"News may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always “grinding”, but it is up to us to choose what to feed them (cf. SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, Epistle to Leontius).
I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily “grinding out” information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.
I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.
I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news”. (Pope Francis - From his message for World Communications Day)
Today’s Thoughts: Today's readings are all about God's will. In the Letter to the Hebrews we hear about Jesus doing God's will. God doesn't want the sacrifices of the First Testament, Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for us now we have to live it out each and every day, no free passes! In the gospel (Mark 3: 31-35) Jesus invites us into his family, everyone who does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. In other words if we live out life as the person God has created us to be we are part of the family!
None of this is 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, we are part of the family. We have the support, the prayers, the energy, the faith, the hope, the love of others and the most important other is God!
As we journey through life today, 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 family we walk with that will make all the difference!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As I pondered the Gospel (Mark 3: 22-30) early this morning a thought came to mind, though I am not sure it is a theological thought anyone would agree with me on. When I read Jesus' answer to the charge that "He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons,” I thought about our world, our country and our Church. We seem to be a house divided a lot of the time. Certainly, we seem to be divided in our country on many levels, especially politically and we are divided in our Church on many levels. Does this mean we are doomed to failure? Is there no hope?
Well I think the answer and hope can be found in the closing sentences of the Gospel, "Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
That might not sound like a hopeful answer but I think it is. Jesus says it is about the Spirit. I think in our country and in our Church, yes, we are divided but we are focused on the same spirit. The divisions in our country are about how to make it better, how to be better Americans, we all want the same thing, the same spirit, and we all want this to be a good country we are divided on how to get there. In our Church, we are divided on many issues but we are all focused on the same Spirit, the same God, the same end, eternal life, we are just divided on how to get there.
It is the Spirit that can give us hope in the midst of our struggles, in the midst of our divisions as a nation and a Church. All hope is lost if we lose the Spirit. As Jesus says if we deny the Spirit we cannot be forgiven. Perhaps as a nation and a Church we might stop for moment today and recognize the Spirit we all want and let the Spirit begin to help us bridge our divisions, our differences, our struggles. Let us live today through the Spirit of Hope who does marvelous deeds!
So, friends as you make your way through this day, live by the Spirit of Life and look for that same Spirit in others!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel today is an interesting one. It is short and to the point. The crowds are pressing in on Jesus, he does not have a moment to breathe, pray or eat and his family and friends are not too sure about all that he is doing, they go so far as to say, "He is out of his mind." Which is what I said about one of my brother Passionist when I heard the garage door open this morning, but I digress.
I have always found “He is out of his mind.” an interesting line in the Gospel. I don't think we often, if ever, use the phrase, "He us out of his mind." to describe Jesus. It almost seems irreverent! Yet that is what his family and friends thought and in a way it is comforting. I don't know for sure but I do believe that people have thought that "I am out of my mind," because of the things I have done or because of the busyness of my life or the thoughts that I have expressed or the stands that I have taken. It is comforting to know that at least for a moment Jesus and I share the same struggle concerning how people see us.
Perhaps many of the things Jesus did, experienced and lived out seemed crazy. How often today does someone point out that Jesus would have done it this way and because it doesn't fit with how we live life, we think or say the person is crazy. Jesus asks us to do a lot of crazy things, to not hate, love our enemies, pray for our persecutor, forgive, be in the company of sinners, accept people for who they are, step across boundaries in order to bring about healing and life, to share with other and to not just think of ourselves. It may seem crazy, in doing these things it might seem like we are out of our minds, but remember we are in good company!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Afternoon Thoughts: I have been considering writing this reflection for a few years now, basically since November of 2014. I often would think about it but it just never seemed like the right time. Well, this afternoon I am sitting at my desk with most of my work done at least for today, but I am not feeling too energized or joyful. So, I would like to try and make my day a little better by sharing a few thoughts with you about two men who over the past few years have helped me see life a little differently.
The two men I would like to write about are named Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Probably better known to many as Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers from the NPR radio show Car Talk. Tom and Ray are the two most genuine I have ever listen to on the radio and they are also the funniest! Now I don’t claim to be a long-time listener. In fact, it was probably only sometime during 2011 that I knew they and their radio show even existed. My brother-in-law is a long-time listener and I probably heard him talk about the show from time to time but it never really clicked. Up until recently I was not an NPR listener.
However back in 2011 my ministry changed and I found myself on the road a lot. My car at the time had Sirius/XM radio and on long drives when I grew tired of music I began to search around for some alternative stations. I remembered my sister talking about NPR and so I found that station. NPR has a lot of talk shows and much to my surprise I began to enjoy tuning in.
Then one afternoon I was on a rather long trip that would not end until late in the evening and so around three pm, having been listening to music all day, I decided to change the station to NPR to see what was on. NPR was just beginning a three-hour segment of the show Car Talk. Now normally Car Talk is on at 10:00 am Saturday mornings. What I was listening to was what they called The Best of Car Talk. In other words, these were shows from the past being replayed. Well even though I have very little mechanical ability I grew up around friends who loved cars so I decided to listen.
By the end of the three hours I was hooked. No by the middle of the first hour I was hooked!
Now it wasn’t because they gave me profound insight into repairing cars to the point that I would now try it myself. I still have no mechanical ability and as one of my nephews once reminded me, I don’t even have any tools! What the show offer me was three hours of continues laughter and genuine joy. Tom and Ray had a wonderful chemistry. They could tell you about cars but they would also tell you about life. They laughed at and with their callers. They laughed at and with themselves. They never berated, belittled or disrespected anyone, except in innocent fun. They were honest, informative and downright entertaining. They had the gift of joy and believe me it was infectious.
Whether I was on a long drive, sitting in traffic or listening at home on my computer or radio by the end of the program I had a smile on my face and the day was just a little better and brighter. When I wasn’t driving around I began to make sure that I caught their new shows each week often by going to their website. It was just a way to make life a little more hopeful and joyful. It became a way to get beyond the darkness that life can often throw at us.
Sadly, on November 3, 2014 Tom Magliozzi died due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. Tom and Ray had stopped doing their show in 2012 and my guess is that it was because of Tom’s Alzheimer’s. However, I could always get them for three hours in the afternoon Monday to Friday on Sirius/XM or on the Car Talk or NPR websites or at 10:00 am on Saturday on the local NPR station.
Any day I was down, struggling, depressed, mad at the world, sad or just feeling alone I could find an episode or two of Car Talk and the sun would come out, a smile would come to my face and life would be a little better! The problems didn’t seem so big and yes, God was present. It is funny how humor, laughter and a smile can truly make God seem so very near.
Now I am sure that Tom and Ray were not thinking about God as they presented their show each week, but as I said in the beginning they were genuine people, who looked at life in a positive way, a respectful way and a lifegiving way. Because they lived life this way God came to life in their banter, their good advice, their concern for others and their infectious laughs!
Listening to them often made me think of the disciples and what they might have encountered in Jesus that kept them going. Certainly, it was his teaching and the miracles, but I would bet it was also his truthfulness, his genuineness and perhaps his laughter.
Tom and Ray were and are intelligent men. They both graduated from MIT and Tom even had an MBA and a PHD. However, for me it was their humanness that made all the difference. There was no “me, me, me or I, I, I.” There was no hate filled language or disrespectful talk. They genuinely wanted to know about their callers. Not just the problems they were having with their car or the questions they were asking. They wanted to know about the person on the other end of the line. Like any call-in show there were some “odd ducks” but that didn’t matter. Tom and Ray were there for them, with a little advice and a lot of laughs!
I wish I had found Tom, Ray and Car Talk a lot sooner. I might have avoided many dark days in my life. I might have learned to laugh a little more and smile with more regularity. I might have recognized the gift of God’s presence a little more in my life and in the world around me. I am indebted to Tom and Ray. I owe them big time! I am sad Tom is no longer with us but I am sure his laughter can be heard all over heaven. Both Tom and Ray were and are from Cambridge, Massachusetts, (our fair city as Tom would always say), They were and still are lights in an often dark and negative world. For me their simple laughter often changes, in a positive way, the course of many struggling days.
Perhaps, I will take my own advice this afternoon or evening and search the NPR website for another Car Talk show. I will put my feet up and have a good laugh, learn a little about cars and put a smile on my face.
Thanks for stopping by the website and letting me share this my reflection with us. And thanks to Tom and Ray…
PS Car Talk is still on many local NPR stations at 10:00 am on Saturday and as I mentioned above you can find podcasts on the NPR website. Why not give it a listen?
Today’s Thoughts: Jesus names his twelve closes friends in the Gospel today (Mark 3:13-19). They are learning about the Good News, the Kingdom of God and in due time they will be continuing Jesus’ work and ministry themselves. They will soon be proclaiming the Good News to all the world. 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, yet that is what we are called to as the children of God.
In the responsorial psalm (Ps. 85: 8, 10, 11-12, 13-14) today we learn that “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” We also learn that this is made possible through the presence and mercy of God that were God is there life flourishes.
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, a Good News grounded in the mercy a God.
Have a great 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 great Thursday everyone!
Could this also be said about Native Americans? - "Your peoples, as the bishops of Latin America have recognized, know how to interact harmoniously with nature, which they respect as a 'source of food, a common home and an altar of human sharing'. And yet, on many occasions, in a systematic and organized way, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society. Some have considered your values, culture and traditions to be inferior. Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them. How sad this is! How worthwhile it would be for each of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, 'forgive me!', 'forgive me, brothers and sisters!' Today’s world, ravaged as it is by a throwaway culture, needs you. Exposed to a culture that seeks to suppress all cultural heritage and features in pursuit of a homogenized world, the youth of today, these youth, need to cling to the wisdom of their elders. Today’s world, overcome by convenience, needs to learn anew the value of gratitude." (Pope Francis) - Homily with indigenous people from the state of Chiapas, Mexico, Feb. 16, 2016
"Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith." (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: My thoughts today center around a single phrase in the Gospel, "Jesus looked around at them with anger...." It is comforting to know that Jesus was angry from time to time. That he got frustrated with others, particularly others who should have known better. Today it is the religious leaders once again they still don't seem to get it. 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 life 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 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...