Today’s Thoughts: In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 57: 2, 3-4, 6, 11) for today’s mass we are presented with the image of a mother bird protecting her young. She shelters them with her wings until the danger passes. But what happens once the danger passes well the children need to grow and move away from the nest until they finally take that step off the limb and fly on their own. In learning to fly they now take on the responsibility of caring for themselves and eventually having their own little ones whom they will protect. It is the cycle of life.
Jesus names his twelve closest friends in the Gospel today (Mark 3:13-19). These friends embodied many of the all too human traits of life. They will reveal by their words and actions impatience, fear betrayal, doubt, misunderstanding, impetuousness, and pettiness. These will be balanced by courage, steadfastness, faithfulness, trust, goodness and purity of heart. In our words, these friends of Jesus are moving toward the end of the limb and soon they will be flying on their own. They will soon be proclaiming the good news to all the world in all their humanness. Part of the Good News that they will proclaim is mercy, the mercy of God and the mercy we need to have in living life. It not always easy to live by mercy as David finds out in the first reading (1 Samuel 24:3-21). Yet that is what we are called to as the children of God.
So, what is our challenge today? Perhaps it is to trust in the ongoing care and concern of God for us but also to know that through that love and care we are sent forth into the world to proclaim the Good News, Good News grounded in the mercy a God.
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As I reflected on today’s Gospel (Mark 3:7-12) this morning the thought that came to mind was "A Day in the Life." This is the title of a 1967 Beatles song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. While the Gospel and the song have nothing in common, I thought of the title in terms of what picture the Gospel paints for us today, A Day in the Life of Jesus.
It is interesting, I did a little research about the song, Lennon and McCartney wrote their sections of the song at different times, Lennon using accounts from the newspaper and McCartney using memories from his youth. The two sets of lyrics were then put together with orchestral glissandos. What does this have to do with the Gospel, well think about how the Gospels were put together? The days of Jesus' life, not a daily rendering but events tied together by the overarching story of his life.
Today, we have a day in the life of Jesus, crowds coming from every corner of the world it seems, healing with every touch, demons proclaiming he is "the Son of God," people everywhere! No room, no time for himself, no space to breathe. When you think about it Jesus had a very difficult life long before he got to Calvary. He was always in demand. How did he do it? How did he balance his ministry and his need to just be, to pray, to connect with friends? How did he stay focused? Stay refreshed? Stay motivated?
Sometimes seeing a picture of a day in the life of Jesus can be inspiring, sometimes it can be troubling, sometimes it can be tiring, sometimes it can be overwhelming. What does today's picture of a day in the life of Jesus say to you? To me it says he loved us very much!
Have a holy and blessed Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: My thoughts today center around a single phrase in the Gospel, "Jesus looked around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart..." (Mark 3:5) It is comforting to know that Jesus was angry and grieved from time to time. That he got frustrated with others, particularly others who should have known better. Today it is the religious leaders they don't seem to get it. They don’t apply common sense to their theology or religious traditions. Life, the quality of life, is much more important than rules and regulations.
Every day, we as people of faith are focused on life. It is profoundly important to us. It is a gift from God that we do not want to see abused, neglected, devalued, taken, lost or discarded. We pray for it; we walk in support of it. We cherish it in our own lives and families. Life is primary to what we believe. Yet, at times we get so focused on one aspect of life we miss many others. We miss many opportunities to honor it, acknowledge it, celebrate it and heal it because of rules and regulations!
Jesus was always about life, honoring it, acknowledging it, celebrating it and certainly healing it. May we find a way like Jesus to turn anger into healing, to turn anger into life!
Think life today and every day! Have a blessed, holy, and lifegiving Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In reflecting on the readings today a couple pf themes struck me about our faith. The first is that we do not always see in the same way as God does and God often chooses the unexpected. In the story we read today from the First Book of Samuel, God’s choice of David in unexpected. Samuel is sure that it is the first, second or third son of Jesse but God surprises him and us. God tells Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature…. Not as [humankind] sees does God see…. [God] looks into the heart.” We are reminded that God looks beyond human appearance, status and stature, God looks into the heart and soul of a person. This is a consistent theme throughout scripture. God is about quality not quantity. God is about substance and appearance.
Another theme in our readings today is that of change. If something is alive that also means change. Jesus in the Gospel to the horror of the Pharisees indicates that things are not always going to remain the same. Change is in the air. The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. Jesus is asking people to look at their faith differently. The Sabbath came into being to help humankind take time to focus on God. But the Sabbath is not greater than the needs of people. In other words, the actions, the rituals, the customs, the reality of the Sabbath is not what is most important, it is people and their relationship with God. On a side note I wish we might understand that about our own rituals and practices.
Life means changes and as we go through life the things that connect us with God are going to change, take on different forms and different importance. But remember God always looks at things differently. God does not make decisions on appearance but on what is in our heart. Two of God's great gifts to us Life and Hope are always guiding us, always nourishing us so may they always be in our hearts.
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I read a short quote from Pope Francis a while back, “Sing to the Lord a new song. (Psalm 95:1) What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.”
I thought of this quote from Pope Francis after sitting with the Gospel in prayer (Mark 2:18-22) in which Jesus says, “no one pours new wine into old wine skins…. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” So, if we are singing a new song it cannot be the same old life that sings. It has got to be a new life, a new way of looking at the world. It has got to be a new way of looking at ourselves and others.
Often, we are afraid of new, afraid of change, afraid of difference yet Jesus, Pope Francis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tell us not to be afraid, but to pour, to sing and to dream new.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Happy Monday – and Happy New Wine, New Song and New Dream – Everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As I wake up to a very cold morning with a winter storm of some kind waiting to arrive sometime later today. I ready myself for the 7:30 am mass. It will be a cold drive this morning and I would prefer to get back under the covers.
In our Gospel today from John we have a very familiar passage, the Wedding Feast at Cana. There are many things that I could say about this moment in the life and ministry of Jesus. For John, it is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It is a moment when others, especially his disciples, first encounter his glory through the miracle of changing water into wine. It is a moment when we are reminded of Mary’s presence in the life and ministry of Jesus. I could go on and on reflecting on John’s mysticism, his theology and countless theological reflection on what this passage means, however I am going to take a different approach.
In my flawed perspective perhaps the most interesting part of this Gospel story is the fact that Jesus was invited into the life of these two young people. The story tells us that Mary was invited to this wedding and so were Jesus and his disciples. We don’t know who the young couple were. Friends of the family? Prominent families in Cana? Childhood friends of Jesus? We just don’t know. All we know is that they invited Jesus to their wedding and life would never be the same again. In fact, we are still remembering and telling their story.
For me the question that this story should cause us to ask is – “Have we invited Jesus into our home, our story, our life?” When you think about it everyone who invited Jesus into their home, their life was never the same again. Peter invited Jesus into his home and the first thing Jesus did was heal his mother-in-law. Think of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, he invited Jesus into his home and his daughter was healed. Think of Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector, he invited Jesus into his home and was never the same again, and the examples go on and on. Inviting Jesus into our home, into our life can change things forever!
All while I was growing up our family had a portrait of Jesus in our living room. It was a print of a painting done by Warner Sallman. It was always there right in our living room for everyone to see who entered our house. It traveled with us to every house we lived in and even traveled with my mother when she entered assisted living and ultimately memory care in the last years of her life.
I don’t ever remember talking about the picture with my family or others. It was just always there. I am sure I walk by it, hundreds of thousands of times. I don’t remember ever stopping to acknowledge it, but I am sure that I did. I don’t know what the rest of my family would say, but I believe that simple portrait had an impact on all our lives, for the better. At some point in the journey of life my mother and father invited Jesus into our home, and it made all the difference.
Perhaps the simple truth, simple question of our Gospel today is – “Have we invited God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit into our home, our life?”
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and make sure you give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: Today, we finish our journey through the first week in Ordinary Time. In the Gospel, Jesus walks along and sees another person who might make a difference as one of his disciples - a tax collector – perhaps the least likely candidate to be a disciple according to attitudes of the time. Jesus sees in Levi the very follower he needs and asks him to drop what he is doing and come follow. Can you imagine Levi looking into Jesus’ face with astonishment and saying, “Who me?” Why is this Jewish man speaking to me in such a nice, invitational way? Levi must have seen something in Jesus’ look that caused him to change his entire life. Did his heart skip a beat for a moment? Did Levi realize that all his hopes and dreams were somehow met in this encounter with Jesus? Well, in all honesty, we just don’t know, but we can imagine. Most of us have come to moments in our lives when we experienced a crossroads. The proverbial fork in the road – did the path we took make all the difference like it did for Levi?
In life it seems that if we believe in God at all, it is hard for us to believe that God is profoundly interested in our ordinary activities; profoundly interested in a young man making his living by extorting money from his neighbors who pay taxes. Is it possible that God is profoundly interested in what we are doing today? In what we are doing at our computer? In what we could be doing for the Kingdom today?
Is it possible that God is inviting, calling, cajoling us to come join the journey? It is not only possible - it is the promise and fulfillment of all that is important about being human. Levi can help us see that as ordinary as we might be, God has great things in mind for us. Things far more important than any petty pursuit of our own. Let’s go – it is a new year and a new opportunity to become what we have been created and called to be.
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: I have always liked the story in today's Gospel and the reason is because it is not just one person's faith at work. The story says, "When Jesus saw their faith...." It was the faith of the group of friends, of the community, that makes all the difference. It was the hard work and faith of the friends of the paralytic. It was the faith of the man, himself, that probably motivated his friends. All of them worked together so that this healing moment was possible.
I often refer to the parishes I go to or the people who make one of my retreats as a community of faith and I truly believe that they are. I am always happy to be in their presence because I believe there is a great power in a community gathered together for a Sunday mass, a daily mass, a prayer service, a parish mission or a retreat. I believe that it takes a community of faith to get us through life.
Sure, we need our personal faith. Sure, we need a personal relationship with God, but we also need a community because as good as we might be there are times when we cannot do it alone. We need people to pick us up, to carry us. We need people to help us find a way in, to find a way to God. We need people who believe in us and in the journey, we are on. We need people who know God just as we do.
Jesus affirms the small community of faithful friends in the Gospel today. They make it possible for their friend to be healed and to be forgiven. What great friends the paralytic man had, do we have friends like him? Are we faith filled friends willing to pick a friend up and make sure they can get to God?
Have a joyful and faith filled Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: My thoughts today are similar to those I shared with you last Friday when we had the same Gospel story about Jesus’ encounter with a person with leprosy. Last week we had Luke’s version of the story and today we have Mark’s (Mark 1: 40-45). In each version Jesus encounters a person with leprosy and the following exchange takes place. "If you wish, you can make me clean. Jesus was moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched the leper and said to him, I do will it. Be made clean. And the leprosy left him immediately."
I think the key elements of this story are Jesus’ intense feelings, the person's faith in Jesus and the willingness of Jesus to heal and to touch. Maybe the most important elements are Jesus’ feelings and his touch, his willingness to be connected with someone who is unclean by the standards of culture, society and religion.
As the story unfolds Jesus is moved with pity. Now sometimes we think of pity in a negative way but in our story today this translation “moved with pity” does not really do Jesus’ feelings justice. Jesus feels compassion for this person down deep in his gut and it moves him to action. It moves him to do something beyond what most people would do. It moves Jesus to touch the person even though his is unclean in order to share God’s mercy.
Today whether we are talking about our culture, society or even our church the usual response is to disconnect ourselves from someone defined as unclean. Yet, Jesus sought to be connected. He did not want to push them away from the community but to bring them into the community.
Jesus reaches out to one who has been pushed out of the community. It is a profound moment; it is a challenge to all of us who proclaim we believe. Do we wish – do we will – that all belong to the community no matter what? Jesus does and he was willing to step across a boundary to make sure that it happens. Are we?
Perhaps it is a commitment to prayer that will help us to, wish it and will it. It is through prayer, our conversation with God, that we will find the strength to walk with Jesus across the boundaries imposed and bring others to the community, to friendship with God!
Give a little time to God today – say a prayer – talk with God. Have a holy and blessed Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: My thought for today is drawn from today’s readings, (Gospel Mark 1: 29-39), our constant need for healing. Healing and casting out demons seem to be the work of the day for Jesus. I was thinking of another line in the Gospel as I read today’s passage during my prayer time this morning. The line I thought of was, "The poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14:7). I thought Jesus could have easily said, "The sick and demons you will always have with you!"
There is always healing that needs to be done, people struggling physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes when I am daydreaming, I wish Jesus would walk into our midst and begin to heal or that he would give me the temporary power to heal because there are so many people who could use it!
And demons, they seem to be everywhere these days, if only Jesus were here to cast them out what a different place the world could be. It amazes me that the demons always seem to know Jesus and yet often the people in his presence don't.
Yet, there is another Gospel passage that also comes to mind, "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his [or her] heart, but believes that what he [or she] says is going to happen, it will be granted him [or her]." (Mark 11:23) In other words the power to heal and cast out demons is within our grasp we just need to believe and not doubt.
Perhaps, all we need to do is have faith and remember as we go through this day, “the force," the power, the presence of Jesus is with us to heal and to cast out demons, our job is to believe!
Have a blessed and holy Wednesday 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...