Today’s Thoughts: We hear in the Gospel (Mark 5: 21-43) about two women, one who is cured and the other who is brought back to life. The women in the Gospel story are different, one is just a child of twelve who faces death, and the other has lived many years but for the last twelve years has faced a great physical struggle. For one woman, it is the faith of her family, in particular her father, that makes all the difference, for the other it is her own faith that makes the difference. This is what brings these women together, faith. Faith if lived out can give us the opportunity to be cured; faith can also give us life!
The focus of the Gospel is the thread of faith. The two women in our Gospel relied on faith to bring about comfort, relief and life. We, the community of faith, rely on the faith of those that journey with us, our own faith and the faith of those who have gone before us, "the cloud of witnesses" to keep us going, to support us on this journey of faith we call life.
Faith can be a comfort, faith is always a challenge but remember it can bring healing, it can bring support and it can bring life. Let us be faith filled people today and always so that we to can be a source of healing, comfort, support and life to all we meet!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Here are a few thoughts from Pope Francis...Do they have any relevance for us?
"What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom? What has happened to you, Europe, the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?” (Address at reception of Charlemagne Prize, May 6, 2016)
Might he use the same words to challenge us?
Today’s Thoughts: Sorry I am a little late today but it was a busy morning and I was moving a little slow… As I prayed early this morning with the readings today the line from the Responsorial Psalm jumped out at me – “Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord!”
I find today’s Gospel to be a strange story. There are many layers to it: Jesus in foreign territory; the man who lives among the tombs; the unclean spirits named legion that are sent into the swine; the swine that throw themselves into the sea; the fear for the people so much so that they ask Jesus to leave and finally the man once possessed becoming a preacher of the Good News.
It seems that the possessed man in the story is the only one who can take comfort in Jesus. He has struggled all his life. He has been chained and broken out of the chains only to find little peace. It is only Jesus who can finally free him totally. I think we all have parts of ourselves that get possessed by the demons of life. Things that we cannot let go of that hurt us in a personal way and sometimes even hurt the people around us. We sometimes free ourselves only to be caught by them again. Perhaps like the man in the story it is only through Jesus that we can find comfort and hope.
Often as we live life we tell Jesus to move on, to leave, we do not want our life disrupted even if it not going so well. We like things the way they are even if our life a awash with struggles, chains, tombs and a lack of peace. The chaos of this past week perhaps feels unsettling and hopeless. Yet all of us have the opportunity to recognize Jesus in the craziness and become free of the things that possess us. First thought we need to overcome our fears and trust in God's presence.
May we recognize Jesus passing by today and allow our hearts to find comfort and hope in his presence! Have a great Monday afternoon and evening everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: There is an eerie warning in the readings of scripture today on this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time considering the events that have taken place the past few days and months. As much as we might like to deny it or rationalize it or rap it in different paper God’s focus, God’s power, God’s mercy and God’s presence is always found in and given life in the humble, the weak, the despised, the foolish, the poor, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted. Not in the powerful, the strong, the worldly wise, the important and the self-centered. God’s Kingdom will be built and populated by the blessed, the faithful remnant, found in our readings today.
It has been interesting to me these last few weeks how self-centered we have become as a nation and as a Church. Perhaps it is nothing new, it has simply just manifested itself more in recent weeks. I have read some of the debate centering on the inauguration, the Women March and the March for Life and what I do not understood is why do we always make things a competition? My inauguration is bigger than yours. My march is bigger than yours. My march is more important than yours. My march should be covered on TV more than yours. My march is more focused than yours.
If we believe in freedom. If we value each individual’s words and beliefs as important. If we believe God has given us free will. Then why must we always question what others do? Why must everyone see things as I do? Why can’t everyone march, if they so choose to, for what they deeply believe and are deeply passionate about?
If what we value. If what we have a passion for. If what we march for. Is or is not covered by the media. What is the difference? Have we forgotten that if we look for our reward and recognition in this life then we lose it in the life to come? We seem to be highly skeptical of the media today then why do we want them there? Is it the media that give value to our passion, our belief? If we go to an event. If we march for a cause. Does size matter? If our cause does not seem to be making a difference is it because it is not on TV? Or is because that outside the moment we march we don’t live the message?
Our readings today are a warning. Particularly for us in the United States but also the world. Our readings tell us that many things that we put such importance on are not where God is or will be – power, importance, strength, worldly wisdom, money, possessions, and selfishness. It is the blessed of our Gospel, it is the humble of the Prophet Zephaniah’s words, it is the weak, the foolish and the lowly of St. Paul’s world, who point us towards God and who will welcome us into the Kingdom if we like them we choose to let go and let God. It is the meek, the humble, the merciful, the peacemakers, the clean of heart and the justice seekers who in the end will live in the eternal Kingdom. It is those who don’t whine, cry and think selfishly about the challenges, struggles and persecutions of life that will ultimately be regard as great in the Kingdom.
If we are truly people of faith, then life is not just about birth. It is about bringing all that God creates into a world that values them not just in the womb but throughout their whole life. It is about bringing life into the world and then being humble, compassionate and merciful so that all life will be cared for, welcomed, fed, receive medical care, be free to worship and be passionate about life. Life is never just about “me” it is always about “us.”
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel story today (Mark 4:35-41) reminds us that in the storms of life, when the waves rise and the surge comes Jesus is still with us in the boat on the journey. All we need is to have faith.
In the Gospels faith often makes all the difference. It can enable us to be healed. It can save us. Faith can make us part of the community again. Sometimes it is not just about our faith, but the faith of friends that can make all the difference. In our Gospel story today it is faith that not only can save but get us to the other side, in other words help us to grow in our journey.
God reminds us over and over again that he is not going anywhere. God is always with us never leaving us to face our perils alone. All we need is faith so that we can trust the God is with us, though often invisible or unapparent, God/Jesus is always in the boat helping us through the storms of life.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
A Few Thoughts from Pope Francis: “It is illogical, even impossible, to think that we as pastors should have a monopoly on the solutions to the many challenges that contemporary life presents to us. On the contrary, we must stay on the side of our people, accompanying us in their searches and stimulating that imagination capable of responding to the current problems. This means discerning with our people and never for our people, or without our people. As St. Ignatius would say, according to the needs of the places, times and people. … Inculturation is a process that we pastors are required to promote, encouraging the people to live their faith where and with whom they are. Inculturation is learning to discover how a specific part of today's people, in the here and now of history, lives, celebrates and announces its own faith." (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: I often look back over my life and am struck with the thought, “my how things have changed!” Jesus talks about farming in the Gospel today. The farmer goes out and plants the seed but then waits to see what happens. The farmer doesn't know why or how it happens there is a profound trust in God and hope that the seeds planted will produce a wonderful harvest.
Today we know, for the most part, the why and how of farming. There is a lot more science and technology that goes into farming these days yet I cannot help but think there still needs to be trust in God.
The mustard seed is a wonderful image of God's Kingdom. Just think of the creation of a person, the tiny sperm and egg come together and begin to grow as one. This conception of the sperm and egg, this coming together, becomes a person growing each day within the womb. Then in nine or so months this person arrives and begins the journey of life outside the womb. God's Kingdom is made up of millions upon millions of people and trillions upon trillions of harvests. We sleep, we wake, and we wait. Day in and day out we see the many gifts of God's Kingdom, it is a wonderful harvest and yet like the farmers of Jesus' time we still don't know how or why it happens.
We don't know everything and the more we accept this fact the more we will encounter God's Kingdom each and every day we live. So like it says in the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:39), “We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.” God’s Kingdom of mercy is now. It is all around us. We don’t know how or why, we just need a profound trust in God’s merciful love and we will have life eternal.
Have a great Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: It is always nice to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and then to remember his two friends Timothy and Titus the next day. I think if I had ever married and had more than one son, I would have considered the names Timothy and Titus. My first-born son would have received the name Paul, there would have been no discussion about that!
I find the readings interesting today. In the first reading from Paul's Second Letter to Timothy, Paul says to Timothy, "For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God, did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So, do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord...but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God." I love the first line of this section of the letter, "stir into flame the gift of God." In other words, be alive, be energized, be excited about the gift of your friendship with God. I have often thought this would be a good quote to begin each day with among others.
In the Gospel, today (Mark 4: 21-25) Jesus presents us with the image of a lamp. The question is asked, do we hide the light or do we put it on a stand and let it fill the whole room? The light, God’s gift, needs to be placed on a stand. It needs to be made visible by the way we live our life, by the way we treat others and by the way we trust the mercy and promises of God!
This is not easy. Human nature is always calling us to the easiest, quickest, self-centered and most self-indulging way of life. Most of the time our human nature rubs up against God's way, tension is created, struggle ensues. It is almost never easy to do what Jesus would do, to do what God calls us to do. Yet if we respond to God's call, God's will, if we let our light shine then good things can happen. We have the support, the prayers, the energy, the faith, the hope, the love of others and the most important other is God!
So, friends as we journey through life today, and as we find ourselves in the midst of struggles between what the world suggests and what God suggests let us remember even though what God suggests might seem harder, not as glamorous, not as self-fulfilling it is the light of Christ that we walk with that will make all the difference!
Remember as Jesus tells us today, "The measure with which you measure will be measured out to [us]." So, let's be the light on the stand in the middle of the room today. Let us stir our gift from God into the flame of life. Let's be the one who rouses everyone else to love and good works. Let's be the one who trusts in the mercy and promises of God and thus bring the gift of hope to all we meet this day!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
"We rejoice in the certainty that 'The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us'. We rejoice that Jesus continues to die and rise again in each gesture that we offer to the least of our brothers and sisters. Let us be resolved to be witnesses to his Passion and his Resurrection, by giving flesh to these words: Li smantal Kajvaltike toj lek – the law of the Lord is perfect and comforts the soul.” (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: Greetings everyone on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It is a special day for me and one that I always celebrate I guess because I was blessed with the name Paul.
There are two choices today for the first reading, both from the Acts of the Apostles. In the first option from Chapter 22, Paul retells his experience on the road to Damascus and in the second option from Chapter 9 Luke is telling the same story. I could not help but smile a little as I considered the two options, they tell the same story but just a little differently. I thought of that game where someone starts off by whispering a story to the person next to them and it goes around the circle and the last person tells the story out loud and it is always a bit different.
Whether the stories are exactly alike, is not important, what is important, is what happen on that road to Damascus. Saul, as he was called then, soon to become Paul, has a change of heart, has a change of direction. He leaves that spot on the road a changed man, no longer a persecutor, now he is a preacher of the Good News. If anything the story of Paul reminds us that people can change, that people can come to see life differently. It doesn't take violence, anger, insult or judgment to make them change. Sometimes all it takes is a different vision, a different perspective, a different way of seeing things. God gives Paul the opportunity to see things differently and he accepts the chance.
Paul put his original energy of faith to work with anger, resentment and violence, Jesus invited him to see things a different way. His energy did not go away it just got refocused in a positive life giving way. He no longer walked in fear, anger and in judgment but he walked in the mercy of God and proclaimed the Good News and hope.
As we celebrate the gift of this new day, as we seek the sacredness and giftedness of life in our world, let us not live in fear, in anger, in violence, in judgment; let us live in the light and hope of the Good News. St. Paul walk with us, give us your energy to proclaim the mercy and Good News of God to the world!
Happy Feast Day to everyone with the name Paul and have a great 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...