Today’s Thoughts: “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” (Thomas Merton)
In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:1-3) we are reminded of the importance of women in Jesus’ ministry. They were there supporting, taking care of, helping Jesus with their resources, their gifts, their talents, their faithfulness and their faith.
I ran across a reflection that was very interesting in terms of today’s Gospel here is that reflection by Kevin Perrotta – “What is it about Mary of Magdala that cause so many misconceptions to sprout up around her? Some mark her as a great sinner; others suggest she had a romantic relationship with Jesus. Hacking our way out of this underbrush of speculation, we do know Mary had some wealth, since she supported Jesus and the male disciples. No husband is mentioned; was she widowed? Perhaps she ran her own fish business – a trade that flourished in Magdala. Rather than a repentant floozy, Mary may well have been a solid family and business woman – like many of the women in church on Sunday. Seeing her [this] way makes her a model for many of us today!” (Living with Christ)
Kevin certainly makes us stop and think about Mary Magdalene. Yes, our Gospel says seven demons came out of her, but who hasn’t fought with seven or more demons in life? In paraphrasing Thomas Merton – When trying to identify Mary Magdalene let’s not ask where she lived, or what she liked to eat or how many demons came out of her but let’s ask how she lived, what she lived for and what got in the way from time to time? If we ask these questions Mary becomes a woman of strength and great faith just like the others who followed Jesus and attended to his needs in daily life.
Let’s hear it for women today and every day! Friday blessings everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “If I wait to be perfect before I love myself I will always be unsatisfied and ungrateful. If I wait until all the flaws, chips, and cracks disappear
I will be the cup that stands on the shelf and is never used” (Joyce Rupp)
May we live our life remembering that God is a merciful God, always willing to forgive. That God’s love and forgiveness is not earned but given freely and once we recognize God’s forgiveness and love in our life then we are able to love and forgive!
As we learn in the Gospel today it is our faith that will save us, so let us trust in God today, be faithful in living our life and know that God will bless us with forgiveness, peace and love.
A little wisdom to begin your day with. Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I think we have all had the experience of not liking a person. I certainly have and if I don’t find a way to see some good in the person at some point I struggle. When there is something about a person that I don’t like it begins to color everything they do. Because of this I find it easy to criticize, make fun of or dismiss them. No matter what they do it is wrong. If I or someone else does the same thing it is just fine, but because this person does it, then it is wrong.
When I catch myself judging someone this way I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I know it is a human behavior, a human feeling and sometimes the person involved has done things that validate these feeling, yet I know that my behavior, my judgmentalness is wrong and because of it I push God away.
Jesus seems to be reminding us of this in today’s the Gospel (Luke 7: 31-35). No matter what he does the religious leaders and some of the people of his time do not believe in him or his message. John the Baptist and Jesus approach life from two distinct directions. John does not eat or drink, he fasts and is austere in his lifestyle, while Jesus does eat and drink, he always seems to be going to someone’s home for a meal. His lifestyle is more socially oriented. Yet for the religious leadership and some of the people both, John and Jesus, are wrong. John is crazy, possessed and Jesus is a glutton, a drunkard, a friend of sinners. No matter what John and Jesus do to help people encounter the presence of God they are wrong.
The religious leadership and some of the people in the crowd are closed to the gift and presence of God that John and Jesus bring. Their eyes are blinded by attitude and judgment. When I find myself like the religious leadership of Jesus’ time my eyes too are blinded by attitude and judgment and I miss the presence of God in that moment, in that person.
We are reminded to be open to all the possibilities of God today even in the people, situations and experience that often seem to make our life hard and difficult. We are reminded that God can come to us in many ways through many people. Let us not be judge, jury and executioner. Let us be children of wisdom and hope open to the gift of God in others and ourselves!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “We ask Mary that, as the first disciple, she teach us to remain watching, that she accompany us in patience, strengthen us in hope; we ask that she lead us towards the meeting with her Risen Son; that she free us from fear, so that we can hear the announcement of the angel... to announce it to others who need it so much.” (Pope Francis)
These words from Pope Francis help us to reflect on Mary’s place in our life especially as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows today. Yes, Mary experienced much in her life. She carried the awesome responsibility of being the Mother of Jesus. She encountered moments of great sorrow throughout her life, however Mary in many ways is our go to person. She was human, a person just like us who had great strength, great patience and great hope amid a life filled with sorrow, disappointment and pain.
Mary, particularly as Our Lady of Sorrows, is an example, a grace and a blessing to us as we journey through our own struggles in life. Perhaps something else that Pope Francis said best reflects the gift of Mary in our life - “To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change. To change! And why must I change? So that I can adapt to the situations in which I must proclaim the Gospel. To stay close to God, we need to know how to set out; we must not be afraid to set out.” (Pope Francis)
Mary certainly was faithful. Mary certainly was willing to change, to adapt to the situations of her life. She stayed close to God and was not afraid to set out and proclaim the Gospel of her Son!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today is a special feast in the Church and for the Passionist Community. It is the Feast of the Triumph or the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
As I read a reflection on today’s readings last night something the author said struct a nerve in me. The author of the reflection was focusing on the second reading for today’s mass from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. In his letter St. Paul talks about Jesus “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” (Phil. 2:6). The author’s point or question was “Do we try to be equal with God, through our actions, our arrogance, our judgmentalness, our way of looking at or treating others?”
This question or reflection recalled something I often struggle with especially when I wander through social media. There are often post saying “Let us put God back in our schools!” our families, our country, or a number of other places. When I see a post like this I often think “How arrogant we are!” To think we have the power to take God out of something. That we have the power to tell God where to go, where to be present. Perhaps we not only think equality with God is something we have but that we are bigger, and better than God!
God is present in every school, in every family, in every person, in every place. God is everywhere, whether we acknowledge his presence or not is another question. We are not equal to God. We tried being that once at the beginning of creation and where did it get us?
This feast is about reminding us that like Jesus, we need to humble ourselves, realizing our human faults, failings, and inadequacies and allow God to direct, guide and enliven our lives. It will involve suffering, struggle, disappointment, and even failure. It will also involve the glory and presence on God in our life!
So, I offer you three simple prayers to guide you through this day and life...
The first comes from our Passionist tradition it is a simple prayer we utter each day - "May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be always in our hearts!"
The second a prayer every Passionist prays before morning, evening and night prayer – “At the name of Jesus every knee must bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The third prayer was written by the great Jesuit theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. - "The Cross of My Lord, Be my Standard, Be my Comfort, Be the Answer to all dark questions, The Light of all nights, The Sign that You have chosen us, The mysterious and sure Sign that we are Yours for eternity. Amen."
These three simple prayers reflect the meaning of the Cross that we as Church and as the Passionist Community celebrate this day.
May the Passion and the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ be not a sign of violence, oppression, war, and failure. May the Passion and Cross of Christ be a sign of God's great and unconditional love for us. May the Passion and Cross of Jesus be a walking stick that we can lean on to rest; be a protector in times of struggle and danger; and always be a reminder of just how much God love's us, no matter how imperfect we are as we journey through life!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Bay of Naples, Italy, is the habitat of a jellyfish called medusa and a small snail of the nudibranch variety.
When the snail is small, the jellyfish will sometimes swallow it and draw it into it digestive tract. But the snail is protected by its shell and cannot be digested. The snail fastens itself to the inside of the jellyfish and slowly begins to eat it, from the inside out. By the time the snail is fully grown, it has consumed the entire jellyfish.
Now I know you are so glad to have stopped by my reflections to get this very important information today about snails and jellyfish! However, It is not the information that is important but the image. The last few weeks out Gospels have focused on forgiveness including today’s Gospel. But, I think an underlying theme today is anger and what it can do to us.
All of us have been hurt in life, some more than others. Our human response to being hurt by another person or group is pretty much the same. We become angry and we want retribution, or vengeance. We want justice. We want someone to pay. We want our pound of flesh. We want an eye for an eye. We want someone to feel our pain.
In our first reading today, from the Book of Sirach, the wise sage reminds us of how anger, wrath and vengeance can be destructive if allow to fester and control us. Perhaps relating this to our open image, anger, wrath, and vengeance can become the snails that attach themselves to our hearts and souls and begin to devour us from the inside out. And at times in our lives we have all had these snails.
I think we can all recall examples in our own lives or that we have seen others who become consumed by anger, resentment and vengeance. It becomes the energy and focus of their life. They can think of nothing else. When I see a person like this I am often sad because I think of all the good things they may have missed because they are so focused on getting that eye for an eye!
The story in our Gospel today teaches us that God’s forgiveness, God’s mercy, compassion and love is a grace that we must let transform us. In seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness life cannot remain the same. We need to let it transform us into a forgiving person. The king, in our story, is profoundly compassionate and merciful and he expects the servant to be the same. However, even though a great burden has been lifted from the servant he remains unchanged. The anger, hurt, wrath, vengeance, the self-centeredness remains. The snail eats away from the inside out until there is nothing left.
St. Paul reminds us that it is not about us it is about Christ. “Life is not about me!” It is about our journey of faith together in Christ. As our response remains us today our God is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion. Our God is willing to grace us with his mercy, compassion and forgiveness only if we are willing to let is transform us, change us. Because if we don’t in the end we will be devoured just like the jellyfish!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel from Luke today, Jesus uses images from nature to talk about how our actions reflect who and what we are. Jesus says that “every tree is known by its own fruit.” He encourages us to look at what is in our mind and heart and then compare it with our actions. Actions are the fruits of our thoughts and desires, motivations and interests, joys, pains, and hurts.
However, Jesus goes further. He also challenges us to compare what is in our mind and in our heart with his Word. Jesus invites us to listen to him and allow his word to transform our hearts and minds. Perhaps said a little differently, in our Gospel today Jesus outlines a strategy for us. First, he asks us to listen to his Word. Next, Jesus challenges us, to be transformed by his Word. Finally, Jesus challenges us to act, to live in friendship with his Word.
If and when we follow this blueprint, we can be sure that our lives will bear plentiful fruit that can be enjoyed by everyone who wanders into our life. Let us live today having built our faith on solid ground and bearing good fruit!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have two sections to my thoughts today. First, I would like to reflect on this day and secondly, I would like to reflect on our Gospel for this day…
Remembering the 19th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001
“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and fuller the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says above there is nothing that can be said or done that replaces the loss of someone dear to us. But hopefully Bonhoeffer’s words can help to give comfort to all who lost loved ones nineteen years ago in Lower Manhattan, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania.
Perhaps, Bonhoeffer’s words can help all of us deal with what we as a city, a country and a world lost thirteen years ago. May his words give us pause to be grateful for the silent joy that all who gave their lives continue to give us. May those who lost their lives continue to be a hidden treasure for all of us, a treasure that we can always count on.
“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
To the people who gave their lives, to the families who gave their loved ones, to those who continue to give their lives because of the aftereffects of this day even these many years later, to all of you I say thank you!
Turning to our Gospel today… “No one can grow if he [or she] does not accept his [or her] smallness.” (Pope Francis) With this thought Pope Francis seems to get at the heart of what Jesus is saying in the Gospel today. If we do not deal with our own faults and failings, if we cannot see our own humanness how are we ever going to be able to grow into the person God has created us to be and help others.
We cannot just look at other people’s faults and failings we need to start with our own. If we do, we will have a better, more compassionate understanding and view of the world. We will truly be able to help not hurt others. The starting point for looking at and dealing with the problems, struggles and sinfulness of the world is always ourselves. When we can proclaim our faults, failings and our need for help, our need for forgiveness we are on our way to being able to help and forgive others.
St. Augustine perhaps put the focus of our Gospel today a little differently when he said, “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” So, let us put down what fills up our hands in this world, anger, resentment, the faults and failings of others and receive the grace that God offers us and live in the joy and love of God today!
Have a solemn, holy, blessed, safe, and healthy Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s scripture readings present some challenging standards by which we are called to live. At first hearing, they are not very reassuring. In fact, we might say they are downright discouraging.
In our first reading, St. Paul, talking about the dietary laws of his time, says to eat whatever you want… as long as it doesn’t cause your neighbor to stumble. In other words, we need to look at the actions of our life and determine what example they give. Life is not black and white, even though we would like it to be. Even choosing what we eat can be a grey area.
The psalmist proclaims, "O Lord, you have probed me and you know me." So, there are no secrets from God. There is nowhere to hide.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says; “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” These challenges along with the rest of what Jesus asks in the Gospel are seemingly impossible commands. Tall orders for the living of a faith life.
Each of our Scripture readings today in their own way are asking us to do everything for the glory of God. If we can keep this in front of us, then our actions and our words will ring true. We are always challenged to reflect on our motives for doing things especially when our feelings are hurt for being ignored.
A question always in front of us is, are we about serving God as we journey through life? Are our words and actions about the glory of God? If we can say yes to these questions, then we know we are on the right path. We will never do it perfectly because at times we step off the path because we are hurt temporarily by the insult or carelessness of the world around us. However, if God is our focus then we can refocus on the true purpose of our life, reminding ourselves that God knows our names and what we are doing always. A life of faith is not about “Me,” it is about serving God with gratitude and love!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In Luke’s Gospel today, we experience several of the Beatitudes and we are encouraged to feel the “blessings” that come with our poverty and reliance on God. If we feel content and complete with all our earthly wealth and success how can we improve our dependence and reliance on God? How does one strengthen and enrich a relationship if there is no need for the other person in our life? If one is so independent, as to not need another person’s help, council, ideas, or support, how does a non-relationship with another enrich us?
Our Gospel is suggesting that, if we “hunger” or “weep,” if we have need for others and need for God, then we will experience a fulfilling life, we will find direction and come to appreciate our need for others and our need for God. When we experience poverty, sorrow, hunger or insults, and find that we can overcome these struggles in life, through our dependence on God, we then will find true joy, appreciation and satisfaction in life.
Otherwise it will be a woeful life!
Have a blessed and holy Wednesday 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...