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 during 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. 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: In today’s Gospel (Mark 4: 21-25) Jesus offers us a wonderful image of a lamp and the question that is asked is, 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 you." 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, especially the will of God. In the Second Letter of Samuel (2Sam. 6: 12b-15, 17-19) David has followed the will of God and in today’s reading we hear about David and the people bringing the Ark of the Covenant to its new home in the City of David and the ritual full of festivities and sacrifices. 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 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: In our Gospel today, we find Jesus looking for volunteers or perhaps better put, gathering disciples. He is asking them to leave home, family, community, their way of life, to encounter something unknown to them, to encounter something new. The amazing aspect of our Gospel today is that those who are called seem to say “yes” immediately.
In the way, it is hard to visualize someone, including myself, saying “yes” to something sight unseen! For us human beings all kinds of questions often need to be asked and answered before we say “yes” to something. Probably the first question would be, “What is in it for me?” We might want to go home and talk things over with people important in our life. We would want to do a little research on the person or the project. We would want to know exactly what we are getting ourselves in to and what will be expected of us.
We might ask, “What made these first disciples say, “yes” and stay? Was Jesus’ sales pitch that good? Were they looking for a new adventure? Was it just the right time and the right place?
We will never know but our Gospel today does challenge us to look at our own response to God. Are we willing to say “yes” when Jesus comes calling in our life? Are we willing to let go and let God? A little food for thought on a Sunday in late January!
Don’t forget to give God a little time today. Have a blessed and holy Sunday 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 Saturday everyone.
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, 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!
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.
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...