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 19, 2015

Mk 2:18-22 Hearts of Steel and Christian Love

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)


The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

There is a long-running joke among Catholic school kids that if you don’t know the answer on a theology test, you can just put “Jesus loves me” and you have a 75% chance of getting it right. I have to admit that it makes me laugh a little when I hear it. But there is a sad reality underneath the joke: as a culture, we have deprived the word ‘love’ of its meaning, even when it comes to the love of God. Think—how many times have you sat in Mass while a well-intentioned priest or deacon preaches about God’s love… and then you find yourself dozing off, like you have heard it a thousand times? It’s true—‘love’ today has become less of a lived reality and more of a seemingly unattainable ideal reserved for storybooks.

My favorite liturgical season is Ordinary Time. My favorite flavor of ice cream is also vanilla, but that’s beside the point.Ordinary Time, while maybe not as action-packed as the other liturgical seasons, is where we really get to dive into the teaching ministry of Jesus, where he verbalized for us His vision of love. This Gospel in particular teaches us two key points about what true love is: true love endures forever, and true love has no substitutes.

“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.Sometimes when I get stumped on a particular part of a Gospel reading, I look over a Catholic biblical commentary. St Bede said about this verse: “When first we begin to be converted to God, the spiritual consolations which God infuses into our souls, cause in us an overflowing of spiritual delights, so that we then feast, and are in the midst of delight; but when the Bridegroom shall be taken away, when these spiritual consolations cease, then we fast, and find the commandments difficult. It is then we must prepare ourselves for tribulation.” Put more simply, the delights and vivid emotions of love don’t last forever. What our culture doesn’t understand is that true love is independent of feelings, but is instead “willing the good of another” through all things, as St. Thomas Aquinas once said.

Maybe some of you are married, and you can relate to this. We have a huge photo album in my house of our family, with photosfrom my parents’ wedding all the way to photos from about five years ago (when everyone got iPhones and the scrapbook died). I always laugh to see the progression—on their wedding day my parents looked so young and alive. Then comes a picture with my mom looking exhausted holding my oldest brother. Then comes one of my sister crying. Then there’s one of my entire family crying on somebody’s high school graduation day, etc, etc. Here’s the point: maybe not all of those memories were glamorous, but what ties them together is that they are all snapshots of real love—the work of a mother, though it is exhausting; the love of a father, even when it hurts to have a son move away, etc. Love hurts. Love is full of sacrifice. The same applies to our relationship with God—it is going to hurt to follow Him sometimes. Just as we don’t abandon our families in the not-so-glamorous moments, so too do we prove our commitment to God by following Him when things seem less than perfect.

No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away,the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.” Another thing that our culture doesn’t understand about love is that there is no substitute for the real thing. The fact is we have it written on our hearts to only accept true love—all other substitutes ultimately cause unhappiness.

This Saturday in Dallas was the March for Life to commemorate lives lost through abortion since the Roe vs. Wade decision 42 years ago. What I really appreciate about the Catholic pro-life movement in Dallas is that while it seeks justice, it is also full of mercy. One sign at the march read, “Women need love, not abortion.” How true! How many terrible things in our modern world are caused by our false substitutes for love? Many people fall into unhealthy relationships because they feel it is their only source of love. Many lives are lost through abortion because a mother finds no support from the father of the child and feels alone. Many people make wealth an idol to cover up the gaping hole in their life for love. The one common thread that ties all these people together is the void in their lives was only meant to be filled by one thing: the true love that only God can give.

Our Christian view of love is countercultural to be sure, but it is the only way to go. Our broken world testifies to this fact. Let’s pray that we can begin to foster true love in our families, or wherever God plants us!

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