners" and "The Lone Ranger." I didn't particularly care for any episode, but what I loved most about them were their endings.  They always ended the same way.

In "The Honeymooners", almost every episode would end with "Ralph Kramden" (Jackie Gleason) embracing his wife, "Alice Kramden" (Audrey Meadows) and saying: "Baby, you're the greatest."

I found this scene to be so heartwarming.  As a child, I knew a lot of people who were arrogant, prideful and obnoxious.  But I had never met anyone who could also be humble and honest.  It was so refreshing to visualize someone like that.  I never thought it was possible.

In the "Lone Ranger" (the show, not the movie!!!), I found it strange - maybe even a bit bizarre - how someone so heroic, so talented and so incredible could also be so humble.  He would always leave before anyone noticed.  He would always leave before anyone could thank him.  I had never met anyone like that before.  [Note:  this was long before I rediscovered my faith.] 

Isn't God very much like this?

For the first time in my life I discovered the virtue of humility.  I loved it.  I admired it.  I sought it.  And never in a million years did I think it would be so difficult to embrace it.

"Baby, your the greatest!"

Who then is the faithful and prudent servant?  The humble one, of course.  He is the faithful servant. 

There is a direct correlation between faith and humility.  They are proportional to one another.  From my own experience and observations, I can confidently say that the more humble someone is, the more faith-filled they are.  The less humble someone is, the less faith-filled they are. 

Abraham was a man filled with great humility and faith.  As St. Paul tells us:

"By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. 

"By faith he sojourned in the promise land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents... 

"By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age - and Sarah herself was sterile...

By faith he believed that he would become the father of a multitude "as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore."

"By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac...his only son." (Heb. 11:1-2, 8-19).

This is the real power of faith.  It gives a man/woman the ability to see beyond their sight; to see beyond what eye can see.

Faith can lead us to where we never imagined going and to what we never imagined seeing.  Abraham is the father of all Jews, Christians and Muslims.  He is the father of nearly four billion people. 

It's time to start counting the stars!

Do not be afraid any longer.  Humility requires tremendous courage, for meekness is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of faith, for Christ encourages people to let go of their fears and let loose their lives.

The Saints are a wonderful example of this truth.  Their lives - their struggles, difficulties, missions and achievements - give witness to what God can do with the not-so-rich-and-famous...or even talented.

Lord, increase my faith!  If we truly wish to have more faith, then we must stop being as prideful as we are and start being as humble as Christ is.  We must strive to live according to God's Commands and according to the teachings of His Church. 

Let's see what happens next. 

It might take us where we never imagined going, to what we never imagined seeing, and to being who we never imagined being.

24 comments:

  1. I saw on a church billboard one time, "Humility comes before honor." It's true. Think of our great spiritual leaders, including you, all are humble because God has worked through them, all have a different story of God working through them that make them see their own humility. Many times in the Bible it mentions being prideful. It leads us nowhere. The best people I know are not only strong in faith, but very down-to-earth meaning others follow their lead and hopefully find their own humility. Great post!

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    1. I definitely need to work on my humility.

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  2. I think this Sunday's gospel reading is rich in several layers of interpretation.

    "Who then is the faithful and prudent servant?" All of us who have been Baptized! Our newly assigned priest at St. Joseph preached about our call to serve the "dirty and smelly parts of the Body of Christ." Those powerful words really struck me. How important it is for each one of us to reach out of our comfort zone and serve the poor, the homeless and the needy. We can all be a heroic "Lone Ranger" and help save the day by sharing our faith!

    Blessings,

    -Jennifer

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  3. That mystery priest has now come forward.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/mystery-priest-in-missouri-rescue-comes-forward/

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  4. The Lone Ranger mentality goes against my vision of Christianity. To emphasize your point of humility, the notion of a lone hero, a lone saint no longer registers in my understanding of Catholicism. We go to God together; we help one another when one is down because it will happen that the reverse will surely occur. There is no way for me to get to heaven without others coming along with me! It’s not dependency (child); it’s not independence (adult); it’s interdependency (Christ-like)!

    It’s more of an attitude that I am talking about: I have to be so creative in exploring the possibilities of bringing someone to Christ. It no longer works to tell someone that they are sinning or they are bad or just to ignore them. In many cases, they are going through much more than something that simple. I don’t always know how to relate to them, but if I try to love them where they are and they try (to search for the truth), I know that Grace will do the other 99%.

    “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:6

    The true hero is one who does not seek to be a hero but sacrifices him/herself for others.


    Mary

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    1. Mary, you make a lot of great points. But none of them is the point I made with regards to the "Lone Ranger" and humility. He walked away before receiving any recognition. That's what I think I wrote and meant.

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    2. Bummer, I miss 1 day of meditation, and I miss all this ‘discussion’.

      Fr. Alfonse, I loved your meditation! It was complete in and of itself. There was nothing to add to it, so I took the Lone Ranger theme in a different direction – “we can’t go to heaven alone”. I just wanted to emphasize humility in a different way. That’s it. That’s all. I guess I didn’t do such a great job of it.

      Mary

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    3. Mary. Everything you said in your comment was correct. We cannot be lone rangers and do it alone. :)

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  5. Just curious, when you say there is a direct correlation between faith and humility, do you mean any faith?

    And just to compare your anecdotal evidence to my anecdotal evidence, I have met many arrogant faith-filled people as well as humble people with no faith. Your confident claim in their being proportional may be a little strong.

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    1. Just to make sure we are talking the same language.

      Define faith?

      Define other faiths?

      Define faith-filled people?

      Define no faith.

      Then we can discuss.

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    2. Anonymous: I have met many arrogant faith-filled people as well as humble people with no faith.

      Really? People like you?

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    3. Fr: I mean people of other faiths; Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. People who are not Christian. I should think all other definitions should be obvious.

      Harley: Did I claim to be humble or arrogant? To be of any particular faith? I asked a simple question and this is how you respond?

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  6. ANONYMOUS: "I mean people of other faiths: Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.."

    FR: Oh, okay. By faith you mean those who believe that the good they do is all due to God. Then absolutely yes! Jews believe this. Muslims believe this. We will leave it at that for now.

    ANONYMOUS: "I have met many arrogant faith-filled people as well as humble people with no faith."

    I doubt it, and that's why I asked you to define what "faith-filled" meant. And since you didn't answer the question, then what can I say?

    You probably haven't met a lot of faith-filled people, especially if they are arrogant or prideful. What you have met are a lot of people who profess to belong to the Christian faith. Unlike atheism, there is a difference.

    There are some who insist that the only thing you can say about an atheist is that they profess no belief in a divinity. That is not the same for a Christian. Profession of faith is not enough. One must live like a Christian.

    To have no faith means that all the "good" you do is subjective, defined by you or by "society". And the good that you do is because of you.

    Hence, you get a person like the atheist Kathy Griffin who found it necessary to tell a packed audience: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award (Emmy). I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." She went on to say, "Suck it, Jesus. This is my God now."

    Now she may believe that Jesus had nothing to do with the award. That's fine. But to antagonize others who do give God credit is, well...very unkind, arrogant, ignorant and prideful.

    Some atheists like to point out Westboro Baptist Church. Fine. But their membership consists entirely of family members and their influence throughout the world is totally insignificant.

    Unfortunately, Kathy Griffin and atheists like her (Richard Dawkins, John Paul Sartre, Stalin, and company) have been highly influential in society, with millions of followers, and with devastating and horrific consequences.

    Comparing the two is like comparing a match with an atomic bomb.

    Intelligence can often be confused by the ignorant with arrogance, just like professing belief can be confused with being faith-filled (living your faith) by non-believers.

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  7. Leave it at only the Abrhamic faiths? Odd. But by faith, I meant more the label (i.e. the Christian Faith, the Hindu Faith, etc). I don't think I've ever heard faith defined as you have.

    By faith filled, I mean those who have a strong belief in their particular faith and live their life in such a manner. A devout Catholic vs. a cafeteria Catholic who only goes to mass on Easter and Christmas.

    Why do you doubt me, do you not believe that it is possible for a person to live their faith and still be arrogant? One of my parent's neighbors was one of the most wonderful people I've ever met, once you got past his glaring arrogance (and no, it definitely was not his intelligence). Other than that, he'd make sainthood in my opinion.

    Similarly, are you saying non-Christians can't be humble? Is it bad to be doing the same acts a Christian would do even if they think it is not coming from God?

    I don't know who Kathy Griffin is, and I'm not sure I want to.

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    1. Odd? Nothing odd about it.

      "I don't think I ever heard faith defined as you have."
      That's why I asked you for a definition.

      "Why do you doubt me?" I don't.

      I do not believe it is possible to be a faith-filled Muslim, Jewish or Christian and be arrogant. Was Mother Teresa arrogant? Was John Paul II arrogant? Was Abraham arrogant? These are the saints.

      I do believe it is possible to be a cafeteria believer and be arrogant.

      "Are you saying non-Christians can't be humble?" Wow! I can't believe you are saying that given what I said in my meditation about Abraham, a Jew. No.

      "I don't know who Kathy Griffin is, and I'm not sure I want to." And here is the problem. This is what causes people to be arrogant: ignorance.

      I would look her up, not to imitate her but to understand.

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    2. So what about the non-Abrahamic faiths? Can one of their number be humble?

      You tell me you don't doubt me, but then tell me you do not believe it is possible to be faith-filled and humble? I don't follow.

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    3. ANONYMOUS: So what about the non-Abrahamic faiths? Can one of their number be humble?

      RESPONSE: Hindu faith is bit more difficult, since they believe in a cast system with untouchables. Do you understand what a cast system is? If not, look it up and then let me know what you think with regards to humility.

      ANONYMOUS: You tell me you don't doubt me, but then tell me you do not believe it is possible to be faith-filled and humble? I don't follow.

      RESPONSE: I don't follow you either. Read this sentence and tell me if it makes any sense to you. I DO BELIEVE it is possible to be faith-filled and humble. So what are you trying to tell me?

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  8. As far as the WBC goes, I would never put them on the "humble" list, but they have their faith, they believe in it strongly, and they are living their lives as such. Unfortunately there is no governing board that says who is and who isn't Christian, it is kind of a self defining term. There are certainly many ways to interpret things in the Bible, but the important thing is to live your life as best you can. Of course, whose definition of "best" then? To me Christianity is not black and white (you are or aren't) but more of a continuum. I don't think many consider the WBC as Christians even though they use the name, but where do you draw the line and who does the drawing?

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    1. "Unfortunately there is no governing board that says who is and who isn't a Christian. It's kind of a self defining term."

      Of course everyone can claim to be a Christian just like anyone can claim to be a stamp collector or a doctor. But to say there is no "governing board" is to say that there is no such thing as a Church of God.

      "There are many ways to interpret things in the Bible."
      Yes...right and wrong. And just like there are many ways to interpret the Constitution (right and wrong) the state offers a supreme Court.

      God offered a "Supreme Court" as well. It's called the Church. Now, you may say that I am arrogant for assuming it is the Catholic Church. Well, if that is the case, then every governing board is arrogant. The American Medical Association is arrogant. The Lawyers Guild is arrogant, etc...

      There is a standard. We either accept it or not.
      There are experts. We either accept them or not.
      There is history. We either study it or we deny it.
      There is Tradition. We either accept it or reject it.

      In the end, the Lord will judge accordingly. We don't have to. All we need to do is help others.

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    2. No, there is no governing board. Does the Church of God make statments about which churches are and aren't Christian, no matter what they actually claim? Do they make churches apply for licences to make sure they are Christians? Do they post standards? I don't know how many different Churches there are, but if church A can claim B is not truly Christian while B can claim A is not, who is right? Just like the bible, yes you can say there is a wright and wrong interpretation, but how do we know who is right? How many churches called Catholics "Papists" and thought of them as false Christians?

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  9. ANONYMOUS: No, there is no governing board. Does the Church of God make statments about which churches are and aren't Christian, no matter what they actually claim?

    RESPONSE: Yes. there is a "governing board." It's called a Magisterium. And yes they do say who is a Christian. For to be a Christian means to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All Christian Churches recognize this.

    ANONYMOUS: Do they make churches apply for licences to make sure they are Christians?

    RESPONSE: They do. Only the Bishop can open up a Church. Of course others would disagree, just like some people refuse to accept a Supreme Court decision. But unlike the government, the Church does not have a police force in order to enforce total obedience. All other churches are considered communities, not Churches. You obviously do not know your Catechism.

    ANONYMOUS: But if church A can claim B is not truly Christian while B can claim A is not, who is right?

    RESPONSE: Anyone can claim whatever they want. They can claim that the Supreme Court is not legitimate. They can claim that the federal government is not legitimate. Claiming something is easy to do. Proving your point is another. The Roman Catholic Church stands by the authority given to it by Jesus Christ. It existed before all other Churches. The New Testament was gathered by the Church.

    You can accept this or not accept it is something that anyone can do. The difficult part is to show your right. Ignorance plays a big part of rejecting something. I fear you may be ignorant of the truth.

    ANONYMOUS: Just like the bible, yes you can say there is a wright and wrong interpretation, but how do we know who is right?

    RESPONSE: The Church gave us Scripture as we have it today. They have the authority given by Jesus Christ to interpret what they have deemed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Again, you can reject it or accept it, but to say that we do not know who is right is simply a statement made out of ignorance, not study.

    ANONYMOUS: How many churches called Catholics "Papists" and thought of them as false Christians?

    RESPONSE: Quite a few. But they were not wrong in calling them Papists. Not at all. And I don't know any who called Catholics "false Christians." Can you enlighten me? They typically say that Catholics are not Christians.

    Again. Anyone can claim whatever they want. They can claim that the Supreme Court made a bad decision. But the decision and the authority of the Supreme Court remains intact, without any change. And we must live with the consequences of their decisions. The same holds true for the Church. You can accept it or reject it. You can start your own Church if you want. But it is not the Church of Christ for the same reason that your refusal to accept the Supreme Court's decision takes nothing away from the Supreme Court's decision.

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  10. So is the catholic church the ONLY church of Christ?

    I guess "false Christians" was not the term I was looking for. I did mean not Christian.

    In the end I think we;ll agree to disagree. As you say, the church claims it has the authority to interpret scripture, but can they prove they are right? Since we obviously do not have teh authors here to tell us exactly what they meant and we don't have the answers (teacher's edition if you will) nobody can ever know if they are right, no matter what they claim.

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    1. Sorry. I got cut off.

      The Catholic Church has the earliest writings of the first Christians. These writings confirm what the church teaches today. It doesn't at all support any of the major doctrines that Protestants proclaim; that is sola Scriptura, sola fide.

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  11. Anonymous: So is the catholic church the ONLY church of Christ?

    Response: No. You obviously don't know the teachings of the Catholic Church. You can look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Anonymous: the church claims it has the authority to interpret scripture, but can they prove they are right?

    Response: Yes. The proof comes from the fact that those who wrote it were the first members of the Catholic Church. They obviously were not Lutherans.

    Anonymous: Since we obviously do not have teh authors here to tell us exactly what they meant

    Response: so do you think that the authors never told their disciples what they thought? That they took it to their grave?? That would be highly unlikely. After all, they had a congregation. What they taught was passed on. Only 1500 years later did anyone begin to question it.



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