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

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OFFER IT UP!   

MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me; He has sent Me to bring good news; …..to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” (Isaiah 61:1) 

These are the words Jesus read from the scrolls of Isaiah in the synagogue of His hometown, Nazareth, as we read in Luke 4:16-22. Upon finishing the reading, He spoke to those congregated, beginning, “This text is being fulfilled today, even while you are listening.” At first, those listening were amazed at His eloquence. But as we read on, in 23-30, we find that the initial amazement and wonder quickly turns bitter, as Jesus begins to speak the truth about the doubt, their “requirement of proof” that He can perform miracles, etc… 

 

In reading this, we are bound to reflect upon our own faith and how often we have fleeting (and not so fleeting) moments of doubt in our daily lives. For so many of us, we go to church for our obligatory “one hour or so” on Sundays, perhaps the occasional bible study or lesson, a prayer here and there but, what about the remainder of the time? Even more importantly, what about those times we feel anger, jealousy, frustration, helplessness?

 

Do we, immediately, recall a moment of prayer, something the Pastor spoke about, a relevant and personal scripture passage? Or, do we react (humanly), first, and then remember to back up and spend time with Him? Transversely, we come out of Church (or other prayerful moment) feeling enriched and strengthened, only to  find ourselves in a situation that causes a negative reaction (could be as simple as a “traffic jam” right in the parking lot of the church)? 

 

Lord, give me ears to hear Your Word and, more importantly, a heart within which Your Word dwells and the Grace from which it flows in my own word and deed.  May I hear, be glad, and rejoice in You by my life’s efforts—making every moment Yours. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2015


James 1:17-8, 21b-22, 27

Dearest brothers and sisters: All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.

He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

 

With all that we have, many of us-if not all-would like to think we’ve earned it ourselves. When in fact, without the grace and gifts from God, we’d have little more than the skin on our noses and the rest of the flesh to cover our anatomies. That and the few amenities of life to keep us alive and on the paths that we’ve chosen, just as He willed ‘that we may be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.’

 

From James, we are reminded to humbly accept the Word we have been given for our salvation. What in turn are we doing with it? Are we like the Pharisees who would pay strict adherence to the laws and rules with little regard to the moral decay going on within them, within their own society and culture? Are we middle-of-the-roaders who straddle the lines of decency one day and completely obliterate it the next only to jump back all the way to sanctity as we fear being caught? Indeed, we are all only kidding ourselves, if not fully into delusion as we dilute our faith.

 

What is there to fear as we should be acting and living out the Word as given to us? Is there a ‘really real’ person someone actually might come to know if we were to empty ourselves completely and put ourselves at the full mercy and trust of God? We came from Him and will go back to Him and everything in between is of Him and is Him. None of who we are is ours but only His through His grace. Hence, our lives are not about us but about Him, serving Him and the sanctification of our lives by doing so for the good of others.

 



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 29, 2015


Herod knew that John the Baptist was a messenger from God—a prophet. Yet, in order to “save face” among his guests, due to his prideful and selfish bragging, he sacrificed John’s head—his life—rather than lose the “admiration” of his friends. 

 

In Mark 6:22-28 we find Herod hosting a big party in which he became delighted and mesmerized by the dancing of Herodias’ daughter—so much so that he bragged, in front of his guests, “Ask me anything and I will give it to you, even half of my kingdom.” The daughter, flattered, did not know how to respond, but her mother urged her to ask for the head of The Baptist on a platter. Herod, though he had an understanding that John had God’s favor, found himself in a difficult situation! 

 

As a Christian, have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation where you might compromise your religious belief in favor or “saving face”? In all likelihood, these situations have not been a choice as severe as serving up someone’s “head on a platter”, but a compromise, none-the-less? Perhaps it is a joke at the expense of another? Perhaps sharing a piece of gossip? Just a “white lie” that you see as harmless in the scheme of your day? 

 

In this account, King Herod’s emotional weakness and the allure of worldly desires let him to take a public stand that not only cost John his life, but compromised Herod’s own eternal salvation. Is not our relationship with God compromised, each time we give in to the allure of secularism? Wealth? Popularity among men? Pride? Our spiritual exercises, which must be engaged in daily, help us build strength against these attractions and develop stamina to stay “in the Word”, on the path to eternal life. Our spiritual fitness allows us to stay “in shape” and “stay the course” for Him. 

 

Lord, give me faith—boldness, strength, and courage—to stand firm in the truth of the Gospel and to not waver in my commitment to Your love and mercy. May the “face I save” be Yours—the one upon which my gaze sets upon for all eternity. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015


In our endeavor to lead a life of holiness, we have a great intercessor and example in St. Augustine. His story is one of the great conversion stories of history, along with St. Paul.

     
Today we pray that we may persevere in our efforts to lead holy lives. May we be prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom.
Pray that the Holy Spirit may fire our hearts. Today also join all Christians in the Call to Prayer.We lift up all families that they may continue to live holy lives and pass on the faith to all.
Deacon

 


What message do we, as followers and listeners of Christ, take from Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten bridesmaids? Perhaps “vigilance” is the best word to summarize the meaning of this parable, especially in line with continued understanding on “spiritual health and exercise” from Matthew 24. 

 

In this parable, there are five bridesmaids prepared with plenty of oil in/for their lamp, while awaiting through the night for the arrival of the bridegroom. And there are five others who took no extra oil for the (possible) long wait through the night...thus, finding their lamps dimming and going out, not prepared for his arrival, when he comes. Through this analogy, Jesus proclaims and emphasizes our need to be focused on being prepared for meeting Him and living with Him for all eternity. 

 

Ignatius of Loyola wrote that we must live daily, in praise, reverence and service to God for His Greater Glory. As Christians, therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Do we live this goal in conscious effort to focus on Him through word, thought, and deed?”. Matthew 25:13 says, “So, stay awake because you do not know either the day or the hour (that He will come).” 

 

What comes to mind as you reflect on these words in relation to your life: what you did yesterday?  What you thought last night when “this” or “that” happened?  What happened at work? How you spoke to your child? Spouse? Co-worker? 

 

As you bring yourself into this reflection, imagine yourself face to face with the Lord. What will you say to Him on this day, at this moment you are imagining? What will He say to you, understanding the fact that He knows your heart and it’s ways! 

 

Lord, help me to carry Your lamp as I await Your Glorious coming! May I keep that lamp filled and lit with Your Light to shine the way to You, for all whom I encounter! May my vigilance and attention be to Your Glory! 

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B

 



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 2015


Health—a word that we are inundated with on all forms of media. Our secular society is obsessed with physical beauty and outward fitness! In reading Matthew 24:42-46, Jesus tells us to be vigilant in our faith, for we don’t know when the Lord will come! The obsession with physical beauty and fitness stems from both pride and the notion that we can extend our earthly life and the quality of that life by being in better physical shape. 

 

While we know that the way we tend to our physical health can extend both the quality and length of our earthly existence, we must also remember that no matter how extended, that existence will end. What does not end, though, is our eternal life, which is what Jesus is reminding us in this discourse. 

 

In Matthew 24:42, He says, “Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know when the Master is coming.” As Christians, therefore, we have the “conflict” of maintaining our human condition while focusing (first and foremost) on our spiritual condition. We must ponder on the quality of our daily living. Do we find ourselves selfless?  Service-oriented? Forgiving? Generous with time, talents, wealth/blessings? 

 

These are the “spiritual exercises” we are called to practice. While we know that our bodies are gifts from God, for which we must be responsible to utilize for His Glory, Jesus reminds us that this earthly life is fleeting and will pass, while our life with and in Him never ends. It is this life, which He earned for us, if we just seek the Father (through Him), for which we should be training. 

 

Health:  a word that we, as Christians must take seriously in regard to our spiritual fitness. Just as we must be prepared to eat, sleep, move, and otherwise “take care of our bodies” Jesus, in Matthew 24:46 states, “Blessed that servant if His Master’s arrival finds him doing exactly that.” 

 

Lord, help me to maintain my bodily strength so as to conduct Your Will in my life and the strength and courage to “work out” daily in spiritual exercise  in Your Word.  May my spiritual fitness lead me to You. J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2015

In Matthew 23:27-32 Jesus continues to exhort the Pharisees for hypocritical behavior. In this passage He compares them to a “whitewashed tomb”, which is beautiful on the outside but harbors “bones of the dead” and “every kind of corruption” on the inside. In this He exposes them for their external “interest and rigidity” in the law and their internal pride and self-righteous, “look at me” attitude. 

 

Jesus was very bold in His admonition, telling them (Matthew 23:32), “You are the children of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your ancestors began.” There is very much for a “modern-day” Christian to ponder in these passages! First, what do we “house” in our own “whitewashed tombs”? Anger, resentment, pride, bitterness, jealousy? Do we harbor a lack of forgiveness related to any of these? Do we hold a grudge against another; a grudge that only serves as a wall between us and God, in the end? 

 

Secondly, do we see, hear, and appreciate God’s goodness in our lives or do we backslide into doubt at the face of each trial (no matter how “big” or “small”)? In reading this, I immediately thought of Psalm 127, which begins, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.” 

 

Just as in this Psalm, Jesus is urging the Pharisees (and us) to let go of hypocrisy and truly appreciate the goodness of the Lord, experience it, and share it! If our labors are for our own “building up”, rather than for the Lord, we do it all in vain!  What will it take for us to listen? Of course, Jesus knew what He had to do—what He was sent to do—sacrifice Himself as the True Lamb of God, offered due to and for our sin and stubbornness! 

 

Lord, help me to live as an example so that Your sacrifice and the life given me by the Father is not one spent in vain—whitewash my soul in and by my service to others in Your Name! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2015


“You blind guides! You strain out gnats but swallow camels!”. In Matthew 23:23-26, this is what Jesus tells the scribes and pharisees as He admonishes them for being hypocrites. He accused them of being “deceptively obedient” to the Laws. They studied and carried out the Laws of the Old Testament to a level of minutia, while failing to live and lead justly, according to the simple precepts of Love of God and Love of Neighbor.

 

As Christians we must examine our lives and see if our actions and attitudes resemble those of the pharisees and scribes, which Jesus rebuked: do we give too much attention to our physical and emotional “appearance”, but tend less to our spiritual needs and relationship with the Lord, our God? How truly integrated is He (the Word) into our daily existence? Is He at the center of our life’s actions, decisions, and results? 

 

Jesus was not downplaying the importance of God’s Law. Rather, He admonishes us to not get “prideful” on the fact that we are tithing and tending to how we “appear” to honor God, while failing to show charity to others around us. The scribes and Pharisees meticulously went through the outward observance of duties and practices, while forgetting the realities of God’s intent and purpose—love, righteousness, justice, and goodness! 

 

Jesus used two examples—”straining gnats, but swallowing camels” and “cleaning the outside of the cup, but not the inside”. Both of these are stark examples of how we can miss the mark! Once we are spiritually clean (whether we strain the wine through cloth to remove the gnats or clean the inside of the vessel which holds the whine), the point is that we must strive to be spiritually clean! When we strive for this, our relationship with God strengthens and we will enjoy a more wholesome life where we are less distracted by worldly desires and motivated by true happiness. 

 

Lord, help me to integrate Your “Law of Love” into my daily interaction.  May I be cleansed so that my life’s actions mirror Your pure and clean love today and every day!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2015


From the gospel, Nathaniel, or St. Bartholomew, we can take some time to reflect on this gospel to be present to our own reactions in life, especially with regard to moments when God is calling us. 

 

Can you imagine for a few moments how you would react if a friend (like Philip) invited you to meet someone special from—let’s say Quanah, a small town within a radius of a hundred miles from here. Nathaniel's reaction was from where? Nazareth?? What good could there be from that small, nowhere place? Would I not rather look toward the big city, where the action is? 

 

Yet, as we go forward in our reflection, we realize that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, tiny Bethlehem. He and His family then carried off to Egypt to escape the actions of Herod who was seeking to destroy the Child born to be King. After the exile in Egypt this Holy Family returned to Nazareth in Galilee, another small town, according to scholars maybe 400 people. 

Nathaniel's remark, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" gives us a clue to how this little backwater place was regarded. 

 

In our reflection, how do we begin to imagine Jesus' life there during his childhood years?  How do our ordinary lives feel, fit or figure with the lives that were that of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph? As we encounter life today, may we see the opportunities to discover Christ in the ordinariness of life.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 2015


During the past few weeks, we have been immersed in Chapter Six of the Gospel of John. We have been reminded of the teaching of Jesus on the Bread of Life. A difficult teaching in His time on earth and a difficult teaching down through the ages and for us. We often profess to believe; yet our very lives belie our profession of this belief. Jesus remained firm in His teaching and the Church must remain firm in upholding what Jesus revealed.

 

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians this week, we encounter another teaching that poses difficulties for our modern Catholics. Paul speaks of dignity and respect between husbands and wives. In fact, dignity and respect of persons in every human encounter. Why not pray this week each day with these Scriptures, seeking to apply the truths contained to your daily living?

 

Husbands love your wives, pray for their spiritual and physical well-being. Love her as Christ loves the Church! Wives be supportive of your husbands and encourage them in their love. Love and respect one another as God's beloved children bound together in the unity of professed avowed love.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 2015


The Queenship of Mary. 

Have you ever stopped and really contemplated Mary, the Mother of God? Here we have the chosen one to be the Mother of God. You might just sit in the silence and imagine what it was like to be chosen by God. 

 

What emotions would come into play if in the quiet, you were visited by an angel who gave you a commission from God. Would you perhaps have some trepidation if not outright fear? What would your reaction be?

I am to be the servant of the Lord? Be it done according to your word? I give myself in complete trust and whatever happens I will follow unreservedly?

 

Mary accepted her role in life humbly, her ‘soul rejoicing and magnifying the Lord’. She lived her life as the mother of Jesus, caretaker and teacher in the ways of God's people. Can we imagine what it was like to be the mother of the God-man, who was completely human? Day by day, what to expect from this God-Child?

 

She nourished Jesus at breast. She clothed him and bathed him. As he grew, she trained him as a mother trains and teaches a child. In prayer we spend time in that childhood home of Jesus, imagining the Holy Family at prayer, at meal, at work, at play. Her union with Jesus, her holiness of life, her humble and complete submission to God's will gave us so great a redeemer. 

 

Today we celebrate the Queenship of Mary over heaven and earth. Mary, who was assumed body and soul into heaven, remains our intercessor above all others except Jesus.

 

In prayer, never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection was left unaided...Mary, Queen of Heaven, Pray for us!  May all people of good will join the Catholic Bishops each Friday in the Call to Prayer!

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 2015


As Christians we all believe and know that Jesus proclaims these as the greatest of all commandments: love God and your neighbors. But even with this knowledge, we find it difficult to put one or both segments of His commands into practice. 

 

Loving God is the greatest commandment and must be our greatest desire if we are to truly become selfless. Sadly, the distractions of our human condition prevent us from realizing, each moment-by-moment, that it is God who created the universe and all things and creatures, including us. Should that not be reason enough to focus on His every desire? 

 

The second piece of that command is to love our neighbor—each person whom we encounter in our daily walk. As I pondered this today, I realized that our call and response to do this is the true and telling test of our sincerity to pursue and increase our love for God. This response to His call must start in our hearts, our homes, and extend to the world around us each and every day.  There was a movie, “Ground-Hog Day”, in which a man awoke every morning only to find he was repeating, exactly, the same day over and over again. As the movie progressed, he mastered the events of that day and made each “new” day better than the next, by changing his actions of the “original” day on the journey to becoming a better person. 

 

Perhaps we should look at our walk in a similar fashion. Like the man in the movie, we have the chance to become a better person, in God’s eyes, with each waking day! As stated earlier, each and every day we must begin by recollecting His call to love in our hearts, homes, and then in the world around us! Don’t dread the day (no matter what). Rather, welcome it with an opportunity to love (God and others) even better than the day before. 

 

Lord, Your love encompasses and surpasses all. Flood my heart with Your love so as to ever strengthen my faith, build it up, and allow it to shine through to others around me. Help me to give love as You have given love each/every day!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 2015


In Matthew 22:1-14, we find Jesus describing the great invitation to the feast, that God offers us, in the parable of a king who prepares for and invites guests to a great feast—a wedding feast. The invitation is ignored, as many find themselves too busy with their own matters. 

 

What does this parable about a royal wedding party have in common with what we believe and know God’s Kingdom? One of the most beautiful depictions of Heaven is to compare it to a grand and royal feast thrown by a loving King for His Son and His bride. Whatever grand feast we can imagine on earth, Heaven outshines; it’s grandeur being greater, as it is the “feast of all feasts. This parable makes two points. The first point is that the Lord of Heaven and Earth invites us (all) to the banquet. We are not invited as “bystanders” or “guests”, but as members of His own Kingdom—His Church! 

 

In the final chapter of the Bible, we see in Rev 22:17, a clear invitation:  “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.” We are all invited to unite with Jesus in His heavenly Kingdom. 

 

The second point is that we must come openly, honestly, and prepared to accept His invitation. We must properly robe ourselves in heart, mind, and soul. As noted in Matthew 22:9-10, all are invited, including the “good and the bad” and gathered into the banquet hall. How we come, robed and prepared, to share in the feast is important. We must come with open heart, mind, and soul, ready to accept Him or we will be turned away!

 

Lord, just as we prepare ourselves for “tonight’s dinner party”, or “this weekend’s wedding”, so let us prepare ourselves for Your eternal feast. May we scrub clean our lives—heart, soul, word, and deed—and robe ourselves to take full advantage of your great invitation and come, prepared to be in Your Presence.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2015


What in the Scripture for today touches you? Perhaps as you read from Judges you can relate to who and what may rule in your life. Abimelech is not a very sound choice for king and the lone survivor who tells the story of the trees, is seeking to have the people THINK about their choice. Maybe we can even relate to seeking a candidate for president and how we vote? But really how does it effect change in our spiritual outlook?

 

Then we have the gospel. What is Jesus’ point in the parable? Last first, first last—what does it mean? Take your pay and go home. Would you as an early worker have expected more after agreeing to the usual day’s wage? What would your reaction be if you saw everyone getting the same wage though they worked much fewer hours? 

 

Take time to really pray this parable. How does it reflect envy, attitude, winning and losing at all costs? What is justice like in the kingdom of God?

 

The First and the Last are in the Kingdom and loved.

Everyone is loved and loves.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2015

In Matthew 19:23-30, Jesus continues the conversation of what it takes to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Yesterday, in reading 19:16-22, we read of the young man who was conflicted in Jesus’ words that not only must he live morally and upright, by God’s commands, but also give of himself and the treasures of this world with which he had been blessed. 

 

The lure of things of this world is powerful! When Jesus says, “In truth I tell you it is harder for someone rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven!  …it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” His disciples are astonished and confused. They ask, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus urges to not look at our journey through the eyes of the human condition, rather, understand and believe that all things are possible in God. 

 

Peter, always the “stubborn one”, yet willing to be bold, questions the fact that he (and the other Apostles) have given up everything they have and followed Him (Jesus), so, “What are we to gain?”  So, even in the midst of Jesus presence, the human condition can “take over” and we find ourselves, like Peter, asking, “What’s in it for us?” Do we find ourselves, at times, “bargaining” with God? Do we (through word, thought, or deed) ask Him what we can expect rather than focusing first (and solely) on pleasing Him, with the knowledge (true faith) that He will provide for all of our needs? 

 

The allure of riches often distract us from this focus. Our human condition causes us to be tempted by the “Hollywood lifestyle”, even though we have heard about and seen the disastrous and depressing effects that the materialism of this “glamourized world” brings. 

 

Lord, Give us the strength and wisdom to continue to focus on You and Your desire for us through our lives, talents, energy, and free will. May all of these be Yours - to Your Glory—as they come from You, therefore used to Honor You. J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2015

How well do we adhere to God’s desires for our life’s words, thoughts, and deeds? Do we find ourselves occasionally “crossing paths” with God—”circumstantial obedience”? Does our desire to live in Christ path, at times depend upon who we are with?  Who we think is “watching”? 

 

These are powerful questions we must consider, especially upon reading Matthew 19:16-22. We find here, that Jesus was approached by a young man who asked the question, “Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?” Jesus, first, began by giving him the answer that he must be “morally upright”, that is, observing the commandments. The man responded, “I have kept all these, what more do I need to do?” Jesus replied, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, follow me.” 

 

This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road”! This is where the conversation points out the distraction that the secular world causes in our respective paths to holiness and deepening our relationship with Him: our attachments to things of this world. What is our response to Jesus, in the many opportunities, each day, to sacrifice for Him and in Him?  What do we find most difficult to “give up” of ourselves? What is our response when Jesus asks us to sacrifice, for His sake—to give something to another out of simple love and mercy? 

 

In “modern day” society, what may Jesus be asking your (or me) to forego so that our love for Him may be more pure?  Mt 19:22 says, “The young man, when he heard this went away sad for he had many possessions.”   

 

Lord, help us to understand that obedience and adherence to Your Will must be intentional and not just occasionally “intersecting” with You. In our imperfections, may our paths remain steady and true (together, with You) in our walk towards Eternal life. 

Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015

How deep is our appreciation for the Gift of Jesus? Do we truly understand and appreciate the sacrifice God made, of Himself, for the Salvation of the World—to give us the opportunity to truly experience His Grace, Goodness, and Mercy in this life, so as to obtain it in the Eternal Life? 

 

In order to truly do so, we must allow God to dwell within us in heart and mind, so as to reflect Him in our actions? Jesus tells us, in John 6:51-57, that He lives in all who eat His flesh and drink His blood. In doing so, we draw nourishment from Him so that we can live more Christ-like lives and become what God wants us to be—Spiritual beings whose words, thoughts, and deeds are characterizations of His truth, love, peace, and hope. 

 

As Christians, we have the opportunity to share in the Communion of Christ, with one another. While the “divisions of Christianity”, created by man’s opinion and impact, have caused these divisions to view and experience “Communion” in different fashions and, even, viewpoints, we are still called to experience Him and receive Him as often as we can. To truly be His Witness, we must draw strength from His Body. Christ left us the tremendous gift of Himself—John 6:56-57—“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me and I live in that person. As the living Father sent Me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will also draw life from Me.”

 

In putting our sectarian and doctrinal differences aside, let us also recall John 1:1—”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So, as we understand, we are fed by our communion with the Body of Christ—that body is the Church—the WHOLE of ALL believers. Let us begin here, together, and partake of God in the Word, in the Flesh, as we seek full communion with Him, In Him, and through Him! 

 

Lord, may we appreciate the simple gift of You in our lives/interactions with each other.  J.O.Y.

Paul B

 



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 15, 2015

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


         



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 2015


Today's Scriptures, as we celebrate the Eucharist, are rife with reminders of all God has done for us and an encouragement to give thanks in all circumstances. Gratitude is to become a way of life. Is our way of life a sign of gratitude to the Creator for the wonder of all He has given us? For the love and mercy bestowed on us in Jesus who came to dwell in our midst and reveal the unfathomable love of God?

 

 In today's Gospel we have the question of divorce which Jesus answers, and which we often ponder in our world today. So often those words must touch us to the core ...Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of your hearts. Rather than living with an attitude of gratitude and developing our spiritual eyes and hearts to live with Christ truly at the center of our lives, we too often place ourselves at the center and attempt to establish a relationship with God the keeps our ego and our desires at the center.

 

In our prayer life God becomes the provider according to our wants and desires too frequently, rather than gratefully learning what Jesus taught... Thy will be done. As we ponder God's mercy may we always remember His justice and gratefully seek to do His will.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2015


When was the last time you showed mercy and compassion to someone in need? Was it helping a person on the street corner, with some spare change or dollars? Perhaps it was in the “red kettle” at Christmas? Helping a neighbor carrying in groceries? Think even simpler, such as having compassion for your spouse or child, even though you think your day was stressful.

 

In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus shares the parable of the “unforgiving servant”. In this example, He tells of the servant who owes his master 10,000 talents. He begs for patience, though he had no means to repay, insisting he would pay him back in time. Out of pity for the servant, the master forgave him the entire debt. Upon leaving the master’s presence, the slave came upon another slave who owed him 100 denarii. 

 

Rather than showing the same mercy and compassion, the slave who had been forgiven his debt demanded payment. When his fellow slave could not pay, he had him arrested and thrown in jail. When the master found out about this, he called him back in, chastised him for his wicked failure to pass on the same mercy and compassion that he’d been shown, and had him thrown in prison! 

 

In Matthew 18:35, Jesus says, “So my Heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Jesus expects us, as believers in God, to show the same compassion God shows us. It is a grievous act of injustice and ungratefulness to our loving Father to not do so! It is in our human nature to experience anger and frustration when something does not “go our way”. But we are called to be imitators of God, after all, we are made in His image and called, therefore, to reflect His image (Ref : Genesis 1:27 and Ephesians 5:1). 

 

Lord, today and every day forth, give me the grace and strength to be merciful, as you are merciful! Free me from my own resentment and bitterness from hurt and give others sight to forgive me of any I may have caused them!  Let me seize opportunities to show mercy.  Jesus, Only You.  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2015


Jesus came to show the perfect example of restoring broken relationships! After all, was this not His earthly mission to restore our broken relationship with Him? So, in reading Matthew18:15-20, we find Jesus telling His disciples how to deal with a brother by whom we have been wronged. 

 

His first direction is to  go to that brother and “have it out”. One of the biggest destroyers of relationships is gossip! There are many references in scripture about gossip - holding the tongue—and avoiding slanderous behavior. A powerful one is Proverbs 26:20 , “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” 

 

As Jesus speaks to us in Matthew, He was surely considering this ancient scripture, in advising to take the concern or quarrel directly to the offending person. We know, from living in this world, that not all will listen! But we are to continue our example of showing mercy and forgiveness through reconciliation. In doing so, He advises to then take one or two others with you (witnesses) to your efforts to reconcile (rectify) the wrong-doing. This is not to openly advertise and start “whisperings” of the quarrel you have. Rather, it is to show/be an example of mercy and forgiveness. Yes, it is to provide “witness “ in both the “worldly sense” as well, but it is His desire that we provide “witness” in the Spiritual sense—an example of goodness and mercy! 

 

To emphasize His point, in 18:18, Jesus says, “….whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In 18:20 He says, “For Where two or three meet in my name, I am there, among them.” So, we don’t come to each other to “one-up” the other. Rather, we go to truly seek forgiveness and reconciliation in His Name. 

Lord, help me to be an example of (Your) compassion and love as an instrument of your healing love and peace in this earthly life. Allow my actions to fuel Your fire, not this life’s.  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2015


The humility of a child. Jesus is quite clear unless one has the humility of a little one entering the kingdom of heaven will be difficult.What are we to make of Jesus’ words to His contemporaries, how do we understand them in our experience of life? 

 

Humility has been defined sometimes as truth. Is there not in little children evidence that they come to you in clarity and openness? They exhibit trust until they learn from the world around them to build barriers. Some years ago, a school principal mentioned to me how children are so open and receptive until about the fifth grade and then they are more difficult to teach. Some seem to believe that in the ensuing years that has changed and children become more difficult at an earlier stage.

    

The adult world that Jesus spoke to needed to hear that wisdom about children, and apply it to their spiritual and practical behavior. Human behavior is still subject to the same tests. However, despite the warnings of our Loving Savior, we delude ourselves with Adult behavioral ideas. 

 

When we see ads or magazine racks labeled for adult material, what is the signal there? Does it coincide with Jesus’ exhortation to be like little children? When we baptize infants, we tell parents they will be the first teachers in the ways of faith, not only parents but also all in the Christian community who witness the baptism and are also to be the first teacher in the ways of faith in a particular community. 

 

Saint Francis would remind us to preach the word and if necessary use words. It is necessary we live our lives as children for that is what we are. Children of the Father, brothers and sisters of Lord Jesus. In baptism we all were clothed with the white garment of victory over sin and death, and directed to keep that garment unstained, living with dignity as children of God.

 

We are indeed the King's kids!

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2015


In John 12:24-26, Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This parable is a simple, yet powerful expression of God’s sacrifice for us and the expectation He has of the way we should be in our own life! This statement is somewhat prophetic of God’s plan for Jesus—to die in order to rise and bear much fruit for God’s Kingdom. 

 

We, as Christians, are that fruit. And, therefore, we in turn are called to do the same and bear more fruit! In yesterday’s sermon our Pastor shared the story of a mama and baby crab getting ready to “go for a walk” along the ocean floor. The mama crab told the baby crab, you must strive to walk straight, not sideways. The baby crab said, “But mama, I walk the way you do, as this is the example you have given me.” How true this is in our own lives, not only as parents but as models of Christianity for other believers. 

 

Our example is one of the greatest ways to “bear fruit” in this life. In order for a seed to bear fruit, it must die to self. So, our call is to die to the selfish ways and distractions of this world. The goal is to make a choice to love Jesus more, regardless of the challenges we face in our faith. It is a constant challenge and struggle to not give in to the attraction and glamor of the secular world.

 

We know, in our hearts and in the depths of our minds that there is only one authentic way of living this life in order to receive God’s Eternal life. We must strive to give this life to Him in order to be a true disciple of Jesus—an example of His life-giving ways.  We must strive, at all times, to live in His ways. Christ desires to shine in our hearts and minds, yes, but ultimately in our deeds so others can see Him and desire Him!  That is our respective call! 

 

Lord, allow me to reflect on my own life and, in turn, be a reflection of You as I grow into being part of Your Harvest! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2015


This morning, reading John 6:41-51, along with some related readings and reflections, I can’t help but feel the “challenge” given each of us, as believers in Christ’s divinity, to live a life of merciful thought, word and deed! That challenge, as Jesus showed through His coming as man requires sacrifice of self which, at times, will be demanding, difficult and even humiliating. How can we not see that the divine gift of eternal life was given to us at such a cost—a great price—Jesus’ suffering and death?  

 

Jesus says, in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” Ponder how blessed we are to share in the Communion of His Body! What does this mean to us, as Christians? 

 

The many “divisions” of His body, the Church, celebrate Holy Communion in different ways and “practices”. In the end, we must all be grateful to Jesus for the Gift of Himself and His call that we partake of the divine Gift—His very Flesh and Blood, on the Cross! He came to earth, in human form so as to experience humanity, firsthand, to show us how to live our lives in love, mercy, compassion, and humility. His earthly life is the ultimate example. 

 

How differently are we from the skeptics who challenged Jesus’ divinity? Jesus, in John 6:49, reminds us that we are given blessings on this earth, such as our forefathers being given manna in the desert. This blessing, along with so many others, sustains earthly life. There is but one bread, one sacrifice broken for all of us that gives and sustains eternal life: Jesus! No matter our divisions, let us all be reminded that we are called to be and partake of the one Body of Christ, sent and offered for our salvation: Jesus Christ! 

 

Lord, You are the living bread, sent from heaven, to sustain us!  May we hunger for You and find strength and nourishment to love and serve you in one Body: Yours, which we are called to by. Give us all guidance to live in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2015


Is the faith we carry strong and deep enough to dispel our own fears, distractions and other threats in our daily lives? This is a simple question that is “easy” to answer through many moments in our lives. At church on Sunday, when we wake up on any beautiful morning feeling great with a nicely planned day on the horizon, or when all “seems right” in the moment. These times are “easy” to thank God and feel like we can conquer the world. 

 

When we appear to have strong faith in Jesus, we also are in a position to give hope to those who see and hear us in our daily walk. In Matthew 17:14-21, Jesus “schools” His disciples on the power of true faith. A man begged Jesus to cure his son, who was possessed. He told Jesus that His disciples were “unable to cure him”. Later, His disciples asked him, “Lord, why were we unable to drive the demon out?”. Jesus response, in Matthew 17:20-21, was, ““Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” 

 

In our walk, we must take heed of what He told these men who spent day after day with Him, literally walking in His Human presence, experiencing His divine presence. What would Jesus tell us in our walk with Him, each day, when we ask the same question(s), “Why can’t we….?” or “Where are You when….” or “Where is Your presence in….?”  What kind of faith does He expect of us in times of set-backs and trials? Jesus tells us that we can move mountains with the simplest of faith. Here is that theme, again, “Simple, but not easy”. 

 

Lord, give me strength and wisdom to increase my faith! May I truly live your saving power through my life’s experiences! Give me confidence to persevere in prayer, word, thought, and deeds. Help me to be an example of Your healing love and truth to all I meet. J.O.Y.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2015


Perspective: the simplicity and selflessness of the Cross is an amazing concept to all of us! To keep Jesus in perspective (as the central focus) we should strive for this same simplicity and selflessness in our lives!

 

In doing so, perhaps we would learn to experience and appreciate a life that is less distracted and cluttered by the issues that don’t matter—those things that draw our attentions away from Him. These worldly distractions are of the same simplicity, but are self-centered, rather than selfless! Money! Material possessions that cause us to “compete” with others! Arguments or feuds with each other. Anger or frustration that leads to or harbors those arguments and feuds. 

 

In Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus clearly states that to be His disciple we must be willing to take up our cross—simply and selflessly, without regard for what others think or the challenges that come with that choice. We must lay out our lives for Him. We must lend our shoulder to Him, a shoulder upon which the Cross can rest. He goes on to say, “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who does so for my sake, will find it.” 

 

In 16:26 He asks, “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”  Simplicity and selflessness. Think about those words in relation to the Cross of Jesus. Two “sticks” nailed and tied together in the simplest of design. Then add the incredibly unselfish act of God—choosing to be nailed and hung in the same “simple” fashion. 

 

As human beings we focus on the pain and suffering He endured for us. Is this what we are called to do? Endure pain and suffering? Jesus never denies there can and will be those times in our lives! But, with the acceptance of the cross comes the hope, belief and knowledge that “….the Son of man is to come...in Glory….and repay everyone for what has been done.” (Matthew 16:27).  

 

Lord, the simple, but not easy call You make to us is in every moment and opportunity of our day! May my actions reflect Your cross upon my shoulders. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 2015


Today, let us climb to the mountain top. Enter into a time of prayer and allow yourself to be present with Peter, James and John hear their witness of the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Listen with your heart to hear the Father’s declaration of His Beloved Son.

Listen to Him. 

 

Peter reminds us that what He is telling us is not some cleverly devised story, but an eyewitness testimony of what they have seen and heard.  Not just about faith but to have faith. Come to Him for He is the Light illuminating the path to life eternal.

 

As we enter into the Mystery, as we are present to the Lord Jesus pray for our world, for families, for peace and justice, for attitudes among people and nations that will lead us to truth and to peace in love. Today we remember that awful day, 6 Aug 1945, as the first atomic bomb was detonated over Japan. May God is His mercy forgive us in our violent actions. 

 

Grant O Lord, to all your creation a deep desire to live in Your love and peace. Jesus, Only You. For You have received dominion, honor, glory and rule over all creation.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2105


Imagine being called a "dog" by Jesus! Would our reaction be like the Syro-Phoenician woman? Would I even think of scraps falling from the table for the dogs to eat?

 

I am afraid in my self-absorption I would probably simply be like the disciples in today's gospel. ‘Get rid of this woman—she is annoying... She is not a member of our "church"! Does she just want a hand-out but refusing to join our club?’

Lord help me change my attitude and be the person You desire that I be. Teach me the ways of Love as Jesus taught. Before I was born, before my father was born, You loved me and Your desire gave me life. Each moment You invite me into a union with You to bring life to a broken humankind, and too frequently I am lost in my own egocentric thinking. As a result, I am blind to wonders that are all what this fantastic world that can be of Your creation. 

 

Doubt and fear, lack of confidence, lack of humility, failure to trust—all bring suffering and sin into the world. Despite all this, You remain faithful, You are merciful and are always ready to forgive and draw us to Yourself.

    

Jesus revealed the wonder of love, the beauty of forgiveness, the generosity of healing when he acknowledged the faith of the woman seeking healing for her daughter. Let us all fill the many empty hearts with desire to answer the Call to Prayer, each Friday. The US bishops have issued a Call to Prayer and Fasting for the upcoming Synod. Let us pray for them and for our families. May God guide us to restoring the Faith through strong evangelizing families.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2015


Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.

Throughout the New Testament, we hear of Jesus going to pray, retreating as He must to the silence and peace of the mountains. From all that He was proclaiming and all that He was doing with His healing and curing, He needed the time away to be in solitude.

 

This particular time, He sends His disciples ahead of Him to the other side of the sea, in the early morning hours. With what they had just witnessed, they may have been more than just a bit excited and now they have to go across the sea and wait for Him… oh, the ups and downs of their faith.

 

The ups and downs turned to a stormy sea and a test of their faith.

A ghost walking on water, then the realization that it was/might be the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet one of them had to further test his faith by stepping out of the boat to do the same…

Oh ye of little faith.

And then what happens when He steps inside the boat?

Stillness. Calm. Peace.

 

Not just that the storms have past outside but that the peace that presence of Jesus brings also brings. From the ‘Take courage it is I’ to His presence in the boat, the realness of His presence is made known to the disciples. Just as it was made known to those who were healed who touched His garment—all by their faith. We too can find our peace, our healing and the fullness of our faith if we but reach out for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and His healing touch.



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 2015

We are being reminded these days of how God feeds us with the bread of life. The Scriptures refer us to the miracle of the loaves and fishes feeding the multitude. We are also reminded of Israel's complaints to Moses about the lack of food as God leads them from captivity to the Land He promised their forbears.

 

It is not hard to imagine how much like we are to those who preceded us, who experienced the wonders of God, who acknowledged God, yet chose to live according their own likes and want. I suspect many of us today acknowledge that there is a God but are unwilling to give our lives to His care. Rather, we can make our own way. 

 

What does it mean to really have faith? To be aware of the Lord's presence in all circumstances, to live in gratitude for all the superabundant blessings, sharing life in recognition of our ‘creatureliness’, acknowledging our littleness and our brevity in the scheme of all things—that’s what it means.  

We are so loved beyond all understanding, let us love in return.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, AUGUST 2, 2015

John reports that after Jesus fed the masses, He retreated to a quiet place on the other side of the water, but the crowds followed Him, once they had realized He had done so. When they found Him, He said, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26). 

 

Why do we seek Jesus? Do we do so because He has blessed us and we want more? Which of those blessings are we seeking more of? We may have a nice car? House? Success in our jobs? Children who are successful in school? Friends with whom to break bread and spend time with? Answered prayers in terms of health? All of these things are visible and tangible blessings for which we are surely (and truly) thankful. Are we thankful for the traffic jam that slowed us down on the way to work, giving us time to, perhaps, slow down, and spend some extra time with Jesus in thought, prayer and reflection? Do we ask God’s intervention in the pained face and life of the man we may have “slipped” five dollars to on the street corner? Do we thank Him for the “aches and pains” which can (should and do) actually serve as a reminder that we are alive in this world and can still find a way to carry out His call and show love to others? 

 

Think about our experiences with those around us: do we experience, at times, friends, family, colleagues, or others who “use” us for something they need, but have no continual love or “use” for us in anything else? How do we respond? Do we respond in Christ-like fashion? Now, think about how we act toward God? Do we “use” him for things we need at the moment, but don’t have continual love or “use” for Him?  

 

Lord, You are the Bread of Life! Let us live with that knowledge that through sharing in You, as the Bread, the resulting life is Yours. May the Sustenance we receive from You be used to give You Glory and Honor! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2015


Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

 

At least Herod was paying attention and knew of the events happening under his watch what with the Resurrection and the wisdom and prophecy of John. And iIndeed, Herod had his own reputation, though it was not one we would want hanging on our pedestal. From his family’s incestuous relationships, to his outright breaking of the Mosaic law as he was married to Herodias when both ‘exes’ were still living… certainly an extraordinarily disgraceful situation and one that John spoke out against often.

 

It was Herod’s thought to rid himself of John by having him killed but feared the backlash of the populace for John’s own popularity as a prophet and spoke in the name of God. Again, not a good move to take out someone whom the townfolk considered so highly. Yet John was still in the way of his relationship with Herodias.


From the rest of the gospel we find out that, on Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter performed her dance for those in his presence, delighting Herod and the guests. For such a performance, Herod ‘swore to give her whatever she might ask for.’ The daughter was encouraged by the mother then to have John the Baptist killed-beheaded-and have his head brought to them on a platter. As much as he wanted him dead and out of the way, it still distressed Herod but, not to be embarrassed in front of his guests, he complied and carried out the wish. With his death, the disciples came for his body and buried him, telling Jesus of his death.

 

If you were to put yourself in this gospel, where would you be? Who would be or who would you relate with? From a weak, human and sinful perspective, would you be like Herod, compromising the values of one’s vows and faith? Would you be like John the Baptist, speaking out for the way, the Truth and the Life? Or would you be one of the guests, on the perimeter, watching all of the goings-on, not doing much to stop the injustice or even enjoying the show a bit?

 

Somewhere in all of this, our integrity and character and faith must take hold. We should not just take for granted the things given us that we have come to know and have. They have been given to us for a purpose-to further our love and faith in Him Who has given us all we have. For sure, it will not always be easy. And it will seem like we may even lose our heads over our faith for what we stand for. But for sure again, it will be worth it as witnesses in the end.