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 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, Advent blessings to all and may we all have a great last day of November and a blessed and holy Wednesday!
Today’s Thoughts: I have four grandnieces and one grandnephew and this past week I got to spend a little time with them. They are all growing up too fast, especially my two oldest grandnieces. They are growing into young women right before my eyes and they both have unique personalities!
As I watched them during my time with them, I could not help but think about earlier times when I was with them, when they were younger. Did you ever take time to watch little children? When I am with my grandnieces, I often sit back and just watch them. It always amazed me how they made anything they had into a simple play toy; boxes, board games, a piece of ribbon or string, everything seems to come to life.
When my grandniece Kristina, was about three years old, she often played for hours on the floor by herself with board games, like Risk, Trivial Pursue, and others. She had no real understanding of how these games were played but that didn’t matter. She was content to just sit there moving pieces around, building things and imagining a whole different world. There was a joy and contentment on her face as she enjoyed a moment of life. I was often jealous of her freedom, her joy and her excitement. Both of my grandnieces have the gift of allowing their imaginations to enliven their lives.
In reflecting on these experiences with my grandnieces I could hear Jesus' words in the Gospel today. God truly does reveal many things to children that we adults miss. Children seem to know the joy and the love of God. Through their imaginations I truly believe they often see the hidden gifts of God that we adults at times miss. We can learn a lot from children, if we let them be children and if we stop to watch and celebrate the gift of their presence in our life.
Children also keep alive the hope that Isaiah talks about in the first reading today. If we use our imaginations as children do, we will be able to see the wonderful life that Isaiah envisions, where the wolf is the guest of the lamb and the leopard lies down with the kid and the baby is at play right next to the cobra’s den and all is well. In other words, if we are not afraid to use our imaginations, we have a chance to encounter the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, strength and wonder and awe and we have a chance to live in a world were justice and peace flourishes. We have a chance to make this life God’s Holy Mountain.
Yes, I know it seem farfetched but perhaps all it takes is a little imagination!
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today in our Gospel we have the familiar story of the centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. Did you ever realize when reading the Gospels that many of the people whom Jesus encounters with life changing faith are not part of the faith community but are seen as outsiders. This centurion has great faith, a faith that ultimately brings healing to his servant. This Gospel story and others like it should remind us that God's presence, God's healing, God's grace, God's work can come from anywhere and from anyone. Dismissing people for any reason is not a good practice because by dismissing them we may just be dismissing God and an opportunity to be healed!
So, as we begin this first Monday in Advent let us invite God to enter under our roofs even though we might feel unworthy and commit ourselves to renewing the gift of hope in our lives, strengthening our own faith and respecting the gift of others in life so that we never give up on peace or miss a chance to encounter God’s healing presence.
Have a great Monday everyone and a blessed and holy Advent!
Today’s Thoughts: On this First Sunday of Advent, we find a line in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah that always makes me pause, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again..." (Isaiah 2:4). To me, these words from Isaiah are so profound and hopeful. To think that one day there will be no war and that people will not have to be trained to fight, to go to battle, to enter into war. I know this will not happen in my lifetime, perhaps not in anyone’s lifetime but it is still a hope that rests in my heart and soul.
As we begin Advent our reading focuses on and offers us a chance to allow hope to take root in our hearts. Isaiah focuses us on God’s holy mountain. Mountains for the Israelites were places of God’s special presence. Perhaps what Isaiah and the Church are reminding us of as we begin Advent is that we need to make sure where our holy mountains are in life. Where do we go to connect with God? Where do we go to give life to hope?
St. Paul challenges us today to be awake, to look for God in our world and in our life. Advent is a time to stop and refocus our busy lives. It is a time to find that holy mountain in our lives that will connect us to God and help us to find the true priorities and to allow hope to grow within us even in a very difficult and struggling world.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus uses an opportunity to remind his disciples and us that we always need to be ready. It is a universal theme in Advent. We always need to be ready for the moments and times that God comes into our lives. The great Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart said in one of his Christmas homilies that Jesus is born three times. The first time was two thousand plus years ago when he was born into our life in Bethlehem; the second is when he will come again and the third is each day in our hearts.
Advent is a new beginning, a time of hopefulness, a time to look at the trials, tribulations, struggles, disappointments, difficulties of life and say I am ready! To say we are ready! As we begin our journey through Advent may we take the words of the scriptures to heart today and everyday throughout this Advent Season and always – Let us be hope filled and “be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little of your time today.
Today’s Thoughts: We wait today for the starting of a new liturgical year, but in the Gospel from Luke we are reminded to wait and focus on what is important not on what will instantly gratify us. We have to be ready because when God’s Kingdom will arrive is hidden in our hearts, it is mystery. What is clear for us today though is that we are not simply supposed to wait but also to act, to live. Because if we are living our relationship with God we will be ready to enter the Kingdom of God!
Perhaps these words from Pope Francis say what our Gospel today says but in a little different way - “To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change. To change! And why must I change? So that I can adapt to the situations in which I must proclaim the Gospel. To stay close to God, we need to know how to set out; we must not be afraid to set out.” (Pope Francis)
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our first reading today from the Book of Revelations gifts us some rather strange images, yet as always, we have to understand them in the context of what was going on in the world at that time. The Roman persecution was in full swing, and the Church was feeling hounded on all sides. St. John is announcing the collapse of Rome the cruel tyrant and an extraordinary peace for the Church. While the mystic John uses strange, if not weird images to explain the presence of God in the life of the early Church our Gospel today, Jesus is a bit more straight forward about how to know the presence of God in life at any moment.
In the 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. No weird or strange sign to interpret the presence of God, the Kingdom of God is all around us. It is in nature, people, experiences, and the living of life. Our challenge is one of maintaining attention and an intentional response. As we journey through this Friday there will be more than enough moments to occupy our prayerful moments, to point to the presence of God until the beginning of a new journey through Advent on Sunday.
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
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: Our readings today are rather difficult ones 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 blessed, holy and safe Thanksgiving everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: "May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved.” the entrance antiphon for today mass. It seems to express in a different way what the final sentence of our Gospel today implies, that we need to live with patient endurance in the midst of a very unpeaceful world. In our Gospel, Jesus is speaking of peace. He tells us, that persecution, pain, struggle and difficult times are ahead if we believe. He says these struggles and persecutions will come from everywhere they can even come from our family, but we can be at peace in the midst of all this if we faithfully endure.
This journey of faith often is 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, that patient endurance, then peace can happen!
In the midst of our daily struggles, in the midst of our struggles as a country and a world, 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 power and peace of the Cross that Jesus speaks of for us, his people, today and always!
Have a holy and blessed 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 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 holy and blessed Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: First of all, today is the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many religious communities of women celebrate this day. So, to all who celebrate this day in a special way, “Happy Feast Day”!
As for our Gospel reading today – 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 holy and blessed 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...