Today’s Thoughts: Sorry for being a little late this morning but I have been up since 2:30 am dealing with a leaking roof! Oh, the joys of being responsible for the care of a house…
The Gospel reading today focus on the human struggle, lack of faith. Often, we think we know what is right. We think we know what is best for ourselves and those around us. We think we know what God wants. Then someone comes along, like a Rosa Parks, a St. John XXIII, a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Thomas Merton, a St. Teresa of Calcutta, an Oscar Romero, a Pope Francis and they point us in a different direction, sometimes telling us we are headed down the wrong path, but always showing us just where God can be found.
We don’t like to be wrong and we are not always excited to have someone ruin our plans after all what do they know about us, about our life, about our faith. We might not put them to death like the Israelites often did to their prophets, but we reject their way of thinking, their insights, their spirits, the gift of their faith, hope and love. We call to mind tradition, dogma, or doctrine. We point to order, cost and what makes us comfortable. We at times dismiss them as misguided and unimportant or we point to their faults and failings.
When we do this like the people of Nazareth, we make it almost impossible for God to work in our lives. We make it impossible for the ordinary things in life to become extraordinary.
O God, in your great love keep us always open to the voices of your Word and strengthen our faith so we will always recognize your presence amongst us!
Friday blessings to all be well, safe, and healthy!
Today’s Thoughts: I have always liked the image that we find in today’s reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand….”
What a wonderful image of God creating us. We can trace this image back to Genesis and the story of creation, God creating humankind out of the clay of the earth and then breathing life into us. In this section from Jeremiah the focus is on God’s relationship with Israel, yet we can also connect it to ourselves.
The act of God creating us, forming us, making us the individuals that we are, giving us our own gifts and talents. When a potter sits down at the wheel what is created is unique, one of a kind. Yes, other works can look similar but each work, each creation of the potter is distinctive and so are we!
The challenge is to believe in our uniqueness, in our specialness and to live the journey, the life that God has created us to life with faith, hope, joy and love! Let us celebrate our uniqueness today and share it with all we meet!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” (Thomas Merton) I thought of these words by Thomas Merton today as I reflected on the Gospel for the Feast of St. Martha. I think Martha fits these words well.
In the Gospel reading (John 11:19-27) we see a different side of Martha than the one in Luke (10:38-42). It is as if Martha has grown in her faith, her relationship with God and in her understanding of her friendship with Christ. In John, Martha is a faith filled woman, who does not fully understand but recognizes the possibilities and challenges and embraces them with courage, faith and hope. She seeks God in the present moment and in the end is greatly blessed.
We all need to pause and allow the gift of St. Martha’s spirit to enliven our own spirits today. May the spirit of St. Martha gift us with the courage, faith and hope to live this day ready to recognize the possibilities and challenges and embrace them with the grace of God’s love.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and health Wednesday everyone. Many blessings to all of you on this Feast of St. Martha!
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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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.
Just a reminder that our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Jerimiah reminds us of what will happen if we fail to respond to God’s grace and presence in our life. We will rot in our own sinfulness!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today, we have three more parables. First, we have a parable telling us that the kingdom of heaven is a treasure which a person, just happens to find while digging in the field. We might ask ourselves a few questions after reading the parable. What was the person looking for in the first place, and what is the treasure that is found? Why did he bury it again and go to buy the whole field?
The finding is one thing, but buying the whole field becomes the center of the parable’s meaning. No matter what we are searching for, if we keep digging, we will find God. Buying into God a relationship with God, a friendship with God means buying into the whole field including those things we do not understand or want. The person bought the field for what he believed to be treasure and later could have found other things which time revealed to him as perhaps even more a treasure.
Our second parable presents us a merchant who knows what he wants - a pearl - and he finds it and then sells all his other possessions in order to buy the pearl. He is willing to let go of everything just to possess this pearl. In other words, the kingdom of heaven, our relationship with God, requires a letting go or selling off of what we think are the importance of “pearls” of life for the great pearl of allowing God to be the center of our life.
The Gospel ends, with Jesus asking if the disciples, if we, understand these teachings, even the last parable about the net’s catching all kinds of good and less good fish. The disciples say that they do, but do we? Perhaps like the disciples we do for the moment, but will we learn the deeper meaning as we journey through life in relationship with God?
Jesus tells the disciples and us that like a good storekeeper, brings out the good of the old and the good of the new. Jesus does not want his disciples and us to let go of the past but wants the disciples and us to build on what has gone before us in order to find what is new and lifegiving.
So, the challenge of our third parable is where do we fall? Are we “good” or “bad”. Do we get placed in the heavenly “bucket” or thrown into the fiery ocean and grind our teeth for eternity? Jesus’ words are the net, but who are the bad? Can anything be bad that God made? Parables are meant to help us ask questions and try to come up with answers based on the call of Jesus to be our friend, our teacher, our priceless pearl, our treasure and our bucket.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday!
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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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 blessed, holy. safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. She is referred to as the Apostle to the Apostles. Mary was the first proclaimer of the resurrection a story we read today from John’s Gospel (John 20: 1-2, 11-18). The interesting thing about Mary’s encounter with Jesus is that at first, she does not recognize him. You might think that after following Jesus for so long it would be hard not to recognize him.
Now some might say it was because of his resurrected body but I think it was because Mary did not expect to see Jesus alive. Have you ever been in a situation when you did not expect to see someone? When the person surprises us with their presence there always seems to be a moment when we do not recognize them. They have not changed, they are the same person, but our eyes and brain just were not expecting them. Then they do or say something that is familiar, and we recognize them. It doesn’t make sense and once we realize our mistake, we wonder how we did not recognize her or him, but it happens.
The element of surprise can often catch us off guard. Perhaps today that is a good way to think about the presence of God in our life. We have a God of surprises and at any moment of our day God can walk into our midst. Are we ready? Or will we miss the moment because we are not expecting God to be there?
Through the intersession of St. Mary Magdalene may we be open today to be surprised by God! Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday 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...