Today’s Thoughts: As I prayed with the Gospel (Mark 5:1-20) this morning a line from the Psalms came to me – “Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord!”
I find this 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. Yet all of us have the opportunity to recognize Jesus in our life and become free of the things that possess us but first we need to overcome our fears and trust in God's presence. Trust that change can be good.
May we recognize Jesus passing by today and allow our hearts to find comfort and hope in his presence! Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: My reflections today focused on seeing things differently through the eyes of God, the eyes of faith. The first reading from Jeremiah paints a picture of a man, a prophet who is asked by God to see things differently, to see his life differently.
St. Paul asks the Corinthians to see love differently, not the way the world see it but as God sees it. It is a beautiful reflection about love that we have probably heard a hundred times at weddings and anniversaries. Yet, if we listen to St. Paul closely, love is very hard, it is not easy. It is a perfect love, a love perhaps only that God can offer. It is a love that we are always reminded of each time we look at the Cross. It is a love that asks us to look at our love for God, for others, for ourselves differently.
In the Gospel Jesus asks the community at Nazareth to look at life differently. He asks them to look at a life bigger than themselves but unfortunately, they cannot. They are stuck in their own little world!
The challenge of the scriptures today is can we look at life differently - can we look at life with God's eyes, with the eyes of faith?
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone!
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 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 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: 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.
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!
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: 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 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 demy 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 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 blessed and holy 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: 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...