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, June 5, 2015

Mk 12:1-12 Hide and Seek

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


Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes,
and the elders in parables.
“A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey.
At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants
to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard.
But they seized him, beat him,
and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent them another servant.
And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully.
He sent yet another whom they killed.
So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed.
He had one other to send, a beloved son.
He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
So they seized him and killed him,
and threw him out of the vineyard.

Oftentimes, trying to practice our faith can befrustrating. It can seem at times like prayer and going to Mass are one-sided attempts to stay in touch with God or follow the proverbial rulebook, with seemingly no response on the other end. This can lead to great frustration and loneliness. However, behind this frustration is a key misconception that I think many people falsely believe—namely, that we are the ones that seek after God. It makes sense that people would believe this; every day, we are taught to go out and achieve things by our own efforts, and that if we want something in life it is our job to work for it.  We must instead realize that being a Christian is the complete antithesis of what we have been taught in every other area of our life—God is the one who seeks us, and who has sought us for all eternity.
In this Gospel reading, “the man” (who of course symbolizes God) repeatedly sends messengers to his workers, hoping that someday they will listen to him. It is easy to put a negative spin on this Gospel reading by chastising the selfishness of the workers, and claiming that they should have been more mindful of the needs of the vineyard owner. That is true. However, we must also realize that “the man” never stopped seeking the workers, even when they were murderous and all-around terrible. The workers caused him great emotional suffering, and the loss of many of his beloved messengers-- even his son. Even so, “the man” never stopped sending for his servants. He, in essence, set himself up to suffer more and more, holding on to the hope that eventually someone would listen. Sound familiar.

In the same way, God is always the one that seeks us first, even when we are unfaithful. The Bible is full of beautiful images that illustrate this fact. For example, in the parable of the weeds and the wheat, God is the one that first plants the seeds.  Perhaps the strongest Biblical image of God seeking his people is marriage—that’s right, marriage. The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve, and ends with the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in Revelation. As a Church, we are called the Bride of Christ. Now, how many successful marriages do you know of where one spouse constantly has to seek the other for conversation or help, while the other just sits there without any kind of emotion or response? None. The point is, our efforts to pray and practice our faith are never one-sided. God seeks us before we even think to seek him. This Gospel reading tells us so, images throughout the Bible tell us so, and the desire in our heart to interact with God tells us so.
At this point, many people would probably refer to today’s Gospel and ask why God would keep trying to win over murderous, terribly sinful people. That’s a very logical point. After all, in any kind of human relationship, if one person greatly wrongs another, that original, strong relationship is very hard to reestablish even if the two people reconcile. This contradiction is how we know that God is first and foremost a father: even if we abandon him, he can never abandon us. Think about the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis. God created humans as the perfect image of his love. He did not have to create us, but he did anyway. He did not create us in the beginning to sin. That was our free choice, and now we are all destined to sin and to eventually die. However, God still remembers what life was like before the fall. He still remembers that He created us as perfect images of His love. It’s just like any other father-son or father-daughter relationship: even when that son or daughter drives the parent crazy, the parent remembers holding that child just after its birth, and cannot somehow erase that bond. In the same way, no matter how much we drive God crazy, he cannot somehow forget that we are his children created in His image. This is why he continues to seek us. I think of the following verse in Isaiah chapter 49: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
It is so easy to forget that God seeks us first. When we go through trying times in our faith, we must remember that it is never we who seek God. From our birth and our baptism, God has claimed us as His own, and will never be without compassion for us.

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