Today’s Thoughts: “Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.” The refrain from today responsorial psalm seems to be the focus of our readings today. This journey of faith is not about us, it is about the glory of God.
We certainly see this in the drama of our first reading (Acts 14:5-18). Paul and Barnabas go from nearly being stoned to being honored as gods. Yet as they both point out it is not their work it is the work of God. The man who hasn’t walked from birth is healed not because of Paul and Barnabas but because he has faith. His faith in God enables Paul and Barnabas to lead him to healing. They bring God to the moment so that healing can take place. It is not about Paul, Barnabas or the man who is healed it is about the glory of God.
The same focus can be found in our Gospel today, (John 14: 21-26), Jesus speaks about his relationship with the Father and how it can be life-giving in our lives, for this to happen our focus has to be on God. We are asked to buy into the relationship with the Father that Jesus is offering us. We asked to have faith in God and faith also in Jesus. If our life is about the glory of God and not stuck in selfishness then the grace, blessing and presence of God will abound in us.
In a world were so much focus can be placed upon self, our scriptures today ask us to place our trust, our faith and our hope in God. We are challenged to not make life about us, but about the glory of God!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: There is a lot going on in our readings today. Certainly, first and for most, we encounter in our Gospel the image of the vine and branches. One of the wonderful images of John’s Gospel. An image plucked right out of everyday life during Jesus’ time and that of the early Church. Jesus becoming the vine out of which we can grows in a faith filled life.
In our second reading we are called “Children.” I can remember a time during my life as a Passionist student when one of my brother Passionist students seemed offended but John referring to us as children. He said, “I am not a child any more I am an adult and I want to be seen and treated as one!” I have to admit sometimes I feel that way too but I also know that if I open myself up like a child I have a better chance of encountering the vine grower and receiving life from the vine.
In this second reading we are given some advice. We are asked to not just in love not in word or speech but to also love in deeds and in truth. In other words, actions speak louder than words. Perhaps, that is why St. Francis says, “Preach always and when necessary use words.” It is often easy to talk about doing the right thing but doing it can be a challenge.
Because John see us as children open to learning he goes on to share how we can accomplish living out our faith – by loving one another and by keeping God’s commandments and by doing what pleases God.
This all sound rather simple, but there are many moments, people and experience that make it down right hard right? I can easily think of people, experience and moments in life that presented and still present challenges to me when I try to practicing the command to “love one another.” No matter what I do, or how hard I pray for patience in dealing with people or situations, things are difficult! However, I am asked to persevere and love.
Perhaps the challenge is to stop and think of how difficult I might be to deal with me, and how it may be difficult to love me. Not easy thoughts to think. It is a heck of a lot easier to spend time thinking of the faults and failings of others than my own, but perspective is gained when I consider my own faults.
Back to our Gospel, the story starts with a description of our Father, the vine grower. The vine grower very carefully works in the vineyard caring for the individual branches daily. Those branches that are not bearing fruit are removed; the fruit bearing branches are pruned so as to produce more fruit. The vine grower wants nothing more than to have a fruitful crop. Thus, a great deal of time is spent on caring for the branches so that fruitfulness can be achieved. God will do whatever is needed and we see that down through our faith story.
Our heavenly Father spends a great deal of time and care in watching over each of us. If we remain in Jesus and his words remain in us, we are told to ask for whatever is wanted and it will be done.
As I write this Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are full of words of sorrow at the death of Alfie Evans, the little toddler in the UK who died this morning. Even Pope Francis expressed his heart felt sorrow! So many prays for healing, and it may seem that those prayers were not answered. Everyone wanted a miracle. Although it may seem that prayers weren’t answered, actually they were — going to Heaven while difficult for the family and all who prayed perhaps was better for Alfie. At difficult times in our life we are asked not to despair, because prayers are answered. God, our vine grower does prune so that we might learn, so that good fruit is born, in the midst of our faith filled journey through life.
Rest in the joy and love of heaven Alfie! Have a great Sunday everyone!
Today’s Blessing Prayer: Saturday greeting and blessings to all! I hope you will get to enjoy a beautiful, sun filled and warm Saturday. The sun is poking through the clouds here in Pelham and the temperature is to be warmer than yesterday. As I said yesterday we seem to be in the pattern of one good day and then one not so good day. Hoping today is a good day!
As you enter your day I pray that your life and your day will be blessed with the Spirit of God’s presence in the people you meet, the places you go and, in the things, you do. May you come to know God today through the living of life and may your living of life today be filled with joy. Peace in Christ’s Passion and Joy in the Risen Lord…Fr. Paul
Today’s Thoughts: “If you know me, then you also know my Father.” These are familiar words of Jesus spoken to Thomas and Philip and found in today Gospel (John 14: 7-14). They are words that remind us that our Christian faith is a very profound experience; only those who have faith come to know that God, the creator of the universe, chose to enter our life, to be part of human history and in doing so reveals a profound love to all creation.
Jesus seems to be responding to the age-old question, is there a God, and if so what is this God like? Jesus’ answer is, look at me, know me, because if you see and know me then you see and know my Father. As we find earlier in John’ Gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might bot perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) So if we take a good look at Jesus, if we get to know Jesus then we will know God, we will know the Father, the God who so loves the world!
In coming to know God it always comes down to a relationship, a relationship with Jesus, a relationship with the Father, a relationship with the Spirit. Relationships take work, relationships can be difficult and demanding, relationships demand time and investment. Yet in the end a relationship is the only way we can come to know the love, mercy, joy and faithfulness of God!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: It must have been difficult being one of the 12 apostles. Today Gospel reminds us of two realities in the life of Jesus’ friends. First that to be a friend of Jesus you had to make a leap of faith over and over again and second how Jesus is almost always patient with them. I say almost because at times you can hear little frustration in Jesus’ voice in dealing with his friends.
Imagine how new this all was to his disciples, his friends, even after the years of teaching and following. Jesus says there’s a place for you; you know the way. And yet Thomas says: “We don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
Jesus is the way. This is the message his friends hear over and over again. It’s a message we are to hear and live by. We, like Jesus’ disciples, are challenged to make a leap of faith over and over again as we live our lives. We, know the way, but we sometimes struggle to follow it. We make easy choices and we let ourselves be led astray. But like Jesus’ disciples, we learn the way. We just have to go in the right direction. When we make a mistake and make the wrong turn, we are graced with God’s patience and we hear the words that open our Gospel today, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith in me.”
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Characters welcome,” use to be the calling card of the USA network. But as I reflect on the stories of the early Church as they come to us through the Acts of the Apostles I am reminded that our Church, our community of faith is made up of characters, faith characters. Some very familiar to us like Peter and Paul others not so familiar just names or people who appear for a moment, yet they played a role in the development of the early Church.
What is it that makes a “character of faith?” Well, I think our answer is in today’s Gospel. Jesus has just washed the feet of the disciples and he reminds them that “no slave is greater than his master and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.” Thus, a “character of faith” is someone who follows the words and actions of Jesus. A “characters of faith” has faith in God, faith in Jesus and faith in the Holy Spirit. A “characters of faith” follows Jesus and believes that in following Jesus he or she will make his or her way to the gift of eternal life. One of the great “characters of faith” in our time is Pope Francis!
One thing is for sure because we are “characters of faith” we will not live life the same way and occasionally, we will need to stop and listen for the voice of God in our life. We will need to receive those whom God sends into our life. But as a faith character we take comfort and have hope that Jesus will always take the time to point us in the right direction.
The sad thing is that just as in the early Church, and during the time of Jesus, characters are not always welcome. We have all been gifted by being created in the image and likeness of God. Each of us are different, each of us are unique and special. And as we will learn a little later in John’s Gospel Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There are many dwelling places in the eternal home thus there is room for every character!
Have a blessed Thursday everyone!
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 Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: It is always interesting to me to hear the stories of the early Church as they are presented in the Acts of the Apostles. We hear about the struggling and the joyous moments of the early Church. We meet the people who made up the early Church and helped it to move forward. We hear about the wonderful faith filled moments and the dark moments of persecution and challenge.
Each time I hear the stories of the early Church I am reminded that as much as things change they also remain the same. The characters are different, the events are different, but the struggles and joys are the same. Today we face many if not all of the same challenges of the early Church. We have communities of great faith; we have preachers on fire with the Good News. We have challenges inside and outside the Church and at times we have persecutions.
Our faith is constantly in question, challenged, and often under attack. We are faced with change, differences within and a changing, struggling world around us. Like the early Church we are a community of believers listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd. Sometimes we hear it and sometimes the noise of the world around us tries to out shout it.
Our challenge is to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice, to recognize it in the midst of all the other voices and to have faith, to trust and to believe that the Good Shepherd will always be with us and will never leave us to face our perils alone!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: These words of Pope Francis seem to capture the spirit of today's Gospel, (John 10: 1-10). "Every Christian, and especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God's consolation, his tenderness toward all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God's consolation and to pass it on to others!"
Jesus offers us a relationship with himself and the Father. Jesus offers us the consolation and tenderness of the Good Shepherd. Jesus brings God’s joy to us. All we have to do is accept it and offer it to others!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our Gospel today introduces us to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. An intimate relationship that calls us to listen in a special way for the voice of the Good Shepherd in our lives. Sometimes the noise of our world gets very loud, but the Good Shepherds voice is always calling us. Sometimes the leadership of our world, our country, our church, our culture and society is all about power, authority, money, influence and self-interest. Jesus in John’s Gospel today reminds us that true leadership is about service, about offering one’s life and being a Good Shepherd. Jesus’ image of leadership is about mercy, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, care, support and selflessness!
Too often today we find that our shepherds are in it other reasons, money, power, selfishness, control and self-importance. At the slightest sign of danger, problems, or truth they run away, they move on to greener pastures. Not so with the Good Shepherd. He is always there, always present through thick and thin. Jesus as the Good Shepherd is built on a lasting relationship of love, the greatest love that there is, the love of offering his life for us.
We are called today to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. A Good Shepherd who is always there especially in the midst of struggle, challenge, fear and evil. A Good Shepherd with a Spirit that cannot be denied. Let us listen, live and be God’s faith filled people of hope!
Have a great Sunday 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...