Today’s Thoughts: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." These words from the end of our Gospel today (Luke 14:1, 7-11), seem to be the center of what Jesus is trying to teach. Humility leads to success and respect. However, in our world today that is often not the case. How flamboyant, outrageous, bigger than life, and self-centered a person is offers them the place of honor.
If we think for a moment about where our success comes from the answer we might come to is others. God has given us our gifts and talents. Parents, family and significant other people in our life have helped us develop and hone our gifts and talents. Still others have given us opportunities to use our gifts and talents. Yes, we have had a lot to do with our success, but we always have help along the way.
That is why we always need to be grateful and humble. If we look at our life honestly, we can see how much we owe others. We also can see that we have failed and if it wasn’t for others picking us up we would never reach the positive successful moments in our life.
Another reason for humility is that God’s unearned love is always there for us. It is a gift that we can never earn, but one God’s is always willing to give to keep us going. Thus, to live life humbly means to acknowledge our dependence on God and others and makes a part of the human family, the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Living humbly makes it possible to hear the words at the end of our life, “Well done, good and faithful servant, come share my joy!”
Saturday blessing to all!
Today is the Anniversary of my mother birth into eternal life. And so, I remember her in thankfulness for the gift of life that she and dad gave me, for the wisdom and knowledge she gave me during her time on earth, for her faithfulness and for her eternal spirit that continue to be a presence in my life. I trust in her eternal presence and spirit to be with me and continue to guide me on my journey through this life.
(Remembering my mother today on the ninth anniversary of her passing.) – Good Saint Rita, during your entire life on earth you found your happiness by following the will of God. Help us to be as trusting of God in all of what God asks of us this day and always. Help us this day to give ourselves to God as you did, without limit, without fear, without counting the cost. Help us to be – generous in serving the needs of others, patient in all difficulties, forgiving toward all who hurt us. Help us to learn more deeply the great mystery of the Cross of Jesus, so that by embracing it as you did, we may come to experience its power to heal and to save. Amen (Adapted from a Prayer to St. Rita of Cascia)
May God continue to hold her is his eternal hands and may she continue to hold me, guide me, and love me and all who were a part of her life! Love yea Mom!
Today’s Thoughts: As I ponder today’s Gospel (Luke 14: 1-6) I cannot help but think about all the articles, comments, reflections and commentaries that I have heard and read over the last seven years concerning Pope Francis. Many of the comments about him are complimentary but others are not so much. Especially those concerning doctrine and laws of the Church. There have been discussion and even fights over words and translations. There have been comments, articles and reflections from the proverbial right and left, conservative and liberal, traditionalists and progressives. There has been talk about remaining true to dogma, doctrine and law. There has been talk about mercy, forgiveness and compassion.
If we listen to the Gospel today Jesus is confronted in his day with perhaps the same issues that Pope Francis is confronted with today. The religious leadership of Jesus’ time is concerned about the law. You do not eat with tax collectors and sinners and you do not heal on the Sabbath! Jesus meanwhile is concerned about the person in front of him, a man struggling and while the law says, “no healing today,” Jesus responds with mercy and compassion.
I don’t know what will happen with as time goes on with the vision that Pope francis has for the Church. I don’t know what will happen with the rest of Pope Francis’ journey as pope but what I take way from today’s Gospel is the hope that God will bless Pope Francis with the strength and courage to always see the person, the people, in need and respond to them out of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love and help and teach us to do the same.
Yes, I know that laws, doctrines and dogmas are important but if I read the Gospel right today, when needed mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love always bests law, doctrine and dogma!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have to say this morning that our scriptures today are not my favorite. What I struggle with are the images that they present to us. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians uses the image of a soldier dressed for battle. The soldier has his or her shield, sword, armor, and is ready to do battle which for St. Paul is against the forces of evil. This kind of imagery comes to us throughout the scriptures, Old and New Testaments. But I must confess it is the imagery that I have the hardest struggle with. I don’t see my life as a battle. I don’t see faith as a shield. I don’t see myself wearing armor.
I have never desired to be in the military. I am not a physical fighter, never been in a physical fight and I have always struggle with the militaristic imagery in the Sacred Scriptures. I know I am in the minority and perhaps would be consider unamerican by many, but that is how I feel about life and live my life.
I cannot provide for you any better images of life than what St. Paul does. I certainly understand how he has come to use these images after all the culture of his time was a constant physical struggle to survive, war abound. Perhaps our present days are no different. We do face “rulers of this present darkness.” The image of a soldier doing battle with life, with evil, with the devil I assume works for most and it is certainly imagery that many in our Church depend upon even today. But no me!
I look upon life as a journey. Perhaps because I am a runner, I look upon life as a marathon. Life presents to us challenges of work, of home, of neighbors, of relationships and other things that surround us externally, we are also confronted with many interior thoughts and feelings that enter our hearts making life difficult and a struggle. As we sort through them, we come to know that some are not of God and they do not lead us to God.
Yes, St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians gives us practical advice. We are to rely on faith. St. Paul says it is a shield but I prefer the image that faith is an energy, a spirit, a grace that helps me to continue the journey, that helps me power through the struggle, that helps me overcome the obstacle, that helps me stand true when treated by the presence of evil. Jesus never put on armor, held a sword, entered into battle.
It is my friendship with God, with Jesus, with the Spirit that helps me confront the feelings of fear and thoughts of I am in over my head, my feelings of aloneness and thoughts of no one understands. I am sorry for my reflection today if you find doing battle, being a soldier for Christ, putting on your armor of good and carrying the shield of faith inspiring images for your life. As I have said above I do not. I will continue to run the race of life and trust that the water and nourishment stations will be there when I most need them and that more importantly, I do not run alone.
God’s word challenges us today: “In all circumstances, hold faith as a [grace, a spirit, an energy for the journey of life].”
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As we celebrate the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude today, two apostles, two friends of Jesus, the thoughts I would like to offer you today come from one of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor. Barbara writes about what it means to be a priest. Her thoughts have given me food for thought recently and so I offer them to you today.
“...a priest is someone willing to stand between a God and a people who are longing for one another's love, turning back and forth between them with no hope of tending either as well as each deserves. To be a priest is to serve a God who never stops calling people to do more justice and love more mercy, and simultaneously to serve people who nine times out of ten are just looking for a safe place to rest. To be a priest is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are.”
I hope I live up to what it means to be a priest most of the time. I know at times I do fail and I pray that my failures do not hurt others or keep them from God. I do know that things are not as they should be and I hope and pray that I do care for all the way they are!
I have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can [we] compare it?” We might stay that these questions have been asked over and over again down through history. We are always trying to figure out what the Kingdom of God is like. What does Heaven look like?
We are always trying to compare it to what we know. Even Jesus does it today in the Gospel (Luke 13: 18-21). Jesus uses two images out of nature to teach us about the Kingdom of God. He compares the Kingdom to a mustard seed and yeast not exactly what I would compare the Kingdom to but Jesus has a reason for picking these two examples. He compares the Kingdom to a mustard seed and yeast because they are things in nature that are alive. They are growing, ever changing. The Kingdom of God is ever alive growing and changing. Paul seems to tells us in the first reading (Ephesians 5:21-33) that the Kingdom is like the committed, loving relationship of marriage. The Kingdom of God as about respect, commitment and love. The Kingdom of God is like a wife and a husband who find God in their relationship.
Our challenge today is to look around at the people, places and things of God’s creation that are a part of our lives and be thankful for them. When we ask the question what is the Kingdom of God like, to what can we compare it? All we need to do is look around because the Kingdom of God in alive in our life.
Perhaps Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ said it well when he wrote: “By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers”
Or maybe Thomas Merton said it a little differently when he wrote: “When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance [a glimpse of the Kingdom].”
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Reflecting on our readings today a rather famous line in a Robert Frost poem came to mind – “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
It has been said that Robert Frost intended the poem as a gentle mocking of indecision, particularly the indecision that Edward Thomas had shown on their many walks together in England. Frost later expressed chagrin that most audiences took the poem more seriously than he had intended. However, those last few lines of the poem which I began this reflection with have over the years come to reflect for many the challenge of living life whether Frost meant it that way or not.
Both Jesus and St. Paul are confronted by two roads, two paths to travel in our readings today. For Jesus it is to heal or not to heal on the Sabbath. For St. Paul it is to be compassionate and forgiving or the road of immorality, impurity and greed. We might say that they both choose the road, the path less traveled and for us that has made all the difference.
Our scriptures challenge us to look at the decisions we make in living our life of faith and how often the choice of the road, the path that is less traveled can make all the difference. Like our world today, St. Paul challenges the Ephesians to consider the roads they are walking down. Are they buying into the world around them, a world of immorality, impurity and geed or are they will to walk the path of God’s presence, the path of compassion and forgiveness, the path of love. St. Paul asking the Ephesians and us to consider the road less travel by the world because it will make all the difference in our journey of faith, in our relationship with God, it will make us Children of the Light!
Jesus is confronted with a woman who has been crippled by a spirit for many years. Jesus responds to her with mercy and compassion and moves to heal her. The only problem is that it is the Sabbath. Yet for Jesus it is the road of healing, mercy and compassion that he takes and that makes all the difference for the woman, for those watching, for the religious leaders and for us.
If we truly believe the response of our responsorial psalm today – Behave like God as his very dear children – then when we are often confronted with two roads on our journey of faith. Do we have the courage to take the one less travel because most often it will make all the difference? It will be the road where we will find God, ready to heal, ready to help and that certainly will make all the difference!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.” (Thomas Merton)
Perhaps this is what Jesus is getting at as he answers the scholar of the law in today’s Gospel (Matt. 22: 34-40). Love sits at the heart of any relationship, of any friendship. The first mark of a good relationship, a good friendship, is benevolence. Benevolence is actively, seeking and finding the good in another.
In the first reading from the Book of Exodus (Exodus 22:20-26) God reminds the Israelites that they are to care people not like themselves. They are to care for immigrants, aliens. They are to care for windows and orphans, those less fortunate than themselves. Because – we have all been immigrants and aliens at one point in our family history; we all have the potential of struggling and needing assistance. Care, concern, mercy and compassion are the hallmarks of a friend of God.
We find ourselves in the midst of a great debate these days about immigrants and those who are poor. Pope Francis constantly challenges us to care for these people with compassion, understanding and love. In our first reading today, God challenges not just the Israelites but us to care for the aliens, the immigrants, the poor!
In the Gospel Jesus reminds us that we are to love God and love others and also love ourselves. In order to do this, we must find the good in God, others and ourselves. We must desire good for God, others and ourselves. As Merton says if we can do this the gift of love will be our reward!
We see the effects of a lack of love every day in our culture, our society and even our church. Lack of love starts with the inability to find God’s love within ourselves and this inability produces violence, suffering, injustice, selfishness, self-centeredness and judgmentalness. The lack of love creates divisions, alienates and isolates people.
The power of God’s word challenges us to be loving people today not just to those we like or those we find easy to love but we are asked to extend the embrace of love to all, including ourselves. If we can find the love that God has created within us, then it is much easier to look beyond ourselves to love God and others!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Seeing Jesus to be a wise person, people ask him to help them understand the meaning of some recent catastrophes—Pilate’s slaughtering of some Galileans in the temple precincts and the death of eighteen people crushed under the collapse of the Siloam tower. Were these people singled out for catastrophe as punishment for being extraordinary sinners? No way, says Jesus, opposing the popular view that bad things only happened to bad people. Then Jesus takes the occasion of their questions to make the paradoxical point that they themselves will suffer catastrophe if they do not repent. To understand what he means, we only have to read further in this chapter to the place where he speaks of the disaster of being locked out of the banquet of the kingdom of God (Luke 13:24- 30).
The parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6- 9) speaks about a fresh chance. When the owner of the orchard wants to cut down the unproductive fig tree, the gardener urges him to allow a little more time: fertilize it a little more, and maybe it will produce fruit. If we look at this story from our perspective at this moment in time we might say that Jesus is telling us that we still have the opportunity to act as people of faith and realize that the command to love our neighbor (even our enemies) requires that we voice our convictions regarding what our country, does in our name. In responding to the Gospel means that we always need to examine our conscience on the matter of justice, respect, fairness and compassion and that we communicate our values and conscience to those who lead us. Our faith calls us to always find Christ even in the most difficult of moments and situations. The tragedies of life are often difficult to explain that is why faith is so important.
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As I read today’s Gospel (Luke 12:54-59) as I prepared to live life this day I could not help but think of one of my favorite sayings by Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J – “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
Jesus seems to be saying the same thing. As human beings we seem to get caught up, become fascinated, with the things around us and in doing so we often miss the most important. We know what will happen when the wind blows out of certain direction. For example, sometimes here in the east we will have wind out of the northeast meaning it will blow in off the ocean, so we will most likely have a nor’easter rainstorm or snowstorm. Now there is nothing wrong with knowing and understanding how nature works however, Jesus’ and Fr. Teilhard de Chardin’s points are that there is something great, something more important, something more value to life and because we are busy about other things we miss it.
If as a Church, a nation, a culture, a society, a world we would put our efforts into harnessing the energies of God’s love we would discover fire for a second time in history and how important was it the first time! The energies of God’s love are all around us, but we are so busy with other seemingly important things that we most often miss the chance to encounter God’s love. We miss the opportunity to make God’s love part of our lives.
My suggestion this Friday morning to all is that we take sometime today to pause and look around ourselves. Look past the obvious, the usual, the everyday. Look for the gift of God in our lives as it comes to us in so many different and life-giving ways. Discover it. Acknowledge it. Breathe it in. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Be thankful for it. And share it!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy 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...