Today’s Thoughts: “Different gifts but the same Spirit!” It is hard sometimes to trust in the gifts that we have. We always seem to look across the fence at the other side and think it looks better. We tend to see what other people do and think, “If only I could be like Mike!” or I guess I should say today, “If only I could be like Lebron!”
The key to overcoming our struggles with the Spirit is to remember, that every gift comes from the same Spirit. In other words, we all have a common origin, we all are gifted. The challenge is not, are we the best, the brightest, the most powerful, the most important, the most well-known, the strongest, the most gifted. The challenge is how do we give life to the gifts we have? How do we speak and act so that when others hear and encounter us they come to know the mighty acts of God?
St. Paul was very creative when he used the image of the body to represent our relationship with God, our relationship with Jesus. It is one body with all of us as members, as parts. All of us are necessary for the body to work, to function, to have life, with each member, each part valuable and important. Some members, some parts may stand out more than others, but it is the sum of the parts working together that makes the body visible, strong and life giving to others.
Yes, today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We celebrate being one of the many gifts of the Spirit. We celebrate being a part of Christ’s body. We celebrate being a member and hopefully like the disciples on the first Pentecost we give life to the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have received so that all will hear through us in a language they understand the mighty acts of God.
My friends, peace be with you today and always and receive the Holy Spirit, letting the Spirit fill your hearts and bring to life the fire of God’s love within you!
Have a wonderful, holy, blessed, safe, and healthy Pentecost everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we encounter the final verses of John’s Gospel. As we have traveled through the Easter season we have retold the stories of Jesus’ meetings with the disciples after the Resurrection. Drawing on yesterday’s Gospel Jesus helps the disciples catch a large number of fish and in doing so he gets their attention after which they gather to have a little breakfast. Having nourished themselves Jesus then challenges Peter three times with the question “Do you love me?” What we read today is the final call of Peter.
In the early part of John’s Gospel, Jesus, is followed by two of John the Baptist’s disciples. In the story Jesus turns and asks the two men perhaps a most important question, “What are you seeking?” The two men reply by asking Jesus where he is staying. Jesus extends the invitation to, “Come and see.” Jesus does not say, “Come and find out.” Jesus simply invites them as he will invite others and all of us for that matter, to come, to see and so believe. This is Jesus’ ongoing invitation, the challenge of being people of faith throughout our journey of life. In John’s Gospel, believing is seeing the “signs” so that believing beyond “signs” will be what it means “to follow”.
So, John ends his Gospel with Peter’s having seen enough “signs” including the large catch of fish after catching nothing, during the night. Perhaps when looking back at the disciple who Jesus loved, Peter is asking for another “sign”, a companion whom Peter could trust for support. Jesus indicates that this disciple has his own calling as does Peter, as do all of us. Peter’s calling is to trust in his friendship with Jesus throughout the rest of the story, the end of which Peter does not know.
These final verses are a summary reflection of all that Jesus has done throughout his ministry. It is a summary of all the “signs” that are there to be seen and all who can see the “signs” are no longer blind, they believe, they have faith, because of having seen, because they have encountered Christ. As John says there were many events in the life of Jesus, but those that have been written down are just the right amount for Peter and any reader of the Gospel.
With the coming of the Spirit we are given the gift of faith which is a variety of vision by which we look for and receive “signs” of the presence of Jesus and of his calling us to follow into the unknown of our tomorrows. We, like Peter, will always want assurances, companions, and more “signs” to make believing a little bit easier. God gives us just the right amount of what’s good for our own response.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
This afternoon as I sit at home waiting for my bathroom renovation to be completed it has given me a little more time than usual just to sit and ponder life and there is certainly a lot to ponder these days - Coronavirus, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, the weather, whether to open or not and so on, and so on. However, my thoughts this afternoon have continually returned to a reflection on the daily scriptures that I read early in the morning yesterday. I will not offer the whole reflection just the part that caught my attention...
"Satan is the great divider. Have you ever noticed that when people start getting closer to the truth, maybe when you yourself have edged precariously close to some breakthrough in your own life, out of the blue comes a road block or figurative explosion that threatens to derail everything? The devil loves to sow doubt and division, especially among those striving daily to do God's work. So often people of great faith---deeply committed to their beliefs and their efforts to make the world a better place---end up at each other's throats over differences in opinion. That is not God's work, you can be sure." (From Easter to Pentecost Rejoice and Be Glad 2020 by Mary DeTurris Poust)
Now I am not someone who focusses on the Devil very often in my life. I know there is evil. I have read about it and seen it but it is not the primary focus on my spiritual life. My preaching is certainly not "fire and brimstone," but I cannot help but look around at our world, our nation, our cities, our families and our faith communities and see Satan, the great divider at work. What is most disconcerting is that as women and men of faith most of us don't see it and sometimes we champion his presence in the name of faith.
Perhaps as we approach the great feast of Pentecost we might pause and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, our ears and most importantly our hearts to the work of God, to the presence of God all around us!
Friends in faith, have a wonderful weekend and a blessed, holy and joyous Feast of Pentecost whether you can get to your local church or not and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in your heart! Peace in Christ's Passion and joy in the Holy Spirit...Fr. Paul
Today’s Thoughts: We return today to one of the Easter stories where the disciples encounter the risen Jesus. Two of my favorite quotes from rather famous Jesuits came to mind this morning as I reflected on our Gospel.
The first was a quote that I have always liked from Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. – “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
And the second is a prayer written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, SJ. – “Take Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To you, O Lord, I return it. All is yours, dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.”
In reading the Gospel this morning these words from two great Jesuits came to mind. In the Gospel Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” and three times Peter says, “Yes!” Our relationship, our friendship with God centers on love, God’s love for us and our love for God.
This exchange between Jesus and Peter along the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection puts an exclamation point of their relationship and sends Peter out into the world to discover the energies of love, to discover fire once again all in the service of God!
Love is only realized, only understood in terms of action. How we live it out determines its power and presence. If Peter loves Jesus then he must live that love out, he must share it with the people of God and so must we!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: ‘I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their words….’” There is comfort for us in today’s Gospel (John 17:20-26). While we still find ourselves listening to Jesus talk about his and our relationship with the Father as we have been for most of the Easter Season, today Jesus let us know that his prayer is not only for his disciples but for us, those who believe because we have heard.
Jesus looks ahead with his prayer today, ahead to all those who will come after him and somehow, in some way, come to believe. Jesus prays for people like you and me who have listened to the words of parents, relatives, teachers, preachers and come to know and believe in Jesus.
St. Paul in the first reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11) is an example of the power of Jesus’ prayer. Paul knows human nature and he used it to his advantage today so that he can continue to proclaim the Good News. St. Paul is a witness to the presence of God in the world and because of his witness we to have a chance to believe.
As we journey through this day let us be thankful for Jesus’ prayer that we too might be included in God’s love if we have the courage to believe in the Good News that we hear!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have to say that I will be glad when Sunday comes and goes, and we are no longer in the Easter Season. I say this not out of disrespect or because I don’t like the Easter Season, I love it but by this point we have heard the Gospel of John especially chapters 14-17 so much that it is a little hard to focus. Throughout these chapters John goes around and around about Jesus’ relationship with the Father and our relationship with him and the Father. Sometimes I just want to say, “Ok, I get it!” I also think John may have been reincarnated in the people who wrote and translated the Roman Missal. If it is not John, then it must be somebody who studied under him or a distant relative of him.
However, with my frustrations stated I was thinking early this morning as I spent time in prayer preparing for all that I have to do today that perhaps these chapters in John are really the words of a person in love.
There have been several times in my life when I thought that I was in love or when I was in love. Obviously, they did not work out, but I can still remember the women and how I felt. I can also remember that it was hard to explain my feelings to myself and others. It was hard to talk about my feelings; the words would get all jumbled up. I would repeat them over and over again until I am sure my friends were tired of listening to me. When I would speak about my feelings to the one, I loved or tried to explain them to my friends often I did not seem to be making much sense.
Perhaps that is my struggle with the words of Jesus in John that we have been listening to throughout the Easter Season. Yes, they are Jesus’ words, but it is John who is trying to communicate them to us. It is John in the writing of the Gospel who is now the person in love. He is a man in love with the Father, a man in love with Jesus, a man in love with us. Both Jesus and John are trying to explain this love. Jesus to his disciples and John is trying to explain this love to us but in both cases, words do not always come out that clear. They explain this love repeatedly, hoping we will understand and hoping that we too will fall in love!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “I pray for them.” The words of Jesus from today’s Gospel (John 17: 1-11a). Throughout these closing days of the Easter season we hear repeatedly Jesus’ desire for us to continue his mission and ministry in the world. He knows that it will not be easy, so he prays to the Father that we might be taken care of just as the Father has taken care of him.
In the first reading (Acts 20: 17-27) St. Paul reflects on what lies ahead for him because he has taken up the mission of Jesus. He talks about being martyred. His time is short, and he realizes it. He like Jesus, in the Gospel, is sending a message to his followers. He has done his best; he has proclaimed the Gospel now they must carry on.
The message for us in these last days of Easter is to trust in the Spirit as we continue the ministry and mission of Jesus in our lives. The message is to do our best and to always know that Jesus is with us. He has offered us a relationship, a friendship with God. It is that friendship that St. Paul draws upon in living his life, in being challenged by the world around him and in staying faithful to his call. We are asked to do the same.
As we have often heard through these days of Easter God so loves the world that he has so fearfully, wonderfully made us so that as we live this day let us trust in our friendship with God and live the gift that God has created us to be!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” The last sentence of today’s Gospel from John (John 16:29-33). reminds us that being a person of faith is not easy, that we will find ourselves struggling with many things about the world, culture and society. In fact, we will struggle with many things within our own faith community because as an institution it is part of the world and run by human beings who are imperfect. Living this life will give us trouble from all sides and we know this all too well these days.
However, we are not to fear because Jesus has conquered the world. He has made this life only part of the journey. There is more to life than this world; there is more to life than what we face each day. There is an eternal life where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, no more viruses, no more death just the eternal presence of God. As people of faith that is where we are headed but there is still this life, this world to navigate through.
Each day we need to look for the Spirit. We need to look for those people like St. Paul who can help us connect with the Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit who will guide us through the troubles of this world. It is the Holy Spirit who will bring to life the gift of God within us.
So be on the lookout today for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can come to us in many different ways, through creation, through the people we meet, through the people we love and yes, the Holy Spirit can even come to us through ourselves. Let us be the breath, the life, the Spirit of God today!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Memorial Day everyone!
Today's Thoughts: Today is one of those confusing days for us liturgically. In some place across the United States people are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension and in our places like here in New York people are celebrating the Seventh Sunday of Easter. If you are looking for a reflection on the Ascension just go to my Thursday reflection for this week. What you will find here today is my reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter…
The Gospel passage today is taken from the Last Supper discourse in John’s Gospel. You might say that this is the last meal, the last class, the last prayer-service and the last conversation that the disciples had with Jesus before his death. We could say that it is Jesus’ good-bye speech to them. Within it Jesus expresses a profound love for his friends and a deep desire for union, friendship with them. Jesus is one with the Father and longs to share that with his friends and through them to share his love with the world. As with a good-bye speech, there are strong statements of being sent and a wishing to be received. Jesus knows that these friends are a gift from God to him. Jesus loves them as he knows the Father loves him.
We might also say that today’s readings reflect a theme of the importance of prayer in our journey of faith. In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we encounter the first community of faith returning from the Ascension and their first impulse is to gather in prayer. They are probably dealing with many emotions, the loss of the physical presence of Jesus, the confusion of what comes next and their struggle with faith. Yet, they trust in Jesus’ presence, perhaps recalling his words, “where two or three are gather in my name, I am with you.” Prayer becomes the sustaining action of the early Church and that is still true today.
Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper which we encounter in today Gospel reflects his own personal desire to share with his followers, his friends, his relationship with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus’ prayer is his way to teaching us how to live our life of faith.
There has been a great deal of controversy lately about Churches opening or not. I believe our readings today remind us that our faith does not depend of the brick and mortar of a building but on the willingness to enter into moments of prayer, as a person of faith, as a family of faith and when possible as a community of faith. With our technology today that community can be a physical presence or a virtual presence. What is most important is that no matter what the struggles are in our life that we do not abandon prayer, our conversation with Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit because that is what will see us through.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Dorothy Day once said, “One must constantly recall the necessity to grow in confidence in God.…Trust that prayers will be answered. Maybe not as we want but as others need it to be.” Perhaps in other words our faith is not always about ourselves and God, but about others and God.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles today (Acts 18:23-28) Apollos is pulled aside and helped by Priscilla, Aquila, and others in his ministry. Yes, he is an eloquent speaker but a stronger relationship with God is necessary so that he can help others with his gifts. Jesus in the Gospel today (John 16:23b-28) continues to remind us of the need to ask in his name. In other words, pray in his name so that what is needed, what is desire, will be received.
But what does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? It means to pray like Jesus. Jesus prayed always looking beyond himself to others. Jesus prayed not for his own will but for the Father’s will. Our prayer, our relationship with God must always look beyond ourselves to others. We need to be about God’s will not our own.
Perhaps in the spirit of Dorothy Day, our challenge today is to grow in our relationship with God, trust that relationship and realize that our prayers will be answered not always as we want but as others need them to be!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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...