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, November 24, 2014

Lk 21:1-4 Against Complacency

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dŭng-Lạc, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
(Click here for readings)


When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

Over this past summer, one of my friends went on a long hiking trip.  Every time he goes on one of these trips, he wears a dog tag with a verse from Scripture on the back—Philippians 4:13. However, before this past trip, he mistakenly told me that the verse was Philippians 4:12, so I looked it up. It says, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”  

What is St. Paul saying in this verse? He is not merely recounting his past wealth or bragging about his spiritual might; in fact, in Philippians 4:13, he claims that he could not have lived well without God’s assistance:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Instead, St. Paul is saying that he found just as much difficulty in living in prosperity as he did in humility. He needed the same assistance of Christ to live out his vocation in both seasons of his life.

How is this? How did St. Paul, who was eventually imprisoned and beheaded for his faith, find the same struggling in wealth as in his persecution? The truth is that comfort is a great temptation against faith. It breeds belief in self-sufficiency. It breeds complacency. But it’s not just the super-wealthy that are tempted to complacency. The truth is, unless you are travelling all across the world and evangelizing like St. Paul, you are probably tempted to complacency every day.

What is complacency? Simply put, it’s the temptation to say to ourselves that we are good in our current station of life. We don’t need to pray more, strive more, act more. We are fine. What a terrible lie, but what a tempting one!

How many times have we gone to Mass to simply fulfill an obligation? Like the wealthy men in the Gospel reading, we put in one houbut not a minute more, lest it should interfere with our comfortable Sunday. Two weeks ago, a family member was baptized in a very large Baptist church in the area. It is not uncommon for service at that church to last for an hour and a half to two hours, or more. I have to admit that I could not find it within myself to be attentive for the whole service. One of my Catholic family members upon leaving the church joked, “I like being a Catholic because our services are one and done”—of course, referring to the length of the Mass. I have to admit that I laughed, but upon further reflection, how sad! If our Masses were two hours long, would we go as easily? Could we spare another hour of our time for the man who spent much more than an hour living and dying for us?

Or think about complacency in prayer. We say prayer before meals, and maybe upon rising and before going to sleep. But can we find motivation to pray more? And if we do, can we sustain it, even when it seems to be inconvenient or even unfruitful?

How do we serve others? Do we give just enough to satisfy our guilt, or do we give entirely of ourselves like the widow did? I have told this story before in a previous blog post, so if you have already read it, bear with me. In my English class this year, our teacher had us watch a speech by a woman who risked everything to start a small company that gives microloans to impoverished business owners in Asia and Africa (usually women who sell things they make, small farmers, etc.). She said that before she resolved to take a risk and do more, she was simply throwing money in donation jars to satisfy her own guilt. Her service was mostly motivated by selfishness, or a sense that she was obligated to give. We have all been there, much like the wealthy men in this Gospel reading who only give to fulfill an obligation—NEVER sacrificing their own comfort. John Paul II once said that our lives only find meaning when they are poured out for another. Do we believe it? Can we do more than the bare minimum in our service to others? Could we give of our very livelihood in service? These are great aspirations, but we must know how to live them out. We must learn how to fight complacency and truly give what is due to God.

Teenagers or students who may be reading—never get too busy for the important things; namely, prayer, your family, and your community. I am slightly biased, but I think complacency is easiest to fall into in this stage of life. Everything in our culture says that we should be working towards our own comfort and success. Unless we give ourselves to God through prayer and service, we will look back and find that we are slipping down a slippery slope.

Mothers and fathers who may be reading—never forget how important your job is. I have been greatly blessed in my life with incredible parents who give of themselves every day for me.  Now that I am getting closer to leaving home, I have been getting more sentimental than I would like to admit. When I look back through the years, I realize that I owe everything I have and everything that I am to my parents (well, to God first, but through them-- you understand). Parents, you have blank canvases before you in your children. The way you live your vocation as a parent will determine the way your children will live their vocation as Christians. Don’t do the bare minimum for the faith of your family. Don’t just take your kids to Mass on Sunday and be done—talk with them about how God has worked in your life as a family, and pray together. Mother Teresa said that world peace begins in the family. How right is she!

We need to be on our guard against complacency. We need to get rid of the bare minimum mentality. Today, let’s ask God to help us, because we need His help in all things.

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