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

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Offer It Up! Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Long years ago when I was "really" young, I loved to sing. I remember it had to be in the mid 40s, a song by Gene Autry. (Some of us may remember Gene and his horse Champion.) In any case, the song's words were "I don't want to set the world on fire; I just want to start a flame in your heart!"

Recently when reading the scriptures about Paul and Barnabas and their exploits in preaching God's word, this triggered the memory! That's what we are about—disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, to set the world on fire by lighting a flame in the hearts of those we meet. Granted each person has a free will and may even reject our attempts at lighting that flame but we like Paul, Peter, Barnabas and other early apostles are called to witness, to proclamation.

Falling in love that's what it is all about, and in the words of a missionary priest I was privileged to meet here at Sacred Heart ‘When you fall in love with Jesus Christ what else can you do but go where sends you?’ I pray for him to this day and for many years, as he returned to a country where his life had been in danger. We live in an age when people are being martyred for Christ. Perhaps we are too self-absorbed for the most part to be aware of those witnesses who give their all for the Lord.

What will I encounter today, however innocuous it may seem, that is challenging me to witness my love, my response to His love for me?

Pray about it!

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, April 29, 2013

Thoughts on a day of mission appeal. A mission appeal happens when a visiting missionary priest comes to a parish for a weekend and shares the love of his vocation so that the congregation may come to know more of the true needs of poverty in the world, internationally, if not locally.

Today we were reminded of the difference between our blessed life and the poverty of many of our brothers and sisters. It is so easy to become accustomed to the blessed life we have and forget that we were born into blessedness. We could just as likely been born into another world.

We simply at meal time make a decision to prepare food from our lavish pantry, or even eat out being served a more than adequate amount of food. More often we are unaware or forget that not too far away some of our brothers and sisters in faith are wondering if there will be a meal, even a very meager one.

Offer what up? What am I willing to do without in order to guarantee that another may eat? As I pray am I also sharing my riches that somehow I may share their life in love and provide for their well being?

What will I do after I give of my surplus..? Shall I offer up my inadequacies and failures asking God to transform my failures into new ways of being Christ to others?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Friday, April 26, 2013

John 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Sometimes we need not answers that are sugar-coated, wishy-washy, go-this-way-go-that-way, do-what-you-will-do-what-you-want sort of answers. We need to know the truth, even if it is a truth that—‘we can’t handle the truth’—as the line from the movie reminds us.

Thomas in his bluntness had it cleared up for us all, once and for all. Jesus laid the path for all our journeys.

Jesus is not just a ‘way’. He is ‘The Way’.

Jesus is not just a ‘truth’. He is ‘The Truth’.

Jesus is not just a life. He is ‘The Life’.

He is all these things in love for us all, with us all, unconditionally, without reserve. What better way to live our life than to put His life in the center of ours, living His Way, His Truth and His Life.



Offer It Up! Thursday, April 25, 2013

1 Peter 5:5B-14

Beloved:
Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:
God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.
So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen.
I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

As we clothe ourselves with humility, we also pray for the goodness of grace that God may bestow upon us. Not for anything that we deserve yet only for the gift He will give us. The smaller we are, the less likely the ‘roaring lion’ devil will be inclined to ‘have us for lunch’, as it were.

Every day is a battle of some sort. Within ourselves. Within our relationships. Within our faith. We find that there are those challenges we assimilate as our own when in fact they are better suited for the grace of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. As Peter noted, there is that suffering even if it is a little we must bear. But our Savior is there to ‘restore, confirm, strengthen and establish’ us as we make our way through our trials.

We don’t do this alone even though at times it may seem like it. Even though the darkness envelopes us and it seems we see no one and no one sees us. Through our faith, through our communion with one another, throughout the Church and Jesus Christ, we are united in the grace of God.

Remain firm in it.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Offer it up!

Years ago, during those early years of learning about faith and how we were to live, I remember that phrase "Offer It Up!" The holy women who taught us in those early years, when schooling was our main concern in life, taught us that we could unite our concerns to those of Jesus and ‘offer them up’ with His sacrifice. I am not sure I really would take this very seriously but I did remember many times to ‘Offer It Up!’

Throughout life this idea has remained a way of faith. When life was not always going according to the way I hoped—Offer It Up! Gradually I began to realize that all of life the joys, the sorrows, the doubtful moments could and should be offered up to this Giver of us all who is beyond our ability to describe.

In offering it up, all of it, life itself I am offering back to my creator all that He has given freely, with a love that is unimaginable. I am reminded of a song long forgotten, "The Best Things in Life are Free!" It is almost a prayer of wonder of all that the Creator God has given. In Offer It Up, we are merely perhaps showing gratitude and learning to love.

Today as you draw breath, breathe in the gift of life given freely. The Spirit of love has been poured out to you; today let your smile radiate to everyone you meet the very love of the Spirit in you that it may with God's grace set their hearts aflame with the light of Christ.

Jesus, Son of the living God, Have mercy on me a sinner. May the Jesus prayer carry our offerings of the day to the Father and draw us into Oneness.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John 10:22-30

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Well, just how long will we be kept in suspense?

For some of us, it could depend on the depth of our trust and faith-especially when we are tested and tried in times of tribulation. As the Jews were kept wondering because of their unbelief, so it is with us as we wonder sometimes why our lives are the way they are instead of how we want them.

We want what we want when we want it. And in so doing, that can lead to some ‘selective’ deafness, not being able to hear the direction—the voice of the Shepherd—we are called to follow. Being in His flock makes the way to eternal life not so much easier to live but easier to follow as we trust in Him.

The more we put ourselves in His flock, the more we open our ears to hear His call, the easier it becomes to live as the Shepherd lives. As God has given us to Christ, in His hands we are all listening, understanding, thinking and being more like Him.



Offer It Up! Monday, April 22, 2013

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Who is the good shepherd? We know in faith that Jesus identified himself as the Good Shepherd. His sheep know his voice and when they hear it they follow Him. The question for each of us to translate to our belief in who is the Good Shepherd, and do we even listen for his voice?

Daily we are assailed by various concerns that take a priority in our life. That priority often drowns out the voice of the Good Shepherd. We become concerned with new idols that capture our attention and lead us in new directions. We refer to too many of these distractions as progress. We are fond of new technologies, new games, new ideas, so much so, that we often do not take time to assess the impact on our lives that these new things may have. We find time speeding past; we even find ways to move faster—toward what?

Recently while out simply enjoying a Sunday drive, it was disconcerting to see everyone speeding at 70 miles per hour going where? Speed limits keep increasing to the point where we don’t have time, or can’t seem to relax and smell the flowers, or enjoy the beauty of God’s gifts of creation. The Good Shepherd must be searching for us diligently as we lose our way to the wonders of human “progress” as good as it can be.

This week I am making it my task to slow down and find time to just be with the Lord as much as possible. I ask Him to make me aware of my need to see the wonder and wisdom of the world He has given me and to rejoice in it. May He fill my being with thoughts of all those I take with me to prayer. May He bless us all with communion in faith.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, April 21, 2013

Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.

As we come back from the devastation of explosions and the recovery and renewal of all our lives begin, we hold on to the truth of His everlasting word: we are His people. We are His children. He is a God that deals in love and goodness. We are given that gift from Him to choose to do good, to serve with joy and gladness, living in His love and goodness.


We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.

Through it all, the one constant is that He is God. God will tend to those who love Him. He has told us this and has shown us this by sending us His Son. We don’t prove ourselves to God by making our own gods; He proves Himself to us by sending us His Son by making Him like us. The flock He tends now and always.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
The LORD is good: his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations.

As far as we can see and as long as we can live and beyond both of those horizons, the love and mercy of God will endure. His compassion was born long before we were around; it will be here long after we have returned to dust. From generation to generation, His faithfulness will endure and His goodness will prevail.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.



Offer It Up! Saturday, April 20, 2013

John 6:60-69

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

There are some that will hugely over-simplify what we have come to know and believe. So much so that phrases like ‘over-mystify’ and ‘not-so-real-presence’ are bandied about in some non-believer circles and maybe in some of those circles of those who are supposed to believe as they receive… yup, even some of us ‘card-carrying, rosary-praying’ Catholics are challenged with the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

There is hope for them as there was hope for those that left when Jesus challenged them as they asked, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ Some recognized the Truth in what Jesus told them. Even Thomas came to believe. Others, not so much. Up ot now, they were okay but this ‘gnawing’ on the flesh was more than they were willing to accept.

Of course they were shocked, especially if they were the fringe believers to begin with. As written and stated elsewhere, you were either with Him or against Him. You believed what He said or you did not. Unfortunately, not all stayed with Him and went back to what they found easier to handle, easier to believe, easier to fall into their old way of thinking and living.

They no longer walked with him.

Could it be said of us when we find it difficult to walk our path with Him? Do we choose to go back to our old selves and practices when we are challenged to stand for our faith and stand with Jesus Christ? It is obvious we don’t know what God has planned for us but it is clear we do know that if we submit to His will and not our own, that path will end in glory. As Peter noted, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’



Offer It Up! Friday, April 19, 2013

Acts 9:1-20

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

If you or I have not been ‘breathing murderous threats’ toward our own brothers or sisters or believers, we may have been letting loose with a few not-so-choice words. Words that may as well have been slicing and dicing them to pieces as we let our egos have our way, persecuting the well-being and reputation of others as we gossip and assassinate their character. We assault their integrity with lies as we let the truth go unfounded when others continue with untruths. We may as well pierce their hearts with Saul’s sword.

We could all still be doing all of that were it not for our own flash of light that knocked us down. And for many us, it has been a number of those flashes—and still counting—that keep us in touch with what Jesus Christ would have us do. We may not hear as Paul did the words that Jesus spoke but we certainly know when we have gone off the path of holiness as the darkness we encounter is the blindness to our faith we choose instead to heed.

Were it not for the grace of God and the will of Ananias, where would Paul be? Were it not for that same grace and the will of any spouse, friend, or family member, where would any of us be today, given those blind and dark circumstances we found ourselves in? As Paul could not do it on his own—without the grace of God, without the leading of Ananias, without the conviction in his heart—neither would we nor will we without the same grace, the same leading, the same conviction.

Conversion. It happens every day. Let yours happen grace-fully.



Offer It Up! Thursday, April 18, 2013

Acts 8:31-40

“How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.This was the scripture passage he was reading:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth.In (his) humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.”

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?”

Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?”Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing.Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Who will you be Philip to today? Who will be the stranger that will be led to their salvation because of your living testimony? Because of your sharing of the Good News? Because of your commitment to your faith? It could be that someone may come to you as your Philip… just exactly when you need him.

It happens to us that we are called upon to witness; it is vital to who we are as Catholics and as Christians. Whether that call was as clear as Philip’s or if it is as simple as doing the right thing for the right reason even when no one is around to know we did or not, the witness still bears fruit. A witness that can be so powerful to change a life, just as Philip changed the Ethiopian’s, baptizing him on the spot.

We may never know the lives we change; with others, we may have a direct and immediate impact. And as it happened with Philip, as quickly as it came, it can go just as quickly. That is why we have to put ourselves in such a position to be ready; to be who God has called us to be. To witness to those we see as distractions throughout our day. To offer solutions to those we look at as ‘problems’ in our daily walk. To open our minds and hearts to those God has to us so that we too may learn from the Holy Spirit instead of being irritated or frustrated by the interruption.

Let us all put ourselves in a better position to be who God has called to witness and to be who He has called us to be. We will see how the Spirit moves us to move others closer to Him.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, April 17, 2103

This week in Scripture we have met Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles. He certainly points us toward Jesus as he looks to heavens and sees the Father seated on a throne, and his cry, ‘Father, do not hold this sin against them’, echoing Jesus' cry for forgiveness of his executioners from the cross.

During this Easter season these are reminders that we are to pattern our behaviors in life on the path the Jesus' demonstrated in His earthly life.

In today's gospel, we hear Jesus proclaim to the astonishment perhaps of his hearers, that he is the Bread of Life. We, who come to this revelation in faith, hear these words anew and we are called to a response.

What a fantastic realization, the Lord of Lords, desires to unite Himself to us in a most intimate way. To be the sustenance of our very lives. Can we begin to understand in faith what this means? He who is truly risen as he said, longs to be united to you and me as ONE. Imagine to think like Jesus, to live like Jesus, to love like Jesus, to be obedient to the Father like Jesus in the knowledge of faith that we would ultimately be in His company FOREVER.

Today, how do I come to deeper faith? How do I recognize and do away with the false idols in my life that distract me from living a life of wholeness of holiness?

Last Sunday, the Lord asked me—asked us all really—Do you love me?

I want respond with a complete Yes, but alas I cannot. Too frequently I miss the mark, and fail to live that love, fail to live my human life fully alive as St Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is a man (or woman) fully alive.

In all things give God the Glory! Alleluia.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Deacon Roland sent this our way, a simple prayer method that is lately attributed to Pope Francis.

Let us all pray as we ought.

1. The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”

2. The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even that it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

We read this in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church for instance,

“390. …The sphere of friendship, on the other hand, is that selflessness, detachment from material goods, giving freely and inner acceptance of the needs of others. Civil friendship understood in this way is the most genuine actualization of the principle of fraternity, which is inseparable from that of freedom and equality. In large part, this principle has not been put into practice in the concrete circumstances of modern political society, above all because of the influence of individualistic and collectivistic ideologies.”

The just society starts with a focus on the needs of others. Thank you

Pope Francis.



Offer It Up! Monday, April 15, 2013

John 6:26-29

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

As simple as it may sound, if it even sounds simple at all, that is what we must do: believe in and put Christ at the center of our lives.

As the disciples set out to look for Jesus, He told them this much: it wasn’t His signs and miracles that He performed that had the disciples earnestly searching for Him but the fullness of life that He gave them. He filled them with what He fed them in the loaves—beyond the loaves—the Bread of Life. That is the food that will bring them Eternal Life.

Faith in Jesus Christ will lead them and lead us all to our Eternal Life. Faith in whom God the Father has sent.

Faith and commitment, unconditionally, in and to a life of the ‘real food’ found in the Eucharist, in scripture, in one, holy, apostolic Church.



Offer It Up! Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear Lord,

help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.

Flood my soul with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly

that all my life may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through me, and be so in me

that every soul I come in contact with

may feel your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me,

but only you, O Lord!

Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you do;

so to shine as to be a light to others.

The light, O Lord, will be all from you;

none of it will be mine.

It will be you shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise you in the way which you love best,

by shining on those around me.

Let me preach you without preaching,

not by words but by example,

by the catching force,

the sympathetic influence of what I do,

the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.

Amen.

Cardinal John Henry Newman



Offer It Up! Saturday, April, 13, 2013

John 6:16-21

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.

It was a dark and stormy night.

As the classic line intro line states, that is where the disciples found themselves. Out in the middle of the sea—the waters stirred up, the strong winds blowing, darkness had settled in and they were getting a bit on the fearful side.

Probably not the first time they had been in such a predicament. Probably not the last either. Yet in the darkness they were. Without Jesus. Life without Jesus can get that way—dark and rather stormy, if not wet and cold, uncomfortable and scary.

As the storms blew about them, our own storms rage about us. Even in our own darkness of sin, we can see Jesus coming toward us as we look for Him in our own time of need. Just as did with His disciples did, He can and will continue to assure us that “It is I. Do not be afraid.”

I’ve heard or read somewhere that ‘Do not be afraid’, ‘Fear not’ or similar inferences are numbered well over 300. As with all the passages in Scripture, one could understand that there is something even more to be said about us all trusting more and fearing less. As the disciples found out, we will find our peace with Jesus Christ too.



Offer It Up! Friday, April 12, 2013

Acts 5:38-39

So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. They were persuaded by him.

Just like anything else, Gamaliel had it right on the money. Anything planned that is of the world will not turn out well. It may even seem to be a good thing or great idea at the time for all those concerned. And as he noted, though, if it is not from God ‘it will destroy itself.’

They even had some history to look at, recent history at that. He spoke of one or two ‘uprisings’ that came and went with Theudas and Judas. He spoke how their revolts came and went as the leaders were killed or they died. With their demise, so went their causes and their followers took flight.

Gamaliel also pointed out correctly that if this ‘endeavor’ was of founded in God then there was nothing they could do to stop it. The battle would be folly in fighting God.

If that sounds even vaguely familiar to any of us, we may have had our own battles with God, folly as they were. Instead of worry or obsessing about minor things, major things, or losing our hope or faith, we must know that, in the end, God wins. That is where our confidence, our trust, our hope and faith must be, in Him Who made us and knows us and knows all.



Offer It Up! Thursday, April 11, 2013

John 17:15-17

I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.

To keep us from the evil one.

Having the Lord Jesus Christ pray that we are kept from the evil one is having the greatest support one can have. Yet how often is it that we find ourselves putting our lives in the hands of the world... the evil world, that is?

They do not belong to the world anymore than I belong to the world.

No, we don’t belong to the world but look at all the times we think we own it? We have theses rights, we have these liberties, these privileges. It’s even in the Constitution that we can say and do what we want! And we overlook what the Commandments tell us just to have the world our ‘way.’

Your word is truth.

We have indeed been blessed, consecrated as God’s children. Through our baptism, we have been cleansed once from our sins. The rest of our salvation is up to us. Living in His Word, knowing His Truth, will lead us to our salvation. No, we pray O Lord that we don’t belong to the world but instead behold ourselves to Your Truth.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, April 10, 2013

John 3:16-21

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Even in the world, it is impossible. Darkness and then the light. Think then of the spiritual implications of light and darkness in our lives.

Take a flashlight into the backyard on a night that the clouds block out any sort of moonlight or stars. Before you turn it on to point out your path, you have some sense of where you are and where you can go without too much trouble. It is your own backyard—you should know where all the chairs and planters are to avoid any mishaps. But just to be safe, that is why you bring along the flashlight. You don’t know what you might run into. Or what might run into you.

God did not send His Son to condemn us but to save us. That is our Light in our darkness. He is that Light to keep us from ‘running into’ things we should not run into. He is that Light to help keep those things from running into us. Those things that the world would have run at us. Those things that, without prayer, without faith, without trusting in His Light, would certainly lead us to the darkness of sin and spiritual death. Whoever believes then in Him—fully in heart, mind, soul and deed—will never die.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, April 9, 2013

John 3:7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

The bronze serpent and the cross. From the Old Testament to the New, as Jesus instructed Nicodemus we all must be born from above. And as we are born with the Spirit, we must believe in the Son of Man to have eternal life. That is where Nicodemus and probably more of us are somewhat lost in the translation.

Moses was instructed to fashion the bronze serpent and lift it and have the Israelites come to it and look at it for their healing and deliverance. That was their life, their salvation in the desert from the sins they had committed. They may not have fully understood then either but they did as Moses told them and those that did were saved.

As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, His death on the cross was the way for salvation and life everlasting as he-Nicodemus-came to the cross. Still not an easy concept to grasp as Jesus says:

If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?’

How will he or any of us believe if we are stuck in a worldly mode? It takes our faith to move from the comfort of what we know to the unknown God has planned for us, living according to His will. As it challenged Nicodemus, it will be a challenge for us. As they happen, we must keep our eyes on the cross, with Jesus Christ the center of our love, lives, hope and faith.



Offer It Up! Monday, April 8, 2013

Luke 1:38

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

What confidence. Mary fully submitted herself to the will of God. Without reservation, without condition. She had the faith and trust that God would do as the angel said He would do. With such a humble heart, she gave herself up to be the Mother to the ‘Son of the Most High.’ That was God’s plan for Mary. He needed her ‘yes.’

His plan for us needs our ‘yes,’ too. We need to submit ourselves as Mary did, fully and without reservation. There may be a question or two, a prayer or more… indeed, He knows that. Along the way, we will learn to further give more of who we are to Him as did Mary, fully and completely. No, the choices will not always be clear, will not always be easy and will not always be the way we would prefer. Yet they will always be the way God has chosen for us, provided we surrender unconditionally to His will.

Let us pray that we do so with His grace and with His Mother as we pray:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.



Offer It Up! Sunday, April 7, 2013
Divine Mercy Sunday
I renew to everyone the Easter greetings with the words of the Risen Jesus: "Peace be with you!" It is not a greeting, or even a simple wish: it is a gift, indeed, the precious gift that Christ gives to his disciples after passing through death and the underworld. He gives peace, as he had promised, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you." This peace is the fruit of the victory of God over evil, it is the fruit of forgiveness. And so it is: true peace, profound peace, comes from the experience of God's mercy.

Pope Francis

Divine Mercy Sunday



Offer It Up! Easter Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mark 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.
But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

What is it about this that you can’t grasp? It wasn’t algebra, calculus or even an economic statistics class. They had seen the Risen Lord. He said He would rise again and He told them to come tell them about His resurrection. What is so hard to understand—to believe—about that?

The message Jesus Christ gave Mary Magdalene… tell them about Me.

The disciples on the road and the message He gave them…tell them about Me.

The message as He ate with the Eleven is the message He is giving us today; to spread the Good News to every creature.

As others have seen and believed, so must we. As others have lived and proclaimed, so must we. As others have given their lives for others for the sake of the Gospel, so must we, if not literally, then spiritually and formatively.

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”



Offer It Up! Easter Friday, April 5, 2013

There is a story of a stoic young man who would love to spend his days at the lake, taking in the sport of fishing. As a matter of fact, given the opportunity, he would be there all day, as much as he cared for it.

Yet when asked what he loved so much about ‘fishing’, he responded ‘I don’t like fishing.’

It was pointed out to him that he had all this fishing equipment and that he spent so many hours a day at the lake…

‘I like catching,’ he stated rather emphatically.

Don’t we all, given the opportunity. Just as Simon Peter and the disciples found out, given the occasion to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. This is after they had to respond to Jesus—‘No’—as He asked them if they had caught anything. Talk about adding insult to injury. The frustration of not ‘catching’ doubled by advice from someone on the shore. They were the fishermen… he was someone on the shore.

How soon the frustration turned to fulfillment as the net was filled to the breaking point. Yes, they liked this sort of fishing, this ‘catching’ that was in abundance. For their obedience, and in their abundance as they followed the advice of the someone on the shore, they recognized Him as Jesus Christ.

Obedience, abundance, recognition. Maybe it was their obedience that led to their abundance that led to the recognition of Christ on the shore. As others have said about one’s faith, you’ll see it when you believe it.

The disciples believed in what they were told to do. The fish in abundance was the grace of their faith. Their presence with Jesus was the recognition of Him in their lives as He broke bread with them. May we all celebrate the abundance of grace in our lives with the presence of Christ as we encounter Him in the Eucharist.



Offer It Up! Easter Thursday, April 4, 2013

In the name of Jesus, Peter heals a beggar and restores him to health. Now able to walk and jump and run, he startles the Jews. Peter is now able to remind them of the release of Barrabas, and the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Now, see what God has done and realize who Jesus is, the Messiah, the Savior. Just as He said.

As we hear the Good News it too touches our lives and we have similar questions about what we should do. Repent, believe in the gospel, live as disciples of the Lord Jesus? We hear, yet we too like those of our ancestors, we want more signs. Often we become a "show me" people, or we pick and choose our way into a religion we create, a way that is convenient and comfortable and avoids the cross. Many of us it seems want to follow Jesus with firm hope that He really did it all in a way that keeps us from having to carry a burden. Is that I?

Thank you, Jesus for coming and carrying the cross, taking my sins and placing them on the cross so that I may enjoy a life free from that burden.

Perhaps it is even easy to just to skip over some of Paul's words like, I make up in my cross and suffering what is lacking in Christ's passion… Would that we all might discover how to accept fully the cross and use it to evangelize our world.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Easter Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Sunday morning. Where am I? How my hands hurt and my feet. My head is throbbing and my side hurts beyond tolerance. Why is it so difficult to move I feel like I am bound? It is so dark and the pain over my entire being is...indescribable.
If I can move perhaps the pain will subside...there my hands are free...let me remove these cloths....Oh that brilliant light...Father it is you..my limbs are slow to move but the pain is abating. .The work is done now I must go to my brothers and sisters who wait and bring them into life with you, all of us living in the oneness we have always had.
Still there are final moments I must attend. I must go to Galilee and there strengthen my faithful ones.
They must be assured that I live! Now they may live and proclaim the message of salvation to all the world.
And so we 21st century disciples inherit the message, the mission to go out and proclaim the Kingdom, the reign of God forever.
The wonders of creation dazzle us and too often, we like little children are distracted with created things much like children at play we fail to remain aware of the creator and life-giver who has made all possible. God grant us the grace to life in total awareness of you.
Deacon


Offer It Up! Easter Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Three days and He rises to new life, death is no longer, the tomb is empty, He lives!

Mary Magdalene is weeping at the empty tomb, two men in the tomb one at the head and another at the feet of where Jesus had been laid.

‘Where is my Lord?’ she asks, as she anguished at seeing the empty tomb. The words of the two men do not assuage her grief. She turns and sees (she believed the gardener), then He spoke her name ‘Mary.’ And she immediately responded ‘Rabonni,’ or teacher.

What JOY overcame her at this moment! She threw herself at Him, and He instructed not embrace Him as He was to go to His Father and Our Father. Rather, now go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee and He would meet them there.

He is alive for us also, He calls us by name and sends us forth to proclaim the Good News of His resurrection that brings new life to all who come to Him, all who repent of sin and accept Him in faith as their Lord and Redeemer.

As we continue to come together and bask in the light of the Easter Season, we can experience the Risen Christ in our daily lives. Let the sounds and hymns of Easter fill our hearts and our whole beings as we encounter Him in all the events of life. Awareness is critical, if we are to meet Christ. Our faith calls us to new awareness of the many faces Jesus bears. All created in the image of God, we can by our actions reflect the presence of God in our midst and see the face of Jesus, the Son, in our brothers and sisters. We need not be afraid to look into the eyes of Christ still being crucified—see him in the disenfranchised, those treated unjustly, in the poor, the suffering, the victims of violence.

And, when we meet Him, when we hear Him say our name, we too can fall in adoration and do whatever He tells us, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Easter Monday, April 1, 2013

To you, O Master, who loves all mankind

I hasten on rising from sleep.


By your mercy

I go out to do your work and I make my prayer to you.


Help me at all times and in all things.
Deliver me from every evil thing of this world

and from pursuit by the devil.


Save me and bring me to your eternal kingdom,

for you are my Creator.


You inspire all good thoughts in me.
In you is all my hope and to you I give glory,

now and forever.

Amen.

Saint Macarius the Wonder Worker