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, October 14, 2014

Lk 11:37-41 Changing From Within

Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth week in Ordinary Time

The Lord said to him, 'Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.'”

In the readings today, both Paul and Jesus address a crowd of men who think their good manners and circumcisions will naturally earn them a place in Heaven, or at least the place of honor at the dinner table. After all, good manners distinguishes the respectful enlightened citizen from the uncouth peasant, and circumcision distinguished God's people from the world's people. Although these things may seem like superficial attributes, the ancient world, along with the modern world, did not offer many alternatives to differentiate good people from bad people. By that time, different peoples mixed, making one's ethnicity and ancestry difficult to identify; Hellenization homogenized cultural distinctions like language and aesthetics, eliminating another obvious marker; and the economic and political status of certain individuals became difficult to ascertain due to Roman interference. Only in religion could a Jewish man gain honor for himself; and for most Jews, this meant following Mosaic Law.

While one could praise the Pharisees and the Galatian Judaizers for following God's law, the motives behind their actions earn some of Jesus' and Paul's fiercest rebukes. In extolling their own strict observance of the law, the Pharisees and Galatians forget to observe their own souls. Their legalism creates a host of profound errors in which they misunderstand God, His Son, His Grace, and faith. They think think like children by deciding to ignore the crucial fact that their goodness comes from God, Who works from within. Instead, they insist on the impossible task of following the letter of law as they live as unexamined a life as possible. They sincerely believed that outer observance could lead to inner conversion, that change could happen by receiving instead of giving.

Modern thinking matches up closely with this kind of superficiality. Modern logic proclaims that one can change only by receiving something from outside of oneself. If certain people do not like the way they feel, they can buy something or take something to make them feel better. If certain people does not like the way they look they can buy products or services to remake themselves in their own image. If certain people struggle to make friends, they populate their daily lives with virtual friends. If certain people hate the way the world is going, they can elect new politicians and shop at different businesses. If one does not like a certain group of people, they can mandate abortion and eugenics to eliminate them from the gene pool. All the while, their hearts remain untouched. Time and again, this superficial understanding of reality, that people can change themselves by changing their circumstances, leads to deep-set patterns of sin rather than a commitment to virtue.

True change comes from within, where God dwells. Therefore, in order to experience a true change in one's life, a conversion of the heart, one must have faith in God. When one converts the following cycle, brought about by constant prayer, will occur: faith in God will bring about a knowledge of God; a knowledge of God will stimulate a desire for God; a desire for God will lead to love towards God and neighbor; the joy and fulfillment that comes from this love will then strengthen one's faith in God even further, thus continue the virtuous cycle. In this way, the Christian can truly change and distinguish himself from the Non-Christian. In this way, Catholics who make up the Church can the light the way for a world shrouded in darkness.

Too often, believers think a new pope, a new policy, a new law from the federal government, a new design for a local church, or some other addition will lead to a stronger Church that can successfully oppose the pressures of the world. Thinking this way verges towards the same reasoning the Pharisees used when they thought following their Law would do the same. In order to successfully rebuff the world, Christians must have God in their hearts. “Only faith working through love” will count for anything; everything else is simply another distraction from the truth.  


  1. "Too often, believers think a new pope, a new policy, a new law from the federal government, a new design for a local church, or some other addition will lead to a stronger Church that can successfully oppose the pressures of the world."

    I just finished an absolutely fantastic book -- Won by Love by Norma McCorvey (the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade). Norma signed the affidavit that legalized the killing of unborn children in the United States. To date, 56 million children have been killed. Norma was a poster child for the abortion industry, worked at a local dallas abortion clinic for years, and assisted in hundreds of abortions.

    When Operation Rescue moved into the offices next door to her clinic, she was disgusted. Over the course of the next 6 months, however, she was won over by their love--their love for Christ and for her. She eventually converted to Christianity in 1995, left the abortion industry, and became a pro-life activist. After her conversion, she dropped off a complementary copy of her video, Reversing Roe, to the Supreme Court justices.

    Standing on the stairs of the Supreme Court she writes, "Before I became a Christian, I thought political action was the most important thing. Now I realized there was a much more powerful activity available to those who desire change: PRAYER."

    Amen Norma and Benedict. The change comes from within. The change comes through our most powerful weapon: prayer.

    Norma's prayer and search for the truth led her all the way to the fullest expression of the truth--the Catholic Church.

    1. That's interesting, and wonderful. I'm glad we have another person to champion the cause of the unborn.

      It's sad to think that grown educated people resort to abortion as a reasonable way to confront a challenge. Some people go even further and propose to sterilize certain kinds of people and to extend a woman's "right" to kill her child up to the age of reason (which is now probably 21 years old). And these are ethicists who propose this! There is a terrible darkness within people who can conceive of such ideas without any pangs to their conscience. It isn't circumstance that dictates this evil, it is the absence of spirit.

    2. I was thinking the age of reason had been moved closer to 30 :)

      As you probably know, Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger -- a eugenicist. Legalized abortion has completely decimated the African American population in U.S. In 2012 in NYC, there were more black babies killed by abortion than were born alive. You may want to check out Alveda Scott King (the neice of the late Dr. Martin Luther King) pro-life writings as well.

  2. I love the description of "the virtuous cycle". Such a great option to all the viscous cycles we encounter. I need to read and reflect more on that.
    Thanks Benedict.

    1. Your welcome! The more I think about these things, the more I come back to Ecclesiastes with its cycles and rhythms.


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