Today’s Thoughts: “We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, [of sisterhood,] the violence that wills us to beat weapons into sickles for work.” (St. Oscar A. Romero, The Violence of Love)
St. Paul and Jesus in our readings today (1 Corinthians 3: 1-9 and Luke 4:38-44) tell us that they have come to proclaim the Good News. St. Paul does it indirectly and Jesus does it directly. Their goal is to bring the Good News to whomever they meet, whether it is the community of believers at Corinth or the people in Capernaum or the many towns beyond.
The Good News that Jesus and Paul bring is the same Good News brought by St. Oscar Romero many years later. It is the Good News of love. It is the Good News of the Cross. It is the Good News of community. It is the Good News of no more war, the Good News of peace!
I believe there comes a point in a believer’s life when we need to say enough. Enough violence! Enough war! Enough hate! Enough disrespect for life! Enough bullying! Enough racism, Enough negativity! Enough selfishness! Enough inequality! If we are truly a great silent majority, if we truly want a world based on peace then it is time to say enough with one great voice! It is time to proclaim and live the Good News.
Have a blessed and holy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.” (Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)
This quote by the great philosopher, scientist, theologian, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. came to mind as I was praying with our Gospel for today (Luke 4:31-37).
Jesus in the Gospel today is helping people to experience the gift of God in their lives. His teaching has power and authority. But what gives Jesus’ teaching so much power and authority? We might say it is because he is the Son of God and we would not be wrong. However, we might also say that Jesus’ teaching has power and authority because of how he treated people. In the Gospel today, he expels a demon spirit so that a man can get on with his life. Throughout the Gospels Jesus takes people where they are and helps them to grow, to recognize the grace and presence of God in their lives.
Jesus knows that limits to our ability do not exist, because anything is possible with God. So, let’s live this day in God’s presence. Let’s look beyond what appear to be our limits and let’s work with God to make a better world. Let’s be collaborators with God to bring about peace!
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate The Passion of St. John the Baptist, 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 blessed, holy, and healthy Monday everyone
Today’s Thoughts: In a word our readings today at about humility. In our first reading from the Book of Sirach we hear the echoes of traditional Jewish teachings concerning right conduct. Basically, these verses say, “Remember who you are and who you are not.”
Remember you are gifted by God and when you remain peacefully grateful you will experience being loved by God and others.
A wise person listens deeply. The wise person searches and allows mystery to be a friend rather than a humiliating enemy which must be defeated or ignored. As water can subdue flames, generosity to the poor extinguishes the fire of past sins.
This way of living life is both instructive and practical. The challenge is always to live out the words of wisdom. You might say it is always a work in progress. Humility is gratitude which allows us to be comfortable in our own skin. When we cover up or withdrawal, we are not being humble or shy, we are allowing pride to take over. We are saying that we really should have been created with more gifts and until they appear, we will not.
In our Gospel Luke has Jesus responding to an invitation to dinner at a leading Pharisee’s house. There are two keys that this is not ordinary dinner. First the others at the dinner are watching Jesus with the intent to trap him. These are people I often refer to as the “Temple Police” or perhaps in today’s terms they are the “Liturgical Police”. Jesus notices the pharisaical practices of the guests maneuvering for the places of honor and recognition. So, he intensifies their interest in him by telling a story that is aimed right at their insincerity.
The story seems to be about table manners and where one should sit at a wedding feast, however it is really about how one sits at the table of life. Being invited to life means that we are in fact invited and have no entitled rites other than to eat what is placed before us and to sit where they find themselves. The Eternal Inviter to the feast of life will bless those who have eaten well and gratefully for the whole meal. This blessing is the Eternal Host saying, “My friend, move up to a higher position.”
The “higher position” would be a place of honor, which, for Luke, means a place of sharing with the needy the gifts received at God’s table. This image is made clearer as Jesus then turns to the host of the dinner and speaks to him about whom he should invite to such dinners.
Jesus states clearly to the host that when he invites his friends and the wealthy to dine, they can repay you and so you have your reward. The challenge to the host is to use his dining facilities and wealth to care for those who cannot repay him, because then the Eternal Host who has set his table, will then repay him at the eternal banquet.
That which makes a person truly attractive is that comfortableness in their own skin, which is true humility. Just as sitting in a quiet, peaceful place is comforting, walking with people who are comfortable with their own skin often bring peace into our life, you might say it rests us. Remember humility is truth in action, generosity in public, and joyfulness in being invited.
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
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)
Perhaps this is the spirit of today Gospel (Matt. 25:14-30) that we take the chance and invest our life. There are always risks involved but at the end of life, wouldn't it be great to hear God say to us, "Well done good and faithful servant, come share my joy!"
And in the spirit of the Gospel – let us be good and faithful servants by taking the chance and investing our lives. In other words, by living our lives. Let us not bury our lives afraid that we might make a mistake. Afraid that we might make a poor choice. Afraid that we might lose what God’s has given us. Let us do what the master has done and invest in life. So that when we take our last breath in this life and meet God, he will simply say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant, come share my eternal joy!”
Have a holy, blessed and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today (Matthew 25: 1-13), 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.
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 blessed and holy Friday!
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 holy and blessed Thursday 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 blessed, holy, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: We find ourselves today once again 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 blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Just a note before I begin my reflection that today as a Church, we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and I celebrate 40 years as a Passionist.
In our Gospel today we have “Woe to you….” Statements. 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 blessed and holy 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...