Today’s Thoughts: Our readings are rather straight forward today. In today’s gospel, Jesus sends seventy-two disciples out to announce the Kingdom of God to all the places that Jesus intends to visit. Jesus asks the disciples to go, to travel with nothing. They are not to be independent, but dependent. Not an easy way to travel. They are to be dependent on the places they go and the people they encounter. They are to be dependent on Jesus even though he is not there with them physically. They are to trust in their relationship with Jesus. This is all part of their learning process.
In today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Nehemiah. Israel had returned to Jerusalem after years of the exile in Babylon. Israel begins the process of recommitting to God and to living out once again their covenant with God given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The priest Ezra is publicly proclaiming the Torah before Israel’s leaders and people. Like the disciples Israel once again learns to be dependent rather than independent. They must learn to once again place their trust in God.
We are also asked in our journey of faith to move from independence to dependence. We are asked to trust in our relationship with God. As I mentioned above and as we know for our story of faith this is not an easy process and like Israel and the disciple we will fail at times. We will place more trust in the world or in ourselves. Our challenge is always to let go and let God!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Thursday 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!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” As I read this sentence from the Gospel (Luke 9:51-56) today I thought of the situation in our country, in our world with so much hate and violence. I wish we could call down fire to consume it and start all over again and I am thinking Jesus might give the request just a little more thought this time! But in the end, we would get what the disciples got a rebuke.
Jesus never confronted violence with violence, for him there was always another way, a better way. It isn’t always the easy way but in the end, it is better than violence, anger, negativity and abuse of power. It is the way that will invite, welcome and make God present to the people around us and to the world. Are there risks to Jesus’ way? Absolutely! But the risks are worth it.
Jesus shows us in the Gospel today that meeting rejection with rejection, or hate with hate, or violence with violence is not the way. When we are treated poorly, when we are disappointed, when we are attacked, violence, anger, hate is not the way forward. Jesus’ suggestion is to take a deep breath, and then take our next step in faith. This is the way all disciple can complete their journey of faith.
In living life this way, we can give meaning to the words we find in first reading for today from Zechariah (Zechariah 8:20-23). If we live as people of faith, then others will grab hold of us and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Isn’t this Pope Francis’ message on how to be a Christian, a person of faith? It is our action, our treatment of others. It is our making God present so others can see and experience God that will change the world.
But Jesus couldn’t you make just one exception and call down fire to consume all who preach hate and violence! Just a thought but a better one would be from St. Thérèse of Lisieux who would say that our loyalties should always lie in the message of Faith and peace!
Have a blessed, holy, and healthy Tuesday everyone.
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. Moments 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 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 blessed and holy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today have a hint of “fire and brimstone” in them! James in his letter certainly does not mince words especially as he goes after those with wealth within his community. Notice it is not that their wealth is bad, but James’ words are about how they have attained their wealth and how they have used it.
Jesus too, brings on a little “fire and brimstone,” himself, as he challenges his disciples to be aware of the things that cause them to sin. He is speaking metaphorically as he talks about cutting off hands, feet and gouging out eyes, but his words stand for something absolute and essential. The misuse of our gifts in service of others, the misuse of any kind of leadership, authority or power we have over others needs to be address or we risk the fires of hell.
Our readings today are directed mainly at those in leadership, whether it be leadership within the faith community, civil leadership, parents, teachers. Yet, the readings today can also be good reminders for our own journey of life. How do we use our power, our authority, our gifts in our journey of life and faith?
One last thought about our readings today, at least the first reading and the Gospel, they remind us once again that God works in mysterious ways. God’s grace, God’s Spirit can be a gift to anyone, they are not reservation just for the holy, the righteous, those we see as chosen. We need never dismiss someone because we don’t think they are worthy enough to proclaim the Word, the Spirit of God. As Moses says in the first reading, “Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!" (Numbers 11:29)
Have a blessed, holy, and safe 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 blessed, holy, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Seven 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 seven 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 seven 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, 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, 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, and healthy Wednesday 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, and healthy Tuesday 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...