Today’s Thoughts: Before I wonder into our scripture readings for today, I would like to reflect on something that struck me during morning prayer. As I was praying the Psalms and Canticles of morning prayer I was touched by the progression on my prayer, our prayer as a Church. The opening Psalm was Psalm 51, the Psalm we pray every Friday morning. It is the famous Psalm seeking God’s mercy. “Have mercy on me, O God…”
Then I moved on to the Canticle of Jeremiah which is a lament of the people in the midst of war and famine. As I prayed it I thought this could easily be us in the midst of our current situation. “Let my eyes stream with tears…the great destruction which overwhelms…Have you cast us off completely…We wait for peace but to no avail…For your name sake spurn us not…remember your covenant with us, and break it not.” It is a canticle reflecting the struggles of people in the midst of a human and imperfect world. People trying to make sense of everything happening to them. People wondering where God is.
Then, I prayed Psalm 100, the joyful song of those entering God’s temple. “Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing for joy.”
You might be saying to yourself, “Ok father, what are you trying to say?” Well. it was just interesting to me, and helpful to my prayer this morning to first ask God to forgive me and us as a world. Then to telling God of our struggles, difficulties and challenges, but then finally to trust in God’s presence, action and love by singing for joy. It just felt like a very hope filled morning prayer! Perhaps that is just what we need.
Now on to our morning scripture…
I have always been a bit jealous of the scribe in today's Gospel because Jesus says at the end of the exchange that the scribe is not far from the Kingdom of God. For me it would be a great comfort to know that I was not far from the Kingdom. It is one of my greatest worries. I try to live a good and faithful life but there are times when I look around and wonder if I have missed the boat! I listen to people talk about their faith, I see their actions, I am aware of what they think is important and valuable in terms of faith, church, belief and religion and I wonder if I have taken the wrong path.
Sometimes I wonder if what I believe brings me close to the Kingdom? The Church as it stands today seems a far cry from the Church that Jesus seems to be putting together as we read the Gospel. Our religious leaders often, not always, seem to be closer to the scribes and Pharisees than to the disciples of Jesus. The institution we call Church often seems closer to the institution that Jesus often challenged and confronted during his ministry.
We seem to take some words in the scriptures at face value, but others are glossed over and interpreted in ways other than what they say. We seem to be absolutely sure of what Jesus said, meant or wanted in certain situations and yet we discount or ignore other things because they don't seem to fit into the institution.
I pray. I try to love whomever I meet. I truly value my relationship with God. I care about people no matter who they are and what they have done. I try to find God in all people. I value life in all forms. I want to be of help to people who struggle. I want to be a welcoming, forgiving person, religious and priest. I want to help people know and believe in God. Yet at times I am not sure whether I am on the right path. I don't always pray in traditional ways. I am more willing to accept a person where they are even if they don't fit into the laws of the institution. I want to dialog. I want to find a way for all to be close to the Kingdom. I don't want to judge. I don't want to be self-righteous and I certainly don't have all the answers.
I want to live Hosea's words today, I want to return to the Lord, but I am not always sure the institution takes me in that direction. I live to be a man of faith, I live to be a man of hope and I live to be a man of love. I pray that like the scribe I am a man close to the Kingdom of God!
Have a blessed and holy Friday and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
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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...