Today’s Thoughts: In our first reading today Zechariah gives a directive to the people to sing and rejoice because the Lord is with them. In today’s world, we might find it difficult to follow Zechariah’s directive to sing and rejoice, for there is much in our world to be sad about: racism, division, wars, violence, natural disasters, hunger, the abuse of children, women, people, dishonesty, greed, and injustices of all kinds. However, Zechariah’s reason for hope is the same reason we have hope today. God is in our midst. The Lord is with us. Against the roar and clamor of bad news, fake news, and the distraction of social media we must listen for the whisperings of good news in our own hearts, within our families, our faith communities, our workplaces, and peace negotiation tables. Wherever people of good will are engaged in bringing peace into their specific situation and doing so with courage and love. Our questions for today are where to we find God in our midst? How do we know that the Lord is with us?
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps these words from Pope Francis are what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel today. “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”
Jesus sees God in Nathanael and all he has call to follow him. Jesus see God in all of us. All of us are invited to respond to God’s love!
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As the saying goes curiosity killed the cat. But does it? Sometimes we think of curiosity only as something negative, something that will ultimately get us in trouble. However, curiosity can be a good thing. It can help us to encounter and experience many wonderful things that if we had not been curious about them we might have missed the experience. Think of all the wonderful things that have been discovered or invented because people were curious. Think of all the diseases that have been cured because people were curious. Curiosity can be a very positive experience.
Today in the Gospel Herod is curious about Jesus, just as he was curious about John the Baptist. I often get the feeling that Herod was not far from the Kingdom of God. He was not far from being a really good person. He was not far from following Jesus. However, Herod never really let his curiosity lead him to the Kingdom instead he worried about what others might think or say or do. He never let himself truly experience the presence of God in his midst. Herod curiosity led to fear rather than new life. Herod curiosity led to worldly things rather than to God.
We are all curious people but the question is – what do we do with our curiosity? Perhaps a few questions we might ask ourselves as we journey through this day are. Do we let our curiosity lead us to God or the world? Is our curiosity healthy and purposeful or unhealthy and destructive? Are we willing to let our curiosity led us to a deeper relationship with God or to a fear of God?
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Dependency is not a word we often see as positive. In our world and certainly in our country there is a pride taken in being independent. We are rugged individualist; we can do it on our own. We don’t need anyone else. Being dependent on others means weakness. We pride ourselves on being able to do things on our own. Yet as the Gospel unfolds today Jesus instructs his friends to be dependent.
They are to be dependent on the people they visit. They are to take nothing for their journey and rely on the hospitality of the places they visit and people they meet, and most importantly they are to depend on God. They are to depend on God for the authority and power to heal, cast out demons and proclaim the Kingdom of God. They are to depend on God to see them through their journey.
Often dependency doesn’t feel good to us. Relying on others seems risky. There are too many things that can go wrong if we depend on others however that is what Jesus asks of us, we are to depend on God and each other. If we do we have to opportunity to cure, heal, to have power over evil and proclaim the Kingdom. If we do we have the opportunity to be part of the Body of Christ!
Let us trust in God’s presence today and continue to live this journey of life proclaiming the Good News. Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “My mother and my brothers [and my sisters] are those who hear the word of God and act on it [live it].” (Luke 8:21) I added the word live to Jesus’ words today because I truly believe that is what he means.
The picture that the Gospel (Luke 8:19-21) paints today often creates concern and questions. Why would Jesus treat his family this way? Why would Jesus treat his mother this way? Isn’t family first? However, if we think about today’s Gospel in these terms we are missing the point. Jesus loved his mother greatly. Jesus was a good member of the family. But in the Gospel today Jesus shows all the boundless amounts of God’s love. We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers in Christ. There are no exclusive places, no special privileges.
Today’s Gospel is a Gospel of hope. We are reminded of God’s great, unconditional love. Today’s Gospel gives us great comfort in knowing that God awaits all of us, accepts all of us. We can all be part of the family; we are called to be part of the body of Christ. All it takes is hearing the word of God and living it!
That is what Jesus is calling those gathered around him today to, that is what Jesus is calling us to. Do you hear the voice of Pope Francis in the Gospel today?
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of Jesus telling us not to hide our “light” under a vessel, a box or the bed but rather to place the our light where it will allow others safe passage as they enter the room. Doing this seems like of a no brainer. Don’t we always light a light so that it gives light to the whole room? Why is telling us this so important to Jesus?
There is another parable in Luke’s Gospel, in chapter 19 to be exact, the Parable of the Ten Coins that seems to focus on the same message. A nobleman is going on a journey so he calls in ten servants and makes each one responsible for one coin. When he returns each servant comes forward to give an accounting of what he has done with the coin. One servant does nothing with his coin, in fact, he hides the coin in a handkerchief because he is afraid of the master. Both parables, the candle and the coins, speak to the same teaching, that we are to share our gifts so that we can help make the Kingdom of God present in the here and now.
Both parables also end with an ominous warning: “To everyone who has, more will be given; from those who have not, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” The servant who buried his coin rather than investing it like the others is sternly dealt with, he loses everything or to put it in terms of today’s parable, his light goes out and he is left with darkness. This is not about gaining or losing wealth, it is about gaining or losing the Kingdom of God. It is about living in the eternal light or being in the darkness outside where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.
Jesus is using an analogy to talk about discipleship, he is not discussing candles and coins. The candle light and the coins are the gifts and talents we have been given to be used for building the Kingdom of God in the here and now. They can be our skills, our talents, our relationships, our experiences of life, the blessings that we have received. The challenge is what do we do with them? Do we hide them away? Do we live in fear of God? Or do we invest them? Do we light our lamp, or candle and place it on a stand in the middle of the room so that it gives light to all? Do we share the person God has created us to be?
If we trust in our relationship with God. If we trust in ourselves then we will not hide our gifts but share them so that we and others will encounter the presence of God. By lighting our light for all, by sharing our gifts we welcome God into our hearts and share his Kingdom!
Have a blessed Monday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: We are confronted with that unsettling parable of Jesus’ again. Where is the justice? Where are the workers’ rights? How could the owner of the vineyard, how could Jesus be so uncaring? What does it all mean?
There are some of the typical questions and/or response I hear when this parable of the vineyard owner and the workers comes around (Matthew 20: 1-16). I always say to people this is not about worker rights, fair pay or justice. This parable is about compassion, mercy, generosity and love. This parable is about gratitude and letting God be God!
The line that always strikes me in this parable is, “Are you envious because I am generous?” I believe this is a struggle we all have with God. We are so programed to do the right thing and in doing so we receive what is do us, but that is not how God operates.
I often think about the Good Thief when this parable rolls around, it was just before his last breath that he connected with God. We talk about him stealing heaven. He is the very point of this Gospel today. The door to the Kingdom is always open, never closed and we are probably going to be surprised when we get there to see who is waiting to greet us, because God is a generous God, a merciful God, a loving God.
The human rules of this life don’t apply to God and many of us will be thankful that God doesn’t operate by human rules and concerns when we reach the door of the Kingdom because without God’s mercy, compassion and generosity we might find ourselves outside!
Be thankful not envious or judgmental today for our God is a generous God. Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: I have often used the parable of the Sower and the Seed that we find in today’s Gospel in my mission preaching. And even though Jesus explains it to his disciples I usually use a different interpretation. Jesus talks about the different kinds of soil in the parable as being different types of people however I often use the different kinds of soil to represent different conditions of our hearts.
If we say that Jesus is the sower and our hearts are the field, then as Jesus sows the seed his word, his grace, his blessing, his hope, his love in our life the seed encounter four different kinds of soil. Three of which do not allow the seed to grow and one of which does. In other words, perhaps our parable today asks us to look into our own hearts to see what might not allow God’s grace, God’s blessing, God’s hope or God’s love to grow within us.
It might be the hardness of the foot path. The places of our hearts that have been hurt, stepped on by the struggles of life. All of us have been hurt in life, by words, actions, the lack of words or the lack of actions in life. When we are hurt we harden so that we don’t get hurt again.
We might have some rock, stones, pebbles or boulders in our hearts that take up room and don’t allow the seed to grow. Rocks and boulders, you ask? Our sinfulness, our faults and failings, our character defects, the sins in our life that take up space in our hearts and do not allow anything to grow with in that place of our hearts.
Then there are the weeds and thorns, the stuff of life, sometimes good stuff that is over grown and chokes off whatever God plants. The things of life that often become more important than our relationship with God. Sometimes good things that become gods and choke off the grace, the blessing, the hope and the love that God offers us as a gift.
We want our hearts to be all good soil. Soil ready and willing to accept whatever God plants so that it will grow and produce fruit a hundredfold! Why not take some time today and look into your heart? What is not allowing the grace of God to be planted, take root and grow within you? What places in your heart need a little work so that they become good soil?
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” (Thomas Merton)
In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:1-3) we are reminded of the importance of women in Jesus’ ministry. They were there supporting, taking care of, helping Jesus with their resources, their gifts, their talents, their faithfulness and their faith.
I ran across a reflection that was very interesting in terms of today’s Gospel here is that reflection by Kevin Perrotta – “What is it about Mary of Magdala that cause so many misconceptions to sprout up around her? Some mark her as a great sinner; others suggest she had a romantic relationship with Jesus. Hacking our way out of this underbrush of speculation, we do know Mary had some wealth, since she supported Jesus and the male disciples. No husband is mentioned; was she widowed? Perhaps she ran her own fish business – a trade that flourished in Magdala. Rather than a repentant floozy, Mary may well have been a solid family and business woman – like many of the women in church on Sunday. Seeing her [this] way makes her a model for many of us today!” (Living with Christ)
Kevin certainly makes us stop and think about Mary Magdalene. Yes, our Gospel says seven demons came out of her, but who hasn’t fought with seven or more demons in life? In paraphrasing Thomas Merton – When trying to identify Mary Magdalene let’s not ask where she lived, or what she liked to eat or how many demons came out of her but let’s ask how she lived, what she lived for and what got in the way from time to time? If we ask these questions Mary becomes a woman of strength and great faith just like the others who followed Jesus and attended to his needs in daily life.
Let’s hear it for women today and every day! Friday blessings everyone!
Afternoon Thoughts: I am sorry but having spent the last two days in meetings as I paused for prayer early this morning I didn’t realize that it was the feast of St. Matthew and I reflected on the wrong readings. Meetings can real fry my brain. So, this afternoon as I wait for the furnace person to arrive I offer you a few thoughts on today’s feast…
The call of Matthew, the tax collector, come to us in single verse. “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And Matthew got up and followed Jesus.” (Matthew 9:9) The simplicity of this call perhaps raises a number of questions and even gives pause to some speculation. Was this the first time to the two men had met? Had Matthew heard Jesus speak before? Was this the culmination of a number of events that finally cause Matthew to make a choice. When Matthew walked away from his post, what did everyone think? How did the other disciples receive Matthew into the group?
I have often marvel that this scene of Matthew walking away from his familiar way of life so readily and completely. I am not sure I could have done it. Yet, in many ways some thirty-eight years ago I did the same thing. Perhaps not as dramatically, just the same I left one life behind to follow Jesus in a new way. Let us remember: Matthew was not merely walking away from something, he was walking toward someone – Jesus!
Many called Matthew a traitor, a sinner, an outcast, an undesirable but Jesus called him a friend, a disciple someone worth knowing. Some worth investing time energy and mercy in. Perhaps today we need to ask Jesus to help us to see the good in others so that our odder each day is not just sacrifice but more so mercy!
Have a peaceful afternoon and 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...