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, July 15, 2014

Mt 11:20-24 The City of God?

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.

I couldn't believe it.  I was getting a "call" on FaceTime from a family that is dear to me and is currently vacationing in a tropical paradise.  I answered the call and was greeted by smiles I could see and laughter that I could hear.  They were having the time of their lives.  Once everyone settled down, I asked them to show me around their exotic place.  They reversed their camera and I saw a beautiful blue ocean, an amazing blue sky, a gentle breeze, and a room full of windows and sunlight.  When they asked me where I was and what I was doing, I said to them, "Here, let me show you around."  I reversed my camera and showed them the four walls surrounding my tiny office, the color of the walls being an uninspiring industrial yellow.  Next I showed them my tiny window high above my wall.  I pointed my phone upward for them to see the source of my light - a light bulb - and the cause of the breeze that was my fan.  While I was doing all these things, I went on Google, found a fish and showed them my background. 

We all had a good laugh.

Woe to you!  In today's Gospel passage, the Lord speaks of cities that refused to repent after mighty deeds had been done.   He says to them, "Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  Woe to you, Capernaum!"  These were not some remote or distant towns or cities.  These were places just around the block.

Cities can be wonderful places of grace and culture.  But they can also be horrible places where vice and sin prevail.  Sin City.   

Cities are places were people can lose their roots, culture and identity, and easily get lost in the dark alleys and be forgotten. 

This morning I read an article about a rookie cop, Melvin Santiago, who was gunned down in an ambush in the streets of Jersey City.  The rookie was shot once in the head at point blank range.  The suspect, Lawrence Campbell, was killed in a gun fight with police.  Soon after, neighbors left written messages and candles at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime.  But instead of honoring the rookie, the memorial was for his killer.

I couldn't believe what I was reading.  And as shocking as this was, what followed next just blew my mind:   

The suspect's widow, Angelique Campbell, told News 12 New Jersey on Sunday that she was sorry for Santiago’s family but that her husband should have killed more officers if they were planning to kill him. She later apologized for the comments.

City life can turn us into thugs.  We can lose our minds and hearts when so much of humanity is crammed into artificially made tiny spaces.  What's holy can appear to be silly, while broken institutions simply exacerbate the damage done to a young soul.  We all need to be aware of this. 

Life, as well as faith, can easily be turned upside down in the city.  There are countless bloggers who blog from the city and criticize everything that is Christian.  Do they not realize that Christian bloggers could do the same, and criticize everything that is not Christian, especially the senseless violence and the broken secular institutions?

The prophet Isaiah wrote:  "Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm."  Lots of people living in the city are on shaky ground.

Isaiah spent his entire life trying to get back what was lost.  He is not alone, and the battle continues.   


  1. "City life can turn us into thugs. We can lose our minds and hearts when so much of humanity is crammed into artificially made tiny spaces."

    Cities are depressing places to be sure. During and after college I worked in the projects of New Brunswick, NJ (very similar to the neighborhood in Jersey City where the young officer was gunned down) and in the projects in Harlem, NY much worse than Jersey City). I worked with homeless kids and crack addicts. Things were so bad in Harlem that the Sisters that I worked with had to stop handing out clothes to poor families because the moms would sell them for crack as soon as they were a few feet away from us. I used to feel like I was an intermediary for the crack addicts. It was an mind numbing existence stepping into crack houses, looking for kids' moms. It was overwhelming to hear three year old homeless kids say that they wanted to be doctors and lawyers and five year olds say they wanted to be drug dealers. What happens to these kids?

    We used to bring the kids out to country when we could, just to escape the filth (spiritual and otherwise) of the inner city. The kids were so much happier where they could see water that wasn't coming out of an opened fire hydrant or green that wasn't recompense for drug deals. Why?

    I do believe it's because nature puts us communion with God--whether we know it or not. After all. we are created by Him and for Him. Our hearts are made for God. It is so much easier to realize when you are out in the beautiful world He created rather than the government created projects. Praying the rosary at 5:30 am on the edge of the Grand Canyon and watching the sun rise ranks right up there. There are lots of organizations that sponsor inner city kids for summer camps in the country.
    Pick one. Help a kid.

    I would venture to guess that most of Fr. Alfonse's blog followers are so fortunate that they do not live in projects. Probably most have their own comfortable homes. But I do believe our citified prisons can come in the form of video games, TVs, cell phones, ipads and even ear phones. Let's unplug, break our man made prisons and get out in nature this summer. There we can commune with our God. He is there waiting for us!

    1. What you say is true; the city sometimes brings out the worst in humanity. I spent my first year teaching in a downtrodden inner-city school, and it was hard not to feel discouraged. No matter how well you did with the students in the classroom, you knew, and they knew, that the rest of world would fall on them. Nearly all of them had no father to speak of, and a good portion of them didn't even have a mother either. They usually lived with a grandparent or distant relative or some random acquaintance. Television and internet were the only things usually raising and educating these kids--obviously not the greatest outlets of moral wisdom, but it probably them sane. Not surprisingly, many of them considered criminal activity or simply living on welfare like everyone around them.

      People often make the mistake of assuming that big public institutions can save these kids. They think school can be the great equalizer making up for a broken home and rampant corruption in a community. Teachers will try, but all too often in vain. Consider, what will one upright adult achieve in an hour with a overcrowded classroom of neglected kids? I helped the kids learn to read a little better--interestingly, they really liked the novel, Animal Farm--but I can't say that I saved them. Usually, I just felt like man equipped to fight a forest fire with a garden hose. You would think that this might prompt people to support the church and the family as a way of combating this problem since these have been the only things in history that have actually worked. No, instead, people recommend having more school, starting from the cradle, to mitigate the effect of broken homes and communities--otherwise known as Universal Daycare. Unfortunately, the benefits of this idea range from limited to nonexistent, like most government solutions to moral problems.

      It's better that we rely on God and heed His command to love one another. Our world is in desperate need of it. Catholics need to keep on giving, and keep on caring.

    2. Amen Benedict. After social work and corporate law, I opened my own law practice so I could raise my kids and return to my first love and become a music teacher (my undergrad degree was in music performance). In addition to practicing law, I teach orchestra to elementary and high school kids. Privileged kids. Being a classroom teacher cannot remedy our societal ills--be it the rich kids or the poor kids. What is needed is a return to prayer and a return to God. In the words of Fr. John Riccardo, "Christ is the eternal son of God. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the image of the invisible God. He points us to our destiny. He reveals the dignity of the human person. He is the one who makes known the Father. CHRIST IS THE ANSWER!"


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