Today’s Thoughts: Today in our Gospel for Mark we encounter what is called “the long ending.” Most biblical scholars agree that the ending that follows 16:8, which was the original ending, was added to the Gospel. Rather than having the Gospel end with the women finding the empty tomb and running away telling no one because they are afraid today’s ending has Mary Magdalene report to the disciples and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reporting to the disciples but in both cases they will not believe. The disciples only believe when Jesus comes to them personally.
In both our readings today, unbelief seems to be the order of the day. The religious leaders refuse to believe Peter and John and the disciples refuse to believe the women and the two ordinary disciples. Perhaps what our readings today are telling us is that faith begins with a personal. For the Mary Magdalene and other women, for the two disciples on the road it was their personal encounter with Jesus. For the eleven and the other disciples hold up in the upper room it was their personal encounter with Jesus. If we remember the story of Thomas, it wasn’t until his personal encounter with Jesus that he believed.
We might say that to be a true disciple of Jesus, a true person of faith must realize that our first task is directed to the person of Jesus. We are to love and admire, to consecrate ourselves to his sacred person, to place more importance on prayer than action, to realize first what it means to be a disciple, a person of faith before we seek to spread the Good News.
In other words our readings today remind us to set a firm foundation in Christ before we can truly proclaim the Good News to all the world!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Periodically you hear people asked the question, “If you could meet, have dinner with, spend time with anyone in history whom would you chose?” I am sure there is a different answer for every person asked. As we listen to our Gospel today we might ask the question, “If you could have breakfast with anyone from history who would be your choice?”
I know what my answer would be – Jesus! First of all, I would choose Jesus because he brings and prepares breakfast which is always a plus in my book. But more importantly I would choose Jesus because having breakfast with him means my day could not start any better!
Even though they have encountered the Risen Christ a few times since Easter Sunday the disciples find themselves back in Galilee trying to figure out what to do next. Peter believes getting back to his usual routine is the best way to put life and the events of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection into perspective. So off he goes, to do some fishing, with the others tagging along.
However, the night doesn’t go as planned. No fish after a long hard night’s work. Enter Jesus. “Have you caught anything to eat?” “No!” is the rather tired answer. “Well then try dropping your nets again but do it on the other side of the boat.” What do you think went through the disciples’ minds? Probably some resistant thoughts to what the man on the shore proposed or a few choice words muttered under their breath toward the man on the shore. Perhaps they were just too tired and said what have we got to lose. Whatever they felt or thought they at least went with the flow and cast their nets one last time and the rest is history. They encountered a catch so big that it was now a struggle of joy to get it to the shore. They encountered a catch so big that it could only be one person, “The Lord!”
Yes, if I could have breakfast with one person from history it would be Jesus because when he enters our life whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between good things have a chance to happen. The struggling disciples learn that the Risen Christ will enter their lives at any moment and is always willing to nourish them for the journey; they just have to be willing to have faith and trust that all things are possible.
As an Easter people this story is a good reminder to us that in the midst of our struggles, our unsteadiness in life, at those times when we feel our nets are empty all it takes is for us to recognize the presence of God to steady us, fill our nets and make all things possible on this journey through life.
Perhaps as we begin this day or any day, for that matter, we should consider inviting Jesus to breakfast. And as we enjoy his company we might ask his advice as to where we should cast out nets. Because as our Gospel story reminds us great things are possible especially when Jesus makes breakfast!
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Pope Francis in an address on April 1, 2013 said the following: "The grace contained in the sacraments of Easter is an enormous potential for the renewal of our personal existence, of family life, of social relations. However, everything passes through the human heart: if I let myself be touched by the grace of the Risen Christ, if I let him change me in that aspect of mine which is not good, which can hurt me and others, I allow the victory of Christ to be affirmed in my life."
In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles Peter and John challenge the people about not being open to the presence of God in their lives, about not being open to the Easter mystery, the Easter sacraments as Pope Francis put it. They ask those gather to open their hearts to the grace of the Risen Lord, to let it pass through their hearts and change them.
In the Gospel the disciples at first are afraid of the presence of the Risen Lord but Jesus offers them peace and the assurance that he is really with them so that by the end of his visit they have opened their hearts to the grace and the spirit of the ultimate Easter sacrament, Jesus. Their transformation has begun. They have become the witnesses of this great sacrament and the power that it can be in a person’s, a community’s life.
Our readings and Pope Francis ask us to be open to the awesomeness of Easter, to be open to the countless ways in which God becomes present in our lives each and every day. Openness to the grace of the sacraments of Easter, openness to the presence of the Risen Lord, openness to the awesome potential that God’s presence and grace offers us can make all the difference in our journey through life.
Thus, the question or the challenge at the beginning of this new day is – Are we open to the grace of the Easter sacraments? Will we allow that grace to change us?
A blessed and holy Easter Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” We encounter two famous stories in our readings today. In Luke’s Gospel it is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and in the Acts of the Apostles it is the story of Peter and John curing the man at “the Beautiful Gate.” In some ways putting the two stories together on this Easter Wednesday can help us to enter the mystery and power of the Resurrection.
The story of the two disciples on the road, in my book, is a classic. It has all the elements of our faith life. The struggle with the things of the world, of life, the missed opportunities of encountering Jesus because we are so focused on our struggles; the moments in time when we sense God’s presence, when our hearts burn but we don’t realize it until the end of the experience and those instances when Jesus becomes present to us in the breaking of the bread.
We have all been where these two disciples have been. We have been on that road in our life. We have been blind by our own lack of hope, our own disappointments, our own struggles. The gift, the hope of this story is that God that Jesus never gives up on us. He is always trying to enter our lives to remind us of the story and open our eyes to his presence.
Peter and John understood that as they entered Jerusalem through “the Beautiful Gate.” The opened the eyes of the crippled man who wanted silver and gold but ended up with much more. The power of the Risen Christ can transform our lives sometimes profoundly and sometimes simply but when that moment comes, we just need to be ready and not be blinded by our own lack of hope, our own disappointments, our own struggles.
Let’s not be the only ones who do not know the story, who have given up hope especially during these difficult days. Let us be people of faith and hope today whose hearts are burning with the word and presence of God and through the living of life who proclaim – “Jesus is Risen, Alleluia!”
Have a blessed and holy Easter Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: We find ourselves today standing between Easter and Pentecost. In the first reading we look ahead to the day of Pentecost and we encounter Peter and the others boldly proclaiming the Good News. All fear seems to be gone and thousands of people come to believe in a single day because of their preaching. In the Gospel we find ourselves at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning once again in one of the most beautiful scenes of the Easter Gospels – Mary Magdalene’s encounter of the Risen Jesus. It is from this profound encounter that Mary Magdalene becomes known as the Apostle to the Apostles.
It is through these two very different scenes that we are reminded of the transforming presence and spirit of the Risen Christ. On that Pentecost morning the Spirit descends upon all gathered in the Upper Room and pushes them out into the world proclaiming the Good News. It is a powerful Spirit, a life-giving Spirit, a Spirit on fire with the love and presence of God, it is a Spirit that cannot be missed or stopped. On Easter Sunday morning the presence and Spirit of the Risen Christ gently and lovingly invited Mary Magdalene into the Mystery of the Resurrection.
St. Paul’s words from his First Letter to the Corinthians come to life in our readings today – “There are different gifts but the same Spirit….” We are reminded today of the many gifts of the Spirit. Gifts that push us forward in faith and gifts that comfort us and remind us of the gentleness of God presence in our life.
Like Mary Magdalene we enter this day looking for the Spirit of the Risen Christ in our life and when we hear him speak our name we might want to just hold on to that moment. However, Jesus will send us forth like Peter and the others to boldly proclaim the Good News with joy!
Have a blessed and holy Easter Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Easter Sunday is the highpoint of the liturgical calendar, the key to the season of Lent. The resurrection of Jesus is what centers our faith, the mighty deed done by God in relation to us and our need for salvation.
That’s all the facts of the matter; but what really matters is how each one of us lives into the mystery of the resurrection of Jesus. This season of the resurrection beginning today, Monday of the Octave of Easter, provides the opportunity to understand the depths of that mystery by discovering how it impacts our lives.
Wherever and whenever we encounter Christ, the effects of his resurrection extend to us. Encountering Jesus clearly flows from the sacraments. When we celebrate the Eucharist; when we receive forgiveness for our faults and failings in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to name but two of the sacraments, we encounter the Risen Christ.
These weeks of celebrating Easter invite us to set our sights on Jesus, raised from the cruel death of the Cross by God’s loving hands only to come alive again as the Risen Christ present to us all in so many remarkable and simple ways. Our task is to open ourselves to the Risen Christ, to the many ways that he is present to us, even in these unusual times, and to continue to grow as women and men of faith, hope, and love because of his presence in our lives. Our task these next few weeks during the Easter season is like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in our Gospel today, to keep our eyes on Jesus, our ears attuned to faith, our heart compassionate toward the world, our hope beyond the reach of frustration, anger and the struggles of these difficult and unusual days. No virus, rumors, lies and scandals will detour us, no human attempts at explanation, no payoffs, no bribery will compromise us. No social distancing, masks and gloves will take way the presence of God in our lives. We are simply yet profoundly called to “not be afraid!” To go and carry the Good News to our sisters and brothers as best we can even in these unusual times.
One other aspect of our Gospel reading today is the fact that it is the women in Jesus’ life who are the first to encounter the Risen Christ. They become the first proclaimers of the Good News. They are the Apostles to the Apostles.
In a mediation that I read early this morning the author asked the question – “Who are the women who have most impacted your own life? Have you done justice to the contributions they made to your well-being, perhaps your status? Have you ever stereotyped women or denigrated them because of their gender? Pray for women today – and include the fearless Mary Magdalene.” (Ronald D. Witherup, PSS)
So, to all the women who have touched my life and who continue to be a part of my life I say thank you! Thank you for your life, your witness, your faith, your love and your presence in my life!
Happy Easter and have a blessed and holy Easter Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I ran across this story many years ago. I’m not sure of the origins of the story, or who wrote it but I find it an appropriate on for what we celebrate this Easter morning.
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing it with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Noticing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the devil decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man’s weary mind. “You have been pushing against this rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These troubling thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. “Why kill myself over this?” Maybe I should just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough.
However before giving up, the man prayed one last time. “Lord, I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing? Help me Lord!”
The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, When I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?”
“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass those which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith, your hope and trust in my wisdom and love. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
Sometimes we forget that the most important aspect of our journey of faith, of our prayer and of our work in this life. What God is most interested in, and truly what produces the most profound fruits of our labor, our living of life, is our simple obedience, faith, hope and love in God. Living by faith and hope can move mountains but let us never forget that it is God who moves them.
All God asks us this Easter morning and every morning is to push. He challenges us to believe in the empty tomb and like Mary of Magdala and disciple whom Jesus loved to believe and proclaim that believe to all we meet. There is goodness and newness of life today do we believe? The Messiah is among us, the Messiah is one of us. Are we willing to keep pushing?
The Lord is risen, Alleluia! Happy Easter everyone - Easter Sunday blessings to all!
Today’s Thoughts: Once again Pope Francis offers us these words to help us on our journey through Holy Saturday – “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).” (Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
I offer you these words from Pope Francis because I think they reflect what Holy Saturday is about. We sit and wait. Will there be an Easter? Yes, we know that there will be but those disciples and friends of Jesus who lived through this day many centuries ago did not. They lived this day in their grief, but they also lived this day in hope. It was a time when they remember the story, it was a time when they hoped, it was a time when joy was conceived in their hearts. Today we live in the hope that once again joy might be conceived in our hearts!
The word that I always use for Holy Saturday is hope. After a long Lent, after the gift of Love which we call Good Friday we wait in Hope on Holy Saturday. The elements of the Easter Vigil which we will celebrate later today all point toward the virtue of Hope.
We retell the story of creation, our creation, of how God so loved us, of how we are created in the image and likeness of God. We retell the story of our release from slavery; How God with a mighty arm brought us from slavery to freedom. We hear how God provides for all those who are thirsty, who are hunger. The rich table, the rich food God provides for us.
On Holy Saturday night we light a new fire. We bless new water. We welcome people, through baptism, confirmation, Holy Eucharist into the community of faith. It is a night of hope for us, for our church, for the world.
In the Gospel reading for the Easter Vigil the angel who meets the women at the tomb tells them, “Do not be amazed.” Amazement and fear can be crippling emotions. They can sometimes hold us back from seeing, experiencing and proclaiming the Good News. The world can throw many experiences, situations and encounters at us that can cause to live our life in amazement or fear. The message of our Easter celebration is to not be amazed, not to be afraid, but to have hope!
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings a tune without the words and never stops at all!” (Emily Dickinson) We wait in faith today, we wait in love, and we wait to hear the tune of hope that perches in our soul singing a tune of love that never stops. Yes, today we wait...in hope!
Have a blessed Holy Saturday!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world
Reflection: Jesus, you gave your life freely on the cross for every person that has ever lived. We believe in your deep personal love for each of your children. With heartfelt gratitude, we give you our total love in return. We seek to be obedient to the Father’s will in the trials of life, to look beyond suffering and death to the glory of heaven. Show us how to keep alive in our hearts the memory of your love and to proclaim joyfully the victory of your resurrection.
Prayer: May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts. Amen!
In the name of the Father…. Amen!
Thank you everyone for joining me tonight. Continue to have a blessed and holy Triduum and may you have a Joyous and Happy Easter! – Peace in Christ’s Passion…Fr. Paul
This text was adapted from: The Way of the Cross, written by Fr. Michael Salvagna, C.P., a member of the St. Ann’s Monastery Community in Scranton, PA.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Scripture: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and in accordance with Jewish burial custom bound it up in wrappings of cloth with perfumed oils. In the place where he had been crucified there was a garden and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. (John 19:40-41)
Reflection: The close disciples of Jesus were too frightened to take his body down from the cross. Two secret admirers prepare him for burial in the silent tomb. His sorrowful mother, Mary, takes one last look at the bruised, lifeless body of her Son. It must have seemed like a bad dream. What went wrong? Why did he have to die like this? What about the promises he made? So many unanswered questions, confusion and discouragement surrounded Mary and the disciples.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, when they placed you in the tomb everyone thought it was all over. The faith of your disciples was severely tested. Death is so final. Lord, sometimes we are fearful about our own death and what lies beyond. We too will be placed in the cold earth and it will seem all over. But for the faithful we believe that life has changed not ended. To be united with you is the beginning of eternal life. Like you we choose to go through the jaws of death to the glory of everlasting life.
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...