Today’s Thoughts: “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” (1 Corinthians 7:32) The opening words of the second reading today show St. Paul’s desire that we and the Corinthians should not give in to the anxieties of life. St. Paul knew that there were many things about life that could cause people to be anxious and thus struggle. He reminds the Corinthians and us that if we keep our focus on Christ we have a better chance of moving beyond the anxieties and struggles of life. We have a better chance of encountering the loving presence of God!
Jesus demonstrates exactly what St. Paul is talking about in the Gospel today (Mark 1: 21:28). Jesus vision is true. There isn’t any difference between his words and actions. What Jesus says can be seen in the way he acts. Jesus is able to navigate through life this way because of his relationship with the Father. He keeps his focus even when the unclean spirits of life challenge him.
Jesus’ power and authority come from his relationship with the Father. It is an unwavering relationship. It is an unrelenting relationship. It is a relationship not distracted by the world. It is a relationship ground in love.
We can be free of anxiety if we are willing to hear God’s voice and not let our hearts be hardened by the unclean spirits of the world. Jesus and St. Paul remind us that it is God’s voice and presence in our lives through which anxiety and struggle is replaced by comfort and love!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give a little time to God today!
Today’s Thoughts: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
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 again and 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 faith filled Saturday everyone.
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 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 blessed and holy 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? Or perhaps said more poetically by Amanda Gorman (In her inaugural poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’), “The new dawn blooms as we free it; For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; If only we’re brave enough to be it.” 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 holy and blessed 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 holy and blessed Wednesday 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 have always thought that if I had ever had a dog and it was a male dog, I would name him Titus. I don’t think Timothy is a good name for a dog, but I like the sound of Titus and he would be a companion of Paul!
In one of the two optional first readings for today’s mass from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy there are two things that I think can be helpful for our journey through this day and life in general.
The first is that I have always had soft spot for St. Paul’s remembrance of Timothy’s grandmother and mother in this letter. Having only known one of my grandparents, my mother’s mother, and the fact that my mother lived almost to age 95 I draw upon their presence in my life often. My grandmother and mother were strong women who faced many trials in their lives, with strength and perseverance. Their faith was very important to them. These two women along with many other women in my life are the reason I am the man of faith I am today!
My second thought from this first reading is St. Paul instruction to Timothy to, “stir into flame the gift of God….God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Our day should always be about stirring God’s spirit within us into the fire of love in whatever we do and for whomever we meet!
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 blessed and holy Tuesday 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 the world creating fear, anger and judgment but he walked in the world offering the mercy of God and proclaiming 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 blessed and holy Monday everyone!
I would like to send a special shout out to my Great Niece Kristina Marie who celebrates her eleventh birthday today! Happy Birthday Little One – Special K! May you have a great day, and may it be a day of many blessings! Much Love…Great Uncle Paul or Uncle GUP (In the picture below she is a bit younger)
Today’s Thoughts: The two things that caught my attention in our scriptures today are – how quickly the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s preaching and how quickly the Simon, Andrew, James and John respond to Jesus’ invitation. If I didn’t know better, I might think that all of them had read the section of St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians that we did today and figured that they were running out of time!
I am always a little concerned when we encounter such profound responses in the scripture like the ones today because I know from my own life experience that responding to God is not always easy. Sometimes I have to be hit over the head several times before God’s message, invitation or call sinks in.
I mean just take Jonah’s situation as an example. Think of yourself walking through any big city in the United States, New York, Chicago, Los Angles or any other large city and you are proclaiming the Word of God. What would you expect to happen? Imagine yourself standing in the middle of Times Square proclaiming the Good News. What would you expect to happen? Not what happened to Jonah is my guess!
Now imagine yourself in the midst of your daily life. Perhaps you are getting ready to walk out the door to work. Perhaps you are busy getting your children ready to head off to school. Perhaps you are sitting in front of your computer working to support your family. Perhaps you are sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your appointment. Perhaps you are at Starbucks waiting for your morning coffee. A man approaches you. A man you have never met before and he says, “Follow me!” Would you go? My guess is no. However, that is exactly what happens in the Gospel today and Simon, Andrew, James and John say yes!
Our scriptures today tell us that God’s Word, the Good News is very powerful. It can change peoples’ perspective, it can change peoples’ lives in an instant if they let it. The Good News can awaken us from the tedium of life. It can give us a new perspective. The Good News can be something new and wonderful if we let it into our lives.
Perhaps the people of Nineveh were just waiting for a new message, a new chance, a new perspective on life. Perhaps Simon, Andrew, James and John were waiting for a new opportunity to love life. Pope Francis has told us that – “Instead of imposing new obligations, (Christians) should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” Perhaps that is exactly how Jonah appeared to the people of Nineveh and how Jesus appeared Simon, Andrew, James and John.
Our scriptures challenge us to bring the joy, beauty, the delicious banquet of God’s kingdom, God’s love, God’s presence to the world. They challenge us to proclaim the Good News with our words but more importantly with our life!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday 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."
I have always found “He is out of his mind.” an interesting line in the Gospel. I don't think we often, if ever, would use the phrase, "He is 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 holy and blessed Saturday 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...