Today’s Thoughts: Happy 4th of July everyone!
In today’s gospel Jesus presents himself to his disciples, and to us, as our bridegroom. Jesus says he desires to relate to them, and to us, as a bridegroom relates to a bride!
This is quite an invitation to intimacy and in thinking about it, one might feel a little uncomfortable. To be honest with you, I am much more comfortable focusing on Jesus as savior, shepherd and friend -- our way, our truth our life. I am comfortable acknowledging Jesus as savior of humanity, and for saving me as part of the human race.
But it is sometimes scary when Jesus reveals what he desires from us individually, that is, when he invites us to be with him in the most intimate human relationship, that of a bridegroom and bride. This invitation can seem overwhelming because intimacy ask so much more of us perhaps more than we want to give.
But Jesus is honest with us and his disciples. He asserts that he does not want us simply to “patch up” our former relationship with God -- patching up old cloth and old wineskins doesn’t work. Jesus invites us to a new relationship, new cloth, new wineskins.
Can he really mean it? What do we do now? Can we accept the invitation?
But what Jesus asks Jesus gives. We can only pray for the grace to remove our resistance and to allow Jesus to draw us into this spousal intimacy.
Lord, teach us how to let you be our bridegroom and speak to us of peace!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday and Fourth of July everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: I have always felt that over the centuries, St. Thomas the Apostle has gotten a bad rap. If we look at the Gospel stories especially those situated around the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus it seems that everyone doubts, and everyone needs to see, taste, touch, hear or smell Jesus before they believe!
Perhaps, St. John includes this little story about Thomas just to remind us that everyone doubts, and everyone need the sacramental experience of Jesus to keep us going on the right path. In celebrating St. Thomas today, we are reminded that there is no cheap grace. Faith is a struggle, doubt is around every corner, with reason to wonder and question often making an appearance. We only prevail; we only remain faithful because of grace, grace that was born out of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. It is not cheap grace, but grace grounded in the marks of struggle and love.
I have a favorite quote by Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ that I visit often; “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, [humankind] will have discovered fire.” Perhaps our story of Thomas today reminds us of what we all want to discover and when we touch, taste, smell, see or hear it we too can say, “My Lord and my God!”
Today let us not be unbelieving but by the grace of God let us believe!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “When God is going to do something wonderful, [God] always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, [God] starts with an impossibility.” (Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)
In some ways I think both our readings today speak to Anne Lamott’s thoughts about God. In our first reading Amos faces the struggle and hardship of all prophets, not being accepted. He faces banishment and probably death. But Amos stands his ground after all this is not about him. He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores and he was fine with this simple life. No this is not about Amos, this is about God and his relationship with Israel. Amos’ parting words for Amaziah are not so merciful! But as Lamott says, if God is going to do something amazing God starts with hardship and the impossible. It was certainly a hardship and maybe even an impossible task for Amos. But, then God stepped in and the tables turned.
We might look at the Gospel (Matt. 9:1-8) in the same way. Jesus seemly, at least for the scribes, starts with an impossibility, forgiving sins which leads to another impossibility the healing of a paralytic. Yet from these two seemly impossible actions the hardship of sinfulness and a physical disability are taken away, in other words something amazing and wonderful takes place.
The key to both of our stories is faith and faithfulness, Amos’ faith, the paralytic and his friends’ faith and God’s faithfulness. Perhaps was we journey through this day we should give pause to look at the ways our faith is tested. May the hardships and the impossibilities of our journey through life be by the grace and mercy of God turned into the very faith and hopefulness that heals, forgives and proclaims God’s presence in the world.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel today, (Matthew 8:28-34), we learn that the saving power of God can at times be overwhelming, so much so that we might ask God to leave. Jesus frees the two Gadarenes who have been plagued by demons, yet when the town hears about this healing they ask Jesus to move on. I guess the saving power of God was a little too much for them!
Perhaps it can be a little too much for us at times also because often the saving power of God asks us to change, to live our life differently. We might say Jesus doesn’t heal and forgive and then expect life to go on as usual. Jesus’ saving power is life changing for those who received and for those who see it.
Archbishop Oscar Romero puts it this way, “Those who want to bear the marks of the Spirit and the fire that he baptizes with must take the risk of renouncing everything and seeking only God’s reign and justice.” In other words, if we wish to receive and encounter the saving power of God then we always need to seek good not just for ourselves but for others. Our focus, our commitment, must be about the love of God and it must be a lifelong focus and commitment!
Our challenge today and always is to accept the grace of God in as much as humanly possible and be up to the difficulties, the struggles, the trials that might arrive. If we put all our efforts into responding properly to Christ’s presence in our lives life, great things will happen, the impossible will become possible!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday everyone and welcome to July!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel, we have the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. The storm is a place where we all have been; those times when things are going along just fine and then something happens, the winds and storm clouds of life overwhelm us.
Sure, there are always a few bumps in the road but that is to be expected in the living of life but we have got things under control. As I said above, then it happens, all hell breaks loose and we are hanging on for dear life. All our planning, all our preparations, all our good intentions seem to go right out the window. We are now hanging on by our finger tips any moment life will come crashing down on us. We followed our plan. We did all the right things. Why is this happening to us? Our life is simply out of control and we are doomed!
“Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Why are we terrified? Have we lost faith? Have we lost faith in God, faith in others, faith in ourselves? Have we forgotten all the hard work we have put into life? Are we unwilling to trust ourselves any more just because a storm has entered our life? Are we really that fragile? Have we forgotten to trust who has brought us to this moment?
Storms in life are fearful moments. They seem to take control away from us, if we really ever had it. They bring to the surface all kinds of doubt from the dark reaches of our hearts. They scare us and sometimes make us think the worst. They take us out of our comfort zone. Yet, we are reminded today that no matter what, we never face the storms of life alone. Paraphrasing the words of Thomas Merton’s famous prayer, “We should not fear because God is always with us and will never leave us to face our storms alone.”
On this lazy summer day whether we find ourselves in the midst of a calm day, looking at a horizon full of storm clouds or right in the middle of an all-out storm, let us have faith in God, faith in those important in our life and faith in ourselves so that no matter what this day brings our faith will see us through.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two very prominent figures in our story of faith, two men who grounded and push forward the early Church but who did it in very different ways. We celebrate two men who remind us why we are Church, two men who reflect what it means to be Church.
I sometimes think that Sts. Peter and Paul reflect the Church though it might be nice to have a triptych of saints today with perhaps the third being a woman, like St. Mary Magdalen. If Mary were included our celebration today our feast would surely be a more complete picture of the Church and the Body of Christ.
However, we celebrate Peter and Paul, two people of different approaches to life, different ways of living, different ministries. They didn’t always agree yet they forged an energy, a spirit that remains with us today.
St. Peter was a passionate man but one who was easily swayed by the moment. St. Paul was a man of conviction, spirit and energy but at least early on it was misguided. Both had to be challenged by God to accept their roles as leaders, preachers and persons of faith.
We celebrate them today by asking them to intercede for us before God so that we might be graced with the strength, the perseverance, the energy, the spirit and the faith to live as a Church, as the Body of Christ. We seek their passion so that we too might recognize God in our midst and be able to proclaim as we journey through our life of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and “To God be glory forever and ever, Amen!”
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Monday and many blessings on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Today’s Thoughts: Have you ever found yourself at a point in your life when you thought you had things figured out? When you were confident that you knew what your next step would be? When you felt that you had jumped through all the hoops and it was time to focus on “me!” – And then all the planning, all the confidence, all the understanding went right out the window, and your faith was put to the test because it seemed God had a different idea. – Well, it has happened to me more than once in my life and I am certain it will happen again.
My ramblings above I believe sit at the heart of Jesus’ teaching to in our Gospel today from Matthew (Mt. 10:37-42). Jesus’ words today can sound harsh, almost unthinkable. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 10:37-39) Really? Listening to these words creates a feeling of sadness and hopelessness in me. Now I do not have any daughters or sons, but I genuinely love my mother, father, sister, and brother and all the other members of my family and extended family. Does that make me unworthy? I am rather attached to my life and I would prefer not to give it up anytime soon. Does that make me unworthy? No! It makes me human.
If we approach Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel today literally, they make no sense especially in terms of other teachings that Jesus gave. We need to remember that Jesus is preparing his apostles, his disciples to go out on mission alone. Jesus will not be physically with them as he has been up until this point in time. They are going to face challenges, rejections, and disappointments more often than they will experience successes and joys. Jesus wants them to be focused and on point. They need to know the origin and source of their mission in order to survive and remain faithful.
To be disciples, followers of Jesus we must be willing to put ourselves in his hands, no questions asked! Our love of mother, father, sister, and brother must flow from our love of God. Our vision of life must take a back seat to God’s vision of our life.
One day, I was sitting with my spiritual director, telling her a little of my journey of life. I told her that one of the insights I have about my life is that every time I think I have things figured out. Every time I think it is time for me to take care of me God asked something different of me. In other words, I must lose my life so that I can find it!
It is not easy but then Jesus never said it would be. We like to be in control that is a fact. Jesus asks us to let go of control, to pick up our cross and follow.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have often said over the last eight or nine years that I struggle with the revised Roman Missal. One of my many struggles with the Missal was the phrase that we hear in today’s Gospel, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof….” For the longest time, I found this phrase a struggle each time I said it just before receiving communion. I kept wanting to say, “into my heart,” rather than “under my roof.”
The centurion, the one who expresses these words in our Gospel, he is a man of power and is in command of others. We have this insight from his own words to Jesus, “And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.” And yet, he recognizes that his own power is nothing compared to that of Jesus. How often do we find ourselves wanting to control a situation or tell God how to do something? It sometimes takes us a while before we step back and realize that we are not in control. Once we remember that we are not in control can often be quite liberating. Placing our trust and faith in God over and over again is a part of any spiritual journey. It is the letting go and letting God.
What is powerful about our Gospel today is the absolute faith with which the centurion approaches Jesus on behalf of his servant. He does not doubt that Jesus’ words alone can heal his servant, even without a physical encounter with Jesus. Each time we receive the Eucharist, we, unworthy as we are, are deemed worthy for a physical encounter with Christ. What an awesome and wonderful thought! And yet often the reality of Christ within us, under our roofs, in our hearts is very challenging to grasp and a reality that we don’t always approach with the faith and trust of the centurion.
Like the centurion, we have the opportunity to be transformed with each encounter with Christ, whether it is through prayer or meditation, through interactions with others in our daily lives, or through receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
As we journey through this day let us pray that we can approach Jesus with the same humility and faith that the centurion does. Let us invite Jesus into our hearts and our homes, under our roofs, and allow Him to transform us as we journey in faith.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: At times when I hear or read certain Gospel stories I think wouldn’t it be great if Jesus could do that today! In today’s story (Matt 8:1-4) Jesus encounters a leper. Leprosy in Jesus’ time made people outcasts. They were disconnected from the community. They had to keep their distance. They were relegated to living in community with only other lepers. They were not to touch or be touched by others. They were seen as unclean.
However, the leper in the Gospel story has the courage to approach Jesus and for that courage he is rewarded with a healing. He is made clean so that he can live once again within the community. Jesus heals by touching, by crossing the boundary of culture, society and religion. Jesus deals with the person as a human being created in the image and likeness of God.
I guess my point is that in our day there are many people who probably feel like the lepers of Jesus’ time. People who are looked upon as unclean, who are looked upon as not part of the community. People who are looked upon by culture, society and especially religious institution as misfits, who are often excluded. Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus were here today and like that day long ago as he came down from the mountain he would stop and talk with them, touch them, perhaps embracement and make them feel like a person again accepted, loved not feared.
Making someone clean has many connotations some positive, some negative. Making someone clean presumes that they are unclean. Was the leper of Jesus’ day really unclean? Are people in our time really unclean? Asking Jesus to make those that culture, society and religious institutions often consider as unclean, clean, might not mean curing them of some disease or condition, it might simply mean clearing the way, stepping across the boundary and changing the attitudes that will allow them to feel accepted, to feel they belong.
“Lord if you wish, you can make us clean.” Stretch out your hand today and will it!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: There was a poster I once saw that said, “If you were to be put on trial for being a Christian, would you be found guilty?” Perhaps that is what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel today (Matt 7:21-29). It is not about what we say; it is about how we live especially when there is a storm.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If we are to be people of faith, we need to be Christ like.
As Jesus images in the Gospel, our faith needs to be built on God, our rock, so that when the storms come and the winds blow, we stand firm. It does not mean that we don’t sway a little; that we are not pushed at times to our limits; or that the electricity doesn’t go off from time to time. What it does mean is that when the storm is over, the wind stopped blowing and the sun comes out we are still standing and a member of the Body of Christ!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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...