Today’s Thoughts: “The Kingdom of God is among you.” These are Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel (Luke 17:20-25). What do they mean?
On the one hand Jesus could be talking about himself. He is the Kingdom of God at that moment. The religious leaders are looking around for God and signs of God, yet God is in their midst. The Kingdom of God is among them and they are missing it!
Another way of looking at Jesus’ words is that Jesus does not say that the Kingdom of God is in us or above us or around us; Jesus says the Kingdom is among us. Perhaps Jesus is saying that none of us alone possesses the Kingdom of God. Each of us shares in the Kingdom, thus we need each other for the Kingdom to be fully appreciated.
With this in these two understandings of Jesus’ words today our challenge is to be on the lookout for marks of the Kingdom. We need to be on the lookout for the presence of Jesus in our life. And what will help us not miss the marks of the Kingdom and the presence of Jesus? Well as the first reading tells us (Wisdom 7:22b-8:1) the gift of the spirit of wisdom and remember wisdom produces friends of God!
Have a wise and wonderful Thursday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel (Luke 17:11-19) Jesus responds with mercy to the ten lepers who asked for mercy. Yet it is the Samaritan in the group who returns to offer thanks. How often do we get caught up in the attitude that “Life is about me!” How often do we forget that all we are and all we have comes from God? When those good moments happen; when life falls into place for us; when things work out just as we had planned, how often do we remember to pause and say thank you?
If we look at the history of the world, the history of life, the history of the Church, great decisions have been made but so to have great mistakes and poor choices. Things have constantly changed sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse yet what has endured is the presence of God.
As Jesus tells us in the Gospel today, faith and thankfulness are key ingredients in the journey of life. We need to have faith, to trust in God’s mercy. We also need to be thankful for that mercy each and every day of our life.
Blessings and peace to all today! Enjoy your Wednesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: There is a quote from St. John of Damascus that goes, “What is more precious than to be in the hands of God? God is Life and Light, and those who are in God’s hands are life and light.” There is something very beautiful and comforting about these words as there is about the words in the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 2:23-3:9) our first reading today.
We most often hear this reading or at least part of it at a funeral mass. I always find it comforting to think that the person that I have come to remember is now in the hands of God and that they are at peace. I think back to my mother’s death and the years of struggle that proceeded that moment. She struggled with dementia for over ten years. She was not herself. She was not the woman who brought me into the world or raised me to be the man I am today. At times she did not know me or anyone else in the family. Her life memories were all jumbled up somewhere in her brain. The expressions on her face were often those of confusion and struggle but at the moment that I celebrated her funeral mass I was comforted by the fact that she was now with God, she was now at peace!
The words of the Book of Wisdom and St. John of Damascus comfort us today especially as we think of those important people in our life that we have lost. Yet, Jesus, in the Gospel (Luke 17:7-10), reminds us that throughout our life good works are expected of us. Living life in relationship to God is what is expected of us. We are not special because we do good things; we are simply God servants, no more no less. The gift of being at peace, the gift of being in God’s hands, the gift of being life and light are just that gifts given us by God.
We should not expect praise and honor because we live a life of faith. It is expected of us. Yet in living a life of faith we are comforted by the end of the journey when God, who is Life and Light, will hold us in peace!
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: First of all let me say to all who stopped by the web site looking for my reflections yesterday, I am sorry they were not here. I got busy and had a morning mass that I was not originally scheduled for and never got back to writing down my reflections.
Our readings today are point and counterpoint to each other. They warn of the inherent pitfalls of sin. In the Book of Wisdom, we hear “think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart.” Yet we also hear a warning to be spiritually fit and be free of sin and injustice. Without being in that state we can be shut out from the grace of God.
Luke’s gospel continues to talk about sin, which is not a topic that most of us like to embrace with vigor. Perhaps it is because we have been influenced too much by societal norms which seem to reject the notion of sin in the modern world. As we reflect on the readings today, the words of Pope Francis come to mind when he asks, “Who Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” and he responds, “I am a sinner.” Perhaps it is good to know that we are the same company as the Pope.
Our readings not only dwell on the effects of sin but also the resolution to bring us back into the light of the Spirit. We see in Wisdom that the all-embracing God knows our heart and will acquit us if we are truly repentant. In Luke we hear a lesson on how to forgive others. If someone wrongs us seven times a day, we are called to forgive seven times. Yes, we are called to constantly forgive, God in his unquantifiable love forgives us if we truly have a repentant heart.
The work of forgiveness is never finished. It is an ongoing process until we meet God face to face. Have a great Monday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. It is the Pope’s local parish church as bishop of Rome. It is considered “the mother and head of all churches of the city of Rome and the whole world.” It has with stood barbarian attacks, earthquakes and fire. It is a physical sign of the presence of God not only in buildings but throughout the world.
In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12), we hear about the Israelites struggles in exile. It is the experience of lifelessness, it is the experience of earth where nothing will grow. It is the experience of being without their own land, their own homes, their own Temple. The prophet Ezekiel has this vision of the new Temple. It is a spring welling up, flows East, transforming the desolate land of the Arabah region (like a new garden of Eden), and it enters the Dead Sea, purifying it. This spring of water brings life and healing.
In our Gospel today (John 2:13-22), we encounter the famous story of Jesus overturning tables, making a whip out of cords and driving out all those who are making his Father’s house a marketplace. The moneychangers and sellers, who became rich at the cost of the poor, are driven out. In answer to the religious leaders request for a sign, Jesus says: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” They do not understand him. His disciples, however, remember these words when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
In our middle reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17), St. Paul preaches the good news of Jesus and baptized them in Christ so that each could become God’s “building,” with God’s Spirit dwelling in them.
Perhaps as we reflect on our readings today on feast of the Lateran Basilica, we might take the time to remember that Christ dwells in each one of us, that he gives us the courage to overcome our weaknesses and become holy temples of God. We might find ourselves parched, struggling, and lifeless at times, but with God’s grace flowing like a stream through us, we are challenged to give life to the presence of God wherever we go and to whomever we meet.
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel for today (Luke 16:1-8), always seems to be a confusing one. What exactly is Jesus saying? It seems that Jesus is praising the unfaithful steward just because he figures out a way to land on his feet after being fired. Perhaps the key word for Gospel today is “prudence” or maybe a better word might be “cleverness.”
Jesus says the steward is prudent, that he is shrewd, pragmatic and has foresight. However, as I said above we might also say that the steward is clever, meaning he is shrewd, ingenious, crafty and skillful. Prudence and cleverness share some of the same meanings and in some instances, could be used to say the same thing.
As I prepared for mass this morning I had these thoughts about the prudent and clever steward and what Jesus might be getting at in the Gospel…
In our world there are many prudent and clever people. Often as a world, a culture, a society we put our cleverness to work in many ways. We invent machines and systems that can protect us and destroy our enemies. We have invented the internet, cellphones and computers that help us communicate better, work fast and be more productive. We invent sophisticated systems to warn us of impending disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis and other nature made events. We invent systems to spy on one another, to hack computers and disrupt communications. We invent instruments of war some of which that can destroy the world. We are very clever people.
Yet up to this point in history we have not been able to figure out how to feed everyone, how to cloth everyone or how to give everyone shelter. Perhaps this gets at the point that Jesus’ is making with his parable. The people of the world are very clever but sometimes people of faith are not. We put our prudence, our cleverness, our shrewdness, our foresightedness, our skillfulness to work for ourselves, but as people of faith, it might be time to put it to work for others.
We can learn for the cleverness of the world but only if our cleverness leads us to bringing God to the world.
I think Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ said it best when he wrote, “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.”
Let us be clever people of faith and discover for the world God’s love once again.
Have a great Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps these three quotes help us understand our two parables this morning from Luke’s Gospel. Parables that speak to us of the mercy of God…
“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up.” (Pope Francis)
“A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” (Abigail Van Buren)
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” (Pope Francis)
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.” (Pope Francis)
God never stops searching for us no matter how much we have struggled in our life. Our readings today speak to us of hope, mercy and God’s great love for us. This is something the scribes and Pharisees never seem to understand. The question is do we?
Have a great Thursday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In our first reading today from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Paul reminds the community in Rome that the living of a life of faith is through love. Love enables us to do what is good for others and ourselves. If we live our life through love, then there is no need of law because we will always do what is good.
In our Gospel from Luke today, Jesus seems to speak counter to what Paul is saying to the Romans. Paul speaks of love and Jesus speaks about hating. Jesus asks us to hate our family, to even hate ourselves. How does this fit into what Paul is saying?
Well, Jesus is not really asking us to hate but to put God first. The more we focus on God, the more we live out of love the more we will do, say and live what is right. Jesus took up his cross not out of hate, but out of love and he ask us to do the same.
Jesus uses many examples of how we need to prepare for the Kingdom. He’s calling us to follow Him. Jesus says that no one would construct a tower without sitting down and calculating the cost to see if there was enough for completion. If we are not able to finish much above the foundation, we will be laughed at and ridiculed. The same holds true when planning our lives as we work towards the Kingdom. We are being called to follow Jesus so calculate, plan, be deliberate about our actions. If they don’t help us accomplish the goal, if they are not grounded in love, they might not be worth doing. We don’t want to run out of time and not have your tower built.
On that day, with the crowds following, Jesus said to do whatever you have to do in order to follow him, even if you have to renounce your family. He asks us to carry our own cross; we all have one, some heavier than others. Jesus asks us to renounce our possessions, so that we can hold on to him, love him and be his disciple. The less meaning our possessions have, the more we’ll be able to focus on our friendship with the Lord.
Have a blessed Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” These words from St. Paul sit at the heart of our scriptures today. We are asked by St. Paul today to share our hopes and gifts no matter how ordinary we might think those hopes and gifts are.
St. Paul uses the body as an image for our relationship with God as church. We are the body of Christ and because we are one body we need to work together thus giving the fullness of life to the whole body. Perhaps said differently, St. Paul asks us not to be so self-absorbed that we forget about the whole, that we forget about others.
He lists seven gifts; prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation almsgiving, administration and mercy. These are important to the Church and the Body of Christ. These are necessary for the Church and the Body of Christ to grow. If the individual members try to stand alone they will not last long. Standing together, working in unison, the individual members become a strong body and that brings hope to all the members.
Our Gospel today reinforces St. Paul’s reflection. We cannot fight over or promote our own individual gifts. Jesus’ invitation is to be Church, is to be community. Using St. Paul’s image, we might imagine how helpless just an arm, or a leg, or a mouth, or an ear, or a hand would be alone. They only have power and strength when they are working together.
For Jesus and St. Paul we are to be a joy filled community of hope, working together, strengthened by prayer so that we can make it through even the most difficult times to the eternal banquet that God has prepared for us all!
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” These words of Pope Francis seem to find life in our Gospel reading today. In the Gospel (Luke 14:12-14) Jesus asks us to think and act not just within our comfort zone but to think and act outside it. We are challenged by both Jesus and Pope Francis to walk out into a bruised, hurting and dirty world and to celebrate life with the people we find there.
This is not an easy challenge. It takes guts, it takes selflessness, and it takes the ability to love. As Jesus puts it to the Pharisee in our Gospel today it takes a humble regard for others, seeing them as important as ourselves. It takes a community effort with no one person being more important than everyone else. It takes the ability to offer generosity without any quid pro quo!
Pope Francis’ constant theme is for the Church to be a Church of Mercy. he has asked us to find dignity in each person and to invite all to God’s banquet. The challenge today is to ask ourselves, do we find dignity in each person we meet and are we willing to journey with them to God’s banquet?
Have a great Monday 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...