Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today (Matthew 25: 1-13), we pick up where we left off yesterday. Jesus is focused on the end time, whether it is his final coming or the day that God calls each of us individually. And his point is that we need to be awake and we need to be ready like the five wise virgins because not being ready, not being awake has dreadful consequences, (see wailing and grinding of teeth from yesterday).
Jesus’ story today about the ten virgins emphasizes and illustrated his message from yesterday’s Gospel and helps us loo once again at things a little differently. Jesus is not just talking about the end time or the day God calls each of us home, he is also talking about this moment and what we are missing if we are not prepared. What graces? What joys? What blessings? What experiences of God’s presence are we missing if we are not prepared, if we are not ready?
It is not always about the negative, about the end time, about wailing and grinding of teeth. It is also about the opportunities we miss each day, each moment of our life because God is trying to give us good things, but we are more concerned about what is going on around us. We are prepared, we are focused on God, we cut corners and the oil runs out!
Are you prepared? Do you have enough oil in your lamp? Or are you going to miss the wedding feast?
Have a great Friday!
A few Rocky Balboa thoughts...
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain't gonna have a life.”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
Today’s Thoughts: “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” (St. Augustine of Hippo) I was thinking about these words from St. Augustine in terms of our Gospel today (Matthew 24: 42a, 44). Yes, I know that Jesus is focused on the end time, whether it be his final coming or the day that God calls each of us individually. Yes, we need to be awake and ready because not be ready, not being awake has dreadful consequences, (see wailing and grinding of teeth).
However, I believe Jesus words of “Stay Awake!” or maybe put another way “Be Ready!” can be looked at another way. Jesus might not be just talking about the end time or the day God calls each of us home, he might also be talking about this moment and what we are missing if we are not awake or ready. What graces? What joys? What blessings? What experiences of God’s presence are we missing if we are not awake, if we are not ready?
It is not always about the negative, about the end time, about wailing and grinding of teeth. It is also about the opportunities we miss each day, each moment of our life because God is trying to give us good things, but our hands are too full!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate The Passion of St. John the Baptism and our Gospel (Mark 6:17-29) is the famous story of Herod and John the Baptist. It is a rather gruesome story, it is hard sometimes to think of a young girl being presented with some one's head and then turning and giving it to her mother. Yet, I guess gruesome things happen in life every day, thankfully not in my life.
I am always struck in this story with the fact that Herod is moved by John, that he likes to listen to him, yet he gives in to the worldly pressure around him. I get the feeling Herod knows that John is right, but his power, his self-importance; his ego will not let him say yes. Herod has surrounded himself with people who push him in the wrong direction. We might say that he gives in to the peer pressure of his time!
There is a great line in the Letter to the Hebrews that I reflect on often, "Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels." It is great advice! Perhaps it is advice that Herod should have heard or heeded. He certainly had one of God's angels, John the Baptist in his presence.
We need to be aware that God can come to us, be present to us in many ways. We need to trust that God is with us always. We need to remember that we are a community of faith not just individuals and we need to always be aware of the struggles and joys of others because they can often bring God into our midst.
Today we are reminded – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” May St. John the Baptist help us to see – God as our light and our salvation, and thus never fear!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: We find ourselves today amid the “Woe to you…” challenges of Jesus. He challenges the scribes, Pharisees and us on where our priorities lie. Are we concerned with the non-essentials of life or do we have our words and action aligned with God’s priorities? Our lives can look good and by all appearances we seem to be holy people, however inside is always what counts. Where are our hearts? Who or what is the center of our life?
These “Woe to you…” statements of Jesus are strong challenges that are not easy to live out. Often, we find ourselves comfortable in our nice, neat little worlds. We say all the right things. The outward expression of our faith seems to be spot on however if we look under the hood there is no life, no spirit, the tank is empty. We have allowed the non-essentials to become more important than the essentials – love of God, others and ourselves.
As we live this day let us strive to live authentically according to the values we profess. Yes, we are human, we have our faults and failings and our weaknesses. But today, let us, with God’s grace, strive to live life faithful to the Gospel. Let us look at our lives today and find those things that at times make us hypocrites and ask forgiveness so that we can grow in the essential of life, so that we can grow in the presence of God!
Have a great Tuesday and feast of St. Augustine everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Woe to you….” These statements seem out of character for Jesus, who usually uses positive statements to challenge us. Yet, I guess every once in a while, we need to hear what not to do. The challenge of today’s Gospel is on what we see as important. The scribes and Pharisees made it a habit of placing importance on the accidentals of life rather than the essentials. In other words, they placed importance on the unimportant.
Through his challenge to the scribes and Pharisees today Jesus asks us to stop and think about how we are living out our faith. Is it a faith grounded in unimportant things or is it a faith ground in a relationship with God? Do we think that God is the center but then we make actions, rituals, words and customs far more important than living out our relationship with God? Do we make things more important than people? Do we make ritual and places more important than prayer and actions?
Woe to us if we don’t love. Woe to us if we don’t care for those in need. Woe to us if we first don’t find God in others and ourselves. Woe to us if rituals, places and the repetition of words become more important than people. Yes, I guess every once in a while, we have to be challenged by the negative that seems to take hold of our lives.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “I'm still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
These words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer seem to capture the spirit of our readings today. Grumbling, complaining and whining will not change life for the better. It is in the living of life that we encounter the presence, the grace and the love of God and this is what will make all the difference.
We have encountered Jesus’ words in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel for the last five Sundays and Jesus has reminded us each week that he is the bread of life, that he is the food that will let us really live. Today he asks us to stop complaining and whining, he asks us to live!
We are to follow in his footsteps. We are to throw ourselves into the arms of God ‘s self-sacrificing love. We are to love by making Jesus the center of our lives, the bread that will last forever. If we make Jesus the center of our life then we are called let go and let God by recognizing his words, his bread, his cup and his love as the way to eternal life.
It is easy to grumble, complain and whine but if we truly want to live our faith journey we need to take up the challenge of living life completely in the loving arms of God. Jesus does not ask us to do it alone. He is with us at every step of the way, offering us himself as the basic food for our lives. He is also sending us out into our world to love others and be the support and ‘bread’ to the world around us.
So, let us not be complainers, grumblers and whiner – let us live life today nourished by the word and the bread of life – Jesus!
Have a great Sunday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: “Do and observe all things whatever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” (Today’s Gospel Matthew 23: 1-12) I have to admit every time I read this passage in Matthew’s Gospel I think of bishops, cardinals and even popes. I think of them as saying one thing and doing another, of laying heavy burdens on others, of always needing places of honor, of always being shown respect but not respecting others. Yes, it is easy to point the finger at others.
However, if I truly stop and think about Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel the first person I must really consider first is yours truly, me. I too am part of the Church leadership. I am a priest, a preacher and a Passionist. Do my words and actions reflect Christ? Do I lay heavy burdens on people and then do nothing to help? Do I look for places of honor, special treatment just because of who I am? Do I expect people treat me different? Do I expect to be called “father,” “Rabbi,” or “Master?”
If I am honest at times the answer to some of these questions is, “yes” unfortunately! Yes, I get caught up in my humanness. I want to be special. I want the world to follow my words. I want people to point to me and say good things. I want to get the first place in line or be at the head table.
So, Jesus’ words today are an opportunity for me to pause and reset my priorities. They are an opportunity for me adjust my life. They offer me a chance to plant my feet on the ground again and to value the things that are most important, the things that really matter. They are a reminder of who is most important in my life, God and others.
The Chicago Bears football great Gail Sayers entitled his autobiography, I Am Third, referring to the way he lived his life, Jesus first, others second and himself third. In Jesus’ words today, I am reminded that I will never be perfect in this life and every so often, I need a good kick in the behind so that I take note of why I am a Passionist, a priest and a preacher. I always need to remember God is first, others are second and I am third!
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” is Nathanael’s (Bartholomew) question to Philip in today's Gospel. In other words, Nathanael wants to know why should I waste my time? Why should I leave what I am doing or not doing to meet this Jesus? Questions any of us might ask if we were in the same situation. Yet, Philip’s invitation to “Come and see” is a life changing event for Nathanael. It is an event that gives him a different perspective on Jesus, on people who come from Nazareth, on life. It gives Nathanael and encounter with God.
The gift of the feast of St. Bartholomew (Nathanael) which we celebrate today is that Bartholomew did not miss his encounter with God and that made all the difference in his life. Throughout the Gospels we encounter people who miss the presence of God. Who are blinded by power, authority and preconceived ideas about people and life. Jesus walks into their midst and they miss their chance to encounter God. They hang on to what is comfortable, what is familiar.
Through the invitation of Philip, Bartholomew does not miss his chance, his opportunity. He however must let go of his preconceived ideas, his comfortableness and when he does it makes all the difference. It leads him into an encounter with God that forever changes his life.
Let us ask the spirit of St. Bartholomew to help us let go and let God today. Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have sued this quote often recently, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” (Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)
I have always liked this quote from Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. and I think it ties into the thinking of Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matt. 22: 1-14).
The story in the Gospel today is about the coming of the Kingdom of God. It is about the end time. Who will accept God’s invitation? Who will be ready? Everyone is invited but do we accept the invitation? Are we ready to enter the banquet of eternal life?
The invited guests get caught up in the things of the world that they think are more important. One is not prepared, not ready. We to sometime get caught up in all the things the world defines as important and we lose sight of what God finds important. We think there is always tomorrow to get ready. If we think this way we will find ourselves just like the invited guests and the person not appropriately dressed, outside. However, if we can tap into God’s energy, if we can accept God’s invitation and be ready to enter the Kingdom we will not find ourselves outside in the end when it comes!
Have a great 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...