Today’s Thoughts: There seems to be much more tension between Jesus and the people in John's Gospel today (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30). Certainly, in these waning days of Lent as we read John's Gospel we are made aware of the struggle most likely between Jesus and the religious leadership.
The leadership seems to be drawing upon tradition and Jesus seems to focuses on the moment, the work that needs to be done. The leadership seems to be living out the words that we hear in the reading from the Book Wisdom (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22) today about the wicked ones. They don't like what Jesus is saying. His words are challenging and demanding in a way that is difficult for people who have settled into a routine of life. Who have found a comfort zone that they do not want disturbed.
Are not we all like these religious leaders at times. We find a comfort zone, a routine to life and then we become angry when someone or something comes along and disturbs us, challenges us. It is particularly difficult when we somehow know that the person, the challenge, is righteous but we just do not want to change. We want to stay in our comfort zone and so we begin to find things wrong with the person, the place or the situation. If we can convince ourselves that we are right and they are wrong, then all will be well.
The religious leaders try to do that today in the Gospel, the wicked ones try to do that in the Book of Wisdom and certainly from time to time we try to do it in our own lives. We cannot change the religious leaders of Jesus' time; we cannot change the wicked ones from the Book of Wisdom. These examples are history and told to us today so that we might not repeat their actions. Yes, our challenge is always to recognize God in our midst even if it means letting go of our comfort zone, even if it means changing our perspective, even if it means finding the truth in another.
We pray today Lord Jesus, be close to us because we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from your mouth! We live on the gift of your presence and the hope that it brings to life.
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The readings (Exodus 32:7-14 and John 5:31-47) seem to have a common theme: the inclination for us to trade what God offers us for something of less value and splendor. At times, I have heard the term “laudable exchange” used in reference to giving up the things of earth for the things of heaven. Our scriptures warn us that often we do just the opposite.
In the Exodus reading today the people get focused on a molten calf as a god they think will help them. They have bought into the world, the culture, around them. No matter what God has done for them they think a calf statue can do better. They have given up on the living God and replaced him with a god they made with their own hands. These are the very people who have seen wondrous things from God, these are the very people who were freed by their journey through the Red Sea at the hand of God. Yet somehow, they miss the fact that God loves them and cares for them. They seem to think that God is distant and they wanted something that they can see and touch. Like we often do, they made a god to suit their specifications, to do what they think needs to be done. The outcome of all this stupidity is that they truly anger God.
The psalm for today’s mass (Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23) points out their folly. “They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.” They exchanged the glory of God for the glory for a human made calf. We are reminded that the only glory that we humans will ever have is the glory that comes from God, the glory that essentially is God. We have been created in the image and likeness of this merciful God and what a disrespect of God when we exchange our love of God for some creation of our own hands.
The Gospel today is a very dense section of John and it is difficult to do it justice with my little reflection. The religious leaders reject Jesus and exchange his testimony, his life, for that of others. For a time, they like John the Baptist but grow tired of him. If others come tooting their own horns, they listen to them. They are able to accept anybody and everybody but Jesus. They love Moses, or so they say. A question one might ask would be if they were alive at the time of Moses would they have followed Moses or been right in there with everyone else helping to make a god out of pieces of gold?
There is truth in the term “laudable exchange” to give up the things of this earth and embrace God. During Lent, we give up certain things in the hope that doing without will keep us focused on God. We sometimes do positive things or spend a little extra time in prayer with the same hope. These are wonderful practices however, we must constantly remind ourselves that what we do during Lent should help us to focus on God. If we remain focused on these things, then how are we any different than the people in the days of Moses who exchanged God for a thing, for a golden calf?
Let us be focused today on God, let us lift our eyes to and see the things that are of God today!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Wednesday with Pope Francis...
“Hope is born when you are able to experience that all is not lost; and for this to happen it is necessary to start 'at home', to begin with yourself. Not everything is lost. I am not lost; I am worth something, I am worth a lot. I ask you for some silence now, and I ask each one of you to ask himself or herself: 'Is it true that not everything is lost?' 'Am I lost?' 'Do I have worth?' 'Am I worth a little, a lot?'. The biggest threats to hope are those words which devalue you, words which suck out your value and you end up feeling down, is this not so? Words which make you feel second rate, even fourth rate. The biggest threat to hope is when you feel that you do not matter to anybody or that that you have been left aside. This is the great obstacle to hope: when, in a family, society, school or a group of friends, you are made to feel unimportant to them.” (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: Within our scriptures today there is the thread of intimacy and relationship running through them. In the first reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 49:8-15) we hear Advent like images of how God enters our life and helps us to make the journey home. We hear how much God desires a relationship with us and how far God is willing to go for that relationship. There is the famous image in the reading about the child in the mother’s womb and even if that mother were to forget about the child God will not forget about the child and us.
In the Gospel (John 5:17-30) it is John’s image of the relationship between the Father and the Son. Throughout John’s entire Gospel we constantly hear about the intimate relationship that Jesus has with the Father. If you see Jesus, you are looking at the Father. The two are inseparable, they work together. They know each other’s thoughts, words and actions. We are invited to have this same kind of relationship with Jesus and the Father.
Intimacy is something we all want, something we all need but it is something many of us find difficult because of what it demands of us. It demands commitment, time, energy and a willingness to be truthful and honest. It demands a willingness to see the good in others and to understand their struggles, their faults and failings. Intimacy means we are willing to stand by the other even when it is not easy, even when it is not popular.
Much talk time and print space has been given to celibacy and chastity in recent years, some of it positive and much of it negative. Being one who has tried to live this vow I know that the most difficult part is intimacy and I am not just talking about physical intimacy. I think we all have a great need, desire, longing for and deep connection with another, a person to share our joys, fears, sadness, struggles, triumphs, feelings and love. We want that soul friend who knows us, understands us, values us, forgives us and loves us no matter what and yet whether celibate or not this friend is hard to find.
Many of the great saints talk about finding this relationship after a long struggle with God. I am not a great saint so my struggle for intimacy goes on. It is a great need in everyone’s life and sometimes it is a life-long search. For me there is always sadness when I see this intimacy devalued or absent. When I see a mother or a father forget their child, either through abuse, neglect or when their life become so self-centered they don’t make the connection. I am also encouraged and hopeful when I see the wonderful gift of intimacy at work in the lives of people, when they don’t forget!
Throughout Lent we have been reminded that living a life of faith demands looking beyond ourselves, it demands being other oriented. Relationships and intimacy are the way we can keep ourselves focus on others, focused on God. Let us live the journey of life today open to the gifts that others can bring to our lives!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Pope Francis has asked us to bring the mercy of God to whomever we meet. We are to look around and see people like the man in the Gospel today who can’t get to the living water of healing and we are to bring that living water to them. We are not to be people who see ourselves alone with Jesus; we are to be people of a community of faith who bring the living waters of Jesus to the world.
As I looked over the scriptures this morning a couple of thoughts came to mind. First there is a one striking thing about today's Gospel (5:1-16) for me; it is the fact that the man whom Jesus approaches is alone. He says he has no one to help him. No one to get him to the water, he finds himself alone unable to get to the waters of life. How often do we feel alone in life? We have that feeling that we are out there on a limb by ourselves. There is no one to help, no one to lean on, and no one to help us get to where we want to go. Like the man in the Gospel today we can be surrounded by a world of people and yet still feel alone.
In those moments, perhaps it is only God who makes the difference. We are not dramatically healed as the man in the story but when we let God enter our life, life does become better. We encounter the gifts of life; we get places that seemed impossible to get to before. With God in our life being part of the world, be a part of the community is not only possible it happens.
Another aspect of our readings today is the element of water. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12) and the man in the Gospel encounter the healing power of water. They are each aware of its importance in and for life. They each become aware of the presence of God in life that the water represents.
Our readings today remind us of the value of God's presence in our lives. God's presence never leaves us to face life alone. God's presence is life giving, refreshing and life sustaining. As the verse for the responsorial psalm says, God is with us and God is our stronghold our support.
As we live this day let us be aware of the many ways that God enters our life. Let us be aware of the many ways in which God does not leave us alone and the many ways God sustains and refreshes our life. Let us be thankful and not fearful because God is ever with us and will never leave us to face life alone!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Monday with Pope Francis...
"But Father, I am weak, and I fall down again. But if you fall, get up again! When a child falls, what does he [or she] do? He raises his hands to his mother or father to help him up. Let us do the same! If you fall into sin through weakness, raise your hand: the Lord will take it and will help you to get up again. This is the dignity of the Lord's forgiveness. The dignity that God's forgiveness gives us is that of getting up again, of always getting back on our feet, because He has created man and woman so that they might stay on their feet." (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: “Run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others…” These words of Pope Francis echo our scriptures today. True faith is not based on extraordinary signs and wonders. True faith is grounded in the ordinary signs and wonder that we encounter every day. True faith is based in relationships, in experience, in our connections with others that allow God to be present in our life!
Jesus words in the Gospel (John 4:43-54) today are as true for us as they were for the people of Jesus’ time, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” We are always looking for signs and wonders. If I pray to the Blessed Mother and my prayer is answered I will believe. If I pray to St. Jude and my prayer is answered I will believe. If my friend, my family member is cured of cancer I will believe. If the Blessed Mother, one of the saints, if God would just appear to me and tell me what to do I will believe.
We are always chasing miracles, apparitions something extraordinary and if we can just find one, experience one, we will believe. Or will we? There were many people during Jesus’ time who saw him heal or raise someone from the dead and did not believe or only believed for a short time. Take his disciples as an example, all of the things they saw, all of the experiences they had with Jesus and yet they still ran away. They still betrayed him. They still denied him. Belief is not easy and signs and wonders are not the cure. Living and believing every day requires work. Putting time into our relationship with God, prayer, good works, care and attention to others, especially those in need are what will make faith, belief possible.
There are signs and wonders going on around us every day. The sun rises and sets. People do good things for others. God is present in nature, people and us. We just have to stop and take notice. We have to be willing to stop and look at the ordinary things around us because they will make the extraordinary possible.
God desires nothing but happiness for our lives as we hear in the words of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17-21) today. The only thing that gets in God’s way is us! There was a commercial a while back, I think for an insurance or investment company and it opened with a person doing something kind for another person. Someone saw the gesture and did something nice or kind for another person. The commercial continued with one act of kindness after another until it came full circle back to the original person and the original act of kindness. Signs and wonders are going on around us every day all we have to do is stop and take notice. If we do – faith, belief in God will be much easier!
Have a blessed Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
Pope Francis’ words touch on the very gift of our Gospel (John 9: 1-41) today. The blind man experiences God’s love, a love that gives him the ability to see, physically and spiritually the good in himself and others. He accepts Jesus’ invitation to believe, to have faith and to bring the joy of God to the world. It is too bad that the others who make up the story miss their encounter with God.
The other scriptures today (1Samuel 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a – Ephesians 5:8-14) along with the Gospel touch on the themes of seeing things differently. Whether it is seeing God’s choice for the next King differently as Samuel is challenged to do or seeing the community differently because of their faith as the Ephesians are asked to do or seeing the reason for your life differently as the blind man is ask to do.
The scriptures become a lens for us to look through in order to see life differently. They ask us to see life through the eyes of faith. If we do so we have the chance to encounter the presence of God. We have chance to be surprised by the presence of God. We have a chance to be touched by the presence of God.
Our Gospel also shows us what happens when we fail to look at life through the lens of faith, we miss the gift of God’s presence. We fail to see beyond our faults and failings. We are stuck in the joylessness of the world.
Pope Francis always points to the joy of the Gospel, to the joy of life. Our scriptures today challenge us to see so that we do not miss the joy of God as it is present in ourselves and others around us.
Sunday blessings to all!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we take a little break from the purple of Lent today to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation. Mary is invited to be the Mother of Christ and she accepts even though it is an overwhelming invitation and will soon become an overwhelming task. Mary utters “yes” to God’s invitation today and her life and the life of the world was never the same. We owe Mary a lot but we can also learn a lot from her still. Her profound trust in God shows us that all things are possible when our friend is God.
Pope Francis talks about Mary in this way, “Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love…. Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town “with haste” (Luke 1:39) to be of service to others.” (Evangelii Gaudium)
This reflection by Pope Francis offers us a wonderful insight into the gift of Mary in our lives. He tells us of the many things that we should look for in the life of Mary. Most importantly Pope Francis reminds us that Mary was always able to recognize God’s presence in the important and unimportant moment of life. In other words, Mary always remained connected to God.
In remembering Mary today, we also remember all mothers, all women who say yes to the gift of life. Because of a mother’s yes, life forever changes for her and the world. Another gift gets the chance to enter the world and we get a chance to share in another part of the image and likeness of God.
So, I honor all mothers today, those living and those deceased. I especially pray for all expectation mothers, who carry the gift of life within them because they said yes! I remember in a special way all the mothers who have played a role in my life especially my own mother Rita, I am most grateful for her yes, and also Betty, Bernadette, Alice, Rosemarie, Roseann, Alice, Stephanie, Erica, Alexis, Deb, Ann, Monica and Sarah. Thank you all for your yes and the many ways you have given life to me along the way!
I would also like to mention all those women we say “yes” but are not able for many reasons to bring the gift of life, a child, into the world. I pray that they know that they do bring life perhaps not through a child, but through the unique gifts that they bring to the lives of many. I am thinking of many such women in my life, especially two aunts named, Mary Helen, a couple of friends by the name of Mary, and many others
Have a blessed Saturday everyone and may Mary be present to you in a special way throughout this day!
Archbishop Romero was martyred 37 years ago today. May we remember his courage, his faith, his challenge and his love for all people. Archbishop Oscar Romero - pray for us!
“Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous,
tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty." - Archbishop Oscar A. Romero, Martyr
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...