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

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Jesus’ Way of the Cross requires unconditional love of self-sacrifice! Today’s reading and reflection give us cause and pause to ask ourselves, “To what extent have I been able to follow the example of Jesus’ selfless giving in my own life?” In Matthew16:21-25 Jesus begins “breaking the news” to His disciples of his pending suffering through trial and crucifixion, followed by His Triumphant Resurrection.  


His disciples, not understanding, objected to His prophecy. Jesus, in turn, rebukes them (and, specifically Peter, no wonder, as we have already learned of Peter’s willingness to jump forward and speak, oftentimes without thinking what he is getting himself into with his bold statements and promises). Jesus, to make his point to Peter, quickly rebukes him saying, “Get behind me Satan…”  His objective is to help Peter realize that all of His teachings and examples in this life are opposite of Satan’s.  


In our human condition, therefore, we must make the constant effort to think on God’s terms rather than our own human terms. There was a craze a few years back (and you still see some evidence of it today) called “W.W.J.D.”.  You saw this on shirts, bracelets and other jewelry, marquees, etc… “What Would Jesus Do?” This “fad of the day” was very popular and used in conversations, sermons and lecture topics. The problem with a fad, such as this one, is that when it comes to the hard work of actually answering and responding to the question, many hesitate and stumble! Jesus clearly states, that to be a follower we must renounce ourselves, take up the cross, and follow.  


Lord, give me the patience, guidance, and wisdom to delve into Your Word and Ways and truly seek to find and live the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do.”  May we labor for you this weekend and every day forward! 

Paul B


We listen to the parable of the man who left for a period of time and has gifted some of his workers with talents, money and responsibility and will look at what each has done when he returns.


Gone for a significant period of time, he returns and the man to whom he has entrusted more returns twice what he had been given. The second man also demonstrates he has shown increase. The third however who had received least, dug a hole and saved what he had been given. The first two are rewarded with more and greater responsibilities and are enabled to grow rich. The last who did not increase or do anything to produce, has his gifts taken from him and he is banished.


The story is quite clear: God gives us gifts and to serve Him with those gifts, we must answer the question of knowing who we are in truth and humility. That answer is often found in knowing what we have been blessed with to serve God, in serving one another. Paradoxically it is in giving profusely what we have been given, sharing our talents and increasing the wonder of God's kingdom in the process that we come to the fullness of life, to the riches God intended for us to enjoy not just in this earthly journey, but for an eternity. In faith we seek to live as children of God, all that we say and do we strive to give glory to God.


The mystery of God demands we live in faith. We are to trust in the God who has given us life and all the blessings and talents and created things that will sustain us and guide us to our destiny with Him forever. Living in faith, living to be true disciples bring the Kingdom to fullness, we find the JOY God intended for us. We come to a deeper understanding as we grow in faith, what we learned early in our Christian walk: God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and be happy with Him in this world and forever.



Today we find John the Baptist paying the price for calling “sin….SIN”. 

In Mark 6:22-28, we find John paying the ultimate price—his life—due to two things: his own willingness to accept, fully, God’s Grace, Truth, and Life and, Herod’s unwillingness to do so. Herod, though he knew what is right, was unable to accept God’s grace publicly. Because he got caught up in the emotion human pleasure, he made boastful promises rooted in material desire, rather than Godly Will. While the intent of his promise to Herodias’ daughter was material (“I will give up to half of my kingdom”), he did not anticipate that his promise of “anything” would result in a request for the “head of John the Baptist”. 


Once made, his pride and arrogance were more powerful than his quest for God’s truth and grace. Herod did not have enough strength from God to stand up against the people’s watchful eyes to see if he would keep his arrogant promise. Here we must be reminded that God, if we but ask, will give us the strength to do what is right, even (especially) when standing against the “tide of human desire”.  


Jeremiah 1:18-19 tells us, “….I make you, this day, a fortified city, an iron pillar….against the whole land… They will fight against you but they shall not prevail for I am with you….”  So, in reading of Herod’s weakness we must ask ourselves if we are truly prepared/equipped and ready to be a witness for Jesus Christ?  John the Baptist was; Herod was not! 


John spent his life announcing the way of the Lord. Herod, on the other hand, spent his in opulence as the most powerful and wealth man in Judea. He had all he wanted in material wealth and possession. But, in the end, he had everything but a clear conscience and peace. It is evident that Herod had a respect for John and feared him as a prophet of God. But he allowed his material and carnal desire to prevail.  


Lord, as I ponder John’s strength and the source of that strength and I consider Herod’s weakness, give me faith, boldness, and courage to stand firm in Your truth and not waver in my knowledge, belief, and testimony to that Truth!

Paul B


Feast of St. Augustine

Late have I loved you, 

O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, 

late have I loved You!  

You were within me, but I was outside, 

and it was there that I searched for You.  

In my unloveliness 

I plunged into the lovely 

things which You created.  

You were with me, but I was not with You.  

Created things kept me from You; 

yet if they had not been in You 

they would not have been at all.  

You called, you shouted, 

and You broke through my deafness.  

You flashed, you shone, 

and You dispelled my blindness.  

You breathed your fragrance on me; 

I drew in breath and now I pant for You.  

I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more.  

You touched me, and I burned for Your peace. 


St. Augustine 



The raw exposure of the importance of LIVING our faith continues as we read Jesus’ continued “dressing down” of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23: 27-32. Today Jesus warns them and us about being "dressed up tombs” containing “dead bones”. A term I once heard was (outward) “display of religiosity” versus our internal values. He accuses the religious leaders of looking upright on the outside, but their hearts are full of hypocrisy—lack of true belief (knowledge) in and of God’s desire for each. 


Jesus’ forthright words to the scribes and Pharisees should cause us to ask ourselves, do we “practice what we preach”? Do we “use” God’s name and pursuit of His word and knowledge for our own self glory, or do we seek, find, and act for His Greater Glory? As we strive to excel in holiness we must remember two things that the scribes and Pharisees seemingly forgot:  seeking God’s word is imperative, but we must not place a lower priority on God’s Love (His command to “love they neighbor”).  They found it more important to concentrate on laws and rituals than on this command.  In 1 John 4:8 it says, “….the man without love has known nothing of God….”  


The second is that by neglecting God’s love, we hinder/limit our own ability to personally love Him. The first and primary command (Deuteronomy 6:5) is to love God before all else. By disregarding these two things, we are serving God through ritual, but neglecting to truly live His love in heart AND deed.  Let’s look within—is there anything in our lives more important than loving God? What priority did we place YESTERDAY on His Love in our lives? What priority will we give Him/It today? 


Lord God, Heavenly Father, direct my heart with Your wisdom and teach me your ways so that I am filled with Your Spirit.  May my heart’s desires be Yours and my actions mirror that desire.

Paul B



The Word of God comes to us each day in the reading at the liturgy. The Church has wisely put together a three year cycle of Scripture selections to provide the faithful with a rich fare of God's love letters. 


Sometimes we hear or read the Gospel and are jarred by the stern tone of Jesus’ comments. For instance in today's Gospel as told by Matthew, Jesus upbraids the Scribes and Pharisees for their emphasis on practical realities while missing the whole point of God's message to His people. Their tithing and keeping of liturgical rituals are good things, but Jesus points out that their emphasis on these rituals are a smoke screen for their failure to see the important reality. 


In their zeal for doing things to perfection, they fail to be merciful where mercy is required, they fail to act justly and they are not being faithful.  


How about you and I? We also can become so focused on doing things to perfection and demanding that perfection of others that we fail to see when we need to be merciful, where justice is often ignored as we seek our pound of flesh for imagined hurts. In our busy lives we seek success, comfort, self-indulgence and ignore the development of our faith life. 


Can we make time today to sincerely examine our lives, our motives, our relationships with each other that reflect our relationship with Jesus the Christ? Put into words for yourself how you would describe your relationship with Jesus, the Risen Lord! 




Yesterday, during his sermon, our pastor made reference to how we identify each other. He said at home, people often ask him, “Are you the son of James, you look like him?” I, too, get that when I visit my parents; “You must be Roland’s son—you look just like him.”  


He made this comparison to us as Christians—as people look at us and our daily example, do they say, “You must be God’s Son (or daughter)”?  Do they say, “He or she must be a Christian.”  As believers in Christ, we are called to believe and know that God made us “in His “image, therefore, He desires that our thoughts and deeds be reflective of His image, as well.  


In Matthew 23-13-22, Jesus continues His “reprimand” of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in action, versus their knowledge of and “observance” of law—He accuses them of burdening themselves and others with stringent religious observances, while living their daily faith with insincerity and self-righteousness.  He points out the confusion that these religious leaders cause with their words and actions taking divergent paths. In reading this, we must ask ourselves if we, as Christians, are leading ourselves and others to Christ through our life’s example? Or, can we better examine our attitudes and behaviors to see where God is challenging us to be more “authentic” in our Christian Living?  


As another example, look at any large city where huge corporations display their names upon the most beautiful, clean, monumental buildings. These companies do not boast on grimy, run-down buildings. Let our Christianity be the same. Let us bear the name of Jesus on a “building” that is attractive enough for others to see and WANT to see. Yes, Jesus loves us even if we are “run down”, however, as His ambassadors, we should want to properly exalt and display His Holy Name and Will. The world around us is watching as we display our Christianity in word AND action. How is our life exemplifying Christ?  


Lord, give me the strength to LIVE the Word that I proclaim as a follower of Christ and seeker of God’s Will for me!

Paul B 


Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Who do you say that I am? This question leaps out from this Sunday's gospel on the 21st week of Ordinary time. It is not a question today for the Ancients but a question directed to you and to me! 


Who do you say Jesus is?  Is He some historical figure you hear talked about in the Gospels, or in sermons or homilies? Who is He in the very fabric of your and my life? What would you tell your children, your friends, those closest to you? Who Is Jesus the Christ? 


For instance, what would you write to this site, ( to tell the readers who you say Jesus Christ is? We know that Peter in the Gospels said Jesus was the Son of the living God. We know from Matthew Jesus told the Apostles not to tell anyone He was the Son of God, the Messiah. Now in your life, in your experience, in your faith, who do you say Jesus is? Really, who is Jesus to you? How does your belief who Jesus is effect your living?  


There are many things you have read, heard, even proclaimed about Jesus. To how many persons have you introduced Him? I feel sure you have told some persons, that Jesus loved them, God loves them—how evident is it in our living that we love Jesus? 


There is so much in my own living that forces me to my knees pleading for forgiveness for my failures in loving and doing what I should, for my unloving acting, failure to reach out, committing sin both in act and in omission.  I want to do the good, but too often I do what I do not want. Saint Paul indicated a similar tendency in his epistles. 


Our Father, the words fall trippingly for my lips, and so soon after praying them, I am off on doing my own thing, too often oblivious of the God who has given me all. I must respond to the question again and again, and sincerely come to know who I am in the presence of the Jesus who I claim with Peter to be the Son of the living God. 


Risen Lord, hear my prayer and come to my aid. 



Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”


Do as they say, not as they do, Jesus is saying in the Gospel from Matthew. Following the law is one thing; yet practicing it is another as we also learn in our lives today. With our attitudes toward our faith and what it holds for us, we can sometimes be lukewarm in our application of the commandments, making them fit the occasion instead of making the occasion fit them.


We get in our own ways so to speak, showing off what we think we know when in fact, what we don’t want to know is more evident in our actions and words. The things we don’t want to know being the Truth of the Gospel and the emphasis it should have on our lives. Our rules, our methods become our habits and our way of life instead of following what is laid out for us in scripture. We bend what we have learned to fit what we need at the time. The Pharisees did so likewise with their observation of the law. Indeed, the proverbial double standard then as it is today. Few if any of us are without fault.


As much as we are centered on Christ and our path toward holiness, we must also be aware that we are not about being better than the next guy, seeking the best place at the table, or the highest honor to be awarded. As nice as they might be, they are not our rights to have such, no matter how much we think we may have ‘earned’ them. Whatever it is that we have, whoever it is that we are, all that we have become, is gift from our God. And it is God who makes us who we are and the gifts He gives us we use to serve Him as we serve others. He would have practice what we proclaim.


“God is Love!”  

This is a statement that we hear and, often and sadly, it is taken for granted and misunderstood. In Matthew 22:34-40, we find Jesus, upon being challenged and tested by the Pharisees, using love to answer the question, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Their goal, unfortunately, was to test Jesus in hopes that He would fail and commit some form of blasphemy, thus allowing them to arrest Him.


In His ultimate wisdom, knowing that it was not yet His “time”, and knowing the true answer, Jesus summarizes the whole of the law, the precepts of the Torah - the Law of Moses and the numerous scholarly commentaries on the law, in two commandments:  You shall love the Lord with heart, soul and might and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  These two commandments make “love” an “action verb”.  


While it is pretty simple to SAY, “God is Love”, we are challenged here to love God with our heart, soul, and might. That is to say, in all that we are called to do so in all we are and do! In turn, we are called to recognize our own dignity through His Love and affirm that dignity through the way we treat others. 1 John 3:1 and 4:7-8 tell us that God is love and everything He does flows from His love for us—wanting us to serve/be in His image. Knowing that God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns, we are called then to ask ourselves daily, “Do we put Him first in our thoughts, word and deed?”  


God loved us first; therefore our love for Him is a response to his goodness and kindness. If our love is rooted in His love, the more we know of and seek His love, thus gaining continuous and increasing understanding of His goodness, truth, and, love. Thus, if God is love and we are created by Him, in His image, we strive to become perfect in that love. If we are truly rooted in His love, we are called to action to be an example of that love in our interactions with others. 


Lord, Your love surpasses all. Fill my heart with Your love so that my faith in You  is worthy of Your promises to those who believe. In turn, may my love of you be reflected in my service to my fellow man. God is Love! May my life be an example of that love in my life’s deeds.

Paul B



Ezekiel 36:23-28 

Thus says the LORD: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it. Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you. For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 


We sometimes, if not often, forget our roots when things are going our way. The sun may be shining or, in some instances the rain would be pouring for those in need of more moisture, or all is well in the worlds in which we live. Even then, we forget that it is not about us but about the graces we’ve received along the way to get us where we are. As noted in Ezekiel, we’ve been ‘cleansed of our impurities’, and probably more than once or twice, to be where we are today as God proves His holiness through us. 


He ‘places His a new spirit within’ us as our cold hearts are replaced with His love and grace, spiritually and naturally. This happens by living according to His will and not our own, according to the gifts He has given us and using them as they have been meant to be used. His spirit is active and alive within us and is manifested by the way we witness it. It is on our path of holiness that those around us will see our renewed hearts, our spirits renewed each day. That is how we can be God’s instruments of peace, proclaiming all that is good through Him, with Him and in Him. Indeed, we shall be His people and He shall be our God. 



The key message from Matthew 20:1-16, is that that the love and mercy of God is generous beyond human understanding. The rewards of the Kingdom are given to all who labor—whether they have labored a lifetime or have come at the “last hour”. The reward is the same, but the motive for one’s efforts can make all of the difference DURING the time of labor. If working for the reward, one tends to put in the minimum effort and time (“I go to church for my time “EVERY” Sunday….”).  


After all of the lessons of the Gospel (and the Promises of the Old Testament), Paul reminds us in Col 3:23-24, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not others, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward—you are serving the Lord, Jesus Christ.” In pondering this, we ask ourselves, do we perform our daily responsibilities with cheer and diligence? Do we give to/for others in a generous fashion, our time? Thought? Prayer? We are called, not just for an hour or so on Sunday.  


In today’s parable, the workers who were selected by the vineyard master to work in the morning, and who worked all day, were resentful of the laborers who came in later in the day, yet earned the same wage. We are called to serve God’s Kingdom in every thought, moment, and deed—to make that conscious decision. Whether we choose to answer His call in the dawn of our human existence, at the “noon”, or in the twilight moments of life, God desires our CHOICE to answer, first and foremost.  As noted earlier (and learned from such as Ps 139) - The Lord knows our hearts’ ways/motives—we must truly turn to Him in soul, mind, thought, and deed!  In doing so, we shall be paid, “in full”, so long as our labor is for Him.  


May Your Spirit upon my heart so that my service is done joyfully and generously.  May I not look toward what I will get for such service, but to who is led Your rewards as a result of my example, turning to You. 

Paul B



This week the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus. We must make time to listen or read and reflect on His Word. 

In Ezekiel today God is particularly clear in His words to the prince of Tyre who he says is wise, very intelligent, successful, but considers himself a god. God is clear in Ezekiel's words, ‘you are not God and your enemies will prove that as they destroy you.’ 

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to the Apostles after they are experiencing a bit of despair after His encounter with the rich man. He points out the difficulty people with much stuff will experience in entering the Kingdom of Heaven. His example ‘ would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.’ That is clear enough, try imagining it the sheer impossibility! Yet Jesus makes clear what is not possible for human persons is possible for God.  


Are we in faith fully aware of the awesomeness of the Creator's power, His ability to create from nothing? Rather do we put our trust in our intelligence, our ability to produce all we need and carve out a successful life with all we need and then some? Today spend time in prayer asking the Lord for the faith to become childlike in trust and humility, willing to place all in His hands.



What a wonderful privilege we have each day to meet the Lord in His Word. The Church has wonderfully scheduled readings from God's Holy Word and provided us with a way to listen and learn from the Lord by spending a few moments each day reading and reflecting on what God desires to tell us.


Today we are provided a brief pericope from Ezekiel, the response from Deuteronomy and the Gospel reading from Matthew. As we slowly read these selections, we meet Ezekiel and see the Israelites in their turning away from God, forgetting the God who gave them birth. Then in the Gospel we meet again the Rich Young man. 


I marvel at this young man who comes to Jesus with the question, ‘What good must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus responds by telling him ‘Obey the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’, says the rich young man and Jesus directs him to the commandments that apply to loving one another.


I am humbled as this young man informs Jesus he has observed all of these, because I find myself unable to state that claim. Then Jesus points out to him and to me and you that if we seek to be perfect, we are to place all we have, all our possessions aside and focus on God. What is it that I possess that I would not be able to relinquish in order to follow Jesus in completeness? If we are sincere and honest in our discussion with Jesus today, I am sure most of us can discover what in our lives we would have great difficulty  selling in order to trust and follow Our Blessed Lord. What price would the Lord have to pay to gain our passionate willingness to follow Him? 


O God, whose only begotten Son who by His life, death and resurrection has gained for us eternal life...grant us the grace and faith to live Christ in our lives. Amen.




Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”

He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 

Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” 

And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.


Sometimes it’s that way with our faith and our prayer life. Is it that God is really rebuking us—as Jesus was disregarding the woman who was praying for the healing of her daughter? He did say the food was for the children, not for the dogs… yet the woman persevered. 


As she persisted, she eventually did she the results of her faith. As we persist, we may not see exactly what we had hoped for in our prayers and held out for in faith, yet what does come from those trusting prayers is the will we submit to that God would have us follow. We follow His will, not our own. As the woman held out hope, her faith was rewarded. As we hold faith and hope, ours too will be rewarded, just as God would have it.


God’s love and mercy applies to us all—believers and non-believers alike. From that love and mercy comes the peace that we live in once we acknowledge that it is in Him we must fully trust and surrender to. Where our path aligns— no where our path is His path—is what He wants for us and what we should want for ourselves. We should be accountable, we should be responsible, we should even be answerable to Him for all that we have and will be. 


Matthew 19-13-15 brings us back to Jesus’ desire, “Let the children come to Me.” We have explored the innocence of children’s acceptance of God, evident in their acceptance and willingness to please. Today, we take this to a human level and ask ourselves how we foster this desire in our youth and move it forward—or not!


The Lord is not only saying, “Let the children come to me”, He is calling us to reach out to them, be a model for them and not abandon them to pop culture, those that would secularize all “educational opportunities” and a God-less media. We must think about our actions as parents, teachers, spiritual models and positive adult examples. Do we hinder our children from coming to Jesus through our words and actions? If we worship without enthusiasm our youth turn to pop culture, rather than to God. If we compromise or worse, substitute the lessons of the Gospel with materialistic values our hypocrisy naturally turns off their natural desire to seek that which is good. 


Most of us do not hinder the children from Christianity in an intentional manner. We bring our babies to the church with wonder and excitement. We often celebrate christenings/baptisms and other religious sacraments or milestones. We delight in their innocence of knowing that Jesus loves them and they love Jesus! At some point, children begin transitioning to higher-level reasoning.  “Letting” them come to Jesus does not absolve us of adult responsibility in providing guidance and example so our children SEE that “letting them come to Him” is desirable.  


Lord, may we never hinder our children from seeing and receiving the Blessings of Your Power and Love. Help us guide our youth in the direction of strong faith and character to follow You! As they (and we) grow in age, may we all retain the child-like acceptance, simplicity, and humility that draws us fully into Your Presence.

Paul B


The Solemnity of the Assumption! Sometimes I marvel at how we allow these special days come and go with barely a notice. Oh, there will be a number of Saints who will come together to celebrate the Eucharist, aware that this is as they say—a Holy Day of Obligation.


I wonder in quiet moments do I—do we—need  to have a directive, obliging  us to come to praise God, to receive Christ in this wondrous mystery of the Eucharist?  What treasure would draw you to drop everything to be part of an event? Imagine how much some of us will sacrifice to be at a performance of some "star"? We will even travel far, give large sums to be at a rock concert, a brief moment of headiness and emotion.


Yet, while we profess to believe that in the Eucharist we enter into an intimate relationship with God, in Jesus, we often can find other pursuits more important.  Some are heard to say that "mass" is boring! If I find it boring, it is a failure within me to hear, to see, to experience what is happening with eyes of faith!


Today we celebrate with wonder what God has done. We see Jesus preparing a special place and a special reception for His Mother, and she whom He presented to us as our Mother in the life of the Church. 


Mary, Queen of Heaven, who sings of the wonders God has done and is doing for His children, the lowly who inherit the earth. Mary who intercedes for us all, who comes to us always to draw us to her Son, Jesus.  

Mary who continues to give birth to her son in the lives of those who come to the Lord in humility and repentance.


Today may you make time to be in the presence of Mary and Jesus, make time to slowly reflect on her song of praise, in the Gospel, her Magnificat. Let that prayer linger in your thoughts throughout this day. May Mary and Jesus walk with you through this day’s events.



Ezekiel 12:1-12

The word of the LORD came to me:

Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile,  and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile; while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it; while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness; cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.

I did as I was told. During the day I brought out my baggage as though it were that of an exile,
and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, ask you what you were doing? Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. I am a sign for you:  as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug out in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.


Ezekiel could not have made it much clearer with his actions. Maybe the Israelites would get the message if they saw what he was doing. Maybe they would understand it more clearly if God delivered His message through His prophet by having him pack his bags and dig his way out, carrying the burden as he did. Or maybe not. 


Ezekiel did as he was told and still had to remind the people of Israel that he was a sign for them. They too should prepare themselves to go into the darkness of exile and ‘shoulder their burdens’, covering their faces so as not to be seen by anyone. From a house of rebellion, they will pass into exile for they have ears but do not listen and eyes but will not see. 


Similar to our lives in those times we refuse to acknowledge our own sinfulness. For those times we are above even ourselves it seems with pride and envy and selfishness—all about us instead of all about our faith and others. The hole we dig just gets deeper as the pride gets more in our way when forgiveness and mercy would be the bring us out of the depths and darkness. So many times we wonder why we wait to forgive when it would be the easiest thing to do—less baggage for ourselves and more trust in the ways that God would have deal with what have to carry


Matthew 18:15-20 provides us several key points about relationships, not only with God but with each other. First, Jesus tells us that the best way to address a real or perceived “wrong” against you from another person is to speak directly and privately to the person with whom you have the concern. To brood over the wrong or, worse, to dwell on it with others to whom it is no concern, only poisons the mind and heart and presents difficulty in ultimately presenting it to the person who is at the root of the cause/problem. 


As He proceeds in advising how to deal with human relationship difficulties, He advises us to see the help of other wise Christians if a problem between two individuals is seemingly insurmountable. Most of us believe that to surround ourselves with “like-minded” people is the best way to grow. Jesus affirms the idea that there is “power in numbers”; that if you want to grow in the Spirit, you must seek the company/counsel of others who share the same desire.  


One must note, in this passage, that the emphasis is not on putting the person who offended you “on trial”, rather, it is to repair a broken relationship or bond.  Reconciliation and solutions for reconciliations must be based on Christ’s love and the Wisdom of the Spirit, his focus. 


Finally, Jesus does not advocate total abandonment of those who do not respond immediately to our individual and collective efforts to share and exemplify His values and Will. Simply look at His own example throughout His life, having fellowship with tax collectors and other “known sinners” of the day. God, ultimately refuses no one who opens himself to pardon, healing, and restoration of heart, mind and soul. 


Lord, make me an instrument of your healing love and grace. Give me the wisdom to share your saving truth with my fellow man and seek to build your kingdom on earth, so as to strengthen your eternal kingdom.

Paul B



The disciples, in Matthew 18:1-14, ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Don’t we, in our humanness seem to have an appetite for glory and greatness? Most of us, in our desires, strive to be somebody whom others admire, look up to, or see as an example. The question then becomes, “whose glory do we seek?”  Even the Psalms (such as 8:5) say, “You have made them little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” Again, whose glory? 


As stated in previous reflections, the answer is “simple, but not easy.” To make a dramatic point, Jesus pulls a child toward him and says that to be truly great we must be like a child. To understand the drama behind this, we must first understand that children, in this time, had no rights, position, or privilege outside of serving their parents. By placing a child in such a position of honor, at His side.  To understand this, one only has to be around a four or five year old child for a few minutes to understand that he/she is humble and lowly—simple, if you will. Children, as a general rule, have a wonder and joy about them, intertwined with a simple dependence upon the adults in their lives to steer them right—and a trust that this will be done. This is what God desires from us—The simple of heart know that God is their Provider, their teacher, their Father. Just as a child, they are content in recognition and understanding of God as the source of goodness. 


Lord, guide me to humility and simplicity so as to find joy in You. May my face shine with the wonder and radiance, just like that of a child, upon seeing the simple goodness you offer. May others see that wonder and be drawn to You through me.

Paul B


How wonderfully God provides for us in and through His Church. Jesus took flesh, born of the Virgin Mary and lived among His creation. Not only that, He freely submitted to suffering a violent, sinners death on the cross. Rising from death, He appeared to His chosen apostles and commissioned them to go out to all nations and proclaim Him.


We are the ones who today receive the blessings of His love, His humility, as the Apostolic Church continues to lead us to the Kingdom. Each day we are provided with the Word, food for the journey in the scriptures presented to us, and in the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself.


The gift of faith is a light which enables us to begin to understand the wonder and mystery of it all. Today, we stand with Ezekiel and with eyes of faith glimpse the vision of God's glory. It is all around us and in truth too often in our weak faith we do not see.


We, like the Apostles, need to listen to Jesus. We listen to the Gospel and enter into mental conversation with Jesus. We enter into conversation with each other, we listen to the Spirit of God spoken through the one chosen to speak to us in the celebration of the Word.


And this day, we are with Simon Peter going fishing. After stating to His Apostles He would suffer and die, Jesus deals with the subject of the temple tax. Who charged the tax? Who is exempt? Jesus is fully aware of His identity as Son of God and as such, directs Peter to do something that I feel sure we would most likely find amusing.  Go catch a fish, the first one you catch with have the temple tax for us both in its mouth. Really? Yes, truly, we would find that amusing as well.


 Just as Jesus paid the price for our salvation, God is always there to provide for us, His bounty knows no end.  His love is beyond measure. May we be graced today to see Him clearly through the eyes of faith and may our hope be evident in all our endeavors. May His love be seen in all we say and do.




Fear is one of the greatest and common obstacles to truly deepening our faith—and, that fear is rooted in doubts that pop into our minds and hearts when we encounter trials, challenges, or simply moments that are out of the routine of our “normal lives”.  


Last week we reflected upon the reading in which Peter, instinctively and “in-character”, ventures out of the boat onto the stormy seas, to walk towards Jesus.  And, after just a few steps, is plagued with nagging doubt and fear, thus sinking into the water, (Matthew 14:22-31). Today, in revisiting this passage, we focus on Peter’s willingness to take a “leap of faith”, leaving the boat and being tossed around by wind-whipped seas, venturing into the stormy sea and walking toward Jesus.  


Throughout the Gospels Peter is the impulsive one, always ready to act without first thinking. But we also know that these actions are first and foremost, rooted in a desire to please God through demonstrations of faith and total trust. Here, in Peter’s moment of fear (and failure, as he loses focus and begins to sink) he did not give up in despair. Rather, when He begins to waver, he reaches out a clutches the outstretched hand of the Lord and holds on tightly. In fact, every time Peter stumbles, Jesus is there with an outstretched hand, just as He is there for all of us!  


As we watch Peter’s faith life unfold, we see that his shortfalls and stumbles in his journey only draw him closer to Jesus, because he ultimately trusts in His mercy and aid.  


Lord, in contemplating Peter’s willingness to venture into the stormy seas, I pray that I, too, have the trust and confidence to never doubt Your presence and power over all. Though I will surely encounter moments of doubt and fear, give me the strength and desire to move towards You during the storms and trials of this life, knowing that Your outstretched hand is there for me to cling to during those moments. May I see and take Your outstretched hand! 

Paul B



God is good! How often do we just say the words. Yesterday at Mass I felt particularly grace-filled as I felt awash with God's blessings. The good news of a granddaughter seen and alive! The wealth of well-wishers acknowledging that God has blessed me with the completion of 78 years on the 7th. Indeed, God is good, God is fantastic.


In the Gospel, we are reminded that Jesus who humbled Himself, and became a man, took up the cross to give us life for eternity. We are reminded we too are called to take up the cross. In taking up the cross, we should keep in mind the goal of our way of the cross. 


Jesus also told us His yoke is easy and His burden light. Can we listen carefully and heedfully in order to get it right? The call is unity with the Lord. The call is to be in relationship with a person, the living God, the resurrected Jesus who will come to dwell with us IF we open ourselves up to Him totally. 


May the wonder of God's grace fill the hearts and minds of all of you who are an inspiration to me, and to all those in need, in their struggles.



As an educator, I have spent my life “selling” kids and their parents on the value of education—this as preparation for adult life and creating the best knowledge and skill foundation for a profitable adulthood. We tell kids that education and personal growth of skill and knowledge is important—and it is! 


Today, in Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus challenges us to ponder the most important investment we can make—Our Life. Our Eternal Life! Jesus’ statement, “and then He will reward each one according to his behavior” brings home the stark reality of our greatest investment. Yes, it is true, that we are given skills and talents, all by the grace of God, by which to live our earthly lives. But, just as it is incumbent upon us to build those skills and talents through pursuit of knowledge, we are reminded that the highest pursuit—God’s Will, cannot be placed, in value, below these material pursuits. To do so, we risk losing the prize of our ultimate investment—life in Christ Jesus!  


Jesus “tells it how it is” when He says we will be rewarded for our earthly behavior—and he spends His earthly mission teaching, preaching, and modeling the Way to that reward. And he does not claim it will be easy. In fact, we are called to understand that in deep love for Him we must open our hearts to receive His strength. To take up His cross requires us to unite and surrender our pains and trials to those of Jesus. Only then can we be transformed and realize our earthly trials, just like His, are redemptive offerings for our own eternal salvation.  


Lord give me the strength today and every day to discern and take up the challenges You have laid before me and to carry them with the same courage and love You shared for me in carrying Your Cross. Prepare my heart and mind to offer the only thing You desire—my Life committed to Your Will - and that all You have given me may be used for Your Glory in this life so as to earn eternal life in Your Presence.

Paul B



Throughout the Gospels we find that Peter is the Apostle who is always willing, bold enough, to speak first, sometimes even putting his foot in his mouth—but, always for the right reason. He is like the kid in class who always has his hand up first. Or the guy in the organizational meeting who is the first to make a motion.. Always willing to step forward, sometimes without thought, always with the right intention.  


In Matthew 16;13-23 we find the same situation. Jesus “calls His disciples out” with two questions, “Who do people say I am?”,  and, more pointedly, “Who do YOU say I am?”  Of course, Peter answers first with, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And here, with this simple acknowledgement of faith from a simple fisherman, Jesus establishes His church, upon the only true faith, 


This faith must be built on the foundation of that acknowledgement—The ROCK-SOLID acknowledgement of Jesus as God’s Son!  We see Jesus using Peter’s name, which means “Rock”, to make the analogy that the church, Christ’s body of believers in faith, must build upon a solid foundation. Later, in 1 Peter 2:4-5, Peter brings forth this concept: “Come to Him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sigh of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be build into a spiritual house….through Jesus Christ.”  


Of course, we see yet another fulfillment of the Old Testament, in which the Son of God, Himself, is referred to as the “Cornerstone (which builders rejected….)” – Psalm118:22.  A solid structure is build upon a cornerstone, Christ is the structure of our faith.  In turn, the foundation is strengthened by stone and rock. The building of the body of believers (faith in Christ Jesus), therefore, requires us to be rocks or spiritual stones. Daily, we are tested with the same question which Peter so readily answers: “Who do You say that I am?”  


Lord, I profess that you are Christ, the Son of the Living God! Strengthen my faith so that, as Peter, I have a boldness to grow in You and be a living stone in the foundation of faith in You.

Paul B

Birthday Notes...
Opening one's self to God's will day in and day out is quite an accomplishment. Doing it as a son, brother, a husband and father and grandfather brings with it an even greater sense of priority and responsibility, if not accountability. Throw in the friendships one has and quite soon, living up to God's will really takes on the aspect of 'pre-sainthood' with all that 'pre-will' and free will thrown in.
Just as the early disciples did before him, Deacon opens his heart to hear and be what God would have him be. 
Enjoying the life God has given him with faith and family. 
Bearing the crosses he would bear... and still does.
Praying and offering up all the sanctity that comes his way.
He knows he can do no more for himself than God's will allows him to do. That's why he chooses God's will over his own.
And that's why he's not just 'a' deacon... but our 'Deacon'.
One of love. Of faith. Of heart. Of truth. Of friendship.
Happy Birthday to my good friend.
May this day be blessed and may God continue to grace with so many more.

Happy Birthday LGB!  

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus.  

Reflecting on the readings given us for this day, I wonder why we don't celebrate this day with gusto. How enthusiastic should we be as we reflect on the wonder of it all! 


Peter, James and John are chosen to experience this vision of Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father, God from God. They are told to tell no one of this vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. 


 We have been told. 


Does Jesus appear to us in our faith walk as transfigured? How do I react to the news of the Risen Christ? What is my response to the Lord of Life who comes to me in the Eucharist, the very Bread of Life?  


The voice of God comes loud and clear through the Scriptures read to me each day, and through the voice of the Spirit coming through God's messenger as He breaks open the Word. How often am I asleep and in need of Jesus' touch to awaken me to His presence in myriad ways?


As we pray, we often just mouth the words, especially those given to us by Jesus Himself in the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father. We should instead hopefully pray them and all prayers with the fullest intent possible.  

May this day be a renewal of minds and hearts and greater experience of Jesus Christ in our lives. 


Birthday notes...


As faith journeys go, we all are certainly 'going' on them. Some of us are journeying side by side with others, finding that someone wiling to share our burdens and our yokes. 

Some of us are opting to go it alone, or at least we think we're doing it as such, often trying to make reason out of insanity, if not faith out of luck or materialism.

Wherever we are along that path, we can find those that will always make an impression on us, near or far away. Jesus Christ did that as He made His journey, leading others to faith, a faith in Him. Those that were with Him, those that saw Him, those that were close enough to touch even His garment or tassel, came to believe in Him. There were those that soon followed because of their belief... near or far away, they believed.

Linda Boyd has that same sort of faith, near or far away. She knows that Jesus is always near, regardless of the path her journey takes her. Regardless of the trials and crosses that she shares with Him. She also knows that others, like those disciples with Christ, see it in her. Yes they do see it in her, near or far away. Like a red hot horseshoe, it does not take long to look at it. 

Her faith in God is real.

Her love for her family is real.

Her compassion for others is equally so.

Happy Birthday LGB!

May your days of faith, of love and of compassion continue to grow more splendidly in His grace and light.



A storm at sea violent enough to cause the apostles to be fearful. We too face storms in life that sometimes cause fear. Difficult situations that threaten life, loss of livelihood, loss of friendships, broken promises that change life ever so drastically are similar to that experience on the Sea of Galilee. 


How do we handle these storms that inevitably arise? Often we invite the Lord into our boat as we plead for His mercy and help. We might even make promises to be more attentive to our spiritual life. We are like Peter we ask the Lord to come into our life and respond to his invitation to walk with Him. 


Then, like Peter we experience the force of the storm and begin to doubt and find ourselves pleading for Jesus to save us. If we are faithful, if we endure we too discover what the apostles did when Jesus entered their boat the storm subsided. When we are truly faithful and open our minds and hearts to Jesus our storms subside. We find JOY even in the midst of difficulty.


May God in His compassion strengthen us! May we in our faithfulness lift one another up in prayer.


Request for special prayer intention:  Will all who pray with us join in intercessory prayer that we may receive news of my 19 year old granddaughter who has been missing since 19 July. 

May God watch over and protect her from harm.


Yesterday we read about Jesus taking five loaves and two fish and feeding the multitudes of over 5,000. Today, in Matthew 14:22-36, we continue our journey with the disciples as they cross the Sea of Galilee, upon Jesus’ direction, to wait for Him as He in turn goes up the hillside to pray. 


As night fell, the boat carrying the disciples had already departed and was several miles off shore. A windstorm had kicked up and was tossing the boat in the waves.  During this storm the disciples noticed Jesus walking towards them, on the water.  At first they were terrified, thinking they saw a ghost.  

Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter, as we learned earlier, was always one to step up boldly, said, “Lord, if is You, command me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus, called to him, “Come!” Peter immediately got out of the boat and began to walk towards Jesus. After a few steps, he began to doubt his decision to leave the security of the boat in the midst of a storm and he began to sink. He cried, “Lord, save me!” The Lord responded and did so. 


How often in our lives do we experience fear and withdraw from what the Lord has called us to do? How often are we like Peter, ready to jump out of the comforts of our life’s boat to serve Him in our churches, places of work, or in our interactions with friends? Then, when the call, “Come”, truly resounds, we shrink back in doubt? Today let us ask, “In the midst of life’s storm, am I able to seek and discern the Lord’s voice saying, “Come”? In life’s storm, am I able to feel His deep assurance of strength to move forward in His call?  


Lord, give me courage to trust in You and heed Your call with confidence that You are there, with hand outstretched, to comfort me in times of weakness and doubt, if I but heed Your call!

Paul B



Several months ago I found myself reflecting on the fact that the feeding of the multitude of 5000 is the only miracle that is recorded in all four gospel accounts.  Today, in reading the account in Matthew 14:13-21, I find myself reflecting on this from a different perspective.  

In pondering this miracle, we often hear sermons on “What God can do for us.”  Today I want to focus on the role of the disciples in this miracle—our role as disciples. In viewing this miracle, we see that the disciples have been placed in a most honored, fantastic position!  On one side, there is humanity; on the other, Jesus The human condition is one of continual hunger and daily need. The Lord, conversely, has a continual desire to feed, nourish, and satisfy our hunger.  Therefore, in the “divide”, God has placed His disciples (us, if we so choose) and charges us with feeding His people. 

What a gift and opportunity. Each of us has the choice to serve as a middle-man or ambassador, if you will, charged with providing opportunities to bridge humanity with God and His Eternal Salvation! Think about this—it is an ambassador’s dream. We have those (one group) with unceasing demand or need and we also have the Lord’s unending/unlimited ability and desire to supply what is needed to fill that need. In the world of politics, this would truly be a “match made in heaven” for an ambassador going out to represent his country and help others. From a business perspective, a salesman would envy any of his peers in a position of endless demand for the supply he is “peddling”. So, as disciples, should we not desire to be placed in this same position?  

Lord give us, Your disciples, a heart moved with compassion for all so that we share your Desire to feed the hungry —and help fill ourselves and others with Your Word and Presence through our example of Your Love!

Paul B


Where do we find the strength to stand up and do what is right in the face of temptations of this human condition? In the face of our daily living we have many influences around us and often these influences are contrary to God’s Will and the allure of temptation clouds our judgment. 


Herod, in Matthew 14:3-10, provides us with a very graphic example of human weakness—His power and influence among his contemporaries meant more to him than strength of will and heart to do what is right. And, as a result, he is now haunted by the knowledge that he committed a grievous sin out of pride—a sin further exacerbated with torment over the knowledge that John was a Prophet of God. He learned through this that it was easy to take a strong stand on what was wrong, even though he knew what was right. In the end, such a weak stand was a sign of cowardice.


So, we return to the question: where do we get the strength of will and heart to choose right and reject the bad? Jesus gives grace and help to those humble enough to submit to His Will. In doing so, we acknowledge our weakness and sinfulness and look to God for His mercy. His grace and pardon not only free us from guilt but provide us with wisdom and strength to move forward in Him, with Him, and for His Good in our lives.  


To do so, we pray, “Heavenly Father, form me in the likeness of Jesus that I might imitate Him in thought, word, and deed. Give me strength to not only know the Gospel but to live it faithfully with strength and courage to not shrink back in the face of hardship and temptation. As reflected in earlier readings may I be surrounded in Your Love and by those who are convicted by Your Love! Amen. 

Paul B


As the townspeople gathered in the synagogue in Nazareth and heard Jesus speak, what did they see and hear? Today's Gospel seems to make that clear.


I imagine a scene today when a local boy or girl speaks to a group of people from their home town. Imagine a young man from the parish returning after years of being away, preparing for the priesthood, now coming home and proclaiming the Word in his home parish. Sharing his knowledge and wisdom among many who knew him as a boy and his developing years.


The exchanges in conversation at the conclusion of Mass might go something like this:  

"Isn't that Joe's boy?”

"Doesn't he have a brother named Jim, and another Gary, and of course there are his sisters Imogene and Penelope.”

“He really spoke  eloquently today!”

“ I remember when he was quite active with the other youngsters, constantly getting into squabbles, never thought he would become a priest.”


What are they seeing and hearing? Is he really only a local boy who made good?

The people in Nazareth failed to see who Jesus really was.


In the events of life, in our daily journey toward the Kingdom, how often do we fail to see the wonder of God in our midst? How often do we miss the Way, the Truth and the Life because we fail to see and hear? 


There are saints in our midst and we are prone to not seeing them. To us, they are invisible and they pass from our midst.


Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.