Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today (Mark 10: 17-27), we hear the story of the rich young man, perhaps one of the saddest stories in the Gospel. The story of struggle because of wealth and possessions, a story that points out one of the great pitfalls of being successful, that it can go to your head. Wealth and possessions can become a god if left unchecked, if they become the most important things in life.
Yet, the end of the Gospel leaves us with a sense of hope. The hope is that “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mark 10:27). Yes, we are going to struggle with the trappings of life. Yes, sometimes we are going to feel like the rich young man. Yes, at time the words of the disciples will be uttered by us, “Then who can be saved” (Mark 10:26). And yes, sometimes our possessions and money will overwhelm us, and we will struggle.
But we live in the hope that even in our failures, our distractions all things are still possible, salvation is still possible, friendship with God is still possible because God is always with us and will never leave us to face life alone!
Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks in little proverbs or self-answering questions. Can some who is blind guide another blind person? A good tree produces good fruit, but not a bad one. It is difficult to see the good things or faults of another, when your own eye has a wooden beam in it. The goodness that is inside a person will be revealed as coming from a store house of goodness. Deeds and actions flow easily from the goodness within. “For every tree is known by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:44)
These sayings seem to tell us to watch our tongues and so we should, but there is more upon which to reflect today. Jesus wants us to be aware of where we are ground. Whom or what is the focus of our life. Where or to whom to we go to? For Jesus words do reveal the heart and mind, but even more so do gestures and actions. What we do gives validation to our words.
We do not always mean what we say, and at times we have the verbal power to reverse the injury caused by our words by uttering what we truly mean. It is often more difficult not to undo our actions. Watch a person’s actions and you will know a lot about them. Watch our own actions and we will come to know if our words match our actions. What Jesus is asking of His disciples and us, is to begin watching how much Jesus, lives not only his words but also his actions. What we hear a person say and what we see them do if often the measure of who they really are and who and what is important in their life.
The challenge for all of us is to stay faithful to God as we slowly filling up our store house with the goodness and presence of God so that we can share God’s good gifts with all whom we meet. Real holiness comes, when our words and actions reflect the presence of God with in us. The challenge is not perfection, but patient perseverance, pray and trust in God.
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: In reading today's Gospel, we are reminded of how truly dependent children are and about the wonderful freedom and joy that they derive from that dependence. In the Gospel Jesus is trying to help the disciples see two points with respect to allowing children to come to him. The first is to connect his care for the children with his ministry thus far. He had been curing people who are vulnerable, helpless or weak: a demoniac, a deaf man, a blind man and a Gentile woman’s daughter. And now, by welcoming and blessing the children, he is involved with another group who shared the same characteristics.
The second point is that Jesus is helping his disciples understand that to truly follow him they must become essentially dependent upon him. Thus, today we are reminded that dependence on Jesus is overwhelmingly beneficial. Jesus is hoping that his disciples will connect with memories of their own childhoods as well as with the reality of the children right in from of them.
Children are completely dependent on their parents for everything that they need, their health, for being loved, for food and for being protected. Because they are so dependent, they are free to enjoy each moment of their day. Each day is filled with discovery, with the joy of being with others, with no worries about anything else. And because of this, they can feel deeply joyful; they can go through their day and get ready to sleep with nothing left on their minds to worry about. They can begin and end each day in peace.
Jesus invites us to do the same. When we are physically, emotionally or spiritually suffering, he invites us to be dependent on him. In a way, our dependence can free us from our day-to-day worries. Some of these seem quite small when we are in pain. And by freeing us up, by unblocking our day to day worries we find room to focus on Jesus, in other words, to become dependent upon Jesus. When we are able to do this, we are assured by Jesus that our one step toward him will be met with many steps by him toward us. As we become more dependent upon Jesus, we will feel his unconditional grace that he is constantly sharing. We will find more joy and more peace in our lives.
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I know many of you probably look at today as just Friday. And you are right in doing so along with most of the rest of the world but in the Passionist world today, the Friday before Ash Wednesday is the Feast of the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion. It is one of the most important and special feast days that we have in the Congregation of the Passion. It is a day when we can truly celebrate the Passion of Jesus Christ which is the lens through which we view and live our lives as Passionists.
Pope Francis said – “Always remember this: life is a journey. It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus…. A journey in which we do not encounter Jesus is not a Christian journey. It is for the Christian to continually encounter Jesus, to watch him, to let oneself be watched over by Jesus, because Jesus watches us with love; he loves us so much, and he is always watching over us. To encounter Jesus also means allowing oneself to be gazed upon by Jesus. “But, Father, you know,” one of you might say to me, “you know that this journey is horrible for me, I am such a sinner, I have committed many sins... how can I encounter Jesus?” And you know that the people whom Jesus most sought out were the greatest sinners; and they reproached him for this, and the people — those who believed themselves righteous — would say: this is no true prophet, look what lovely company he keeps! He was with sinners... And Jesus said: I came for those in need of salvation, in need of healing. Jesus heals our sins. And along the way Jesus comes and forgives us — all of us are sinners, we are all sinners — even when we make a mistake, when we commit a sin, when we sin. And the forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus. We always encounter Jesus.”
Faith is always the key. As Passionists we celebrate this day with the faith that our journey of life is truly an encounter with Jesus, that God truly does love the world and Jesus’ journey to Calvary is the ultimate sign of that love. As Pope Francis says above, we are all sinners and it is that fact that set-in motion God’s greatest act of love for us, Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection. On this Friday before Ash Wednesday that is what we remember and celebrate.
Perhaps in a way we, Passionists, try to live the way Jesus reflects on the commitment of marriage in the Gospel today and the way James asks the community of faith to live in the first readings today. Jesus tells the crowd gather that the ideal of marriage is that it is a life-long commitment and James asks the community of faith not to judge, not to swear by anything, to mean yes, when they say yes and no when they say no.
As Passionists, our lives are dedicated the remembering the Passion of Jesus Christ which reveals the power of God’s love for the world and through our special vow we bind ourselves to the memory of the Passion of Christ. By our words, our ministries, our living of life and by our faith we strive to bring this gift, this grace of God’s love to every person we meet. Or perhaps sticking with the focus of our readings, we seek to live the Passion of Jesus Christ as a life-long commitment, saying yes, when we mean yes and no when we mean no. Not judging others but bringing people and their struggles in life to the overwhelming love of Jesus that we remember and encounter in his Passion, Death and Resurrection!
My prayer for you on this special Passionist feast is that as you journey through this day you will not forget that God loves you that you will always be faithful and that the Passion of Jesus Christ will always in your heart!
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: At times we look upon salt as not such a good thing. if we are a person with high blood pressure or have some other medical issue, we have a tendency to stay away from salt because our doctor says so. Yet in our Gospel today Jesus asks us to consider adding salt to the everyday journey of our life.
We need to remember that salt was very important during Jesus’ time. It was a preserver of food. There were no refrigerators, or freezers. If you want to preserve food salting it often made that possible. Salt also added flavor to food as it often does today. However, Jesus’ use of salt is not about food it is about living life. Jesus is asking us to add the salt of God’s grace, God’s presence, God’s compassion, mercy and love to our lives each day. This kind of salt will not raise our blood pressure, it will lower it, it will flavor it, it will pressure it!
We are to add the presence of God to our life each day so that our lives and the lives of all whom we encounter are graced, blessed, touched and renewed. We are to find the flavor of God within ourselves and share it with all whom we meet. We are to make our own lives and the lives of all whom we meet better, richer. This is the challenge of discipleship this is the challenge of the Christian life.
Jesus makes it very clear if we choose not to add God’s salt to our lives what will happen. “It would be better for [us] if a great millstone were put around [our] neck
and [we] were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42). To be a disciple, to be a person of faith we are to bring the flavor, the grace, the presence of God to our own lives and to the live of all whom we me!
So, as we begin this new day our first words of prayer to Jesus this morning might be – “Lord, please pass the salt!”
Have a holy and blessed Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Many years ago, I ran across the following reflection by an unknown author that seems to be a good reflection for our journey through this day so I share it with you…
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be? We are children of God. Our playing small doesn’t save the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around us. We were born to make visible the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it is all of us!
And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fears, our presence automatically liberates others.
So, let us not allow our salt, our flavor, to become insipid. Today let us live as the person that God has created us to be rich in the gifts of faith, hope and love, rich is all that matters to God.” (Adapted from an Unknown Writer)
Have a blessed and holy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and our thoughts and prayers are with Pope Francis, a humble and courageous man who has brought great joy and spirit to our Church and the world over the past six plus years. Some people criticize him for the way he goes about being pope, but I admire him for his honesty, for his faithfulness, for his joy, for his smile for letting go and letting God!
The Gospel today is Matthew’s version of the story we heard earlier this week in Mark. It is one of my favorites that scene when Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" I know scripture scholars do not interpret this question a Jesus wanting to know what people think, however each time I hear it that is where my thoughts go. This scene for me makes Jesus a little more human in my book.
He asks who to people say that he is, and then he asks the disciple who they say he is. Don't we all want to know the answer to these questions about ourselves? What do people think of us? What are they saying about us? We wonder what people in general whom we meet and perhaps work with think about us. We wonder what our friends really think. They are questions that we would like answered.
For me, I think Jesus did too, perhaps not for the same reasons we do, but I think it was important for him to know. Maybe he wanted to know how his message was getting across. Maybe he wanted to know how well his disciples were paying attend, were learning. Maybe it was a way to know just how well their relationship had grown.
As always, we can count on Peter to bring life to the moment. Without hesitation he responds to Jesus' question with what was in his heart, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." You can almost hear the love in Peter's voice. This heartfelt reaction and answer to the question and Jesus says, "Blessed are you Simon....For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Peter was speaking from the depth of his soul. He would still struggle in his relationship with Jesus, there would be more mistakes, but Peter had his hand of the pulse of his friendship with Jesus.
Perhaps Pope Francis does too; maybe his journey as pope is one that constantly reveals the joy and mercy of God. As people of faith perhaps we need to trust that Pope Francis is a shepherd who doesn't lord it over us but is an example to us.
Let us remember the words of St. John of the Cross, "In all our necessities, trials, and difficulties, no better or safer aid exists for us than prayer and hope that God will provide for us by the means God desires."
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” In many ways, all of us look at ourselves as people of faith, people who have values and, in most cases, can say we are believers. Yet, perhaps like the man in today’s Gospel (Mark 9:14-29) we need help with our unbelief, we need help in those moment, those situations, those circumstances when it is hard to believe.
Belief at times can get away from us, our emotions, our feelings overrun us and cause us to doubt God’s presence in our life. Situations don’t go our way, the burden of all that life throws at us seems to overwhelm us and we let go of what is most important. We become part of a faithless generation.
Perhaps we might take our lead today from our first reading from the Letter from St. James (James 3:13-18). We need to cultivate Wisdom, but as St. James says the right kind of Wisdom, a Wisdom that pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits. There is the wisdom of the world and there is the Wisdom of God. The Wisdom of God is the gift that can guide us through the struggles of unbelief. Wisdom can be the very presence of God that helps our unbelief.
Wisdom is the experience of life, the doing, seeing and listening of life that enables us to encounter the presence of God when we most need it. Wisdom can be found in every living thing and thus so can God. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we often recognize when we take the time to pray.
Let us be believers today and trust that God’s wisdom will always help us in our moments of unbelief!
Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our Gospel is a continuation of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain that we began last week. We hear a teaching about the way the followers of Jesus are to live. In his instruction Jesus gets specific and personal. Jesus is calling his disciples to listen well and act accordingly. They have their code of conduct, but there is something more to these expectations.
If we want to understand these demands about lending without expectation of repayment, praying and blessing those who hate us, loving our enemies, and all other challenges Jesus puts forth, we need to read the ending of our passage again. God is compassionate in all these ways. God gives without expectation of being given thanks in return. God turns the other cheek when slapped. God loves those who are enemies. God blesses those who reject his love. We are invited not to judge, because God does not judge. We are not to condemn, because God does not condemn.
The listening disciples are told at the end of the sermon that they are building their foundation on rock and that only sound trees produce good fruit. One can appreciate a good tree by its good fruit, but the fruit is produced from the interior of the tree. What we hear is all about external actions such as lending, forgiving, blessings and enduring humiliations. The deeper meaning, we are asked to listen to and hear, is the more interior sense. How we live is based on how faithful we are to our relationship with God. If God is compassionate and merciful so should we be.
These instructions are an invitation to try to live remembering that God offers us his divine compassion when we fail. God lends to us, blesses us, forgives us and always desires us to come to life and give that life as our way of revealing the goodness of God. What better way is there to live?
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: In some ways it is odd encountering the story of the transfiguration outside of the Second Sunday of Lent or the Feast of the Transfiguration. Yet, today we encounter Mark’s version of the event. As I have often reflected on this story in the life of Jesus, I have wondered why or how Jesus chose Peter, James and John to be witness to this special event. There must have been something special about these three disciples because they are also selected to accompany Jesus for his agony in the garden. Jesus must have seen something in these three that set them apart from the others. Perhaps in them Jesus saw true friends, not perfect friends, but true friends. Whatever the reason they were privileged to be present at profound moments in the life of Jesus. At the transfiguration they hear the words of God the Father and get a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus. Truly this was a very special moment for Peter, James and John.
The transfiguration is a very mysterious event. It is reserved for these three alone to witness, and they had to keep it a secret until after the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Had they spoken immediately after they came down from the mountain, others might have been unable to understand what they had encountered and heard. Only later, when Jesus had completed his instructions and teaching would all be able to understand what Peter, James and John had encountered.
Perhaps the challenge of our Gospel today is for us to take the words of God the Father from the Transfiguration as addressed to ourselves. Just as the Father called Peter, James and John on that mountain top many years ago, God invites us today to listen to the words of Jesus. God asks us not merely to hear the words of Jesus, but to really and truly listen to them. God wants us to hear, to listen and like Peter, James and John to be friends of Jesus in the most profound sense.
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...