Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel, we have the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. The storm is a place where we all have been; those times when things are going along just fine and then something happens, the winds and storm clouds of life overwhelm us.
Sure, there are always a few bumps in the road but that is to be expected in the living of life but we have got things under control. As I said above, then it happens, all hell breaks loose and we are hanging on for dear life. All our planning, all our preparations, all our good intentions seem to go right out the window. We are now hanging on by our finger tips any moment life will come crashing down on us. We followed our plan. We did all the right things. Why is this happening to us? Our life is simply out of control and we are doomed!
“Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Why are we terrified? Have we lost faith? Have we lost faith in God, faith in others, faith in ourselves? Have we forgotten all the hard work we have put into life? Are we unwilling to trust ourselves any more just because a storm has entered our life? Are we really that fragile? Have we forgotten to trust who has brought us to this moment?
Storms in life are fearful moments. They seem to take control away from us, if we really ever had it. They bring to the surface all kinds of doubt from the dark reaches of our hearts. They scare us and sometimes make us think the worst. They take us out of our comfort zone. Yet, we are reminded today that no matter what, we never face the storms of life alone. Paraphrasing the words of Thomas Merton’s famous prayer, “We should not fear because God is always with us and will never leave us to face our storms alone.”
On this lazy summer day whether we find ourselves in the midst of a calm day, looking at a horizon full of storm clouds or right in the middle of an all-out storm, let us have faith in God, faith in those important in our life and faith in ourselves so that no matter what this day brings our faith will see us through.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Monday and many blessings on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Today’s Thoughts: Have you ever found yourself at a point in your life when you thought you had things figured out? When you were confident that you knew what your next step would be? When you felt that you had jumped through all the hoops and it was time to focus on “me!” – And then all the planning, all the confidence, all the understanding went right out the window, and your faith was put to the test because it seemed God had a different idea. – Well, it has happened to me more than once in my life and I am certain it will happen again.
My ramblings above I believe sit at the heart of Jesus’ teaching to in our Gospel today from Matthew (Mt. 10:37-42). Jesus’ words today can sound harsh, almost unthinkable. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 10:37-39) Really? Listening to these words creates a feeling of sadness and hopelessness in me. Now I do not have any daughters or sons, but I genuinely love my mother, father, sister, and brother and all the other members of my family and extended family. Does that make me unworthy? I am rather attached to my life and I would prefer not to give it up anytime soon. Does that make me unworthy? No! It makes me human.
If we approach Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel today literally, they make no sense especially in terms of other teachings that Jesus gave. We need to remember that Jesus is preparing his apostles, his disciples to go out on mission alone. Jesus will not be physically with them as he has been up until this point in time. They are going to face challenges, rejections, and disappointments more often than they will experience successes and joys. Jesus wants them to be focused and on point. They need to know the origin and source of their mission in order to survive and remain faithful.
To be disciples, followers of Jesus we must be willing to put ourselves in his hands, no questions asked! Our love of mother, father, sister, and brother must flow from our love of God. Our vision of life must take a back seat to God’s vision of our life.
One day, I was sitting with my spiritual director, telling her a little of my journey of life. I told her that one of the insights I have about my life is that every time I think I have things figured out. Every time I think it is time for me to take care of me God asked something different of me. In other words, I must lose my life so that I can find it!
It is not easy but then Jesus never said it would be. We like to be in control that is a fact. Jesus asks us to let go of control, to pick up our cross and follow.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have often said over the last eight or nine years that I struggle with the revised Roman Missal. One of my many struggles with the Missal was the phrase that we hear in today’s Gospel, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof….” For the longest time, I found this phrase a struggle each time I said it just before receiving communion. I kept wanting to say, “into my heart,” rather than “under my roof.”
The centurion, the one who expresses these words in our Gospel, he is a man of power and is in command of others. We have this insight from his own words to Jesus, “And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.” And yet, he recognizes that his own power is nothing compared to that of Jesus. How often do we find ourselves wanting to control a situation or tell God how to do something? It sometimes takes us a while before we step back and realize that we are not in control. Once we remember that we are not in control can often be quite liberating. Placing our trust and faith in God over and over again is a part of any spiritual journey. It is the letting go and letting God.
What is powerful about our Gospel today is the absolute faith with which the centurion approaches Jesus on behalf of his servant. He does not doubt that Jesus’ words alone can heal his servant, even without a physical encounter with Jesus. Each time we receive the Eucharist, we, unworthy as we are, are deemed worthy for a physical encounter with Christ. What an awesome and wonderful thought! And yet often the reality of Christ within us, under our roofs, in our hearts is very challenging to grasp and a reality that we don’t always approach with the faith and trust of the centurion.
Like the centurion, we have the opportunity to be transformed with each encounter with Christ, whether it is through prayer or meditation, through interactions with others in our daily lives, or through receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
As we journey through this day let us pray that we can approach Jesus with the same humility and faith that the centurion does. Let us invite Jesus into our hearts and our homes, under our roofs, and allow Him to transform us as we journey in faith.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
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 institution 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: There was a poster I once saw that said, “If you were to be put on trial for being a Christian, would you be found guilty?” Perhaps that is what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel today (Matt 7:21-29). It is not about what we say; it is about how we live especially when there is a storm.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If we are to be people of faith, we need to be Christ like.
As Jesus images in the Gospel, our faith needs to be built on God, our rock, so that when the storms come and the winds blow, we stand firm. It does not mean that we don’t sway a little; that we are not pushed at times to our limits; or that the electricity doesn’t go off from time to time. What it does mean is that when the storm is over, the wind stopped blowing and the sun comes out we are still standing and a member of the Body of Christ!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday 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. Mr. 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 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 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday and may you receive many blessings in the spirit of John the Baptist today and always!
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 us. 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: 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, our failings 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today seem to present us with a great deal of negativity however they also present us with much hopefulness.
In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, we get a chance to investigate the heart and soul of the prophet. Today reading in Jeremiah, is one of five “confessions”. These “confessions” come from the personal diary of Jeremiah that probably were never to be read by someone else. These “confessions” are highly personal reflections. However, in the editing of Jeremiah’s writing someone found these “confessions” and included them in the book.
We become the beneficiaries of these personal reflections. Who of us have not felt at times like Jeremiah? Things are not going well, people are making life difficult for us and in the depth of our hearts we want vengeance, we want them to pay for their negativity, for their hurtfulness, for their disrespect, for their faults and failings. We may think this but then we catch ourselves and remember what out faith calls us to and we try to turn our own negativity or need for vengeance over to God.
This is what we heard from Jeremiah today. He is being attacked, by the community of faith, by friends, even by family. They do not like what he has to say. They are looking for him to fail. They are making is work, his ministry impossible and he in the depth of his heart is asking God to punish them. But after he expresses his deepest feelings he pauses and rights himself and places his trust in God.
St. Paul presents us a similar reflection. He is reminding the community at Rome that Jesus has died for us. That Jesus has brought the world from death to life. St. Paul is challenging the Romans not to give into the trappings of the world, but to remember what they believe, to remember what Jesus has done for them.
Jesus in our Gospel today is instructing his disciples on the struggle of discipleship. Jesus challenges the disciples to be faithful, to not fear, to not let anyone intimidate them. The journey will be difficult, the challenges at times will be overwhelming, but God has so much love for them, for us, that in the end there will be eternal life. Jesus reminds the disciples and us of God concern, of God’s knowledge of us, of God’s care for all. God know every hair on our head. God is concern about each and every sparrow. How much more is God concerned for us.
All that God asks of us, is what God asked of Jeremiah and Paul to be faithful, to not give up, to not give in to the world, to not fear, to not be intimidated. We can always, like Jeremiah, express our inner most personal feelings to God but then trust that God is always with us and will not leave us to face our struggles alone!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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...