Today’s Thoughts: “Do you still not understand?” The closing words by Jesus in today’s Gospel are directed at the disciples with him in the boat but they could easily be directed at us today. We just don’t seem to get it at times do we?
Jesus’ disciples didn’t seem at times to be very good at connecting the dots between Jesus’ words and actions. Jesus was always asking them if they understood and at times like the Gospel today, we hear the frustration from their lack of understanding in his voice.
Even though we have the reflections and the insights of many before us we often find ourselves just like the disciples in the Gospel today. We think Jesus means one thing when it is really about something altogether different. Like the disciples we need to be reminded again just who we are as people of faith and that we are called to live lives for the glory of God.
One place where we can revive our calling as people of faith is the Eucharist. Here we listen once again to the Word of God, we retell the story of Jesus and we are nourished by the gift of Eucharist and we are forgiven for those times when we fail to understand, when we fail to live out the Gospel. The Eucharist is the table that always invited us to understand, to come back, be connect even when like the disciple we just can grasp the message!
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel (Mark 8:11-13) today Jesus gives us an example of patient perseverance. He is once again tested and challenged by the religious leaders. They want a sign. Now Jesus could have engaged the Pharisees in a heated argument. He could have performed a miracle for them, but he didn’t. Jesus just asked them a question. Why do you need a sign? Why can’t you just believe? Why can’t you recognize God in your midst?
Throughout Jesus’ ministry he was challenged, frustrated and questioned. Each time he confronted the situation differently drawing upon a wide range of human emotions. In today’s story it is the emotion of patience. He feels sorrow for the Pharisees. He is frustrated, but he takes a deep breath and simply asked them to think for a moment.
Perhaps today’s challenge in the Gospel is that being patient and persevering is good food for thought for us. Can we be patient with those around us, with ourselves and with God? Can we persevere in this journey of life?
Have a great Monday everyone.
Today Thoughts: On this Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time we are confronted with the question – “By what spirit do we live?”
Our Gospel reading from Matthew today comes from Chapter Five in Matthew often known as the Sermon on the Mount. If you recall the Sermon begins with the Beatitudes but the section, we are called to consider today is one that focuses on the tradition of the Law and the Prophets.
It would be easy to suggest that Jesus has wandered into the legalism of his time, however that is not how I see it. My reading and reflection on today Gospel does not lead me to interpret law but to question by what spirit do I live the law.
For me the telling verses in are Gospel today come at the beginning and end of the Gospel. In the opening verse of today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” and in the closing verse of the Gospel Jesus says, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” In other words, Jesus tells us that law is not just words focused rules and regulations but on a Spirit by which we are to live and truth is at the center of that Spirit. Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets is the providing of the Spirit by which we are to see, hear and live the Law of God. Each of the laws Jesus addresses today are expanded to mean much more than their words say. Each law must be lived out through the Spirit of the Beatitudes. Each law must address care and concern of all people as children of God.
The way we live the Spirit of God’s Law is through truth. If we live in truth, then there is no need to swear. to pronounce oaths. Our “yeses” mean “yes” and our “noes” mean “no!”
May we choose to live by God’s Holy Spirit as we journey through life today and always!
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Our first reading today is all about selfishness. Jeroboam is only thinking of himself and his position. He wants to maintain his power, so he creates false gods and tempts the people to worship him and his idols instead of God. He creates priests randomly to give people a false sense of power and security. He is sinning and causing the people to sin.
Our psalm echoes this idea about peoples forgetting the God who saved them and worshiping false gods and idols instead. This selfishness was sin and dragging others down also.
In our Gospel today, Jesus acts with compassion. It is the exact opposite to Jeroboam’s This is the opposite selfishness. When Jesus realizes the people have all traveled far and have run out of food, he is concerned for their well-being. He knows he cannot send them home to eat because they do not have sufficient food for the trip home. So, what can he do? There are a lot of people and not nearly enough food. I have always believed this to be one of Jesus’ miracles, but it also reminds me of the story, “Stone Soup.”
As a single person, none of Jesus’ disciples has enough food to feed everyone, however when everyone adds a little something, a garnish, a bit of carrot, a potato, a drop of broth, together it ends up a flavorful meal, and enough to feed everyone.
The Gospel says there were seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Not nearly enough to feed the huge crowd, but they broke the bread and shared the fish. Miraculously, there were seven baskets left over – more leftover than they started with.
It is always tempting to hold on to what we have. What will I have if there is not enough. However, if everyone contributes to the ‘soup,’ and no one being satisfied, everyone wins. Instead of selfishly sinning, we selflessly shared, and God makes the impossible possible!
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Valentine’s Day Thoughts: A few thoughts about love…
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)
“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” (Elie Wiesel)
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” (Thomas Merton)
“Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene, because it bears the force of love.” (Archbishop Oscar A. Romero)
The measure of love is to love without measure.” (St. Francis de Sales)
“Always tell of God's love. If necessary, use words. ” (St. Francis of Assisi)
“Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes.” (Pope Francis)
“Love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not.” (Henry van Dyke)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Valentine Day blessings upon all your loves today!
Today’s Thoughts: The first reading for today takes us to the end of Solomon’s reign as king. He has been unfaithful and now he and his line will pay the price. Israel as a nation will find itself divided. It’s glory days at least for the moment are over. The sinfulness of their king now affects all.
In the Gospel we encounter the beautiful story of Jesus healing the man who could not hear and had a speech impediment. Jesus heals the man because the people have faith in Jesus’ healing powers and bring their friend to Jesus. Jesus’ compassionate act of healing so astonished the community, even though he asks them to say nothing, they cannot stop talking about it. They proclaimed the Good News that Jesus “does all things well.”
There is such a contrast to these two stories. On the one hand Solomon placed his faith in other gods. In his old age he turns away from God who has given him wisdom, wealth, and power. He has everything. There is nothing he lacks; yet through sin he loses everything. I guess you might say he didn’t have everything. He didn’t have faith! He didn’t remain faithful and trust God. He didn’t do all things well.
In the Gospel story a community has faith in Jesus and their friend is healed. This story tells us a lot about Jesus and his journey to Calvary. Because of Solomon lack of faith, because of his sin, struggle, shame and death become part of Israel’s journey once again in life. But as our faith story tells us – “God so love the world that he gave us his only Son that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) We might say as we begin our day’s journey that faith is always the key.
Have a great Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Where is your heart? This might be the question that we can ponder from our Gospel story today (Mark 7:24-30). In the Gospel even though the woman is a Greek, a Syrophoenican, by birth her heart is with God. In placing her heart with God her daughter is healed.
The focus of today’s Gospel reminds me of a verse in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 6: 21) “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words what we find important, what we place value in, what our focus is in life – there is where we will find your heart.
Perhaps another way to consider our Gospel today is in the words of Thomas Merton - “Ask me not where I live or what I like to eat . . . Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully that.”
The Syrophoenican woman is living for God. She puts God at the center of her life thus that is where her heart is and she is blessed with the healing of her daughter. Perhaps our questions for today are – What are we living for? What is keeping us from living fully? What is important to us? Where is our heart? Is it with God?
Have a great Thursday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today, like yesterday our Gospel (Mark 7: 14-23) focuses on the essential and the non-essentials. An essential for a person of faith is how they live from their heart. In other words, the essence of a person is what is in her or his heart.
Thomas Merton once wrote that “You can tell a saint by the way he [or she] sits and stands, by the way he [or she] picks things up and hold them in his [or her] hands.” I think Merton was getting at what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel today that being what we are on the outside is determined from what we hold in our hearts.
The Queen of Sheba in our first reading today (1 Kings 10: 1-10) was impressed by Solomon’s wisdom and how he lived his life. His relationship with God showed in his court, his servants, his hospitality and his prayer. The queen was able to encounter God because Solomon shared his heart.
Our challenge today is to be people of the heart. It is to ground our life in our relationship with God. The world around us cannot hurt us if we are grounded in and live by the Spirit of God.
Have a great Wednesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes has always been regarded as a place of peace, a place connected with the sick and struggling. I, myself, found Lourdes to be a truly remarkable place when I spent two days there last August.
Pausing to honor Mary is always a good thing to do. Today we honor her visit to Lourdes back in the middle of the 19th century to a simple little girl named Bernadette. We also honor the ongoing gift of healing through Mary that has taken place in Lourdes since her appearance. As I have shared with you many times, I am very much aware of the role Mary has played in my own family’s life. My father visited Lourdes during World War II and asked Mary for a special favor. He asked Mary to keep him safe so that he could return home to my mother and begin a family. He dedicated his first female child to Mary and said he would name her Bernadette. My father made it home, my sister’s name is Bernadette and thanks to my mother and father, my sister, my brother and I were given the gift of life. Mary is truly a special person.
In our first reading (1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30) focuses us on the temple that Solomon builds for God and our Gospel focuses us on the fact that the Pharisees and scribes the religious leaders of Jesus’ time put more importance on the accidentals of life rather than the essentials. I think our readings have something to say to us today.
In our first reading Solomon dedicates the temple but reminds the people and reminds us that God is much larger than any building. A temple, a church, a chapel are sacred and holy places to go to but we must always remember that God is much larger than any building, any place. We must always remember that God is always with us, God is always within us!
And our Gospel reminds us that there are essentials in faith and there are non-essentials. We need to be able to recognize what is important and what is not. Sometimes we forget, or we place more importance on the non-essentials than on the essentials. Solomon remind us what is important the presence of God. The Pharisees and scribes always seem to remind us what is not.
Today is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. So as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes today, we are reminded that Mary lived from her heart by showing the essentials of faith compassion, mercy and love. She touched the heart St. Bernadette 18 times back in 1858. St. Bernadette took Mary’s gift to her own heart and brought it to the hearts of the world. How each of these women lived is the gift we celebrate today. What they believed, what they held in their hearts is how they lived and the faith they shared with the world.
Have a great Tuesday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today's Gospel (Mark 6: 53-56) focuses on the sick coming to Jesus and the first reading (1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13) from the Book of Kings talks about the presence of God in the community. I was thinking that when we can recognize God’s presence in the community then healing can take place.
When we know or feel God’s presence sometimes all it takes is touching the tassel on Jesus' cloak and healing takes place, things, life gets better. God's goodness is not gone we can encounter it every day of our lives, but it takes work because there is so much "non-goodness" out there! But if we believe in the presence of God, if we believe that Jesus walks by then we are given the opportunity to touch a tassel and encounter his Goodness.
Let us pray today for the gift of God's goodness and mercy in our lives. Let us pray for the wisdom to recognize those moments when Jesus is near and the courage to reach out and touch his tassel. Let us live in the hope today that God dwells within us because we have truly built a house, a live where God can dwell forever.
Have a great 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...