Today’s Thoughts: Something to think about from Thomas Merton as you journey through the day. It is certainly something that Herod did not think about in our Gospel (Matt. 14:1-12) today!
“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, and 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.” (Thomas Merton)
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: 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, a St. 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!
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 Memorial of Sts. Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This used to be just the memorial of St. Martha but in recent years it has become a day for Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The words of Thomas Merton seem to fit the situation Martha finds herself in as we hear today’s Gospel.
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.
While our Gospel story focuses on Martha today, we are graced by all three of Jesus’ friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. But in hearing the Word we pause and allow the gift of Martha’s spirit to enliven our own spirits today. May the spirits of Martha, Mary and Lazarus 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, and health Thursday everyone. Many blessings to all of you on this Memorial of Sts. Martha, Mary and Lazarus!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel for today (Matt. 13:44-46) talks about the Kingdom of God and Jesus uses two images for the Kingdom, a buried treasure and a fine pearl. In the case of the treasure the person sells everything and buys the field where the treasure is buried and in the case of the pearl the merchant who sells everything to buy the pearl. In other words, when it comes to the Kingdom of God we must be all in because it is worth more than anything else.
I thought the following quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast we will celebrate on Saturday, seems to say the same thing about the Kingdom of God as Jesus in today’s Gospel, but St. Ignatius says it a little differently!
“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.
As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.”
Have a great Wednesday everyone! May God bless your journey through this day!
Today’s Thoughts: “Spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeats. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way. Pray for the grace it will take to continue what you would like to quit.” (Sr. Joan D. Chittister, In a High Spiritual Season)
In the first reading today (Exodus 33:7-11, 34:5b-9, 28), we are told that God spoke to Moses, face to face, just as we would speak to another person. We might say that this is a nice definition of prayer, talking with God, intimately and honestly. Prayer is a two-way street it requires us to speak and also listen. If we approach prayer in this way then good things will happen, challenging things will happen, and we will be sustained in our journey of life.
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, 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 has called us to in his encyclical, Laudato Si. We have been called to be a mustard seed or that little pinch of yeast. In other words, we have been 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 have been 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 God’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 Exodus reminds us of what will happen if we fail to respond to God’s grace and presence in our life. “[The one] only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book…When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.” (Exodus 32:33-34)
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy 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 blessed, holy, and healthy 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 blessed, holy, and healthy Friday 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, and healthy Thursday 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...