Today’s Thoughts: “A Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment, the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus!”
These words spoken by Pope Francis in a homily back in March of 2013 seem to speak to our Gospel (Luke 24:13-35) today. The disciples on the road to Emmaus find out that they cannot be sad. They find it out by having an encounter with Jesus. They find it out in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup. They find out that amid all the struggles of the last few days, in the midst of the many insurmountable moments of the last few days that the enemy has not won, Jesus has risen!
Each time we come together as a community of faith, each time we have an encounter with a Person, Jesus, each time we break the bread and share the cup, each time we proclaim that Jesus is risen we are reminded that the enemy has not won. We are reminded that God is with us, at home, on the road throughout the journey of life!
Have a great Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Most of us seem to respond -- however imperfectly -- to the great events of our lives. Special moments in our life like the birth of a child or the death of a loved one change the way we ordinarily live. When something special happens we stop to appreciate, to evaluate, to react. We buy gifts, we pray, we spread the word, we come together. Our emotions match the moment: gladness, grief, and everything in between.
This is what makes the text of the Acts of the Apostles so full of life. Like you and I, the people of Jerusalem and beyond are responding to a great moment of their lives. There is confusion, celebration and concern. Something big has happened, and people are on the move.
The Church nourishes our Easter reality these days with readings of women and men excited with the Risen Lord’s spirit. The Easter event has not gone unnoticed. A trial. A crucifixion. A resurrection? Quite the combination! Our scene from Acts today shows more and more people affected and, subsequently, more and more people responding. And though the process isn't always easy, from our vantage point as readers of today's Scripture we see a great Christian movement at work.
The Gospel provides an important insight to accompany the activity of Acts. It's not a post-Easter Gospel, but it speaks to a post-Easter reality. The disciples, frightened, face the uncertainty of darkness. Winds swirl and waves rise as this group looks to proceed without the physical presence of Jesus. And yet, in the end, and in a way mysterious indeed, Jesus is with this group. "Do not be afraid." In the end his advice is rather simple yet bold.
It is advice we can heed today in our own post-Easter reality. Yes, something big has happened, and we need to respond -- each in your own way. As scary as it can be, let’s not be intimidated by confusion and uncertainty. It is important to respond. It may seem at times like Jesus is not with us, but he is!
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles offers us a nice reflection for our journey through Easter and life. The Pharisee Gamaliel seems to be a man of wisdom as he reflects on the challenge that the Sanhedrin seem to be confronted with – are the Apostle for real? His solution is one that should be applied every time we encounter this type of challenge. Only time will give us the answer whether something is of God or not.
It is not easy to sit and wait. It is not easy to consider that someone or something might truly be of God especially when they or it challenges what we believe or how we are living. Put yourself in the shoes of the Scribes and Pharisees, in the shoes of the religious leadership of Jesus’ time. They had studied, believed and learned to live by certain rules, regulations and beliefs and now the Apostles and disciples of Jesus were challenging the vary way of life they believed in. Change is not easy!
But Gamaliel says wait and see if it is of God it will last, if it is not it will fail. This is wise advice for living our life in faith. It is not always easy or possible to follow but it is wisdom to be considered as we navigate through the struggles and challenges of life.
In our Gospel today we hear the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Jesus takes the five barley loaves and two fish and provides as much bread and fish as people need to nourish themselves. This reading reminds me of the wonderful gifts that God gives us as we journey through life. Perhaps the lesson to learn from our Gospel today is that we should never under estimate the value of the gifts that God provides to us. No matter how simple or insignificant we think they might be anything is possible with God. Are we willing to let go and let God work through what we have?
As we journey through this Easter season, let us reflect on the people and experience we encounter and not judge too quickly. Let’s give them time because we never know when someone or something might just be about God. And let’s not sell short the gifts that we have because if we are willing to place them in Jesus’ hands great things can happen and many can be fed!
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Evangelist, testifies to Jesus. He calls us to believe in person of Jesus, in the complete person, of Jesus the Christ or, as he refers to him in today’s Gospel, the Son.
The entire Gospel of John focuses on this act of faith, for in John’s Gospel Jesus offers very little in the way of specific moral teachings or insights. He indicates that we must cling to Jesus and entrust ourselves to the love that God has revealed by sending his Son to be one of us. John’s Gospel calls us to a letting go of self. It calls us to a trust that places us in the Father's heart and hands right along with Jesus even if it leads us to death to this world.
This letting go of self is not a matter of earthly wisdom: "The one who is of the earth is earthly, and he speaks on an earthly plane." The one who comes from above calls us to something beyond earthly values and reasoning. The one from above calls us to trust in a love that leaves the merely reasonable far behind. It is a wisdom that calls us to allow the Spirit to fill us and to generously share the riches we have from the Father through the Son and his Spirit.
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In the readings today we find the simple message - God saves us! However, it is only those who believe who will be saved. Perhaps more importantly if we want to be saved we need to acknowledge the need for God’s presence in our life in order to gain the gift of deliverance.
In the first reading from Acts, the Apostles are imprisoned, and the angel of God comes and releases them and sends them to the temple area to continue preaching. They are released from their imprisonment because God is with them.
In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear the echoes of God’s response to those in need - Lord hears the cry of the poor. All who believe in God and call out to God will be aided in their time of struggle. God does not abandon his people. But there needs to be a request – God needs to hear the cry of the poor. God’s response may not always come as quickly or as directly as it did for the Apostles in jail but down through our faith story God has always responded to the cry of those in need.
In the Gospel, we encounter Jesus as the ultimate delivery of God’s response to those in need. God so loved us that he gave us his only begotten son. Out of this profound love God made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Only through Jesus can we truly understand God’s love and be welcomed into the Kingdom. Whether God instantly saves us, as he did the apostles from the prison, or whether it is through the Cross of Christ, God’s love for us ultimately will save us. It is through belief in Jesus that we have salvation but we must be open to God’s love and not be afraid to ask for God’s help!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
“Love is not words, it is work and service. A humble service, performed in silence and concealed, as Jesus Himself said: 'When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing'". And this service is shown also when "we make available to the community the gifts the Holy Spirit has granted us, so that it may grow", and when "we share material goods so that no-one may be in need. This sharing and dedication to those in need is a style of life that God suggests also to many non-Christians, as a way of authentic humanity." (Pope Francis)
Today's Thoughts: We celebrate the feast day of St. Mark, the evangelist, writer of the earliest and shortest Gospel. We meet Mark also known as John Mark, in the Acts of the Apostles and in the First Letter of Peter which is the first reading for today’s mass. Mark was a companion of St. Paul for a time and Peter refers to him as his son, most probably meaning his spiritual son.
Mark took the account of Jesus’ Passion and Death and formed his Gospel around this main event in the life of the faith community. Mark gives us nothing of Jesus’ birth or early life. He gives us the years of Jesus’ ministry and public life. As stated the center of Mark’s Gospel account is Jesus Passion and Death.
The tradition of Mark’s Gospel has helped to spread the Good News. His Gospel has helped to sustain our faith throughout the centuries. It has helped the Church keep alive the story, the life, the ministry, the love of Jesus for the world. As we celebrate Mark today let us be reminded of the Good News. Let us take a moment out of our day to read a few words, a story, a passage from his Gospel. Let us remember the story of Jesus and let us proclaim that story in the way we live our life!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: "Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do." (St. John XXIII)
I thought of this quote from St. John the XXII as I encountered our readings today. As our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles begins today Peter and John have just been released with the warning not to preach in the name of Jesus. However, the power of the Spirit in their lives is so great they cannot stop. And as our reading ends we are told that the Spirit is so powerful in them that even the ground shakes as they pray and preach.
If we take a moment to look back at the journey of these two disciples along with the other disciples we might note that it has been a long journey for them. They have endured many struggles. They didn’t always get Jesus’ preaching and teaching. They were not the brightest of students. At times, they often pushed for their way rather than Jesus’. They made some poor decisions and even denied and ran away from Jesus at his greatest time of need. Even their encounters of the Risen Lord did not seal the deal.
All along from the first moment Jesus called them, he knew he had to begin emptying them. He continually invited them to let go of the world and to let God. Why? Because Jesus wanted to fill them with the Holy Spirit and it becomes the power of the Spirit that makes their prayer, their preaching so powerful and life giving.
In the Gospel Jesus is trying to do the same for Nicodemus. He is asking Nicodemus to empty himself of the trappings of the world so that he can be filled with the Spirit. In a way, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he is weighted down by the world but if he can let go and be filled with the Spirit he can be taken far beyond his wildest dreams!
St. John XXIII using different words is offering the same message as our readings today. He reminds us not to be afraid, not to be weighed down by our fears, our frustrations, and our failures but to be open to the Holy Spirit. He wants us to let go and let the Holy Spirit empower us into our hopes, dreams and unfulfilled potential helping us to always remember that nothing is ever impossible with God. We just have to believe and never give up.
So, let us empty ourselves today and let God fill us with the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we will stand ready for wherever the wind blows us today! Have a great Monday everyone and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in your heart!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today, John offers us three diverse, yet united encounters. First, Jesus appears to the frightened apostles, minus Thomas. He offers them peace, then invites them to take on his mission, a mission he received from his Father, and then breathed upon their fear and confusion the gift of the Holy Spirit sending them forth with the mercy of God to offer the forgiveness.
Next it is now a week later, Jesus appears to the same group of apostles, this time including Thomas. As we have learned from the time in between the two visits by Jesus, Thomas, needs to see signs and wonders. So, Jesus invites him to see and touch the signs and wonders of his Passion and believe. Thomas’ simple respond is, “My Lord and my God!” Perhaps in other words, “I believe.” Jesus then asks Thomas to not depend on signs and wonders anymore but to have faith, to see differently.
Finally, at the end of today’s Gospel, John tells us that he has written enough for us to believe without seeing. Yes, there were other signs and wonders after the Resurrection, but these which have been recorded are offered so that all who read and all who pray with them might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and through faith, they will have true life in his name.
Good old Thomas is such a good friend to us and so are the apostles gathered together in fear and separated by their individual shame at having abandoned their teacher, friend and Lord. They are living our doubts, our fears, our shames, and our desires to see just a little bit more so that our faith will be strengthened. It seems that God knows us better than we know ourselves. A little bit more would always be just a little bit more of what we would want. Thomas wanted to see more than he had heard his companions had seen. Jesus reminds Thomas, the others and us that seeing is not believing, but rather believing is a way of seeing beyond what can blind us.
This seeing beyond is the gift of the Holy Spirit and it leads to us being sent out beyond ourselves as well. We are sent, as the Holy Spirit was sent to us, to attract others to Christ, to the Father. How we live by faith and not by sight is a graceful challenge to this “I need to see to believe world.” If we walk by faith and not by sight, then we will make the world around us uncomfortable. If we try to live by faith and not by sight, we can become a sign and wonder to the world of God’s wonderful and awesome mercy and love.
Our struggles to live faithful, hope filled, and loving lives by going out, being sent, is the miracle of our times. By our life of faith, we become reminders that there is a beyond and what we see is the creative mercy and love of God. As reminders, we give new life to this creative mercy and love. Easter is our time for walking by faith, for going out and beyond.
Have a great Second Sunday of Easter everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Sorry for my late posting today but Google was being a bit difficult this morning I guess because I am on the road. I am currently in Manitowoc, WI where I will begin a retreat for sisters tomorrow.
This evening, I am going to offer you a few Easter thoughts from some other people to reflect on as you journey through your day…
"We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace." (Pope Francis)
“Everywhere I looked, hope existed - but only as some kind of green shoot in the midst of struggle. It was a theological concept, not a spiritual practice. Hope, I began to realize, was not a state of life. It was at best a gift of life.” (Sr. Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B.)
"To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others." (St. John Paul II)
“Totally love Him who gave Himself totally out of love for you.” (St. Clare of Assisi)
"Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it." (St. John Paul II)
“My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.”
"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do." (St. John XXIII)
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant ones, count as nothing.” (St. Thérèse de Lisieux)
"See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little." (St. John XXIII)
Have a great Saturday evening 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...