Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the last day of November and the Feast of St. Andrew an apostle and the brother of St. Peter. A line in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans caught my attention this morning – “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” Being a preacher my hope always is to bring the good news and I think I have been successful most of the time during my years of ministry.
However, it is not just preachers who bring the good news it is all of us. A number of years ago around this time of year, a picture appeared of a NYPD officer in Times Square stopping to give a homeless man a new pair of shoes. It is a picture that millions saw on the Internet, that evening news programs showed it. The officer brought the good news not only to the homeless man but to all of us.
Perhaps as we live life today let us do so by bringing the good news to the world any way we can, with our voices, our actions, our lives. Let us believe in God's love with our heart and live it today and always!
Blessings to all with the name Andrew on this feast of St. Andrew and may we all have a great last day of November!
Today’s Thoughts: "The Lord speaks of peace to his people and his holy ones and to those who turn to him.” the entrance antiphon for today mass. What a wonderful thought, “The Lord speaks of peace…” to consider as we enter a new day. However, if we read on in our Gospel for today I am not sure Jesus is speaking of peace. He tells us, that persecution, pain, struggle and difficult time are ahead if we believe. He says these struggles and persecutions will come from everywhere they can even come from our family.
This seems a far cry from peace! It seems that believing, having faith takes a tremendous amount of trust in God and trust is not always easy. However, if we have that trust then peace can happen!
Amid our daily struggles, in the midst of everything that makes it hard to have faith, to hope, to love can we are asked to trust in God presence and action in our life and if we do we will encounter the peace that the Lord speaks of for his people today and always!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: One might say that reading today’s Gospel (Luke 21: 5-11) is like watching the evening news or tuning into one of the many 24-hour news stations at any point in the day. Bad things are a happening, for sure!
Yet, Jesus doesn’t say – run, hide, give up. He says don’t be terrified. Don’t follow all the doom and gloom proclaimers. Why should we not be terrified? Why should we not hang on every word of the gloom and doom proclaimers? Why - because God’s grace is at work. The question is how do we believe that God’s grace is at work?
Jesus has always said that the things of this world, the things we think are so important are not important. Even something like the great temple of Jesus’ time will not and did not last. Our focus, our trust, our faith needs to be placed in God. If not, we will be sucked in by the terror, the doom and gloom of the world. As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, God’s grace is enough.
Our challenge today and every day is to look around and find God’s grace at work in the world and in us. It is there – we just need the eyes of faith to see it!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: It is hard to imagine giving away all that you have. It doesn’t seem practical, perhaps it even seems foolish. Yet in our Gospel today (Luke 21:1-4) that is exactly what happens. A poor widow making her way into the Temple to pray gives up her last two coins. She is not giving out of her surplus, she is giving out of her poverty, she gives her “whole livelihood.”
Why? It is not any easy question to answer because it goes against the way we most often view life. Yet, I think it tells us something about what possessions, wealth and money do to us. They make us dependent, insecure, selfish and untrusting. When we have nothing, it is easy to give because we are not attached, and we are willing to trust in the next moment. We are willing to give everything we have to make a difference. When we have things there is worry, concern and the desire to have more.
Perhaps this example from the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta, M.C. will helps us to understand Jesus’ story in the Gospel today –
“I was once walking down the street and a beggar came to me and said, “Mother Teresa, everybody’s giving to you. Today, for the whole day, I got only twenty-nine paise and I want to give it to you”. I thought for a moment: if I take it, he will have nothing to eat tonight; and if I don’t take it, it will hurt him. So, I put out my hand and took the money. I have never seen such a joy on anybody’s face as I saw on his – that a beggar, too, could give to Mother Teresa. It was a big sacrifice for that poor man who’d been sitting in the sun all day and had only received twenty-nine paise. It was beautiful: twenty-nine paise is such a small amount and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love.” (From the book – Mother Teresa. A Simple Path)
Wealth, possessions and property can make us afraid to give. They can hold us back from trusting in God. They can enslave us. They can make it difficult to love. The poor widow in the Gospel today handed over her life to God. She gave out of trust, freedom and love. Perhaps the challenge of the Gospel today is to pause, look at our lives and be reminded that all the wealth, possessions and property that we think are important really are not. What is important is trusting in God’s unconditional love!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Feast of Christ the King has never been one of my favorite feasts. I think it is because kings have never really been a positive image for me during my life time. I have grown up in the age of democracy, kings and kingdoms seem to be part of the past. I have read about kings and kingdoms. I have studies them in school. Over the course of history, one can find a lot a positive images, stories and experiences of kings and kingdoms however from a personal perspective they are part of days gone by, not the reality of my life experience. Truth be told, kings and kingdoms for me often symbolize a time when ordinary people meant nothing and there was a great divide between the “haves” and the “have nots!”
So, what am I, what are we, to do today, faced with Christ honored, celebrated, as a king? Well, first, we need to look at the reality of Jesus' kingdom; it is a kingdom that is not of this world, meaning it is different kind of kingdom, one we have never seen or experience before. It is a kingdom of truth, and a truth that can set us free. We also know from the life of Jesus that it was not about the “haves” and the “have nots,” it was about community, it was about people. Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned. In other worlds, it is a kingdom where we recognize the king amongst us.
I have often used the image of Pope Francis as an image of Jesus as King. So first, let ma ask the question, “What most intrigues me about Pope Francis?” Well I think it is the way he has gone about being Pope. He chose not to live by himself, but to live amongst others. He chose not to eat by himself, but to eat with others. He chose not to celebrate Mass by himself, but to celebrate with others. Pope Francis has chosen to be part of the Church not just the head of the Church and I think that makes all the difference.
Jesus chose to be part of us, to be amongst us and that has made all the difference as we celebrate his Kingship today. Jesus' kingdom is beyond, government, power, authority and institution. It is a body, a living body made up of many members working as one for the good of all, for the salvation of all, for the love of all. Jesus as king rules to bring out the best in us so that truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace will be lived. Jesus rules here and now. So, may we follow the example of Jesus, the true shepherd, and be the Body of Christ, and be the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that truly honors its people by not walking past the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned, or anyone who becomes Christ for us by challenging us to care.
Let us honor Christ our King today by becoming instruments of his justice, peace and presence in the world today. Bringing love where there is hate, bringing pardon, where people are hurting, bringing faith to moments of doubt, bringing hope to hopeless times, bringing compassion when uncaring is the norm and bringing the light of joy to an often joyless world. Let us honor Christ our King, by giving, pardoning and loving so that one day all may be born in to the true Kingdom of eternal life!
Have a blessed and faith filled Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today, Jesus says two things that are worth considering. Jesus says, "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God...God is not the God of the dead, but of the living for in God all are alive."
From my perspective these are two important gifts we need to remember. We need to remember that we are children of God and that God is about life not death. The question is how do we live these gifts? Do we recognize that we are children of God? Are we always about life?
You might say that on the weekend after Thanksgiving when we are busy about many things it might be helpful to stop and consider our gifts – consider the fact that we are children of God. It is also not a bad time to remember that our focus must be on the living not the dead. Jesus always wanted to bring about life and so should we!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Jesus we find in the Gospel today (Luke 19: 45-48) was an observant Jew. He valued his community of faith. Sometimes it is the Jesus who ate with sinners and crossed the boundaries of his faith that we are drawn to, but we also need to remember the Jesus was profoundly respectful and observant of his faith.
Jesus was also zealous as we see today, his anger at the commercialism of the temple area had its roots in a deep respect for the purpose and place of the temple in the life of the people. It was to be a place of prayer. It was to be a place to go to get away for the everyday busyness and business of life.
What we learn from today’s Gospel is that no matter what approach to life that Jesus took it was not going to be good enough or right for the religious leadership. If we was eating with sinner or healing on the Sabbath or talking to women, he was wrong. If he was driving out merchants for the temple area he was wrong. The religious leadership did not seem to like the zealousness of Jesus for life and his faith.
Our challenge today is to learn from Jesus - when, why and how to be zealous. When, why and how to bring energy, enthusiasm and spirit to our life. We need to be observant Christian, we need to value and respect the places and structure of our faith community. We also need to be about life and finding ways to include everyone in the journey no matter what the cost!
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have two reflections today – My first reflection is for those who are using the readings from Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time –
“They will not leave a stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:44) Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem looking ahead to its time of destruction at the hands of the Romans. A city that did not recognize the presence of God at the most crucial time of its history. Yet, it is not the city, the stone, wood and mortar that fails to recognize the presence of God it is its’ people!
Jesus has walked Jerusalem’s streets. He has prayed at its’ temple. Jesus has healed, forgiven and celebrated the gift of God’s love within Jerusalem’s walls, yet the people of Jerusalem failed to recognize his visit, his presence. It is a sad moment for Jesus, it is a sad moment for us.
The last three days we have encountered stories of great faith from the Books of Maccabees. People responding to the presence of God in their lives against logic, conventional wisdom and self-preservation. They have made their choices based on a faith and trust in the presence of God in their lives. They have thought of others more than themselves.
I wonder if we could look upon Jesus today as he sits not just looking at Jerusalem but at all the cities of the world might he be thinking and feeling the same thing. Might he be crying as he looks upon us and saying one day one stone will not lay upon another in our world because we are missing our time of visitation.
We honor as heroic many who go charging into battle but rarely if ever do we honor as heroic those who go charging into peace. I truly believe God is in our midst however we seem to spend a great deal of time thinking only of ourselves and because of our self-centeredness, our selfishness we just might be missing our time of visitation.
Let us look around today not out of fear and self-centeredness but let us look around for the saving power of God in our midst.
My second reflection is for those using the readings for the Mass of Thanksgiving Day – In the Gospel you hear the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) once again. We had the same story about two weeks ago. It is a rich and challenging story especially as we come together across our nation to celebrate this special day in our history.
The story of the one returning person who had been cured reminds us that amid the busyness of life we have got to pause and be thankful. Life is not always about "me!" It is about being grateful, being thankful and going to the Source of our Life with that gratitude! Shopping can wait, partying can wait – God, prayer, family and friends are in need of our attention! It is a matter of faith and that can make all the difference.
St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians says – "I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace, [the gifts] of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus…." As we journey through life on this Thanksgiving Day let us be aware of God's grace and God’s many gifts and then think first about who makes this grace and these gifts possible and not just about ourselves and then be grateful even when it might be difficult.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your day and all who you will gather with to celebrate be blessed!
Today’s Thought: There are perhaps many ways to interpret today's Gospel; one way that I have often used is to ask the questions, "What is your image of God? And are you afraid of God?" In the story the man gives his servants gold coins and says go out and trade with them. Some of the servants go and trade and make more coins. One servant hides the coin in a handkerchief, so he has it ready when the master wants it back. The servants who traded are rewarded and servant who stored the coin in the handkerchief has the coin taken away. The servants who trade took a risk, they could have lost. The third servant took no risk, why? As the story tells us because he was afraid of the master!
We are given many gifts from God and all we are asked to do is use them as we live out our life. I have come to the conclusion that our image of God makes all the difference in how we use our gifts.
If we are afraid of God, afraid of making a mistake then we probably will not take any risks with God's gifts. We will hang on to them, hide them away. If we see God as a friend, a companion, someone who takes risks, who wants us to take risks then we will probably invest God’s gifts. For example, if we see Jesus as someone who took one risk after another; if we see him as someone who invested his life every day then we hopefully will do the same. So, I believe that it comes down to how we envision, understand and live out our relationship with God.
Another question I often ask is, "What if the first two servants had traded with the coins and lost them?" I cannot answer the question for sure, but my guess is the master says the exact same thing, "Well done, good servant!" Why because no investment is ever lost it is always out there working in some way. Thus, the challenge for today is to ask ourselves the question, "Are we willing to take a risk and bring God to the world today or are we going to hide God safely away?"
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: We encounter the famous story of Zacchaeus in today's Gospel (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus had to liabilities, one he was short, and the other was that he was a tax collector.
Now he could not do anything about his shortness that was with him to stay. Being a tax collector seemed to be his choice. We do not know how he got the job or why he wanted it, but it put him in a bad light with many people and the religious leadership. He was seen as a sinner, someone who sold out to the Romans and someone who was cheating his own people just to get ahead in life.
However, there was something honest and interesting about Zacchaeus. When he heard that Jesus was in town, he wanted to see him, catch a glimpse. So as the story goes he climbed a tree and we might say the rest was history. Jesus saw him and invited him down for a closer look.
We find out through the conversation between Jesus and Zacchaeus that Zacchaeus is trying to be an honest man and he is willing to go the extra mile if he has hurt or harmed anyone by his position and he is rewarded for his honesty and good heart as Jesus comes to his house.
Zacchaeus was able to take his shortcomings, his liabilities and turn them into strengths. He was able to make a positive situation out of what seemed to be a negative. All he need to do was seek out God in his life.
With this story Jesus once again reminds us that good things, faithful things can come from unexpected situations and people. Like Zacchaeus we need to be on the lookout for the presence of God in our life and be bold when our chance comes to encounter that presence!
Have a great 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...