Dear Friends in Christ's Passion – I will be on retreat from this afternoon (June 25, 2018) until next Monday morning (July 2, 2018). My access to the internet will be limited and I really want to make a good retreat, so I am going off line and dark for the next week. I will not be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I will also not be posting each morning on my web site as I usually do. However, I have done my Today’s Thoughts for the next week and they are posted below. I have also posted a Today’s Prayer for each day in the Prayers for the Journey section of my website. So please keep me in your prayers and check back each day to encounter my reflections and prayers. See you live again next Tuesday July 3, 2018…
Tuesday June 26, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: I think today’s Gospel (Matt 7:6, 12-14) is about reverence, and respect. Jesus seems to indicate that the road to reverence and respect is a narrow one that is a difficult journey but certainly one that is worth the struggle.
There are always people out in the world that find it easy to disrespect us. As Jesus seems to indicate the road of selfishness and “me first” is wide and has many travelers.
Perhaps the focus of today’s Gospel rests in these words by Thomas Merton: “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
If we recognize the Love of God in ourselves and in others we will be on the right road!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Wednesday June 27, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: At times when I face the scriptures for a particular day I want to just close the book and tell the community gathered, “Let’s all just sit quietly and listen to what God is saying to us today.” Well, I have that feeling early this morning as I listen to the readings for today (2Kings 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3 and Matthew 7:15-20). The theme whether we are looking at the first reading or the Gospel seems to be laws, rules, regulation. I have to admit these are not my favorite topics for conversation or preaching. I know that they are important. I know that laws, rules and regulations are necessary.
The readings emphasize rules and decrees and warn us of false prophets. Yet sometimes it is a challenge to understand what are the “decrees” to be followed and what are the ones of “false prophets.” I know there are times when I need to stop and examine myself – my actions, my words, my thoughts and my blunders – to reflect on just where my relationship with God is. I know that some of the laws and decrees of the world that I live in seem contradictory to God’s expectations. I am often challenged to find a sense of balance and truth in the living of life.
A litmus test for me, is the feeling that I get in the midst of choices and decisions in my life. There is a little voice that always seems to speak up when I am trying to rationalize that what I’m doing is okay. If I really stop and am honest with myself I realize that I’m cutting corners or putting a spin on it so that I can do what I want not necessarily what God wants. I walk along with my feet of clay until I take the honest route and shake dirt from my feet. I guess you can say I argue with myself until I rid myself of the “false prophets” and find my way back to what is real, honest and true - Jesus.
A common question we sometimes hear used is – What would Jesus do? It is a question that I have asked myself often and at times in answering the question I find that I am not in sync with Jesus. In these moments I need to pause and challenge myself to do what is right – to truly forgive someone without reservation or to reach out without resentment or expectation of payback and help someone – to think that life is just about me, to look beyond myself! That is what my friend, Jesus, would do, that is what I am called do!
You might say that it is a Jesus thing or today it is a Pope Francis thing. It is finding the presence and hand of God at work in the living of life. Laws, rule, regulations and decrees might not be sexy but they guide and direct us through the pitfalls of life and often help us to make the right choices.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Thursday June 28, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: There was a poster I once saw that said, “If you were to be put on trial for being a Christian, would you be found guilty?” Perhaps that is what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel today (Matt 7:21-29). It is not about what we say; it is about how we live especially when there is a storm.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If we are to be people of faith, we need to be Christ like.
As Jesus images in the Gospel, our faith needs to be built on God, our rock, so that when the storms come, and the winds blow we stand firm. It does not mean that we don’t sway a little; that we are not pushed at times to our limits; or that the electricity doesn’t go off from time to time. What it does mean is that when the storm is over, the wind stops blowing and the sun comes out we are still standing and a member of the Body of Christ!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Friday June 29, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two very prominent figures in our story of faith, two men who ground and push forward the early Church but who do it in very different ways. We celebrate two men who remind us why we are Church, two men who reflect what it means to be Church.
I sometimes think that Sts. Peter and Paul reflect the Church though it might be nice to have a triptych of saints today with perhaps the third being a woman, like St. Mary Magdalen. If Mary were included in our celebration today our feast would surely be a more complete picture of the Church and the Body of Christ.
However, we celebrate Peter and Paul, two people of different approaches to life, different ways of living, different ministries. They didn’t always agree yet they forged an energy, a spirit that remains with us today.
St. Peter was a passionate man but one who was easily swayed by the moment. St. Paul was a man of conviction, spirit and energy but at least early on it was misguided. Both had to be challenged by God to accept their roles as leaders, preachers and persons of faith.
We celebrate them today by asking them to intercede for us before God so that we might be graced with the strength, the perseverance, the energy, the spirit and the faith to live as a Church, as the Body of Christ. We seek their passion so that we too might recognize God in our midst and be able to proclaim as we journey through our life of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and “To God be glory forever and ever, Amen!”
Have a great Friday and many blessings on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Saturday June 30, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: One of my many struggles with the revised Roman Missal has been with a phrase that we hear in today’s Gospel, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof….” I have just found this phrase a struggle each time I say it just before receiving communion. I keep wanting to say, “into my heart,” rather than “under my roof.”
The centurion, the one who expresses these words in our Gospel, is one who is accustom to having power and commanding others. We encounter this in his own words to Jesus, “And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.” And yet, he recognizes that his own power is nothing compared to that of Jesus. How often do we find ourselves wanting to control a situation or tell God how to do something? It sometimes takes us a while before we step back and realize that we are not in control. Once we remember that we are not in control it can often be quite liberating. Placing our trust and faith in God over and over again is a part of any spiritual journey. It is the letting go and letting God.
What is powerful about our Gospel today is the absolute faith with which the centurion approaches Jesus on behalf of his servant. He does not doubt that Jesus’ words alone can heal his servant, even without a physical encounter with Jesus. Each time we receive the Eucharist, we, unworthy as we are, are deemed worthy for a physical encounter with Christ. What an awesome and wonderful thought! And yet often the reality of Christ within us, under our roofs, in our hearts is very challenging to grasp and a reality that we don’t always approach with the faith and trust of the centurion.
Like the centurion, we have the opportunity to be transformed with each encounter with Christ, whether it is through prayer or meditation, through interactions with others in our daily lives, or through receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
As we journey through this day let us pray that we can approach Jesus with the same humility and faith that the centurion does. Let us invite Jesus into our hearts and our homes, under our roofs, and allow Him to transform us as we journey in faith.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Sunday July 1, 2018
Today’s Thought: In a phrase we might say that today’s readings are about “the value of life” or put differently “the value of each person.” In our political and religious rhetoric these days we hear a lot about the value of life and the person. We might say that as Catholics the value and importance of life is our prime objective however often it only refers to birth rather than the entire span of life. We are profoundly intent on bringing life into the world but how concerned are we about that life after it comes into the world?
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God did not make death, that the creatures of the world are wholesome and that God formed us to be imperishable; in the image of God we were made. In other words, each one of us who comes into the world brings the image and likeness of God with us. We are each valuable, important, necessary and gifted. Each one of us is unique and special. Without our presence in the world a part of the image and likeness of God is missed.
St. Paul in the second reading continues this reflection on the value of life. He reminds of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus so loved us that he gave his life for us, that we might have life. In St. Paul’s words Jesus became poor that we might become rich. St. Paul’s point is that we each have a special gift and it needs to be shared. He asks us to be gracious and generous people. In St. Paul’s eyes, in God’s eyes, we are all equal and should share equally in the abundance of God’s love. If we happen to be blessed at a particular moment in life that blessing must be shared.
Finally, in Mark’s Gospel we encounter the challenge of being gracious, generous and loving lived out in the person of Jesus. He puts the value of each person ahead of the rules and regulations of his own religion. Jesus steps across the boundary of becoming ritually unclean to heal. Jesus values the life and health of the woman with the hemorrhage and the official’s daughter because they are created in the image and likeness of God. In each case Jesus becomes ceremonially unclean and was not permitted to enter the synagogue or the temple to pray liturgically or publicly. It was not that Jesus wanted to challenge the tradition; he simply acted spontaneously and lovingly because he valued life and the person, a stance that Jesus was more than willing to defend.
We can talk about the importance of life all we want but the proof of the pudding is in our actions. If we value life and making sure that life reaches the world then we must ask ourselves if we are willing to care for life from the moment of conception to the last breath? Do we value ourselves and others? Do we value the least and the best? Do we share our blessings so that all might encounter God’s love? Are we willing to step across the boundaries of culture, society and religion when someone needs us? Are we gracious, generous and loving people? These are the questions our scriptures ask of us today! What answers will we give?
Have a great Sunday everyone and do not forget to give God a little time today!
Monday July 2, 2018
Today’s Thoughts: I think today’s Gospel (Matthew 8:18-22) can be reduced to two words, essentials and incidentals. Jesus seems to be saying that there are essential things in life and there are incidental things in life and we have to figure out which are which. To follow Jesus means that we invest in the essentials and we let go of the incidentals, however this is not always easy. What is an incidental for Jesus a lot of the time is an essential for us.
Now we are never really sure what the scribes are up to, often they seem to spend their time trying to antagonize Jesus. Are Jesus’ answers in the Gospel today in response to an antagonist or words for all of us to live by? I vote that they are words for all of us to live by even though they might be difficult.
Making a commitment to follow Jesus involves letting go. The Gospel today gives us a perfect example of what it takes to let go. Jesus basically says, “If you are going to follow me it’s now or never!” He doesn’t invite us follow tomorrow, in a couple of weeks or a year from now—we are invite today…Now! Following Jesus is not easy, especially when it’s not on our terms. Living this life is about battling our own needs, wants and desires every day. As Jesus say, following him means “Picking up our crosses and following each day!”
A question for today might be what do we think are the important things in life and are we willing if necessary to let them go to follow Jesus?
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...