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, May 25, 2015

Mk 10:17-27 Bucket-List

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


“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth. The man in today’s Gospel reading would be the equivalent of today’s “checklist Christian.” That’s not a theological term or anything—in fact, I just made it up. However, I think that among those people who are devoted to their faith, far too many fall into the “checklist Christian” category—in other words, the category of people who measure their own faith strictly by the amount of devotions they pray or the amount of good deeds they do for others.
The man in today’s Gospel reading and I have a lot in common. I, like many other students nowadays, have a type Apersonality. I have never once gotten a uniform infraction. I rarely am late. micromanage every second of my day. Too often, this mentality spills over into my faith. For example, I remember one week of school this past year where I was just absolutely swamped. It was the middle of my sports season and the final week of the academic quarter all at once, and I was barely getting enough sleep to function. On top of that, I was beating myself up for letting my schoolwork get in the way of prayer. Earlier in high school, I had prayed the Rosary a few times a week and even gone to daily Mass some mornings. I had gone to my high school youth group every week. Mid-way through this year, I had all but given those things up in favor of sleep, school, and family—and I was completely beating myself up for it. I often worried that I was losing my faith, and confessed multiple times that I was “not trying hard enough.” Until one priest said something that really stuck with me—“are you making your faith into a checklist?”
You see, being a Christian is not about being type A. It isn’t about how many devotions you can pray or how many Masses you can attend. In fact, it isn’t about what you can do at all. C.S. Lewis puts this very well: “As long as a man is thinking of God as an Examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain—as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God—he is not yet in the right relation to Him… We must change from being confident about our own efforts to the state which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.” The man in the Gospel was striving his hardest to keep the commandments. He thought that doing so would make him the perfect Christian, that it would make him perfect in the eyes of God. He did not know that by making his faith into a limited checklist to be accomplished, he was in fact limiting the amount of his life that he could give over to God.
You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. Now, following the commandments is something that we should all strive for. However, the commandments are not the be all and end all of our faith; in fact, they are the bare minimum requirements. The commandments, or the Old Law, simply define what most human beings already know from natural law; do not kill, do not steal, do not covet, etc. The New Law given to us by Jesus Christ is the fullness of the law, and the truth is, unless you are God (which you aren’t), it is nearly impossible to “check off.” We are going to fail in loving our enemies. We are going to fail in praying for those who persecute us. It is in our human nature to fall short of this New Law. So, what kind of cruel God would give us a law the He knew we wouldn’t be able to accomplish?
This is how the “checklist mentality” can poison our faith. We tell ourselves that we have a set number of tasks to accomplish or rules to follow, and then we are done. What Jesus asks of us is to keep pushing past the checklist, even though it may mean failure. He asks us to do something radical. Now, not all of us are meant to sell all of our things and give to the poor—that’s not what He asks of us. He simply asks that we don’t get too self-satisfied with how well we follow the rules. There is always room for improvement; there is always room to give more to God.
If your faith is currently a “checklist” variety of faith, I would challenge you to stop what you are doing and try something new. Push yourself, not to pray more devotions or do more things on your own effort, but to let God be a part of your day to day. Open up your life to whatever work He wants to do, and stop defining for yourself what you must do.

1 comment:

  1. True enough, reciting prayers and attending church events does not make one necessarily closer to God. One must perform these actions with sincerity and thought.

    That being said, I rarely find people sidetracked by saying the rosary or meeting with a prayer group once a week. To me, these things should be a Catholic's highest priority. It is through regular prayer, reception of the sacraments, and fellowship with other believers that God enters our lives. If you found yourself too busy, give up sports or whatever extra curricular gobbling up your time. Give up that part-time job, or that needy girlfriend or boyfriend, or that addictive smartphone. In short, "give up your riches." I always find it funny how kids will give up something like this for Lent and realize how much time they now have.

    I have students who complain about their lack of sleep or leisure, but they always make the mistake of giving up something critical to their health and well-being (like church or my class) instead of taking a sober look at their own habits and choices. Of course, I sympathize with these young people. The world wants to keep them busy; they can never find out what it means to be free.

    Perhaps the trick is not see devotions and spiritual exercises as chores or burdens. See them as they are: ways to separate from the world and attain a closeness to the Holy Trinity. The rest of the world can buzz with its endless activity. You'll find that most of it ultimately amounts to little.


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