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!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mk 12:28-34 Sacrifice: A means to a proper end

Friday of the Third Week of Lent
(Click here for readings)


One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"  Jesus replied: "The first is this:  Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! ...The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."  The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. ...He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart...and your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

As we pass through the third week of Lent, we are reminded over and over again that LOVE - love of God and love of neighbor - is our ultimate goal. 

But how exactly do we get there?  

You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.  Not too long ago, I went ice skating.  There were people of every age and every proficiency level.  I saw some old people gracefully and confidently whiz by me.  I saw others hold on to the railing for dear life! I wasn't one of them, by the way.

Anyways...those who knew how to skate made it look sooo easy.  I wasn't easily fooled.  I knew I needed to get some instruction.

In many ways, today's Gospel passage makes Christianity (and Judaism) sound so easy.  After all, if you want to be a saint, then all you have to do is love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  That's it!  That's all!  In fact, from today's scripture passage, it even sounds like sacrifices aren't worth much anymore, at least in the eyes of God.

Is this the case?


Sacrifices no longer accepted?  Sacrifice goes hand-in-hand with love.  How do we know when someone loves us?  By the way they sacrifice for us.  It's that simple.  It's not just the sweet words you say to me that make me want to love you, or the good heart you have, or even the good intentions that you possess, but the way you sacrifice for me.  The way you kill yourself for me!  As Christ put it, "No one takes my life from me.  I lay it down freely" (Jn 10:18). 

And it's this kind of sacrifice that inspires me to do the same for you.

Every time I look at a crucifix I see sacrifice and love nailed together.  Christ and the Cross go together like love and sacrifice.  The two were meant for each other and become one...until "death do us part."  

During Lent, millions of Christians give up something or some things for Lent.  So what exactly are they doing?  Well, if their heart is in the right place, then they are making a sacrifice for the Lord.  Why would anyone ever do that?  Are these sacrifices worth anything anymore?   Of course they are!  But only if these sacrifices have love of God and neighbor in mind.

If I want to love God and my neighbor, then I have to, without exception, learn how to sacrifice my will - my desires and my cravings - for the Lord and put it into service for Him.

Burnt offerings and sacrifices are worth very little if the Lord and LOVE are not the goal or fruit of my labor.  Similarly, keeping the commandments are worth very little if my heart is not in the right place.  We know this by observation.  Think about it.  The Pharisees and scribes knew the Bible inside and out and were meticulous in observing all the laws.  But when it came time to recognize God standing in their midst, they failed miserably.  Why?  Because they didn't know real love -  God's LOVE - the kind of love that gives and forgives

Now to be able to give and forgive requires tremendous grace and sweat and tears (personal sacrifice), something the Pharisees and scribes had a hard time doing, especially if they were always "walking around in long robes, enjoying praises and greetings in the market places, and getting offered the best seats in the house or at banquets" (Mk 12:39).

In today's Gospel passage, the Lord had no intention of belittling or eliminating personal sacrifice.  He was simply returning this highly effective tool to its proper place:  as a means, not an end.   


  1. This reminds me of St. Therese of Lisieux who made so many little sacrifices to show her love for God. She would eat whatever food was given to her, sacrificing preference. She would endure discomfort and bad company for the sake of Christ. Most importantly, she sacrificed her pride constantly deprecating her achievements. Her whole autobiography provides the very definition of humility; it will astound the reader.

    This type of life made her innocent and pure, two qualities that are hard to fathom these days. You're right to link love with sacrifice. Without sacrifice, love simply becomes calculation and leads to spiritual stagnation, not growth. True love will multiply and continually transform the soul. It will turn a person into a saint.

    1. Excellent meditation Father. Benedict you hit the nail in the head with St. Terese. My mother used to say growing up that love was sacrifice. She would always tell us that it was easy to say "I love you" but much harder to do the daily acts of kindness.
      Love is willing the good of the other as other. As any spouse or parent knows, this requires daily acts of sacrifice without regard to any expectations in return. If you are parenting teenagers, it is a daily act of will. Christ's act of love was perfect. It is the perfect sacrifice.


Updated: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. Comments must be concise and to the point.Comments are no longer accepted for posts older than 7 days.