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, January 5, 2015

Mt 4:12-17, 23-25 Keeping Our God and our Head On Straight

Monday after the Epiphany
(Click here for readings)


From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
… And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Yesterday the Church celebrated the Epiphany, when we remember the three magi and their journey towards the child Jesus. In today’s readings, we flash forward to the public ministry of Jesus where it is impossible to miss the parallel: Jesus is himself the new star that many begin to follow. What does it really mean to follow Jesus, though?

Yesterday I went to Mass at All Saints celebrated by Fr. Alfonse and he shared something I felt was very profound in his homily (shout out to Father!) He reminded us that we have to have some kind of benchmark or guidance in our faith, or else we will just end up following our own crazy will. After all, the wise men had both the star and the knowledge of the scholars to guide them.  

On that same note, today’s first reading from 1 John says: “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Today’s world is full of these “false prophets” that try to draw us away from the truth, whether they be people or things or cultural attitudes. That got me thinking about something that has been the subject of my reflection a lot lately: how do we ‘test’ things as John advises us? How are we supposed to know that what we are doing is in accord with the will of God? What are the ‘benchmarks’ we should look for to know we are on the right track?

Remember that phrase “false prophets.” It also appears in Matthew chapter 7:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit… So by their fruits you will know them.

So by their fruits you will know them. What are these fruits? For starters, if your decisions and lifestyle are truly guided by the Holy Spirit,your life should bear the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Have you begun to choose a lifestyle that has made you less kind, good, gentle, or faithful? Young people: have you chosen to hang with a group of friends that lacks kindness or goodness or self-control? At some point, all of us have made decisions that deprive us of these fruits of the Spirit. It is almost always a sign that we have stumbled down a wrong path.

Another little ‘test’ that I really enjoy is something that a theology teacher shared with me my freshman year of high school. Somebody posed the question to the class: how do we know if the spiritual ‘inclinations’ we feel are really from God or just manifestations of our own will? The teacher quoted Padre Pio. It went something like: “If something is your own will, it will initially cause peace and then fear; if something is from God, it will initially cause fear and then a deep peace.”

Of course, these things are great little ‘tests’ and examinations of conscience for us. However, nothing beats consistent prayer. Consistent prayer is like the Magi following the star, or like the early disciples following Christ—they had constant contact with God. If the Apostles started acting out of line, Jesus quickly corrected them and led them back down the right path, simply because they were constantly around Him. If we stay in touch with Jesus through a stable prayer life, we greatly reduce our risk of being led astray by these “false prophets.” Have you ever slacked a little in your prayer life and then found yourself feeling very uncharitable (a nicer way to say rude and grumpy)? As a seventeen-year-old girl I can testify to that! Prayer is real stuff.
If we follow these ‘benchmarks,’ as Father says, we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to follow the will of God.

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