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

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Offer It Up! December 31, 2011


Galatians 5:22-25

The fruit of the Spirit

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Opening up to the Holy Spirit

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit not merely as a comforter but as a breeze, blowing mysteriously. If we but put up our sails, the Holy Spirit will do a good deal of the work for us, help us to be open to the human condition and be creative in solutions to the myriad problems that are the stuff of many of our lives today - bad marriages, ungrateful children, loss of jobs, millennial ennui, sizeable moral flaws. For this we need to be open to the moment, ready to alter plans if we sense a need for immediate change. Religion becomes natural and organic, without any of the glad-handing, fixed-smile religiosity that often goes no deeper.

It is desire, not guilt that is the prime motivator. Someone else

How often in our lives do we end up doing things because we are driven by guilt? Catholics, Christians, even non-practicers—we all end up reacting or responding to situations we have been a part of or caused because we feel some sort of guilt or shame because of our culpability. Some more so than others as guilt can be a huge motivator in many circumstances.

If that guilt was atoned for in reconciliation and then a greater sense of desire took its place, how much more then would the Holy Spirit be able to fill us all and do more through us? Whether we believe it or not, the Holy Spirit is present in all of us. It is up to us, however, to choose to be open to follow Him.

For the New Year then, choose a new motivation, or motivator, if that works for you. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with the desire to be guided by Him to do His will with all the gifts given you.


Offer It Up! December 30, 2011


Luke 2 2:22, 39-40

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Looking at the Holy Family from the outside, one might wonder how they came to be so close-so intimately and unconditionally close-given the circumstances that brought them together. The challenges of the times then, the laws, the questions and concerns—how did they do it? We know the story of how it all happened yet we still have to wonder how they put it all together and held it together.

In one of those ‘How did I miss that?’ sort of moments, it is best summed up for me in Luke 2:40:

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Of course God would have favor on His Son. And it also makes sense (to me anyway) that anyone God would have favor upon, He would surely put favor upon those who would be seeing to that person’s well being. Hence, when God is bringing His Son into the world, He would also see to it that the person accountable for His birth would also be ‘favored’, as was Mary.

And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.Luke 1:28

Yes, even Joseph was favored by his visit from the angel of the Lord. He was favored to do as God called him to do, to take Mary as his wife.

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him

and took his wife into his home.Matthew 1:24

So if we were to fast-forward this to today, why would God not then carry out His favors upon us? As heirs and children of God, what would keep us from the Love and favor of God? Of being filled with wisdom? Of choosing to do His will for us? Of accepting the gift of free will as He gave to the Holy Family and living our lives as they did, living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord?

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Offer It Up! December 29, 2011


They say it ain't bragging if you got it to back it up...


Offer It Up! December 28, 2011


1 John 1:5-2:2

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we say, "We have fellowship with him," while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, "We are without sin," we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, "We have not sinned," we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Talking out of both sides of one’s mouth is never really good business as it most always leads to being somewhat duplicitous in our actions. And that appears to be the message John is ascribing to when he tells us that if we say we have fellowship with Him yet continue to put ourselves in sinful ways that is precisely what we are doing.

Who hasn’t seen or heard someone do or say exactly the opposite of what they said they were going to do? Who hasn’t done those things themselves? We are all subject to walking in darkness when we choose to follow our paths and not the path outlined for us in the truth and light God has made for us.

John’s letter goes on to say we are only deceiving ourselves if we say we are without sin... well, yeah, we know that, right? But how many of us delude ourselves into thinking that ‘we’re okay’ and that it’s the rest of the world that is out of step? We want to water-down our faith so that our personal and graceless mistakes are just that—errors or missteps—call them what you will but the truth and fact remains, they are sins when we commit them outside the grace of God.

So much for the down side of our choices. The up side is that for all that we do outside His grace, His love and mercy abound more than we can comprehend. More than we could even ever try to ‘earn’. More than we deserve, His Love is everlasting and all-encompassing. There is no better advocacy than that.


Offer It Up! December 27, 2011


1 John 1:1-4

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible;we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

John was there. Peter was there. Mary Magdalene was there.

A lot of others were also there to testify and proclaim the Good News.

They were there then for the Message to be with us now.

They were there then to see what was visible so that we would believe the invisible.

They were there then so that today we would join in belief and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

And they documented the whole thing so that we would have no doubt about the fullness and completeness of the joy to be celebrated in our faith in Jesus Christ.

We can be there too.


Offer It Up! December 26, 2011


Luke 2:15-16

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

Now is the time for all good peoples to come to the aid of their country.

Some of us may remember a practice line similar to that from typing class. (Yes, Virginia, there were and are such things as typing classes, and yes, there is Santa Claus.) Not that we are about to practice some keyboarding here with these lines, but more importantly, take another look at what the passage from Luke proclaims: ‘Let’s go see what has taken place that the Lord made known to us.’

The angels came to call them, these good shepherds, to bring them into the fold, into the flock. The shepherds knew there was something more for them to do along with the tending of their own sheep. They were called to see firsthand the Messiah, whom God had sent as they heard the Good News of His birth. They heard the heavenly hosts sing praise to Him and bringing ‘peace to those on whom His favor rests’ and they wanted all they could get.

Just like us. We are challenged just the shepherds were to go beyond the scope of the things they had come to know from the world. The angels had called them to see something different and in so doing, what they saw transformed them, so much so that they took the message to others. And they too were impacted, ‘amazed’, by what they were told and believed. We are also called to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ more than just what we can see and hold from the material plane. We have to be open to receive the Good News as the shepherds first heard it and then as they retold it. In other words, practice it.

Now is the time for all of us to see, hear and act on what we have come to believe in our faith. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Just as the shepherds we called, we are also called and challenged to be transformed as we too are called. To hear, see and act on—to practice—the message we have been told, glorifying and praising God, just as it has been given to us.

Luke 2:20

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.


Offer It Up! December 25, 2011

Christmas Day


Isaiah 9:1

The people that walk in darkness have seen a great light.

Truly He taught us

to love one another;
His law is love and

His Gospel is peace.

Sweet hymns of joy

in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us

praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord!

O praise His name forever!

O Holy Night

O Night Divine


Offer It Up! December 24, 2011


His name is John!

The Scriptures given us daily as we approach the Christmas Season provide us with much to reflect on.After the birth of John the Baptist we see Elizabeth and Zechariah gathered with friends and relatives. Elizabeth announces the babe will be called John.Immediately the reaction begins..."None of your relatives are named John." True to patriarchal attitudes, they turn to Zachariah to question the choice of a name. He confirms that he will be called John, his tongue is loosed and he sings out His canticle, praising God and announcing John's mission to man.

Can we see in these narratives threadsof God's design for all our lives? The coming of the Word to transform the world, marking the path to eternal glory for all mankind. We approach this feast with hearts open to the wonder of God's most merciful love. We come hopeful in the realization that nothing we have has not been given to us by a generous loving God.Beginning with life itself, we come mysteriously from nothingness to life, something we cannot completely understand as we often bow to false egos, not even realizing the littleness of who we are.In the vastness of created universes, an atom of matter looms large compared to our nothingness before the Creator who beyond our wildest dreams loves us beyond our ability to comprehend. In all this we are called to experience love in the receiving and in the giving.

God, Our Father, grant the desires of hearts this Holy Season.Let our desires be to know and experience the love of Jesus Your Son through sincere actions as we love one another as Jesus modeled for us.May the example of Mary, Our Mother, teach us to live faithfully in all circumstances and to support one another is achieving holiness of life.Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! December 23, 2011


Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, Refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD. Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD, as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day, To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the land with doom.

We could all use a hand from time to time, even if it seems that things are going quite well for us. Here it is the end of the Advent season and the preparation time is at an end and we have the reading from Malachi that reminds us:

Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me

We may even ask ourselves, how much more preparation or even assistance do we need to make ready for Him? We think we have our ducks all lined up. We have most if not all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. Heck, most of us may even have all the things we need to buy, bought! None of those are bad at all. But again, how much more preparation do we need?

We evidently need more. Just as the refiner’s fire as he purifies his silver, we all need to be ‘fired’ and ‘purified’ every chance we get. As the silver is purified and attains its best metal, the refiner will be able to see his reflection in the pool, knowing the purification process is doing its job. We can align ourselves with that same method, the more we purify ourselves, the more we are in the image and likeness of Christ. We can see Him in us and He can see us in Him.

Put yet another way, the more light of Christ we have in our lives, the more we can see what we need to clean out. The more preparation we need. Yup, company’s coming. We best get busy cleaning and getting ready. The more we do now, the easier it will be when He is ready for us.


Offer It Up! December 22, 2011


Luke 1:46-56

Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."

Your mission, should you decide to accept it…’ That spy show on television from the days of black and white now has is experiencing a hey-day in the movie theatres in recent years. Mission Impossible started out with a message similar to that as the team began its next undercover operation. And of course if they didn’t accept the assignment or if they got caught, something was said about the secretary disavowing any knowledge of their whereabouts or who they were or what they had for breakfast.

I made that part up about the breakfast but most of the other stuff was relative to the show. The mission they were assigned was never easy and it seemed someone was always getting dead or close to it and others were getting beat up and in all sorts of trouble. No matter what though, they always accepted the mission, knowing what they would have to be going through. Kind of like what we go through in our own lives, except we don’t get orders necessarily from some top-level, top secret secretary nor do we get close to death defying feats on a daily basis. But other than that, pretty much exactly like our lives, right? Not yet? I didn’t think so either.

We may not get clear cut, A-B-C orders every day. Nor do we get our lives planned for us in such a way as Mary did for her. Yet there are ways that we can submit to God’s will and plan just as Mary did. With commitment and obedience, Mary accepted the will of God to bring the Savior into the world. Undoubtedly, she was the first disciple, bringing to the world the Good News. The Word Made Flesh. Messiah. Emmanuel. God With Us.

As that disciple, she gave her life in service to God. Yes, she had a question or two. Yet she maintained her humility and her grace and continued to live as she was called. And as she did, she faced ridicule. She faced adversity. She faced challenges. She saw her son give up His life in sacrifice on the cross. All of this and her love for God stayed steadfast and her faith deepened as His humble servant. As painful as it was, she remained in His presence. He did not abandon her nor did she abandon her ministry, her mission, what God had called her to do.

Would we be so steadfast if that were our calling? Would we be as prepared as Mary? We have time, every day, to make ourselves that way. To put our hearts and souls in that position to do as we have been called. No, it is not and will not necessarily be easy for us either. Yet we can choose to move forward with the grace God has given us or choose not to. The mission—our transformation and our salvation—should we decide to accept it, is up to us.


Offer It Up! December 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary Liliana and Brad!

Happy Birthday Tom!


Here we are at the Winter Solstice, tomorrow, the 22nd, the shortest day of the year. Sunrise, sunset; light and darkness. The World is afire with a light we so often fail to see.A woman carries in her womb her Creator. Life!

Holiday greetings abound during this season of grace, but it so often seems the Giver of grace is ignored. I say ‘seems’ because around each corner lies a miracle, one that occurs reminding us that the Lord of life dwells in hearts, in hearts too often broken. Hearts that are broken in their own ‘new crucifixion’, resulting from a failure to love. In the hustle and bustle of a world gone mad in the chase for more and more gratification of the senses, there is a cure for their restlessness with created things; seeking and acknowledging theCreator and Giver or all.


I admire the lovely evening holiday lights that shine throughout the city-bright and festive! Yet I still look for signs or the scenes that lift me beyond the realms of earth—looking beyond the stars, deep into the unfathomable universe, rejoicing in spirit that God is with us!

Breathless, I gaze on the scene as I contemplate the God-man in such a tiny form, the aura of glory surrounding this scene. Mary, Mother most blessed, Joseph most patient, most loving model of most powerful human love. Shepherds, reminders of the Wonder of God's revelation to all men.Creatures or God mesmerized in the presence of the King or Kings!

Today as we hear of Mary hastening to visit Elizabeth, perhaps we can let our minds run in haste with her.Be there as she greets Elizabeth and be amazed and puzzled at Elizabeth's response. We may wonder that she even knew Mary was carrying her Lord. At the Eucharist, let your heartstrings tremble in melodious song as you receive the Lord, as you hold Him in the palm of your hand, and take Him as he promised to be the Bread of Life!

Sit in silent wonder as He speaks to your heart....
CHRISTMAS

INCARNATION

GOD IN MAN INVITING US TO INTIMACY.

During these next days as prepare to celebrate a great feast, celebrate with mind, heart, soul that you may come to deeper understanding of the wonder of so great a mystery.Live this Christmas season in the presence of the Christ, who has come, who is to come!

Deacon


Anniversary Note...

There are types of friendships that are often established and built in spousal-type relationships; a man’s wife meets someone else’s wife, they become friends, the husbands meet and they become friends and, as the story would go, the couples end up as good and faith-filled friends. That would be one way for folks to meet and grow in God’s Love. Other times, God has people come into our lives to be there with us for those times when we will most need someone to fulfill God’s loving care here on earth.

You meet them and they seem to be nice enough and all that. The more you are around them, the more you see that God has been a big part of their lives and you start wanting to know more about how that happened… not because you really care so much about that so much or them but because you’re selfish and want some of what they have. Not entirely a false statement but, admittedly, when we see others close to the goodness of God, don’t we all want more of that in our own walk?

Man to man, woman to woman, couple to couple—we all need someone we can count on when things go south as they sometimes do. Someone to be there in faith and in prayer when the pavement suddenly comes out from under the car and no amount of steering or braking will help. Liliana and Brad have been that couple, those friends, not just to us but probably to many others as well. Well done, good and faithful servants.

And I’m not exactly sure how this relationship became what it is today and maybe that’s not so important right now. What is important is to know that they have allowed themselves to be put in God’s hands to be those messengers, those disciples, those friends. And truthfully, the more we continue to live our journey, ‘falling upward’, the more we can find those that we can call our friends nearer at hand, closer at heart, filling our hearts with the faith and love of God.

As they celebrate the 32nd anniversary of their marriage, (they married at a very, very young age by the way), it is clear how they continue to put more of their lives and love at the mercy and love of God. A beautiful family of children, a beautiful ancestry of faith and family with those living and those sharing eternal salvation, Lili and Brad extend to others the kindness and graces bestowed upon them. The love and life they share goes beyond the lines of family and reaches into the hearts and lives of any and all they share their home with… we are, all family.

Let me borrow from this poem and paraphrase it just a bit:

‘Their giving begins with love.

And is constantly renewed

With memories and fulfillment

Graced by family, friends and food.’

Happy Anniversary to our friends.

May God continue to shower you both with His Love, grace, fulfillment and wisdom to do His will.

Numbers 6:24-26

The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!


Offer it Up! December 20, 2011


Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

So here we are, closing in not so much on the end of Advent as we are more so on the beginning of what we’ve all been waiting for… the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Over the past several weeks, it might be that some of of us have experienced some changes, some drastic. Some not so much.

Some may have changed more than others. Some may have changed in ways more than they thought they would.

Some physical. Some maybe from within.

Some spiritual. Some emotional.

Some may have even grown intellectually!

However it is that you have found yourself transformed, Jesus wants us all to ‘conform’ our bodies and souls to be more like His.

What is it that we can accomplish without Him? What is it that we have gained and learned on our own? Who are we to become if we choose to make our citizenship of this world and not of heaven?

The answer to all of the above is nothing, nothing and nothing.

We are indeed helpless without the light and guidance of Jesus Christ.

We have learned nothing on our own that He has not instilled in us so that we would become aware of it.

Not a single one of us would even be an ‘us’ if it were not for the gift of His grace and mercy.

Romans 12:1-2

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect

We are reminded in that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are then told not conform ourselves to this age but to put ourselves in a position to know what God’s will is for us—His good and pleasing and perfect will.

This Christmas, may we all be renewed in His spirit and love.


Offer It Up! December 19, 2011


Reading a passage from St. Francis de Sales’—some have called the second self-help book ever written—Introduction to a Devout Life, how easy is it to see ourselves in the same context he wrote about, only four centuries later? How easy it is for us to see splinters in our neighbors’ eyes but for the planks in our own…

PART III CH. XXXVI We find fault with our neighbor very readily for a small matter, while we pass over great things in ourselves. We strive to sell dear and buy cheap. We are eager to deal out strict justice to others, but to obtain indulgence for ourselves. We expect a good construction to be put on all we say, but we are sensitive and critical as to our neighbor’s words.

We expect him to let us have whatever we want for money, when it would be more reasonable to let him keep that which is his, if he desires to do so, and leave us to keep our gold. We are vexed with him because he will not accommodate us, while perhaps he has better reason to be vexed with us for wanting to disturb him. If we have a liking for any one particular thing, we despise all else, and reject whatever does not precisely suit our taste.

If some inferior is unacceptable to us, or we have once caught him in error, he is sure to be wrong in our eyes whatever he may do, and we are forever thwarting, or looking coldly on him, while, on the other hand, someone who happens to please us is sure to be right. Sometimes even parents show unfair preference for a child endowed with personal gifts over one afflicted with some physical imperfection. We put the rich before the poor, although they may have less claim, and be less worthy; we even give preference to well-dressed people.

We are strict in exacting our own rights, but expect others to be yielding as to theirs;—we complain freely of our neighbors, but we do not like them to make any complaints of us. Whatever we do for them appears very great in our sight, but what they do for us counts as nothing. In a word, we are like the Paphlagonian partridge, which has two hearts; for we have a very tender, pitiful, easy heart towards ourselves, and one which is hard, harsh and strict towards our neighbor.

We have two scales, one wherein to measure our own goods to the best advantage, and the other to weigh our neighbors’ to the worst. Holy Scripture tells us that lying lips are an abomination unto the Lord, and the double heart, with one measure whereby to receive, and another to give, is also abominable in His Sight.

Be just and fair in all you do. Always put yourself in your neighbor’s place, and put him into yours, and then you will judge fairly. Sell as you would buy, and buy as you would sell, and your buying and selling will alike be honest.St. Francis de Sales

The greatest commandment tells to love God above all else. The second greatest one is to love your neighbor as yourself. As St. Francis wrote in the 17th century and as can be found in scripture today, it’s all about the following of God’s will, doing as we would have done unto us.


Offer It Up! December 18, 2011


Matthew 15:8-9

This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.

Maybe you’re like a lot of us when we hear someone begin to tell us something that starts or ends with ‘True story,’ or ‘Saw it with my own eyes.’ Or then there is the popular ‘For real.’

These same people have told us stories before that have ended up holding just about as much water as a sieve and now, whatever it is or was they are so interested in having us believe or understand as their truth only becomes more difficult due to their insistence. And often times their accompanying actions.

It seems to be all talk and no action. In the cowboy jargon, there is an expression used: ‘all hat and no cattle.’ That would be these folks. They talk like they do well and live according to the way they talk but upon closer examination, there is little substance to show that they do. Sometimes they are found out. Other times not. Sometimes we challenge them on it. Sometimes they continue to live as if they believe all they say.

A story goes how a woman had a dream and an angel took her to a church to pray. As the organist played, she saw the organ's keys go up and down but no music came from the organ. The choir sang yet as the singers' mouths opened and closed, no song came from their lips. And even as the congregation prayed and their lips moved, not a sound could be heard.

The woman turned to the angel and said, "I know this place. This is my church. These are my friends. Why can’t I hear anything!”
The angel said, "There's nothing to hear."

God won’t stand for that when it comes to our hearts and our faith. Those that put themselves as believers cannot say one thing and then do another. It is not about being a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ or Christian, even. We believe Him in all He has for us, with our hearts, minds and souls. And actions.

Or we may end up not hearing anything.


Offer It Up! December 17, 2011


Matthew 1:16-17

Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.17Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

I read something about today’s gospel—the tedium of the genealogy and the names that we hardly recognize if at all and those that we do, we recall only vaguely. That is, until we hear of those names that are more ‘popular’ and ‘prominent’ in scripture history. Abraham of course is one, and Isaac and Jacob.

There are those that will be familiar with Judah but from there, things begin to get a bit sketchy until we hear about David and Solomon. From there it’s all the way to another Jacob, Joseph and Mary before most of us will find another name or three we can pick out.

And then, as it should be, the one Name we all know, at whose Name every head should bow and every knee should bend, Jesus, His Name becomes very clear.

The Word becomes flesh.

Like all the generations before Him that prepared His way, we are still on our way in preparation for His birth.

Come Lord Jesus


Offer It Up! December 16, 2011


1 Peter 4:7-11

Christian Charity

The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There are those days when we feel as if the world is about to end. At least the world as we know it to be for us. Those times it seems when all possible things that could have just have easily been ‘good to go’ have taken up and gone to hell in a hand basket.

But since life is not always how we want it and can be about how we follow the will of God and His gift of free will to us, Peter is encouraging us here to take a more serious approach to how we choose to live. Yes, the end may truly be at hand, even if we deem otherwise and we are to be ready for it. He even gives us some pointers on how to put our lives in order: serious and sober prayer, love one another, be hospitable—especially without complaining about it. Serve and give as stewards of the graces you have been given by God.

If they sound a bit familiar, they should. From the commandments to the beatitudes to the corporal works of mercy, we all can take another page or two from them to better ourselves. We are the next new disciples. Each day we will be given that witnessing opportunity to preach the Good News by word or deed or both. We will change a life by the way we choose to live ours—we can change it for the better or leave it as we found it. There is little if any glory for God in the status quo when it comes to being transformed in His light. That goes for us all as we are all to give Him glory now and forever. Amen.


Offer It Up! December 15, 2011


Isaiah 54:8-10

In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah: as I swore then that the waters of Noah should never again flood the earth, so I have sworn now not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you.

Though the mountains fall away and the hills be shaken, My love shall never fall away from you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Has that ever happened to you—that brief outburst where you lost it for a moment or twelve or twenty-seven or even longer? Where you had just had enough of whatever or whoever was giving you grief or issues and you just threw your hands over your face and said ‘That’s it!’ You start to walk away to get even farther away from it and then realize what just happened.

The reality of it all begins to settle in.

You’re not really as grieved or over-the-top-angry as you thought you had been. The illogical issues that were so much consuming you have given way to saner times. It’s as if you’ve been washed with God’s healing grace of forgiveness. What mattered most then is of no consequence at all now. What mattered little then is of greatest concern now. Gone are the pains of the argument, the worries, the doubts, the grief; let them be replaced with the peace of God’s mercy and love.

Just as God said the world would not be flooded again, He would not ever turn from us either. In our times of anger, despair, grief, distrust and even sinfulness—these matters of great consequence—that is what we do. We turn from Him. And we when turn back to Him, in confidence and hope, and in matters of greater consequence, we find ourselves in His mercy and care. Yes, our lives may be shaken and our worlds may be turned upside down but His Love ‘shall never fall away.’


Offer It Up! December 14, 2011


Jeremiah 1:4-5

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

God has it right for us all. He has set everything in motion for us. He started the world spinning and from then on, gave us the free will to keep it going in the right direction. At least our part of the world anyway.

So what we do with that free will makes us who we are. We do spend much of the energy from it on establishing our identity—an identity based on the makings from the materialism of what the world offers us or an identity from the spirituality and guidance God gives us from living the life He ‘set apart’ for us.

Sometimes we go back and forth, living with what the world offers us instead of what God has given us. Before long, hopefully, we realize the errors of our ways and find our way back to the way He had established for us. We may be not as proud of ourselves as we were when we left His plan but that is not that His concern. For sure, a lesson in humility, but God just wants us back.

As long as He has known us, as much as He knows about us and as much as He has planned for us, there is no other place then we should be but in His trust and care.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.


Offer It Up! December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Jessica!


Matthew 25:1-4, 6-9, 13

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven will be like this: Ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.
‘At midnight there was a cry, “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him.” Then all those wedding attendants woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.”
‘So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

Faster and faster it seems the world is going around us. Either that or some of us are getting slower. Maybe both events are happening, compounding the issue: it’s more difficult to keep up with people these days. Even with all the technology at hand and this social media outlet here and that smart phone there and that i-type device over there, what was news this morning is now so much electronic birdcage liner. What do we do to keep up? Or does it even matter?

Well it does matter, just not so about the electronic stuff or fluff, really. Taking a page or line from Matthew’s gospel, we can start with ‘staying awake’. Being alert to what God has in store for us, not for what that media starlet is doing or that pop teen star did. And for that matter, what other folk are saying about us either. It’s about where our hearts and souls are and where they are going. That is what is important.

Are you going out like the wedding attendants without enough oil for your lamps? Are you going out in the world without your heart prepared with prayer? Are you going at life with your own set of plans instead of following the will God has for you? Or is there more sense in your life than that? For most of us, we would like to think that there is more logic in our lives than that.

There are those times when we are challenged by circumstances that leave us wondering if we are on the path God has called us to serve. Through prayer and perseverance we will be led. As His disciples, He told us it would not be easy but it would be worth it. It’s about the significance He makes in us for others and the difference in their lives through us. That’s discipleship. That’s what matters.

2 Corinthians 5:20

So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.


Offer It Up! December 12, 2011


John 1:6-8

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

John made it clear it was not about him. He was not the Christ, unworthy as he was to even unfasten His sandals. All he was about was ‘a voice’, a voice to let others know of the Christ and the Light He was to bring for the world. John was doing what he could in ‘making straight the path’, maybe not so much for Jesus to come to them but maybe it was for them to find their way to Jesus. Shedding some light along their way—he was not the light but he certain knew about it.

As John was sent to make way for the Light to come into the world, so are we called to make straight our own paths and bringing the Light of Christ along with us. Yes it is a challenge we face as we encounter our own trials and sacrifices, along with those that carry an impact on the world around us: right to life issues, the economy, the wars…We can choose to bury our heads in the sand, in the darkness, or we can stand erect and carry our own lights forward. The more light we have in our lives, the more we can see the hope and love of God. Just as the adverse is true—the darkness of sin and the decline in morality and character that seems prevalent these days where there is little if any light to shine.

So what do we do? Sit still and let our lights burn only for awhile where we are? Of course not. More light is more faith. More faith brings about more persistence and perseverance. Even in prison, John and other apostles sent out their followers to shed more light. We can do the same from the confines of our own ‘prisons’, those confines of our lives that we ‘say’ keep us from doing the will of God. This is the time, this Advent, to break out of the chains of what we say we cannot do. This is the time to bring about more light in how we live and to ‘be’ more in the Light of Christ in the way we do it.


Offer It Up! December 11, 2011


1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.
May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

Look again at what Paul wrote from Thessalonica.

It doesn’t say rejoice only when it’s the right time to rejoice.

It says ‘Rejoice always.’

It doesn’t say pray when the time is right or when everyone else is or when it’s convenient or when all hell is breaking loose.

It says ‘Pray without ceasing.’

It doesn’t say to be thankful only when your mouth is full or your pockets have some extra change in them or when you weren’t the one pulled over for going too much over the posted speed limit.

It says ‘In all circumstances give thanks.’

It says all these things because in fact it is the ‘will of God’ that we are where we are, in the times where we are, praying as we should be, giving thanks and praise for all we are and where we are.

To go on even more, Paul reminds us to keep what is good, and, of course, lose what is not. We are reminded to ‘test everything’, not because everything needs testing but to see that it is from God and not from the world.

Following such, the peace and holiness that we are to have as God’s gift to us, may become ours more perfectly. As He has been faithful to us so must we be faithful to Him.


Offer It Up! December 10, 2011


Take, Lord, and Receive

Take, Lord,

and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding,

and my entire will.

All I have and call my own.

Whatever I have or hold,

You have given me.

I return it all to You

and surrender it wholly

to be governed by Your will.

Give me only Your love

and Your grace

and I am rich enough

and ask for nothing more.

Amen.

Prayer of St. Ignatius


Offer It Up! December 9, 2011


Isaiah 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea; Your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or blotted out from my presence.

Here we go again... if it were only that simple, following God’s lead, that is.

For sure, He does have a path laid out for us—sometimes so clear we cannot help but follow it. Other times we find it so clear we can’t believe it and choose to go another route, disregarding the clarity and the simplicity of the life in front of us. He tells us up front to follow His commandments. If we do, our prosperity will be flowing like a river. Yet for all those choices to do so, we often find ourselves on the other side of them, making our own rules, our own set of instructions to get by in the ways of the world.

Therein lays the issue. God’s understanding of what should be going on in our lives is on a different level than what we can comprehend here. We put too much stock in the material world when we should be more in tune with what The Word of God has to say to us. It seems as if we all develop spiritual myopia in one eye if not morally so in the other eye of our souls. The good news/bad news is this: we are not as individuals exclusively immune to being cured. Bad news is we put it off too much and our vision becomes even worse and we soon accept even more of what we see as okay and tolerable.

We all know it’s not. We choose to shut our eyes and minds to the truth so we don’t have to see things as they are only see we can see them as we want them to be... like us. So if we change us and start being like God has called us to be then that would not be such a bad deal then. Maybe you’ve heard it said that the heart has a way of talking the mind into whatever it wants. Set your heart on what God wants for your mind to be.


Offer It Up! December 8, 2011

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


You cannot become more like Christ and stay as you are!

Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Patron of the United States, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC stands in tribute to the Catholic presence, placing this country under the patroness of Mary, the Immaculate Conception.


I wonder as I go through the day how we can better our tribute to Our Mother, Mary, who over the centuries continues to intercede for us. In prayer, I ask Mary to strengthen me, to draw me to herself in renewed devotion that I may learn anew to love her Son and become one as He prayed we would to the Father. (John 17)


Mary is the model disciple for us all in faith, we too must learn to respond "be it done to me according to your word". In our age and time we are faced with a call to new evangelization, the challenge for me, for you, how to make Christ present in the daily occurrences of our living. Catholic families must examine their collective consciences and sincerely look at their lives and lifestyles. Are they—are we—living the Gospel values, the Gospel message?


At baptism, parents announced that we understood our role, our responsibility to communicate the faith to the children God willed to create through our love. Not simply to deliver them to teachers of faith in the Church, but to teach them by our own example or faithful living. We are all called to reveal God's presence. Our love for one another is a sign, a reflection of God in our midst. In the age in which we live, we are challenged to bring gospel values to bear in ways that confound us. New technologies and scientific discoveries are arriving so rapidly we can hardly catch our breath. This week's new device makes last week's obsolete. Ability to accomplish things we only dreamed of in past years, sometimes tempts us to ignore moral consequences. We must keep in mind the dignity of the human person created in the image or the Creator, of Love, and use the gifts of creation freely and wisely for the good of all and always to give glory to God.


This day is a Solemnity dedicated to Mary. A day for all of us to find time to stop, sit quietly and visit with Our Mother. Ponder in our hearts as she did. What it all means to give our lives to God. To abandon ourselves to His will, by striving to know ourselves with all our skills, limitations, even tendencies to sin as we strive for that perfection Jesus calls us to.

In Matthew's Gospel..."be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Yes, it sounds impossible but we are reminded nothing is impossible with God. I, you, us, we are all a work in progress… each day we have new opportunities to complete the process and improve the product.
Each day begins with awareness that God has given us His time whatever minutes, hours, day or days we may have. How do we spend this treasure?

Make today a day or reflection on Mary, Jesus' Mother, Our Mother.

What example does she reveal to you?

Deacon


Offer It Up! December 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Theresa!


2 John 1:6, 8-9

For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk.

Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense.Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

Simple rules, simple instructions. Should be simple then enough to put it together then, right?

My brother uses a line when he plays golf that it’s a simple game yet it’s hard to play. Well, yeah, and even harder for us whose skill levels are not of those who are gifted and talented in such areas. Yet with practice and continued effort, one can gain some semblance of skill and at least go play the game and enjoy what they are doing. Most of the time anyway. Works for me that way as I do love to play.

With our paths toward holiness contrasted to that sport, looking to the verses from 2 John, we should all walk according to the commandments we have received, as we have heard and learned from the beginning. Simple rules, simple plan. John also lets us know that we are not to lose what we have already worked for. What would the point be then in putting forth the effort in learning them and practicing them in our lives if we were to only choose to let them go away?

With golf or any sport, you don’t want to lose whatever skills you’ve learned so you have to keep practicing them. And not to trivialize our lives and paths, but really, what is any different about them if we don’t continue to practice what we have already come to know and learn? We have come to know—and we continue to learn—that anyone who remains in the teachings of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, has the Love and Grace of God in their lives. Anyone who does not, chooses to go a different path. Let them go their own way, if only they would see the truth in Christ Jesus through the way we live.

It’s tough to give up what we’ve learned. But if it’s not the way we should be doing things, then let the unlearning begin. Like a bad golf swing, to get better one has to give up what bad habits they've learned and build in and on the ones that work.

In our journeys, let’s pray that none of us ever give up what we’ve learned then in the truth of our own faith, in the love and fellowship of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Offer It Up! December 6, 2011


Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Many of us may remember just how blazing hot it was this past summer with temperatures in the 100’s for days on end, little if any rain and drought conditions still impacting lives today. As those conditions prevailed, we continued to prevail upon the goodness of God to bring us what we needed—rain and respite from the heat.

We found it the respite wherever we could-pools, cool indoors, cooler climates, lakes that were not completely dried up. Yet through it all, we must have known God was still with us. The burden of the heat, the burden of the drought and the burden of the mounting costs of electricity were all taking their toll. But we did as we all should do; we persevered.

We knew it would pass. We knew cooler weather would be here. We knew rain would at some point cloud the skies. We knew God was with us in our time of adversity.

As He beckons still-‘Come to Me all who are burdened’ we are all given the opportunity to lay at His feet any and all of what ails us. What troubles us. What we cannot carry on our own.

Yes, cooler and even colder temperatures are now here and we may not recall the heat as much now as we shiver and shake off the cold. Through it all God is with us. Through the great, the good and the not so good. Through the bad and the horrible and the tragic. He has not nor will not abandon us.

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.Albert Camus


Offer It Up! December 5, 2011


Matthew 5:23-24
M
ake peace...and then...offer your gift to God.

Before his conversion in 389 B.C. St. Augustine agonized over his bad life. He wanted to "fill every valley" of lust and "level every mountain" of pride, but he could not. Then, one day, he began to pray and weep. Suddenly, he heard a voice. It seemed to say, "Take and read! He took a Bible and read the first words his eyes fell on. They said: "Take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature." Romans 13:14
Augustine said later, "Suddenly my heart became flooded with light...leaving me with a profound peace." That moment was the turning point in Augustine's life.
staygreat.com

Maybe we are all at least a little like St. Augustine with our own turning points in our lives.

Maybe some of us are a lot more like him than we care to admit, present company and writer included.

Maybe it takes more than just our own will and strength to turn things around.

Maybe the harder we try on our own the more we discover that we are essentially ‘weaponless’ against our ‘sinful nature’.

Maybe we put down our ego and pick up those things that are more of Jesus Christ as did St. Augustine and realize that Jesus is the one to turn things around for us; we are not the ones to turn things around for Him.

Maybe when we do battle with Christ on our side and inside our hearts, the peace within us will keep us in His grace and away from our sinful ways.

Maybe?

What do we have to lose but everything?


Offer It Up! December 4, 2011


2 Peter 3:8-14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay," but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.
Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Though we are admonished not to, how often do we ignore our impatience with our prayer and service life? How often do we call into question God’s response to our petitions? Who are we then to be so revered to call on God to act for us when in fact it is He that is doing the calling? After all, is it not for us to be and do as HE has directed us?

Of course it is. Simply, God is patient with us; we are not with Him. That’s why we offer prayer and petition time after time, of course in praise and thanksgiving yet also in pursuit of His response… ‘God, I’m praying and talking to You—what do you have in return?’ We know what that should be like. It should be more like Samuel and Eli—‘Speak Lord for Your servant is listening.’ Eli told Samuel to go back, wait, and listen. We could do well to follow those steps. Pray. Go back to silence. Wait. Listen.

He will respond to our prayers. He will put us in position to be ready for when He returns, provided we respond to Him. And that response means for us to be holier than we were before we started our supplications to Him. That means we find ourselves on the narrower paths to holiness. That means we start living more like Him than what the world would rather us live. As the reading ends, how would it be to be ‘found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.’?

Can any of us think of a better way to be found or even live?

What sort of persons ought we to be?


Offer It Up! December 3, 2011


A Hearty Protest Made with the Object of Confirming the Soul's Resolution to Serve God, as a Conclusion to Its Acts of Penitence

I, the undersigned, in the Presence of God and of all the company of Heaven, having considered the Infinite Mercy of His Heavenly Goodness towards me, a most miserable, unworthy creature, whom He has created, preserved, sustained, delivered from so many dangers, and filled with so many blessings: having above all considered the incomprehensible mercy and loving-kindness with which this most Good God has borne with me in my sinfulness, leading me so tenderly to repentance, and waiting so patiently for me till this-- (present) year of my life, notwithstanding all my ingratitude, disloyalty and faithlessness, by which I have delayed turning to Him, and despising His Grace, have offended Him anew: and further, remembering that in my Baptism I was solemnly and happily dedicated to God as His child, and that in defiance of the profession then made in my name, I have so often miserably profaned my gifts, turning them against God's Divine Majesty:--I, now coming to myself prostrate in heart and soul before the Throne of His Justice, acknowledge and confess that I am duly accused and convicted of treason against His Majesty, and guilty of the Death and Passion of Jesus Christ, by reason of the sins I have committed, for which He died, bearing the reproach of the Cross; so that I deserve nothing else save eternal damnation.

But turning to the Throne of Infinite Mercy of this Eternal God, detesting the sins of my past life with all my heart and all my strength, I humbly desire and ask grace, pardon, and mercy, with entire absolution from my sin, in virtue of the Death and Passion of that same Lord and Redeemer, on Whom I lean as the only ground of my hope. I renew the sacred promise of faithfulness to God made in my name at my Baptism; renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, abhorring their accursed suggestions, vanities and lusts, now and for all eternity. And turning to a Loving and Pitiful God, I desire, intend, and deliberately resolve to serve and love Him now and eternally, devoting my mind and all its faculties, my soul and all its powers, my heart and all its affections, my body and all its senses, to His Will. I resolve never to misuse any part of my being by opposing His Divine Will and Sovereign Majesty, to which I wholly immolate myself in intention, vowing ever to be His loyal, obedient and faithful servant without any change or recall. But if unhappily, through the promptings of the enemy, or human infirmity, I should in anywise fail in this my resolution and dedication, I do most earnestly resolve by the grace of the Holy Spirit to rise up again so soon as I shall perceive my fall, and turn anew, without any delay, to seek His Divine Mercy. This is my firm will and intention,--my inviolable, irrevocable resolution, which I make and confirm without any reserve, in the Holy Presence of God, in the sight of the Church triumphant, and before the Church militant, which is my mother, who accepts this my declaration, in the person of him who, as her representative, hears me make it. Be pleased, O Eternal, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God,-- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to confirm me in this my resolution, and accept my hearty and willing offering. And inasmuch as Thou hast been pleased to inspire me with the will to make it, give me also the needful strength and grace to keep it. O God, Thou art my God, the God of my heart, my soul, and spirit, and as such I acknowledge and adore Thee, now and for all eternity.

Glory be to Jesus. Amen

Part I, Chapter 20

Introduction to a Devout LifeSt. Francis de Sales


Offer It Up! December 2, 2011


Isaiah 29:24

Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Wouldn’t one been given cause to wonder sometimes after reading this verse from Isaiah ‘Yeah, right—if it were only that simple.’ Most of the time, we would like to think, at least for ourselves anyway, that it is that simple. Yet…

If it were just so that those that needed some ‘spirit-aided adjustment’ would be struck by the lightning bolt of spiritual grace and be immediately transformed to kind and understanding souls, thereby leading others to find the wonder and glory of salvation through Christ Jesus.

If it were just so that those that were so quick to blame-storm and finger-point were brought all together and declared to be fully knowledgeable as well as capable and found out they were not to find fault any longer but to give and live for faith-based solutions.

Yet… it is just so. And has been. We find ourselves at those very same times steering away from the not-so-obvious paths of holiness God has before us to the easier-to-see-and-navigate paths of the world. Looking at what others have on their paths, wanting it for ours. Wondering why we have these challenges and tasks at hand and others who live more ‘worldly’ than we, don’t. We forget it is not about us.

It is about the blessings bestowed and blessings shared. The more we live in that light, in the way God has called to, the more we will see He has given us. It’s true: the more we see all He wants for us, the more we will see all we want of Him.


Offer It Up! December 1, 2011


Romans 10:13-17

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?And how can people preach unless they are sent?

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?”

Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Oliver Wendell Holmes noted once that ‘The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.’ Here in Texas, if not other parts of the country and world, it’s quite possible that if you’re not moving, you’re bound to get run over—much sooner than later! With those two thoughts in mind, how is that so many of us get set in our ways and stay with the same old things instead of the ‘beautiful feet of those who bring us the good news’?

Take a look around. What do you see outside of your world? Hopefully it’s outside your world, anyway. Complacency. Minimalism. Individualism. And if it’s not any of those then, it may very well be that there are those that fall into normalism, if not daily at least occasionally. Those that take for granted the very gifts that ‘normally’ are around everyday—the air we breathe, the water we drink, the electricity we have… all the ‘normal’ stuff that the ‘normal’ people ‘normally’ have. For many it’s houses, cars, schools, families, jobs, even church and religion. For others, maybe their normal is not so much all those things but some of them. Purposefully left from the list from the ‘normals’ is that they don’t often have their faith as a sense of their ‘normalcy’. Religion—you bet. Church—got it. But faith? Really?

I just go to church because everyone else does.

I’m Catholic because my parents baptized me when I was a kid…yeah, I got religion.

They need to change the songs at church-all I ever hear is either Silent Night or Jesus Christ is Risen Today.

These are the true ‘normalists.’ Our call, our challenge is to move them from their ‘normal’ approach to life to let them know about what else there is besides going to church twice a year. Our challenge, our discipleship is to bring the Good News to them and all that are ready—or not—to hear that faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

So which direction are you moving? You are moving, aren’t you? Yes you are. We all are because we all have been called and we all have been sent. Indeed, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.