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, February 16, 2014

Mt 5:17-37 Plan A and Plan B

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven."

Kristina Carlota, a senior at the University of the Philippines, has written an article for the Huffington Post entitled:  "Pope Francis Restored My Faith In The Catholic Church."

Why?  Because in her estimation, Pope Francis does not judge anyone or anything.  She writes:  "We are fortunate to now have a leader in the open-minded Pope Francis, who has said, "Who am I to judge?" And yes, who are we to judge?"

Of course she goes on to judge the Catholic Church, especially in her teachings and in her most prominent members. 

Although Kristina went to Catholic School for most of her young life, she apparently failed to comprehend the most rudimentary teachings of the Catholic faith:  sin, sinners, forgiveness of sins and the Lord's Commandments. 

She thinks it is wrong to judge others harshly.  It is.  But is it wrong to judge their words and actions?  Would she turn a blind eye at a young man snatching an elderly woman's purse?  Who am I to judge?  Or a mother beating her son?  Who am I to judge?  Or an 11-year-old cussing out his mother? Who am I to judge?  Or a CEO's billion dollar paycheck?  Who am I to judge?  Or a woman who aborts her child because it is a girl?  Who am I to judge?  Or a government that legalizes euthanasia for the mentally ill?  Who am I to judge?

These may be soft cases.  But would Kristina be so open-minded as to not judge any of them?  Of course not!

There is nothing wrong with judging.  Judges do it all the time. Jurors do it all the time.  Teachers do it all the time (especially while grading exams).  And aren't we always being asked by others to judge others?  Aren't people being asked to judge Chris Christie, and whether or not he is telling the truth or lying?  Aren't Olympians being judged, right now, as we speak?  Aren't the Russian people being judged for their views on gay marriage? 

So maybe I've misunderstood.  Maybe there is nothing wrong with judging...unless you're a Catholic, of course, and are judging the hot-button issues.   

Oh, how we love to judge others!

Let's make something clear.  It isn't wrong to judge.  We do it all the time.  But what is wrong is to take our judgment and not lift a finger (unless it is the middle finger) and help - not hurt - others.  That is what is wrong with us, not with the Church.       

When we judge someone's actions, especially their sinful actions, our next step should be to reach out to them, which is precisely what Christ did.  "How can I help you?" should be the first thing out of our mouths.

This is the beauty of the Catholic Church.  It is a Church of sinners, by sinners and for sinners.  It is holy only because Christ is holy.

Kristina goes on to say:  "In the Philippines, those who engage in premarital sex or who are in same-sex relationships are labeled "immoral." Unmarried women who are no longer virgins are labeled "sluts." If you choose not to follow what the church dictates, then you become a villain who can never live happily ever after.

Really?  I would like to know in what Church document Kristina has found the word "slut?"  But I do know (and have been told) where she can find it, and find it on a regular, almost daily, basis:  at work, in secular workplace conversations, among teens, in their music, at their high schools and on college campuses, in chat rooms, in bars, at strip joints, and most of all, in a trillion dollar business commonly known as the pornographic industry.  These are the places where she will find it and find it BIG.  It won't be in churches, chapels or even in the confessionals.  BELIEVE ME!

In my twenty years as a religious, I have only used this vulgar word once:  in a homily, and I used it to describe men who use women.  I received a standing ovation from my all-female congregation.  Why did I use it?  Because a man will often be called a "stud" for the same thing a woman is called...well, you know what.  Was I wrong? "Who am I to judge???" 

When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, spoke these words ("Who am I to judge?"), he was referring to a gay priest seeking forgiveness.  When he said, "Who am I to judge?"  He was effectively saying, "Who am I to withhold God's mercy and forgiveness!" 

"Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!" (Ps. 119:1b).  There is nothing at all to fear in this, for we know a huge portion of Christ's law is comprised of forgiveness and compassion.  Love conquers all things, including sin and death.

Finally, Kristina mentions she began to doubt her Catholic faith when she entered a secular university.  What I believe happened is her faith got twisted while she was there.   "Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom."  

The Commandments are God's "Plan A" of love.  Forgiveness is His "Plan B."  Every parent would love to see their children avoid the same mistakes they made growing up.  The Lord's Commandments are a great prescription for healthy living.   But when we fail to take our medicine, then, like God the Father, every parent must resort to "Plan B" and reach out, hug their children, and let them know all can be forgiven.

P.S.  Here's a beautiful post written today by a beautiful young lady who gets Church and God, sin and love, forgiveness and compassion. 


  1. We will never forget that homily, Father!!!

  2. Hey Fr. Alfonse,
    Thanks for your post and also the link to Haley's blog. I believe that Pope Francis was just reiterating one of Mother Teresa's famous quotes. I stumbled upon it the other day. "Whether one is Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, how you live your life is proof that you are or not fully His. We cannot condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. We don't know in what way God is appearing to that soul and what God is drawing that soul to; therefore, who are we to condemn anybody?"
    Mother Teresa
    Indian (Albanian-born) humanitarian & missionary (1910 - 1997)


Updated: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. Comments must be concise and to the point.Comments are no longer accepted for posts older than 7 days.