Today’s Thoughts: Today’s reading from the Book of Jeremiah could have been written for us today. It is so easy to really like this prophet; his writing so often reveals his heart. Jeremiah is said to be a type and model of Jesus Christ. The reading guide section of the Catholic Study Bible points out the many ways his life runs parallel to the life of Jesus.
While it appears, Jeremiah is lamenting to the Lord for relief from a long draught, he also mentions their pitiful conditions from war. Jeremiah speaks of “her incurable wound” (Jer. 14:17) and later he writes, “We wait for peace, to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead. (Jer. 14:19) Our incurable wound is our human condition. We all move to levels of autonomy and independence from our God; eventually to find ourselves lost, running back in need of a Savior. The stories throughout the history of humankind depict this forward and backward movement towards and away from God. Where are we at today? Our world isn’t any different today. We suffer from the long-lasting effects of natural disasters; many people suffering because of droughts, fires, floods as well as the human-made disasters of war, terrorism and mass shootings. O Lord, we are suffering. So, Jeremiah, our prophet is interceding for us today.
We often listen to false prophets and think we won’t suffer from following false gods. We keep discovering that we need God as much today, as the people did 600 years before the birth of Christ. Today, Jeremiah is doing the work of trying to bring us back to the Lord. He like Pope Francis, calls us to feed the hungry, care for the sick, hold up the downtrodden…we have many opportunities to reach out to people today.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus interprets the planting story for his disciples telling them that the Son of Man plants good seeds. His field is the world, the good seed represents the children of the Kingdom and the weeds are the children of the Evil One, which are sown by our enemy the devil. Some people don’t want to believe that the fires of hell exist, but Jesus says “the Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth…Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13: 41-43)
Let us always remember the seed is the Word of God and Jesus is the sower; all who come to him will live forever!
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In today’s gospel from Matthew (13:31-35), Jesus invites those listening to consider the Kingdom of Heaven by using two examples. The first example is that of the parable of the mustard seed which from my perspective brings to mind the unexpected awesome experience of God’s Kingdom starting out as something tiny, something almost invisible and then becoming something all inclusive, all-embracing, a universal entity that welcomes all people.
The second example is also a parable, about a woman who took leaven and mixed it into the dough. This was a familiar experience that the people of Jesus’ time could connect with. They had seen the dough rise after a tiny amount of leaven that had been mixed with it. Jesus invited them to see the effect a tiny movement, a tiny experience could have on society at large.
Perhaps what our Gospel is calling us to today is what Pope Francis is calling us to in his encyclical, Laudato Si. We are being called to be a mustard seed or that little pinch of yeast. In other words, we are being called to give life to the presence of God in our own lives, and to be sensitive to the needs of those around us. We are called to focus on our common home, common good, and common responsibility as we strive in little, practical ways to bring a tiny piece of Gpd’s Kingdom wherever we go. This is a marvelous opportunity to open our minds and hearts to experience the saving love of Jesus here and now and give us a taste of the eternal life that awaits each one of us.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Jesus worked many miracles and each time he did was an opportunity to teach us one of the joys of his Gospel. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us the joy of sharing. Sharing you ask? Yes, sharing!
Have you ever notice that each time Jesus feeds a great number of people he always asks his disciple what they have to offer and each time the disciple respond by saying they either have nothing or very little. In today’s Gospel Jesus asks Philip where enough food can be bought in order to feed the people and Philip’s answer is that there isn’t enough money to buy that much food. Andrew chimes in by saying that there is a young boy with five loaves and a couple of fish, but what good is that? The disciples only see what isn’t. Jesus takes what is available and sees what can be and as the saying goes the rest is history.
So, what’s my point? Well when Jesus feeds people, when a miracle takes place, he is always working with what is available. Jesus doesn’t create food out of nothing; he takes what is available and then feeds everyone – a miracle. When Jesus heals people it is because of the faith of the person, or the faith of their friends or the faith of the community and healing takes place – a miracle. When he feeds people, it is because someone in the group is willing to share what they have. It might be just a few loaves and fishes; it might be their faith, this it is where Jesus begins. Anytime Jesus performs a miracle he does not begin with the impossible, he begins with the possible. He begins with what is available, with what people are willing to share – sharing makes miracles, sharing makes the impossible possible.
Perhaps the challenge of our Gospel today is – What do we bring to the table? What are we willing to share, so that God can make the impossible – possible?
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s gospel is about a farmer who sows wheat in his field and at night his enemy sows weeds in the same field so when the plants sprout there are weeds among the wheat. When the workers ask the farmer about removing the weeds, he tells them pulling the weeds could pull up the wheat so wait until harvest when they can be separated without losing the wheat.
We might say that in this parable we are the wheat that God has sown, but there are weeds among the wheat. People that choose a different path. God will not pull the weeds from life because God has given everyone free will. God provides the love and support that we need, but it is up to us to choose to nourish our relationship with God so it becomes strong and crowds out what might make us become weeds.
Perhaps looked at another way, the point of this parable is that the farmer allows the wheat and the weeds to grow together to maturity, which is just what God does for us.
In the four Gospels Jesus tells us in many different ways that we have to choose between living joyfully with God forever and being forever separated from God, in great pain over our loss. This is not a new message.
The special spin that Jesus puts on this question of our choice here is that we have a whole lifetime to make it in. God provides us with all that we need to make a choice and to make the choice concrete in our life rather than just a vague wish or orientation, and we need to make this one central choice of life in terms of the small daily choices that inch us closer to God or away from God.
One other aspect here is that while the "harvesters" are able to tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat, we often remain in some uncertainly about whether we truly have chosen God enough, whether we have loved God enough. Any certainty about whether we are "saved" or not can be a form of self-delusion and lead to pride, laziness, and a fatal assumption that we are "good enough." This can be deadly in our human relationships, and it is no different in our relationship with God.
We simply do not know whether we are weed or wheat while we are alive, and the fact is that we are both --- but which is the dominant side of who we are? While we are responsible for the choice, it is up to God to decide what we have actually chosen. And that is where the virtue of hope comes in.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 13:18-23) in a way does not require much thought or reflection. Jesus takes the time to explain the meaning of the parable of the Sower and the Seed. What more can I say after Jesus has explained his story? I certainly don’t want to second guess Jesus. Perhaps I can reflect a little on the seed that has fallen on the good soil.
In Jesus’ story there are clear differences of soil conditions for growth. So, when we get to the good soil we might think that what we get will always be 100%. However, Jesus tells us that the yield is not just 100-fold but also 60 and 30-fold. What is Jesus saying to us?
Perhaps one thing that Jesus is telling us is that sometimes we can do our very best, but the results can fall short. We can do everything right, we can give 110% but because of factors beyond our control we might only make it into the 30 or 60 range and that is ok! We have a gracious God who accepts us as we are.
Another thing we might learn from Jesus’ reflection on the parable is that we should not judge other people’s yield. They too may have done their very best and yet their yield is not 100-fold. We just have no way of knowing what God has planted in their hearts and how they have responded to God invitation. In other words, we cannot judge what may appear to us to be low yield.
Perfectionism does not belong in the spiritual life for God works in mysterious ways. Even if there seems to be nothing but good soil we are never sure what the yield will be however if we have done our best God will accept whatever our soil puts forth. We just have to strive to do the best we can. We may not know our yield potential, but God does. We just have to be good, faithful tillers of the soil and so that the seed planted in us can grow.
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “A skilled listener can help people tap into their own wisdom.” (Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM) We might apply this thought to our Gospel reading today. The focus in Matthew 13: 10-17 seems to be on the difference between hearing and listening.
In our first reading from the Prophet Jerimiah, God’s asks Jerimiah to remind the Israelites of their story of faith because they have not listened. They have followed the ways of the world around them. They are on the road to ruin. They need to not just hear but to listen to the Word of God.
We all hear unless we have some physical impediment to hearing but often we fail to listen. I believe that is what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel. People hear his parables, but they don’t listen to them. They don’t take them to prayer. They don’t reflect on them and thus they miss the point of them. We can always hear things as Isaiah is quoted in the Gospel but unless we listen we will not understand.
Jesus is teaching his disciples to listen. Jesus is teaching us to listen. I very much enjoy using the parables of Jesus when I preach because if we really listen to them they have a lot to tell us. Often, if not always, when I use a parable in my preaching I learn something new because while preaching I am also listening.
Jesus was certainly a skilled listener, the most skilled listener and that is why he helps us tap into the wisdom that God graces us with each day, all we have to do is listen!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have to say that today’s first reading on this Feast of St. James from St. Paul (2Cor. 4:7-15) is one of my all-time favorites. Paul uses the image of “earthen vessels” to talk about himself and us in terms of our relationship with God. Paul says we hold the treasure of our faith, the presence of God, in earthen vessels, in other words in us. Now some say Paul is talking about large water jugs, others say he was referring to terracotta lamps, either way it is a striking image. Within the fragility of this human condition we carry the gift of God.
What a wonderful way to think about ourselves. I have often thought about reading this little passage from St. Paul each morning upon getting up, what a way to enter a new day knowing that I carry within me the presence of God. Knowing that I am not perfect, that I am cracked, chipped, scratched, in other words, I am human yet I have this wonderful gift within me.
Paul goes on to say life is tough however because of the gift we have within us things will be ok. We will get through the trials and tribulations of life because of the power of God, the friendship of God.
So as we journey through this day let us be reminded that we are earthen vessels, fragile, imperfect, at times struggling but we are also blessed with a great gift within us, the presence, the grace, the love of God. And when we face the struggles, difficulties and challenges that life throws at us the power of this gift within us will see us through.
Happy Feast of St. James everyone and have a great day!
Today’s Thoughts: At first hearing we might be taken aback by today’s Gospel (Matt.12:46-50), how could Jesus be so rude to his family? Why would he not go out and at least speak to Mary? It seems disrespectful. It seems to go against everything Jesus teaches. What about the commandment, “Honor your father and mother?”
We can look at this Gospel story through these questions or we can see it another way. Perhaps Jesus was not being rude or disrespectful; perhaps he was just taking the opportunity to expand our understanding of family. Perhaps he was taking the opportunity to help us understand better what it means to be community, to be church, to be family, to be the Body of Christ!
As people who believe we are not on this journey alone, we traveling as community, as church, as family, as the Body of Christ. Jesus is just reminding us that we are connected, and we can draw upon the strength of the many to help us in those moments of doubt, struggle and challenge. Believing in, valuing and living out our relationship with God makes us part of a great family of believers.
As we journey through this day let us trust in the presence of a family of faith that means we are never alone, that we are always loved by God.
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “There is something greater than [Jonah and] Solomon here.” Today in the Gospel we once again find the scribes and Pharisees seeking more from Jesus. They want a sign. We can hear the frustration in Jesus’ words as he tells them that the only sign they will get is the sign of Jonah.
If I had been in Jesus’ shoes I might not have been so patient. I might have said, “Come on guys there are signs all around you. Every day I am preaching healing, forgiving, raising people from the dead, turning water into wine what more do you want! If you don’t realize who I am and what I am about by now I don’t know what else I can do.”
Our Gospel while addressed to the scribes and Pharisees many years ago is also addressed to us. On any given day we are just like them asking God for a sign. We want God to assure us that he is with us and that we are on the right path. We want to see, hear, taste, smell and touch God because if we don’t then it seems impossible to believe. Yet, like the scribes and Pharisees we miss the point the signs of God are all around us. We are reminded time and time again of God’s love for us in creation, in caring family and friends that are a part of lives, in the gift of the Eucharist, the acts of kindness, care and concern that touch our lives each day and the crucifix on the wall which reminds us of God’s greatest act of love. Yes, there is something greater than Jonah and Solomon in our life every day.
Each morning that we arise and look in the mirror we are reminded that there is something greater in our life – it is the continuing presence of God. We just have to stop, listen, look around and be attentive to life and we will see, taste, smell, hear and touch God.
Perhaps as we journey through this day our prayer might be – “Lord, I believe help my unbelief.”
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Pope Francis early on in his ministry as pope challenged all priests to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” This challenge by Pope Francis came to mind late last night as I reflected on the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. God challenges the leadership of Jeremiahs time to be good shepherds something they are not doing just as Pope Francis challenges the priests and bishops the shepherds of this time to bring God’s grace to the world.
In order to live out God’s challenge and Pope Francis’ challenge we must take some time to hear and be with God. The Gospel provides us with insight on how we might do this. Jesus knew that his time was short, and his message was important. He knew that it was vital that his message should be spread as swiftly as possible. However, Jesus knew it was also important to take time away from proclaiming the Good News. He knew it was important to rest. Even Jesus himself often took time to rest and pray. It was in these moments of rest and prayer that Jesus found the inspiration and wisdom to continue his journey to Calvary.
The message of our readings today is clear. We need to remember that we journey through this life with God’s blessing and we need to remind ourselves of this blessing each and every day and the best way to be reminded of God’s blessings in our life is to pause from the busyness of life – to take some time of rest and prayer. In other words, we can discover the blessings of God when we spend some time in prayerful silence. If we don’t we can become overwhelmed by the busyness of life, the busyness of the world and miss the helping presence of God in our lives.
A couple of years ago as I was checking my Facebook page, I ran across a friend’s reflection on his morning. It went like this – “Warm sun, hot coffee, pipe, swing, dog by my side, geese on the lake.... Mornin y'all!” Now I know my friend to be a spiritual person, but I am not sure he was thinking spiritually that morning a few years ago when he wrote his post, but I think he grasped the essence of our Gospel today!
We are all well aware of how life can often overwhelm us. We have many responsibilities, family, friend, work, ministry, shopping, preparing meals; getting places we need to get through traffic, bad weather. We face many pressures each and every day and sometimes they can be more than we bargained for.
Our Gospel today reminds us priests, us shepherds and us people of faith to pause amid the busyness of our lives and take a break, rest a little, pray a little and stay connected with God. This can make all the difference!
Have a restful and prayerful Sunday evening 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...