Today’s Thoughts: “No one sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) For me this closing verse of our Gospel today says it all. Looking back is not an option in our journey of faith. Yes, we can recall stories, experiences and moments of our past, but we cannot be about our daily life always looking back.
Think of some pushing a plow or driving a car or running a race or doing anything that asks for our attention to what is in front of us. If we turn to look back bad things can happen plowing the field, driving the car or running the race. In our Gospel today Jesus asks us to live in the moment and yes sometimes living in the moment can be hard if not next to impossible. Yet living in the moment is what is going to make all the difference in our journey of faith.
I don’t know too many people who would not want to bury their mother or father or say good-bye to their family if they were leaving but I don’t think Jesus is say that we cannot do these things. Remember Jesus’ says we often more for effect rather than hard and fast rules. If our family is valuable to us shouldn’t God be also?
Living in the past, focuses on the past does not allow us to move forward. It can often cause us to miss the presence of God when we most need it. If we are going to follow Jesus, we need to focus on what is right in front of us not what is behind us.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday 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!
Today we honor the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. May these trusted servants of God protect, guide, and bring comfort and healing to us. The images that we find in the Book of the Prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation today are human images of the place of heaven. Being in the eternal presence of God like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is beyond our understanding but it is the goal of our journey through life may these three servants of God always be present to us in this journey. We ask Michael to protect our journey; we ask Gabriel to always help us find God's presence in our journey; we ask Raphael to bring healing to our journey when we are hurt or struggle with the journey.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The dangers of living out an arrogant self-importance life are captured in the readings from Job and today's Gospel from Luke. At first, I struggled to find a connection between these two readings, but after careful reflection it finally dawned on me. Satan’s challenge for God to test Job’s faith and the desire of the disciples to be ranked on personal greatness are two powerful examples of how the abuse of “ego” can easily divert one’s focus from God and his love.
The story of Job has been repeated thousands of times in the past but taking a different approach and interpreting the message from Satan’s perspective provides a new opportunity to shed light on another aspect of human nature. Job’s faith and devotion to God speak for themselves, but Satan’s obvious abuse of ego deserves attention. Satan accompanied the angels of the Lord with specific intent to place a challenge before God. His own ego could not bear witness to Job’s relentless faith to the Lord so he eagerly accepted God’s offer and exerted his devious will to bring Job harm, especially to his family and personal possessions. The result was treacherous but in the end Job ultimately wins God’s favor and thus defeats the misguided ego of Satan.
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?
We might say that our readings today challenge us to always live in the present because the future does not yet exist, and the past is gone forever. All we have is the present moment and the many ways this present moment will help us to encounter the presence of God within ourselves and others.
Have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our Gospel story for today is a rather start forward one. A man had two sons who disappointed him in different ways. The first one rebelled but then had a change of heart. The second one was full of yeses but did not follow through with his yes!
In the time of Jesus, this story was addressed to the religious leaders of his time, the chief priests and elders of the people, who were always seeing themselves in “the right.” They, indeed, were doing God’s will. They were the yes men of Jesus’ time. But they were failing to show up. They didn’t respond to John the Baptist’s challenge and they were not responding to Jesus’ invitation.
There is a familiar phase, “action speak louder than words!” Perhaps, this is what Jesus is getting at in our Gospel today. The religious leaders had all the right answers, but their actions did not reflect their words.
Jesus’ invitation to follow is not easy. It is demanding and sometimes like the first son in our story today we don’t want to engage. The commitment of faith is too hard, too difficult, and always the most pleasant of experiences, it is demanding of our time and our actions. The hope of faith is that when we pause to think about the alternative, we have a change of heart and respond to God’s call, God’s challenges, God’s invitation to be a person.
We cannot just say “yes” and think that is enough. We cannot stand in front of a church and hold up a bible and think that makes us a person of faith. It is how we live out our faith that is most important and that faith calls us to be more concerned about other than ourselves. It calls us to see God in others. As St. Paul reminds us today, as true followers of Jesus we are invited to place the well-being of others before our own and to do it with humility and selfless love.
Being a person of faith is not easy. It demands action not just words and at times we will come up short, but we have an infinitely patient and merciful God who stands always ready to forgive, bless and grace us with his love if we change our mind or most importantly change our heart!
Have a blessed, holy, and safe Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today might cause us to close the book and say, “What’s the use!” Both Ecclesiastes and Jesus paint a bleak picture of the reality of the journey of life. Yet, at times we need to hear these bleak words. We need to be reminded of the struggles, the imperfection, and the sinfulness that life can place in our way.
Our journey through life is never “happily ever after.” It is fraught with struggles, challenges, unfairness, sinfulness, and in the end death. The challenge is always what do we do when faced with these realities. Do we give up? Do we run away? Do we say, “Oh what’s the use?” Do we go our own way? Or do we trust in the presence of God? Do we enter into the journey as Jesus did with our eyes focused on the Father? Trusting in God’s presence to bring us through.
Perhaps our challenge is to take life as it is and yet always see God’s presence in the journey, in the sunrise, the sunset, in the breath of life. Like Jesus we are called to sense our Father in every breath that we take. In the midst of the struggles and the unfairness of life we are challenged to never forget that we are the work of the Creator’s hands and so we must honor every passing hour, minute and second of our life so that at the end of this life we can move into a gift of eternal life!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Six 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 27 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 believe Derek Jeter was a man, a player of class, integrity, and dignity. I know that I did not 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 five 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 seven 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 six 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 gets 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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 blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: I pass along my reflection on this Feast of St. Matthew –
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 few 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 few 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 forty 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, someone 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 journey each day is not just sacrifice but more so mercy!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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...