Today’s Thoughts: “How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Words uttered by Elizabeth in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-45). Yet I think they are also words uttered by us at times when we recognize Mary’s presence in our life.
Yes, I firmly believe that I have been visited by Mary at moments in my life. Mary has come to me at times when I needed a mother’s presence either to comfort me or put me back on the straight and narrow. Times when I needed that hug or when I needed a stern but loving word to set me straight. Mary has come at times when the gift of family was strong and ever present and when I was alone and need to know that family was still there.
Mary walks into our lives often and like Elizabeth we often recognize her presence and God’s presence at once because something inside us leaps for joy. However, there are other times when it takes us a little longer to recognize her presence and the presence of God. Sometimes it is long after they have visited us that we are able to acknowledge their presence.
Mary reminds us today that mothers are so important. They not only give us life. They carry us until we can face the world. They protect us. They nurture us. They teach us and they make Mary and Christ present to us throughout our lives!
Perhaps like Elizabeth today as we think of our own mothers, as we think about pregnant mothers, as we think about all mothers we should remember how gifted we are that the mother of our Lord should come to us. We celebrate this day in gratitude for all the mothers!
Have a great Thursday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In these last days until Christmas we are reminded over and over how the Christmas story came to be. We heard about Joseph’s dream and today Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel. Each story is a snap shot of the greater story of God’s human presence in the world. In today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) we are reminded that Mary was truly a believer. Even though she did not know the full extent of her “yes” she proclaimed it anyway. She trusted in God. She had faith and she staked her life in the promise of God something Ahaz, in our first reading (Isaiah 7:10-14) was unwilling to do.
Not having a clear vision of the road ahead is not always an easy way to live. It demands trust, it demands faith, and it demands a sense of hope in all that one does. Mary certain defines this way of living. She did not know the implications of her “yes” but she had trust, faith and lived by an unrelenting hope.
Earlier this Advent I used this quote by Calvin Miller. It is from his book The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent. I find it a wonderful way to think of the gift of Mary in our life and so I share it with you again today – “We must look to Mary's example to know how to deal with the glorious impossibilities of God. Look how she turned the world upside down by making one simple statement.”
Mary’s one simple statement was “yes” to God. Today we remember another moment from the Christmas story. It is a moment that reminds us that if we trust, if we believe, if we live by hope we will encounter God most often when we least expect it but always when we are most in need!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I had a little sadness in pondering the readings today. Two stories of hope about women who were unable to have children and God blessed them, especially Elizabeth in her advanced years. We have two wonderful stories today alive with the theme that anything is possible with God.
My sadness comes from thinking about all the women who would love to have children but cannot. Perhaps they do not struggle with cultural shame like Samson's mother and Elizabeth, women of their time who were married and without children bore a heavy burden of embarrassment and shame, but I think women of today do struggle with a personal sadness, a personal burden, a personal loss, a personal grief.
My own sadness comes from the fact that so many women today who don't want children look to end their pregnancy when, so many others would give anything for the chance to bring a child into the world. Perhaps it would be a wonderful miracle from God, the making of something impossible, possible if all who do not want children and become pregnant would just carry the child to birth and offer the child to those who cannot have children but truly want them. What a beautiful story, what a wonderful story of hope that would be.
Through the intercession of Samson's mother and Elizabeth today I pray for all women who want to be mothers and all women who do not want to be mother that they might help each other make the life of children possible!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The point of Advent and of Christmas in many ways comes down to being reminded that “God is with us!” Sure, we might say that is the point of every day, but during Advent and Christmas – Emmanuel – become a special focus, a special refrain. The great Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart gave a Christmas homily in which he said that Christ is born three times. Christ was first born over 2,000 years ago. Second, Christ will be born at some point in the future when he comes again and thirdly Christ is born every day in our hearts.
Yes, each day we have the opportunity to give birth to Christ. We have opportunity to bring to the world like Mary and Joseph, Emmanuel, God with us! We do it by following in Mary and Joseph’s footsteps, by say yes to God’s invitation to be part of this journey of faith called life. We do it by living our lives to the fullest, by sharing the image and likeness of God in which we have been created with the world. We do it by trusting in God’s love and by living in hope.
My friends, today is a new day so let us give birth to Emmanuel today through the hopeful living of our lives. Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus “(Words from Paul). The anticipation of Christmas is probably getting to us by now. We have been in and out of stores, fought the crowds, looked for bargains, yet not all the shopping or preparation is done. The tree is up the decorations are out and we have caught the Christmas spirit. However, it is still Advent, we are still in anticipation. We are asked today to be joyful, to pray and to be thankful all of which will prepare us for the gift of Christmas!
There is a joy and happiness to the fact that Christmas is coming but we still have to deal with everyday life. There is still work to be done. The Third Sunday of Advent always seems to bring these two feeling together, the joy, the rejoicing and the anticipation of what is coming - Christmas and the patients and investment in everyday life that is needed because Christmas is not here yet.
The mixing of emotions can be difficult and stressful. We can sometimes let on emotion overcome to other. Yet patience and joy are the essence of what makes life livable! In the Gospel today, (John 1: 6-8, 19-28), the people want to know who John the Baptist is. They think he might be the Christ or Elijah, or a Prophet, but John says he is not any of these he is “the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.”
John is a preparer. John is a person of hope. John is pointing the way to Christmas and to our relationship with God. If we believe, if we have faith, then what is it we are looking for out of life? What do we expect from our relationship with God? Can we find joy in it? Are we prepared, are we ready, can we be patient and let the story, let the journey play out?
Yes, Christmas is coming it will be here in eleven days. We must continue to prepare by praying, by giving thanks, by keeping the gift of the joy alive, by living in the moment. Can we rejoice in the hope the God is always near?
Have a great Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Even though we don’t often stop our busy lives to experience it the Advent season is an exciting journey. It can have its highs and low. It is about repentance and expectation.
At times the Advent season can seem a little bleak with the somber notes of O Come O Come Emmanuel playing a continual loop in our minds. In this second week of Advent God is reminding us of the urgent hopefulness that is a critical part of the Advent journey. The fiery image of Elijah in the first reading illustrates the power and glory of God, reminding us of what is at stake which can be anxiety producing. And yet the reading ends with equally beautiful imagery by telling us that if at the end of the day we fall asleep in our friendship with God we will be blessed.
On the surface the word choice of falling asleep may seem like a passive act, but it really is communicating the opposite. We need a deep and rich relationship with God, so strong that we know each other in and out. This, like all good relationships, requires work. It means we must engage in the process of getting to know God. Advent is a time of preparing, we do this through working on knowing and loving God.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Each time I read today's Gospel I think of the phrase, "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time!" I can also hear Jesus say, "But can I just please somebody!"
The fact is Jesus did please people, but his mission wasn't about pleasing people it was about helping, challenging, enlivening and gracing people. Sometimes these values of faith don't please in the way we expect. Life remains a struggle however if we come through the struggle – freedom and God's Love is waiting.
There will always be people in life who don't like anything. We have met them, nothing that gets done or is suggested is ever right. We say black, they say white. Perhaps the challenge of today's readings is to not become one of these people. The voice of God comes to us in many different ways. Sometimes it is the voice of John calling for repentance and forgiveness, other times it is the voice of Jesus offering acceptance, compassion and love. The challenge is to let God's wisdom guide and direct us so that we hear God's voice when God speaks and act so that it transforms our lives!
Have a great Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Isaiah's and Jesus' words seem to have a sting to them today. Isaiah seems to remind us that God is in control. Not matter how bad it gets in this life God is always going to be there. God is always going to keep his promise even if we do not. Jacob can turn into a worm and Israel can become a maggot, but God will still be faithful.
On the other hand, Jesus reminds us today that no matter how great we become in this life it still pales in comparison to what awaits us in eternal life. John the Baptist was the greatest of all prophets; perhaps the greatest of all people yet the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven at that moment was greater than John.
These are hard words to hear yet Jesus asks us to hear! We like to think of ourselves as in control. We like to think of ourselves as important. Yet the scriptures remind us today that we are not, in control or important. You might say the Word for today is "remember it is not about us, it is about God." God who is always faithful! And isn't that a hopeful message to take with us and proclaim today!
Have a great Thursday everyone – one filled with Advent hope!
Today’s Thoughts: I think sometimes we struggle because God doesn’t seem to be present in ways we would like. We cannot take God fishing like Peter and the other disciples did. We cannot invite God in for a meal like Zacchaeus did. We cannot stop in the midst of our daily work and have a conversation about life like the woman at the well did. We cannot argue a frustration like Martha did. We cannot ask a question and get an immediate answer like the disciples often did. We cannot feel that loving embrace like Mary and others surely did.
We have to live by faith and hope not personal contact. Our time is a time of trusting in God’s presence and having faith that God is at work in us helping us make the right choices, helping us live a good life.
We might say that throughout his time as pope, Pope Francis has challenged us to take up the “yoke” that Jesus mentions in the Gospel today (Matthew 11:28-30). It is the “yoke” and “burden” of the people around us who do not have the necessities of life, who are hungry, cold, homeless, suffering, immigrants without a home, children born and unborn without a voice, women not respected, people fleeing war and violence of all kinds.
Yes, seeing these people, encountering them, perhaps even being one them is a burden and a yoke that is heavy, difficult to carry and a problem which often seems impossible to solve. Yet, Jesus says pick it up, carry it, but not alone. Like Jesus, Pope Francis, knows that if we do this we will learn from Jesus and we will come to know that the impossible can become of the possible.
Perhaps our challenge today is to be “humble of heart” and trust in God’s strength to help us help the world. Have a great day everyone!
Have a blessed Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-47) reminds us that Mary was truly a believer. Even though she did not know the full extent of her “yes” she proclaimed it anyway. She trusted in God. It was a trust that could be seen. Elizabeth saw it as Mary entered her home. For Elizabeth, Mary was blessed among women and her voice proclaimed the presence of God even to the baby in Elizabeth’s womb. Our God is not only of God of sight but also of sound.
Not having a clear vision of the road ahead is not always an easy way to live. It demands trust, it demands faith, and it demands a sense of hope in all that one does. Mary certain defines this way of living. She did not know the implications of her “yes” but she has trust, faith and lived by an unrelenting hope.
As Calvin Miller puts it in his book The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent – “We must look to Mary's example to know how to deal with the glorious impossibilities of God. Look how she turned the world upside down by making one simple statement.”
Today we remember that Mary turned the New World upside down when she appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian convert, as a beautiful young woman on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City on December 9, 1531. Just another reminder that if we trust, if we believe, if we live by hope we will encounter God most often when we least expect it but always when we are most in need!
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...