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AFRAIDNOT

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

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Offer It Up! February 29, 2012


Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you. So Jonah set out for Nineveh, in accord with the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an awesomely great city; it took three days to walk through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and when he had gone only a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh: “By decree of the king and his nobles, no man or beast, no cattle or sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.Man and beast alike must be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; they all must turn from their evil way and from the violence of their hands.Who knows? God may again repent and turn from his blazing wrath, so that we will not perish.When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

So Jonah hears from God again and this time he responds more fully to what he hears—‘in accord with the word of the LORD.’ Evidently, he was so intent on the delivery of his message of forty days of their city being ‘sacked’, that on the first day of a planned three day journey through the enormous city, the Ninevites turned back to God. Wow. Talk about a street sermon packing a wallop. We should be so responsive today.

And if that was not enough, the king had all the creatures included in the fasting! No food, no water, no nothing—no service essentially. Everyone out of the pool and into sackcloths. We’re not exactly sure the depth and magnitude of their sins yet it is clear they were intent on turning away from all that kept them from the ‘blazing wrath’ of God.

Not sure if there is enough sackcloth for us all to go around, but sometimes one would have to think we could all use that here today. Where is our sense of moderation? Our self-control? What happened to us where it all became about entitlement and ‘I want’ and ‘I deserve’ and not about service and giving and living and earning?

It isn’t too late. It never is. God is waiting; we should be standing in line, waiting to be sized for our own sackcloth… hey, any 48 longs on the rack?


Offer It Up! February 28, 2012


Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Rain and snow fall and nourish the soil.

The Word of God falls upon us and nourishes our soul.

Both make the earth and soul fruitful for their appropriate purpose: one to feed the physical needs of the people, the other to feed the spiritual needs. And on it goes. The more one sows in good soil, the more one can reap a greater harvest and feed the needs of others. Something a bit like stewardship... the using of our time and talents—the gifts we been given to share.

We receive all we have from God—all from His Word, all from His Creation, all from His Love. It is up to us to see that it used then for His glory—not to be returned to Him ‘void’. That is what we do then with our gifts, using them, sharing them and applying them for the greater glory of His name. That is how we achieve not just our goals but the goal for which He sent them to us through His teachings.

Our lives take on a greater meaning when we do all according to His will. Like the soil with rain and snow, our lives and souls become productive and renewed in Him. A whole like keeping on our path toward holiness, the Word of God will transform us as we put ourselves at His mercy. From a fourth century church father, St. Ambrose:

“Are you not occupied with Christ? Why do you not talk with Him? By reading the scriptures, we listen to Christ.”

Let us all open our hearts, minds, ears and souls to hear and keep what He has to tell us.


Offer It Up! February 27, 2012


It is not through accident or chance that we are friends from so long ago…

It is not through accident or chance that we go our separate ways only to find friendship again…

It is not by accident or chance through the faith we have been exposed to, God uses people in our lives to bring us to a place of love, peace, and happiness.

No regrets, or so we would like to think, with all that we go through to get there.

Yet it is all through His Divine Providence... moment by moment.

lgboyd

The great Jesuit writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote of how everything in life is to be welcomed as an expression of God’s will. In doing so, he says that we must “accept what we very often cannot avoid, and endure with love and resignation things which could cause us weariness and disgust. This is what being holy means.” He goes on to say that “God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment to moment… The events of each moment are stamped with the will of God…

We find all that is necessary in the present moment.”

Source: Abandonment to Divine Providence (Paperback) by Jean-Pierre de Caussade


Offer It Up! February 26, 2012


1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water.

This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Choosing good over bad. How easy is that? Most of the time we get the easier choices but there are those calls that are so clear-cut to make. Keeping ourselves in His light as opposed to the darkness of Satan will help make those choices easier to make. And the way to keep our light shining and to stay closer to that light is to keep our company with those of a like mind and heart.

Look around and see who most influences you and your decisions. Who in the past has helped you make you who you are today? Who in the past have you helped get them where they are now? It is not through accident or chance or luck that any of us are where we are. Through the power of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we offer our petitions, we are guided and placed where paths lead us. Without that prayer, without the Holy Spirit, what light would we have to see where we are going?

Proclaim all the goodness God has brought into your life! This is the time as Lent offers us all a sense of renewal to leave behind the path of shadows and darkness of sin and move toward the fullness of God’s light through forgiveness and repentance. We can be washed clean as the world was washed clean with Noah and the ark. We can be saved now as His kingdom is upon us.

What are we waiting for—a better invitation will not be sent than the One sent in Jesus Christ!

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."


Offer It Up! February 25, 2012


Luke 5:31-32

Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

I don’t like getting ill… but who does? I am so averse to being in any sort of unhealthy state, I don’t even like to use the word ‘sick’, especially when it concerns any condition having to do with family, friends, others or myself. Yet, ‘si..’ happens. And what do we do when it does? Patients happen and patience most often does not.

So what sort of patient are you? Do you see yourself in any or some of these? Do you self-medicate, ignore it, cave-in with it, or over-react? Are you a whiner and woe-is-me sort? What about the ‘I’ll go when it gets worse’ sort of treatment. Or do you pull the covers over the head and stay in bed for the duration? Or here’s a thought, do you seek professional or appropriate help?

We may try to get over whatever it is we have, our afflictions, by ourselves—self-medicate, self-help… maybe that will work, maybe not. We may want to ignore it and it will go away… ‘Oh that, that’s just a cold sore that won’t heal.’ We may try to ride the storm out and the storm only gets worse… “I don’t think the bad stuff is going to be here for awhile.’ Or we could sit around and complain about our plight and not do anything but that… ‘I’d rather be this way and make everyone else miserable while I’m at it.’

Any or all of these may fit us from any given ordeal we face, physically, emotionally or spiritually. When we are doing our best in all three areas, what reason or need do we have for a cure-giver anyway, right? As the saying goes, every saint had a past and every sinner has a future. We are all subject to our own sort of repentance, our ‘being well’, just as we are all called individually to hear God’s Word for us. It is all through His grace and mercy that we are here. And as we answer His call to righteousness, we are responsible to keep to our paths of holiness so that His Love may strengthen us and fill us with presence, spiritually, emotionally and physically.


Offer It Up! February 24, 2012


Isaiah 58:6-9a

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Not that there is anything wrong with offering up our sacrifices during this Lenten season or any other time, but what is it that we do in place of them? It’s one thing to give up candy or soda and say ‘I did that because it’s Lent.’ It is another thing to say you did it to recall the sacrifice Jesus made for us and what He put in place for us for His sacrifice. Eternal life.

To say we will gain eternal life from something as small as the refraining from something may be a bit of stretch for some to believe but that is where it starts. It begins with an act of faith on our part to transform our lives, hourly, daily, weekly and forever.

Jesus gave up His life for us and replaced it with our salvation. For all we do and are during Lent and beyond, we may not have to sacrifice our lives yet we are all called to share the abundance of His Love in giving, caring and loving as He did.

Yes, it is better to give than to receive. The time is never better than now to be for Christ and for giving. You will hear and see Him as you give all in His name!


Offer It Up! February 23, 2012


Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Moses said to the people: "Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

If.

Life and prosperity.

or

Death and doom.

If.

Obey the commandments.

or

Turn away your hearts.

Sometimes we think it is such an easy choice. Other times it brings us a bit more grief than we care to handle. When things are going our way, it is easier to say we are doing what God has called us to do—‘heeding His voice’—because we have those tendencies to enjoy the pain-free life rather than the pain-laden. Yet when the levee breaks and the waters are nearing our upper lip, how easy then is it for us to be ‘holding fast to Him’?

Elsewhere in scripture we know that perseverance builds character and character builds hope, a hope that brings us to the Love of God. A Love that does not disappoint.God has it for us that way so that we should love and live that way. So that our children and their children should also live that way. By loving the LORD, our God. So there really isn’t much of a choice after all. St. Augustine had it quite succinctly put: Love and do what thou wilt.

What'll be?


Offer It Up! February 22, 2012


2 Corinthians 6:2

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Ash Wednesday

Today we begin the holy season of Lent. This is our special time with the Lord. A time to enter into relationship with Him who has given all that we might live. May we join one another in prayerful effort to bring all to life and unity in Christ!

Deacon


Offer It Up! February 21, 2012


Here we stand at the start of Lent. What is the plan? We are given this special season in our liturgical year for a purpose. That is to draw near to God and to grow in understanding and holiness.

Mark’s gospel provides thoughts to spur us to reflection on our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ: what were you arguing about on the way? We are good at discussing, often sometimes heatedly, what the gospel says. Perhaps because we have decided somehow what we want it to convey. That and we probably don't listen very effectively.

Jesus reminds us as he reminds his disciples, that there is a time or trial ahead. Do we understand the Resurrection? Perhaps we are like the apostles and slow to understand? The Risen Lord is longing for our understanding, for our questions. During the coming weeks of Lent is a time of opportunity, a time when we can, if we desire draw near to God, to even live life abundantly.

There are so many distractions in our world beginning with our egos, our need to be the greatest! In myriad subtle ways we are guilty of at least trying to manipulate others to have things our way. We even often try to manipulate God hoping that He will give us all we want and even change events and things to fill our desires for control.

Will you seek change this Lent? Humbly placing all your desires before God with the questions that seek to discover God's will for ourselves, in union with others who share our little space and our life, we can discover new and exciting joys as God blesses us in abundance.

A word of warning: as we honestly seek to draw near to God, we must be ready for the onslaught of the devil. He is "hell" bent at keeping you and me away from God, away from the fullness of Joy.

Deacon

Read the scriptures…James 4:1-10 and Mark 9:30-37

James 4:1-10

Beloved: where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that the Scripture speaks without meaning when it says,
The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy?
But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them,
"What were you arguing about on the way?"
But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."


Offer It Up! February 20, 2012


Mark 9:14-29

As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?"
Someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so."
He said to them in reply, "O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me."
They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, "How long has this been happening to him?"
He replied, "Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Jesus said to him, "'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith."
Then the boy's father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!"
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, "Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!"
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, "He is dead!" But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, "Why could we not drive the spirit out?" He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer."

Arguing. Doubt. Faithlessness. Shouting and crying out.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

How often do we find ourselves in the same states as did the disciples with the scribes? Or in positions where we don’t know what our next step is, throwing ourselves at the mercy of world? Not knowing whether to stand or sit, walk or be still, we can’t even remember to put our trials and tribulations in the hands of the One, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The disciples were not in much better shape, trying to do it all on their own. Jesus eventually reminded them of that. The boy’s father and his faith were questioned by Jesus—“If you can” and the boy’s father replied “Help my unbelief!” With that, Jesus brought out the deaf and mute spirit. Read that again: the deaf and mute spirit; a spirit that could not hear nor speak. How is that a mirror to our lives? Those times when we refuse to listen to what is right or speak what is right. Those times we choose to do our will and not the will of God.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

If we choose to do so without prayer, we get what we always had without prayer. If we do as Jesus said: “This kind can only come out through prayer.” then all that we do then is surrounded in prayer… and changes with prayer. We are unable to do anything without it.


Offer It Up! February 19, 2012


Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25

Thus says the LORD: Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. The people I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise. Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob, for you grew weary of me, O Israel. You burdened me with your sins, and wearied me with your crimes. It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.

It’s not easy to forgive someone, especially if they haven’t admitted any wrongdoing.It’s a lot easier to hold on to the anger, to walk around with bitterness, to find reasons not to talk to them, or worse, to talk about them behind their back. Somehow we feel vindicated by these actions, right?At least, that is what we try to believe when we end up in a dispute with a friend or family member, or feel we have been slighted or damaged by a co-worker.

In today’s reading in Isaiah, we learn that God was kind of feeling the same way about His chosen people.His chosen people had grown tired of following the right path, of calling on their Lord and spending time with Him. They had been lured away by a number of temptations and distractions.I can only imagine how that feels–maybe somewhat similar to a rejected marriage proposal or perhaps similar to a child who is in all out rebellion against a parent.

So what is the difference between God and ourselves?God chose to wipe out the sins and offenses.He chose to wipe the slate clean; to forgive AND forget the offenses of the past.However, it is important to note that He did it for His “own sake,” not because His chosen people were asking for it.They had not come to Him seeking forgiveness.Rather, He chose to forgive and create a fresh start so that He could remove the burden and the weariness of the sin in their lives.Just a little more proof that God does bear our burdens – they were weighing Him down to the point that He desired to let them go and forgive.

So, if we have a burden of unforgiveness in our hearts, if we are holding a grudge against someone, should we only forgive them because it benefits the other person?That seems to be the usual way to look at it.Otherwise, why would we be so slow to forgive except that we think that other person does not deserve it?God shows us that it is not about whether someone deserves to be forgiven.It is about ourselves, our own hearts.It’s about our willingness to let go of the past and create a fresh start.It’s about our desire to loosen the hold of anger and bitterness so that we can love freely.It is for our own sake that we should choose to forgive and forget.In so doing, everyone benefits.

lgboyd


Offer It Up! February 18, 2012


The Creed of Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Submitted by Liliana


Offer It Up! February 17, 2012


James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

From James’ letter to Mark’s gospel, it’s quite evident what steps we need to have in place, to follow, so that we may come even closer to securing our salvation. For us to pass by those in need and say we are still doing well in our own faith is not the daily carrying of our cross. It is not the denying of ourselves. A faith like that is, for sure, dead.

So then? What to make of it all? Faith and works. Balance and poise. Not so easy though with a cross on one shoulder, or maybe even both. Yet through the guidance of scripture and prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can allow ourselves to be given over completely to Him. That is how we can more easily maintain our balance and poise, not by our own accord but through the grace and sharing of the load by the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Carrying our cross every day is to carry His will for us each day.

Sharing our faith is to live it and grow in our faith.

How we do both is how we build our relationship with God, along with the grace and mercy He gives us each day. With tools and gifts like that, how can our faith not be active and alive?

Mark 8:34-37

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?


Offer It Up! February 16, 2012


James 2:1-9

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you dishonored the poor. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Sometimes we project our unhappiness with toward others. If our day is in the toilet, so then should everyone else’s…

Sometimes we keep it to ourselves, beating ourselves up so much that our eyes get bloodshot and our necks get so ‘cricked’ that we can hardly move our heads without turning the whole torso…

Other times, we look at those around us and use their conditions as cause to judge and blame them for the sorrows and sins of the world, no matter how small that world might be. Of course that world would be our microcosm of a world. A world where it all is about us. Not about the others around us, the poor, the sick, the needy, the children, the marginalized. Nope, we are in our pity mode and we’re choosing to wallow in it for all its worth.

What good does that do you though? Maybe you’ve seen it here before that there is nothing like a putting on a good ‘mad’ to get things really messed up in a relationship. One side of the spousal couple sees that things are just way too cozy and comfy and he/she decides to upset the apple cart and have some apple sauce instead, stomping around and giving off the nose flares and all that. Better to be stomping grapes and making some wine to go with their whining…

Floundering around in one’s own misery and shame is not a whole lot different. Jesus has given us what we can only handle for today. No sense, and nonsense as it is, to bring yesterday’s baggage and or garbage with you. The same with trying to carry it on till the morrow. Leave it be. Let it go. Be smaller than the other and live humbly. Forgive. Forgive yourself. And live then as He has commanded us: love your neighbor as yourself.

Pity, party of one, your chair as His feast awaits…


Offer It Up! February 15, 2012


FromIntroduction to a Devout Life… St. Francis de Sales.

If it should happen that your morning goes by without the usual meditation, either owing to a pressure of business, or from any other cause, (which interruptions you should try to prevent as far as possible,) try to repair the loss in the afternoon, but not immediately after a meal, or you will perhaps be drowsy, which is bad both for your meditation and your health.

But if you are unable all day to make up for the omission, you must remedy it as far as may be by sudden prayer, and by reading some spiritual book, together with an act of penitence for the neglect, together with a steadfast resolution to do better the next day.

This is not his stuff….

So here it is at nearly the end of the day and I am making a promise to do better for tomorrow. I will do my act of penance, I will make my resolution for better service not just for the pages here but for the better service of all I serve and love.


Offer It Up! February 14, 2012


James 1:12-18

Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

There was a comedian from several years ago with a tagline he used often ‘The devil made me do it!’ Reading today’s passage from James would give us a good indication that whatever it was he was talking about, Satan was for sure calling the shots. More precisely, he was opening himself up to be led by the evil one by his own desires.

Every day we are subjected to choices as to the path we take, following God’s will for us and have ours match it or doing something that goes against it. To say we are being ‘tested’ by God is to limit His power. He does not need to test us. He does not need anything from us. He has us here because of His Love for us. He wants us to come to Him because of that Love He has for us. He has given us free will to do so.

The free will to make the choices from our ‘desires’ that either bring about sin or help our faith mature. That is His gift to us. All is good and all is well as God is God and that does not change. We can change, however, through Him and through prayer and perseverance. And by making the choices that reflect the sort of character He has put in all of us.

All good giving and every perfect gift is from above.


Offer It Up! February 13, 2012


James 1:2-11

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.
The brother in lowly circumstances should take pride in high standing and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away "like the flower of the field."
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

For sure we should all be careful for what we pray... how many times have we learned something we had just as soon not had to learn or come to know? Those tough and even tougher lessons of life that we encounter. Those floating bits of information we hear about others—rumors and gossip— that we wish were not true that turn out to be so... How many times have we wished that we didn’t know now what we didn’t know then?

Like the trials we have in life, we would just as soon not have to deal with them yet we get to. Some would say what does not kill us or come near it only makes us stronger. That offers little comfort or solace when the doctor’s diagnosis that you didn’t want to hear looms in front of you about your spouse or child. Or the company you’ve been with for so many years has decided to go another direction and doesn’t need your services anymore. Through those trials and m ore, our faith is our stabilizing force.

Psalm 62 reminds us

In God alone there is rest for my soul, from Him comes my safety. He alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold, so that I stand unshaken.

As James calls for us to persevere, we can trust in the plans God has for us because of our faith. Oh we might be a little be worse for wear and tear—as we might have come to doubt from time to time—but we will always know that we can stand firm with Him as our rock.


Offer It Up! February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Margaret!


1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Even on the days when the best doesn’t seem to be good enough. Even on the days when the worst gets even worser, there are those people that seem to come through doing everything for God’s glory. Right now would be an opportune time to throw in another well-loved scripture reference, one that would remind us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength but let’s not and say we did… that would bring us to recall that in good times and in bad, we have the grace and glory of His power with us to carry us through.

As Paul admonishes, stay away from chiding others. We all catch enough grief as it is from those who think they know better. Instead, catch them doing something right—that would really give them cause to pause! You would not be seeking anything for yourself but for their good only… whether they needed ‘saving’ or not. Young or old. This one or that one. Brother or sister, friend or soon to be: what good does it do to be offensive when kindness works so much better?

To be as Christ calls us, to be as Christ lived, to be as Christ walked, that is to imitate Him.

You find that way to imitate Him through scripture.

You find out that way to imitate Him through prayer.

You find that way to imitate Him as others imitate Him and follow them.

You find my sister Margaret and follow her and you’ll get a pretty good model there.

To read this whole page is to read about her… yup, true story.

On good days and bad, through scripture and through prayer, through sickness and in health, through life and through death, she has held fast to her faith. Not for her glory. Not for self-gain. Not for any other reason but to offer it up for the glory and praise of God and for the love of all she knows and meets.

That is Margaret. Daughter. Wife. Mother. Gramma. Sister. Aunt. Friend. Occasional babysitter.

Happy Birthday, baby sister.

We’re glad God gave you to us, though last, you were certainly not the least.

We love you and God Loves you more-

Linda and David


Offer It Up! February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Brady!


Mark 8:1-3, 6-8

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance."

Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.

They ate and were satisfied.

About four thousand people.

Enough to fill a small high school football stadium.

More than half the population of Dalhart, Texas… maybe the other half could fill the stadium.

Another day, another great crowd of people and another huge following without anything to eat. The compassion He had for those that were with Him is made clear as He shares with His disciples His empathy and mercy: ‘My heart is moved with pity.’ For the three days they had been with Him, it was clear they were listening and hearing the message of His Good News.

As hungry as they may have been for earthly food, their hearts and souls were starving more for the Word He was teaching them. As we have come to understand as we are led, they were being led by this shepherd. And more, He was feeding them spiritually as well, as He took the bread and ‘gave thanks and broke them’, Jesus clearly brings to them the sharing of bread as testament to the Eucharist. His sacrifice of what He has to give them.

What is the Liturgy but the sacrifice of His body and blood for us? The spiritually feeding of the thousands each time we receive Him? Are we not also in need of His tenderness and care as were those who were with Him for three days? And beyond His sacrifice for us, what have we been taught then through the gift of the Eucharist?

They ate and they were satisfied.

As we recall each time we are at His table, let us become the living examples of His message, living and caring with the same compassion and tenderness He shared and that we should do so in memory of Him.


Birthday deal for the birthday boy young man-

It is a veritable hell on earth these days to be a teenager. Well, for some, it's a burn to be any age... yet for those who are not yet into their full adult lives, life can be a bit on the painful side.

With that said, there are those types of younger people that find ways, mostly with their faith, to see their way through the tough stuff of high school, maturity, family, friends, spirituality, trucks with no gas... They don't always succeed nor do they always have the best answer right away but how many of us ever really do? Given time, given support, given the best example, believe it or not, they come around.

I do know a young man that does his best to make it happen, though, and makes a pretty decent example himself. As I have been privileged to share his path with him and his family, I have seem him accept responsibility at early age and watch it grow to what he is today-a loving son, a caring brother, a doting (look it up) uncle and a good friend to many, including yours truly.

That is what our growth and our lives are about, experiencing the path that God has laid before us and being at least within earshot to hear His word when we would rather not go to school, not go to church, not do what our parents told us to do--and then doing the right thing when He calls us.

Brady is that sort of young man. He's not too much unlike other kids... only nicer and kinder, that and about a foot taller. He comes from good stock and good family. He certainly knows where his heart is and where his faith is from. And if not today, someday soon he will have a better idea of where he is headed. Until then, he'll keep his ears and his heart open to keep him close to where God has him going.

Jeremiah 29:11

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Happy Birthday, Brady. God indeed has some great plans for you.

Your friend-

David


Offer It Up! February 10, 2012


Daily, if we are willing, we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus in the Gospel and through the gospel we look for His presence in the events of each day. We desire to know Him and to serve Him and that desire spurs us to make time for prayer in our busy schedules.

Prayer, to sit in a quiet space and converse with Our Lord.

Not only the recitation of prayers someone printed but honest dialog that opens the ears of our hearts to hear His voice.

This is not always the easiest activity. We have a myriad of distractions. We have schedules that we are convinced have a priority. Prayer too often becomes an afterthought. There is a pressing need for all of us who claim the identity as Christian to make space in our daily life for prayer. A block of time where we enter into dialog with the Lord, with God, with the saints. That will move us in the direction of transformation of life. Each day to seek the opportunity to grow in holiness.

In order to achieve holiness, we need God’s grace. We need to face the challenges that face us, the challenges God is creating moment by moment and ever inviting us to join Him in the act of creation. As we pray “Thy kingdom come” do we give ourselves freely to seeking the will of the Father as did Jesus, the God-man? What is the Lord saying to you in your circumstances today? Will you take some time to sit with Him and seek to know His will for you whatever you are faced with?

May you find the promised Joy as you quiet yourself in his presence. “Be still and know that I am God!” says the Lord.

Deacon


Offer It Up! February 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Cyndi!

Happy Birthday Brad!


Colossians 3:12-15

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.

And be thankful.

Birthday stuff...

This guy I know...

God’s Chosen Ones, holy and beloved: We are all that but we all have to respond... some of us respond in ways different than others. Then there are those who use whatever gifts God has given them. Not all at once-that would be pretty crazy-but they do use them as they are called to do so. That would be this guy.

Heartfelt compassion: Some professions or walks in life there is little need or use for such deep tenderness and understanding. Medical, counseling, pastoral, teaching—those are just some that would call out the need for such compassion. Roll them all into one and you get a sense of where this guy is in his own journey as a professional, a family man, a friend and a disciple.

Humility: This is a bit tougher though it is that way for us all. We want what we want sometimes when we want it yet God has His way of letting us see more clearly what He wants for us… hence we get our doses of humility. For sure this guy understands where the need for living small and putting himself in a position to do as God calls him to do, be it putting others first or taking the lead and subtly bringing people to where they need to be.

Gentleness and patience: Sometimes it has all the appearance and charm of a blacksmith’s anvil. Other times it slips along with the grace of a prima ballerina. We prefer (and know for real) that he is more the latter than the former. Besides, it’s much easier to picture this guy dancing with a ballerina than an anvil…

Bearing with and forgiving one another: Wow. Of them all, how hard is this for any of us to do? From faith to family to friends. Every day is a gift of free will and choice to do as we are called. To bear up and lift up and let go. To know as well as acknowledge our own limitations—our own need for forgiveness. This guy admits like the rest of us his will to do the same for Jesus Christ who did it for him.

And be thankful: yes, this guy is thankful for all he has, for all he is able to do, and all he will be...

This guy is my friend. My best and good friend, Brad, who happens to be celebrating the anniversary of his birth today.

It was a favorite saint of ours, by the way, Francis de Sales, who said:

So we see that the highest grace does not lie in being without friendships, but in having none which are not good, holy and true.

Of the highest grace given us, God has blessed us all with His Son Jesus Christ. We cannot ask for more. To help us get there and recognize His Love and that grace, He puts in our lives people that make up our families and friends. Some of those become so close as friends, they are your family even though there is no heritage claiming so—other than the Blood of Christ.

Happy Birthday, Brad. Thank you for family you share with us. Thank you for the life you have given to us all. Thank you for the being our friend.

God must have danced this day you were born. For that I am, we are and all those who are close to you, are thankful. Yes, for His dancing and your birth!

God bless you my friend, my brother.

HITYLHMILY?

db


Offer It Up! February 8, 2012


Mark 7:14-23

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable.

He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Not that Jesus was saying we can or they could have whatever they wanted, but the point being made here could be that regardless of what goes, if the inside is not clean—their heart and soul—what difference does it make the things that are ingested?

Even His disciples were not so clear on the concept. To their credit, at least they waited till they were out of earshot of the crowds before they posed their questions. One may wonder if they did it to save Him some sort of embarrassment of if they were looking to cover their own backsides so as to not look the fools in front of those who understood Jesus’ message.

Maybe you’ve heard the term in some circles ‘garbage in, garbage out’. The thought behind that phrase presumes that if one puts in garbage, one gets garbage back. For instance, lower octane gas in a vehicle that requires a steadier diet of high-test stuff. The low-grade stuff ruins the injectors, fouls the plugs, gas mileage takes a beating… the car soon becomes less than what it was promised to be and next thing you know, you’re selling it because it doesn’t perform as you want it to. GIGO.

What it appears that Jesus was talking about though was that there was already garbage on the inside and that’s what was there already, fouling the air around them. It was the ugly stain of sin, that sort of stuff that was in their hearts already. They had enough garbage in them so that all that came was garbage… was sin, the evil thoughts, malice, deceit, arrogance, greed and adultery.

What sort of garbage are we holding within? What sort of things cause us to have evil in our own hearts? We are not immune. We all have to come clean. We can come clean through forgiveness and reconciliation.

It’s time to take out the garbage.

Mark 7:14-15

“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”


Offer It Up! February 7, 2012


Mark5:5-7

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?"
He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
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.
You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

It seems that the Pharisees were well versed in their traditions yet they had not quite grasped what Jesus was telling them. He even went to what Isaiah had prophesied to help them recognize the error of their ways but it seemed like it had fallen on deaf ears, if not hardened hearts.

They liked where they were in their lives. They liked what they had going for them, their prayer life, their traditions, their own way of life. And Jesus minced few words for the hypocrisy that ran deep in their practices as they would speak with honor yet He knew their hearts were not the least bit interested in what He was telling them. They had their own agenda for sure.

We don’t know anybody like that today. Nor would any of us ever put ourselves in a similar position, would we? How would it be to hear these words pronounced upon us should Jesus be in our midst today:

‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’

Hhmmm.

Might we all want to prayerfully rethink our position.


Offer It Up! February 6, 2012


Mark 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.

His reputation obviously preceded Him. Word was out that whatever it was that He had, there were those that wanted it. They wanted to be healed and from the healing touch of Jesus, they would come to know Him more fully. More than that, they just wanted to touch the hem or tassel of His cloak and that would suffice well for them. Their faith was that strong in Him, even having never seen or met Him face to face.

So often in scripture upon curing or healing, Jesus would tell those not to tell anyone of His works. Maybe it was because He wanted them to believe in Him because of His Word, not in His miracle works. Yet away they went, proclaiming the wonders of His touch and quite possibly, the salvation of His Word. The people that came to Him this day may have heard of both and wanted the same.

We can do and be likewise with our own spreading of the Good News. Think of the last time the wonders of Christ Jesus so impacted your life that you just couldn’t keep it inside. What did you do? Of course—you went and shared what all He had done for you. Those that you told were given the Word through you… just as we are all called to do. Maybe it was a miracle cure of your own. Maybe it was a call from a family member that you really needed to hear from. Maybe it was the grace and mercy of forgiveness and repentance.

Whatever it was, you recognized Him in your life just as those who saw Him on the other side of the sea. They believed and saw. We too can do the same.


Offer It Up! February 5, 2012


2 Corinthians 5:1-7

For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitationif indeed, when we have taken it off, we shall not be found naked.For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Watching a fire at a campsite, one can see many of the sparks fly into the air, with short lives of illumination. They spark, they light, they glow and burn only for that short time. Even then, some fall back into the fire. Some land as cool fragments away from their source. Others keep their spark and may even light other flames…

This is not so much original thought stuff-as if there is any of that around anymore-but it is about what St. Paul tells us about our time given to us: about putting ourselves in a position to do what God has called us to do so that when we are called to His heavens, we are not clothed in our earthly habitat but cleansed and clothed in our heavenly habitation.

Like the sparks and their brightness in their lives, we all burn for whatever time we have, lighting the lives of others—maybe even burning anew ourselves as we start aflame again. Renewed in His Spirit. Renewed in His Love, our God has chosen us to be His children and do with His gifts and talents all He has called us to do. We may not have the best to offer in any particular area, field or profession but we do have everything He has given us. If it were not for all those who contributed whose skills and gifts were not the greatest, the choirs would not sound so lovely, the arts would not be so diverse and, as disciples, the Good News would still be waiting to be heard if Jesus had not chosen the ordinary and made them extraordinary.

So never mind the lack of a particular great skill. Never mind the age or lack of it. Put to use the graces and gifts we have. A quote from James Garfield, (yes that President), gives us this:

If wrinkles must be written upon brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.

Let our spirits soar as the embers from the Light and Love of Jesus Christ and light the lives of others as we have been chosen to do, with courage and with faith.


Offer It Up! February 4, 2012


As we experience a beautiful grace filled weekend with Holy Spirit, we are encouraged by St. Francis de Sales to renew our own spiritual work and effort through the exercise of scripture and prayer...

Introduction to A Devout Life

St. Francis del Sales

Meditation on the Benefit conferred on us by God in calling us to His Service.

1. CONSIDER the points on which you are about to renew your resolutions.

Firstly, that you have forsaken, rejected, detested and renounced all mortal sin forever. Secondly, that you have dedicated and consecrated your soul, heart and body, with everything appertaining thereto, to the Service and Love of God. Thirdly, that if you should unhappily fall into any sin, you would forthwith rise up again, with the help of God’s Grace.

Are not these worthy, right, noble resolutions? Consider well within your soul how holy, reasonable and desirable an act it is to renew them.

2. Consider to Whom you make these promises; for if a deliberate promise made to men is strictly binding, how much more those which we make to God. “My heart is indicting of a good matter. I will not forget Thee,” David cried out.

3. Consider before Whom you promised. It was before the whole Court of Heaven. The Blessed Virgin, S. Joseph, your Guardian Angel, S. Louis, the whole Company of the Blessed, were looking on with joy and approbation, beholding, with love unspeakable, your heart cast at your Savior’s Feet and dedicated to His Service. That act of yours called forth special delight in the Heavenly Jerusalem, and it will now be renewed if you on your part heartily

renew your good resolutions.

4. Consider how you were led to make those resolutions. How good and gracious God was then to you! Did He not draw you by the tender wiles of His Holy Spirit? Were not the sails by which your little bark was wafted into the haven of safety those of love and charity? Did not God lure you on with His Heavenly Sweetness, by Sacraments, prayer, and pious books? Ah, my child, while you slept God watched over you with His boundless Love, and breathed thoughts of peace into your heart!

5. Consider when God led you to these important resolutions. It was in the flower of your life, and how great the blessing of learning early what we can never know soon enough. S. Augustine, who acquired that knowledge when he was thirty years old, exclaimed, “Oh, Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new, too late I loved Thee! Thou wert within and I abroad: Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee.” Even so you may say, “Oh, Blessedness of ancient days, wherefore did I not appreciate Thee sooner!” You were not yet worthy of it, and yet God gave you such grace in your youth;—therefore say with David, “Thou, O God, hast taught me from my youth up until now; therefore will I tell of Thy wondrous works.” Or if you who read should not have known Him till old age, bethink you how great His Grace in calling you after you had wasted so many years; how gracious the Mercy which drove you from your evil courses before the hour of death, which, had it found you unchanged, must have brought you eternal woe.

Consider the results of this call; you will surely find a change for the better, comparing what you are with what you were. Is it not a blessing to know how to talk with God in prayer, to desire to love Him, to have stilled and subdued sundry passions which disturbed you, to have conquered sundry sins and perplexities, and to have received so many more Communions than formerly, thereby being united to the Great Source of all eternal grace?

Are not all these things exceeding blessings? Weigh them, my child, in the balances of the sanctuary, for it is God’s Right Hand which has done all this: “The Right Hand of the Lord hath the pre-eminence, the Right Hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” with heart, lips and deeds. After dwelling upon all these considerations, which will kindle abundance of lively affections in you, you should conclude simply with an act of thanksgiving, and a hearty prayer that they may bring forth fruit, leaving off with great humility and trust in God, and reserving the final results of your resolution till after the second point of this spiritual exercise.


Offer It Up! February 3, 2012


The gospel offering on this date allows us once again to reflect on the martyrdom, the witness of John the Baptist and many who's witness was to give up their lives for Christ. In the gospel account we encounter King Herod, his court, his wife Herodias, his daughter. In all this, as 21st century Christians we place ourselves in this gospel account as we acknowledge we are trying to live Christ-centered lives.

John in his dedication to faith in God, challenged Herod for his failure to observe the law, in doing so he angered Herodias who was really Herod's brother's wife. Herod himself seems to have been torn because he enjoyed listening to John. It seems at some level he desired to overcome his weaknesses but perhaps we today would see him as addicted to certain behaviors.

As we ponder this gospel narrative can we look clearly at our own lives, our own reactions to revelations that we are not living up to being Christ-centered, that in certain ways we "miss the mark", that we are sinners? We pray with David today, Have mercy on me Lord for I have sinned!

Where have I encountered Christ this day?

How did I react to His presence?

Jesus, Son of the living God, pour forth grace and fill me with the Holy Spirit. Help me be open to the myriad ways you reveal yourself especially through all the persons who enter into my life this day. Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! February 2, 2012


Hebrews 2:1 -18

Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered he is able to help those who are being tested.

Start with that last verse then go back to the beginning: read that Jesus suffered so that He would help us through our suffering. Then read that is why God made Himself incarnate, to be like us, to take away our sins.

Granted, there is nothing new there but we are reminded that God did send His Son for us so that we may be further inspired to do His will rather than our own. As He was tested, so shall we be. Not for a score of 92 or a B+ but more for the effort we put into loving and being the merciful and repentant sinner we are. He knows we’re not perfect and He also knows we should be putting forth the effort to be as close to it as we are able.

That is why He did what He did-He became like us in every way—except sin—so that we could be like Him in every way… except our sins.


Offer It Up! February 1, 2012


Mark 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

That guy? He’s only a carpenter’s son. Look at his family—how could he possibly be so smart? Where would his wisdom come from anyway?

Even as the words rolled off their tongues, they were still astonished at what they were hearing from Jesus. So much so that they got a little bit of a green streak of jealousy going as they took offense at what he was offering them. Yet Jesus knew what the score was before they ever got a word out of their mouths. Even in his hometown, there were those who were not among his followers… lots of non-believers if you can imagine. Yet he persevered.

An interesting verse, presented as such that his miracles were so ‘casual’:

So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

The fourth or fifth time through that, I finally understand that it was not so casual a miracle as it was the lack of faith of those who did not believe in him. So many times he would perform his miracles and offer then ‘do not reveal this to anyone’, not so much that he did not want his miracles known; he wanted those to trust in him and believe him for what he was telling them. The miracles were, well, like icing on the cake.

How does that work for us today? Are we holding out for our own casual miracle? Or are we willing to submit to trusting and believing in what we have come to know as the Good News? Let us be as astonished at what we continue to learn so that he is not so amazed at what we lack in our own faith.