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 few years ago, around at this time 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 and a blessed Saturday!
Today’s Thoughts. Today’s first reading from Daniel describes terrifying dream-like visions which Daniel saw during the night. The visions Daniel saw were quite alarming and violent. However, towards the end, Daniel sees a hopeful sign: One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven. Daniel believes that God has intervened. The point of all the visions/dreams is that God will at some point intercede to destroy all evil so that those who stand firm in their faith will prevail.
Today, we may not have monstrous-type lions with eagle wings or bears with tusks or leopards with four heads in our dreams, but we might ask ourselves what are the challenges which block us from God, self and one another? How does fear control us and what are we missing?
In our Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God is near and there are signs wherever we choose to look, even in the effortless process of the seasonal cycle of growing trees. Our challenge is one of maintaining attention and intentional response. Perhaps as we journey through this Friday there is more than enough here to occupy our prayerful moments until the beginning of Advent on Sunday.
Have a great Friday everyone and pleasant dreams!
Today’s Thoughts: Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am offering you two reflections for today. The first based on the readings for the day, Thursday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time and the second based on the readings for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy!
Reflection 1: Ort two readings today are rather difficult one and after I read them, I just wanted to close the book and reflect on something else. I am not always sure how to take these apocalyptic readings but here is my take at least on the Gospel.
The "time of the Gentiles" as Jesus puts it in the Gospel today. The time between the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming of Jesus. It is our time, we live within this "time of the Gentiles" and we see the signs, disasters, wars, violence, struggles, difficulties of all kinds. We see the signs in culture, society, church, family and the individual. We experience trials and tribulations that are personal and communal however, it doesn't mean the end is around the corner the "time of the Gentiles" has been going on for 2,000 plus years.
We are just in the midst of a point on the continuum of time. It is a part of the mystery of God that challenges us to not give up, to continue to walk by faith. Jesus remains us to always stand up straight because we don't know when this time will end, and we need to always be ready. We remain ready with a faith that reminds us that we do not stand or walk alone. Jesus stands and walks among us. We encourage and strengthen one another because God is always with us!
Reflection Two: If you use 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 in the midst of 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.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! May your day and all who you will gather with to celebrate be blessed!
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!
In the midst of our daily struggles, in the midst of everything that makes it hard to have faith, to hope, to love 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 shouldn’t we be terrified? Why shouldn’t we 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 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 help 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 how might I look at our feast today in a positive way. Well, our three readings present to us three picture, snap shots of the kingship of Jesus that we celebrate today.
In our first reading from the Second Book of Samuel we are presented what we might call a political statement. Perhaps not something we want to consider given our political times, but the readings is a snapshot of the moment when David brings the two kingdoms of Israel together under his leadership as “shepherd king.” It is from David line that Jesus will come into the world. But unlike David, Jesus will not a political leader, he will not be a soldier king, warrior king, he will not restore Israel to its greatness through human understanding. He will invite us to be his bone and flesh as part of the Body of Christ our Shepherd.
Our second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians provide us with a theological understanding of Jesus as King. Everything has been reconciled in Jesus. He is the center of who we are as people of faith. He is the invisible God made visible. He is the Good Shepherd, who always looks after his sheep.
Finally, in our Gospel today we encounter not our political king or our theological king but our human king. Early on in Pope Francis’ time as pope he provided us with an image of leadership. He told priest that in their faith communities they should be shepherds marked by “the smell of the sheep.” Over and over again in the Gospels Jesus presents to us a Shepherd king who is marked by the smell of his sheep. Whether it is the smell of tax collectors, lepers, demoniacs, women at wells or brought before him in shame, disciples who don’t understand, close friends who deny, betray or run away or like in today’s Gospel criminals. Our Gospel reminds us today that Jesus is our “Shepherd King” willing to go all the way to death on the Cross and beyond for us!
Perhaps, as we celebrate this feast of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, we should pause to ask Jesus to help us bring life the same kind of shepherd leadership that he lived out that we might be a community of faith today.
Have a blessed and faith filled Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Today’s Thoughts: In our Gospel today, Jesus says two things that are worth considering. First, he says, "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God.” And secondly, that “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 points or 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 for us is how do we live these gifts? Do we recognize that we are children of God? And are we always about life?
You might say that during these days leading up to 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 he 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 Christians, 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 Thought: “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.
Extra Note: If you happen to use the readings for the feast today – The Presentation of Mary – you will encounter a beautiful few verses from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah and a few perplexing verses from Mathew’s Gospel.
From Zechariah we here about Christ coming amongst us, of dwelling with us, of coming forth from his holy dwelling – Mary! Zechariah presents beautiful imagery of God’s presence amongst us with Mary inferred at the holy dwelling from which Christ blesses the world.
In Matthew’s Gospel we have those curious verses of someone in the crowd telling Jesus that his mother and brothers are here to see him, but Jesus says, “Who are my mother and brothers.” Jesus goes on to say pointing at all gathered, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Jesus seems to ignore his mother or slight her presence. If we look at Jesus’ words a different way, perhaps Jesus is truly honoring his mother as the example by which we can be part of the family. If we believe, if we do the will of God just like Mary, we are truly part of the family!
Have a great Feast of the Presentation of Mary and Thursday 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...