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

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The year 2014 passes into history and we begin a New Year full of Hope. We are in the midst of celebrating the wonder of God with us. Christ came to dwell in our midst as the God-man that we may dwell in Him as children of God, brothers and sisters sharing in His Divinity. Can we even begin to grasp in faith the wonder of this great mystery? 

We speak of being children of God, but continue to live and act so often as unredeemed. As we begin a New Year, may we truly live in love of God with all our being, mind, heart and soul. 

 

Grant O God, that we may see clearly with eyes of faith how our lives in so many simple ways, in so many seemingly obscure places, can effect peace in the world.

Give us visions that we may see in all circumstances that you are in our midst often in disguises that confound us. Keep us from the wiles of the evil one and let the light of Christ illumine our path always. Amen.

Deacon

 

As the New Year comes upon us and we find ways to make our lives and loves new, let us all continue to make ourselves even more ‘ready’ for the love of God to be in our lives, for the that Perfect Love He can only give...for us all to share.

 

From Archbishop Fulton Sheen and his book ‘On Being Human’

Time is a part of eternity; that just as our present moment has a memory behind it and a hope in front of it so, too, time is like one circle that is locked in another circle or, better still, time and eternity are like two hearts carved by lovers on an oak tree as if to give perpetuity to their love. Each new year is actually a testing and proving ground for eternity, a kind of novitiate in which we say "aye" or "nay" to our eternal destiny, a season of plenty from which we shall later on reap either wheat or weeds. A beautiful example of this consciousness of how time is bound up to eternity was revealed when we gave First Communion to a little princess. After the ceremony, when she had received the greetings of friends she said to her mother, "I am ready." Her mother said, "Ready for what?" She said, "Ready for Heaven. I have received Divine Love this morning and why should I go on living? For living is nothing but waiting for Perfect Love."

 

As submitted by LS





“O Come Let Us Adore Him!” 

Simple faith, yet total adoration:  Luke’s Gospel, in 2:22-35, shows the obedience of faith in Mary’s and Joseph’s observance of Jewish Law as well as Simeon’s patience in awaiting the fulfillment of God’s Promise to Him, that He would see the Messiah. He goes on, in Luke 2:36-40, to share another example of respect, responsibility, and resolution of faith in Anna. Anna, having been widowed at a young age, was now 84 at the time of the birth of Christ. Over the years, she had maintained her faith, never leaving the temple and serving/praising God through prayer and fasting. Upon the arrival of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, at the temple, she, in her observance, praised God and spoke of the Christ Child to all who would listen and to all who looked forward to the deliverance of God’s people! 

 

Anna, over the course of her 84-year life, is described as having answered God’s call to serve Him in faith and hope. The description of prayer and fasting is something we, as Christians, equate with staying “connected” with God. Luke’s brief mention of Anna gives us pause to ask ourselves if we have the simple, persistent faith to serve Him day-in and day-out in our lives? Anna’s example of simple reverence for God, through continual prayer/fasting, is intended to be an example for us in our daily lives, not just “periodic” efforts, to please God. Luke mentions, for a reason, two things:  1)  Her age (84 years); and, 2) The fact that she was widowed after just 7 years of marriage in her younger years. His point is her perseverance of faith. Do we, in our efforts, have these qualities? 

 

Luke goes on to say that after hearing both Simeon and Anna speak of Jesus in such powerful, prophetic terms, they went home to Nazareth and Jesus grew to maturity, in God’s wisdom and favor. To grow in holiness, we too must be faithful and simply obedient to His call, by these same examples.


Lord, may I remain ever hopeful and faithful, as Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna, and trust in your promises!  Enkindle my enthusiasm for prayer and praise of You!

Paul B




“O Come Let Us Adore Him!” 

Yesterday, in reading Luke 2:25-32, we focused on the strength of faith of Mary, Joseph and Simeon as they embraced and continued to seek and meet the expectations of God, believing that His Promises to them and us would be fulfilled. Today, we consider the faith of Simeon a little further. 

 

Having set eyes upon the Christ Child—the Messiah—Simeon announces he is ready to face death. His deepest desire—that revealed to Him by God—that he would see salvation, has been fulfilled! What does Simeon’s example teach us about the good news of Christmas? His patient wait in his life’s journey, to see the child Messiah, must serve as a reminder to live the essence of life—which centers on the possession of the Messiah—Jesus Christ—as our true treasure in our hearts! 

 

Simeon was described as an “upright” and “devout” man who was close to God. He was “prompted” by the Holy Spirit to be at the temple at the time that Mary and Joseph arrived for their sacrifice of two doves. Knowing this, we must examine our own lives and strive to have such an intimate relationship with Him so that we will be able to sense His Presence, discern His Will for us and, ultimately, love Him more dearly and nearly in our daily lives. 

 

In 1 John 2:5 we are told, “Whoever Keeps His word, truly has the love of God been made perfect in Him.” We come back, therefore, to the idea that such a relationship is “simple, but not easy.” The purpose of immersing ourselves in His Word (remember, He IS the Word) is to grow in Love for God, through His Son Jesus. This is the primary meaning of Christmas and the season’s focus! When we grow in this relationship, we show our willingness to accept His Grace. Only then can we undergo transformation which increases our ability to love in His Name, being Obedient to His Word.  By obedience, Simeon came to the Temple and saw Jesus! 

 

Lord, may Your Presence, this Christmas Season, truly be a journey that leads me to the breadth, length, height and depth of Your Love for us (ref: Ephesians 3:18)

Paul B

Feast of the Holy Family!

Mary, Joseph and Jesus—the Son of God Incarnate—obedient to them. Indeed He was subject to Mary and Joseph. As we pray, let us spend some time with them, asking what life was like and let them speak to your heart! Can we do that? Can we find a quiet place and allow ourselves to be silent enough to hear God speak to us, to hear Mary speak to us? 

 

Prayer is so often being so caught up in speaking to God, in asking, interceding and pleading. But how about listening, just being present to God, to Jesus, to Mary and listening.. how long has it been since we’ve tried that?

 

The distractions, the busy-ness parts of life keep coming and we need to learn to be so attentive of God's presence that we can learn to let the distractions pass us by, giving them no attention. To do that we need to, to make the effort to be still, takes a great effort for some. We are reminded of the psalmist as he says, "Be still and know that I am God!" 

 

Remember Elijah in the cave, God was not in the storm, or might wind, or lighting or thunder but in the still small voice. It is in tenderness that our loving Father speaks to us. We discover God in the ordinary moments of life, in the life of the family, in the love of husband and wife and the love for our children. And as we see the wonder of God's love in their lives, we see them struggle to find meaning and hopefully, they have received from us as parents, through whom God gave them life, the tools to make it through.

 

During this Christmas season may we all discover the wonder of God with us, the mystery of the Incarnation. May we find a more profound meaning in this wonderful mystery and may love fill us to the core of our being and transform our lives.

Deacon


“O Come Let Us Adore Him!” 

Our faith and commitment to grow in Christ requires time, desire and effort in order to become selfless in His Ways, by His Word. Today, in reading John 20:2-8, I am struck by the parallel of the faith required to stand beside the Manger of our Lord and truly adore him to the same faith required to stand at the empty tomb of Jesus, after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Both experiences evoke emotion and call to faith—faith in a God willing to endure anything out of His love and desire for salvation for each of us. 

 

John records, in 20:2-8, that Mary Magdalene was the first to go to the tomb of Jesus—she remained faithful even to death! John, upon hearing that Jesus’ tomb was empty, ran to the tomb and believed, without a doubt, that He had risen from the dead, as promised. That powerful faith is as honorable as the faith of the wise men who came, bearing most precious gifts, and the shepherds who followed the angels’ announcement that a King had been born in the City of David. 

 

So, to the parallel—whether we are standing with adoring eyes at the Manger of the Infant Jesus or gazing, in wonder, at the empty tomb of Christ, Risen from the Grave, we are called to adore Him! In our belief, as Christians, how do we witness to our faith in Christ, born among Men? How do we exhibit and show our thankfulness for His presence and mission among men? Finally, how do we honor His sacrifice of His life for us? Let us imagine, today and every day, throughout our life what it was like for God to encounter us in human form. And, imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph to bring Him into our world. What it was like for the Wise Men and Shepherds? What it was like for the early disciples to encounter Him daily? This is our call, ultimately, to encounter Him in our own daily lives, as He is the Word! 

 

Lord, you triumphed IN life and OVER life!  Give me the eyes of faith to grow, daily, in Your Glory.  Help me to draw near and grow in knowledge of You, the Word, and Your Power!

Paul B




“O Come, Let us adore Him!”

As with most birthdays, the day after, we realize that the “world continues to revolve” and a new day of life dawns. So it is with Jesus, the Word. 

 

Today, in reading Matthew’s Gospel, 10:17-22, we find Jesus telling His apostles that they will be subject to ridicule and rejection for their faith and following of the The Word—God! This is a stark reading to jump into after the celebration of Christ’s Birthday—God, among us….  But from His humble and troubled entry into the world, He faced “rejection” from the start, beginning with Mary and Joseph struggling to even find a place to stay, rest, and (ultimately) give birth to Our Lord. 

 

So, in reading this passage, we are forced to ask ourselves, “When our faith becomes uncomfortable or painful, do we persevere or do we find ways to withdraw into our own (worldly) comfort zones?  Jesus, in His adult ministry, tells us, “You will be hated and scored on account of my name, but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).  Therefore, we are each called to give total commitment to the Good News of Salvation—daily, not just on days of celebration and happiness. 

 

Imagine, over the next few days, the struggle of Joseph and Mary, as they have just delivered a newborn in the most austere of circumstances, now having to take care of this new life, take care of the business of registering for the census (which is how they came to be in Bethlehem), and to begin dreaming and planning of the future of raising this Child, the Son of God, made man! 

 

Through all of this humble and troubled beginning they (as are we) were called to believe that God has a plan and will support them (us) in the challenges being experienced as well as any ahead! Jesus urges believers to call upon His Spirit and He will come from within, guiding us in word and action to live out His call. 

 

Lord, You came, as flesh, to ransom us and give us the joy of salvation, amidst our human condition!  Help me to strengthen my faith in You every day of this life!

Paul B









“Prepare the Way of the Lord!”

Tonight, as the world waits, in anticipation of Christmas morning, the “arrival of Santa Claus” and the joys and wonders of being with family and friends Christmas brings to so many, Christians have the unique opportunity and blessing to be waiting in anticipation of the appearance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! 

 

Tonight’s vigil includes the single-most important opportunity—to kneel in total humility and honor at the simple Manger that holds God’s Son, born into the human condition in the most unassuming circumstance.  The wise men, who came from far and wide to kneel and give homage and the shepherds, to whom the angels heralded God’s presence in a stable, stood in awe at that manger: we, like them, must remember to stand firm and proclaim His presence in our lives with the same awe and wonder. 

 

Tonight’s vigil must be in anticipation of the Celebration of Christ’s Birth. We must recall that Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a manger, as there was “no room” for Him and His parents in the inns or homes. In today’s day, we are called to ask ourselves, “Is there room for Jesus in our hearts and homes?” Are we willing to allow Him into our hearts?  Are we courageous enough to adore Him on bended knee, at His presence in our lives? 

 

As we make our vigil, ponder the fact that there is no greater, purer or perfect presence in our lives than the Son of God coming into humanity for our Salvation! May our anticipation lead us to complete understanding and acceptance of the Joy that God, Almighty, is born among us, for us! As we accept Him, may we contemplate the mystery of God, made Man, and truly live the real and lasting hope that only His presence gives! May we be His instruments: a gift to be used for His Glory! May “Merry CHRISTmas” become our way of life in our next year and beyond, in thought, word, and deed!

Paul B




“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

In Luke 1:57-66 we see the efforts of faith come to fruition. The time for Elizabeth to give birth to John is revealed in these passages of Luke’s Gospel. Upon his birth and on the day of his circumcision Elizabeth announces that he shall be named “John”  which means, “The Lord is Gracious”. 

 

In recalling the miracle of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, we can understand her firmness of faith. Elizabeth was considered barren, due to the fact that she was beyond child-bearing years. Yet, in His graciousness and according to His plan of salvation, God enabled her to bear the herald of Christ! Also, we must recall our lessons about Zechariah, who was struck speechless by God, after his encounter with Him in the inner sanctum of the temple. Now, nine months later, after spending this time listening to God through his own silence, Zechariah is able to speak—affirming God’s greatness. 

 

In this Gospel passage we see two miracles come to fruition: the birth of John the Baptist and the return of Zechariah’s speech—both God speaking to us. These miracles take place, as due all miracles, because both persons to whom they are given obeyed God’s command by opening their hearts and minds to him. Do we believe that God will act within us and around us if we do the same? 

 

As we approach, in 48 hours, the celebration of Christ’s birth, let us open our hearts and minds in order to recognize how God is working in our own lives. Whether it is through the compassionate act of someone around us or the opportunity for us to offer a compassionate act, it is incumbent upon us to open ourselves to seeing Him. Zechariah had to be “silent” for nine months in order to truly listen… how do we listen?  Do we listen? And, upon listening, how much importance to we place on what we hear Him saying? 

 

Lord, renew me in faith so as to fully see and believe in Your promises!  Graciously come to me!

Paul B

Here we stand just a few days from the wonderful feast of the Incarnation.  Hopefully with wonder and anticipation of celebrating with many brothers and sisters with us now, and so many who praise and give glory to God face to face. Can we look today to the two women Hannah and Mary Our Mother, and not gaze in wonder at their faith, their trust, their humility as they give themselves in complete abandonment to God's will? 

 

Each day at evening prayer we are privileged to repeat the words of Mary's Magnificat. Hopefully, in taking these words in our own prayer life, we grow day by day in the understanding of what was done, and in our own ability to imitate Mary in giving ourselves to our Creator in humility, continuing to learn what love really is.

 

As we prepare to begin those wonderful days of the entire Christmas Season, may we discover and respond to the glorious gifts of God's  grace in our families and in the love we bear one another.  May we all become children of God, bearers of PEACE on earth.

Deacon

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Often, we reflect on God’s role in our lives, rather than our role in God’s. In our prayers we ask, then we wait! As I come one day closer to the day Christians celebrate the Birth of Christ, I continue to reflect upon the commitment and sacrifice that Mary made to bear Christ within, as the Mother of the Christ-Child, the sacrifice she made to raise her Son, and the manner in which she kept Him in her heart, mind, and soul “to the end”. 

 

In this Season, we recall Mary’s motherhood and how she accepted this. As noted yesterday, Luke 1:26-38 focuses on this journey of faith that is Mary’s and should be ours. The highlights of her journey are: 1)  We must enter our faith commitment with no fear and we must be opened to being filled with God’s Grace (Luke 1:30); 2)  We must ask, seek, and allow ourselves to be moved by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35); 3)  We must truly believe that, with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37); 4) We must rejoice in being a servant of the Lord (Luke 1:38); 5)  We must be able to listen and let it be done according to His Word and Promise and trust that He will provide all we need (Luke 1:38; 45); 6) We must proclaim the greatness of the Lord in that joy (Luke 1:46-47); 7)  We must accept the sorrows and joys that come with allowing Him into our lives; 8)  We, like Christ, must be willing to be pierced with the sword or sorrow, as we accept the joys (Luke 2:35).  9)  We must be willing to “do whatever He tells (as Mary told the servers in John 2:5); and, 10)  We must be willing to stand at the foot of the Cross (John 19:25). 

 

All of these things are elements of Mary’s full, life-time commitment to her Son, the Son of God! Perhaps, this day, each can take time to understand what a “Mary” Christmas was like?  It is a Christmas and life of faith, joy, self-sacrifice, obedience, evangelistic zeal, redemptive suffering, praise-filled worship, and constant reverence.  It is serving in steadfast love! 

 

Father, help me to lead the grace-filled life of a true servant and disciple.  Yes, Lord, JOY!  (Jesus, Only You!)

Paul B

We approach the final week of Advent, and it seems appropriate that the light of God shines on Mary who anticipates the birth of the Savior. Mary, full of grace, beloved of God, Chosen One, who so humbly and poignantly says Yes, to God's invitation. She hears God's call, and there is no hesitation, "Be it done to me according to Your word!"  In this present moment, in the now—be it done to me. 

   

In my moment of encounter I too can say ‘Yes’ to God, but I too often dwell in the past filled with regrets, or look to the future planning to accomplish...  God speaks and in that present moment I am lost either in past, or future or shifting back and forth.

 

Can I respond with the Psalmist, "Be still and know that I am God"? Can I step away for "busy-ness" whether I am actively busy with many things or  whether my busy-ness is a cluttered mind that distracts me from awareness of God?

How will you approach this final week of Advent, preparing to meet Jesus with JOY? 

 

May each day may we be drawn further into the mystery of God with us. May the wonder of the Incarnation be a profound new experience in your life. May the peace of Christ fill all our lives with new life.

Deacon

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Beginning in Luke 1, 13, we find Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, struck dumb for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy due to his doubt in God’s promise that Elizabeth will bear a son in her old age. As we “prepare the Way of the Lord” in our lives during this season we are renewing our hope and confidence in God’s faithfulness to His promise. 

 

In reading both Old and New Testament readings, today, we see a parallel: God’s wondrous presence and mystery, between Judges 13 (the angels’ annunciation of Samson’s birth to aged parents) and John’s. Both sets of parents are called by God to bring hope and deliverance at a time of spiritual void and difficulty. In both cases, the parents were Godly people tuned into God’s voice. Yet, today, we focus on the doubt that even the most “attuned” believers can experience. In Zechariah’s case, he was born into a priestly family and it became his privilege to be chosen as one to enter the inner court of the temple to offer sacrifice to God. It was in this inner sanctum where God spoke to him. When he withdrew, speechless, people knew that he had a special encounter with God. Though a message containing a blessing beyond his own expectation, “Your prayer is heard! You will have a son! And his mission will be great for all of Israel”, it was a lot for him to take in at once! 

 

Could God really do such a miracle as to give his barren and aged wife a son to bear? Think about the significance of him being “silenced” until God’s promise comes to fruition. What is the message?  Perhaps the primary message is that we are to be still and listen more than we do (Psalm 46:10)? 

 

When God draws us in to His presence, he wants us to be still and quiet so as to listen to His voice in our hearts and minds!  And, do so with trust! 

 

Lord, bring hope and peace to our lives!  Help me to hear, believe, love and serve you wholeheartedly.

Paul B

As we approach the feast of Christmas, the joy of Advent hopefully becomes more evident in our lives. The Joy of Salvation, Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary, Word made Flesh, Our very brother and the holy names we pray of Him, may we reflect on the many names that bring to our hearts the  very source of our life.

 

What does Christmas say to you? The sounds of Christmas have been changing over the past decade.  The greeting "Merry Christmas" is not heard as often as in times past in our own lifetime. There seems to be a reticence among so many of us to proclaim the wonder of this Holy Season. A Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord!  Shouldn't we be proclaim it with JOY?

 

The Holydays have been hijacked in order to proclaim a holiday season of consumerism. Celebrations, parties and such are good things that too often however, lead us to often empty gatherings, that lead us to seeing a need for designated drivers, remedies for digestive difficulties, perhaps even occasions of infidelity. What are we really celebrating when we exchange Merry Christmas for Happy Holidays? 

 

December 25, the day we have marked as a celebration of the birth of the Savior, we mark as the end of a season of revelry in  many instances. The first day of Christmas becomes the last day. We sing of the twelve days of Christmas without even a vague understanding that there is a Christmas Season, where we celebrate the Savior, we remember St Stephen, St John the Divine, the Holy Family, the Killing of the Innocents by Herod, the Magi, the Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus. 

 

So much to celebrate, so much to live for-so much to give.

But will we?

Deacon

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Matthew 1:1-17, contains the genealogy of Jesus.  I remember as a kid hearing this read in church and wondering what relevance we could or should find in reading this “litany of folks”, many of whom are obscure personalities in the overall historical context of the Old Testament. Today, in reading it, I read it for the first time in the context of “Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

 

There were 42 generations from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus.  Whether or not each was an “important” or “secondary” personality is not relevant. What is important to note is that each was a uniquely created piece of God’s plan for our Salvation. Do we know, within our own family circle, from where we came? 

 

The generations that preceded us in our home towns, states, country, and other parts of the globe are important to many of us. They give us a sense of identity or “grounding”. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus brings His “human identity” back to Abraham, whom God chose as the father of the Israelites—the Chosen People. He brings it through the line of David—the King of Israel. He uses this grounding to show Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s Promises to Abraham and David that He would send a Savior of the world! 

 

This is not just an historical account! It is the recognition of the spiritual genealogy that we must accept Jesus as the King and Savior of the world! As we read this genealogy, we are encouraged to understand that each of us is uniquely created, in the same manner, to fulfill God’s plan. Do we consider that mission daily? Are we aware of His call? As we realize our own roles in “preparing His path” we must ponder the question: “How is God challenging me to fulfill my role in His plan?” 

 

Lord, you are the Savior of the world and our eternal hope!  Provide guidance in my heart and in my home to allow me to fulfill Your Will in this season of Hope, Wonder and Expectation!

Paul B

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

The simplicity of the Christmas season is so often missed in the busy-ness of the season.  Among the distractions are:  wrapping things up at work to be able to “enjoy” a couple of “well-deserved” days off; shopping for or preparing gifts for friends, co-workers and loved ones;  preparing a variety of foods and snacks for dinner parties, work gatherings, and in anticipation of guests in our homes; decorating houses with bulbs, orbs, lights, and other decorations; mapping out travel plans, packing bags, and setting up our homes to be “empty” for a few days….  These things and many others take up thoughts and time, daily, as we “prepare” for Christmas. 

 

In reading Matthew 21:28-32, we find Jesus asking a question in parable form: a man had two sons whom he asked to go work in the field. The first said, “No….”, but then thought better and made his way to the fields. The second agreed to go, but did not go. Jesus, then asked, “Which son did His father’s bidding?” The leaders answered, “The first”. 

 

How are we, today, responding to the Father’s bidding. In our human condition, using this Christmas Season as an example, which “son” are we?  Do we agree to do the Father’s bidding each day?  If so, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”  This season and every day of our lives we  are called to live a faith that is shown in deed, not just word!  As Christians we are expected to “go to church on Sunday”.  But, beyond that, we must ask, do our actions stand out that we truly believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior? 

 

Have we heard the cry of the Prophets (and in this season, in particular, that of John the Baptist:  Prepare the Way of the Lord)? We are called to recognize God’s mercy in His coming as man—This is the ultimate sign of His forgiving grace, thus our call to repentance in word AND deed. 

 

Lord, in my busy-ness, let me be like the Son who ultimately follows Your direction, no matter my prior course! Simple, not always easy! Give me Your Strength, Courage, and Wisdom!

Paul B

We pray today with the Psalmist, "Teach me your ways, O Lord".  As we enter the last weeks of Advent and celebrate the Incarnation, we gather around the Crèche  and ponder all that the Lord has done for us. 

 

The tiny helpless babe in a manger, His mother Mary, Saint Joseph, all are reminders of what God has done in our midst. From the manger to the carpenter shop to Calvary and the bloody sacrifice on a cross, we celebrate what God has done and we wait for His coming again in Glory.

 

How do we wait? Patiently, trustingly, hopefully, faithfully and with love, giving all our effort to abandon ourselves humbly to always seek to live in accord with God the Fathers will—Thy will be done!

 

We began this third week in Advent with Gaudete Sunday...Rejoice!

Paul reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always, pray without ceasing! If we endeavor to be aware of God's presence in all the moments of life, if our every breath can eventually become a  prayer, will He not teach us His ways?

God longs for our love. We get a glimpse of this in our own lives as we long for love of those we love...

 

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call  to Him while He is still near!  Know with all your being, heart, soul and spirit that God dwell deep within.  Where the Lord is so will we find Heaven!

Deacon



“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Today, in reading Matthew 17:10-13, Jesus points out that John the Baptist was called to prepare the way of Christ’s presence in the world through preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal in our lives. This is no different than our own call to do the same in today’s time. As committed, faith-filled and watchful followers of Christ we are called to blaze a path for the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. This call is no different from the time when God, manifested Himself in human form among us, nor is it any less strong. 

 

Preparing the way of the Lord means that we are to turn ourselves away from sin and anything that is not in accord with His Will. Preparing the Way of the Lord is so important in our lives that Mark, in his Gospel, was led to begin that Gospel with that message (Mark 1:1-4):  “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah, the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare the way: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight His paths.’ John, the Baptizer, appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” 

 

How eager are we to do God’s will, in the same manner, preparing ourselves and His world around us to receive Him in His Glorious coming into our lives? Jesus, in Matthew 17, proclaims that the Son of Man will suffer in the hands of the world. How do we contribute to Christ’s suffering in our life’s daily decisions? As noted in yesterday’s reflection, we are called to ponder the different ways we contradict ourselves in word versus deed. Then we must put faith into action and match word and deed, both according to His Will! 

 

Lord Jesus, prepare a fire within me for laying the groundwork of your Kingdom!  Free me from the complacency of worldliness so as to devote myself, wholly, to You!

Paul B


“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Today, in reading Matthew 17:10-13, Jesus points out that John the Baptist was called to prepare the way of Christ’s presence in the world through preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal in our lives. This is no different than our own call to do the same in today’s time. As committed, faith-filled and watchful followers of Christ, we are called to blaze a path for the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. This call is no different from the time when God manifested Himself in human form among us, nor is it any less strong. 

 

Preparing the way of the Lord means that we are to turn ourselves away from sin and anything that is not in accord with His Will. Preparing the Way of the Lord is so important in our lives that Mark, in his Gospel, was led to begin that Gospel with that message (Mark 1:1-4):  “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah, the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare the way: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight His paths.’ John, the Baptizer, appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” 

 

How eager are we to do God’s will, in the same manner, preparing ourselves and His world around us to receive Him in His Glorious coming into our lives?  Jesus, in Matthew 17, proclaims that the Son of Man will suffer in the hands of the world.  How do we contribute to Christ’s suffering in our life’s daily decisions? As noted in yesterday’s reflection, we are called to ponder the different ways we contradict ourselves in word versus deed. Then, we must put faith into action and match word and deed, both according to His Will! 

 

Lord Jesus, prepare a fire within me for laying the groundwork of your Kingdom!  Free me from the complacency of worldliness so as to devote myself, wholly, to You!

Paul B




“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

How willing are we to accept Jesus’ challenge during the Season of Hope and Preparation for the Celebration of His Coming as Man! Churches throughout our land and the world are working to lead Christians to full preparation and readiness to receive Jesus into their hearts and homes during Christmas! 

 

In Matthew 11:15-19, Jesus points out the contradictions we show in our human condition. He chastises those who continue to rationalize or justify such behavior in our so-called practice of faith. He speaks of the current peoples as being like children lost in the din of the market, unable to hear each other over the shouts around them and their own. He speaks of the rejection John the Baptist faced when he came, fasting while the faithful called him “possessed”. He points out that, in turn, the Son of Man eats and drinks while the same hypocrites say, “Look a glutton….a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Here, Jesus is lamenting at our stubborn nature toward His Truth. We get caught up in superficial attractions of the human condition—those that will surely disappoint us as they lead us away from God’s truth. 

 

Jesus shares an example of disappointed musicians—disappointed in the stubborn listeners who neither dance to joyful music nor mourn with sad music. This example highlights Ecclesiastes 3:3, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  Are we “in tune” with God’s music? Do we heed his call to truth and life with appropriate thought and deed?  Jesus cautions us against “spiritual indifference”. Why does God’s message meet, so often, with resistance, falling on deaf ears? 

 

Lord, during this time of hope and anticipation, open my ears to hear the good news and to strength to eliminate contradictions between my own words and actions.  Help me to be in tune with Your example and desire in my life.

Paul B

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

How often do we pray the words, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This plea is simple, yet powerful! During preparation for Christmas, may all see that Jesus’ presence among us and His gift of Salvation for all brings an answer to this prayer.

 

In Matthew 11:11-15 we find Jesus honoring the role of John the Baptist as the prophet—as the one Chosen by God to announce the long-awaited Messiah prophesied, some 700 years before by the Word of God, through Isaiah. John the Baptist announced the “Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” who would come to restore His people (Isaiah 41:14). In today’s Gospel, Jesus praises John as the greatest person born! Who can top that compliment? 

 

In the same discourse, Jesus goes on to say that the least in God’s Kingdom is even great than John. While this seems like a contradiction, once we come to understand that Jesus was about to accomplish salvation for all, it is not so! Jesus accomplishment, ultimately, brings to fruition God’s desire that all of us be given the opportunity to seize His grace and mercy. But, to get to this point of seeing and understanding, we go back to John. He is the bridge between the Old and New Testaments. He, in effect, is the last of the Old Testament prophets, pointing the way to the Messiah. Then, he is the first of the New Testament martyrs—witness to God’s presence in a harsh world!  He is the (ultimate) herald who was sent to prepare the final way for Jesus. 

 

Jesus confirms that John is nothing less than the one whose privilege it is to announce God’s presence. How do we, today, hear God’s truth in the din of the secular world? How do we overcome the distractions that disguise or completely mask His voice? Jesus says, in Mt 11:15, “Anyone who has ears should listen.” This statement is for us as we “prepare” heart, mind, and soul to accept Him as Lord and Savior—God, Incarnate. 

 

Lord, give me the words, strength, and courage to be a bold witness to You so that others may know of Your Kingdom, to come,  with its peace and justice! May we prepare the way for Your Kingdom in our hearts and actions.

Paul B

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

Matthew 11:28-30: “Jesus exclaimed:  ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are over-burdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’ “ 

In this season we are called to ponder Jesus’ humble entry into this world as God, made man! As we continue our preparation to welcome Him, through the celebration of His birth—His humble birth in a stable– we can only realize that this simple origin lends credibility to His invitation. 

 

He came to us through such simple means as an example of His willingness to share our burden—the burden of the human condition! Jesus invites us, by His very presence among us, to turn to Him and allow him to share and shoulder every trial and tribulation. He assures us of His gentleness, peace and strength. In our human condition, we are all burdened in life, and seemingly more so in today’s world of the constant reminders of materialism and selfishness. 

 

As we examine our own lives, we are called to ask, “How many of our burdens are “self-inflicted” by our own demands or by those created by our work, family, or community relationships?” We can also create complications in our journey by trying to keep up with standards/norms of those around us. What can we learn from Jesus’ desire that we learn from Him, for He is “humble of heart”?  

 

If we put this into practice, we are assured of finding peace and rest in our souls. By His simple birth, He delivered what He promised and through His earthly ministry He provided us example of how to live our lives so as to gain that promise of Salvation. 

 

Lord, by Your Humanity You inflame our hearts with love for You!  Through your Ministry/Word, help me to exchange my yoke of rebellion for one of submission to You.  Prepare my Heart to receive You, Lord!

Paul B

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

 

How many times have you spent a sleepless night in worry or anticipation? Or, how often do you await news in an impatient manner? These states of being: worry, anticipation, impatience are examples of the human condition that often distract us from focusing on and, ultimately, fulfilling the Will of God in our daily  lives. 

 

Matthew 18:12-14 reminds us that God’s primary desire is to embrace those who are lost and envelope them (us) in His compassionate Mercy, Love, and Goodness. It is when we return to God that His Joy is maximized and we find peace, love and hope in our hearts and, in fact, our lives.  Worry, anticipation and impatience truly become minimized when He becomes the focus. 

 

In this time of preparation for the celebration of His Divine Presence among us, perhaps we should heighten our “meters” on these emotions/responses to the things in our lives. How much better would each day be if we had a “worri-ometer” that triggered us to “turn to God” each time such a distraction came to light? God’s plan for humanity is that all would be saved! 

 

When Jesus uses the parable of the shepherd who leaves the 99 “obedient” sheep to seek the one who has strayed, comparing this to God’s efforts when one of us goes astray, he wants us to understand the lengths God will go for each of us. God does not marginalize or devalue the worth of any one person. In those moments of life on this earth, when we “lose our bearings” in the sea of life’s uncertainty, Scripture, God’s Word, is there always with the assurance that He will rest less than we until we find our way Home to Him—to His ways in our life’s journey. The image of God, as a caring shepherd, is used throughout  the Word (Is 40:11, for example). 

 

Lord, as the (ultimate example of a) Good Shepherd, nothing escapes Your Watchful care.  May I always be within your sight and obey Your Commands.  John 10:1-11 describes the fulfillment of Your role as “shepherd” and why You came to earth!  Prepare me to receive You!

Paul B

Prepare the Way of the Lord!” 

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to Your Word.” 

Imagine speaking these words to God! In Luke 1:26-38 we find Mary accepting, without condition, the call to bear the Son of God into this world with these words. It is through this example that we recognize the keys to unlocking the power of God’s Kingdom. Faith and obedience are those keys! 

 

When Adam and Eve, in Genesis Three, disobeyed God they immediately experienced the consequence of their actions. This consequence was separation from the God who loved them. In His mercy, God promised a Redeemer who would pay the price for the sin of disobedience to His Will.  In God’s call to Mary we see the marvelous and wondrous unfolding of God’s Promise—His plan of redemption, beginning with the birth of Jesus, His Son.  Mary’s prompt and willing “YES” to Our Father is the prime example of Faith. 

 

Mary saw and accepted the fulfillment of His Grace in her life, even though such acceptance would be a difficult challenge. There is no doubt that Mary’s life was transformed by her willingness to say “Yes” to God. She risked ridicule and rejection, yet trusted that God would provide grace, courage and strength through the trials to come. She, as all of us do, had the choice to give in to His desire in her life or to resist and go at it on her own! 

 

How do we respond to God’s call? Do we exhibit trust in His promise by yielding to His grace? Mary found God’s favor because He was the center of her life. The angel’s words, “Be not afraid, for you have word God’s favor” are words each of us long to hear and need to hear in our lives. We cannot hear them if we do not listen! How does God speak to us? 

 

Lord, Father of all, you offer abundant grace and mercy through the presence of Your Son, Jesus. Help me to live a grace-filled life by true belief in Your promises, wisdom to listen/hear Your call, and strength to say “Yes”. May I prepare for Your coming by offering my unqualified and unconditional “yes” to Your Will in My own life!

Paul B


“Prepare the Way of the Lord!”  Isaiah 40:3—”A voice proclaims:  In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight, in the wasteland, a highway for our God!” 

 

John the Baptist, as Mark shows in Chapter1:2-8, was that fearless and committed voice proclaiming the truth of Jesus! He became that prophetic voice of God. He did not seek his own glory, only that of the Will of God. He was called, in God’s divine plan, to speak the truth and be the one who called out and prepared the way for others to accept Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. John’s life was fueled by this passion to point others to the coming Kingdom of God. We are told (Luke 1:15 and 41) that John the Baptist will be filled with the Holy Spirit, from his mother’s womb. This is why he leapt in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus, when Mary visited Elizabeth. 

 

John was called to awaken those who were “unconcerned” with the things of God. It was his voice that was to call attention to the complacency of life that distracts us from seeing, understanding, and accepting—recognizing—God’s presence through Jesus, the Messiah.  As we prepare for Christmas, his voice is no less powerful. 

 

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s voice is present in the Written Word and His Spirit present in our daily lives. With and through John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit began the “restoration” of God’s promise of salvation! John came to announce God’s presence and favor—offering a baptism of repentance and the opportunity to turn away from sin, accepting a new life in God’s Word! Through this he prepared the way for our Baptism in Jesus Christ that results in new birth and entry into God’s Kingdom as beloved children of God (John 3:5). 

 

Lord, in this season of preparation, let me be a voice, like John’s, in this world! Let Your Spirit burn in my life’s example so that I may know the freedom of Your Kingdom and point others to You!

Paul B





“Prepare the Way of the Lord!”  In Matthew 9:35 to 10:1-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “ The harvest is plenty, but laborers are few.” In this discourse He invites them to “come into the fields” and labor for His harvest (of souls to salvation). As He “toured” during His years of ministry, He led His disciples by example, in the towns and synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of God’s Eternal Kingdom and providing comfort to those in distress, often with healing power and mercy. Through all of this, He was showing us the way to salvation. Not only did He come to lead us from our sinful ways, He is calling upon all of us to take someone else “by the hand” and lead them, also, to Him! 

 

There is much suffering, confusion, and dissension in this world. As Christians, professing to believe is not enough! We are called to be and to make a difference and help bring meaning, or understanding, of Christ’s teaching to all who we encounter. This is especially true for those whom we find to be in despair, broken in spirit!  Jesus empowers us to show and bring mercy to the lives of others through committed (Christ-like) compassion and concern.  This begs the question, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ into our world:  “How committed are we and how much time and thought do we give to the needs of those we find in despair?

 

Throughout this Gospel passage Jesus laments that there are many hearts longing for His mercy and to hear and receive the Good News of Salvation, but the laborers on His behalf are few, distracted by things other than His handiwork. We put off His work ‘til tomorrow for our own desires, today!  The best “Christmas Gift” we can give is to draw someone others around us is Christ. 

 

Lord, help me to please you with the gift of example that will draw myself and another to You during this season of preparation for Your Coming Kingdom!  Amen!

Paul B




“Prepare the way of the Lord!” As we draw one day closer to the commemoration of “God, made man”, Matthew 9: 27-31 tells us of Jesus’ gift of healing two blind men, returning their sight simply by His touch and solely based on their faith that He can! During this time of reflection and focus on reconciliation with God’s presence in our lives, let us focus not on physical blindness but “spiritual blindness”. 

 

There are many references to “the blind shall see” throughout the Old and New Testaments (See Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; and 2 John 2:10-11, as examples). The cause of “spiritual blindness” is sin—the distraction of worldly or corporeal things over the ways of God! Our spiritual sight is restored if we believe and reconcile ourselves that we are sinners—distracted by worldly desires. As discussed yesterday, each “Congregation of Christians” approaches reconciliation/forgiveness during this time of year. The sacrament and gift of reconciling yourself with God is like having an operation in which your sight is restored. Even those who may be physically blind can and do see Christ through eyes of faith this Christmas and beyond. 

 

Sadly, those who are spiritually blind cannot celebrate the True Christmas, because they are unable to see Christ. In pondering this, and encountering those who believe and those who don’t, I am moved to ask for mercy for those who are spiritually blind because they are, most likely, not even aware of their blindness? In Matthew 2:9 and in Mark 10:51, we find Jesus clearly stating that the blind men are healed because of their faith!  The first step in receiving God’s grace and mercy is to recognize the need and believe in God’s ability (and desire) to be healed.  The same is true for recognizing and being shown mercy in our sinfulness! 

 

Lord, as I strive to “draw near” to you in faith and trust, free me from my own spiritual blindness that impacts my true ability to trust in Your Saving Power and Grace.  May I approach you confidently and boldly, knowing that my blindness will be removed, if I but believe and ask that you intervene in my life’s course.

Paul B

Has your Advent journey gotten off to a  good start? Today is the 5th day of the Advent season and hopefully we are preparing for our encounter with the Lord and are looking beyond to the Lord who comes in Glory.

 

What an opportunity for all of us parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters to take advantage of all the Church offers us in terms of celebrating our Faith and doing all we can to share that faith with those who too soon will replace us in the daily life of the Church.  How are we building our house?  Not everyone who says Lord! Lord!, according to today's Gospel, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So again, what kind of house are we building?  One on a solid foundation or one on sand? 

   

During Advent, what wonders would take place in our lives if we dedicated a portion of each day, a special time given completely to the Lord? A time when we would go to some quiet space, if possible into a Church, chapel and be simply as completely present to the Lord as we could possibly be. What excuses  do we have for not doing this? Can't make it to a church, how about closing the door to one's bedroom and sit in the quiet simply being present to the Lord in silence, or conversing with Him about your deepest concerns?

That too difficult? How about finding a quiet moment anywhere and slowly praying the Our Father every day, whenever we can find a few moments repeatedly during the day acknowledging God's presence? Such a practice will lead to deeper and deeper awareness of God in every facet of your life. 

 

This Advent may you discover your need for the Lord and let the light of His  love  illumine your need perhaps to meet Him in the sacrament of forgiveness, confessing in all humility the times we miss the mark and sin. May each Advent day be a step closer to the fullness of life in God's Love.

Deacon

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.

I trust in you: strengthen my trust.

I love you: let me love you more and more.

I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

 

I worship you as my first beginning,

I long for you as my last end,

I praise you as my constant helper,

And call on you as my loving protector.

 

Guide me by your wisdom,

Correct me with your justice,

Comfort me with your mercy,

Protect me with your power.

 

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;

My words: to have you for their theme;

My actions: to reflect my love for you;

My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

 

I want to do what you ask of me:

In the way you ask,

For as long as you ask,

Because you ask it.

 

Lord, enlighten my understanding,

Strengthen my will,

Purify my heart,

and make me holy.

 

Help me to repent of my past sins

And to resist temptation in the future.

Help me to rise above my human weaknesses

And to grow stronger as a Christian.

 

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,

And see myself as I really am:

A pilgrim in this world,

A Christian called to respect and love

All whose lives I touch,

Those under my authority,

My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,

Greed by generosity,

Apathy by fervor.

Help me to forget myself

And reach out toward others.

 

Make me prudent in planning,

Courageous in taking risks.

Make me patient in suffering,

unassuming in prosperity.

 

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,

Temperate in food and drink,

Diligent in my work,

Firm in my good intentions.

 

Let my conscience be clear,

My conduct without fault,

My speech blameless,

My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.

Let me cherish your love for me,

Keep your law,

And come at last to your salvation.

 

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,

That my true future is the happiness of heaven,

That life on earth is short,

And the life to come eternal.

 

Help me to prepare for death

With a proper fear of judgment,

But a greater trust in your goodness.

Lead me safely through death

To the endless joy of heaven.

 

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Attributed to Pope Clement XI

We began the Advent season Sunday.  We look forward to the coming of Jesus, who already came into our lives at the Incarnation. We live in expectation of His coming in glory with salvation. The words of  Advent—waiting, longing, forgiving, joy, patience, anticipating—all are pregnant with Our God's loving invitation to life— FOREVER.

 

Yet, there are so many distractions that blind us to the presence of the Lord who is ever close. For us in a land blessed with an abundance of God's creation, we can be lost in a jungle of consumerism. We confuse an overabundance of stuff for the abundant life promised by our Savior. 

 

Savior? Perhaps it is an unfortunate truth  that we are unaware that we need a  savior. We are  a  people who are considered and often are rugged individuals. We can do things our way and conquer all by our own might and wits.

 

Today, if we listen we here Jesus say., "Blest are those who see what you see, and hear what you hear!" Those words spoken to His disciples are spoken today to you, to me. Do we see?  Do we hear?  Are we able, like innocent children, to see  clearly and simply with the eyes of faith, or are we so enamored with the wonders of created things that we are blinded even in bright light?

 

Through this Advent Season may each day each moment fill us with anticipation, with longing, with patient waiting in faith for the Lord to enter into our lives and enliven and strengthen in us the virtues of faith, hope, charity, humility and total abandonment to God's Divine will. 

Rejoice in the Lord! Pray unceasingly!

Deacon

“Prepare the Way of The Lord!” As we prepare for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ into this world, God among us, as man, this is the “theme of the season”. And, it should be the theme of our lives. 

 

Today’s Gospel journey finds Matthew 8:5-10, where we are with Jesus in Capernaum. A centurion approaches and pleads with Jesus to cure his servant, who is home paralyzed and in pain. Jesus, seeing the man’s faith, says, “I will come, myself, and cure him.” Immediately the centurion responds, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured.”  He goes on to say that he understands, as a soldier and a leader, the power of authority and simply asks Jesus to command the healing of the servant. Jesus was astounded at the man’s humility and even more so at the faith behind the humility. 

 

As we “prepare the way of the Lord”, in our lives, are we ready to “astonish” Jesus with our humility and faith in accepting and trusting that Jesus is the answer to all of our needs, simply by trusting Him. Do we allow ourselves to truly present our petitions and prayers in a manner and believe that He will respond? Over the past few days the Gospel readings have focused on “watchfulness” for the Master’s presence, for we know not when He shall come and the reality of our earthly end comes to fruition. 

 

Today, we see an example of the faith and humility that must be present as we prepare for that “final reality”. When that day arrives, it must be our goal to hear the same words that Jesus shared about the centurion, “In truth I tell you, in no one have I found faith as great as this.” The centurion put his entire hope in Jesus’ ability to command healing. As we approach Christmas, let us examine our true hope and faith in Him! 

 

Lord, you sustain us in our life’s journey with your life-giving Word!  As we ponder this season of the anticipation of Your coming, as man, may our trust in Your “command” over our lives grow as we prepare our hearts to receive You!

Paul B