Today’s Thoughts: In our readings today we have God’s hope for us from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah and the dangers of living an arrogant self-importance life presented to us in today's Gospel from Luke.
Through the prophet Zechariah God reflects his desire and hope for us that we might encounter heaven here on earth. God paints the picture of the heavenly Jerusalem with old people sitting in the midst of a beautiful day reminiscing and children joyfully playing. We can probably translate this scene into many different scenes in our own life. A family gather that has been long planned. The gift of a birthday or anniversary celebration. The reuniting of friend after a long separation. There are many moments in our lives that we long for that would give us a taste of heaven here on earth. Hopeful moments that keep us focused on our journey through life. Moment that perhaps we think are impossible, but God does not!
In the Gospel we find the disciples of Jesus, out of sheer stubbornness exerting their own egos of self-gratification, putting Jesus to test by questioning who is the greatest among them. As the story unfolds, we quickly learn that in the eyes of God personal humility is held to a much greater value than actively seeking public self-recognition and acclaim. In today’s world, humility of this nature seems highly impossible given the perpetual attention by TV and news media to endlessly advertise mundane gimmicks which promise to enhance personal appearances, wealth, and self-gratification. But where should our loyalties lie? In the eyes of humans, or in the message of faith and devotion as experienced by Job, and expressed by Jesus in his reaction to the disciples?
May we live in hope today made possible because in faith we strive to live humbly with our focus on serving others.
Have a great Monday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today we have a very familiar story in our Gospel, the story of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus. This story in Luke’s Gospel is part of a theme in Luke that is referred to in Luke as the “great reversal.” Meaning that a sign of the kingdom is the rise of the lowly and the fall of the mighty. We find this throughout Luke – Mary’s Magnificat, Luke’s version of the beatitudes both focus on God’s kingdom turn the world upside down and our story today fits right into this theme.
As we reflect on the story, we might wonder who is the central figure of the story, the rich man or Lazarus? Well a cast could be made for either or both together, however from my perspective the story focus on neither. The challenge or question of our Gospel today is are we aware of the people and things around us? Do we pause to take note of the people that enter out life each day? Do we bother to see them?
I ran across a story by a college student. She had a pop quiz in one of her classes. She was prepared except for the las question of the quiz. What is the name of the woman who sweeps the floors in this building? The young woman knew who the question was directed at. She had seen her often – tall, dark hair perhaps in her 50’s. However, she could not answer the question. Some of the other students in the protested the question. Was this question going to counter toward our grade? The professor responded, “Absolutely! In your careers you will meet many people. All of them are significant! They all deserve your attention and care, even if all you can do is smile and say hello.”
The problem for the rich man is not that he is rich. It is that he fails to recognize someone right in front of him. Even the dogs in the story are more caring of Lazarus than the rich man. He does nothing to hurt, degrade, make fun of Lazarus. His sin is ignoring Lazarus.
Do we look around in our life? Do we see others who may need a kind word or gesture? Remember in the Kingdom of God the lowly will be first and the mighty will be last!
Have a blessed Sunday everyone.
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 do we find God in our midst? How do we know that the Lord is with us?
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Five 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: There is a story I often use about a young man who is searching for God, so he goes to the cave of a holy man to seek wisdom in his search. The young man tells the holy man that he wishes to find God, to serve God.
The holy man says nothing but stands up and walks towards a lake that is near his cave. When the two men arrive at the lake the holy man invites the young man into the lake, and they wade into the water until it is up to their necks. Then without saying anything the holy man pushes the young man’s head under the water and holds it there. The young man begins to struggle the longer his head is under the water. Then just when he is about to drowned, the holy man lets go of his head. The two men walk back to the shore as the young man gasps for air.
Once back on shore the holy man turns to the young man and asks, “What did you want most when your head was under the water?” “Air!” the young man responds. “When you want God just as much as you wanted air then you will be able to find and serve God!” Replied the holy man.
This simple little story reflects, perhaps in a different way, the wisdom that Jesus is trying to impart on his disciples in the Gospel today. The only way to serve God is to go all in. We cannot have other masters in life and expect everything to go smoothly. Our focus and our desire must be centered in our relationship with God. The things in life, like money, power, influence and others can be and at times are important but not at the expense of our faith, our relationship with God. When we desire and serve God with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our being we will have found the right Master!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday 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 Saturday 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...