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!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mt 23: 23-26 What's Going On?

Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said:  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.  You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law:  judgment and mercy and fidelity.

Last week was a very busy week for me.  It was also a very interesting week.  I felt like a firefighter, and everywhere I went, I was putting out fires.

At the hospital.    I went to visit an elderly man who was suffering from a very serious infection.  He could barely speak to me due to the excruciating pain he was in.  His son, a man who had recently returned to the Church, was standing next to me.  He asked me to speak to his dad alone.  He told me his dad had a lot of things to confess.  He left us alone in the room and I sat down beside the ill man's bed.  He tried to speak, but the pain was just too much for him.  After about 30 minutes, I told him not to worry and to rest.  I then proceeded to anoint his forehead, saying:  "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy bless you with the Holy Spirit."  I then anointed his hands, saying:  "May the Lord free you from your sins and save you and raise you up."

I called the son back into the room and said, "Your father was in too much pain to do a confession, so I went ahead and anointed him.  Don't worry.  His sins have been forgiven." 

But I guess that wasn't good enough for him.  He began to ask his father why he thought he was in so much pain; and if his pain may have been related to the state of his soul.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  From the sound of it, the son held some animosity towards his father and I wanted him to stop talking to his father like that.  I stared at him but I didn't get his attention.  Finally, I kicked his foot, looked at him and said, "Enough!" 

You have neglected the weightier things of the law:  judgment and mercy and fidelity.

As I said before, the son had just come back to the Church.  He's a good man.  But you know what happens:  We've been away from the Church for years.  We come back.  We come back with a vengeance!  A sense of superiority.  In the end, this son may have felt superior to his father.  But it is not to be this way.  The Son is always at the service of The Father.

As a priest I have witnessed for myself the incredible power of mercy and humility, and how they have the power to heal and save loved ones, relationships, families and friendships. Through Christ, they are the means to our salvation.

My experience has been this:  when someone is in pain, the best thing to do is to listen to them and stay near them.  When someone asks a lot of tough questions about the Catholic faith, the first thing to do is look into their eyes and ask them one simple question:  What's going on?

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  1. It's wonderful we have spiritual fire fighters like yourself, Father Alfonse. We all need to be drenched in "Jesus H2O" in order to fight the tendency towards hypocrisy, anger, resentment, and judgment.

    How easy it is for a Catholic Christian to go to mass every Sunday, place a tithing envelope in the collection basket, and greet everyone with a warm, friendly smile. Then this "holy" parishioner begins to criticize women in the congregation for wearing too short of a dress, chastise the priest for not speaking in clear English, or judge a person as a "distraction" for kneeling on the floor in front of the Blessed sacrament. Why can't people be accepting of others who may not follow Church rules perfectly? Why can't people understand that we are all a community of believers, not one person better than another? Just because someone is a founding member of a parish or gives a lot of money shouldn't designate them as superior. I get frustrated with factions and unnecessary drama that plagues some parishes. I can completely understand why many people fall away from the Catholic Church. They see the hypocrisy within as a turn off.

    Interesting I was visiting yesterday. This is a micro-lending website where people can donate funds to assist people living in impoverished countries. Guess which group, Non-Believers vs. Christians, had the largest number of members and donations? Team Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers(A+). Their motto is “We loan because: We care about the suffering of human beings.” Hmmmm, something for Christians to think about........


    1. Interesting spin on donators. Apparently there was no mention of CRS' microfinance program. Catholic Christians have a tendency to support initiatives through organizations aligned with their beliefs.

  2. Jennifer. I rejoice! We never lose hope in anyone.

  3. I'm not surprised, Jennifer. Atheists lend money. Christians tend to give it away.

    What I find most interesting about your comment is the line you try to draw between what may have happened to you in Church and judging others. Aren't you being a little too judgmental?

    Here is my take on your two stories: Apparently, this Christian doesn't take seriously his Christianity. Apparently, these atheists do not take their atheism seriously.

    1. Harley, atheists also give it away, Christians also lend. In many cases, a hand up is better than a handout. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but then maybe learns that people will give him a fish rather than having to go out and fish for himself. Also, what do you mean by not taking their atheism seriously?

    2. Many Catholic Christians support microfinance efforts through Catholic Relief Services. This program actually extends the model beyond lending to focus on the importance of an individual's efforts to save.

    3. Atheists give it away...Christians also lend.

      You're absolutely correct. However, what they give and lend are entirely different, depending on the seriousness of their lack of belief and belief.

      Catholics have been "lending" their lives and asking for nothing in return, not even conversion. Conversions take place because of the strength of their personal witnessing of love.

      Mother Teresa comes to mind. Many others as well.

      What do I mean by not taking their atheism seriously? I mean...they act like believers.

      Serious atheists do not act like least not the most significant and more infamous ones I continue to examine.

    4. They act like believers? Or perhaps they act like human beings? As was stated in the original comment "We loan because: We care about the suffering of human beings.” Believing is not a requirement for giving. And as for those infameous atheists I can imagine you are thinking of, they in no way represent all or even most atheists. If that were the case, why aren't prisons full of atheists? Depending on where you look, there are maybe 10 million atheists in the US. Why aren't all those people out there killing and raping indiscriminately?

    5. How do human beings act? I know animals do not discriminate based on race or religion. So??? How do human beings act? I have a feeling you really don't know what you are saying.

      Are you trying to say that human beings are generous by nature? Really? Are they cruel by nature as well?

      Get your thoughts in order, please.

      This is what we know. Human beings can be saints, if they are allowed to be. They can also be the worst of sinners, if they are allowed to be. Our culture is heavily influenced by our families that are (were) heavily influenced by faith. If we see teens that are barbarians, most likely it's because of a breakdown in the family and a breakdown in their values.

      I find it surprising that you would think that atheists were not at all influenced by the faith, culture and education that surrounds them.

      The most significant atheists (those that have had the most significant number of followers) were not at all philanthropists. Not at all. They don't have to be rapists and murderers. Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko was not a murderer, but the state he represented were brutal murderers and atheists.

  4. I only have a problem with atheists when they can't seem to admit or acknowledge the bad they have done. Oh well, II guess there are a few advantages to being an atheist: no sleepless nights.


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