Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel (Mark 5: 21-43), today we hear about two women, one who is cured and the other who is brought back to life. The women in the Gospel story are different, one is just a child of twelve who faces death, and the other has lived many years but for the last twelve years has faced a great physical struggle. For one woman it is the faith of her family, in particular her father, that makes all the difference, for the other it is her own faith that makes the difference. This is what brings these women together, faith. Faith if lived out can give us the opportunity to be cured; faith can also give us life!
The focus of the Gospel is the thread of faith. The two women in our Gospel relied on faith to bring about comfort, relief and life. We, the community of faith, rely on the faith of those that journey with us, our own faith and the faith of those who have gone before us, "the cloud of witnesses" to keep us going, to support us on this journey of faith we call life.
Faith can be a comfort, faith is always a challenge but remember it can bring healing, it can bring support and it can bring life. Let us be faith filled people today and always so that we to can be a source of healing, comfort, support and life to all we meet!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In reflecting on today’s Gospel (Mark 5:1-20) the response to our Responsorial Psalm seems to fit very nicely – “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: Today we hear the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12). The Sermon opens with the Beatitudes. As I have gotten older and reflected often on the Beatitudes, I have come to believe they are the Commandments of the New Testament. They are how we are to view life but more importantly live life.
There is a story I sometimes use in my preaching. It is about a man who encounters God in the middle of the night and God tells them man he has a job for him. He is to wake up each day and with all his strength push against a rock in his front yard. So, every day he gets up and from sunrise to sunset he puts all his strength against the rock and pushes. Every night he comes home tired, worn out and discouraged because all his pushing has not moved the rock. This goes on for many years and because of his discouragement the devil sees an opportunity. He plants negative thoughts in the man’s mind – “Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These troubling thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. “Why kill myself over this?” Maybe I should just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough.
But before he makes a choice he offers a prayer to God - “Lord, I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
God responds to the man’s prayer with compassion saying - My friend, When I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But is that really so?”
“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong, your back is powerful, your hands are callused, and your legs have become solid and durable. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass those which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
To me the world, culture, society is the rock, and the Beatitudes are our task, our job in this life. We are to awake up each day and go about our life letting go and letting God. This is not easy because it goes against everything the world stands for. The Beatitudes are the opposite of the way culture, society, the world sees life. We are to care, respect, and work for God’s ways and most of the time it seems immovable. But remember God only asks us to push. When our life ends God will move the rock and welcome us into his Kingdom!
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: 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.
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 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: 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 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, so now we must 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 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: 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!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
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...