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

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Proclaim the Lord with boldness! Does that describe the Church I live in today? Do I—do we live the Gospel and proclaim it boldly?

In the Acts of Apostles, the periscope read to the Church today throughout the World, we come face to face with those first men of the Church, emboldened by the Spirit, convinced of Jesus' resurrection and His revelation of God. They were willing to face any hardship  including death to proclaim the Good News.


God sent Jesus, the living Word, to reveal His plan of salvation, His merciful love.

Now we are enlivened by the same spirit. in baptism,  in confirmation, in Eucharist.  The gift of faith lived through the ages; from generation to generation through the Church the message of salvation is freely given. Freely given, it is for us to respond freely and share the Good News with those in love.


Moment by moment we are faced with the reality of God's creative presence, we are free to accept His free gift for each of us to share in the creative process. His love is patient and He mercifully walks with us in our journey of life. In my imagining, I see him as the Prodigal Father longing for the return of his son who has left to follow his own path to meaninglessness.

Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.


Week two of the Easter Season and we bask in the sunlight of the Resurrection. During the next weeks throughout the Easter season we are treated to Scriptural accounts of those early days of the Church. We share in the Acts of the Apostles as they begin the mission to spread the Good News of salvation to the ends of the Earth.


Two thousand years later we are now embarking on the New Evangelization. The work of the Apostles continues with the new followers of the Lord Jesus, and with each generation we celebrate Christ among us! Despite the fact that the message has reached to the farthest corners of the world, many still do not believe. And, perhaps sadly, many who bear the name Christian do not believe, but follow their own dreams and strange gods. Perhaps like Nicodemus, despite the coming of the Holy Spirit, many choose to follow worldly leaders who are bent on power and controlling the destiny of nations.


As we listen to the Word of God during our Easter prayer we need hearts and minds open to hearing the tiny voice of God. We need the courage to trust our lives to Him and to seek in the ordinary events of life to do as the Lord directs and guides. In my daily conversations with the Lord I must learn to listen to His voice in Scripture, to listen to His voice ever present in encounters with His dearest children. 


How often I have failed to hear His voice when He spoke through the most insignificant among us, the poor, the sick, the lonely, little children, in the ordinariness of life that He has blessed and given to me and others. Two Saints of our time, John XXIII and John Paul II, can be powerful intercessors for us if we open ourselves to what they have done to lead us to spiritual realities. 


Saint John, (Angelo Roncalli), and Saint John Paul (Karol Wotyla), Pray for me. Pray for us.

We are called to live our Baptism, our renewal or rebirth in Christ! This is what Nicodemus is told by Jesus in John 3:1-8. Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, was curious about Jesus, His teaching, and the miracles He performed. But he struggled with accepting Him as God’s son. In fact, he went to see Jesus under the cover of darkness, presumably because of concerns that he might be ridiculed/ condemned for associating with Him.


These events occurred before Jesus’ death and resurrection….  After His resurrection, in Acts, we see the Apostles gaining strength in this rebirth or renewal and strengthened, not only by the realization of Christ’s resurrection, but by the full renewal of faith and gift of Spirit. Even in the face of the questioning of Jewish leaders, they gained strength (Acts 4:13-31). 


Jesus promised to fill them with the Holy Spirit, giving them this new boldness, just as He had continually promised throughout his teaching to give renewal through life-giving water. As we read various Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and the account of His resurrection and continued revelation/fulfillment in The words of the Acts of the Apostles, we get the full picture: “Unless one is born anew, he cannot see God.” And this is not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. In Nicodemus’ world, this was a new and radical concept. One thing that was (and is) clear, though, is that this rebirth cannot be accomplished alone. It can only be done through acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God, thus filling us with new life in His Spirit. 


Lord, give me the grace to accept Your offer of abundant life and power to live in You and You in me.  Allow Your Spirit to transform me into your likeness to help bring your Kingdom to earth and to others, so as to live eternally with You in Heaven.

Paul B

“My Lord and My God!”

These are the words proclaimed by Thomas when he saw Jesus for the first time after the resurrection. Recall in John 20:24-29, Thomas (the Doubter) told his fellow Apostles that he would believe that Jesus had Risen only when he could see and touch the wounds on His hands and sides. How often do we “doubt” when things don’t go our way or when we are in pain or confused about something in our lives? 


In our human condition, God knows that we will have sincere lapses in which we question our faith, but what He desires is a trust in Him when we face these challenging times. Like Thomas, we want (need) concrete proof. Jesus, understanding that, “called Thomas out”, so to speak, and said, “Put your finger here; look here, are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more, but believe.” Then, when Thomas’ doubt had been resolved, he put the “guilt-screws” to him, saying, “You believe because you can see Me. Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.” 


Lord, give me the strength to deepen my faith and trust You more fully in surrendering myself to You and the grace to let go and experience you deeply and see You in the struggles of my humanness.  May I say, “My Lord and God”, simply because I KNOW You came among us, suffered, died, and live in resurrected and eternal glory waiting only for my trust and praise!

Paul B

Over the years I have heard several (many) sermons in which the Apostles are described as “average” men of their times, working, minding their own business, and living “ordinarily…until Jesus came into their lives. Today, in Mark 16:9-15, we get a “recap” of the extraordinary part of that journey, the days after the Resurrection that gave the eleven the boldness needed to carry out the great commission: proclaiming Him to the World! 


The difficulty of truly accepting the fact that Jesus has risen and conquered death, even for the Eleven, is recounted. These “average” men, uneducated in comparison to the religious leaders, had to overcome the difficulty, not only of having watched Jesus’ suffering and death, but the total upheaval of their own concept of “human death”. It is no wonder they had to have visual and physical proof of seeing Jesus, His wounds, His ability to eat and speak; to interact with them in worldly terms. Perhaps, today, over 2,000 years later we have the “easy” part? Jesus resurrection and His gift/empowerment of the Holy Spirit is our “proof” that we have not been left alone in “The Great Commission” given to us through the Jesus to the Apostles.


Lord, strengthen my faith through the study of Your word and help me to accept the extraordinary call of service to You. Open my eyes and heart to the signs and wonders of Your Spirit through me and through others around me. May my outward faith demonstrate respect, freedom, and empowerment with a new courage and boldness to go “beyond average” in proclaiming You!

Paul B

We are well within the Octave of Easter, and the alleluias still ring out to a world longing for salvation! Two thousand years have come and gone since that time when the Apostles were thunderstruck as they came to the realization that Jesus was the Christ, that they were the chosen ones to begin the proclamation of the Good News. 


How quickly their mission spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, and still there remains in our midst those who have not heard. As we read and listen to the Scriptures, as we live to our utmost as disciples of Jesus, we still are commissioned to spread the Good News. As I look within in moments of reflection, I beg the Lord's mercy for countless failures to realize the wonder of this great mystery. I am tempted to look at those first disciples and envy them the human presence of Jesus, but then in faith I realize He is present within me and is the very bread that nourishes my faith, my life.


"Blessed are you who have not seen and believe."


I seek to be aware moment by moment that He is present, that He is creating moment by moment, and I am sharing in some small part in that act of creation

Lord, grant me the wisdom, the courage, to seek you in all circumstances and always live. Thy will be done. 


Some of the disciples were walking along to Emmaus, still feeling downcast and confused, and not yet fully understanding that He has truly risen. Jesus “joins them” on the walk, yet they are still not “ready” to recognize his presence. He speaks to them, enlightens their minds with scripture.


They hear, but do not quite recognize His voice.  Sound familiar?  How often do we listen, hear, and even speak to our Lord, but we don’t quote recognize the sound of His voice? Later, when given the momentary opportunity to see/recognize Jesus in their midst they realize that he was “there all along”, so to speak. 


Lord, may we recognize your voice and allow our hearts to be enlightened by Your Presence, Your Spirit! Give us the strength to minimize the disappointments and pains of this life and be soothed by your calming voice, given us through Your Word!

Paul B

Isaiah 43 says, “I call you by name and you are mine”. So, on the day of Jesus’ Resurrection we see, yet, another Old Testament fulfillment exemplified in the Gospel of the New Testament! Mary Magdalene is weeping at Jesus’ empty tomb. Her human grief and other emotions have taken over and blinded her from truly believing, at that moment. In John’s account (20:11-18), even when Jesus first appears to her, she has difficulty recognizing Him because the power of her human despair caused a (momentary) lapse of faith that her Lord and Master had truly defeated death and risen for the salvation of all men. Then, Jesus says, “Mary….” and immediately has her attention. 


Think about a small child who is asked to pick something up. The parent says, “Pick up that stuffed animal….” The child, enraptured in a video game, continues to play. The parent then says, “Johnny, pick up that stuffed animal.” Suddenly there is a reaction. The parent has just “made it personal” (for us men, perhaps this example would be better to say we sometimes react to our wives’ requests of us when our names are added into a repeated request?). 


Do we recognize Jesus when we hear his voice?  How easy is it to miss Him when we are focused on our own despair? Are we like Mary, with momentary lapses of faith throughout our day? For her, it took one word, “Mary”, to get her attention. 


Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize Your voice and hear my name in Your call! Allow me to recognize You in my life and in the Glory of Your sacrifice and resurrection for my salvation. May You call me, fill me, and use me in all I say and do!

Paul B

What is the basis of our faith in the resurrection? How prepared are we to meet the Risen Lord? I can only imagine that the empty tomb brought His believers a fearful hope that He had risen, just as He had promised.

In our human condition we often must “see it to believe it”. “The Mary’s” were rewarded for their faith, in Matthew’s account (28:8-15), by Jesus greeting them, telling them to “fear not” and to share with His disciples that they must go to Galilee, where he will appear to them. Are we ready to seek and recognize the presence of the Risen Lord?  

“Meet me in Galilee…”  The disciples are given the opportunity to see and touch the Risen Christ... where does Christ ask us to meet Him in our daily lives? How often do we meet Him and not even realize it, thus missing our chance(s) to see and touch Him in different ways? We learn through continued immersion into His Word that it is through our faith that the Lord reveals himself to those who believe in His Words.

Lord, give me the strength and courage to live in the joy of the Resurrection and the hope of eternal life that will spring from living in Your Path. Enlighten the eyes of my heart so that I may see and know what is the hope to which You call us (Ref: Ephesians 1:18).

Paul B



He’s Alive!

John 20:1-9 finds Mary Magdalene discovering the empty tomb and running to tell John and Peter. The “anticipation” is over. It is this anticipation that brought Mary to the tomb at dawn. An empty tomb! Mary’s first response is, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put Him!” John, followed by Peter, ran to the tomb and what did they find? The stone rolled away, linen cloths strewn on the ground, and the cloth that covered his head rolled up... an empty tomb! 


At this moment, the Resurrection of Christ challenged all that they knew about “life and death”. The comprehension of the Risen Christ, at that moment, must have been truly “unbelievable”, even to them, who had lived with Jesus. Jesus had repeatedly told them: “The Son of Man….will be raised up on the third day” (Matthew17:22-23); “Do not tell anyone of the vision until the Son of Man rises….” (Matthew 17:9); “I lay down My life to take it up again…” (John 10:17-18); and,  “The world…cannot hold me” (John 8:23). 


Having heard these prophesies over the preceding weeks and months, the believers now had to “deal with” it: The empty tomb! And, they had to deal with it before they could meet the Risen Lord later. How do we truly deal with “the empty tomb”? 


Lord, You have triumphed over the grave and given us New Life through the power of Your resurrection. Give me the eyes of faith to truly see You in Your glory and draw nearer to you. May we have the courage to be excited about eternal life, even though we cannot comprehend in our humanness, what it is truly like. 

He’s Alive!  Let us rejoice, every moment, and be glad!

Paul B


Safe to say at some point in our lives we’ve felt like we’ve been there. The weight of the world upon our shoulders. The cross we are bearing weighing us down so much we can hardly breathe it seems or even move.


Jesus fell as He carried The Cross a number of times on His way to His Crucifixion. He knew what He was carrying in the weight of His Cross. He knew what was bearing down upon Him.


He saw it as it bled from Him.

He felt it as the pain crushed Him.

He tasted it in the gall that touched His lips.

Yet there He was.

Torn, ravaged, stripped.

On The Cross.


To get to salvation-Resurrection-we have to see this and know this, this pain and ugliness. There is no other way to the empty cross than to go through Jesus Christ putting Himself on it. For us to know our own salvation, we too must put ourselves through the Cross He bore. And not just once a year. We must be reminded each time we are called to bear witness to our faith, to sacrifice, to love.

In Luke 4:16-21 we find Jesus returning to His hometown of Nazareth. It is in this passage that He first announces publicly, that He is the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah (61): It is He Who has come to proclaim liberty and healing. Then, in the continued reading in John (13:1-15), we find Jesus demonstrating an act of total humility and service in leadership–washing the feet of His disciples! 


Imagine Him, Who has proclaimed and maintained His Divinity (God, made man for our Salvation) now on His hands and knees washing the sandaled, dusty, dirty feet of the twelve men He asked to follow Him; men who call Him Master. Then when done, emphasizes that He has given them the ultimate example by which they should go out and serve others. 


Today, in our various roles of leadership, whether in family, among friends, or at work, I pray that we serve others with full acceptance that, even when others “look up to us”, we find ways to serve them in and through His example of selfless actions, so that these others may be lifted up. There is a phrase to the effect of, “No one stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” May we apply this phrase to all that we do by following His example of humble service to others, thus allowing Him to lead them (and us, through and with us) to God. Serve someone today, Amen!

Paul B

Opportunity! Today’s Gospel, Matthew 26: 17-25, is clearly about opportunity. Jesus was eating with His Apostles and during the meal He put them “to the test”. In telling them, “One of you will betray Me”, He gave every one of them the opportunity to examine themselves in mind and heart. He exposed Judas, then and there, the way each of us is exposed every time we are given the opportunity to examine our actions and motives. Judas, given the opportunity to avoid His ultimate betrayal of Jesus, failed the test.


May, today, we not give up the opportunity to examine our lives and seek forgiveness and work to not let sin overtake us and separate us from what we know is good and just in the eyes of God. May we overcome the temptations that cause us to deny Him and accept the righteous path laid out for us in His Word. 


I am reminded of a prayer I learned as a kid that began, “O My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee….” and, I recall thinking it was, “O My God, I am hardly sorry….”  May I heartily accept contrition and that repentance be reflected in my thoughts, words, and deeds of this day and every day…  Your Word is my opportunity to live in You now and forever!

Paul B

Yesterday we saw the ultimate display of gratitude in Mary, Lazarus’ sister, as she offered her most precious gift to Jesus, in total humility. Her act of washing His feet with expensive, perfumed ointment and her own tears and drying them with her hair is a sign of total surrender of self. 


Today, as we continue with Jesus on His journey to (our) salvation, we take a 180 degree turn and look at human weakness: Judas and Peter. John 13:21-38 brings us to the table with Jesus and the twelve. As we read we see the stark contrast between Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s weakness. 


Betrayal is a “coldness of heart” that is a calculated denial of something. In this case, Judas’ betrayal of Christ led to a direct affect: Jesus crucified! Peter, on the other hand, displayed a moment of weakness. We witness Peter impulsively speaking from the heart, saying, “I will lay down my life for You.” In turn, Jesus prophesies that Peter will actually deny him, not once…not twice, but three times.  Imagine Peter’s surprise (and indignance) when he tries to display this “unshakeable” loyalty to Jesus, only to be told how weak his commitment would be in the hours to come. How indignant are we when our faith is questioned or shaken?


Lord, look not on my sins, but on my faith. In spite of my moments of unworthiness, help me to overcome my humanness and surrender myself in total gratitude and humility to Your generous call to salvation.

Paul B

“….and the house was filled with the ointment’s fragrance.(John 12:8)”  John 12:1-8 describes Jesus’ visit to the house of Mary, Lazarus’ sister. Lazarus is the one whom Jesus had saved from death. To show her deep love and gratitude, Mary had taken a very expensive perfume (and oils) and anointed Jesus’ feet. There are many, many lessons to be learned in this act and in the act of others during this account. 


What stood out to me, today, is the incredible love shown in Mary’s act of gratitude and, as a result, the significance of her house being filled with the ointments’ fragrance, in verse 8. Because of her act of unconditional love, giving Jesus this VERY expensive give of perfume and oils, we can focus on the significance of the fact that her whole “house was filled with the ointment’s fragrance.” 


Lord, in the days before we, as Christians, recognize and honor Your sacrifice and resurrection, may we be like Mary and give our all to You. May we “break out” our most precious gifts in Honor and offer them to You through our daily living and actions. May we accept the challenge to deepen our gratitude and love by giving all that we have and offer from our deepest self and in total humility. In turn, may our lives be blessed and filled with the fragrance of Your Goodness.

Paul B

Today, in Matthew 21, 1-11, I read about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  People shouting triumphant “Hosannas” to the King! Jesus, the King of Glory, entered into the gates knowing full well the ultimate fate that awaited Him. He knew that the believers who welcomed Him with cries of glory and praise, could not (or would not) use their belief to save Him from the disbelief, jealousy, and fear of those who did not believe


We too, know the fate that awaited Jesus after His triumphant entrance. His entrance into Jerusalem, followed by His Passion and Death underscore two common human weaknesses that we must strive to overcome:  tendency to sacrifice what (we KNOW) is good (for what is not), and indifference, even in the face of what is good. The consequences of inability to overcome human weakness resulted in Jesus’ Passion and Death. 


As Christians everywhere prepare for the spiritual journey with Jesus over the next week that will lead to celebrate and honor His Resurrection, let us pray for grace to sense, in the depths of our hearts, minds, and souls, how much Jesus suffered for us… because of us!  


Lord, may we ask ourselves, does the King of Glory find welcome entrance in our homes and, importantly, in our hearts? Lord, grace me with the strength to welcome You  and honor You in heart, mind, and soul in all I say and do and bear witness to You, even in the face of doubt!

Paul B


Repent… Be saved… The end is near… Might be time to get the ducks in a row…

Well the end of the Lenten season is near anyway. None of us can be so sure about the end of our time or the return of Christ Jesus. What we can be sure of is our preparation for it. So it might bear repeating—repent and be saved—for we do not know the day nor the hour.

The crucifixion is nearing for Jesus. The natives are getting restless. He must do some preparation of His own though there is no need for repenting or saving on His part. As Passover is days away, the price on Jesus’ head increases, as the authorities are out to have Him arrested though the charge is weak.

Jesus knew what He was preparing for—to die for the salvation of man. This Lenten season for many of us has been one of preparation for His death and resurrection for our own cleansing and salvation. How prepared are we now as Holy Week begins? Have we remembered our walk with Him is one to the end? It is at the end of the race that the muscles are tried the most. Let us pray for the strength and courage to see our way through and to our life with Christ and our resurrection with Him.

Today we continue to follow the idea that we must ponder what so many of the Jewish officials could not accept: Jesus’ Divinity! The Pharisee’s blindness led them to reject Jesus and plot to kill him because they could not make the connection between God and the fulfillment of His Goodness in Jesus as man. 


As I continued my reading in John 10:31-38, today, we see Jesus making the parallel between the wonders God has performed through the work of His hands, the connection to the promises of old, and the fact that this connection exists because of His Divinity: God’s presence in Him and oneness with Him. Yesterday, I posted a picture (on facebook) of my brother and I, sharing a visit in Albuquerque. Several commented, right away, that there is “no denying” our paternity and the fact that we are brothers. These folks are willing to take this on face value (literally), having seen us sitting next to each other and noting the uncanny resemblance. 


May we, today, be struck by the fulfillment of God’s Word in Jesus and recognize that He is, in every way, God. The evidence is in the Word, let’s not wait for “the picture” to be drawn to demonstrate and proclaim our acceptance…


Be still, and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10


Paul B


There once was a farmer who had a horse. One day the horse ran away.

All his neighbors came to console him, but he was not distressed.

He told them, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A few days later the horse returned and with it was a mare.

All his neighbors came to him to congratulate him on his good fortune, but again he would not mind them telling them, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A week later his son was riding the mare, fell and broke his arm.

Again the neighbors came to wish him condolences and tell him how very unlucky he was.

The farmer shook his head and said, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A few days later, war was declared and all able-bodied young men were conscripted, but because on his son’s broken arm, he was not.


We are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.

"Good, bad, who knows?"

When we become free, as sons and daughters of God, we have a permanent place with Jesus in the family of God. In John 8:31-42 Jesus speaks of the permanence of Eternal Life with God as opposed to the temporal nature of this world. In this discourse he uses the concept of “slavery to sin” and this is confusing to some of the Jews who believed in Him, but were still having difficulty in understanding true acceptance of him, in large part due to their “ties” to the things of this world. 


Does this sound familiar in our own lives? In today’s discourse, Jesus offers us a freedom, not only from the oppression of the things of this world, but a “divine freedom” from what he describes as the bondage of sin that causes us to live in guilt or fear. Truly accepting Jesus’ invitation opens us to grow faith, live in hope, and demonstrate love for His ways. 


Lord, give me the Grace to be true to you so that I can deeply discover the security and freedom of Your presence. You are the example of perfect truth because You remain(ed) true to His will. Grant me the understanding and relief of the security of the Father’s true love in this life and in the life to come and allow me to grow by, live in, and be an example of Your desires.

Paul B

Rain! We were and are in the throes of complaining about the lack of water. Perhaps as we read about the Israelites and the desert, their ingratitude and the Seraph serpents, we can draw some parallels. As the spring and summer come leaving the colder weather behind, we will soon hear complaints about the heat of summer. Are we ever really grateful to God for the wonder of all about us? Not only do our vocal expressions belie our ingratitude, but often our actions also are indicative of our lack of thankfulness.


There are voices among us calling us to express gratitude by caring for the earth. Other voices dismiss the warnings and further develop the consumer attitude that has come to prevail. Can we not reflect back to creation and remember that God intended for man to master and care for the earth? Despite our failure to live up to our covenant with God, He repeatedly turns toward us, ever faithful, always merciful and just, ready to forgive.  


Just as the Israelites gazed upon a bronze serpent raised up for them, so the Lord Jesus is lifted up on the cross, and we gaze also and are healed of our sinful failures. May God guide us to new heights this day, like a shepherd He carries us home. Healed, we are called to proclaim His salvation to the ends of the earth.


We are fast approaching the final days of the Lenten Season. We have walked with the Lord and looked within these Lenten days and now we present ourselves to the Lord asking forgiveness for our sins.


It is fitting that we enter Holy Week having cleansed ourselves through the sacrament of reconciliation. The Church reminds us that we should confess our sins at least once each year during the Lent-Easter season, and receive the Lord in Holy Communion. This is not only for souls who, for whatever reason, are referred to as Christmas and Easter Catholics, but all of us in our sinfulness are to humble ourselves, seeking the Lord's forgiveness. Is it possible that we can become so righteous in our religiosity that we in our pride sin egregiously?


How will we approach the Triduum and the feast of the Resurrection? Must we not humble ourselves before our merciful Lord, who loves beyond our ability to understand? The images fill our minds and hearts, the woman of Samaria is me, and the man born blind reminds me of my own inability to live in the light. Lazarus being freed from the tomb and released from his binding cords, the woman caught in adultery and forgiven by Jesus and her accusers sent away in their sinful judgment. The elders who lusted after Susanna and were exposed by Daniel; God's mercy is displayed before us in the Scriptures, and we are reminded "Do not be afraid.” Come to the Lord seeking  forgiveness and the grace to live as His very dear children.


 May the coming Easter Season be a time of renewal and deepening faith as we seek to become all that God intended us to be. May each of us find brothers and sisters in our social relationships whom God is inviting us to evangelize and call to faith. Let your light shine! 


Even in the doubt, confusion, and distrust that creep into the human condition, God is still present and willing to demonstrate that presence. When Jesus commands Lazarus to rise from the tomb (John 11:1-45), after having lain there for four days, He is clearly providing strength to his friends, Martha and Mary. They were in the throes of doubt and distrust, practically chastising Jesus for not having made His presence sooner, in time to “save” Lazarus from death. 


Also in this account, we see the foretelling of “Doubting Thomas”. In this particular moment he exhibits “bravado”, by saying to the Lord, “Let us go die with Him” (a reference to the fact that they were returning to Judea, where Jesus’ life was in danger). Yet we know, that shortly Thomas’ bravado will disappear and ONLY when he visibly sees the wounds of Christ does his strength of faith return. 


So, here we have concrete examples of Jesus’ identity coming forth, literally, to bring strength. In our humanness, we must ask ourselves, “Exactly what does it take for me to recognize God’s presence in my life?” In times of crisis, moments of confusion and distrust, from whom do I draw strength? 


Lord, help me to nurture my faith daily and not wait for a crisis to shake me from my complacency. May I recognize You in my daily life and value every blessing with deep gratitude in thought, word, and deed. Amen.

Paul B

Today as we continue with Jesus toward His ultimate sacrifice for our salvation, in John 7:40-47, we meet Nicodemus. The stage, as we close in, is set all around in confusion. There is confusion among the people, among the guards, and even among the leaders, regarding who Jesus actually is. 


Is He a prophet?

Is He a blasphemer? 

Is He the Christ, the Messiah?

Is He, as He claims, the Son of God?


We see a variety of responses from people, ranging from amazement, belief, disbelief, contempt, and even timidity. Nicodemus, one of the leaders, is very timid and confused – not quite ready to stand up for Jesus, but certainly not ready to condemn Him. This brings up the question, as we close in on the commemoration and celebration of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection: who is Jesus to me? 


Am I truly ready, willing, and able to stand in full allegiance to Him in my Christian life? Am I prepared to face mockery? Opposition? My suffering, though most not likely the caliber of His, may come in many forms in this human condition.


Lord, allow me to take my confusion and move beyond the timidity or confusion that this world creates. One cannot be “indifferent” when faced with the choices of recognizing who You are to us in our human condition. Guide me in my discernment and cure me of all “indifference”. May Your Courage and Strength be mine to face and defeat this life’s confusion with inward and outward allegiance to You, trading it for peace, joy, and eternal glory! Amen.

Paul B

The book of Wisdom, 2:12-24, foretells the passion and suffering that He endured for our Salvation. Ultimately, we know He came to pay the price for our ignorance and denial of the fact that He made us in His own image, which is to be imperishable and enjoy His eternal goodness. But, through our own selfishness and envy, sin enters the world. 


Using terms from today’s technology we “fast forward” into the New Testament where we read in John 7:1-30, how Jesus, knowing that He would ultimately suffer for the sake of softening our hardened and stubborn hearts, also showed wisdom and prudence, allowing His time to come to pass. He did not ‘sneak around’ nor did he ever deny who he was, but he was cautious and careful as to where He made His presence. He knew all along that the plan was for Him to suffer and die, so that He could be raised up, as an example of the ultimate Power of His father. 


Do we apply that same principle to our lives? We hear (or say), often in a flippant manner, there are only two sure things in life: Death and Taxes. But do we mean it?  Most of us cut our tax checks in a timely manner. But, do we “cut our due to Him” in a timely, wise, prudent manner?


In the next 2 weeks preparing for Easter, Christians from around the world mourn and celebrate Christ’s passion and resurrection. What are we doing to recognize our own lives as a “passion”? Are we living in a prudent and discerning manner, knowing that our time for death from our human condition is pending and, more importantly, planning for the prize which He laid out for us? As Christians we are called to join Christ’s mission here and now: May strength and courage be ours today to live wisely and prudently so as to gain eternal life!

Paul B

John 5:31-37 finds Jesus pointing out the evidence of Who He is and from Whom He has been sent as being in plain sight of all. In His “defense”, He points out that John the Baptist had repeatedly borne witness to Him. Also, Jesus asserts the Father as His “Ultimate Witness”, not boasting of miracles performed, rather of the Power from which they come. Finally, He uses the Old Testament Scriptures, pointing to Himself as the New, fulfilling the Old, as promised/foretold through Moses’ leadership. 


We see this theme (fulfillment of the Old in the New) again, as we did in yesterday’s readings. Today we make a comparison to Ex 32:7-14, where Moses pleads with God to spare the people of His Wrath, though they had turned against Him in doubt/fear. We find the Lord honoring Moses’ pleas/reminders of His promise of Salvation. Then, Moses returns to the people and continues to witness to them, on God’s behalf. Jesus, in turn, reminds us that He is sent by the Father for the same purpose:  God’s eternal goodness and promise of Salvation.


Do we believe Moses in the words of the Old Testament? Do we believe the Promises thus fulfilled in the New Testament? We see two supporting themes running here: Witness and Sent. How do we apply these themes in our lives? 


Lord, help me to be a Witness to you in all that I say, think, and do. You sent many to bear witness to Your Goodness, ultimately, Your Son. Send me forth, in your Spirit, each day, to bear witness to You and the fact that You were sent to clear the path to Righteousness and Eternal Salvation.

Paul B

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Psalm 95:8). 

Today’s scriptural journey led me to Isaiah 49: 8-15, where we are foretold about the day of salvation, when we shall no longer hunger, thirst or be afflicted for the Lord will restore His people. Then, in John 5:17-30, we see yet again, the “Old fulfilled in the New” as Jesus makes clear that those who follow the ways of the Father will pass from death to life – to His Eternal Life that has been promised from all ages and will be for all ages.


The religious authorities of Jesus’ time had difficulty understanding this fulfillment of the Old Testament in Jesus. Instead, they had “blinders” on and focused solely on what they believe was apparent blasphemy in His claims of Who He is and, more blatantly, His violation of Sabbath rules – the audacity to heal the sick on the Sabbath, a day of rest. What they miss here, and what we are called NOT to miss is the fact that to accept Him now is to accept an eternal life of abundant peace and joy with God. To reject Him, we freely choose death and the inability to hear His voice both here and, most importantly, in the days of Salvation, which are to come. 


Lord, as Psalm 95 asks, allow me to keep a heart open to Your call and ears prepared to hear Your voice. I pray, daily, that I stand at the ready to follow You and do Your Father’s will, as You showed us to do.  Grant me grace and wisdom to be more faithful to Your Word and Your call.

Paul B

 “Do you really want to be healed?”

This is the question that Jesus asks the man at the pool and asks all of us. And, He longs for our answer! First, we have to behave like persons who want to be healed.  Our thoughts, word and action must reflect a person who recognizes that to choose life and health, we must make decisions in that direction. The same is true of choosing a healthy spiritual life and this decision to “be better” is the first step we must take if we are to answer Jesus’ call to wellness.


In John 5:1-16, Jesus simply tells the man who had been sick for 38 years to get up, take your mat, walk and be well, which he does. In the Old Testament Reading, Ezekiel 47:1-12, Ezekiel is given a vision of the rivers of living water flowing from God’s heavenly throne and that this water will bring healing and restoration to all people. Again, we see the New Testament bringing fulfillment to the Old when Jesus performs miracles demonstrating the Power of God’s coming kingdom through healing.


Lord, put in my heart a burning desire to be healed and transformed in Your holiness. May Your Holy Spirit renew in me a love and desire to please you and answer a hearty “Yes” to Your question:  “Do you want to be healed”. And, allow my “yes” to be a daily decision in my personal, spiritual, and professional life through my thought, word, and deed.

Paul B