Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel today, (Matthew 8:28-34), we learn that the saving power of God can at times be overwhelming, so much so that we might ask God to leave. Jesus frees the two Gadarenes who have been plagued by demons, yet when the town hears about this healing they ask Jesus to move on. I guess the saving power of God was a little too much for them!
Perhaps it can be a little too much for us at times also because often the saving power of God asks us to change, to live our life differently. We might say Jesus doesn’t heal and forgive and then expect life to go on as usual. Jesus’ saving power is life changing for those who received and for those who see it.
Archbishop Oscar Romero puts it this way, “Those who want to bear the marks of the Spirit and the fire that he baptizes with must take the risk of renouncing everything and seeking only God’s reign and justice.” In other words, if we wish to receive and encounter the saving power of God then we always need to seek good not just for ourselves but for others. Our focus, our commitment, must be about the love of God and it must be a lifelong focus and commitment!
Our challenge today and always is to accept the grace of God in as much as humanly possible and be up to the difficulties, the struggles, the trials that might arrive. If we put all our efforts into responding properly to Christ’s presence in our lives life, great things will happen, the impossible will become possible!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Wednesday 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, and healthy Tuesday and many blessings on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Today’s Thoughts: I think today’s Gospel (Matthew 8:18-22) can be reduced to two words, essentials and incidentals. Jesus seems to be saying that there are essential things in life and there are incidental things in life, and we have to figure out which are which. To follow Jesus means that we invest in the essentials and we let go of the incidentals, however this is not always easy. What is an incidental for Jesus a lot of the time is an essential for us.
Now we are never really sure what the scribes are up to, often they seem to spend their time trying to antagonize Jesus. Are Jesus’ answers in the Gospel today in response to an antagonist or words for all of us to live by? I vote that they are words for all of us to live by even though they might be difficult.
Making a commitment to follow Jesus involves letting go. The Gospel today gives us a perfect example of what it takes to let go. Jesus basically says, “If you are going to follow me it’s now or never!” He doesn’t invite us follow tomorrow, in a couple of weeks or a year from now—we are invited today…Now! Following Jesus is not easy, especially when it’s not on our terms. Living this life is about battling our own needs, wants and desires every day. As Jesus say, following him means “Picking our cross and following each day!”
A question for today might be, what do we think are the important things in life and are we willing if necessary to let them go to follow Jesus?
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In a phrase we might say that today’s readings are about “the value of life” or put differently “the value of each person.” In our political and religious rhetoric these days we hear a lot about the value of life and the person. We might say that as Catholics the value and importance of life is our prime objective however often it only refers to birth rather than the entire span of life. We are profoundly intent on bringing life into the world but how concerned are we about that life after it comes into the world?
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God did not make death, that the creatures of the world are wholesome and that God formed us to be imperishable; in the image of God we were made. In other words each one of us who comes into the world brings the image and likeness of God with us. We are each valuable, important, necessary and gifted. Each one of us is unique and special. Without our presence in the world a part of the image and likeness of God is missed.
St. Paul in the second reading continues this reflection on the value of life. He reminds of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus so loved us that he gave his life for us, that we might have life. In St. Paul’s words Jesus became poor that we might become rich. St. Paul’s point is that we each have a special gift and it needs to be shared. He asks us to be gracious and generous people. In St. Paul’s eyes, in God’s eyes, we are all equal and should share equally in the abundance of God’s love. If we happen to be blessed at a particular moment in life that blessing must be shared.
Finally in Mark’s Gospel we encounter the challenge of being gracious, generous and loving lived out in the person of Jesus. He puts the value of each person ahead of the rules and regulations of his own religion. Jesus steps across the boundary of becoming ritually unclean to heal. Jesus values the life and health of the woman with the hemorrhage and the official’s daughter because they are created in the image and likeness of God. In each case Jesus becomes ceremonially unclean and was not permitted to enter the synagogue or the temple to pray liturgically or publicly. It was not that Jesus wanted to challenge the tradition; he simply acted spontaneously and lovely because he valued life and the person, a stance that Jesus was more than willing to defend.
We can talk about the importance of life all we want but the proof of the pudding is in our actions. If we value life and making sure that life reaches the world then we must ask ourselves if we are willing to care for life from the moment of conception to the last breath? Do we value ourselves and others? Do we value the least and the best? Do we share our blessings so that all might encounter God’s love? Are we willing to step across the boundaries of culture, society and religion when someone needs us? Are we gracious, generous and loving people? These are the questions our scriptures ask of us today! What answers will we give?
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Sunday everyone and do not forget to give God a little time today!
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, 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, and healthy Friday 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 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, and healthy Thursday and may you receive many blessings in the spirit of John the Baptist today and always!
Today’s Thoughts: 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 we 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 new ideas that will make life easier, more fulfilling – just take this 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 for 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 blessed, holy, and healthy 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 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, 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, and healthy Monday 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...