Today’s Thoughts: As we have often heard, “You cannot judge a book by its cover!” We might say that this saying reflects what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel (Luke 11: 37-41) today. Jesus speaks about the outside of the Pharisees verses the inside. What they appear to be, what people see verses what they really do and think.
Jesus is speaking to the challenge of finding balance in life. Our life is not just about appearance it is about what we believe and how we live that belief each day. Living a life of faith begins in our hearts and our actions need to reflect what is in our hearts.
St. Paul in his Letter to the Galatians is speaking about balance. Balance between the law and the spirit. Balance between what is learned, what guides us and what we believe. Being out of balance places us at risk. Being in balance opens the gift of God’s love.
The Pharisees were not bad people however at times they let their power, their position, their influence and their authority get the best of them. They forgot who and what was at the center of their life. They forgot the purpose and meaning of their life. They put themselves first. They got out of balance.
It can happen to anyone, it can happen to us. Being in balance is important. We need to always remember that everything, outside and inside comes from God. As Pope Emeritus Benedict put it, “Every form of gift is, in a word, a sign of the presence of God, because it leads to the fundamental discovery that, at the origin, everything is given.”
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Sometime the signs God gives us come from people and experiences we least expect. This little sentence might best sum up the Gospel (Luke 11: 29-32) today. Often, we are looking for the great or the grand or the unusual when it comes to God. We want unbelievable miracles. Yet all around us God is speaking and often God can be found in unexpected places and heard through unexpected people.
Jonah himself did not think the people of Nineveh would get it but they did. The queen of Ethiopia, the Queen of Africa did not believe in Solomon’s God, but she came and could see and hear God’s wisdom in Solomon. It often has been said that, God works in mysterious ways and throughout scripture we are reminded of God’s mysterious ways!
The challenge for us is to not box God in, to not predict God’s intentions. We need to listen, to look around us and be ready to see, hear and experiences the presence of God in our lives. We cannot write-off people or experience because we never know when we will find God through them.
The signs of Jonah and the queen of the south are all around us. We need to be ready, willing and open to see and hear them!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” (Meister Eckhart) This saying by the great Dominican mystic seems to sum up our readings today. In the first reading from the Second Book of Kings and our Gospel from Luke reveal to us two story of thankfulness and gratitude.
Naaman, commander of the army of Syria, is thankful to the God of Israel for his healing and the Samaritan leper is thankful to Jesus. They both recognize the gift that they have been given and return to express their thankfulness and gratitude.
Thankfulness, gratitude is an essential part of discipleship, an essential part of our friendship with God. Like Naaman and the Samaritan leper we are challenged to recognize that all that we have is a gift and we are entitled to none of it. Our life itself is a gift, a blessing and to be true disciples, to be true friends of God our stance in life needs to be one of thankfulness and gratitude.
Perhaps we have an opportunity today to pause in the midst of our Sunday and just look around at life, our life and recognize God’s presence, and God’s gifts and like Naaman and the Samaritan say “Thanks!”
Have a blessing Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God and little time and your gratitude.
Today’s Thoughts: Today we have a very brief, two-line Gospel. One in which we hear a woman call to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” But Jesus’ responds, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
I think in our Gospel today Jesus is suggesting that we change our focus. That we look at life through a different lens. He is not discounting his own mother and their close relationship, for Jesus family is more than biology, more than DNA, family is hearing the Word of God and living it. Jesus is telling us that our own relationship with God can be blessed if we use God’s word as a lens through which we look at and then live life.
In today’s Gospel we are invited to be family with others beyond our immediate family relationships. We are to include others because we have been included by Jesus.
As we have encounters over the last six plus years with Pope Francis, he is a person who has heard the word of God and who lives it. He finds Jesus in the faces and lives of the poor and struggling in our world. And by his words and actions Pope Francis asks us to open our hearts to the hungry, the poor and the marginalized. He asks us to open our hearts to those struggling in the world because they are family.
We are called be the Word of God to reach out to others who are in need as a way to really be united to Jesus and his mission. What does Jesus want from us? Jesus wants a family. Jesus wants a friendship. Jesus isn’t looking for us to read more about him or discuss the theology of his ministry. Jesus longs for a close and personal friendship with us as we speak to him about our lives and lean on him for support in times of need. Blessed by his love, we hear the call to keep his word by loving as he has loved us, by being family to all.
Jesus invites us today to reach out to those who need us. Pope Francis calls us repeatedly to be a society, a church, a family of inclusion, dialog and service for all.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I have always struggled with this passage in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 11:15-26). If Jesus is taking the time to case out demons, why are people upset? Why are they casting a negative light on Jesus and his ministry? You would think that they would be pleased. You would think that they would be open to all the help they can get!
Perhaps the reason for their negativity is that they have become accustom, even comfortable with these demons. How does the old saying go, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know!” Sometimes we become comfortable with the devils that make a home in us. We look at them and begin to rationalize our encounters with the devils of our life. “They are just small problems, personal things, they really don’t hurt anyone. – Everybody does it. Everybody is doing it.”
Looking at it another way we might say that Beelzebul is the strong man who guards his palace. His possessions are hatred, anger, prejudice, greed, and injustice. Through them he tries to control the world. By ourselves, we are helpless against his power. But this parable is one of hope. It proclaims the gospel message. There is one stronger than Beelzebul who can overpower him and cast him out of our lives if we let him. Christ is our strength, who by his resurrection has defeated the power of evil. We are called to live each day in the faith that Christ can help us overcome our demons. If we do our heart becomes a place where no demons dwell only Christ. O Lord create in us a clean heart and a faithful spirit!
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:5-13) encourages us to be persistent, to persevere, to pray, to stay connect with God because God is so eager to help us. As Jesus says if a reluctant friend can be persuaded to help, how much more will God be willing to help!
As Kathleen Norris puts it, “Prayer is not asking for what you think you want but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine.”
Or as St. Teresa of Calcutta puts it, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Today we are asked to put ourselves in God’s hands and let God change us in ways that we cannot imagine. This does not mean that God will always give us whatever we ask but it does mean that God always hears our prayer!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In our readings today, from the Book of the Prophet Jonah (Jon 4:1-11) and Luke’s Gospel today (Luke 11:1-4) we find two interesting scenes.
On the one hand we find Jonah struggling with God’s mercy and on the other we have Jesus teaching the disciples to pray by focusing on God a father.
Jonah wants punishment. He wants the Ninevites to pay for their sinfulness. He does not like the fact that they have repented, and that God is offering them mercy. But God opens Jonah’s eyes to the fact that everything we have is gift and that God is concerned about all of his creation. God is a relentless God. Jonah found that out. God doesn’t want to lose any of his creation.
In our Gospel today Jesus reminds the disciples of just how present the Father is to their life. For me an interesting aspect of Jesus’ teaching of the Our Father is that Jesus uses the word, Abba, which if translated literally would be “daddy or dad.” I sometimes wish that the first translators of the prayer had used the informal rather than the formal it might have made a difference in how we think about this simple prayer today. It might have made the prayer more intimate!
Our God, Our Father, Our Abba is relentless providing for, watching over and offering mercy when we pause to reflect on our sinfulness and our struggles. Pausing as we begin, end and live our day to address our Dad with thankfulness and trust will always keep us going in the right direction!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Here we are once again beating up poor Martha. Is really what today Gospel is about? (Luke 10: 38-42) Is Martha really doing the wrong thing? I think not!
I have often felt that Martha has gotten a bad rap because of the way we have looked at this Gospel over the centuries. We seem to think that a person who is hardworking, hospitable and concerned about her guest is somehow less faithful, less holy than a person of formal prayer and that is just not true.
Martha is a good and faithful person, her mistake in the Gospel today is that she focuses on someone else; she is concerned about what someone else is doing rather than focusing on what she is doing. If Martha had just done her work with joy, enthusiasm and unselfishness this story in Luke’s Gospel would have never taken place.
Let us for a moment reverse the roles. Suppose Mary had come to Jesus to complain about Martha. “You know Jesus she is always working, always running around being hospitable. She should stop when you come into the house and sit and listen to you!” What would Jesus have said? My guess is that he says, “Mary, Mary, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Martha has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
You see each woman in the story chooses her journey. Choose what she does best and that becomes her better part. Martha is a worker, she does it well. Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, she listens and she does it well. There will always be tension between action and contemplation, between ministry and prayer, between work and quiet time. But the challenge is to pick what is best for us at that moment. What is our better part at each moment or stage of our life? What will help us to recognize God?
Martha and Mary remind us that there are many gifts and that each gift is important. We just need to recognize what is important for us and not be worried about what is important for others!
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Daily Thoughts: “Run away from God,” that is Jonah’s response to what God asks of him and I have to say that there have been many times in my own life when I would have liked to have done the same thing. Sometimes what God seems to be asking of us just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes what God asks of us seems beyond our ability. Sometimes what God asks of us isn’t fun. Sometimes what God asks of us puts us at odds with the world around us. So why not run?
Well as we find out in the story of Jonah today (Jonah 1:1-2; 2, 11) you can run but you can’t hide from God! Somehow, someway God is going to find you and put you right back in the middle of things or God will find someone else to do the job. The priest and the Levite ran away but God persisted and the Samaritan did not (Luke 10: 25-37). You can hear the voice of Pope Francis in the Gospel today. He echoes Jesus’ voice on who is our neighbor. Our neighbors are the people in most need and our challenge is to always show mercy.
When faced with this challenge we can always run, we can always try to hide, we can always make excuses. But God is always going to find us, perhaps not in this life but when it most counts the life to come and if we haven’t responded, if we haven’t been merciful we will find ourselves in a terrible and unending storm!
I would have to say that I have never been a big fan of the rosary mainly because of the communal experiences that I have had with it. People try to out yell others, some praying fast others slow, adding prayer after prayer rather than holding to the simplicity of the rosary. Yet, there have been many moments in my life when I felt like running away from God and it was the simple prayers of the rosary, the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be… that held me in place. The rosary is often the formal prayer that I pray when running because of its simplicity and power.
Today we are challenged to be merciful to the people around us. We are challenged not to run from God when things get difficult or don’t go our way and we celebrate the gift of the rosary as a prayer with the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, that can keep our feet grounded in God and our eyes open to the needs of others.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Perhaps the most important line in all of our readings today comes from St. Paul Second Letter to Timothy. As the reading begins Paul tells Timothy, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have…” (2Tim. 1:6) This is the key to living a life of faith.
The Prophet Habakkuk expresses a frustration with God today in our first reading. Things are not going well for Israel and Habakkuk wants to know where God is. Haven’t we all been there? We find ourselves struggling in life. We encounter sadness, plain, difficulty, problems, issues, bad things happening to good people, to us and we wonder were God is. You might say Habakkuk is speaking out loud what we all think.
In the Gospel Jesus reminds the disciples once again that discipleship is difficult, that faith is difficult. This is not an easy journey that we are on. At times it can seem like a thankless journey.
So, we go back to Paul’s words, “stir into flame God’s gift.” This will keep us going. This will get us through the difficult times. This will help us to know that God is always with us even when it seems like he is not!
Sunday blessings to all.
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...