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!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Phil 4:6-9 Have No Anxiety At All

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Brothers and Sisters:  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  ...Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Have no anxiety.  The first words that caught my eyes and imagination came from today's second reading (Phil 4:6-9):  Have no anxiety at all...  Wow!  This is what I needed to hear.  But how can anyone say this with a straight face?  How can anyone expect today's modern man, surrounded by terrorism and looming horrifying infectious diseases (like Ebola, West Nile and Enterovirus D-68) to not be anxious or nervous or stressed out?  Is St. Paul inviting us to be care-free or irresponsible or na├»ve or reckless? 

Things don't always turn out as planned.  Today's first reading and Gospel reminds us of how things don't always turn out as planned, even well planned. 

"Let me now sing of my friend, my friend's song concerning his vineyard.  My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press.  Then he looked for the crop of grades, but what it yielded was wild grapes" (Is 5:1-7).

As you can see, the friend did everything he was supposed to do, but things didn't turn out the way he had hoped, and maybe even prayed.

And from today's Gospel: Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:  "...There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. He leased it to tenants and went on a journey.  When vintage time drew new, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.  But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. ...He sent others...but they treated them in the same way.  Finally, he sent his son...  But when the tenants saw the son...they seized him...and killed him."

Again, things just didn't go as planned.

What causes stress in our lives?  Is it life's little surprises or is it the negative surprises that come from too much planning and not enough praying (or when we expect things to turn out the way we want and instead turn out the way God wants)?

Ugh!!!  Why me, Lord?  It's easy to get down on oneself.  It's easy to feel like a failure. 
I should have been more successful in my life by now. 
I should be happier. 
I wish I was better looking. 
I wish I had a boy/girl friend. 
I wish I was married. 
I hate myself. 
I hate the way I look. 
I wish I was smarter, bigger, thinner, healthier, happier, etc. 
I wish I had more friends, more money, a better job, a better car, better clothes, etc.
I can't stand my life! 
I could care less about anything or anyone.

Some stress is hard to avoid because they come from around us.  But some stress is definitely self-induced and should be eliminated.

Why do good people suffer?  That's a really tough question.  But over the years I have reflected on this and have come up with a surprising answer.  Why do good people suffer?  Because they know how to suffer well. 

Christ was a very good person.  And though He suffered an agonizing death, he suffered it well.  He forgave His disciples and wished no harm upon them.  He even forgave His persecutors as He lay dying on a cross.  

Why do good people suffer?  Because they know how to suffer well; and because they know how to suffer well, they make life less terrifying for the rest of us.  They give us the courage to do what is right, good, holy, honorable, pure, true, lovely and gracious... regardless of the outcome.  Wait...that's what St. Paul wrote!

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious..." keep doing it! "And the God of peace will be with you."


Why do people stress out?  Maybe it's because we're afraid we will look like a loser, just like the Lord did on the Cross.  But looks can be deceiving, just like suffering.

Or maybe it's because when things don't go as planned, we strike back with a vengeance and break all the Lord's commandments.  This can be very stressing! 

Well, anytime we forcefully strip God's pen (the "pen" He uses to write our life story) from out of his hand, and use it to write our own ending, stress will occur. 


Maybe, just maybe, we should let God be God. 

The cornerstone.  What we must come to terms with is that the "stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone."  And what exactly is this stone?  Obedience.  Sacrifice.  Faith.  Love.  Pain and Suffering. 

All these stones contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God, the salvation of souls, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Amen!

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything by prayer and petition, ...make your request known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

2 comments:

  1. "Things don't always turn out as planned."

    What is the plan we are making? Is it to get into a good high school/college/grad school? To get a good job after graduation? To get married? Have a family? Buy a house? Raise "well adjusted" kids to they can pursue those same goals. If so, then we will always be stressed out and things will never turn out like it is planned. Why?

    Because the plan is wrong.

    I have spent most of my life on the wrong plan. I always had to be the valedictorian, over-achiever, etc. etc. What a colossal waste of time! I have spent more than half my life on the wrong track, using the wong business model. What's the answer?

    Change the plan. Make a new business model.

    Make a business model for holiness. This is only plan that will NOT stress us out and will go exactly as planned. Why? Because even when we falter, God will forgive us so we can get right back on track. We could start by going to mass one other day during the week or praying a rosary once a week. Gradually, our desire for God will increase. We will want Him more than anything else.

    Our only goal should be for us to be saints, for our spouses, children, friends to be saints. As the cell phone companies say, "It's time to switch plans."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bravo! I think you've got it! Plus, despite the fact that we want to offer the best of our work, joys and sorrows to God each day, hour, minute....we can offer Him everything and adjust the not-so-good with sorrow and continued struggle.

      Thank you, Fr. Alfonse, for your insightful and inspiring columns.

      Delete

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