Today’s Thoughts: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” This is a demanding and challenging reflection by Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 12: 39-48). Each time I hear this Gospel especially these words from Jesus I always pause in thought. Am I using the gifts and talents that I have been entrusted with to the best of my ability? Perhaps more importantly, am I using the gifts and talents that I have been entrusted with to further the Kingdom of God? Am I using them not only for myself but for others?
If I am honest with myself then at times my answers to these questions is no! I have been graced, honored and entrusted with many gifts and I have to say at times I do not use them to the best of my ability. Sometimes I am selfish in my approach to life and in sharing what I have been given. At times the challenge of the Gospel especially the challenge in today’s Gospel weighs heavy on me.
I want to be the best person of faith I can be, and I want that to be reflected in how I live my life and how I use my gifts. I was reading a reflection the other day that said, “If we have been given a keen mind, we must think. If we are filled with compassion, we must serve. If we receive a voice, we must sing. God will not ask the impossible but will expect our talents to be used.” Perhaps the question for all of us today is what are my gifts and talents? Are they being used to make present the Kingdom of God?
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Throughout the scriptures Jesus often uses the image of master and servant to make a point and describe our relationship with God. In most cases God is the master, and we are the servants and the relationship is as any master and servant relationship would be in Jesus’ world.
However, in today’s Gospel (Luke 12: 35-38) the relationship between master and servant between God and us is turned upside down. God does the waiting on us today and this profound reversal of roles is the very spirit of the Gospel message. It is the very spirit of what Pope Francis has challenged his cardinals, bishops and priest to be as ministers, the very essence of what he has challenged us to be as Christians.
If we look at our relationship with God, we come to know that God not only loves us and cares for us but in the person of Jesus God has taken on our human nature in order to redeem us. Many of those who listened to Jesus’ preaching probably found his image of God as one who serves difficult if not impossible to accept. Masters of that time or anytime for that matter just are not seen or experienced as people who are willing to serve. Yet, for Jesus that is exactly what God has done in sending his own Son into the world.
To continue this gift, we are asked to be servers of God’s grace to the world, a grace, as St. Paul puts it in the first reading to the Roman, a grace that is overflowing even in the midst of sin. A question for today might be how do we make God presence known through service to others? How do we let God’s grace overflow though us?
Have a holy and blessed Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: We celebrate the feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist and companion of St. Paul today. In the first reading, (2 Timothy 4:10-17b), we are reminded that St. Paul was not always successful in his relationships. Two of his companions leave him but one, Luke, remains. When St. Paul was challenged in his ministry and he was challenged often, I am sure that he wished that there were more friends there to help him. But the Lord always stood by St. Paul and provided him with the strength necessary to push on.
From this story in St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy and others like it we can be graced with the hope that in our journey of faith our support, like St. Paul’s, comes from God in many different ways. God is always with us and will never leave us to face our perils alone. And like Luke for Paul, friends and family who stand by us, even when others forget us, are special gifts. Perhaps today on this Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist and faithful friend we might give thanks for the faithful friends in our own lives. Thanking God for them and the gifts that they are to us!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today provide us with some interesting thoughts to consider.
In our first reading from Isaiah, we encounter one of the Suffering Servant passages from Second Isaiah. Who is the Suffering Servant you ask? Well one answer might be Isaiah, himself. The writer of this section of the Book of Isaiah looking back on the Great Prophet and all that he gave of himself for the faith community. Or it could be an anonymous prophet who again gave his all for the faith community. Thirdly, the Suffering Servant just might be the faith community, a community of Israelites brought together after exile trying to make their way back to God, and to all that has been promised. Finally, as life has wandered down through the ages the Suffering Servant has become Jesus and his journey to Calvary.
In our second reading we aren’t speaking about the Suffering Servant, or are we? The writer of Hebrews pictures Jesus as the Great High Priest. The one who offers himself at the perfect sacrifice for the many. The high priest who has taken on our human nature in all things but sin. If anyone knows us it is Jesus, Hight Priest and Suffering Servant!
Finally, we have a familiar story in our Gospel from Mark today, the story of James and John trying to be first in line. Unlike Matthew’s version of this story, in which it is the mother of James and John who askes the favor of Jesus, it is James and John asking themselves. It is easy knowing the background of how Mark treats the disciples throughout his Gospel to say this is another example of the disciples “not getting it,” of “missing the point,” of “not listening.” However, I would like to offer a different take.
James and John have been with Jesus awhile by this point in the Gospel. They have traveled with Jesus, listen to him preach. Watch him heal, cast out demons and show great care and concern for people in need. Thus, we might draw the conclusion that at this moment they are profoundly impressed, taken with Jesus. They see something special in him. They sense a grace, a charism, a spirit. They want to be near him, in his presence.
Haven’t you felt that way about people from time to time. People that seem bigger than life. People who have impressed, influenced, and touched you in profound ways. Often when we encounter people like this, we want to be in their presence, we want to spend time with them. Have you ever been asked the question, “If you could have breakfast, lunch or dinner with anyone, who would you pick?”
If someone asked me that question right now, I know exactly whom I who I would pick, Pope Francis! I would just like to spend time in his presence, listen to him, take in his spirit, his energy, his grace, and I would not care if I were on his right or his left!
In the Gospel Jesus does not correct or become aggravated with James and John. He just explains how they can reach what they desire. By living their life to the fullest with care and concern for others. Notice Jesus says his right and left “is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Perhaps in other words, for those who live their lives in service to others.
Our challenge as disciples, as people of faith is to live our lives with a focus outward towards others. We are not to worry about being first or having the most power, authority, the most influence. We are to help the faith community move forward by getting as close as we can to Jesus in this life. By taking in his spirit, his energy, his grace, his love and offering it to others. If this is the focus of our life, then when we take our very last breath, we just might find ourselves on his right or left for all eternity.
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s Gospel passage just might leave one stumped. What does Jesus mean by the unforgivable sin, the sin against the Holy Spirit? What specifically would it be?
Here the Scriptures and Church teaching seem to be on a collision course. The Catechism assures us God’s mercy overcomes even the gravest evil, when there is sincere contrition.
The power of God is a mighty force, that can go many places and accomplish amazing things. However, the one thing that can stop God’s power dead in its tracks, time and time again, is the hardness of the human heart. Because God will not force himself on us. But we have a wily God who knows how to find a way.
Just look at our first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. St. Paul speaks about how God has found a way into Abraham’s heart through faith and love.
Yes, we can cut ourselves off from God. We can harden our hearts. We can speak against the Holy Spirit. But we also have the hope that God will find a way to turn that hard heart into a human heart and turn our blasphemes into faith!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Do not be afraid.” Jesus’ words toward the end of today’s Gospel. At first glance, this passage from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 12: 1-7) today it is a bit confusing. Jesus first talks about who to fear. We are to fear the one who can take eternal life from us. But then Jesus tells us not to fear because God is with us, God cares, God has our back!
I could not help but think about St. Paul’s words from the eighth chapter of Roman when he says, “If God is for us who can be against us!” I have often said we should write this down and keep it next to our bed and read it when we wake up each morning and before we close our eyes each night. “If God is for us who can be against us!” What a wonderful thought. Perhaps Jesus is saying the same thing when he tells us we are worth far more than many sparrows.
God knows us intimately, he knows every hair on our head. God has our back so even though life presents us with many reasons to be afraid Jesus reminds us not to be because, to paraphrase the words of Thomas Merton, God will never leave us to face our perils and fears alone!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” Strong and challenging words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. I wonder how many religious leaders, scholars of the law or leaders in general will paused when they hear these words proclaimed or when they proclaim them themselves during mass today? At the very least these words from Jesus should be food for thought.
The readings today urge us to consider our faith, our relationship with God as the lens through which we view life and make decisions. We certainly need to respect the law but our readings today challenge the laws that do not promote love, acceptance of and advancement of people even people we disagree with. We are asked as people of faith to promote love, forgiveness and respect of all God’s people.
Perhaps a few questions we might ask are – Over the course of history what has God done for us? And today what does God want me to do, what does God want us to do when opting for a direction or making a decision in life?
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today (Romans 2:1-11 and Luke 11:42-46) focus on the judging others. We are challenged by our scriptures today to not be judges but to be people invested in God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks to Paul and Jesus’ message today with his own reflection. “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Love and grace are gifts of the Spirit and they help us not to be blind judges but to be people of generosity, kindness, joy, peace and faithfulness.
As does Henri Nouwen with his words; “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.” In other words, we will place burdens on others and certainly not be people of the Spirit.
The question that we might ask ourselves today is do we want to be blind, addicted, hypocrites? Hopefully not – which means we need to remember let God be the judge and every time we are tempted to point out another’s fault, we should think of our own shortcomings. If we approach life this way we will be graced by God’s mercy and patience, we will be living in the Spirit!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As we have often heard, “You cannot judge a book by its cover!” We might say that this saying reflects what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel (Luke 11: 37-41) today. Jesus speaks about the outside of the Pharisees verses the inside. What they appear to be, what people see verses what they really do and think.
Jesus is speaking to the challenge of finding balance in life. Our life is not just about appearance it is about what we believe and how we live that belief each day. Living a life of faith begins in our hearts and our actions need to reflect what is in our hearts.
The Pharisees were not bad people however at times they let their power, their position, their influence and their authority get the best of them. They forgot who and what was at the center of their life. They forgot the purpose and meaning of their life. They put themselves first. They got out of balance.
It can happen to anyone, it can happen to us. Being in balance is important. We need to always remember that everything, outside and inside comes from God. As Pope Emeritus Benedict put it, “Every form of gift is, in a word, a sign of the presence of God, because it leads to the fundamental discovery that, at the origin, everything is given.”
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Sometime the signs God gives us come from people and experiences we least expect. This little sentence might best sum up the Gospel (Luke 11: 29-32) today. Often, we are looking for the great or the grand or the unusual when it comes to God. We want unbelievable miracles. Yet all around us God is speaking and often God can be found in unexpected places and heard through unexpected people.
Jonah himself did not think the people of Nineveh would get it but they did. The queen of Ethiopia, the Queen of Africa did not believe in Solomon’s God, but she came and could see and hear God’s wisdom in Solomon. It often has been said that God works in mysterious ways and throughout scripture we are reminded of God’s mysterious ways!
The challenge for us is to not box God in, to not predict God’s intentions. We need to listen, to look around us and be ready to see, hear and experiences the presence of God in our lives. We cannot write-off people or experience because we never know when we will find God through them.
The signs of Jonah and the queen of the south are all around us. We need to be ready, willing and open to see and hear them!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy 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...