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, July 31, 2013

Mt 13:44-46 I Have Bought The Field

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week In Ordinary Time

(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Treasure buried in a field.  The world is like a field.  Faith in God is like a treasure found in that field.  Purchasing a field with treasure is like living in the world with faith. 

With faith, you get so much more out of this world. 

Faith brightens, strengthens and deepens everything, especially human life.  Relationships become much more meaningful; life and death take on a new dimension; and love becomes so much more than just affection, friendship and romance.  Love becomes unconditional.    

But those with faith must learn to cut through the nonsense that screams at it.
After being in Brazil for one week, and having visited the poorest and most violent slums there; after having over three million young people attend Mass in Copacabana, the Holy Father finally, FINALLY, made it on the front page of yesterday’s Dallas Morning News (DaMN). 
Really???  Yes.  For what?  For his remarks regarding homosexuality. 
Ooooh.  Exactly...
Those who have money have more control than those who do not.  Hence, those who have more money typically direct most of our conversations. 

I read yesterday’s DaMN article and I found it amusing how it began:  “For generations, homosexuality has largely been a taboo topic for the Vatican…”
Really???   For the Vatican???  Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t homosexuality been a taboo topic for generations in society, schools, families, neighborhoods and even in the military?  Hasn’t it been a topic kept in the closet for generations?
Well, not only is their criticism pointed in the wrong direction, it is also highly incorrect.  Speaking out on homosexuality and marriage is nothing new, especially among Judeo-Christians. In fact, the inspired writers of the Old Testament made that clear when they stated that “God created them male and female, and the two shall become one.” 
But what is refreshing about the Holy Father’s words is that the Catholic Church is capable of loving those who disagree with them.  That is deep.  That is profound.  That is the power of faith in Jesus Christ.
I am reminded of the atheist group known as “Femen.”  If you recall, their female members go around in public bare chested and screaming at others.  Now, they are not considered great thinkers and are often mocked, even by the left, for being extremely superficial in their deliberations, for there is no correlation between women’s rights and going around bare chested, or religion and the subjugation of women (unless, of course, you are a western atheist and a xenophobe).   I don’t know about you, but they sure remind me of a similar movement of the 1960’s, whose members were known as naturists or nudists, and correlated public nudity with a “return to nature.”
How ridiculous.
People often ask me why I read the New York Times or the Dallas Morning News, especially when I know these newspapers are often aggressively anti-Catholic.  Well, if you don't know. These news outlets actually help me to sharpen my mind and increase my faith.  For if these are the best arguments those opposed to faith and the Church can field, then clearly the other field is richer, wider, greener and more beautiful than theirs.
I am very confident that I have bought the field with the treasure buried in it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mt 13:36-43 Who Am I To Judge?

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.  His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

He who sows good seed is the Son of Man.  Do good, avoid evil.  Be a man of your word and a man of the Word.  Be a man created in the image and likeness of God.  Treat everyone with compassion and mercy.  Do not judge.  Do not condemn. 

Throw good seed.  Be like Jesus. 

Just yesterday, the Holy Father threw some good seed when he asked a crowd of reporters, “Who am I to judge?”  His comment was made in reference to certain monsignor working in the Vatican accused of having had a homosexual relationship.  The Pope made it very clear to all the reporters present that the accusations made against the prelate had been investigated and nothing was found to back up the allegations. 

“Who am I to judge?”  This doesn’t mean that we cannot know “right” from “wrong.”  Of course we can, and we determine it all the time.  But what the Holy Father is insisting on is that we not write-off anyone, for the final judgment (of men) is made by God, not by men.  Only “the Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.” 

We have to be careful throughout our lives to not right-off anyone; to dismiss them or leave them as if they were dead and buried.  Only God can penetrate the hearts of men.  Only God can separate the wheat from the weeds.  No one else. 

For a brief moment, Pope Francis took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.  And when someone sins and confesses, he said that God not only forgives but forgets.  “We don’t have the right to not forget.” 

Let’s not fool ourselves.  This is the only honest and rational way sinners, who have been knocked down, can get back up again.

“The Lord is kind and merciful (Ps. 103:8a).”

As I was scrolling down the article, my eye caught sight of a comment that read something to the affect:  “The Pope is homophobic.”  What this “Catholicphobic” individual is actually saying about our dearly beloved Pope is that to agree with someone is the same as to love someone.

Imagine for a moment if I said to someone: “I’m sorry, but if you don’t agree with me on this issue, then I cannot love you.”

This attitude is a symptom of a spoiled upbringing.  I won’t love you unless you give me what I want.  And it perfectly describes our “modern” society. 

Somehow, in one way or another, we gave birth to an entire generation of Americans who feel entitled and privileged.   They think they are “more special” than others.  They even think they are “better” than others.  But they are not, not in the very least, for they are ruthless, belittling, and blatantly intolerant towards others.

Someone recently wrote to me accusing me of being one-sided.  They said that Google knows how to advertise to me since they can see what I read.  They think I only read FOXNEWS.

Think again.  I actually have subscriptions to the New York Times, The Huffington Post and other likeminded newspapers.  I actually post (on my other blog) articles not only from these news sources, but also from CBS, ABC and MSN. 

Maybe some people fit into certain categories, and that makes it slightly easier for us to judge them.  But I do not consider myself one-sided.  I actually read (and listen) to both sides of an issue before making any decisions.  Not only that, but to be perfectly honest, I must say that “one-side” actually feeds (and helps to grow) the other side.

There are two ways to grow in faith:  with wheat (by experiencing the fruits of charity) and with weeds (by experiencing the fruits of sin).

I don’t know if weeds actually help wheat to grow, but they sure have helped me to grow in my faith.   

Click here for the articles and videos that made this meditation possible.

Monday, July 29, 2013

John 11:19-29 Restless Heart

Feast of Saint Martha
(Click here for readings)

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died…”

Over three million young people attended Pope Francis’ closing Mass for World Youth Day on the beaches of Copacabana.   Why so many?  Why so many more than for the Rolling Stones?1  Why?  Because they can’t get no satisfaction.  Not even from the Rolling Stones!

Lazarus was a man, a man made out of flesh and bones.  But that wasn’t good enough for Martha.  Lazarus lived a normal life.  He was conceived, born, and lived a certain number of years.  He did what every good Jewish man did:  he worked during the days and slept at night.  He provided for his family and gave some of his extra to his neighbors.  By any standard he lived a good life.  And yet, it wasn’t good enough for Martha.  In her heart of hearts she knew he was destined for more. 

In my heart of hearts, I know I know that I am destined for more.  I just can’t get no satisfaction. 

She went to meet him.  This time Martha did what Mary should have done.  She left her cocoon and went out to meet the Lord.  Martha is a “restless-heart” type of person.  She needs to know.  She’s not afraid to ask.  She’s ready to confront the one who knows; the only one who can put it all together:  Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Here goes nothing…

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Wow!  Strong words.  Talk about manipulating someone.  Who does she think she is?  Why does she say these words?  I believe it is for only one reason:  so that she can take the last - but in no way the least important - piece of the riddle of life and solve it.  What is life all about?  Why is life worth living?

Mary, on the other hand, may have been at peace with it all.  This is the way things are.  We must come to accept it.  We live.  We grow.  We procreate.  We die.  Where is the riddle?  This is what life is all about.  All the pieces in the puzzle have a purpose, but the puzzle doesn’t.

Martha knew a lot of dead people.  She knew they don’t rise from the dead.  She didn’t fear the dead.  She didn’t fear her brother Lazarus.  She feared the Lord.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Or better yet, “The fear of the unknown is the beginning of belief.” 

A risk worth taking.  What is there to lose?  What is there to gain?  As the saying goes:  If fear knocks on the door, let faith go and open it.

Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise.”  The conversation could have ended there and nothing more would have been said.  In fact, Martha accepted the Biblical understanding of the resurrection on the last day:  “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”

But Jesus didn’t end the conversation there.  He went one gigantic step forward for mankind:  “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

Going to the moon and coming back is nothing compared to dying and coming back to life!

The Lord is not interested in bringing dead people back to life on earth.  He is interested in bringing the living to belief.  I believe we are too.  I want to believe more than I want to live.

Martha too was interested not so much in seeing her brother live again (only to die again).  She was interested in knowing why she/he lived in the first place!

Before Martha saw her brother rise, she made a confession of faith:  “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

Puzzle solved.  Problems resolved.  Faith renewed.  Life restored. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Luke 11:1-13 Putting The Pieces Together

Seventeenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…”

Just recently, the Holy Father gently knocked on the closed door of our Catholic youth and they responded.  They opened the door to him.  Three million of them opened their door to him.

This morning, the Holy Father celebrated Mass on a small strip of beach in Brazil.  Millions of Catholics and non-Catholics converged to celebrate life in Christ Jesus.  What were they celebrating?  The power of faith, of hope and of love.  What are they seeking?  The truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

No wonder the beach was filled with an ocean of humanity!  They were celebrating and seeking the priceless pearl:  the God that is with us and above us.    

The Holy Father then challenged them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

Today, unfortunately, there are too many young souls that are missing three very important pieces in the puzzle of life: faith, hope and love.  Actually, the more I think about it, they are missing those pieces that make the puzzle of life worth putting together!  They’re missing out on all the fun of it.  What’s the fun of it???  I’ll tell you what it is.

To explain the “why” of the beautiful beaches of Copacabana as simply the result of wind and water wearing down on rocks would be to miss the fun of it.  Why was the beach formed?  For the fun of it!  So that we could walk on it – barefoot - and mix the sand between our toes, and make castles out of it.

To explain the “why” of liquid water as the result of two elements coming together would be to miss out on all the fun of it.  Why was water made?  To splash my friends with it; to swim in it; to surf on it; to get wet from it; to enjoy it.

To explain the roundness of the moon as simply the result of gravity is to miss out on all the fun of it; that is, the suspense created by it; the werewolves and vampires bound to it.  But most importantly, for the joy that comes from staring at it while lying down underneath a blanket next to the woman of your dreams.

The problem with those who have lost faith, hope and love in God is not that they cannot imagine things, it’s that they cannot envision a world created just for them, and not in spite of them.

I’m so grateful to God for giving us a round moon and Mars a really ugly moon (Phobos).  Maybe Mars deserved it for being the god of War.  Divine comedy!

I feel so sorry for those who don’t see it, who don't get it, and have a hard time seeing Him in all of it!

Let’s do what the Holy Father asked us to do.  Let’s help others put the pieces of their life together.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro Blog Mt 13:24-30 Who Cares What They Do

Saturday of the Sixteenth Week In Ordinary Time

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.  “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.  When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.  The slaves of the householder came to him and said, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?”

When we read this Gospel passage we often think of the “weeds” that surround our life and the names that are associated with them:  our mother-in-law, our sister-in-law, our neighbor, etc. 

We don’t ever do is consider ourselves as a “weed” in someone’s life!  Maybe we should.

While everyone was asleep.    Rest is a very good thing, but not while on duty.  That’s when the enemy does his thing.  We must be vigilant at all times.  Careful in not allowing the enemy to take root around us. 

As Americans, we have the notion of being very “welcoming.”  We are.  We welcome everything:  good, bad and ugly.  Of course this is not what we imagine at first, we imagine only the best.  But far too often this is not what we get. 

“Who cares what they do as long as they don’t bother me.”   This is exactly what people say when they are intellectually and historically asleep.  They don’t bother connecting the dots.  They never bother to finish putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and looking at the monster they allowed to surface.  For me, this is the only reasonable explanation as to why some people are caught off guard by the things that slowly crept up around them.  They didn’t bother to care as long as it didn’t bother them. 

Isn’t this what cancer does?  Isn’t this what dictators do?  Isn’t this what we do so well and so often?  Hey, be tolerant of us…so that one day we can grow and become intolerant of you!

But as dangerous as these weeds are, they do not compare in the least to the weeds that grow within us.

Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?  He did.  He absolutely did.  And yet, somehow, somewhere, I became something else.

How did I ever become this way?  When did I start holding so many grudges?  When did I start harboring so much hatred?  When did I become so jealous, resentful and bitter towards others?

Do you want us to pull the weeds up?  Sin is here to stay.  There’s no way around it.  But it doesn’t mean we should ever get used to it!  Don’t get used to greed, poverty, violence and gated communities.  Don’t get used to idolatry and blasphemy.  No!  These weeds may be here to stay, but they are not what we are.  They are all distortions of the One we seek.

Justin Bieber recently spit into a crowd of adoring fans.  The new kid off the block is fast becoming a chip off the old block; that is, same-old, same-old story of an unguided childhood.   

Who cares what they do as long as they don’t bother me.  Oh, the inconsistencies and incoherencies of modern thought!  Why this behavior is so bothersome to so many while other things are not is a mystery to me!

Let’s get our ducks in a row.  What is disgusting is simply what is unholy.  It’s that simple.

Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.  Make the same promise the Jews made to Moses, but unlike them let’s keep it:  “We will do everything that the Lord has told us” (Ex 24:3-8).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mt 20:20-28 The God That Will Not Die!

Mt 20:20-28  The God That Will Not Die!
(Click here for readings)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus… and said to him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”  …Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

Pope Francis is in Brazil with an estimated three million youth from all over the world.  The New York Times mentioned nothing.  The Dallas Morning News reported it on the very last page of their newspaper (page A14).

Whatever happened to reporters reporting the news? 

Yesterday, I watched ABC news with Diane Sawyer.  She interviewed a woman who had survived a horrific accident.  Morgan Lake’s car plunged 40 feet off Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge into the water below after being struck from behind by a truck.  Morgan miraculously survived the incident and attributed her dramatic escape from the jaws of death to God.  Yet, you would never know it from all those stations and networks that deleted Morgan’s words of gratitude to God.

Why are atheists so scared of God, of religion, and of Jesus?  Why do they falsify information by withholding information, even information that is key to the story? 

Why don’t they say to their viewers:  “Folks, we want to warn you, we edited all references made to God, Jesus or miracles from the story we’re about to share with you.”  Sounds weird, doesn’t it?  But at least that would be more honest than deliberately editing out all references made to God and not sharing it with others. 

I first heard of Morgan’s escape on ABC’s World News.  I heard no mention of God.  But when I read the same story on FOXNEWS, then I became furious!  How dare they do this to me!  I have a right to know the truth, the whole truth!  How dare they insult me and so many of their viewers?  That’s it!  No more! 

The God who will not die.  No matter how hard our society tries, God will not die!  And believe me, throughout the centuries, heads of empires and heads of states have tried to knock off God in so many ways.

They have gone after God’s prophets and killed them, but God would not die.  They have destroyed his synagogues, exiled his people, thrown them to beasts, crucified them and used them for sport.  And still, God would not die.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, explains:  “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  …For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus…” (2Cor 4:7-9).

In his latest spiritual book, “The Quest for God,” Paul Johnson, the great English historian, writes: 

“Sometimes, even more remarkable than historical events are historical non-events.  What matters in history is not always what does happens, but what obstinately fails to happen.  The twentieth century is a case in point.  Immense events took place during it.  …But from one perspective – the perspective of human spirituality – the most extraordinary thing about the twentieth century was the failure of God to die.  The collapse of mass religious belief, especially among the educated and prosperous, had been widely and confidently predicted.  It did not take place.  Somehow, God survived, flourished even.  At the end of the twentieth century, the idea of a personal, living God is as lively and real as ever, in the minds and hearts of billions of men and women throughout our planet.”

Think about it, we live in a very God unfriendly society!   Look around you:  commercials ignore God; the news ignores God; schools ignore God; the State ignores God; families ignore God; and if that weren’t bad enough, the entertainment industry gets away with ridiculing God all the time.

How’s that for some pretty bad odds; and yet, GOD WILL NOT DIE!

It must be so frustrating for those who have dedicated their entire life to this cause.

Don’t they know?  The Truth shall set them free.

Click here to read the articles that made this meditation possible.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mt 13:1-9 Good Soil

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week In Ordinary Time

(Click here for readings)

Jesus spoke to the crowd at length in parables, saying:  “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil…”
In his arrival speech, Pope Francis spoke to the youth at World Youth Day in Brazil, saying: 
“I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people, it is necessary to pass through its great hear; so let me knock gently at this door.  I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you.  I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me:  Jesus Christ!  I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all:  The peace of Christ be with you!”
In today’s Gospel passage, we learn that Christ’s message comes to us like a seed seeking to find a place to rest and grow.  The seed – the message - is simple.  It’s good.  But what about the ground?  What kind of reception will it receive? 
Rocky ground.  I know a man (divorced) who has tried to raise his four kids the best way possible.  He is a highly educated man, very successful in his career, and earns more money than he needs.  But when it comes to his children, they have all but rioted against him.  He was too old fashioned.  He was too stuck in his ways.  He wasn’t exciting enough for them, at least not as exciting as the dads on TV.  He kept beating to a very different drum:  education, morals, education, morals, education, morals. 
Suffice it to say, the seed this man threw fell on really rocky ground.  Actually, it was choked before it even hit rock bottom.     
But kids grow up and have to move out.  They need to find a job and pay their bills.  Today, this man’s “children” know exactly what he was talking about.  Life is tough because it is very fair.  You get what you put into it.  Nothing more and nothing less.  If you screw up, then YOU screwed up. 
After years of waste, his kids are going back to school to earn a degree.  They are finally putting their “house” in order by cleaning up their act.  But their mistakes took their toll and sucked the best years out of their lives.  They are starting to build what they should have built ten years ago.  They have wasted their life on rocky ground.
At the start, I said this man tried his best.  I didn’t say he did the best.  He wasn’t careful in monitoring his children’s relationships.  He wasn’t careful in controlling his children’s settings.  He wasn’t vigilant and proactive in what they heard, read and saw.  His divorce cost him his marriage and his children.  It cost him another set of eyes, ears and hands.
News report after news report continue to highlight the loss of faith among teens.  What they fail to do is correlate this “loss of faith” with a loss of faith in humanity; that is, an increase in absent fathers and mothers; an increase in divorce and separation; the loss of personal morals and dignity; the increase in promiscuity and drug use; the loss of a loving, stable and solid environment.
Kids today are scared.  And they take their fear and act on it:  they rebel.
The Pope is in Brazil to knock gently at the door.  The teens that are there welcome him.  The teens that are not there are scared of him.  Why?  Because all they have ever known is the darkness of sin and the disillusion of falsehoods.  All they have ever had is a rough and rocky life.
If they only knew the calm and soothing voice of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mt 12:46-50 Nothing Against Mary

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week In Ordinary Time

(Click here for readings)

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”  But he said in reply… “Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Unlike royalty, you are not born into Christianity.  You must be born from above. 
Unlike the royals, you are not a Christian by blood.  You become a Christian by grace and faith. 
Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?    Unlike Judaism and British royalty, blood relations are of little to no significance in Christianity.  We are united by faith.  This is extremely liberating.  We are not obliged to believe; we are not thrown to the throne; we are not a people of a particular race or tribe.  We are believers in Jesus Christ. 
Yesterday I heard on the news that one of the constitutional duties of the Royal family is to have children.  What???  I couldn’t believe my ears!  It’s a constitutional duty for them to have children???  How ridiculous!  And yet, everyone at Good Morning America nodded in agreement that it was necessary for the royals to continue their lineage and have a legitimate successor.
No one questioned it.  How could they?  It was their “constitutional duty."
But when the Catholic Church tells her members that it is their God-given duty to have children, people go crazy.  They throw a fit!  Their world is turned upside down!  How dare they tell us that we must have children!  Cries of intolerance erupt.  Women are horrified of the thought.  Men are aghast at the idea of having to grow up and be responsible.  Who are they to tell us that we should have children! What right do they have to tell us what is and isn’t God-given or even God’s will!
Aren’t you amused at the double standards?  I once was, but now I’m not.  I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.  Amazing Grace!
Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother.  Not too long ago, a man came to me and told me that a woman came knocking on his parent’s door.  It turns out that the woman was the biological daughter of his father.  After years of searching, she found him.  She wanted to know him.  She wanted to establish contact with him.  The man told me that his father was unaware of her existence.  He didn’t know her.  He never knew of her.  Yet, this woman, was intent on “reestablishing” contact with his father.  When the son asked this grown woman of nearly forty years why she wanted to meet him, she replied, “He’s my dad.” 
In reply, the son said: “But what about the man who took care of you your entire life?  What about him?  Isn’t he your dad?”  Everything seemed awfully fishy to him, and for good reason.  After some research and time, he discovered that this woman was no longer on speaking terms with her mother or step-father.
When I heard this story, I didn’t feel bad for the woman or for her biological father, but for the father; that is, the father who adopted her, brought her up as if she were his own flesh and blood, took care of her and paid all her bills for years and years.  And this is what he got?
Like us, the Lord is not so much interested in the laws of nature.  Rather, He is very much interested in the laws of love.  He’s not so much interested in revealing to us how the world was made.  He’s much more interested in revealing to us why it was made.  There’s nothing strange in this.  Painters are like this.  Writers are like this.  Even fathers and mothers are like this.  They aren’t so much interested in the mechanics of their children.  Instead, they are interested in the decisions they make.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Luke 10:38-42 Are You Passionate for the Truth?

Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.  Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?”
This morning I had some additional thoughts to today’s Gospel passage.  I thought I would I write them down and share them with you.
Jealous for attention.  Was Martha just a little jealous for some attention?  Did she stab her sister in the back so that she could get some recognition?  I don’t know about you, but I do get a little annoyed when I’m doing a lot of work and no one seems to notice!
I think Martha may have been seeking some sort of recognition.  But the Lord did not offer it to her.  There may have been a reason for it.
Comfortable in what we know.  When I read this Gospel passage, I was reminded of some very unfortunate people I had met; people who were stuck in their old ways.  You may be surprised who they are.  They are the so-called “open-minded.”  But they are not.  If anything, they are very “one-sided.”  They reject the teachings of the Church simply because they are the teachings of the Church.  They reject all religions because they have rejected the reality of God.  They claim to have studied their faith “inside out” before rejecting their faith.  But the problem with this assertion is that they never really learned their faith, or if they did, they learned it as children, and with the mind of a child, and never bothered to look back at it as adults, and with the mind of an adult.     
Martha was serving while Mary was listening.  Maybe Martha thought to herself, “I know all of this stuff.  I learned it in CJD (Confraternity of Jewish Doctrine).  My mom used to read the bible to me.  I used to serve as an alter girl.  I learned it while I attended private Jewish school!” 
I remember a young man who came to me, at the insistence of his father, to talk to me about Catholicism.  He had “grown up” Catholic, but while he was in College he left the Catholic faith.  I asked him what led him to do such a thing.  “Well, I disagree with the teachings of the Church.”  
“Which ones?” I replied…“Love your enemies?  Do good to those who harm you?  Forgive seven times seventy times?” 
“Oh no, not those,” he said.  And then he proceeded to list his one complaint.
“Really,” I replied, “and what articles or books did you read from Catholics to help explain the Church’s position on that issue?” 
“Well, uh…none.”
“Oh, I see.   How quickly your passion for the truth ended.”
He learned his faith as a child, but he never learned it as an adult.  Now that’s one-sided; or better yet, lopsided.  He reminds me of Martha.
Martha felt comfortable in what she had learned as a child, but she never bothered to cross-examine it with the teachings of Christ.  She was content in what she knew.  A lot of people are like Martha.  But there is a big difference in knowing something (or someone) and knowing something (or someone) well.  Most closed minded people don’t seem to get that.
This is what I love about some people who disagree with me.  They think I don’t know what they believe in.  They think their arguments are air proof.  Of course they are, if you don’t let any fresh air in! 
Mary was open to learning more about the same things she learned as a child.  This isn’t an easy thing to do.  It requires a passion for the truth and a willingness to experience some uneasiness and discomfort in search of it.  When we study our faith as religiously as studying those who attack it, we may find ourselves going back to where we never intended to return:  to God. 
Not only was this young man ignorant of his faith, but he never knew that his “new” ideas were actually recycled materials from the past.   
As I priest, I have run into a fair number of these people.  They tend to get up and to leave when people begin to disagree with them; they tend to walk out during sermons when they don’t want to hear something; they tend to defend themselves by labeling others as extremists or fundamentalists.  But in reality, it is simply a cover for having no arguments at all.  None whatsoever.
Let’s learn from Mary.  Let’s listen to the Lord through prayer and Scripture; from those who have gone before us; and even from those who attack us. 
What does it take?  A sincere passion for the truth. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Luke 10:38-42 Listening, and then Doing

Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.  Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.” 

Lord, do you not care?  What a question!  Of course the Lord cares!!!  And if anyone ever had the right to ask such a direct question, it would have been the Lord, not Martha.  Martha, do you really care? 

Now the Lord wasn’t disturbed that Martha was working hard.  I’m sure He was very grateful to her for preparing everything for Him:  the meal, the table (?), and the ambient.  But what must have bothered Jesus more than anything else, was Martha’s insistence that Mary get up and leave Him.  That’s when He got a little impatient with her.  How could anyone demand such a thing? 

Lord, do you not care?  How can we avoid asking such a question to the Lord?  What can we do? 

By sitting next to the Lord, what Mary was effectively doing was praying to God.  She was listening.  This is essentially what prayer is:  listening.  That’s why prayer is essential.  That’s why we all need to pray.  Even the Lord prayed.  If we do not pray, then we will be busy bees but not necessarily effective or efficient bees. 

Martha is a busy bee.  She gets things done.  She’s a doer, but not much of a listener.  Are you the same way?  I am!  I’m not very good at listening by any stretch of the imagination.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.  Are you the same way?  If you are, then chances are you’re not good at praying either. 

I like to stay busy because it occupies my time and my thoughts.  I find it easier to do than to listen to people. 

According to a fascinating infographic entitled “How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds,” over the course of the last ten years the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short 5 minutes.    

I’m not a good listener, but I wish I were.  I need to work on it.  I know I can be better at it.  How?  By praying more.  Yes, by praying!

From what I can gather, Martha must have had a “Type A” personality.  You know, someone who says a lot and apologizes a lot?  That’s Martha.  That’s a lot of us.  She’s always shooting off some smart aleck remark. 

Mary on the other hand, must have had a “Type B” personality.  She reflected before she spoke; before she reacted; before she let loose with her tongue.  How did she become like that?  She prayed.  Prayer helped Mary to see beyond the immediate needs.

In general, kids don’t like to go to Church because they don’t like to listen.  They don’t like to go to Church because they like to get things done.  But instead of getting things done they're undoing a lot of things that were nicely done.  I don’t need to get into it.  You know what I mean.

Mary chose the better part, and it was not about to be taken away from her.  Allow the Lord to sit down with you.  Allow Him to speak to you.  Allow yourself some time to listen.

Mary has chosen the better part.  Christ told Martha that Mary had chosen the better part.  He didn’t tell her it was the best part.  He said it was the “better part.” 

It’s good to serve the Lord, but it’s even better to first listen to Him.  But the best part of all is to be another Christ. 

St. Paul writes of this to the Colossians:  “My dear brothers and sisters, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister…to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.  But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of his mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Lk 10:38-42).

My dear friends, this is the best part!

Pope Francis is not an actor.  He is an authentic man.  It is Christ in Him.  He is living today as he lived yesterday.  He listens, and then decides.  As one church observer wrote:  “Pope Francis is a Jesuit…They listen to people.  They don’t decide immediately.  They want to know everything.  At the end of the day, they make a decision.”

The Pope listens well because he prays well. 

Let’s take some time in the morning to pray before work.  Maybe this way we’ll stop undoing the good works that were done before us.