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, September 23, 2015

Lk 9:1-6 Living Lightly

Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
By Benedict Augustine

“Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.”

After spending so much time with His disciples, enlightening them on the gospel, guiding them by example, praying with them and for them, Jesus finally sends off the twelve to go and share the gospel with others. Asking them to take nothing extra and entrusting them with miraculous powers, Jesus has complete confidence in their ability to save souls in His name. The disciples presumably share the same confidence, never even looking back and wondering whether it might be wise to at least bring a little money for an inn should something not work. Apparently, they have left doubt behind along with all their other possessions.

How different this is from the daily departures people make today for their jobs! People insist on carrying so many things with them and think nothing of using all their spare hands and shoulders to holdanother bag, or strap, or cup, or handle. On top of this, they have their smartphones which themselvescarry a whole world of information and services. Far from exhibiting the breezy confidence of the disciples, most working adults are plagued with anxiety and doubtThey pack meals, wardrobes, reading materials, writing utensils, electronic equipment, cosmetics, rolodexes, and personal protection, all so that they can make it to the mailbox with peace of mind.

Besides turning people into beasts of burden, this doubt also turns people’s houses into storage units. Although some people might desire to possess things that will earn praise among visitors or that will offer lasting pleasure, more people simply desire to possess things because it makes them feel safe. The boxes of junk in the garage, the ugly furniture in the front room in the empty bedroom, the unused exercise machines covered with cobwebs and dust,the “survival food” bursting out of the pantry and cabinets, the heaps of tools for that one repair, and the toys that a child once played with so many decades ago, all go towards making a person feel secure and oriented.

Doubt and fear often drive consumption, and it is sin that drives this doubt and fear. Sin signifies absence, an absence of God and thus an absence of goodness.Sin empties the fullness of the inner life so that it can fill the settings of the outer life. In other words, the emptiness of sin will fill one’s life with things; the lack of goodness in the heart will create a surfeit of goods in the house. This is the meaning of materialism. Material goods stand in for truth (scientism), moral excellence (capitalism), or happiness (socialism).

As a person confesses his sins and recovers his soul, he will often confront this host of doubts that have accumulated in his heart—much like the junk that accumulate in the garage. With the sin removed, the foundation upholding this bad habit of acquisition and hoarding is exposed in all its ugliness. The truth is clear: all one really needs is God, and so many things one has come to depend are superfluous.

People today marvel at the recklessness of Jesus and His disciples simply starting their mission withoutgiving it a second thought. In order to rationalize this attitude, they think that Jesus only intended these twelve to do such a thing, not other Christians,or that he means this metaphorically; but it would make more sense to think that Jesus really intends this advice for all his followers and in a literal way in addition to a spiritual one.

All Christians should live light, and they should pack light as they leave their homes each day. Only this will open them up to their neighbor and create opportunities to share the gospel, a gospel whichstates that God will provide so the quest for things should not worry anyone. The simple life of a Christian disciple and the joy it brings can be powerful lure to those entangled with so many things. Most people are all too familiar with the stress and futility brought on my so many things. A good cleaning is in order.

Knowing this, Jesus sends all Christians out to free others as they free themselves.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lk 8:4-15 Rock, Paper, Scissors

Saturday of the Twenty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation…..But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

As I prayed my Monday evening rosary, I contemplated today's gospel reading.  The parable of the seed sower is so familiar to us.  We read the story repeatedly throughout the liturgical year and teach it in faith formation classes. How can I approach it differently? 

Suddenly, an image came to mind:  Rock-paper-scissors!  Often I played this game as a kid.  The rock beats out scissors; paper beats out the rock; and the scissors beat out the paper.  Sometimes the rules didn't apply depending on who I exchanged hand signs with.  The "rock" tore apart the "paper" into shreds, or the "scissors" jabbed at the "rock" who had a "softer" composition.

I remember my 8th grade earth science teacher telling us that "Rocks are our friends!"  This always sounded so strange and funny.  I will never forget good old "Mr. J" because of those words.  I often wonder what ever happened to him.  

How could I be a friend with an ugly rock?  I mean, the "rock" in a game of RPS bullied over all of the other hand symbols. Furthermore, most rocks just sit there in the dirt taking up space.  They become deadly objects when they are tossed and thrown around.  Nobody likes driving on the road behind a gravel truck.  The wind blows out pebbles cracking windshields.  Plus, anyone planting  a garden understands the perils of digging up huge rocks in order to prepare the soil.  Rocks are more like inanimate enemies than hang-around pals.

From the perspective of the parable, sowing a seed in "rocky" soil doesn't bear good fruit.  The Word of God is heard and received in a phony-baloney joy.  Just pretend to believe in the Word, plant a seed in a soil full of rocks, and watch it do nothing:  No crescono!   No grow!  The rocky soil is  too malnourished and ill-cared for to produce anything of sustenance.

As we walk along the path of life, we may create our own version of Rock-paper-scissors. We clinch fists in the rock pose, turning toward anger, aggression, and violence to get what we want.  On the other hand, we grab a pair of scissors cutting away religion, integrity, honesty, and humility. We shoo away family members and friends who love us so much.  They see how we fail to live up to our full potential as we allow the addictions and immoral behaviors to leave us in perpetual misery.  Finally, we pull out  paper as we write suicidal notes addressed to God himself.  We are tired of living.  We are tired of the pain, poverty, guilty, and wretchedness of life.  We blame God for everything wrong with us!

Toss out the Rock-paper-scissors as a way of making decisions. Don't give in to the Devil playing tricks with the mind and heart. Turn toward Christ for divine advice. When we think of Jesus as our solid "rock" we suddenly understand how a rock can be our friend!   He loves us so very, very much.  He gives each one of us the precious seed of faith.  It's up to us to either plant the seed in rocky soil or rich soil.  Which one will you choose?

"What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we should reap in the harvest of action."  -Meister Eckhart

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lk 7:31-35 The Temptation to Be a Critic

Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

By Benedict Augustine

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Although critics like to blame a speaker, the problem most often lies with the critics, not the one delivering the speech. The speaker could take many different approaches, tailoring his message to suit such a difficult group of people who may have a seriously misguided view of the world, but they would criticize him all the same. They might say he was too serious, or not serious enough; too cold, or too emotional; too scholarly, or too dumbed down; too formal, or too casual. The critic must validate himself somehow.Even the most cursory skim of commentary on the current presidential debates will demonstrate this fact.

Ironically—though perhaps predictably—both John and Jesus, universally admired and revered preachers, somehow fail to resonate with their critics, a group notoriously high on cleverness but pitifully low on wisdom. To be fair, both John and Jesus always make sure to return the favor, saving their most severe rebukes for these critics. When the Pharisees, Sadducees, or Scribes would remark on points of style or delivery—which all such critiques of observing the Sabbath, talking to Gentile women, or touching a corpse really come to mean—the two cousins would sharply respond with a comment on their immorality.

Rhetorically speaking, casting aspersions on character willusually qualify as a deflection from a real issue, a sign of logical weakness, yet Jesus and John actually use their rebuttals as a way of honing in on the real problem. They make the case that outward behavior in the form of rituals or customs should reflect what rests inside a person. Done with sincerity, good or respectful behavior serves as proof for goodwill and humility. So lost in formalities were these critics that they completely lost sight of what always lay underneath. The hundreds of commandments (and the thousands of prescriptions subsequently tacked on to those commandments) merely represented so many facets of love that man owed to God and his neighbor.

Both John and Jesus make this point, again and again. Still, the critics persist in launching their petty gibes, their captious questions, and lethal conspiracies. In acting thus, they only prove the truth of the prophet and his messiah. They completely misinterpret God and their neighbor, adopting a ridiculously narrow definition of both: their only neighbors were fellow Jews of a certain class and ideology, and their God only cared about His people reoccupying the tiny landmass of Palestine.

Like most clever yet foolish people, the critics of Jesus and John suffer from the sin of envy. These men who were the best equipped to receive and understand the gospel fall to the temptation of rejecting this great gift for the sake of their egos. They cannot permit that another man, or even God’s Own Son, should know more than them. If they did, they could have learned to become great saints destined for heavenly glory; instead, they line up in the ranks of Jesus’ nameless persecutors.

Victims, or practitioners, of such unnecessary or illogical criticism, should take heart from these words of Jesus. It is usually a sign of envy lurking in a person’s heart. The boss, colleague, friend, or anyone who indulges in seemingly pointless criticism has probably fallen to envy.  Envy induces people to becoming critics, and it is a difficult thing to shake off if one is unaware. Making the situation wore, those who harbor envy often suffer from a loss of perspective and might redouble their criticism while those who suffer from it might respond by developing their own form of envy to cope.

Jesus has advice for both the critics and their victims. For the former, he recommends that they see how absurd their criticism has become, to the point that they are finallysatisfied with nothing, including themselves. To the latter, he tells them not to worry since the fault lies with the critics, not them. These people criticize because they envy (i.e., want to have and be like) the group in question.  Rather, the critics should be pitied and loved so that they can escape their condition.

Anyone who strives in life will suffer criticism. If this comes from a position of love, then he should take heed. If it comes from a position of envy, then he should take it as validation of progress and persevereThe wisdom of the cross proves that all truly good people who perform truly good acts will inevitably suffer because a fallen humanity inhabits the earth.

Fortunately the cross brings redemption, and because it does, Jesus can say that “wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Col 3:12-17 Peace, man

Thursday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)


Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I stared at my closet. The skirt that I was wearing didn’t seem to go with the top, and I didn’t know if the addition of my lavender tights was a good move or not. I was considering the light pink tights, but that color didn’t necessarily match the color on the top. Should I change tops?

The indecision that twelve years of Catholic school leaves you with is ridiculous. And with my fashion choices (which include every color of tight under the sun, crazy socks, and at least ten pairs of pants), getting dressed in the morning can be a struggle. Especially because after getting dressed, one has to run out the door, down four flights of stairs, and about a half mile to class. (Because of course, one is always late. Sorry, mum.)

But taped on my mirror now is something to look at when I’m making those tough clothing choices: a prayer from the University Catholic freshmen retreat I just went on. It’s about letting Christ mold you into the person he wants you to be, and it’s just gorgeous.
We received the prayer when sitting in small groups (about eight of us girls—and over twelve guys!!!! Can you believe it? More guys than girls at a Catholic retreat?!??) and talking about college life. Over the course of the retreat, we played amazing games, went to confession, and spent an hour with Jesus upstairs. To be able to kneel next to Catholic freshmen guys and girls who sing the prayers is such a blessing; I still can’t believe I did. As I sang the last hymn with the rest of the UCat freshmen, I couldn’t keep from smiling because with the amount of love for Christ in the chapel,  I could just picture Jesus, standing in the room, and holding his arms out in front of him for all of us to give him one long hug that would last forever.

College can be difficult. Sometimes floormates come back from parties drunk, sometimes my roommate and I annoy each other over small things, sometimes I lose my key (actually, a lot more than sometimes). This week, a yogurt parfait (with granola!) exploded over my bag, two of my lightbulbs burnt out and I still have no idea how to properly discard a lightbulb because of course I haven’t Googled it yet, I received a 75 on my math homework for a grand total of a 74 in the class, and it’s so hard to rewrite math proofs one hundred and one times before they finally click. But it’s all right. It really is. Because each time I leave and walk down the stairs, I can remember the sense of peace I felt kneeling in front of the Eucharist,singing with the rest of the UCat freshmen. Even though the orange stairs seem far removed from that beautiful chapel, the feeling comes back and I’m calm again. Because it’s going to be all right; God’s got my back. And I should be able to find a patron saint to help me out with the outfit situation.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lk 6:43:49 Hello, My Name is Mary

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

Today is the Feast day devoted to The Most Holy Name of Mary.  With the pending sale of my home and so much to do before I move into my new apartment, I pause and reflect on Our Blessed Mother.  How has she assisted me on my faith journey?  How has her name influenced my life decisions, both good and bad?  Do I recognize Mary as a mediator and intercessor?  Do I keep her close to my heart like I do her Son?

I remember several years ago visiting a nearby parish on a chilly, rainy Sunday. I was upset after an Internet troll posted a negative comment on Fr. Alfonse's blog directed towards me.  With so many nasty people stalking the web, I normally shake off such comments and move on.  But, this particular troll really struck a nerve.  I attended Mass that Sunday in hopes of clearing my mind, asking Our Lord and his Mother to help me get past the hurt and anger.

I remember walking out of the church straight into the rain without an umbrella.  My mind was more focused on my online presence than physical one.  Should I stop posting comments?  Should I stop blogging once and for all? I don't know if I'm strong enough to withstand anonymous criticisms.  I don't want people to think I'm stupid, boring, or annoying. Uh!

As I headed toward my car, a woman walked up to me and offered part of her umbrella.  I remember the warm smile and pleasant voice.  She asked my name and why I looked so sad.  I told her my name is Jennifer and that I'd just experienced hurtful criticism on a blog.  She stopped walking and looked straight at me with a look of recognition in her eyes: "Are you Jennifer who regularly posts on Fr. Alfonse's blog?"  When I answered "Yes" my face turned bright red in embarrassment.  She must have seen my profile pic. I was absolutely shocked somebody recognized me outside of my own home parish!

The woman said, "I love your comments, Jennifer.  You're a great writer!  And I know about that nasty post from the anonymous person.  Don't let that jerk upset you.  Keep on posting! Don't give up.  Always keep Our Blessed Mother close to your heart!"    

I asked the woman her name: "Oh, my name is Mary.  It's so great to finally meet you in person, Jennifer."   My heart stop for a moment.  Did she just say the name Mary?  Wow, the irony! I felt like the Holy Spirit, through the Blessed Mother's intercession, sent me a special person to uplift my spirits and give me the encouragement to continue my writing.  

I often wonder what ever happened to the Mary I met that rainy Sunday.  I'd like to thank her for taking me under the shadow of her caring wings even if only for a few moments.

I learned that day that I will not be able to please everyone.  Some people will like me whereas others will loathe me.  All I can do is be the best Christian I can be.  Try not to take things personally.  Always turn toward God and Our Blessed Mother for strength and resilience.  Don't be afraid to speak out the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary even if others may not like it. 

"Mary means Star of the sea, for as mariners are guided to port by the ocean star, so Christians attain to glory through Mary’s maternal intercession.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Col 3:1-11: Head In the Clouds

Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By Benedict Augustine

“If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.”

Seeing the great sins on the world on full display and great heroism that fights those sins hidden or discredited can put a Christian in a foul mood. When news of Church attendance declining, church and civil authorities becoming lax on morality, and politicians gaining popularity for their crude barbarity or shameless demagoguery, all reach one’sears, nothing seems like enough.

Going to church doesn’t seem like enough. Being responsible at work doesn’t seem like enough. Good deeds and wholesome relationships don’t seem like enough. We need to do more. Our country needs to do more. Our neighbors need to do more. Our elders need to do more. Our children need to do more. Parents need to do more. Teachers need to do more. Etc. Etc.

And so we resolve to do more and tell others to do the same. We pin our hopes to a great leader, a great movement, a great idea. We do random acts of charity. We read a few good books, or articles, or blog posts, or comment boxes. This lasts for a few days, or even a few weeks, and then the enthusiasm to improve the world dies down. Usually some kind of event or issue will come up and distract our pursuit of justice. Worse still, a new season of some popular show or new video game will come out and do their part in sdeucing and effectively extinguishing the soul on fire.

Like many of us today, the early Christians likely suffered from the same cycle of agitation, the brief flame of inspiration, and the inevitable relapse into passivity. A Christian had to witness their civilization go to pieces so many times over, sometimes at the hands of barbarians, more often in the hands of emperors, and all the while the people would actlike sheep chasing money and entertainment without a care for the less fortunate or eternity

St. Paul gives the best advice one could possibly hear in this situation: “Seek what is above.” The devil tempts us to seek what is around us, in front of us, behind us, below us. Rarely does the clever person seek what rests above him; that would mean he stands below something greater—an affront to his pride. He assumes that it is better to be “practical,” “pragmatic,” or “proactive,” and he will repeat the same insane patterns of seeking something in the imperfect world to restore the imperfect world.

Many Christians might show a little more tact than the atheist or secularist who deny the existence of an “above” altogether, but they still work under the same assumptions. When they seek to do good, they do not think of Heaven or Hell, or of guardian angels, or of the cloud of witnesses, or grace flooding their lives in the sacraments. They seek respectability, decency, and moderation. They act gently and tolerably, calmly indifferent to implications on their soul. Rather than the radical transformation Christ teaches with His beatitudes, they follow the insipid adage of “leaving the place a little better than they found it.” This is not enough to change anything and will leave the curious bystander cold. 

We need to remove ourselves from this banality. We need to seek what is above, and make our homes there. If this offends others, good; it means we’re doing something right. We need to become mystics engulfed in prayer with thoughts of the Passion, thoughts of the Nativity, thoughts of Resurrection, thoughts of the saints and angels, thoughts of the dead praying for us, thoughts of demons tugging at our sleeves and reminding us how crazy we are. 

No one can understand Christ if he refuses to seek what is above. Christ makes absolutely no sense from any perspective based in the world. The world would make Him into a social activist, a charismatic motivational, a eastern holy man, or something equally small and pointless. If Christians accept the world’s vision of Christ, they will be imitating a fake, not the real person. That might appeal to people’s vanity, but it does not achieve anything of consequence for anyone. 

What lies above us is the only reality that lasts. In all other directions, everything will pass and either conform to that heavenly reality, or perish in eternal non-reality of Hell.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Col 1:21-23 Be Sold on Christ!

Saturday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds; God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard…

Monday evening at 5 pm.  As I type this meditation, I sit on a shady bench in a neighborhood park.  The realtor is currently showing my home to a potential buyer. This is the 24th showing in the last five days....

My dog stares at me with her big brown eyes as I continue to type on my smartphone.

"Mommy, let's go for a walk so I can bark at those ducks in the pond!"  

"Yes, we will do that in a few minutes, my precious fur baby. Give mommy a few more minutes to think." 

Selling a home is no easy endeavor.  It's physically, mentally and emotionally demanding.  Am I doing the right thing?  Is God opening a new door or am I meant to stay where I'm at?

I received a full-price offer the first day the house went the market.   Attached to the contract was a personalized letter with the couple's family photo. They fell in love with the house.  Perfect size and location. Great neighborhood.  Close to the commuter rail.  A direct blessing from God after weeks of prayer and search.

The letter pulled at my heartstrings, so I signed the contract thinking we'd start the inspection process right away with closing in late September.  I posted "House Sold!" to all of my friends on Facebook.  I placed a holding deposit on a gorgeous new apartment less than 4 miles from work. Everything seemed to move along perfectly. I'd be part of the statistics with a home sell in less than 4 days! 

Then the call came in Monday morning.  The buyers bailed out of the contract stating they found another home.  Unbelievable!  I just blabbed all over the Internet about my home selling. Talk about jumping the gun and making preparations without the sale finalized.  Thank the Lord I was able to cancel my leasing application and receive a full deposit refund. What naivety and foolishness.  I did everything wrong allowing my emotions and impatience to fog my decision making.

"Why did I decide to skip Mass on Sunday? Maybe the buyers would not have terminated the contract!" Wrong thinking again, Jennifer! God is not punishing me.  Yes, he's disappointed I did not visit him at the Eucharistic table.  I could have received peace needed at a time of immense stress.

Dear Jesus, I'm so sorry for neglecting you.  I promise to visit you in confession soon!

Despite the disappointment and anxiety, Our Lord has another plan in mind for my home. The timing just isn't right.  Yes, I hear stories of fabulous homes selling in two days at above asking price.  I hear about the "hot" housing market.  None of this matters.  If I am meant to move, the home will sell.  I just need to remain patient.  God has a unique path prepared especially for me that is like no other.

My dog and I walk around the park, under the trees and around the pond.  Nice breeze for a hot summer's day.  I think everything will work out in the end.  I just need to remain hopeful and firmly grounded in the Lord.   Be sold on Christ!  No matter what happens I'm in good hands.  

“Things are never as they seem. A person. A Mark. A statement. They are always deeper than we perceive, like walking in the ocean and suddenly dipping under the surface because the bottom has disappeared beneath your feet. The water appears shallow until you are suddenly flailing around beneath the surface, desperately searching for stable ground once again.”

Kelseyleigh Reber, Young Adult Author

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lk 4:38-44 Your Own Personal Jesus

Wednesday of the Twenty First Week in Ordinary Time
By Benedict Augustine

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.

Despite the apparent shrinking of the earth through quickly evolving communication technologies, most human beings, even the most technologically savvy, have a hard time thinking outside their own immediate circumstances. Even in those moments of inspired internet activism, where people’s hearts (and not much else) go out to child soldiers of Kony, or the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, or Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe illegally poached, people can hardly imagine what life must be like in these other parts of the world. Indeed, this failure to connect with the real problems of other cultures always leads to quiet fizzle of all such concerns soon after they appear.

For the rest of their time, people will live their lives, utterly oblivious to the rest of the world. In the customized world of today, they pick their friends, their jobs, their spouses, their houses, and their worldviews. Instead of right and wrong forming the criteria of such a decision, most simply pick what suits them at the moment, not what the world needsAccordingly, most things in a customizable life are not only determined by a person’s whims, but it also has a timetable. Relationships do not last; jobs change continually; values change with the wind; homes do not exist; and life goals always shift.

Life moves quickly in the customized and connected world. It gives the impression of making great progress and building a great network of human connection. Never mind the fact that it changes course in contrary directions, often leading people in circles or in downward spirals; and never mind the fact that a spider’s cobweb has more strength and substance than the worldwide human variety. Beguiled by the illusion of improvement and sharing, so many people fail to realize that they have remained unchanged and shared nothing.

When confronted with the miracles of Jesus, the people of Capernaum cannot stand to have Him go. In a sense, they want to fit Him into their customized lives. He could be their local hero, start a local cult, and be that source of community and goodwill they always desired. Though healed by Christ, they do not learn from Him. They want to possess Him for themselves at the cost of denying the whole world a savior. Unlike Peter’s mother-in-law who immediately serves Christ, this community wants Christ to serve them in perpetuity.

While such thinking might be understandable, it is not excusable. God’s grace does not enter men’s lives so that they can resume their old habits. God wants to create new sons and daughters that serve, as His Firstborn did. He wants them to have the eyes of Jesus, eyes that see beyond time and place and look upon strangers as neighbors. Only this could allow His Church to grow beyond the troubled land of Palestine and span the reaches of the globe.

The people of Capernaum simply demonstrated a common failing that appears in all times, particularly today. They lacked the eyes that could see beyond themselves. While not as well-equipped as the typical modern teenager with a smartphone, they also wanted the customizable life, at least for their community. Little does anyone seem to expect that Jesus wants to customize all men and women’s lives to His Father insteadIndeed, for a true conversion, the disciple must conform his entire life to Jesus’, which means subordinating all concerns to Him.

Jesus must move on with His mission, not only for practical reasons but for spiritual ones as well. He must leave this people so that they may fill the hole He has created. Unfortunately, aside from the apostles who eventually leave that area to follow Him, the town itself does precisely nothing. Because of this, He condemns the town soon afterward: “Will you [Capernaum] be exalted? You will go down to the netherworld” (Mt 11:23).

If they could not have Him for themselves, on their own terms, they would not have Him at all. Christians could have known Capernaum like they now know Antioch, a famous center for the earliest Christian disciples; but they now know it as a desolate backwater filled with a bunch of idiotic yokels who merited one of Christ’s rare curses in the gospels.

What must Christ think of people today, living in a time replete with blessings, doing the same thing?