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!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My 5:1-12 Blessed

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


Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

By now, surely everybody has heard of the terrible persecutions of Christians occurring in the Middle East. In this case, we can find comfort in this Gospel reading in knowing that Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven to the persecuted. But not all of us are going to face martyrdom for our faith in our lifetime. Perhaps not any of us will.Even so, in today’s day and age, there are many forms of Christian persecution that aren’t necessarily punishment by death: humiliation, belittlement, name calling, mocking, etc.—and nearly all of us will face these. There’s simply no way around it, and Jesus even promised us that we would face it. Such treatment is frustrating, humiliating, demeaning, and sometimes it leads us to lash out at those who antagonize us. However, although lashing out is easy and momentarily satisfying, Jesus calls us to something different. We must always bear persecution patiently. Not only will we gain Heaven by doing so, but we may even make a difference in the lives of the very people who persecute us.
Here’s an example of the not-so-virtuous way to act, perpetrated by none other than myself. I really need to delete my Twitter account. With Twitter, anybody can send out their opinions, rantings, and rebukes in a matter of milliseconds. Twitter is especially alive whenevercontroversial stories come to the surface. This was exactly the case with the recent Caitlyn Jenner magazine cover. Within seconds of the story breaking, people were postingon Twitter not only to applaud Jenner, but also to preemptively attack those who would speak out in opposition to Jenner’s decision. Anyone who did not agree with the “progressive” approach was sweepingly labeled a “homophobe,” “transphobe,” an “uncultured swine,” etc. Now, I do not have the qualifications or the knowledge or the life experience/maturity to comment on the case. However, I do have an Italian temper. I did not like being flooded with tweets that labeled me as such terrible things by people who do not really understand the teachings of the Church. So, I produced an age-appropriate but not-so-virtuous rebuke back at everyone in my own tweet. I declared to the world that they had no idea what they were talking about and that they should just shut it. And I immediately regretted it and took it down. After all, what had I contributed to the situation by angry-tweeting? I had perpetuated the stereotype that Christians are angry and bitter. I had made everything about me and my personal feelings. And I had probably made one more person feel even further alienated from the Church.

There’s a better way to answer to those who wish us harm. In fact, there are so many real stories out there about how peaceful response to persecution causes real change.It’s summer break, so I have just begun digging into my summer book list. Right now, I’m reading a gem called The Heart and the Fist written by former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.  Greitens went to Duke and did humanitarian work in Bosnia, Bolivia, and Rwanda before becoming a Rhodes Scholar and then eventually an officer in the Navy.The thesis that Greitens defends throughout his book is that humanitarianism will fail without military backup, and the military will fail without a touch of humanitarianism. He shares the following reflection on interrogating al-Qaeda subjects:

One man we captured was Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed, an al-Qaeda operative behind the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Ali Mohamed had fully expected to be tortured once we took him in. Instead, we assured him that we wouldn’t harm him, and we offered to protect his family. Within weeks, we had opened a gold mine of information… When they broke, the transformations were remarkable. Their bodies would go limp. Many would weep. Most would ask to pray. These were men undergoing profound emotional and spiritual turmoil—the result of going from a belief that their destiny was to fight and kill people like us to a decision that they should cooperate with the enemy.”

Greitens also reports that young, na├»ve Army officers who tried to humiliate or strike fear into their subjects had little to no success in gathering information. The fact is that persecutors are not changed by arguments or by aggression. Persecutors are only changed by love, patience, and understanding. And change is possible. 
Oftentimes, when we are frustrated by those who persecute us, our anger makes us sink to their level. For example, it is all too easy to see ISIS taking down Christians and begin to view them as trash. At times, that can even seem like justified thinking. Similarly, in our common day-to-day life, we may begin to view mean-tweeters and political writers as hopeless causes who we have full license to treat with disrespect. However, by reducing those who persecute us to “trash” or “animals,” we are doing exactly what they are doing to us—robbing them of their human dignity. Those who persecute us are not of a different species. Nobody is born wanting to be cruel or murderous.  Every persecutor has a human heart and a human soul, as blocked as they may be by hatred, learned attitudes, and malice.

Therefore, we must be patient. If we respond to all persecution we may face with patience and love—in other words, if we go outside ourselves to do things the way Jesus says is right—we can trust that positive change will happen in our lives and in the lives of others.

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