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!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Jn 20:11-18 Mary Hung On To Him

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
(click here for readings)


Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels...They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him."  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus, but did not know it was Jesus.  ...Jesus said to her, "Mary!"  She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni,..."

Belong. Behave. Believe.  Yesterday I had brunch with an outstanding young man.  He's 100% committed to sharing the Good News with teens and young adults.  He's a gentleman, a warrior, a soldier for Christ.  Young and old love him and He's building Christ's kingdom throughout Dallas, Texas.

I asked him what he was reading.  He mentioned a book entitled, "Divine Renovation" by Fr. James Mallon.  Based on our conversation, this is what I learned from the book.

Fr. James believes that the biggest problem today with most parishes is that they are still working on "maintenance mode," rather than "evangelization mode."  For example, members belong to a certain parish because they live in a certain area - within the parish boundaries, not because this is a parish that feels like home.  Hence, the parish is not necessarily the place where they belong, but the place where they go.  

When it comes to Parish ministries, like Faith Formation (CCD), the feeling one gets is like being on an assembly line or cafeteria line.  For example, in second grade you receive your First Communion; in eighth grade, the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This is how it works.  This is how it is scheduled.  Like it or not, ready or not, this is what you get when you are supposed to get it.  The results?  Well, very few kids are seen ever again soon after their Confirmation obligation. 

According to Fr. James, another problem with our current Faith Formation model is what the kids are missing.  For most kids, faith formation means learning basic church teachings in a classroom environment, and not necessarily becoming a believer in Jesus Christ or having a personal experience with the Lord.  The results?  Many Millennials have little attachment to the Church they grew up in.

In summary:  The Church runs on the model "Believe!" in order to "Behave" and "Belong." Fr. James thinks it should be reversed: "Belong!" and you will "Behave" and "Believe."  In other words, you must first feel like you "belong to the Church", then, and only then, will you "believe" in what others are saying and have the courage to correct ("sin no more") your behavior. 

I don't remember if I have already said this to my readers, but when I was searching for the Truth - God's Truth - the Church that Jesus Christ established on the face of the Earth, the last thing I cared about was how people treated me in Church.  I didn't care one bit if the ushers didn't greet me or if people didn't ask me to volunteer or help out or welcome me as a newcomer.  I could have cared less if the music or singing was horrible (well...actually...that would have bothered me a lot).  I could have cared less if the priest was nice to me.  All I cared about was finding out the Truth and the true Church of Jesus Christ.  Everything else was non-essential; or, better yet, the lack of everything else meant I had found my home and that I had found my mission in life:  to help make my parish a better place.

I'm glad I had that grace from God!
But not everybody has that grace.   

Christ's Resurrection.  Mary Magdalene was dead to life.  When Christ died, she died as well.  Her life had become lifeless, breathless, hopeless.  But when Christ called her by name, she came back to life.  When He appeared to her - the first disciple to see the Risen Lord, she became born again. 

We can't ignore our needs, our personal needs, our need for affirmation, affection and attention.  OUR NEED TO BELONG!  

This need affects everyone and everything - what we believe and how we behave!  We can't ignore this very human need, and, thankfully, neither does the Lord. 

Christ's appearance to Mary Magdalene was very meaningful, very special and very important to her.  His appearance affirmed her.  It strengthened her.  It brought her back to life!  Even the little mission the Lord gave her - "Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"  - was necessary and helpful for her.  He trusted her.  God trusted her.  This is profound.

The Lord's appearance to Mary affirmed His love for her, her life, and her mission in life. 

Easter Sunday is not just about the Lord's resurrection.  It is the resurrection of the Church, of all of His disciples...for all of them...and for those to come...for us.


  1. Hey Fr. Alfonse! I wasn't expecting the shoutout! Great blog once again. Although I just wanted to add on to what Fr. Mallon says in his book "Divine Renovation." He speaks extensively about the old "Behave-Believe-Belong" model of 30+ years ago where people "behaved" in a particular way because the social mores were in place to direct behavior. Ultimately "belonging", i.e. what church you attended, followed your behavor and belief. In his book he does a great job of talking about the effects of "post-modern" thinking, in particular the question of belonging. He says that now church attendance has less to do with belief (theological teaching) and behavior (moral teachings) but more to do with belonging. People will join, stay or leave a church based on whether or not the feel a sense of belonging. Belonging is the starting point and in the context of belonging people begin to reflect and open up to "belief", hopefully belief in the Good News of Jesus Christ. As people open their hearts to the message of the Gospel and grow in a relationship with him they slowly begin to change behavior. It is a long journey at times as people "reframe their belief systems and allow the Lord to change their lives."

    Beginning with behaviour adjustment or appeal to truth bears little fruit when trying to ministry to post-moderns. I could go on! But get the book. It's amazing. In short the old model was "Behave-Believe-Belong" but he proposes "Belong-Believe-Behave."

  2. Perfect. Thank you! That makes more sense.


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