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, December 15, 2014

Mt 21:23-27 Will You Share?

Monday of the Third Week of advent
(Click here for readings)


When Jesus had come into the temple area,
the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him
as he was teaching and said,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me,
then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John’s baptism from?...So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”He himself said to them,“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
This Gospel reading reminds me of an experience that I had on last summer’s Belize mission trip. While we were there, one of our favorite activities was going to the girls high school every day after our work to pray and talk about our faith together. One day, our leader gave us all what was called a “spiritual gifts inventory” to work on, which was a series of fifty or so questions that each person would answer to gain some insight on which spiritual gifts she was likely to have. Many people got ‘prayer’ and ‘mercy’ and ‘compassion’ and ‘service,’and deservedly so—the girls on my mission trip are some of the most dedicated teenagers in their service that I have ever met. Unfortunately, those gifts were dead last for me—mine came out overwhelmingly as ‘knowledge.’ Just knowledge. I had to chuckle a little bit. Didn’t Jesus tell us to not try to be knowledgeable? In the end, it got me thinking: what is the role of knowledge in our faith?

Pharisees prided themselves on being the most knowledgeable in the land on matters of the law. However, in this Gospel reading, the Pharisees, wise and learned as they are, are forced to admit that they do not understand a crucial component of their faith. Here’s a real world analogy: sometimes it perplexes me to scroll to the bottom of an article on a Catholic news site and see Catholics battling it out over some random issue, citing the original Latin of Church documents (which are probably collecting dust in the Vatican archives) to insist that they are right. It just begs the question: how is all of this knowledge contributing to our faith, besides starting “discussions” (fights)?  Jesus didn’t win any converts by pouring out his knowledge about the prophets of old—he won converts by being merciful beyond compare and going completely out of his way to save the lowliest person from their misery. Perhaps our faith needs less knowledge and more charity, less ‘wisdom’ and more sincere love, fewer citations from Church documents and more acts of kindness out of our own hearts .Jesus says in Matthew 11:25, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven kind of knowledge and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” What are these things that this kind of knowledge can cloud? Charity, service, joy, and compassion.

On the flip side, we all have that aunt or grandmother that tells the questioning children after Christmas Mass that they“just have to believe.”  As great as that sounds, faith without any knowledge is almost as dangerous as knowledge without faith—it can easily become just a sentiment with no substance, and certainly no power to stand up to a very irreligious culture. I love knowledge; after all, apparently it is my “spiritual gift.” Reading the saints’ works and Church documents in theology class never ceases to open up new insights for me.  Even Jesus certainly was very knowledgeable, or else he wouldn’t have been able to refute the errors of the Pharisees in the first place.But we need to have the right kind of knowledge. What does this mean? Well, it means that while it’s great to be book-smart Christians, we must be street-smart Christians as well. Pope Francis recently said that, "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.” Now, some people in the Church of a certain political leaning have interpreted this to mean that Pope Francis does not believe that Church teaching is important, or that he wants to reform it in some way. However, what I believe Pope Francis is saying is that we cannot “lock ourselves up” behind our knowledge, keeping us from going out and doing the hands-on apostolic work that the world so desperately needs.

am a firm believer that the best knowledge comes from service. For example, I may not have been able to read all (or any…) of the Church documents that came out of the recent synod on the family, but I learned a lot from the most adorable refugee family that I get to spend time with after Mass on Sunday. The oldest daughter was flabbergasted to hear that I was thinking about going to Chicago or New York for college—she said that in her culture, families stayed together to support each other forever, in good times and in bad. Family is their life. This is just an example of how getting out there and putting your boots on the ground is often the best way to become wise. If we truly believe that God is reflected in others, the best way to become more knowledgeable of Him and His Church is getting out and serving—not getting entangled with our empty knowledge in arguments or the politicization of the Church.

Lastly, we must remember that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. One can know many things and still be unwise. We are taught to seek wisdom: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). The next time we are tempted to bring out the theological argument or to preach, let us ask ourselves: is what is about to come out of my mouth pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, full of good fruit, impartial and sincere? If not, we must stop ourselves, as hard as it may be. This is the way to true wisdom.

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