Today’s Thoughts: In today’s gospel we are made aware once again of the struggles between Jesus and the religious leaders of his time. This time rather than taking them on Jesus withdraws to a friendlier place. Many people follow Jesus and in a quiet way he heals and teaches. We find out that Isaiah words from long ago are now being fulfilled by the presence and ministry of Jesus -
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.
In this passage Isaiah talks about the tenderness of God and Jesus lives out that tenderness. A bruised reed will not be broken but strengthened. A smoldering wick not quenched but ignited into a strong flame. Jesus brings to life the love and tenderness of God by uplifting the meek, strengthening the weak. Jesus provides comfort to those who are mourning and encourages those who are struggling to “be strong, and fear not.”
As Pope Francis might say Jesus reminds us in our Gospel today of the endless mercy of God. Amid all that the world throws at us God is tenderly holding us, protecting us and giving us hope to continue our journey through life. Yes, God’s mercy truly endures forever!
Have a great Saturday evening everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Something greater than the temple is here.” A line from our Gospel today (Matt. 12:1-8) and we might be tempted to think it was meant only for those to whom Jesus is speaking. But it is meant for us here and now. We might not have Jesus standing in our midst, but we have his Spirit with us and it is greater than any temple, any church or any cathedral. The challenge is the same for us as it was for those who gathered to listen to Jesus; we need to recognize the presence and the Spirit of God in our midst.
Jesus gives us a clue on how to make sure that we don’t miss the presence of God. The clue is to be people of mercy. People a tune to and compassionate towards the struggles, challenges, difficulties and failings of others and ourselves. People willing to help and not judge; people willing to be compassionate and not self-righteous. People willing to include not exclude.
Living life from a stance of compassion and mercy is not always easy; it can be difficult and challenging. However, being a compassionate and merciful person does help us to be ready and open to encounter something greater than ourselves the presence and friendship of God.
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel today (Matt 11:28-30) Jesus reminds all of us that we should always come to him, that we should always come to God, when we are troubled and find life burdensome and difficult. Jesus will give us comfort and rest. With Jesus, with God, the struggles, difficulties and burdens of life can be easier. What makes them easier is having faith in our relationship with Jesus.
A few years ago, I ran across a definition of faith that went something like this – Faith is staking your life on the promises of God. Think about that for a moment – staking your life on the promises of God. In the Gospel Jesus promises that if we have faith we will always have comfort and rest even in the midst of troubles and challenges. Having faith is the key. Life is never easy, and each new day brings challenges, struggles, burdens and difficulties but knowing where and with whom to stake our life can make all the difference.
So my friends in the midst of all that the world throws at us, let us walk by faith trusting in our friendship with God and staking our life of God’s promises.
Have a great Thursday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: A friend of mind often says, “It is hard when you are the smartest man in the room!” His point is that people with smarts often have a hard time with those of us who don’t. They believe they know it all or at least they know more than everyone around them and they find it frustrating when things don’t go their way or at least the way they think things should go.
I thought of this today in terms of our Gospel (Matthew 11: 25-27). Jesus says, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the child like.” In other words, sometimes the smartest, the wisest, the most learned among us have no clue!
We are all aware of just how open children are. They want to learn. They want to experience new things and they haven’t yet decided what the right way to do things is. They are open to trying new ways, learning new things and exploring life around them. I think the point that Jesus is getting at in our Gospel today is that if we are open to the word, the experience and the presence of God in our lives just like children are then we will have a better chance of hearing, encountering and recognized God in our life.
Intelligence, smartest, knowledge and wisdom are wonderful gifts however they can get in the way of God’s presence in our life. It is often better to be like a child rather than the smartest person in the room.
So let us live, let us embrace today in a childlike way so that we don’t miss any of what God sends our way.
Have a great Wednesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: We might say our Gospel today is about missed opportunities. In the Gospel (Matt. 11:20-24) the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum have missed their opportunity to encounter the presence of God, they have missed their opportunity to be people of faith.
I think if we all stop and think we all have had moments when we to missed opportunities. Perhaps we missed an opportunity to help another person, we missed an opportunity to be a compassionate friend, we missed an opportunity to help someone with their struggles or we missed a moment when God was truly present in our life. In looking back at our life, we probably recognize many opportunities that we missed.
Now in looking back at our life we have two choices; we can choice to learn from our missed opportunities or not. In the Gospel today the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum chose not to learn from their missed opportunities. These three towns no longer exist; they are just piles of rocks, archeological digs sitting in the hot sun waiting for people to come and walk through them. There is no life in any of these towns today.
Perhaps we might take on the challenge of the Gospel today by learning from our encounters with God rather than not learning from them and finding ourselves like Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum today.
Thus, our challenge today is to ask ourselves if we as individuals, as families, as communities, as Church, as cities, as nations, as a culture and society are willing to learn from our mistakes, our missed opportunities? If we chose not to our fate will be like the fate of the three towns in the Gospel. What choice will we make?
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Over the last week or so we have been reading a section of Matthew’s Gospel that is a directive for discipleship. Jesus tells the disciples to trust in God by taking nothing with them on the journey, to depend of the hospitality of others, and to offer peace and to proclaim the Kingdom wherever they go. Jesus also tells them that the journey of discipleship will not be easy, that they will be rejected and at times the peace they offer will not be accepted. And in today’s Gospel Jesus also tells the disciples that the struggles of discipleship may even start within the family and friends that they love.
In a number of ways, the picture Jesus paints of discipleship in Matthews Gospel today (Matt. 10:34-11:1) is one that seems impossible to embrace let alone live. The thought of being at odds with mother, father, sister and brother would make me wonder why I would want to journey down that road.
I think Jesus’ purpose for this instruction is simply to make it clear that if we get on broad it is not an easy ride. The journey of a disciple is not the journey of a fairy tale; it is not the journey of “happily ever after.” The journey of a disciple is a difficult road with many challenges, many struggles, many difficulties and often a great deal of change. It is a journey of choices and decisions that are not always easy. Discipleship is the journey of the Cross and Jesus wants those who take it up to understand the consequences along with the joys and hopes.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In today’s Gospel, we find Mark’s account of Jesus sending his disciples out on their first mission adventure. The word “mission” comes from the Latin word for “send” and so Jesus sends his disciples out into the world with instructions about how they are to go about mission, how they are to proclaim God’s Kingdom.
Their basic instruction is to trust in God’s care, fidelity and mercy as they go about their mission. They are to place their full trust in God by taking nothing with them. They are to trust in Jesus’ words. They are to take no food, nor money. If they are willing to trust then they will cure many, drive out demons and preached God’s call to believe. This is their mission.
Jesus tells them it is not going to be easy. They can expect rejection or at least not to be accepted just because he sent them to do something good for others. The disciples are told to expect rejection but when it comes, don’t give up! Just keep on doing and saying what they have seen and heard from Jesus. In other words, they are to keep moving, to keep proclaiming the Good News.
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus returned to his hometown and was rejected and so he had to move on. This week the disciples, the early church and us, are given the same message. As we go about God’s work in the world today, with all of it divisions, hurt, anger, and hate we should not expect to be welcomed with open-arms and acceptance.
In the first reading today, Amos tried announcing God’s word and he gets rejected. Jesus always seems to get people angry by his teaching and curing. Modern-day prophets have spoken the Good News and offered graceful assistance and have often gotten early entrances into eternal life for their efforts.
We as Church and as individuals on mission are called to leave the mass, to leave our moments of prayer, to leave our comfort zones and live the Good News. We are to trust in God to do the rest. We are to reach out, challenge, and comfort the needs of others and to know that at times our offerings will be rejected, and our extended hands slapped away. The early disciples had to trust Jesus’ word, they had to trust in God’s faithfulness. We later disciples must do the same!
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? Here I am, send me!” In today first reading we have the call of Isaiah the prophet and the all too familiar words, “Here I am!” Isaiah’s vision enlivened his spirit and strengthened his faith to the point of accepting God’s call to serve. He sensed his own sinfulness but also realized God’s presence in his life.
Isaiah embraced the spirit of Jesus’ words in the Gospel this morning that he was important to God. God knew everything about him, all the hairs on his head. Isaiah knew that God valued him far more than a couple of sparrows. With this understanding, with this knowledge of God Isaiah was able to move forward, to volunteer for the journey of a life time.
Perhaps the challenge of our scriptures today is to look at our own life, to acknowledge our own sinfulness but to trust in the presence, the care and the love of God and move forward, to volunteer for the journey of a life time with God.
Yes, there is an evil one lurking out there ready to calm our body and soul but we must trust in God’s care, concern and love to guide us through the challenges and the struggles that come our way. We need to trust that we, like Isaiah, are important to God.
As we journey through this day let is ask God for the strength to believe more deeply in God’s love for us so that we can live more peacefully in God’s presence around us!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20). There is great comfort in these words from the Gospel today especially for someone like me, a preacher. However, they are words that are also demanding. They demand dependence not independence. They demand dependence on God, a willingness to let go and let God.
Now before I go any further with my reflection I would just like to say something about this phrase “let go and let God.” I know I use it often and at times people have commented that they don’t quite understand it. When I use the phrase “let go and let God” what I am referring to is the human condition known as being in control. We all like to be in control, to call the shots. We all like to have a sense that we have got things covered, that we know best.
However, if we pay close attention to Jesus in the Gospel we are reminded time and time again that it is about God not about us. Jesus often asks the disciples to trust, to not depend on themselves but the presence of God in their lives. This was not easy, and the disciples often fail. It was when they were able to let go of their way and trust in God that they found themselves on the right path.
Letting go and letting God simply means that life is not about “me” it is about God. It is about letting go of the enticements of the world and letting God be present to us as we journey through life.
This theme of trust, of letting go has been an ongoing theme in our Gospels this week. We have been told of the great power that the disciples have been given in order to proclaim the Kingdom of God in the Gospel. And we have been directed in many different ways through the responsorial psalm that our focus in life should always be God.
Thomas Merton wrote, “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” Jesus remind us today of exactly the same thing. It is through the courage of our friendship with God that we will always be able to bring the Kingdom of God to each moment of life.
So, as we make our way through this day let us have the courage to let go and let God because we trust in God’s unrelenting love for us, a love that impels us to proclaim the Kingdom of God because the Spirit of God speaks through us!
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I had two thoughts after spending some time this morning with our readings for today. The first was that of God’s unconditional, unrelenting love. In the first reading from Hosea, God knows that the Israelites are not faithful and that they have chosen to buy into the culture around them. However, God is not going to give up on them. God is going to remain faith.
My second thought is that Jesus is also teaching his disciples about God’s unconditional and unrelenting love but in a different way. Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God giving them great powers but also asking them to be dependent. They are not to take what a usual traveler should take. They are to be dependent on the people and place that they go. They are to let God take care of the problems that they may face. Jesus asks his disciple to depend on God in their ministry.
Our two readings remind us that God is in this journey of life for the long haul. God will be with us through the journey and if we are faithful God will take care of the struggles, not always in our time but in God’s time. All we have to do is trust in the presence and love of God. If we do this our presence life will give way to the fullness of a life that will never end!
The Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...