Today’s Thoughts: Recently, I spent time with two of my grandnieces. They are growing too fast, growing into young women with unique personalities! I could not help but think of earlier times that I have been with them, when they were younger. Did you ever take time to watch little children? When I am with my grandnieces, I usually get a chance to spend some quality time with them. When this has happened, I have gotten a chance to sit back and just watch them. When they were younger it always amazed me how they often made anything they had into a simple play toy, boxes, board games, a piece of ribbon or string, everything seems to come to life.
When my niece Kristina, was about three years old, she often played for hours on the floor by herself with board games, like Risk, Trivial Pursue, and others. She had no real understanding of how these games were played but that didn’t matter. She was content to just sit there moving pieces around, building things and imagining a whole different world. There was a joy and contentment on her face as she enjoyed a moment of life. I was often jealous of her freedom, her joy and her excitement. Both of my nieces have the gift of allowing their imaginations to enliven their lives.
In reflecting on these experiences with my grandnieces I could hear Jesus' words in the Gospel today. God truly does reveal many things to children that we adults miss. Children seem to know the joy and the love of God. Through their imaginations I truly believe they often see the hidden gifts of God that we adults at times miss. We can learn a lot from children, if we let them be children and if we stop to watch and celebrate the gift of their presence in our life.
Children also keep alive the hope that Isaiah talks about in the first reading today. If we use our imaginations as children do, we will be able to see the wonderful life that Isaiah envisions, where the wolf is the guest of the lamb and the leopard lies down with the kid and the baby is at play right next to the cobra’s den and all is well. In other words, if we are not afraid to use our imaginations, we have a chance to encounter the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, strength and wonder and awe and we have a chance to live in a world were justice and peace flourishes. We have a chance to make this life God’s Holy Mountain.
Yes, I know it seem farfetched but perhaps all it takes is a little imagination!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In reading the scriptures for today two thoughts came to mind. First, I have always liked the section from Isaiah which is our first reading today. It carries for me the hopefulness that one day swords, guns, bombs and all other means of violence will be beaten into plowshares, microchips, ovens, stoves, refrigerators, anything useful and life giving. I hope and live for the day when we will no longer train younger women and men for war ever again and that every nation will live in peace! Yes, I know this might be an impossible hope, but I still hope. Perhaps for me Emily Dickinson puts it best – "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune--without the words, and never stops at all!" May hope never stop singing for any of us.
My second thought today centers on the Gospel. It is a familiar story in Matthew's Gospel of the centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. Did you ever realize when reading the Gospels that many of the people whom Jesus encounters with life changing faith are not part of the faith community but are seen as outsiders. This centurion has great faith, a faith that ultimately brings healing to his servant. This Gospel story and others like it should remind us that God's presence, God's healing, God's grace, God's work can come from anywhere and from anyone. Dismissing people for any reason is not a good practice because by dismissing them we may just be dismissing God and an opportunity to be healed!
So, as we begin this journey of Advent let us invite God to enter under our roofs even though we might feel unworthy and commit ourselves to renewing the gift of hope in our lives, strengthening our own faith and respecting the gift of others in life so that we never give up on peace or miss a chance to encounter God’s healing presence.
Have a great Monday everyone and a blessed Advent!
Today’s Thoughts: On this First Sunday of Advent I find one of my favorite lines of Scripture in today's Gospel. "But when these signs happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand." Now this might seem strange to you, and I have to say I might not say it in the same words, but I believe what Jesus is getting at is to be hopeful, confident and proud (good kind of pride) in your faith, in your relationship with God. I might say it this way, "Stand up straight, stick out your chest, hold your head high be ready for God's presence in your life!"
Some years ago, when Pope Benedict was still pope, there was a synod of bishops in Rome that focused on the New Evangelization. During the synod one of the cardinals said that we need this New Evangelization because we are embarrassed by our faith. Now upon hearing this I took offence. I have never been embarrassed by my faith. I have been embarrassed by some of the Church leadership at times. I have been embarrassed by the institution at times. I have been embarrassed by the actions of certain people within the Church at times. I have even been embarrassed by my own actions at times, but I have never been embarrassed by my faith, my belief in God and my relationship with God, my membership in the Church and the Body of Christ. When it comes to my faith, I always stand up straight, with my chest out and my head held high and I believe!
Advent is a new beginning, a time of hopefulness, a time to look at the trials, tribulations, struggles, disappointments, difficulties of life and say I believe! To say we believe! As we begin our journey through Advent may we take the words of the scriptures to heart today and everyday throughout this Advent Season and make ready to "Believe" once again in our Faithful and Loving God!
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little of your time today.
Today’s Thoughts: We wait today for the start of a new liturgical year tomorrow, but we also wait for that perfect world described in our first reading from the Book of Revelations today, the Kingdom of God. The Gospel from Luke reminds us to wait focus on what is important not what will instantly gratify us. We must be ready because when this perfect world will arrive is hidden in our hearts, it is mystery. What is clear for us today though is that we are not simply supposed to wait but also to act, to live. Because if we are living our relationship with God, we will be ready to enter the Kingdom of God!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the last day of November and the Feast of St. Andrew an apostle and the brother of St. Peter. A line in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans caught my attention this morning – “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” Being a preacher, my hope always is to bring the good news and I think I have been successful most of the time during my years of ministry.
However, it is not just preachers who bring the good news it is all of us. A few years ago around at this time a picture appeared of a NYPD officer in Times Square stopping to give a homeless man a new pair of shoes. It is a picture that millions saw on the Internet, that evening news programs showed it. The officer brought the good news not only to the homeless man but to all of us.
Perhaps as we live life today let us do so by bringing the good news to the world any way we can, with our voices, our actions, our lives. Let us believe in God's love with our heart and live it today and always!
Blessings to all with the name Andrew on this feast of St. Andrew and may we all have a great last day of November and a blessed Friday!
Today’s Thoughts: Our two readings today are rather difficult ones and after I read them, I just wanted to close the book and reflect on something else. I am not always sure how to take these apocalyptic readings but here is my take at least on the Gospel.
The "time of the Gentiles" as Jesus puts it in the Gospel today. The time between the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming of Jesus. It is our time, we live within this "time of the Gentiles" and we see the signs, disasters, wars, violence, struggles, difficulties of all kinds. We see the signs in culture, society, church, family and the individual. We experience trials and tribulations that are personal and communal however, it doesn't mean the end is around the corner the "time of the Gentiles" has been going on for 2,000 plus years.
We are just in the midst of a point on the continuum of time. It is a part of the mystery of God that challenges us to not give up, to continue to walk by faith. Jesus remains us to always stand up straight because we don't know when this time will end, and we need to always be ready. We remain ready with a faith that reminds us that we do not stand or walk alone. Jesus stands and walks among us. We encourage and strengthen one another because God is always with us!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: "The Lord speaks of peace to his people and his holy ones and to those who turn to him.” the entrance antiphon for today mass. What a wonderful thought, “The Lord speaks of peace…” to consider as we enter a new day. However, if we read on in our Gospel for today I am not sure Jesus is speaking of peace. He tells us, that persecution, pain, struggle and difficult time are ahead if we believe. He says these struggles and persecutions will come from everywhere they can even come from our family.
This seems a far cry from peace! It seems that believing, having faith takes a tremendous amount of trust in God and trust is not always easy. However, if we have that trust then peace can happen!
In the midst of our daily struggles, in the midst of everything that makes it hard to have faith, to hope, to love we are asked to trust in God presence and action in our life and if we do, we will encounter the peace that the Lord speaks of for his people today and always!
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: One might say that reading today’s Gospel (Luke 21: 5-11) is like watching the evening news or tuning into one of the many 24-hour news stations at any point in the day. Bad things are a happening, for sure!
Yet, Jesus doesn’t say – run, hide, give up. He says don’t be terrified. Don’t follow all the doom and gloom proclaimers. Why shouldn’t we be terrified? Why shouldn’t we hang on every word of the gloom and doom proclaimers? Why - because God’s grace is at work. The question is – how do we believe that God’s grace is at work?
Jesus has always said that the things of this world, the things we think so important are not important. Even something like the great temple of Jesus’ time will not and did not last. Our focus, our trust, our faith needs to be placed in God. If not – we will be sucked in by the terror, the doom and gloom of the world. As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, God’s grace is enough.
Our challenge today and every day is to look around and find God’s grace at work in the world and in us. It is there – we just need the eyes of faith to see it!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: It is hard to imagine giving away all that you have. It doesn’t seem practical, perhaps it even seems foolish. Yet in our Gospel today (Luke 21:1-4) that is exactly what happens. A poor widow making her way into the Temple to pray gives up her last two coins. She is not giving out of her surplus, she is giving out of her poverty, she gives her “whole livelihood.”
Why? It is not any easy question to answer because it goes against the way we most often view life. Yet, I think it tells us something about what possessions, wealth and money do to us. They make us dependent, insecure, selfish and untrusting. When we have nothing, it is easy to give because we are not attached, and we are willing to trust in the next moment. We are willing to give everything we have to make a difference. When we have things there is worry, concern and the desire to have more.
Perhaps this example from the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta, M.C. will help us to understand Jesus’ story in the Gospel today –
“I was once walking down the street and a beggar came to me and said, “Mother Teresa, everybody’s giving to you. Today, for the whole day, I got only twenty-nine paise and I want to give it to you”. I thought for a moment: if I take it, he will have nothing to eat tonight; and if I don’t take it, it will hurt him. So, I put out my hand and took the money. I have never seen such a joy on anybody’s face as I saw on his – that a beggar, too, could give to Mother Teresa. It was a big sacrifice for that poor man who’d been sitting in the sun all day and had only received twenty-nine paise. It was beautiful: twenty-nine paise is such a small amount and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love.” (From the book – Mother Teresa. A Simple Path)
Wealth, possessions and property can make us afraid to give. They can hold us back from trusting in God. They can enslave us. They can make it difficult to love. The poor widow in the Gospel today handed over her life to God. She gave out of trust, freedom and love. Perhaps the challenge of the Gospel today is to pause, look at our lives and be reminded that all the wealth, possessions and property that we think are important really are not. What is important is trusting in God’s unconditional love!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: The Feast of Christ the King has never been one of my favorite feasts. I think it is because kings have never really been a positive image for me during my life time. I have grown up in the age of democracy, kings and kingdoms seem to be part of the past. I have read about kings and kingdoms. I have studies them in school. Over the course of history one can find a lot a positive images, stories and experiences of kings and kingdoms however from a personal perspective they are part of days gone by, not the reality of my life experience. Truth be told, kings and kingdoms for me often symbolize a time when ordinary people meant nothing and there was a great divide between the “haves” and the “have nots!”
So, what am I, what are we, to do today, faced with Christ honored, celebrated, as a king. Well, first, we need to look at the reality of Jesus' kingdom; it is a kingdom that is not of this world, meaning it is different kind of kingdom, one we have never seen or experience before. It is a kingdom of truth, and a truth that can set us free. We also know from the life of Jesus that it was not about the “haves” and the “have nots,” it was about community, it was about people. Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned. In other worlds it is a kingdom where we recognize the king amongst us.
In homilies on this feast I have used the image of Pope Francis and an image of Jesus as King. I asked the question, “What most intrigues us about Pope Francis?” Well I think it is the way he has gone about being Pope. He chose not to live by himself, but to live amongst others. He chose not to eat by himself, but to eat with others. He chose not to celebrate Mass by himself, but to celebrate with others. Pope Francis has chosen to be part of the Church not just the head of the Church and I think that makes all the difference.
Jesus chose to be part of us, to be amongst us and that has made all the difference as we celebrate his Kingship today. Jesus' kingdom is not of this world, it is beyond, government, power, authority and institution. It is a body, a living body made up of many members working as one for the good of all, for the salvation of all, for the love of all. Jesus' as king rules to bring out the best in us so that truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace will be lived. Jesus rules here and now. So may we follow the example of Jesus, the true shepherd, and be the Body of Christ, and be the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that truly honors its people by not walking past the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned, or anyone who becomes Christ for us by challenging us to care.
Let us honor Christ our King today by becoming instruments of his justice, peace and presence in the world today. Bringing love where there is hate, bringing pardon, where people are hurting, bringing faith to moments of doubt, bringing hope to hopeless times, bringing compassion when uncaring is the norm and bringing the light joy to an often joyless world. Let us honor Christ our King, by giving, pardoning and loving so that one day all may be born in to the true Kingdom of eternal life!
Have a blessed and faith filled Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
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...