Today’s Thoughts: The readings today are interesting on the one hand we have the famous story of Herod and John the Baptist. It is a rather gruesome story, it is hard sometimes to think of a young girl being presented with some one's head and then turning and giving it to her mother. Yet, I guess gruesome things happen in life every day, thankfully not in my life.
I am always struck in this story with the fact that Herod is moved by John, that he likes to listen to him, yet he gives in to the worldly pressure around him. I get the feeling Herod knows that John is right, but his power, his self-importance; his ego will not let him say yes. Herod has surrounded himself with people who push him in the wrong direction. We might say that he gives in to the peer pressure of his time!
There is a great line in the Letter to the Hebrews that says, "Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels." It is great advice! Perhaps it is advice that Herod should have heard or heeded. He certainly had one of God's angels, John the Baptist in his presence.
We need to be aware that God can come to us, be present to us in many ways. We need to trust that God is with us always. We need to remember that we are a community of faith not just individuals and we need to always be aware of the struggles and joys of others because they can often bring God into our midst.
Let us today live by the phrase – God is my light and my salvation, whom should we fear? Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Jesus in the Gospel today is trying to teach the twelve the value to trust. He sends them out to preach, teach and heal but they cannot take anything with them. The have to trust, trust the communities that they go to and trust that Jesus will be with them. The twelve find out that if they trust good things happen. They cast out demons, they heal, they are able to proclaim the Good News.
May we like Jesus’ disciples in today’s Gospel learn to travel through life light, letting go of all stuff we carry like hard memories, fears and worries. Let us learn to shake off the dust of those who are unkind and trust that what we need will be provided.
So, as we journey through our day let us take each step with faithfulness by trusting in God so as we live this day good things will happen.
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: We hear in the Gospel (Mark 6: 1-6) about a town that doesn’t seem to have faith which perhaps gives us a little food for thought.
The people in Nazareth, Jesus' home town are so closed minded, so sure they know Jesus that they have very little faith. Their faith is so weak that the wonderful things Jesus does everywhere else could not happen in their town. They have put Jesus into a box and they are not open to the unpredictable answers, the unexplainable surprises and the unrelenting love that Jesus brings!
Our Gospel reminds us that faith is profoundly important but is not easy, that it takes work. We cannot always depend on what we know or see. History is helpful but at times can get in the way. We need to be open to the possibilities of something new. We need to keep working at our faith. We need to not give up hope because we never know when the grace of God will be in our midst and we do not want to miss it!
So today let us live out our faith, let us not fear, because God's kindness is everlasting and God's grace in always right around the corner!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In the Gospel (Mark 5: 21-43), today we hear about two women, one who is cured and the other who is brought back to life. The women in the Gospel story are different, one is just a child of twelve who faces death, and the other has lived many years but for the last twelve years has faced a great physical struggle. For one woman it is the faith of her family, in particular her father, that makes all the difference, for the other it is her own faith that makes the difference. This is what brings these women together, faith. Faith if lived out can give us the opportunity to be cured; faith can also give us life!
The focus of the Gospel is the thread of faith. The two women in our Gospel relied on faith to bring about comfort, relief and life. We, the community of faith, rely on the faith of those that journey with us, our own faith and the faith of those who have gone before us, "the cloud of witnesses" to keep us going, to support us on this journey of faith we call life.
Perhaps the most important words in our readings today come in our first reading from the Letter to the Hebrew, the writer tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us* and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus we give our faith a chance to grow!
Faith can be a comfort, faith is always a challenge but remember it can bring healing, it can bring support and it can bring life. Let us be faith filled people today and always so that we to can be a source of healing, comfort, support and life to all we meet!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As I prayed with the Gospel (Mark 5:1-20) last night and this morning a line from the Responsorial Psalm stuck with me – “Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord!”
I find this Gospel to be a strange story. There are many layers to it: Jesus in foreign territory; the man who lives among the tombs; the unclean spirits named legion that are sent into the swine; the swine that throw themselves into the sea; the fear for the people so much so that they ask Jesus to leave and finally the man once possessed becoming a preacher of the Good News.
It seems that the possessed man in the story is the only one who can take comfort in Jesus. He has struggled all his life. He has been chained and broken out of the chains only to find little peace. It is only Jesus who can finally free him totally. I think we all have parts of ourselves that get possessed by the demons of life. Things that we cannot let go of that hurt us in a personal way and sometimes even hurt the people around us. We sometimes free ourselves only to be caught by them again. Perhaps like the man in the story it is only through Jesus that we can find comfort and hope.
Often as we live life, we tell Jesus to move on, to leave, we do not want our life disrupted even if it not going so well. We like things the way they are even if our life is a awash with struggles, chains, tombs and a lack of peace. Yet all of us have the opportunity to recognize Jesus in our life and become free of the things that possess us but first we need to overcome our fears and trust in God's presence. Trust that change can be good.
May we recognize Jesus passing by today and allow our hearts to find comfort and hope in his presence! Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: My reflections today focused on seeing things differently through the eyes of God, the eyes of faith. The first reading from Jeremiah paints a picture of a man, a prophet who is asked by God to see things differently, to see his life differently.
St. Paul asks the Corinthians to see love differently, not the way the world see it but as God sees it. It is a beautiful reflection about love that we have probably heard a hundred times at weddings and anniversaries. Yet, if we listen to St. Paul closely, love is very hard, it is not easy. It is a perfect love, a love perhaps only that God can offer. It is a love that we are always reminded of each time we look at the Cross. It is a love that asks us to look at our love for God, for others, for ourselves differently.
In the Gospel Jesus asks the community at Nazareth to look at life differently. He asks them to look at a life bigger than themselves but unfortunately, they cannot. They are stuck in their own little world!
The challenge of the scriptures today is can we look at life differently? Can we look at life with God's eyes, with the eyes of faith?
Have a blessed and holy Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Saturday greetings and blessings to all and happy feast day! Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, "Feast of the Meeting" and sometimes known at Candlemas Day as candles are blessed on this day. Some say this is the true end to the Christmas Season. It is certainly a day of blessing.
The Gospel (Luke 2:22-40) today tells the story of Anna and Simeon two people waiting for the Lord. They were waiting for the consolation and redemption of Israel and they both recognized it in the child Jesus. Simeon's now famous words, words recited each evening near the end of Night Prayer, words reflecting the joy Simeon has in being granted the gift of seeing Jesus. Anna too is grateful for this opportunity. An opportunity that both Anna and Simeon have prayed and waited for a long time.
Perhaps, Anna and Simeon reflect for us the journey of faith that all of us are on. We long for the Kingdom of God, we long for a day when the struggles, the times of sadness in life, the difficulties of life will be gone, when will we see the gift of God in its fullest. At that moment perhaps, we will utter the words of Simeon. However, until then we wait, and we journey in faith, we keep the faith like Anna and Simeon, and we go about life hoping to encounter God's many gifts in simple ways. Being on the lookout for an opportunity to hold God in our hands and feel the blessing of God in our life.
May we truly be blessed this day knowing that we are on a journey of faith that will bring us to the Kingdom where we can truly give thanks!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: I often look back over my life and am struck with the thought, “my how things have changed and how things remain the same!” Jesus talks about farming during his time in the Gospel today. The farmer goes out and plants the seed but then waits to see what happens. The farmer doesn't know why or how it happens there is a profound trust in God and hope that the seeds planted will produce a wonderful harvest.
Today we know, for the most part, the why and how of farming. There is a lot more science and technology that goes into farming these days, yet I cannot help but think there still needs to be trust in God.
The mustard seed is a wonderful image of God's Kingdom. Just think of the creation of a person, the tiny sperm and egg come together and begin to grow as one. This conception of the sperm and egg, this coming together, becomes a person growing each day within the womb. Then in nine or so months this person arrives and begins the journey of life outside the womb. God's Kingdom is made up of millions upon millions of people and trillions upon trillions of harvests. We sleep, we wake, and we wait. Day in and day out we see the many gifts of God's Kingdom, it is a wonderful harvest and yet like the farmers of Jesus' time we still don't know how or why it happens.
We don't know everything and the more we accept this fact the more we will encounter God's Kingdom each and every day we live. So, like it says in the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:39), “We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.” God’s Kingdom of mercy is now. It is all around us. We don’t know how or why, we just need a profound trust in God’s merciful love, and we will have life eternal.
Have a great Friday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: A passage in the first reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:23-25) gave me pause for thought. "Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works... [and] encourage one another." Our life needs to be about hope, and encouragement not judgment, finger pointing, hate and exclusion. We believe and we hold on to that belief because we have hope in God presence in our life and in our world after all that is God's promise to us!
Then as I read today’s Gospel (Mark 4: 21-25) I think Jesus puts what I read in Hebrews a little differently. In his wonderful image of a lamp the question is asked, do we hide the light, or do we put it on a stand and let it fill the whole room? The light, God’s gift, needs to be placed on a stand. It needs to be made visible by the way we live our life, by the way we treat others and by the way we trust the mercy and promises of God!
Remember as Jesus tells us today, "The measure with which you measure will be measured out to [us]." So, let's be the light on the stand in the middle of the room today. Let's be the one who rouses everyone else to love and good works. Let's be the one who trusts in the mercy and promises of God and thus bring the gift of hope to all we meet this day!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel (Mark 4: 1-20) reminds us that we have work to do. Jesus has given us the gift, but what do we do with the gift? Do we plant it and let it grow into a wonderful harvest of life that brings us to God or does the gift get wasted?
I have often used the parable of the Sower and the Seed in my preaching and the way I look at it is that in life there are four different kinds of soil, three of which do not allow the seed of God's Word, Grace and Presence to grow and one that does. I often image our hearts as the field, the soil and so a good question to ask is what condition our hearts are in? Is it good soil? Can God's Word, God's Grace, God's Presence grow there? Or is it the foot path, the rocky ground, the patch of weeds and thorns that will not allow God to grow?
Why might our hearts be like to foot path? Because we have been hurt at times in our life and we have hardened, we don't let God or others in? Why might our hearts be rocky ground? Well, because we are all sinners. The rocks, boulders and pebbles are our sins. Why might our hearts be clutters with thorns? Well, because the thorns are the things of my life that have become more important than God.
So, in order to have hearts full of good soil that produces a bountiful harvest we need to loosen up the hard places, move the rocks, boulders and pebbles and do some weeding. Then our hearts and our lives will truly be places where good things grow. Our hearts will be places that will bring to life the gift of Jesus!
Have a great Wednesday 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...