Today’s Thoughts: A passage in the first reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:23-25) gave me pause for thought. "Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works... [and] encourage one another." Our life needs to be about hope, and encouragement not judgment, finger pointing, hate and exclusion. We believe and we hold on to that belief because we have hope in God presence in our life and in our world after all that is God's promise to us!
Then as I read today’s Gospel (Mark 4: 21-25) I think Jesus puts what I read in Hebrews a little differently. In his wonderful 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!
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'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!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel (Mark 4: 1-20) reminds us that we have work to do. Jesus has given us the gift, but what do we do with the gift? Do we plant it and let it grow into a wonderful harvest of life that brings us to God or does the gift get wasted?
I have often used the parable of the Sower and the Seed in my preaching and the way I look at it is that in life there are four different kinds of soil, three of which do not allow the seed of God's Word, Grace and Presence to grow and one that does. I often image our hearts as the field, the soil and so a good question to ask is what condition our hearts are in? Is it good soil? Can God's Word, God's Grace, God's Presence grow there? Or is it the foot path, the rocky ground, the patch of weeds and thorns that will not allow God to grow?
Why might our hearts be like to foot path? Because we have been hurt at times in our life and we have hardened, we don't let God or others in? Why might our hearts be rocky ground? Well, because we are all sinners. The rocks, boulders and pebbles are our sins. Why might our hearts be clutters with thorns? Well, because the thorns are the things of my life that have become more important than God.
So, in order to have hearts full of good soil that produces a bountiful harvest we need to loosen up the hard places, move the rocks, boulders and pebbles and do some weeding. Then our hearts and our lives will truly be places where good things grow. Our hearts will be places that will bring to life the gift of Jesus!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
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 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. We might say it demands patience and trust. 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. So we need to be patient and trust in this journey with God.
As we make our journey through life today, as we find ourselves amid 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 amid our struggles, amid our divisions as a nation and as 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!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Over the years I have often referred to the movie the "Shawshank Redemption" as one of my favorites. When reflecting on or watch this movie I am always taken by one scene, Andy is sitting out along one of the walls of the prison and Red comes and sits with him. They have a conversation about life, specifically Andy's life. At one point, Andy says, "I guess you either get busy living or get busy dying!"
This phrase has always stayed with me from the first time I saw the movie I think because it states a truth about life. A truth that I believe Luke and Jesus ask us to think about in today's Gospel. We do have choices in life, they have been with us since the first moment of creation and the choice Luke, asks Theophilus to make and the choice Jesus makes is to "get busy about living!"
The breath of Jesus' life and ministry centers on the living of life, being the person God has created us to be. I have often preached on this passage of Luke's Gospel and said it presents two pictures, one of a day in the life of Jesus and the other of a day in the life of each of us. The difference between the two pictures is that we know the end of Jesus' story, we know that he fulfilled all the words of Isaiah the Prophet that he read in the synagogue that day, but we do not know the end of our story. What will we do with our life? What words of a prophet, of an evangelist, of an apostle, a saint, of Jesus will we fulfill?
We have two choices in this life to either be "busy about living or busy about dying." Which choice will we choose today? I hope at least for myself, it is to be busy about living!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
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 have always thought that if I had ever had a dog and he was a male dog, I would have named him Titus. I don’t think Timothy is a good name for a dog, but I like the sound of Titus and he would have been a companion of Paul!
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."
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 and we think or say the person is crazy. Jesus asks us to do a lot of crazy things, 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. 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!
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 for 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 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!
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 they 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 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!
Today’s Thoughts: In reflecting on the readings today two themes struck me about our faith. The first is continuity, the consistency of God. In the Letter to the Hebrews we are reminded that God has made an oath with us, that he will be with us forever. This is a consistent theme throughout scripture. It is a ray of hope, God will not forget us, and God will not leave us. God will be with us always. We can count on it. We can take it to the bank. We might not understand why God continues to hang around with everything we seem to do to chase God away, but God will always be with us!
The second theme is that of change. If something is alive that 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. Sometimes I wish we would understand this 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 God's commitment to us, God covenant with us will never change! Two of God's great gifts to us Life and Hope are always guiding us, always nourishing us.
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...