Today’s Thoughts: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Simple words of Jesus in today Gospel (John 8: 31-42) if only we could follow them. Sometimes the truth is the last thing we choose to speak. We think it complicates life. We think it causes more problems. We think it often hurts more than it helps. We think it should only be used as a last resort only when there are no other options. The truth seems anything but free at times to us!
Yet throughout his life and ministry Jesus only spoke the truth and every time we walk into a church or a Catholic home and see a crucifix on the wall we are reminded of where the truth got Jesus. We are reminded of the price he paid for coming into this world to speak the truth. We are reminded just how much God loves us.
Perhaps a different way of thinking about Jesus’ words in the Gospel today is that the truth has set us free. If only we would embrace it. If only we would follow the example of the three young men in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95). If only we would realize the freedom that living by the truth means for our lives, the gift that it can be to ourselves and the world and the hope that it brings to life.
May we have the courage to speak and live the truth like the three young men and may the truth truly set us free to be the people God has created us to be!
Have a great Wednesday!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s readings (Numbers 21: 4-9 and John 8: 21-30) ask us to look at the nature and the power of our sin in our life. It is only when we do this that we can be healed from sin and its effects in our lives and our world.
In the first reading we have the familiar story of the people of the Exodus grumbling and complaining as they wander through the desert. This grumbling comes from the very people that God rescued from horrific oppression in Egypt, under a Pharaoh who consumed their lives to feed his false god persona, is grossly ungrateful. Not only had God rescued them from slavery but God also provided food to eat and a fresh stream of pure water to drink, (from a rock no less). God is taking them to a land “flowing with milk and honey” where they will be God’s people, protected and loved.
However, they are a whining group, who can’t seem to see their own dependence upon God and the need to be grateful for all that God has done for them. Their sin of ingratitude is as twisting and venomous as a poison snake which kills with its bite, but it can’t be recognized until it is lifted up on a pole and each person has to look at it and see his or her own darkness of heart to be “cured” of its effect.
In John’s Gospel the serpent on a stick becomes an image for Jesus’ crucifixion. When, battered and bleeding, he is “lifted up” in front of us. It then becomes possible for us thankless sinners to see, to know, to recognize, and to understand, through God’s grace, the nature and cost of our sin for ourselves, our world and to our loving God. Jesus took our sin into his own human personhood in order to put it to death and be the instrument for our release from the sin that condemned him and all its death-dealing consequences.
Our challenge today and always as we live our lives in the pursuit the life of grace is each day to stand before the cross and ask Jesus three questions: “What have I done for you? What am I now doing for you? What can I do for you?”
Have a blessed Tuesday everyone!
"I know that some of you will ask me: 'Father, yes, you tell us to look at the horizon and to remember things, but today, what do I do?' Live your life to the full! Today, take life as it comes and do good to others. In the world today, a game is being played out in which there is no room for substitutes: either you are in the team or you are out. Take the memories you have inherited, look towards the horizon and today, grasp life and carry it forward, use it productively, make it fruitful. God calls you to be fruitful! God calls you to transmit this life to others. God calls you to create hope. God calls you to receive mercy and show mercy to others. God calls you to be happy. Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid. Play life to the full! That is life." (Pope Francis)
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.” (Pope Francis – Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel)
These are perhaps odd words from Pope Francis to use on this Feast of St. Joseph, yet I think they are words which reflect the life of Joseph. He was a laborer and he faced many challenges in his life especially when God came calling. St. Joseph was a person of life, an ordinary person who through faith did extraordinary things. St. Joseph is a wonderful image of the kind of Church Pope Francis wants, a compassionate, loving and joy filled Church.
Today we celebrate St. Joseph a person we know very little about but what we know can be an inspiration for all of us. He was a simple man skilled in the use of his hands to shape, form and build. He was an ordinary man placed in an extraordinary situation. He was a faith filled man who staked his life on the promises of God.
St. Joseph wanders into our life through a few verses of scripture and leaves a lasting impression. In every situation we find him he pursues the right thing to do. He is righteous man who cares about the people around him. He is a loving man who protects those he loves. He is a hope filled man who places his trust in his relationship with God.
Yes, in his ordinariness St. Joseph stands as an example for all of us and we live our lives of faith. He is a model of quiet faithfulness. He is the hopefulness that fathers bring to a family. He is an example of loving attention to God’s presence. He is the humble father who reminds us of the gift of family life and the challenge of living for others!
As we celebrate St. Joseph today as the husband of Mary let us honor his faithfulness, his hopefulness and his love by letting him be an example that helps us to live our life of faith caring for those around us.
Happy St. Joseph’s Day everyone and have a great Monday!
Today’s Thoughts: We find ourselves beginning the last full week of Lent and the drama of our faith story has heightened. Jesus can feel the forces of evil closing in on him, so he enters into prayer. Not a prayer of intercession or need but a prayer of thanksgiving for the strength the Father has given him so that he can fulfill the purpose for which he came into his world.
We might say that our Gospel today gives us a preview of Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today Jesus is not in a garden with his three closest friends, who seem to be having trouble staying awake. No, in today’s Gospel scene Jesus is in Jerusalem and a large diverse crowd has gathered. In fact, some in the crowd are gentles. As Jesus speaks he draws the crowd and us to the cross, to its agony and its triumph. We are invited to see the glory of the cross and to learn from Jesus' great act of love.
Our scriptures today invite us to prepare our hearts, to open our hearts to God. If we are willing to open our hearts to God then God is willing to create a clean heart within us, a heart with God's love written upon it. Jeremiah tells us that God has made a new covenant with us. One that names us as God's people and Jesus' cross reminds of the profound investment that God has made in us. It is a covenant, an investment of unconditional love.
As Pope Francis has reminded up over and over again, our God is a merciful God. And so, we seek through the mercy of God a clean heart and a steadfast spirit in these closing days of Lent so that we can take up the challenge of listening for God’s voice, gazing upon the cross and allowing Jesus to draw up to himself.
May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts! Have a blessed Sunday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In our scriptures today (Jeremiah 11: 18-20 and John 7: 40-53) we are reminded that Jesus really never had a chance with the religious leadership of his time, prophets, like Jeremiah, never fared well no matter where they came from but the thought that Jesus came from Galilee sealed the deal. The religious leadership had made their judgment and nothing was going to change it, not even one of their own, Nicodemus calling for justice.
Jesus throughout his ministry cautioned about making judgments. He healed, taught, forgave, showed compassion and asked us to love even our enemies. His parables always reflected ways to live and not to live. They always reflected a relationship with God so that people could understand the presence of God in their lives. He showed compassion to all and forgave sinners. All of this was too much for the religious leadership of his time. Jesus' way did not fit into their view of the world, their way of living in the world. They were prejudice in the case of place, they didn't like Galilee but at other times their prejudice took on different forms. The prejudices that we allow to make a home in us can often be the very thoughts and actions that judge us!
Jesus and Jeremiah became the trusting lambs led to the slaughter. They never had a chance because their message was of God not the world. Their actions, their teachings, their lives give us examples of how to trust and hope in God's love. They help us to look at life through the eyes of faith not the eyes of prejudice.
As we enter this day let us be aware of how we often judge people without listening to their story, without knowing who they really are. Let us trust in the presence of God that every person can bring to us. Let us be people of justice, truth, compassion and love. Let us be open to finding God's presence, God's goodness everywhere.
Have a blessed St. Patrick's Day and Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: There seems to be much more tension between Jesus and the people in John's Gospel today (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30). Certainly, in these waning days of Lent as we read John's Gospel we are made aware of the struggle most likely between Jesus and the religious leadership.
The leadership seems to be drawing upon tradition and Jesus seems to focus, on the moment, the work that needs to be done. The leadership seems to be living out the words that we hear in the reading from the Book Wisdom (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22) today about the wicked ones. They don't like what Jesus is saying. His words are challenging and demanding in a way that is difficult for people who have settled into a routine of life. Who have found a comfort zone that they do not want disturbed.
Are not we all like these religious leaders at times. We find a comfort zone, a routine to life and then we become angry when someone or something comes along and disturbs us, challenges us. It is particularly difficult when we somehow know that the person, the challenge, is righteous but we just do not want to change. We want to stay in our comfort zone and so we begin to find things wrong with the person, the place or the situation. If we can convince ourselves that we are right, and they are wrong, then all will be well.
The religious leaders try to do that today in the Gospel, the wicked ones try to do that in the Book of Wisdom and certainly from time to time we try to do it in our own lives. We cannot change the religious leaders of Jesus' time; we cannot change the wicked ones from the Book of Wisdom. These examples from our faith story are a reminder to us not repeat their actions. Yes, our challenge is always to recognize God in our midst even if it means letting go of our comfort zone, even if it means changing our perspective, even if it means finding the truth in another.
We pray today Lord Jesus, be close to us because we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from your mouth! We live on the gift of your presence and the hope that it brings to life.
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The readings (Exodus 32:7-14 and John 5:31-47) seem to have a common theme: the inclination for us to trade what God offers us for something of less value and splendor. There is a term in theology, “laudable exchange.” It is used to refer to the stance of giving up the things of earth for the things of heaven. Our scriptures today warn us that often we do just the opposite.
In the Exodus reading today the people get focused on a molten calf as a god they think will help them. They have bought into the world, the culture, around them. No matter what God has done for them they think a calf statue can do better. They have given up on the living God and replaced him with a god they made with their own hands. These are the very people who have seen wondrous things from God, these are the very people who were freed by their journey through the Red Sea at the hand of God. Yet, somehow, they miss the fact that God loves them and cares for them. They seem to think that God is distant, and they wanted something that they can see and touch. Like we often do, they made a god to suit their specifications, to do what they think needs to be done. The outcome of all this stupidity is that they truly anger God.
The psalm for today’s mass (Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23) points out their folly. “They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.” They exchanged the glory of God for the glory for a human made calf. We are reminded that the only glory that we humans will ever have is the glory that comes from God, the glory that essentially is God. We have been created in the image and likeness of this merciful God and what a disrespect of God when we exchange our love of God for some creation of our own hands.
The Gospel today is a very dense section of John and it is difficult to do it justice with my little reflection. The religious leaders reject Jesus and exchange his testimony, his life, for that of others. For a time, they like John the Baptist but grow tired of him. If others come tooting their own horns, they listen to them. They are able to accept anybody and everybody but Jesus. They love Moses, or so they say. A question one might ask would be if they were alive at the time of Moses would they have followed Moses or been right in there with everyone else helping to make a god out of pieces of gold?
There is truth in the term “laudable exchange” to give up the things of this earth and embrace God. During Lent we give up certain things in the hope that doing without will keep us focused on God. We sometimes do positive things or spend a little extra time in prayer with the same hope. These are wonderful practices however, we must constantly remind ourselves that what we do doing Lent should help us to focus on God. If we remain focused on these things, then how are we any different than the people in the days of Moses who exchanged a thing, a hand made statue, for God?
Let us be focused today on God, let us lift our eyes to and see the things that are of God today!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Within our scriptures today there is the thread of intimacy and relationship running through them. In the first reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 49:8-15) we hear Advent like images of how God enters our life and helps us to make the journey home. We hear how much God desires a relationship with us and how far God is willing to go for that relationship. There is the famous image in the reading about the child in the mother’s womb and even if that mother were to forget about the child God will not forget about the child and us.
In the Gospel (John 5:17-30) it is John’s image of the relationship between the Father and the Son. Throughout John’s entire Gospel we constantly hear about the intimate relationship that Jesus has with the Father. If you see Jesus, you are looking at the Father. The two are inseparable, they work together. They know each other’s thoughts, words and actions. We are invited to have this same kind of relationship with Jesus and the Father.
Intimacy is something we all want, something we all need but it is something many of us find difficult because of what it demands of us. It demands commitment, time, energy and a willingness to be truthful and honest. It demands a willingness to see the good in others and to understand their struggles, their faults and failings. Intimacy means we are willing to stand by the other even when it is not easy, even when it is not popular.
Much talk time and print space has been given to celibacy and chastity in recent years, some of it positive and much of it negative. Being one who has tried to live this vow I know that the most difficult part is intimacy and I am not just talking about physical intimacy. I think we all have a great need, desire, longing for and deep connection with another, a person to share our joys, fears, sadness, struggles, triumphs, feelings and love. We want that soul friend who knows us, understands us, values us, forgives us and loves us no matter what and yet whether celibate or not this friend is hard to find.
Many of the great saints talk about finding this relationship after a long struggle with God. I am not a great saint so my struggle for intimacy goes on. It is a great need in everyone’s life and sometimes it is a life-long search. For me there is always sadness when I see this intimacy devalued or absent. When I see a mother, or a father forget their child, either through abuse, neglect or when their life becomes so self-centered they don’t make the connection. I am also encouraged and hopeful when I see the wonderful gift of intimacy at work in the lives of people, when they don’t forget!
Throughout Lent we have been reminded that living a life of faith demands looking beyond ourselves, it demands being other oriented. Relationships and intimacy are the way we can keep ourselves focus on others, focused on God. Let us live the journey of life today open to the gifts that others can bring to our lives!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Pope Francis has asked us to bring the mercy of God to whomever we meet. We are to look around and see the people like the man in the Gospel today who can’t get to the living water of healing and we are to bring that living water to them. We are not to be people who see themselves alone with Jesus; we are to be people of a community of faith who bring the living waters of Jesus to the world.
As I looked over the scriptures this morning a couple of thoughts came to mind. First, there is one striking thing about today's Gospel (John 5:1-16) for me; it is the fact that the man whom Jesus approaches is alone. He says he has no one to help him. No one to get him to the water, he finds himself alone unable to get to the waters of life. How often do we feel alone in life? We have that feeling that we are out there on a limb by ourselves. There is no one to help, no one to lean on, and no one to help us get to where we want to go. Like the man in the Gospel today we can be surrounded by a world of people and yet still feel alone.
In those moments perhaps, it is only God who makes the difference. We perhaps are not dramatically healed as the man in the story but when we let God enter our life, life does become better. We encounter the gifts of life; we get places that seemed impossible to get to before. With God in our life being part of the world, be a part of the community is not only possible it happens.
Another aspect of our readings today is the element of water. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12) and the man in the Gospel encounter the healing power of water. They are each aware of its importance in and for life. They each become aware of the presence of God in life that water represents.
Our readings today remind us of the value of God's presence in our lives. God's presence never leaves us to face life alone. God's presence is life giving, refreshing and life sustaining. As the verse for the responsorial psalm says, God is with us and God is our stronghold our support.
As we live this day let us be aware of the many ways that God enters our life. Let us be aware of the many ways in which God does not leave us alone and the many ways God sustains and refreshes our life. Let us be thankful and not fearful because God is ever with us and will never leave us to face life alone!
Have a great Tuesday 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...