Today’s Thoughts: Both Jesus and Moses respond in the same way when people who seem to be outside the “chosen few” make God’s presence known. They point to the fact that good things are happening and if something is good then it is of God and if it is of God then all the better no matter who is responsible.
God’s ways are not always our ways. God’s plans are not always our plans and God’s messengers are not always the people we think they should be. God's grace and blessing does not always come from the people we expect. It is an unfortunate that often our human condition leads us into envious reactions. These petty reactions often make us judgmental and resentful of people we have decided that followers of Jesus should do it the right way. In these moments of envy we miss the God’s grace, we miss God’s presence, we miss the opportunity to encounter in, through and with others the gift of God because we think it is not the right way, the correct way.
It is often easy to condemn others because we see them as sinners or because they do not follow the rules – we see them as cafeteria Catholics or worst because they don’t follow the rules as we see it. However Jesus sees the presence of the Spirit, where we do not.
The Gospel today encourages us to be less judgmental and look more deeply for the grace of the Holy Spirit working, rather than on the rules and regulations. Pope Francis has challenged us over and over again to see our life of faith through this lens. Every encounter with another human being can be an encounter with God.
Let us be grateful today and every day for the presence, grace and love of God and the many ways and people through which we get to encounter God’s grace, presence and love. Let us also be open always to God’s ways and the unique and sometimes even unorthodox people that God chooses to make his presence known.
Have a great Sunday 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 he calls Nathanael to follow him. Jesus see God in all of us. All of us are invited to respond to God’s love!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Four summers ago, in New York it was hard not getting caught up in Derek Jeter’s farewell tour. Now I am not a Yankee fan, I have always been a Pittsburgh Pirate fan, a National League fan, but I have to admit that during my 21 years of living in the Bronx and now Pelham I came to respect and at times root for the Yankees because of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. During my time living in the Bronx they became two of the faces of baseball and all that was good about it for me.
The greatest player in baseball, for me, will always be Roberto Clemente and I will always be a diehard Pirate fan but at a time when it was hard to find good in sports. When the day to day news about sports was often negative, I truly believe Derek Jeter was a man, a player of class, integrity and dignity. I know that I don’t know him, and he could be a real jerk outside of baseball, but something told me he wasn’t.
Perhaps in much the same way three years ago around this time it was hard not getting caught up in the preparations for Pope Francis’ visit. Like Derek Jeter many were asking the question who is Pope Francis? Certainly, over the last five years I have come to respect and be in awe of Pope Francis because of the kind of man he is and the spirit of God he seems to bring to every encounter with others. I truly believe Pope Francis is a man of faith, a man of truth, a man of love and a man blessed by God in a world that is often violent, negative and life taking rather than life giving.
In the Gospel today (Luke 9:18-22), Jesus asks two questions of his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am? and Who do you say that I am?” I might be stretching things but in a way throughout Jeter’s last baseball season many baseball fans were asking the same questions about Derek Jeter. I am not comparing Derek Jeter to Jesus! I am just saying that a small part of the baseball season four years ago was, at least for me, defining who Derek Jeter was. Celebrating what he had been for baseball over the last twenty years. Perhaps looking at his twenty-year career in the major leagues and realizing he had been a great player, not the best, depending on how one defines the best, but a great player who touched the lives of many by the way he played the game.
In the Gospel, the disciples try to define who Jesus is for them and Peter is able to get it right, Jesus is “The Christ of God.” It is important for the disciples to come to know Jesus in this way because of where their journey with him is headed, the Cross and Calvary. They need to begin to see Jesus as he truly is in order to make the journey with him. With Jesus there is truly a time for everything under the heavens, an appointed time.
The same is true for us. In our journey of faith, we need to come to know who Jesus is in our life. We like Peter need to know him as “The Christ of God” because of where our journey is going and the things we will face with Jesus. There have been and will continue to be many crosses and many journeys up Calvary.
So today I would just like to say thank you to Pope Francis and Derek Jeter for sharing their appointed time in this life with us but most importantly I want to thank Jesus for being “The Christ of God” and for your continuing your appointed time in our lives!
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 light where it will allow others safe passage as they enter the room. Doing this seems like 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: I would like to start off my thoughts today with a little story…
Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he meets, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
The man said, 'I do, Father.'
The priest said, 'Then stand over there against the wall.'
Then the priest asked the second man, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
'Certainly, Father,' the man replied.
'Then stand over there against the wall,' said the priest.
Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and asked, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
O'Toole said, 'No, I don't Father.'
The priest said, 'I don't believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?'
O'Toole said, 'Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.'
Now this might seem like a strange way to begin my thoughts, but I think my little story reflects the focus of our scriptures today.
At one point in our Gospel today Jesus asks his disciples, “What were you arguing about on the way? But they remained silent.”
In the silence that follows Jesus’ simple question, like O’Toole in the bar we might hear something different from what Jesus is asking. The disciples had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest. Even after Jesus had shared with them his Passion and Death to come, they were more worried about themselves. Or perhaps they just didn’t want to face the journey of discipleship that Jesus had laid out for them.
The name given by the Letter of James to this way of thinking and acting is “selfish ambition,” which breeds, according to James, “disorder and every foul practice.” No small thing, this worrying about who is the greatest! James’ diagnosis of the human struggle presented by the disciples, points to a disease that afflicts all human hearts, but one that has a particular effect on Jesus’ closest friends.
Focus on self remains in direct opposition to focus on God. No one can move toward God who remains focused on the self. The spiritual tradition of eastern Christianity names philautia, the love of self, as the “queen of all vices.” This remains true for all, but what of those “closest to Jesus”?
In a passage from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on evangelization, he speaks to all those who work “in and for the Church,” cautioning us about the temptation to “spiritual worldliness.” Pope Francis warns about attitudes and behaviors that seek “not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being.” This way of living life, can take on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. How can we avoid this? Pope Francis says, “. . . by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor.”
The Gospel today asks all of us to pay attention to the focus of our love: Love of self? Or love of Jesus, love of the Father and those whom Jesus and the Father loves?
Have a great 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 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 kinds 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 sowers 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 place of our heart 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 of 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 word so that they become good soil?
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I pass along this reflection that I once read for my reflection on this Feast of St. Matthew –
“The call of Matthew, the tax collector, is told in one single verse. The brevity raises many questions and invites speculation. Had Matthew met Jesus, or at least had he heard of him before the encounter? When he got up from his customs post, what did people think? How did the other disciples receive Matthew into the group? We marvel that Matthew could walk away from his familiar way of life so readily and completely. But we must remember: Matthew was not merely walking away from something, he was walking toward someone – Jesus! What have [we] left behind by following Jesus? Jesus many called Matthew a traitor, but you called him a disciple. Help [us] to see the good in someone [we are] struggling with right now.” (Sr. Melannie Svoboda, SND – Living with Christ – September 21, 2015)
Have a great Friday 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...