Today’s Thoughts: Here we are once again beating up poor Martha. Is really what today Gospel is about? (Luke 10: 38-42) Is Martha really doing the wrong thing? I think not! In essence the Gospel today reminds us that we all have Martha and Mary within us. The challenge is to utilize each gift when necessary for our journey of faith!
I have often felt that Martha has gotten a bad rap because of the way we have looked at this Gospel over the centuries. We seem to think that a person who is hardworking, hospitable and concerned about her guest is somehow less faithful, less holy than a person of formal prayer and that is just not true.
Martha is a good and faithful person, her mistake in the Gospel today is that she focuses on someone else; she is concerned about what someone else is doing rather than focusing on what she is doing. If Martha had just done her work with joy, enthusiasm and unselfishness this story in Luke’s Gospel would have never taken place.
Let us for a moment reverse the roles. Suppose Mary had come to Jesus to complain about Martha. “You know Jesus she is always working, always running around being hospitable. She should stop when you come into the house and sit and listen to you!” What would Jesus have said? My guess is that he says, “Mary, Mary, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Martha has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
You see each woman in the story chooses her journey. Choose what she does best and that becomes her better part. Martha is a worker, she does it well. Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, she listens, and she does it well. There will always be tension between action and contemplation, between ministry and prayer, between work and quiet time. But the challenge is to pick what is best for us at that moment. What is our better part at each moment or stage of our life? What will help us to recognize God?
Martha and Mary remind us that there are many gifts and that each gift is important. We just need to recognize what is important for us and not be worried about what is important for others!
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Who is our Neighbor? “The Samaritan lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.” (Luke 10: 34) The scholar in our Gospel story today thought he was being clever. He asked questions to enhance his self-regard. Jesus told the Good Samaritan story so that the scholar could recognize the right answer himself. No country or religion or border defines our neighbor. When we look up from our daily struggle or busyness and take the time to stop, look and listen, the lives of others come into focus and compassion stirs. When we hurry to the other side of the road, indifference wins.
The Jesuit teacher and author John Kavanaugh, S.J., wrote in his book, Following Christ in a Consumer Society, that we all inhabit a gospel that reveals who we are. In our society of capitalism, the reigning gospel measures worth by what we produce, consume, and possess. People without money, jobs, health, home, education, or status do not count for much. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians today, warns us that a false gospel is a curse. To measure life solely this way can smother us in emptiness.
The Good Samaritan was an outsider. He was familiar with insults: people moving away to avoid contact. No surprise that a person at home on the margins would notice a stranger sprawled in a ditch. Privilege, wealth, power, importance, anger, and fear had not compromised his vision. He was willing to stop, to look, and to listen. He was willing to act.
Transformation often begins when we allow others into our life, when we are willing to allow the world around us to touch our life in real was. No wonder that the poor often open their doors to those in trouble, they are not afraid to let the world in. Up close, suffering and injustice become real. As our moral vision grows, the situation of those at a distance become visible. When children fleeing violence show up at our border, we must find ways to help. God says: you will find me in the poor. That road will lead us home.
Perhaps a question we might ask ourselves today is, “If Jesus told this parable today, instead of the Samaritan, whom do you think he might describe as acting mercifully?
Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps the most important line in all of our readings today comes from St. Paul Second Letter to Timothy. As the reading begins Paul tells Timothy, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have…” (2Tim. 1:6) This is the key to living a life of faith.
The Prophet Habakkuk expresses a frustration with God today in our first reading. Things are not going well for Israel and Habakkuk wants to know where God is. Haven’t we all been there? We find ourselves struggling in life. We encounter sadness, plain, difficulty, problems, issues, bad things happening to good people, to us and we wonder were God is. You might say Habakkuk is speaking out loud what we all think.
In the Gospel Jesus reminds the disciples once again that discipleship is difficult, that faith is difficult. This is not an easy journey that we are on. At times it can seem like a thankless journey.
So, we go back to Paul’s words, “stir into flame God’s gift.” This will keep us going. This will get us through the difficult times. This will help us to know that God is always with us even when it seems like he is not!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel this morning Jesus turns to the disciples in one of their private moments and says, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:24)
Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves today is, “What do we see and what do we hear as we walk through life?” As we walk to work and encounter a homeless person on the street do we see someone who is broken and needs our help, or do we see someone who should just “stop drinking and get a job.” When we listen to the homily on Sunday and hear the call for action does it resonate with us; or do we say, “Let someone else in the parish take up that cross, I have way too much to do.”
We are gifted each day with the opportunity to encounter God, perhaps not exactly like the disciples in the Gospel. Jesus is not standing physically right in front of us. However, in the living of life we have the opportunity to encounter, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father each and every moment of our life if we just take the time to listen and to see. If we just take the time to be open to the presence of God in our life!
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In today’s Gospel the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum have stepped on one of Jesus’ nerves. Towns that are so much a part of his life and ministry just don’t seem get it. They don’t recognize the presence of God in their midst. Jesus has done all kinds of great things for them and yet they are slow to respond to his message. They have had the advantage and done nothing with it.
I am always struck when this Gospel passage comes around that the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum exist no more. If you go to the Holy Land and visit the places where these towns once existed all you will find are ruins. For various reasons these town no longer have life, could it be because when they had the chance to be blessed, to celebrate the gift of God in their life, to follow along the everlasting way they missed it?
We often get focused on our own needs, thoughts, feelings, dreams and desires. In these moments at times, we miss God invitation. We think we know better. We think we have it all figured out. We think we are in control, but we are not!
O God, I know I haven’t walked in your shoes. I know you have the words of everlasting life. Help us to see beyond ourselves. Guide us today and always along your everlasting way!
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps these words from Pope Francis are what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel today. “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”
Jesus sees God in Nathanael and he calls Nathanael to follow him. Jesus see God in all of us. All of us are invited to respond to God’s love!
Today we honor the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. May these trusted servants of God protect, guide, and bring comfort and healing to us. The images that we find in the Book of the Prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation today are human images of the place of heaven. Being in the eternal presence of God like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is beyond our understanding but it is the goal of our journey through life may these three servants of God always be present to us in this journey!
Have a holy and blessed Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “No one sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) For me this closing verse of our Gospel today says it all. Looking back is not an option in our journey of faith. Yes, we can recall stories, experiences and moments of our past, but we cannot be about our daily life always looking back.
Think of someone pushing a plow or driving a car or running a race or doing anything that asks for our attention to what is in front of us. If we turn to look back bad things can happen plowing the field, driving the car or running the race. In our Gospel today Jesus asks us to live in the moment and yes sometimes living in the moment can be hard if not next to impossible. Yet living in the moment is what is going to make all the difference in our journey of faith.
I don’t know too many people who would not want to bury their mother or father or say good-bye to their family if they were leaving but I don’t think Jesus is saying that we cannot do these things. Remember what Jesus’ says is often more for effect rather than hard and fast rules. If our family is valuable to us shouldn’t God be also?
Living in the past, focusing on the past does not allow us to move forward. It can often cause us to miss the presence of God when we most need it. If we are going to follow Jesus, we need to focus on what is right in front of us not what is behind us.
Have a blessed and holy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” As I read this sentence from the Gospel (Luke 9:51-56) today I thought of the situation in our country, in our world with so much hate and violence. I wish we could call down fire to consume it and start all over again and I am thinking Jesus might give the request just a little more thought this time! But in the end, we would get what the disciples got a rebuke.
Jesus never confronted violence with violence, for him there was always another way, a better way. It isn’t always the easy way but in the end, it is better than violence, anger, negativity and abuse of power. It is the way that will invite, welcome and make God present to the people around us and to the world. Are there risks to Jesus’ way? Absolutely! But the risks are worth it.
Jesus shows us in the Gospel today that meeting rejection with rejection, or hate with hate, or violence with violence is not the way. When we are treated poorly, when we are disappointed, when we are attacked, violence, anger, hate is not the way forward. Jesus’ suggestion is to take a deep breath, and then take our next step in faith. This is the way all disciple can complete their journey of faith.
But Jesus couldn’t you make just one exception and call down fire to consume all who preach hate and violence! Just a thought but a better one would be from St. Thérèse of Lisieux who would say that our loyalties should always lie in the message of Faith and peace!
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: The dangers of living out an arrogant self-importance life are captured in the readings from Job and today's Gospel from Luke. At first, I struggled to find a connection between these two readings, but after careful reflection it finally dawned on me. Satan’s challenge for God to test Job’s faith and the desire of the disciples to be ranked on personal greatness are two powerful examples of how the abuse of “ego” can easily divert one’s focus from God and his love.
The story of Job has been repeated thousands of times in the past but taking a different approach and interpreting the message from Satan’s perspective provides a new opportunity to shed light on another aspect of human nature. Job’s faith and devotion to God speak for themselves, but Satan’s obvious abuse of ego deserves attention. Satan accompanied the angels of the Lord with specific intent to place a challenge before God. His own ego could not bear witness to Job’s relentless faith to the Lord so he eagerly accepted God’s offer and exerted his devious will to bring Job harm, especially to his family and personal possessions. The result was treacherous but in the end Job ultimately wins God’s favor and thus defeats the misguided ego of Satan.
In the Gospel we find the disciples of Jesus, out of sheer stubbornness exerting their own egos of self-gratification, putting Jesus to test by questioning who is the greatest among them. As the story unfolds, we quickly learn that in the eyes of God personal humility is held to a much greater value than actively seeking public self-recognition and acclaim. In today’s world, humility of this nature seems highly impossible given the perpetual attention by TV and news media to endlessly advertise mundane gimmicks which promise to enhance personal appearances, wealth, and self-gratification. But where should our loyalties lie? In the eyes of humans, or in the message of faith and devotion as experienced by Job, and expressed by Jesus in his reaction to the disciples?
We might say that our readings today challenge us to always live in the present because the future does not yet exist, and the past is gone forever. All we have is the present moment and the many ways this present moment will help us to encounter the presence of God within ourselves and others.
Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we have a very familiar story in our Gospel, the story of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus. This story in Luke’s Gospel is part of a theme in Luke that is referred to in Luke as the “great reversal.” Meaning that a sign of the kingdom is the rise of the lowly and the fall of the mighty. We find this throughout Luke – Mary’s Magnificat, Luke’s version of the beatitudes both focus on God’s kingdom turn the world upside down and our story today fits right into this theme.
As we reflect on the story, we might wonder who is the central figure of the story, the rich man or Lazarus? Well, a case could be made for either or both together, however from my perspective the story focus on neither. The challenge or question of our Gospel today is are we aware of the people and things around us? Do we pause to take note of the people that enter our life each day? Do we bother to see them?
I ran across a story by a college student. She had a pop quiz in one of her classes. She was prepared except for the last question of the quiz. What is the name of the woman who sweeps the floors in this building? The young woman knew who the question was directed at. She had seen her often – tall, dark hair perhaps in her 50’s. However, she could not answer the question. Some of the other students in the class protested the question. Was this question going to count towards our grade? The professor responded, “Absolutely! In your careers you will meet many people. All of them are significant! They all deserve your attention and care, even if all you can do is smile and say hello.”
The problem for the rich man is not that he is rich. It is that he fails to recognize someone right in front of him. Even the dogs in the story are more caring of Lazarus than the rich man. He does nothing to hurt, degrade, make fun of Lazarus. His sin is ignoring Lazarus.
Do we look around in our life? Do we see others who may need a kind word or gesture? Remember in the Kingdom of God the lowly will be first and the mighty will be last!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday 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...