Today’s Thoughts: It is always nice to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and then to remember his two friends Timothy and Titus the next day. I have always thought that if I had ever had a dog and it was a male dog, I would name him Titus. I don’t think Timothy is a good name for a dog, but I like the sound of Titus and he would be a companion of Paul!
In one of the two optional first readings for today’s mass from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy there are two things that I think can be helpful for our journey through this day and life in general.
The first is that I have always had soft spot for St. Paul’s remembrance of Timothy’s grandmother and mother in this letter. Having only known one of my grandparents, my mother’s mother, and the fact that my mother lived almost to age 95 I draw upon their presence in my life often. My grandmother and mother were strong women who faced many trials in their lives, with strength and perseverance. Their faith was very important to them. These two women along with many other women in my life are the reason I am the man of faith I am today!
My second thought from this first reading is St. Paul instruction to Timothy to, “stir into flame the gift of God….God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Our day should always be about stirring God’s spirit within us into the fire of love in whatever we do and for whomever we meet!
In the gospel (Mark 3: 31-35) Jesus invites us into his family, everyone who does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. In other words, if we live out life as the person God has created us to be, we are part of the family!
None of this is easy. We might say it demands patience and trust. Human nature is always calling us to the easiest, quickest, self-centered and most self-indulging way of life. Most of the time our human nature rubs up against God's way, tension is created, struggle ensues. It is almost never easy to do what Jesus would do, to do what God calls us to do, yet if we respond to God's call, God's will, we are part of the family. We have the support, the prayers, the energy, the faith, the hope, the love of others and the most important other is God. So, we need to be patient and trust in this journey with God.
As we make our journey through life today, as we find ourselves amid struggles between what the world suggests and what God suggests let us remember even though what God suggests might seem harder, not as glamorous, not as self-fulfilling it is the family, we walk with that will make all the difference!
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Greetings everyone on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It is a special day for me and one that I always celebrate I guess because I was blessed with the name Paul.
There are two choices today for the first reading, both for the Acts of the Apostles. In the first option from Chapter 22, Paul retells his experience on the road to Damascus and in the second option from Chapter 9 Luke is telling the same story. I could not help but smile a little as I considered the two options, they tell the same story but just a little differently. I thought of that game where someone starts off by whispering a story to the person next to them and it goes around the circle and the last person tells the story out loud and it is always a bit different.
Whether the stories are exactly alike, is not important, what is important, is what happen on that road to Damascus. Saul, as he was called then, soon to become Paul, has a change of heart, has a change of direction. He leaves that spot on the road a changed man, no longer a persecutor, now he is a preacher of the Good News. If anything, the story of Paul reminds us that people can change, that people can come to see life differently. It doesn't take violence, anger, insult or judgment to make them change. Sometimes all it takes is a different vision, a different perspective, a different way of seeing things. God gives Paul the opportunity to see things differently and he accepts the chance.
Paul put his original energy of faith to work with anger, resentment and violence, Jesus invited him to see things a different way. His energy did not go away it just got refocused in a positive life-giving way. He no longer walked in the world creating fear, anger and judgment but he walked in the world offering the mercy of God and proclaiming the Good News and hope.
As we celebrate the gift of this new day, as we seek the sacredness and giftedness of life in our world, let us not live in fear, in anger, in violence, in judgment; let us live in the light and hope of the Good News. St. Paul walk with us, give us your energy to proclaim the mercy and Good News of God to the world!
Happy Feast Day to everyone with the name Paul and have a blessed and holy Monday everyone!
I would like to send a special shout out to my Great Niece Kristina Marie who celebrates her eleventh birthday today! Happy Birthday Little One – Special K! May you have a great day, and may it be a day of many blessings! Much Love…Great Uncle Paul or Uncle GUP (In the picture below she is a bit younger)
Today’s Thoughts: The two things that caught my attention in our scriptures today are – how quickly the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s preaching and how quickly the Simon, Andrew, James and John respond to Jesus’ invitation. If I didn’t know better, I might think that all of them had read the section of St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians that we did today and figured that they were running out of time!
I am always a little concerned when we encounter such profound responses in the scripture like the ones today because I know from my own life experience that responding to God is not always easy. Sometimes I have to be hit over the head several times before God’s message, invitation or call sinks in.
I mean just take Jonah’s situation as an example. Think of yourself walking through any big city in the United States, New York, Chicago, Los Angles or any other large city and you are proclaiming the Word of God. What would you expect to happen? Imagine yourself standing in the middle of Times Square proclaiming the Good News. What would you expect to happen? Not what happened to Jonah is my guess!
Now imagine yourself in the midst of your daily life. Perhaps you are getting ready to walk out the door to work. Perhaps you are busy getting your children ready to head off to school. Perhaps you are sitting in front of your computer working to support your family. Perhaps you are sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your appointment. Perhaps you are at Starbucks waiting for your morning coffee. A man approaches you. A man you have never met before and he says, “Follow me!” Would you go? My guess is no. However, that is exactly what happens in the Gospel today and Simon, Andrew, James and John say yes!
Our scriptures today tell us that God’s Word, the Good News is very powerful. It can change peoples’ perspective, it can change peoples’ lives in an instant if they let it. The Good News can awaken us from the tedium of life. It can give us a new perspective. The Good News can be something new and wonderful if we let it into our lives.
Perhaps the people of Nineveh were just waiting for a new message, a new chance, a new perspective on life. Perhaps Simon, Andrew, James and John were waiting for a new opportunity to love life. Pope Francis has told us that – “Instead of imposing new obligations, (Christians) should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” Perhaps that is exactly how Jonah appeared to the people of Nineveh and how Jesus appeared Simon, Andrew, James and John.
Our scriptures challenge us to bring the joy, beauty, the delicious banquet of God’s kingdom, God’s love, God’s presence to the world. They challenge us to proclaim the Good News with our words but more importantly with our life!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel today is an interesting one. It is short and to the point. The crowds are pressing in on Jesus, he does not have a moment to breathe, pray or eat and his family and friends are not too sure about all that he is doing, they go so far as to say, "He is out of his mind."
I have always found “He is out of his mind.” an interesting line in the Gospel. I don't think we often, if ever, would use the phrase, "He is out of his mind." to describe Jesus. It almost seems irreverent! Yet that is what his family and friends thought and in a way, it is comforting. I don't know for sure, but I do believe that people have thought that "I am out of my mind," because of the things I have done or because of the busyness of my life or the thoughts that I have expressed or the stands that I have taken. It is comforting to know that at least for a moment Jesus and I share the same struggle concerning how people see us.
Perhaps many of the things Jesus did, experienced and lived out seemed crazy. How often today does someone point out that Jesus would have done it this way and because it doesn't fit with how we live life and we think or say the person is crazy. Jesus asks us to do a lot of crazy things, love our enemies, pray for our persecutor, forgive, be in the company of sinners, accept people for who they are, step across boundaries in order to bring about healing and life. It may seem crazy, in doing these things it might seem like we are out of our minds, but remember we are in good company!
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 85: 8, 10, 11-12, 13-14) for today’s mass we are presented with the image of kindness and truth meeting and justice and peace kissing. We are presented with the kind of world, the kind of life that speaks only on god’s presence to us. We long for the world that the psalm presents to us, but we know that we are far from it because we often forget about God and go our own way, thinking that we know better. We often neglect the truth and aside kindness because if selfishness. However, if we work at putting God at the center of life the world the psalmist describes is possible.
Jesus names his twelve closest friends in the Gospel today (Mark 3:13-19). He goes us on top of the mountain and as Luke describes this theme, he prays first that then calls his friends together to embody his mission to the world. The image of a mountain throughout the Scripture is one of a sacred place of prayer and of God’s presence, where profound things happen. It is a place where covenants are handed on to the people through their leaders. The mountain is a place God acknowledges his beloved and where the Spirit empowers.
In the Letter to the Hebrews, we hear of a new covenant that will replace the old covenant making it obsolete. These words that Hebrew’s quotes are from the Prophet Jeremiah, and this is the longest quotation of an Old Testament passage in the New Testament. Jeremiah is not saying that the Mosaic Covenant is obsolete, no longer. If he was the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah would not be part of the Hebrew Scriptures. Jeremiah is saying that something new is afoot. The covenant is not about an obsession with externals and legalistic conformity, it is about a new spirit. The spirit of loving God with our whole heart, soul and being, and making this love a part of the way we interact with others and live life.
So, what is our challenge today? Perhaps it is to trust in the ongoing care and concern of God for us but also to know that through that love and care we are sent forth into the world to proclaim the Good News, Good News grounded in the mercy, love, presence, and spirit God.
Today we are also asked pray for the dignity and gift of life especially for the unborn. If we want a new spirit of life especially for the unborn then we must also see all of life, every moment of life as important not just the life before birth. If we want to change the attitude of people about abortion, then we must create a world worth bringing life into. We must be committed to living a life where kindness and truth stand front and center with justice and peace!
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Often over the years as I have had the opportunity to reflect on today’s readings I have thought of the Beatles song "A Day in the Life." This song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. While the Gospel and the song have nothing in common, I have always thought of the title in terms of what picture the Gospel and the selection from of the Letter to the Hebrews paint for us today, A Day in the Life of Jesus.
It is interesting, I have done a little research about the song, Lennon and McCartney wrote their sections of the song at different times, Lennon using accounts from the newspaper and McCartney using memories from his youth. The two sets of lyrics were then put together with orchestral glissandos. What does this have to do with the Gospel, well think about how the Gospels were put together? The days of Jesus' life, not a daily rendering but events tied together by the overarching story of his life.
Today, we have a day in the life of Jesus, crowds coming from every corner of the world it seems, healing with every touch, demons proclaiming he is "the Son of God," people everywhere! No room, no time for himself, no space to breathe. When you think about it Jesus had a very difficult life long before he got to Calvary. He was always in demand. How did he do it? How did he balance his ministry and his need to just be, to pray, to connect with friends? How did he stay focused? Stay refreshed? Stay motivated?
In the Letter to the Hebrews, we encounter the other half of what it means for Jesus to be the High Priest. As the week began, we were introduced to Jesus the human High Priest and today we are introduced to Jesus the Divine High Priest. It seems at every turn Jesus carries the burden of us. Our challenge today is in our humanness to work toward the promise of eternal life.
Sometimes seeing a picture of a day in the life of Jesus can be inspiring, sometimes it can be troubling, sometimes it can be tiring, sometimes it can be overwhelming. What does today's picture of a day in the life of Jesus say to you? To me it says he loved us very much and my task is to reflect that love, to be that love as I live this day!
Have a holy and blessed Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: My thoughts today center around a single phrase in the Gospel, "Jesus looked around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart..." (Mark 3:5) It is comforting to know that Jesus was angry and grieved from time to time. That he got frustrated with others, particularly others who should have known better. Today it is the religious leaders they don't seem to get it. They don’t apply common sense to their theology or religious traditions. Life, the quality of life, is much more important than rules and regulations.
Every day, we as people of faith are focused on life. It is profoundly important to us. It is a gift from God that we do not want to see abused, neglected, devalued, taken, lost or discarded. We pray for it; we walk in support of it. We cherish it in our own lives and families. Life is primary to what we believe. Yet, at times we get so focused on one aspect of life we miss many others. We miss many opportunities to honor it, acknowledge it, celebrate it and heal it because of rules and regulations!
Jesus was always about life, honoring it, acknowledging it, celebrating it and certainly healing it. May we find a way like Jesus to turn anger into healing, to turn anger into life!
Think life today and every day! Have a blessed, holy, and lifegiving Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In reflecting on our readings today a few themes struck me about our faith. The first is continuity, the consistency of God. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded that God has made an oath with us, that he will be with us forever. This is a consistent theme throughout scripture. It is a ray of hope, God will not forget us, and God will not leave us. God will be with us always. We can count on it. We can take it to the bank. We might not understand why God continues to hang around with everything we seem to do to chase God away, but God will always be with us!
Another thought from the Letter to the Hebrews is that God is not only with us always but that “God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.” (Hebrew 6:10) In other words God does recognize all that we do day in and day out. All the things we think are ordinary, little, insignificant are profoundly important to God and our journey of faith!
Another aspect of our readings today is that of change. If something is alive that means change. Jesus in the Gospel to the horror of the Pharisees indicates that things are not always going to remain the same. Change is in the air. The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. Jesus is asking people to look at their faith differently. The Sabbath came into being to help humankind take time to focus on God. But the Sabbath is not greater than the needs of people. In other words, the actions, the rituals, the customs, the reality of the Sabbath is not what is most important, it is people and their relationship with God. Sometimes I wish we would understand this about our own rituals and practices!
Life means changes and as we go through life the things that connect us with God are going to change, take on different forms and different importance but God's commitment to us, God covenant with us will never change! Two of God's great gifts to us Life and Hope are always guiding us, always nourishing us.
Have a blessed and holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I read a short quote from Pope Francis a while back, “Sing to the Lord a new song. (Psalm 95:1) What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.”
I thought of this quote from Pope Francis after sitting with the Gospel in prayer (Mark 2:18-22) in which Jesus says, “no one pours new wine into old wine skins…. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” So, if we are singing a new song it cannot be the same old life that sings. It has got to be a new life, a new way of looking at the world. It has got to be a new way of looking at ourselves and others.
Often, we are afraid of new, afraid of change, afraid of difference yet Jesus, Pope Francis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tell us not to be afraid, but to pour, to sing and to dream new.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Happy Monday – and Happy New Wine, New Song and New Dream – 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...