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Do not be afraid. Just have faith. Mark 5:36

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OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2015

In John 13:16-20, John records Jesus’ Washing of the Disciple’s feet. One of the “take-aways” from this act of kindness, mercy and show of service is the importance of fidelity and loyalty in relationships. Jesus knew that one of His own disciples would be one of His betrayers and He could have easily distanced himself from that person. Rather, Jesus expressed and showed an example of love and loyalty to those whom He had ministered to and with during His earthly ministry of Salvation. 

 

On the night He was to be betrayed he broke bread with His own—including the one whom He knew was conspiring against Him! To “break bread”, in Jesus’ day, was considered an act of friendship and trust. This example, of complete forgiveness and kindness, is something each of us should strive for. In our times, do we “break bread” with those we feel have betrayed us or, to use a popular phrase, “stabbed us in the back”?  Are we bold enough to “wash the feet” of those around us?  Especially those who we deem “unworthy” of our affection because they have “done us wrong”? 

 

Jesus provided us an example of love to the end—faithfulness to death on the Cross! By His example of sharing bread and offering Himself as the “Food of Salvation”, we are blessed every day of our earthly lives, if we so choose! By accepting both His offering of himself AND modeling His example of servitude, we can walk through the door which He opened—an eternal relationship and friendship with God. But as Jesus showed, it must begin HERE in our earthly existence. We must belong to Christ by speaking His Name, sharing His Message and Living in His Example. The “great responsibility” of a Christian is to stand in, for and by the image of Christ.

 

Lord, by Your example of self-sacrifice and humble service, may we serve each other in the same manner. May my life’s service bring others to you.  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2015

“...for I came not to judge the world; but, to save the world.” In reading John 12:44-50, this statement of Jesus really stood out to me. Throughout this discourse He is trying to define Who He Is and Why He came to be among man. The Old Testament is, typically, viewed as presenting God as one who demands (because He deserves) our love and commitment to His desires. 

 

The New Testament, therefore, is the final unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation and demonstration of His complete and total mercy. Though, in the end, Jesus makes it clear that we will be held accountable for our choice to believe that He is the Son of God and that He speaks solely of God’s desire for our life’s work, Jesus also makes it clear that He is the Light—The Example—that illuminates or models the way we are to live life. Jesus life is not laid out for us as a means to “condemn” or judge each other. Rather, it is a “yardstick” by which we measure our own thoughts, words, and actions. 

 

Perhaps, in today’s “goal-oriented” society we should look at him as the “standard” or “benchmark” by which we set our own daily (and longer) goals? If we immerse ourselves into studying the Word, what Jesus proclaimed, the parables/lessons, the bold announcements of His divine origin, the fulfillment of the Old Testament through the unveiling of the New Peace and Love, we find no lack of “goals” we can set for ourselves.  These goals can begin with the simplest statements, such as, “Hear the Word and believe” and “demonstrate faith through our word (or action) to someone”.  Soon, meeting such goals will become “habit”. Once a target behavior becomes habit, we can add a new (good) “habit of faith” to our repertoire. This is how Jesus, as Teacher/Savior and Light comes to be in our lives! 

 

Lord, illuminate my Way to the Father!  Give me strength to see and accept You, the Gift of light, in myself and others!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2015

Sunday, the pastor spoke about the importance of our roles, in each other’s Christian lives and relationships, as “shepherds” for each other. He specifically spoke of the role of parents as “shepherds” of/for the children with whom we are entrusted. He spoke of the importance of “spiritual” guidance and shepherding, as compared to physical and material care. This, of course, is based upon our recognition that Jesus is the “ultimate example” of a “Good Shepherd”, as Jesus called Himself in John 10:1-18. 

 

In addition to being “The Good Shepard”, Jesus, in this passage, calls for us to be Shepherds for each other. He tells us that He is the gate to the “sheepfold”. The only way in is through Him, the gate! He says that those who enter through the gate are shepherds and the sheep shall heed the voice of the shepherd. Perhaps we are to take this to mean, as we choose to “enter through the gate”, we are to use our voices and actions to call out those who are inclined to follow our voice and lead, as Christians.

 

Whether it is children, our friends or colleagues, is not the issue. Rather, our example as Christians is how we can (and must) shepherd all others to and through the “Gate”, which is Jesus Christ. We hear and see throughout the New Testament that the way to the Father is through Jesus, the Son! Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd and gate because it is a clear and common vision for those listening during his time on earth. 

 

Today, we as Christian leaders in our various professions, families, and circles of friends must accept that we, too, must take the role of “shepherd” to heart. Our voice, as well as our actions, must be one in which others are inclined to follow in and through Christ. 

 

Lord, may my voice (and actions) be an example of Yours so that my life may be one that leads others to You, through You! Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015

 My Savior,

I seemed to be gazing

at the Heart of your Sacred Body

with my own eyes.

It was as if you opened it to me

to drink from it as from a spring,

inviting me to draw the waters of salvation

from these springs of yours.

I was filled with longing that the waters

of faith, hope, and charity

would flow from your Heart into me ...

Then I dared to touch your beloved Heart

and bury my thirst in it;

and you promised me a robe

woven in three parts to cover my naked soul

and help me greatly in my undertaking.

These three parts were

peace, love, and perseverance.

Secure in the protection of this garment,

I was confident that I would lack nothing,

and that everything would turn out for your glory.

Amen.


St. Peter Canisius





OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015

1 John 3:1-2

Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 

Yet so we are.

Through our baptism, indeed we have become God’s children. Through His gift to us, we have simply the ‘greatest’ grace to us. Yet how often do we recall our blessings and graces those times we pray the sign of the cross when we bless ourselves with holy water when we enter the church?

 

For the world to know who our Father is, it could be a good place to start for them to know who we are. Who we are in our faith. Who we are in the things we believe. Who we are in the commandments we hold true—all of them, not just some of them. Who we are as that child of God so that they may see in us all that God has for us to show them.

 

The result of such faith and witness will be two-fold: there will be those that could find their way to Him through us and there will be an opportunity for us to grow more like God, for ‘we shall be like Him.’ That is His promise to us for living a life in Him and for Him. There will be those that may not get it the first or the second time or may not get it at all. Yet it is still our call to grow and understand more of our faith, as difficult as that might be.

 

Today more than any other time there is a call for us to be witness to our faith. Will we be persecuted? Chances are good that will happen as we see what is going on in the world today. Will we be shunned and dismissed? We needn’t look too far to realize the answer to that one. Will we even choose not to share our faith from time to time? Even some of the disciples turned away. As Jesus willingly gave His life, so too can we offer ours up. Let our love show as His did as we witness to Him.




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2015

John 10:11-16 is Jesus' "final" commissioning to the Eleven and to us! He said, "Go out to the whole world. Proclaim the Gospel to all creation!"

 

Every week, after Mass, we are reminded of this. As Christians of any "denomination", this is our call. He goes on to tell us that whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. This, friends, is the crux of faith in action. And the belief, accepted through baptism, must be lived in action, thought and speech. And the root of all of these (our life's work) must be His Word: Scripture!  

 

John goes on to tell us that prior to Jesus' Ascension, to be eternally with the Father, He shared the fruits of our belief/faith. There is no clearer evidence that our mission cannot be limited to an hour or two each week. The fruit of our faith is strength and protection against the temptations of sin, the power of healing and/or peace to understand His Will, and ultimate protection against satan's grasp.  

 

In 10:15-16, John goes on to tell us that the disciples then went out, with the Lord present in them, preaching and showing signs of His love and mercy. The Lord is no less present in our lives, as we are given the same call. Jesus' final words to the Eleven are His assurance that He will be working with us, in us, and through us, giving us strength to continue His Work.

 

Lord, You are the Good Shepherd Who loves His sheep totally, unconditionally and personally. Give us strength in our faith to follow Your commission, to/for us, to proclaim Your Good News in all our works and words. Jesus, only you!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1-2)

 

Acts 9:1-20 shares the account of Saul’s conversion. This conversion is, perhaps, one of the most powerful examples of God’s ability to turn the hardest of hearts. We believe and know as Christians that the Lord often works through the people around us. After the Lord knocked Saul to the ground and confronted him, He then called for Ananias to be instrumental in the completion of Saul’s conversion.

 

In reading this account, we must then seek out the ways in which the Lord is calling us to be His instrument to others in the world around us. At minimum, we are called to proclaim the Good News to those around us in the way we live—speak, act, think. Just as it says in Psalm 117, all nations are to praise the Lord! We are called to feed the poor, protect the unborn, defend those persecuted and, ultimately, stand up for Him in all situations we face. 

 

As His people, we are His earthly hands, feet and mouth. We are to join in union with one another in His name. Just as Jesus clearly states, in John 6:52-59, that He is the bread sent from heaven—His Body and Blood is offered for and to us—we too, must give our flesh and blood to Him as a tool for His justice and work throughout our lives (Paul writes this in Romans 6:13). In all of our houses of worship we seek opportunities, each Sunday (and other days, too) to share unity in Christ. This is what we have been called to do…. But, how well do we go forth from there to proclaim Him and increase the Body of Christ, His Church, that which we share in union and communion with/in Him? 

 

Lord, may we be like Saul and have our eyes opened by Your call to us and through us!  May we hunger for you and receive strength to be your instrument in this world.  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015

Jesus proclaims that those who believe in Him will gain eternal life. In John’s Gospel, 6:44-51, Jesus tells us, “It is written in the prophets: They will all be taught by God; everyone who has listened to the Father and learned from Him, comes to me.” This, once again, brings us back to John 1:1-3, which says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” 

 

God is the Word—both the Old and the New Testaments are not only inspired by God’s Spirit, they are God! The only constant and unchanging reality in the fleeting world of our human condition is God—the Word! He embodies love and the presence of Christ among us is the greatest example of His desire for us to seek and find eternal life with Him. How do we demonstrate our true and solid belief in Jesus as the Good News of God’s Plan of Salvation? We do so by Faith in Action! How do we truly experience the freedom and power to face life’s challenges? 

 

When we truly believe and act on that faith we focus in on Him and on the promise of Eternal Life with God. Jesus says, “I am the Living Bread which has come down from heaving. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh for the life of the world.” How can we not share and partake in all that He has to offer in communion with Him and with each other. It is the primary reason we gather together in worship—to share in Him in Word and in Communion as we seek eternal life and salvation.

 

Lord, may I always hunger for You, the Bread which comes from Heaven!  Give me nourishment and strength to love and serve both now and forever! Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2015

Let all the earth cry out to God with Joy! Can we sing today with the Psalmist the wonder of God in our midst? We celebrate the Risen Lord, Jesus, present in our midst. 

 

The Christ present before creation now has revealed in Jesus the love of the Father and His constant presence in our lives. Fed with the Bread of Life, which came down from heaven, filled with the Holy Spirit sent to remain with us as our strength and guide, we live now not simply a human life but we share in the Divine life of God. We are reminded in all this that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. God has fulfilled His promise to give us hearts capable of loving and living in oneness with the Trinity.

 

Can we even begin to understand oneness? And communion? Are we learning how to be still and allow the presence of God to fill us completely, transforming in our dying to self that we may come to life? 


Stop! Be still and know that God is with you, within you. 

May His love radiate on us and from us, may we live the Christ life.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2015

We continue this Easter Season rejoicing that the tomb is empty. We glory in the Risen Lord Who appears to us in the Eucharist we celebrate! We listen to His word as we again revisit the Scriptures; presented to us each day. We gather with those who looked for Him after He fed the thousands on the hillside, and we listen as He exhorts us to seek the food that lasts to eternity. 

 

How like those are we in the Scriptures who were looking for the perishable food He provided, the loaves and fishes? We devote our lives to succeeding at what? What is our burning passion? Where does my treasure lie? 

 

Today as we encounter Jesus in the Word, as we imagine listening to Stephen in his encounters with the people of His time, as we encounter in our own moments in the sun, the challenge of living in the Spirit, may we walk with Jesus, the Christ at every moment and with every breath. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015

John, in 6:23-29, finds the crowds following and searching for Jesus, after He feed them fish and bread. It seems their reasons were not so much in search of Him in order to hear the message of His word, but rather for more personal gain—such as more food. The manner in which John presents this gives us cause to consider our own motives in our relationship with Jesus—and importantly, each other—as we examine how He is part of our own daily lives and decisions. 

 

John 6:27 says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” The crowd was intent in their search for Jesus, first near Tiberias (where He had fed them), then across the sea to Capernaum. Are we intent in seeking God only in places of worship and in those brief, weekly moments when we gather for church? Or, do we strive to seek and experience His presence within us and in all situations we encounter? 

 

Jesus tells them (and us) in John 6:26, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Do we get our “fill” during our weekly “hour” of praise and worship? Then return the next week out of some personal desire? Or, do we come to Him in thought, word, deed and prayer throughout our week, feeding on the Signs, Word and Wonder that surround us if we but seek and find? 

 

We must ask ourselves, what do we seek the most in our hunger? Wealth? Peace? Health? Love? The “Good life”? Are we hungry for things that satisfy the mind/body? Or, that (Him) which satisfies the heart and soul?  Our human condition requires us to satisfy our physical needs, but only God can truly satisfy the hunger for truth in life and love (both here and eternity). 

 

Lord, you make clear that our first call is to believe in You, God’s Son.  Nourish and strengthen me to serve You! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015

Luke 25:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

 

‘You are witnesses of these things.’

There they have it—and had it. Jesus gave it to the disciples with those six words. He opened their minds and hearts so that they would better understand the Scriptures to carry out the mission He called them to do.

 

Jesus came to them and greeted with peace. Given the circumstances, we too would be a bit terrified if He were to suddenly appear in room with us, even as He greeted us peacefully. As were the disciples; they came toward to realize the fullness of His Body, His flesh and bone, not a spirit. From being terrified, they move to a sense wonder and awe as to how this could be—‘incredulous for joy’—as He shared a meal with them.

 

As He was truly risen in front of them, truly present in their lives as He ate with them, He is truly present in our lives as we celebrate the Eucharistic feast. As for us, there we have it too, as we are witnesses of these things as we are called to partake of His Body and Blood. As we are called to open our minds and hearts to hear the Word of God and carry out the mission God has for each one of us, we recall He sent His Son to die to save us from our sins. That is the sacrifice He made. What sacrifices can we give in return as witnesses of such in the mission He has called us to?  




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2015

John shares the account of Jesuscalming of the waters as He approached the boat, walking on the water in 6:16-21. Just when the disciples were experiencing fear on the stormy lake, Jesus appeared and they were consoled by His presence as they took Him into the boat! In Johns account Jesus clearly assured the apostles, by His presence, that they should never fear, as nothing can harm them if they trust their heart, mind, and soul to His eternal promise. 

 

In Matthews account (14:22-33), we read of Peters experience of trying to walk out to Jesus, on the water. While he willingly stepped out to go toward Jesus, his shaky faith ultimately caused him to sink, from which Jesus saved Him, prior to getting into the boat and calming the seas for all of them. Johns account, worded a little more simply states that Jesus approached the boat and to calm their fears, said to them, It is I, do not be afraid. Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. 

 

Have you experienced fear in your life, whether during time of trial, crisis, or momentary danger? If so, how have you experienced Jesus presence? In verse 20, it says, Then they wanted to take Him into the boat. That is the first step in renewing our faith in each moment of fearwe must recommit to Him daily (and, at times more than daily, in this fast-paced world). In monastic or other types of contemplative life, those who join commit to prayer times at various times during the daymorning, noon, night (some add mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and midnight). How do we, in the busy-ness of our lives recommit each day and allow Jesus into our boat

 

Lord, you are always present for us.  Give us wisdom and strength to not allow our fears to keep us from letting You in! 

Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015

Is our belief in Jesus limited by what we may be going through at the moment? Whether a moment of exhilaration or crises? In John’s account of the feeding of the multitudes (John 6:5-11), we find Jesus “putting his disciples to the test” when they are faced with crowds of people gathering to hear Jesus speak. He not only knew that the disciples would question and worry how so many could be fed, He also knew that He could (and would) have the opportunity to demonstrate His Divine Power and Goodness to the disciples.

 

There are two lines in the passage that strike chords: “Jesus said to them, ‘make the people sit down’.” (John 6:10) and “Jesus took the loaves (and then the fish), gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were sitting there….. distributing as much as they wanted.” (John 6:11) 

 

In the first, I guess I am struck by His command, “….make them sit down…”. Perhaps it is because it is reminiscent of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Or, that it is prophetic of Jesus’ command to the disciples (and us) to go out and tell of the Good News of the Gospel?  So, this, as with everything Jesus did in His ministry, was not a “hey, look at what I did demonstration.”  Rather, it is a “look at what you must do….” moment. 

 

The second verse highlights the need to thank God for what we have, no matter how minute or meager. In giving that thanksgiving we, in turn, can and will be blessed with all that we need. Finally, we can recall how John begins his Gospel, (1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Not only are we fed in human terms, not only are we fed when we share communion in and of Him, we are and MUST be fed daily by His Word. 

 

Lord, help us to know that Your Word is sustenance for our daily journey.  May we “be still” each day and journey toward eternal life in You, the Word!  J.O.Y.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!     THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015

If we choose to obey God’s voice and conform to His Will then we will know and experience the abundance of Life, by His Spirit filling us from within, that Spirit which can only come from God, Himself! In our human condition, we are given the free will to choose to follow Him and the Path he forged both through the Prophets and, ultimately, through the completion of His Plan for Salvation—Sacrificing His Own Son out of demonstration of love for us! 

 

John the Baptist, in John 3:31-36, makes this message clear. As Christians we know we are called to experience God, first in the Word, and then in thought, word and deed. Therefore we must reflect on our lives, not just periodic and cursory considerations of our “past”, but on our daily (present) lives and our eternal salvation. That is the future! So, as we reflect on the moment, we must ask, 1) Are our hearts filled with God’s Love and Spirit (based on what I just thought, said or did? And, 2) Through what I just thought, said or did, have I brought myself or others closer to Him? More simply put, we must continually ask ourselves throughout each day, “What is the Spirit of God saying to me here and now.” 

 

We try to teach our children to “think before we speak (or act)”. But do we tell them “how” think? Do we tell them that their first question must be, “What would Jesus do (or, is this thought or action Spirit-filled)?” As John shares these Words, with us from John the Baptist, we must realize that Jesus came out of compassion for all mankind.

 

John tells us that just as there were many who did not accept the prophet’s testimony, there will be those unable or unwilling to accept Jesus’ presence as True God and True Man. The choice is clear! We can choose earthly ways or God’s ways. Let us share His compassion with others as a testimony to our faith in Him. 

 

Lord, let your Spirit fill me with courage as I choose You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2015

John 3:16-21 concludes Jesus’ nighttime conversation with Nicodemus. How ironic that He ends this “covert” conversation by talking about the Son of God coming into the world as light in the darkness. As we know from reading John 3:1-15 over the last two days, Nicodemus was a religious leader who, though curious about Jesus, felt the need to sneak to speak to him under the cover of night’s darkness. 

 

Jesus wraps up the conversation by telling him (and us), “...though the light has come into the world, people have preferred darkness to light.” He goes on to say, “….everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up.” Have no doubt there is no subtle message intended here. The question remains, how stubborn was Nicodemus? How stubborn are we? Do we seek the Light of the Risen Lord to lead us to eternal life? Do we get caught up in our earthly stature, thus allowing the God’s Light and Truth to be diminished in our endeavors, rather than lead the way? 

 

In this final exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus also differentiates between God’s Light and God’s Judgment. He makes it clear that He was not sent to judge the world, rather to light the way! It is our choice to follow the light: we can choose the darkness of sin or we can choose the light of God’s truth. It is that simple. What we choose to love (light or darkness) shows what we value. As Christians we are called and expected to love God above all else and allow His Light to illuminate our words, deeds, emotions, and relationships. 

 

Lord, as You told Nicodemus, You have come to illuminate the path to salvation. May my journey be illuminated by Your Light and Truth and my eyes, ears, mind, and heart be exposed to and by Your Light. 

J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015

The Easter season continues. In our lives as it did in the lives of the Apostles, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, born again, that we may go out and proclaim the Risen Lord by our lives. We come in darkness very often like Nicodemus. We see Jesus, hear Him speak, observe the wonders He accomplishes, but because of our relationships to the world around us we are hesitant and slow to understand. Like Nicodemus the way we live our lives often proclaims our failure to understand what it means to be born from above.

 

We claim to put on Christ, yet we continue to live in order to boost our own ‘ego’...  how difficult it is to let go and let God! We live in the midst of a culture gone wild and we lack the determination to be agents of change, to be willing to suffer the consequences of being counter-cultural. Can we leave the prison of the world around us, as did the Apostles and risk all to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Lord?

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!     MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2015

Easter is a time of Resurrection—Rebirth. Jesus spent his ministerial life focusing on the importance of renewing ourselves in His love and was very clear that we must transform ourselves in heart, mind, and action. In John 3:1-7, we find Jesus talking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who had come to Him in the darkness of night so as to not be seen by his contemporaries, consorting with Jesus. He came to discuss the origin of Jesus’ authority to perform the signs and wonders that had been witnessed by many. 

 

Because Nicodemus did not have full understanding of who Jesus was nor did His position among the religious leaders allow him to fully consider who Jesus was, he was confused at Jesus response….”no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus immediately questioned the concept of being “born again”. Jesus went on further to explain being born through water and the Spirit; He clearly meant that we must be purified and sanctified by the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Now, as we come off of the Celebration of Easter we know that there are newly baptized throughout the world—new members into Christ’s Earthly Kingdom.  These newly baptized have truly experienced rebirth through water and in the Holy Spirit! Christians understand Jesus’ words to Nicodemus—that we, through baptism, have been “born again” as Children of God. Those baptized/reborn call him, “Abba, Father” thus, accepting Him as our Father: the source of all guidance, wisdom, and love! As “newborns” (in Faith) there is an excitement and desire (and need) to depend and rely upon Him! Let us pray for the newly baptized (and, for continued renewal of we [the so-called] “adult Christians”) that the Risen Lord will continue to give them/us grace to live faith with fidelity to witness with great courage! 

 

Lord, Renew us in Your Spirit, daily, as on the day of our Baptism! J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     SUNDAY, APRIL 12, 2015

What will it take for us to believe that He is Risen? Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” 

 

These words are spoken at the end of John’s account of “Doubting Thomas”, in John 20:24-29. Here we find the other disciples who had seen the Risen Lord telling Thomas of their experience. He, having the same confusion, doubt, and fear as they had experienced, told them that he would not believe until he had himself, seen Jesus and could see and feel the wounds of the Crucifixion and the hole in His side.

 

Eight days later the disciples, gathered together, they were again visited by Jesus. Standing among them, He said, “Peace be with you!” He immediately followed this by speaking to Thomas, encouraging him to see and touch the wounds of His hands and side. He knew that to experience the peace He was offering, Thomas needed this experience. Thomas’ exclamation is one that we should each cry out in the experiences of living each day: “My Lord and My God!” 

 

Even though only these disciples from the first century, came into direct human contact with Jesus, we are blessed to be part of more than one billion Christians in our world today who have been blessed to believe, even though they have not seen Him in human form! This is an awesome concept and one that calls us to question how we respond to others when they speak of God’s presence in their lives. Do we respond like Thomas? Then we must consider how we acknowledge (and share) the presence of God in our own lives, like the other apostles who had seen Jesus. They shared with Thomas. Do we find ways to “see and touch” Jesus in our lives and be that sight and touch for others? 

 

May the Risen Lord give us the Grace we need to believe in Him more firmly, especially in times of doubt and confusion. 

Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2015

The tomb is empty! Mary Magdalene encounters Christ, rushes to tell the eleven and they do not believe her. The disciples on the way to Emmaus meet the Risen Lord in the breaking of the Bread and hurry back to the eleven to announce the good news, they do not believe them. Finally Jesus appears to them and has to upbraid them for the slowness in believing the news. 

 

Centuries later we come on the scene, the Good News is presented to us and we too are slow to believe. We find ourselves caught up in the wonder of the created world enjoying the goods of creation, failing to see the hand of the Creator so often. Even wondering in many instances if there is a Creator. The mirror image of ourselves is in the Scriptures, as we see the leaders of the Jewish people try to silence Peter and the apostles, ordering them to cease proclaiming the Good News about Jesus the Christ.

 

In the Gospel we perhaps see an images of ourselves, gathered as followers of Jesus who can't quite let go and put our total trust in Him, living the Way, welcoming the poor, the captives, the sick, the blind, the sinners... we can't quite come to fully understanding the wonder of God's Mercy and love which expands to every person He has thought into existence. This Easter may we find that deepest JOY which transforms each of us.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!     FRIDAY, APRIL, 10, 2015

John 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

 

At those points in our lives when we seem to have no other outlets but to do what we have always done—even if it seems to be a bit toward the limits of insanity—our tendencies often take us that way. Imagine the thoughts of those seven disciples as they very well could have been wondering ‘What now?’ Their lives before were in the seas and that is where they returned when they had ‘nothing’ left but to go back to what they knew best, even if it was going back to their old ways of life. In a sense, giving up on what they had begun in Christ and going back to the things more familiar to them.

 

The emptiness that resulted in their efforts as well as what they must have felt, was compounded even more by having to answer reluctantly and negatively when asked if they had caught anything by The Man on the shore. With that, He gives them a suggestion to ‘cast on the right side of the boat’ and they catch more than they can handle. An abundance of fish and an abundance of His generosity. And the net did not even break. It did not then take long for the disciples to recognize ‘It is the Lord.’ In his shame and guilt, Peter jumped in the water. What else was he to do? He and the others, they brought the net of fish to the shore as Jesus was there at the fire.  

 

What else are we to do when we recognize Christ in our lives? What else can we do from our sinfulness when Christ makes Himself known to us in any fashion as He did then and as He does today? The disciples caught zero fish without Him that day. What can we ‘catch’, what can we do without Jesus in our lives? Without Christ, there is nothing we can do. As we respond to His call, we will come to know more fully His presence in our lives, sharing in His generosity and love. 




OFFER IT UP!     THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2015

Luke 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”

And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

 

Shalom.

He wishes them peace.

An appropriate opening to calm the nerves of even the most ardent disciples as they are incredulously in His presence. Even with all they had heard from Him prior to His death, the thought of His Resurrection was still something of a stretch for some of them to fully grasp. Yet here He is, in the flesh and bones and wounds from the cross that bore Him to bring them peace.

 

Still in a bit of fear yet with more wonder and amazement, they come near to see and touch and find that truly the Risen Lord is with them again. No, not a ghost-ghosts cannot be touched. No, not a ghost-ghosts have no need to ask for something to eat. Indeed it is the fullness of life everlasting in the Resurrection in the body and blood of Christ Jesus.

 

The peace of the fullness of life everlasting can be ours as well. That is what He came to bring us. As Jesus shared before His death, His peace was not of this world (John 14:27) and nor should ours be. What peace He brings us we may always keep with us as we center our hearts and lives on Him. As He invited His disciples to be with Him, to touch Him, to eat with Him, He does the same for us. And as His disciples today, it is our mission to live as witness to His everlasting peace as He calls us.

 

From this past Lenten season and now into the Easter octave and beyond, our conversion continues. Through the suffering, death and resurrection we have witnessed of Christ Jesus, we are challenged to give our own hearts and souls to those who need them so that they too may come to know His peace that is in the Truth, the Way, and the Life in a faith founded in Him.

Shalom.




OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2015

God is always ready to reveal the Truth of Himself to us, but our hearts and minds must be open to His Word. Luke 24:13-35 finds two of His disciples walking to Emmaus, after the Resurrection. As they walked along, discussing the events of the last three days, Jesus joined in stride with them, asking them why they were so forlorn. As they shared with Him their confusion and doubt, He said, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!”  And with that, He began to recount to them all of the scriptures about Himself and God’s plan for salvation. 

 

How are we today, on our “walk” or “journey”? Do we listen? Or do we become discouraged, even in the face of knowing that our God has promised that if we trust in Him, He will be there for us and provide for our well-being, both now and forever? Jesus’ disciples were with Him as living, walking, talking beings, hearing and witnessing His earthly life.  Yet, they still had great difficulty “seeing and believing”. So as we read on in Luke’s account of the “Walk to Emmaus”, we find the disciples inviting Jesus to stay with them (though they did not, yet, recognize Him), because the day was coming to a close. Jesus accepted their invitation to join them and, as they broke bread together that evening, their “eyes were opened” and they recognized Him (Luke 24:28-31). 

 

Put ourselves into this same scenario in today’s day. How often do we walk with our heads down, focused on our own crises or disappointments in this life? It was difficult for the disciples to recognize Jesus because they let doubt creep in. They had been told of salvation’s plan but still were scared and doubtful. Are we? 

 

Lord, open the eyes of our hearts so as to recognize Your Presence in the Word, which You Are. Allow me to invite you to join me, as did the disciples at Emmaus and feel our hearts burn at Your voice. 

Jesus, Only You! JOY

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!     TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2015

Peter, Mary Magdalene, Mary, John, and all the disciples of Jesus were likely devastated after the events of Good Friday. But now we read the scriptures and let the story unfold in our mind’s eye and find ourselves rejoicing at the wonder of God's love and Mercy. As we sing our Alleluias this week, we prepare for the feast of Divine Mercy. The image of the Divine Mercy will be placed before us and hopefully the world will resound with ‘Jesus, I trust in You’. 

 

Saint John Paul declared the second Sunday of Easter to be the Feast of Divine Mercy. Let our prayer be that the Church throughout the world will pray for the conversion of sinners, for the Mercy of God to spread over the whole world. Jesus revealed to mankind the love of the Father, His Mercy that endures through all generations. Through out the Old Testament, we have seen the mercy of God. The Prophets and Psalmist sang of the Father's mercy. Israel, recognizing that God was a merciful God, did not hesitate to turn to Him, pleading for mercy when they recognized they had sinned and needed to repent.

 

Pray, each day this week for God's mercy. If you are not aware of the Divine Mercy prayers, seek them out and join those saints who pray each day at 3PM. Pray for the World that prisoners may be set free, blind may see, deaf hear and sinners turn to God and be set free from the slavery of sin.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!     MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2015

In Matthew 28:8-15, we find the chief priests conspiring to squelch the news that Jesus, as He had prophesied, had risen from His tomb on the third day. This highlights the continued stubbornness of man and the reason for God’s plan for salvation, which included the suffering, death and resurrection. Jesus’ ministry on this earth was the perfect example, in word and deed, of who God desires man to be! Yet, we continue to struggle with what this example means for us in our daily lives! It struck me, during this Holy Week, that on Thursday, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus provided the example that COULD HAVE been the plan of salvation were we not so stubborn in our human condition. 

 

He washed the dirty feet of the twelve men whom He had assembled as His first disciples. This act, Our Lord on His knees wiping the feet of the men who were called to serve Him, is even more powerful with the knowledge that Jesus knew what was in store for Him over the next three days. But He knew even more that man needed a more powerful “sign” than washing of the feet. 

 

In order for man to know God’s all-encompassing and unconditional love, only the brutal suffering that led to up to death by crucifixion, followed by the Resurrection could “get our attention”.  So, as Christians, we have celebrated the pinnacle of our faith: Easter Sunday! 

 

Then, comes the Monday after…we ask ourselves, “What now?” The plan for us is simple and the enactment of that plan hinges upon what Jesus did the night before he suffered and died: He demonstrated servant leadership by washing the feet of the very men whom He called to serve Him! Are we prepared to meet the Risen Lord and serve Him as He gave example for us to serve? May we seek and find the Risen Lord in Hope of the Eternal Life He promises! 

 

Lord, may we live each day in joy and hope that we never lose sight of Your Truth! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B