"A climate of encounter, of a 'bridge' that unites and that is a challenge for this world, a world that always runs the risk of becoming atomized, of separating. And when peoples separate, families separate, friends separate, and in separation one can sow only enmity and even hatred. Instead, when people unite there is social friendship, fraternal friendship; and there is a culture of encounter, that defends us from any type of throwaway culture." (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: At times when I hear or read certain Gospel stories I think wouldn’t it be great if Jesus could do that today! In today’s story (Matt 8:1-4) Jesus encounters a leper. Leprosy in Jesus’ time made people outcasts. They were disconnected from the community. They had to keep their distance. They were relegated to living in community with only other lepers. They were not to touch or be touched by others. They were seen as unclean.
However, the leper in the Gospel story has the courage to approach Jesus and for that courage he is rewarded with a healing. He is made clean so that he can live once again within the community. Jesus heals by touching, by crossing the boundary of culture, society and religion. Jesus deals with the person as a human being created in the image and likeness of God.
I guess my point is that in our day there are many people who probably feel like the lepers of Jesus’ time. People who are looked upon as unclean, who are looked upon as not part of the community. People who are looked upon by culture, society and especially religious institutions as misfits, who are often excluded. Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus were here today and like that day long ago as he came down from the mountain he would stop and talk with them, touch them, perhaps embracement and make them feel like a person again accepted, loved not feared.
Making someone clean has many connotations some positive, some negative. Making someone clean presumes that they are unclean. Was the leper of Jesus’ day really unclean? Are people in our time really unclean? Asking Jesus to make those that culture, society and religious institutions often consider as unclean, clean, might not mean curing them of some disease or condition, it might simply mean clearing the way, stepping across the boundary and changing the attitudes that will allow them to feel accepted, to feel they belong.
“Lord if you wish, you can make us clean. Stretch out your hand today and will it!"
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two very prominent figures in our story of faith, two men who grounded and push forward the early Church but who did it in very different ways. We celebrate two men who remind us why we are Church, two men who reflect what it means to be Church.
I sometimes think that Sts. Peter and Paul reflect the Church though it might be nice to have a triptych of saints today with perhaps the third being a woman, like St. Mary Magdalen. If Mary were included our celebration today our feast would surely be a more complete picture of the Church and the Body of Christ.
However, we celebrate Peter and Paul, two people of different approaches to life, different ways of living, different ministries. They didn’t always agree yet they forged an energy, a spirit that remains with us today.
St. Peter was a passionate man but one who was easily swayed by the moment. St. Paul was a man of conviction, spirit and energy but at least early on it was misguided. Both had to be challenged by God to accept their roles as leaders, preachers and persons of faith.
We celebrate them today by asking them to intercede for us before God so that we might be graced with the strength, the perseverance, the energy, the spirit and the faith to live as a Church, as the Body of Christ. We seek their passion so that we too might recognize God in our midst and be able to proclaim as we journey through our life of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and “To God be glory forever and ever, Amen!”
Have a great Thursday and many blessings on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
"I would say that a man who does not know how to have a relationship of friendship with a woman … well, he is a man who is missing something. … A friendship with a woman is not a sin. It is a friendship. … But the Pope is a man. The Pope needs the input of women, too. And the Pope, too, has a heart that can have a healthy, holy friendship with a woman. There are saint-friends – Francis and Clare, Teresa and John of the Cross. ... But women are still not well considered; we have not understood the good a woman can do for the life of a priest and of the church in the sense of counsel, help and healthy friendship." (Pope Francis)
This is so true but often difficult for a priest at least that is my experience. I think I am often the man mission something that Pope Francis speaks about...
Today’s Thoughts: Sorry I am a little slow this morning...
In today’s Gospel Jesus warns the disciples to be aware of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. Jesus tells the disciples, “by their fruits you will know them”. Perhaps in other words, Jesus is telling us to be attentive, because if you are not then we will begin to compromise our values, our convictions, our faith. Most likely not all at once but little by little in the face of daily challenges and temptations. Remember a tree does not die all at once, unless it is cut down. Rather trees die little by little, gradually giving in to decay that comes from within.
The false prophets, the wolves in sheep’s clothing plant the seeds of decay that can cause us to turn away from the presence of God in our life. The glitz and glitter of the world. The empty promises that we encounter every day that on the outside sound so good while on the inside are hallow and lifeless can begin to eat away at our faith.
There always seems to be a new idea that will make life easier, more fulfilling – just take is pill, eat this food, wear these cloths, drive this car and you will have arrived, life will be all it can be, you will be successful. Vote for me and I will fix everything that is wrong. I will bring back the good old days. Life will be easy again!
Life and faith are never easy. They are full of challenges, struggles, temptations and problems. In order to survive we need to stake our life on the promises of God. In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis that is exactly what Abram and Sarai are asked to do. Image being told after a long life and difficult life with no children that in your old age you will be father, mother of a whole nation that your children will be as numerous as the stars? Sounds like a con job to me! But it’s God’s promise and Abram and Sarai choose to stake their lives on it!
There are many things that can cause us to look beyond God’s promises from greener pastures. There are many false prophets with loud voices and answers for everything. Our scriptures today remind us to be attentive, alert, discerning and faithful. They ask us like Abram and Sarai to stake our lives on the promises of God.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I think today’s Gospel (Matt 7:6, 12-14) is about reverence, and respect. Jesus seems to indicate that the road to reverence and respect is a narrow one that is a difficult journey but certainly one that is worth the struggle.
There are always people out in the world that find it easy to disrespect others. As Jesus seems to indicate the road of selfishness and “me first” is wide and has many travelers.
Perhaps the focus of today’s Gospel rests in these words by Thomas Merton: “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
If we recognize the Love of God in ourselves and in others we will be on the right road!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
"At times we like to talk, talk, talk. At times the language of gestures is different. It is not enough to talk. We risk 'peddling hot air' and this does not work. The language of gestures, that may at times be a caress, a smile... A smile that gives hope, looking in the eyes, gestures of approval, of patience, of tolerance: gestures." (Pope Francis)
Today’s Thoughts: First let me say I am sorry for not sharing yesterday, but it was a busy day that started early and I did not get back to my computer until the evening. I hope you were able to find some good words elsewhere to consider on your Sunday journey!
We could approach today Gospel (Matthew 7: 1-5) from a negative perspective after all that is what Jesus seems to do. We could look at it as the don’ts of life. We are not to judge so that we will not be judged. But I would like to look at Jesus’ words in a more positive light.
Perhaps the intent of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel isn’t just to say, don’t judge so that you will not be judged but that Jesus is asking us to stop and take a look at just how we look at others. Do we look at others through what they or maybe we do wrong? Wouldn’t it be better to first try to find God’s goodness, God’s presence in others which just might lead us to finding God’s goodness and presence in ourselves?
Judging is easy. We are all imperfect so we will always find flaws. We will always find moments of weakness. We will always find actions that don’t measure up, not only in others but also in ourselves. I think sometimes we judge or are hard on others because we know our own mistakes, our own shortcomings and if we can take the focus off our faults and failing and look for them in others we think we can feel better.
However, the opposite is true, if we look for goodness, if we look for God’s presence in others it often opens the door to finding God within ourselves. I think this is what Jesus is getting at today. Yes, perhaps he puts it in the negative but if we walk by faith, if we trust in God’s love then Jesus’ words can be turned into a positive way of living life. After all, if we take the wooden beam from our own eye then we will have better vision not just to see the splinter in others, but to find the goodness in ourselves and others. If we can find God in ourselves, we will be able to find God in others and vice versa!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps one of John the Baptist’s most profound sayings which can be found in John’s Gospel (John 3:30) goes like this, “He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease.” Why is this so profound? Well because in it John shows us a humility not found very often.
Think of our world, when someone rises to power, fame, fortune the last thing they want to do is let go of control, step out of the spotlight, and turn things over to someone else i.e. President Trump and to be fair many others. Yet, that is exactly what John the Baptist does. He is “the man” all eyes are focused on him, he has center stage and yet once Jesus enters John is willing to step out of the bright lights and let Jesus take over.
Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. We remember his coming into the world and how he was dedicated from conception to be the forerunner, the announcer of Jesus’ presence in the world. From the very beginning John knows that at some point his presence will no longer be necessary, his mission will be completed and he will have to decrease.
Remembering St. John the Baptist reminds us of our challenge to live as prophets, as disciples of Jesus. Life is not about us and if we take on the journey of discipleship, of proclaiming the presence of God we too will all be called to decrease so that God can increase.
Yes, our feast today reminds us that like St. John the Baptist, we too are wonderfully made so let us praise God with the living of our life today so that like John we can be ready to proclaim God’s presence to whomever we encounter!
Have a great Saturday and may you receive many blessings in the spirit of St. John the Baptist today and always!
Today’s Thoughts: Our focus today is the “heart,” The Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart is the center of who we are, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the place where we often think of God’s presence within us.
Think for a moment, in a physical way the heart is the center of who we are. It is the pump that pushes life through us. Without it we can do nothing. All our other organs, muscles, bones and assorted other things are important but it is the heart that keeps us alive and makes everything we do, say and feel possible.
Emotionally the heart is central to what we feel. It is the home of the emotions. On February 14th, we do not receive or send a card with a gallbladder on the front that says, “I love you!” No, we send or receive a card with a heart on the front. The heart is the place of feelings and emotions. If we were to write a song, a poem or a story about love we would talk about the heart. A broken heart means we have lost at or been hurt by love.
In a spiritual way, the heart is important too. The heart in a spiritual sense is the dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament, the psalmists and prophets talked about the community or individual who was without God as having a stony heart. A stony heart has no room for God, is closed to the presence of God.
So, we might say the heart sits at the center of who we are as human beings. Today’s feast reminds us of just how important the heart is to us. Jesus had a heart that lead him through his journeys of life.
Jesus’ Sacred Heart teaches us about love. It is a heart full of the kind of love and mercy that leaves no one behind. Sometimes that love and mercy seem foolish but not in the eyes and heart of Jesus. Every person is valuable, ever person is important; every person is worth searching for. Now this doesn’t mean that everyone will be found because some of us don’t want to be found and some of us even when found don’t want to return. But the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart will always look, will always search and will always wait.
This Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is about love, but it is also about hope; the hope that God is always searching, looking and waiting for us because we are that special, that important. The question for today is, “Can we believe in our value, can we believe in our specialness, can we believe in God’s love for us, can we hope in the fact that God will find us and through his mercy bring us home?”
Have a great Friday 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...