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!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mt 10:1-7 Conversion Starts at Home

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Whether modern Christian like it or not—and some nasty periods of history have shown that they have not—Christianity started with Judaism, and Jesus Himself was Jewish. Jesus did not disavow the Law of Moses, but strengthened and deepened it with Himself. He did not create a new religion, nor did He reinvent the concept of religion; He did something even more startling: he actually practiced His religion.

Most people, including His Jewish kindred, practiced politics, morality, or science, and saw religion as useful tool to these other endeavors. The early Jewish kingdom that Hosea addresses used their religion to curry God’s favor in order to establish their own autonomous state. Once God allowed them to accomplish this, they adopted another religion, usually from a more successful neighbor like the Philistines, the Canaanites, or the Assyrians, in the hopes of expanding their newfound kingdom into an empire. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day used religion to practice morality successfully in order to gain the authority that comes with moral excellence. Lovers of superstition, the pagans practiced science while using religion as a means of elevating their discoveries or themselves. It was not enough for Pythagoras to create a theorem that could calculate the hypotenuse of a right triangle; he had to go and make a cult of it. Science, as people today understand it, did not even exist apart from religion until Christians in the Middle Ages started to distinguish it as a separate mode of inquiry. Unlike most of the people around Him, Jesus was one of the first to practice religion for its sake, seeking nothing but God.

Because Jesus practiced Judaism so faithfully, he established His Church with His fellow Jews before He ministered to the Gentiles. He knew that one could not share his faith with strangers if he could not share it with friends and family. The gentiles would certainly not convert, if even Jews did not convert. With this in mind, Jesus told his Twelve Apostles, “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Keeping with this command, Jesus and his Twelve Apostles always started their missions with the synagogue (which was more of a school/forum than a church/temple) talking with other Jews, upsetting most of them while convincing a few of them, and then finally opening up to the Gentiles after the synagogue threw them out.

Even though Jesus will later tell his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), He first told them to preach to their own people, who would understand and could help others understand. Long after the founding of the Catholic Church, great preachers and saints continued to spend a great deal of time converting Christians to their own faith while they proselytized non-Christians. In his analysis of St. Francis and St. Dominic, G.K. Chesterton remarks, “It is an old story that, while we may need somebody like Dominic to convert the heathen to Christianity, we are in even greater need of somebody like Francis, to convert the Christians to Christianity.”

In Chesterton’s time and now, the Church’s still needs Catholics to gather the lost sheep. The second largest Christian denomination in the U.S., after Catholicism, is ex-Catholicism. In Western society, more Catholics leave the Church than enter it. Where do they go? Sometimes they go to different Christian denominations, but the younger Catholics more often leave Christianity altogether. Like the Israelites, they used their religion to have a good family life, a good foundation of moral values, and a working knowledge of Holy Scripture. After that, they then “grow out of their faith” and define success on their own—or more often, someone else’s—terms and stop attending Mass. Once they fail, as they inevitably will when they try to succeed without God, Catholics who did no stray need to go out like the apostles and bring these souls back home to God.

To do this, practicing Catholics desiring to convert others need to befriend other practicing Catholics and read the books of practicing Catholics. Reading Catholic books and working with people at my Church allowed me to see the joy that comes from sharing religion with others. A common interest, a common profession, even a common living space, pale in comparison with the bond that comes through a common religion. I love talking about the faith to other Catholics; I love writing about it for fellow Catholics; I love reading about the faith from talented Catholic writers. This love helps me to convert everyday—as Pope Benedict XVI said, conversion is a lifelong process—and it gives me strength to try and convert others. Sometimes this is difficult, often my bewildering enthusiasm for Catholicism will sometimes strain friendships with my non-Catholic friends. Nevertheless, Christ calls us to do it for His sake, and commands us to start at home for our sake.


  1. Benedict:

    Wonderful meditation. I recently spent the week at a music camp -- a far cry from the pro-life camp that preceded it. I felt called to share my faith with the other chaperones there. It was a religious melting pot to say the least. A remarkable thing happened over the week. Several were ex-Catholics who had fallen away for one reason or another. One ex-Catholic asked to pray the rosary with me. Another (who allegedly despised the Church and said she didn't believe in God) on the last day whispered that she would like me to pray for her! Others started praying before meals with me. It was really neat. It showed me how much we all hunger for God -- after all, our very beings are made for Him, whether we like it or not! It also showed me that we should talk about our faith openly. People want to know why we are joyful and we should tell them! Once I opened up! they were eager to share their experiences too.

    Ghandi said that he would become a Christian if he ever met one. Thank you for being such a wonderful evangelist.

    1. Evangelist! That's probably the nicest compliment I've ever heard. I'll just say that I do my best, and if there's any traction, the Holy Spirit is helping.

      I'm glad to hear that you're changing hearts and minds. Simply being your Catholic self will cause a reaction, sometimes encouraging ones and sometimes discouraging ones. My heart drops when I try to talk with an atheist who thinks they've found the answer. Things become hostile very fast, and I can see it happening from a mile away. Some apologists will insist that a little courtesy and open-mindedness will cool things down. They usually don't, and if they do, that's usually because one person has changed the subject. So I'll just say, brace yourself because it's going to be awkward. It's all for the best, I think, but it definitely won't feel that way.

      At least with lapsed Catholics, that tension is lessened because they at least know to avoid some of the fallacies that atheists keep using (i.e. the Church is anti-science; Jesus never existed; all religions are the same and equally false; etc.). Usually, for ex-Catholics, there's something personal, like they had a bad experience at Catholic school, or their parents were bad role models, or they married someone of another faith, or they were bored at church and never bothered to learn what it was about. In that case, all it takes is a friend who is a sincere believer. That's more doable than learning the many arguments that prove God (if you're interested, this site explains 20 of them: I'll leave it to the expert Thomists to cross swords with the sophistic atheists plaguing the comment sections of anything about religion. I'll try sometimes, but it's exhausting and time-consuming.

    2. Thanks for the link to the article. I have been wading my way through the Handbook on Christian Apologetics. Fr. Ron Tacelli (the priest who married us) co-authored this book with Peter Kreeft. Have you read it? Perhaps the article will be easier to digest. I will definitely check it out this weekend.

      As I get older, I think it's hard for the average person to reason their way to God. I do believe you have to experience/have an encounter with Christ. While it may be a mystical experience for some, I often think the "encounter" comes in the guise of those around us. Christ has no body on earth but yours (my favorite meditation from St, Teresa of Avila). The challenge is how to do it at various stages in our life.

      Reading Haley's beautiful meditation today made me remember what is was to be young and have the vibrant "change the world spirit." For those of us with kids almost that age, the challenge is how to be Christ to others as we move through the more ordinary tasks of working and raising a family. I am sure many middle-aged moms can relate! Perhaps I need to switch Teresas and reread St. Terese of Lisieux!

  2. Benedict - I very much enjoyed your meditation. No need to respond to this comment, but after reading this meditation and some of the others you have authored, I do wonder whether He may be calling you to a religion vocation! :)

    1. Thank you! I'm already married, so I might not be eligible for the priesthood or brotherhood. However, I know that I can and should serve in my capacity as a husband, an English teacher, and if God allows, maybe as a father later on. As much as the church needs priests, she also needs faithful laypeople. In fact, laypeople are actually in the pope's prayer intention this month:

  3. Benedict - Thanks for all of your excellent contributions! You really are a gifted writer and very intelligent. I'm happy Fr. Alfonse has selected you for the Wednesday weekly slot. Honestly, my posts look shameful and rather elementary compared to your brilliance. I totally see why your posts make the Popular Posts lists daily. :)

    Keep up the excellent evangelization. You're "awesome sauce!"




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