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, June 29, 2015

Mt 16:13-19 Steadfast

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
(Click here for readings)


When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Today is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, two of the most important men in the early Church. Saint Peter, as this part of Matthew’s Gospel recounts, was the first Pope. Saint Paul wrote thirteen out of twenty books of the New Testament, known as the Pauline Epistles, or perhaps better known as all of those books named after cities that you can’t pronounce. In today’s Gospel, we read Peter’s profession of faith. When I read this beautiful profession of faith, I wish that I had faith like Peter.  But when I read in the first reading about Peter’s imprisonment and persecution… well… I’m not so sure that I want it anymore. You see, I want Peter’s cleverness but not his crucifixion. I want Paul’s eloquence but not his imprisonment. And as many people—perhaps even many of us Christians—want, I want Christ but not the cross.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is afraid of hardship. If something doesn’t feel right, or isn’t easy, we are told nine times out of ten that there is a way to remedy the situation, and that the situation should be remedied at all costs. Too many pregnant mothers have been told that they should simply “take care of the situation” by ending the life of the child—that way, they can go on without the burden of parenthood. Too many young people have been told that they should resort to drugs and alcohol to take care of deeper insecurities—that way, they don’t have to face their issues. Perhaps most egregiously, I once saw a fa├žade for a business called “Soft Divorce.” Their slogan?“Because divorce doesn’t have to be hard.” More succinctly put, there is something about human nature that makes us terribly averse to all forms of hardship.

What must we do, then? As Christians, we must live in the example of Christ. We must not fear hardship, but instead take up our crosses and set an example of self-sacrifice in the pursuit of a greater good.

This is quite a simplistic example of trying to avoid a cross, but I think it serves its purpose. Not too long ago, all of my friends were struggling through finals week of junior year. This is more colloquially known as “Hell Week,” when every student is faced with the hardest tests of their life in conjunction with the pressure of knowing that said tests could tank their transcript—the only one that ever matters for college. Fortunately for me,after exemptions and such, my schedule worked out so that I only had two finals during Hell Week. As everyone sat worrying and compulsively checking the minimum GPAs for their dream schools, I slept in until afternoon exams. When I did have to go in to school, I sat in the library and watched Netflix on my laptop. It was basically like I was already on summer vacation. Then, on Friday, I watched the excitement of all of my friends who had just completed the biggest trial of the year. In contrast,I had nothing to be excited about. After all, I had barely been tested.

You see, as simple as my example may be, it proves a point—just sailing by in life with minimum effort is ultimately unsatisfying. Sometimes hardship is necessary to make us stronger. Hardship builds character. And after being tested, one can join in with St. Paul in saying: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” Notice that St. Paul didn’t say, “I have competed to an extent; I have gotten by in the race; I have done an okay job at keeping the faith.” That’s not what we are made for.

That being said, even when we give our best effort to take up our crosses, we will still find our faith challenged. Most of these challenges will come from others around us who may not understand the Christian view of hardship. They may think that our choice to take up our cross is not worthwhile. They may mock our faith. Psalm 42:10, one of the Suffering Servant passages of the Old Testament, illustrates this well: “It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me, when they say to me every day: ‘Where is your God?’… my tears have been my bread day and night, as they ask me every day, ‘Where is your God?’”  Some people just may never understand that sometimes it’s worthwhile to not take the easy way out, or the most “efficient” or “logical” route. We must still persevere in carrying our crosses, and we must never abandon our faith.  Look at St. John Paul II. As his mental soundness declined, so many people questioned why he was even persevering in his role as Pope. It wasn’t efficient for him to be suffering through his tasks. He could have retired quietly and had someone else take over. But he didn’t. And his example of suffering with dignity has inspired many.

In summation: we can’t have Christ without the cross. As the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul illustrate, for every triumph in our Christian lives, there will be a challenge. We must willingly take up these crosses, and never bow to the pressure to forsake our faith in times of hardship.

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