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

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Offer It Up! Thursday, February 28, 2013

Luke 16:19-24

There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’

How is it that someone like the man who was covered in sores, begged for food, was stepped over and most likely stepped on, lived so much in peace? Lived so much in peace—and even 'richly', it seems—that he was rewarded so with an eternity in heaven?

How did he get there in the first place one might wonder? Was he disabled? Did he have demons? Was he unable to work? Given the choice, he probably didn’t choose to be there… would we? What would bring someone to such a condition to have their life be so insufferable?

We don’t how it was that Lazarus was at the doorstep of the rich man. For that matter, we don’t know how it is that others find their way to the torments of the lives they lead. How they are reviled and despised by those of us who walk around and by, walk over and walk on them, figuratively if not literally. It might be that we are too absorbed in ourselves, in our needs, in our world, instead of indulging more in the world of others and in the needs of others.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying that it isn’t that life is so short—it’s that we are dead for so long. How we choose to have our eternal life spent after we are ‘dead’ is our choice now. Our love for one another—our love for God—will impact how we live out the rest of our journey. May we all choose to do so as we have been called so that our eternal life may be spent with Lazarus and not at the doorstep.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

James and John are pictured standing behind ‘mama’, as she approaches Jesus with a request. Jesus has just told his close friends and disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to suffer the crucifixion and to die and rise.

The mother of James and John chooses this time to request positions of honor and power for her sons. Can I see myself in this scenario? Intent on position, success, honor, power, respect, my ego satisfaction? Jesus has just finished telling me he is going to die and I am still absorbed with what I may attain.

He looks at me with kindness and such apparent love, I am taken aback. Can I drink of the chalice He is about to drink. In my hope I say yes, but without Him will I have the courage?

He continues to speak and I hear the words and I must listen. The Father is the One to decide who will receive the honor of being at Jesus' left and right when He conquers. But , if you want to be great, Jesus says, learn to serve. Learn the gospel of Love. Learn from me ...meek and humble of heart, the one who comes to serve.

There are so many of your brothers and sisters who have not even heard of Me, so many to whom I am only a figure in history, so many who do not believe I even lived among men.

Will you tell the story with conviction and the faith I have given you?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Isaiah 1:16-20

Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

This being the second week of the Lenten season, it would be timely for us, if not behoove us, to follow Isaiah’s wisdom here: to come clean, within and without! If we have not already put ourselves to doing more good than not, if we have not already put aside those things that lead us to unsavory, despicably evil things, then now is that time to learn the ways to be and do good.

Let us set things right, says the Lord.

As if we needed an engraved invitation to get started or restarted, what more would we need than these words here? And then He lets us know that even though we may have hugely gone against Him, we can be redeemed. He reinforces that by telling us that we have to be willing to obey so that we too will eat of the good things He has promised us. That is all we have to do… and be.

What happens if we choose otherwise, if we refuse to accept the gifts He has given us—God lets us know that too. For just as we would sit at the table and enjoy the good things, there will be hell to pay if we decide to turn away from Him in sin.

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Eternal life or eternal damnation.



Offer It Up! Sunday, February 24, 2013

Luke 9:32-33

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying.

There have been those occasions for us all, at least for this writer, when from a deep sleep we say some things that don’t make just a whole lot of sense. Maybe it was the college days when studying for finals. Maybe it was the birth of a baby and the rest was hard to come by and finally a full night’s sleep was yours. Maybe it was countless hours at work and you finally were able to get some time off to catch up on some much need rest.

Whatever the cause, there was that time you may have sounded quite reasonable to you but for those in the immediate hearing and viewing area, there was a bit of engagement issue missing between the brain and the mouth. For sure, you meant well but for all intents and purposes you may have well have been speaking Aramaic… wait, they may have been.

Peter had every intention of doing the right thing, over-achiever as he was, at least in this instance. Yet it was not to be. Even as he was making his case, a cloud came over them all and Peter and the other disciples were frightened—as they should be. And as the Voice of God came upon from the cloud, they found themselves alone with Jesus, listening as they were instructed.

As we should, too. As God spoke and said, ‘This is My Chosen Son; listen to Him,’ we would all do well and better to accept and trust in Jesus Christ. Though the disciples had little to say after the Transfiguration, they learned much from it. We can learn more from our faith and trust in God as we build our relationship with Him, listening more and sometimes, saying less. Yes, in fact, we could be still and know that He is God.



Offer It Up! Saturday, February 23, 2013

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Like them or not, deal with them or pretend they are not there, there are those types of relationships that really, really try our patience, if not the depths of our faith. Oh, we may put up the front that we are ‘okay’ with this guy or that woman, but the fact remains there is something that just keeps us from being the loving, giving and caring faith-filled believer when we have to communicate with them.

For sure it is one thing to talk to them or work with them. It is another to pray for them… or more to the point, to pray that we are different in our relationship with them so that we are the ones who are more accepting and understanding. The more we put ourselves in that prayerful mode, we will find that the love we need will present itself in so many wonderful ways and opportunities for us to grow. Not necessarily the ways we would like for them to be but just as God would have them for us.

That is the beauty of surrendering to His will and not our own. The release of our patience and giving up to what God has for us. That is when we find the true meaning of God’s Love for us. Just as God wants for us to realize the good in us, He also wants for us to see the good and love in others so that all mankind shares in the fullness of Love He has for us all. Not the superficiality we find in the material world but in the intimacy and depths found only in God Himself. That sort of Love. That is God. That is Love. He is Love.

Strive for that.



Offer It Up! Friday, February 22, 2013

1 Peter 5:2-4

Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

When we are charged to watch over something or someone, we have a beginning sense of ownership. The more we are called to do or be that guardian or watchful eye, the more we own up to the accountability bestowed to us and upon us. As this grows, we can choose to grow with the responsibility and mature or we may choose to do otherwise and ‘lord over those’ in our midst.

As Catholics, as Christians, as believers, we are given that opportunity every day we pick up our cross, or crosses. We are blessed with the gifts to be the examples Jesus Christ has shown us to be. We can do so with joy and eagerness and carry and share our burdens that Jesus brings for us. Or we can do so with resentment and bitterness and hurt at what our crosses are to carry. Either way, it’s our call to be the example we choose to be.

Jesus will be with us either way… it is up to us to find out how we can live more fully in Him and experience the joy, the peace and comfort He has for us, living in His flock.



Offer It Up! Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ask; Seek; Knock.

As we come to prayer what is it we ask for, what are we seeking, as we knock what are our expectations in faith? And, do we keep in mind the words of the Lord to do unto others as you would have it done unto you? There are those phrases that we sometimes remember, like What Would Jesus Do? Are these the phrases that Paul would remind us to keep rattling around in our brain… as he encourages us to pray constantly?

Prayer what is it for me for you? What is your experience with God in prayer? What is it like to be in God's presence for you? Each day we wake to life, what do we give to God in prayer? There are no right answers in the sense of one answer fits all for God's loved ones. Take time today to simply be still and know that God is close. As John writes in one of his letters,

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Deacon



Offer It Up! Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

Too many times we’ve been down the roads of those sins and transgressions and felt we had no other option but to do it on our own. That has never been the case and God’s Love will never let it be the case—He will always be there to cleanse us from what makes us in need of His mercy.

A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

The emptiness we experience when our prayers seem so far away, unanswered, left to fall back to earth. Our spirit, if not crushed or broken, remains weak and fragile. It is then we are ready to be renewed and ‘re-Spirited’ with the presence of the Holy Spirit to fill our souls and our hearts with steadfastness and perseverance.

A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

We give up this, we offer up that. We sacrifice what we think He wants but still do it for us. Ultimately, what we find out is that God wants us. Stripped down, naked, and humbled spirit… open to be His so that we may have all that He has planned to give us and make us. That’s right; He did not bring us here to leave us on our own but to keep us renewed and alive in Him

A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Today in the Gospel we are reminded to pray as Jesus taught us. Perhaps we could pause in our busy lives and stand before Our Father, with Jesus, and slowly pray the prayer Jesus gave us.

Let the words of the prayer become our very being before the Father. Perhaps a word will linger in our minds and hearts as God speaks to us… a word like FORGIVE. As we note that forgiveness of others is a condition for our forgiveness of ourselves.

Ask yourself again. Is there someone you need to forgive, perhaps your very self?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, February 18, 2013

Whenever you did it for one of these least ones, you did it for me! Judgment time, and the Lord is concerned with how we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned, in other words how we really loved one another and saw the truth of God's lavishness on all.

What is there that we have that truly belongs to us as individuals? The world and all it contains is pure gift. The psalmist reminds us, who is man that you should be mindful of him? God placed man, whom He created in His own image, over the wonder of creation. All that is created is given to humankind the crown of creation. Yes, the crown, but still a creature of the transcendent God.

As we observe the season of Lent, we do well to reflect on who we are, why we are, and what is required of us as God's own dear children, redeemed by Christ, and made heirs to the Kingdom when Christ came to make us sons and daughters by adoptions.

May our imaginations enliven the thoughts of our hearts and minds as we enter into Lenten prayer seeking to be all that God intended when He gave us life.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, February 17, 2013

Here is a simple morning prayer plan

A Morning Offering

Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Joseph, and all the angels and saints, I offer you today all my prayers, desires, works, joys and sufferings. May I faithfully seek your will as you envision and reveal it to me in the present moment circumstances of this day. For through it, I will strive to accept each moment with gratitude and as a purposeful, precious gift from your hands.

Next, consider and meditate on the First Principle and Foundation from the introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.


Finally, seek protection throughout the day via the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael the Archangel,

defend us in this day of battle.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness

and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
that roam throughout the world

seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.



Offer It Up! Saturday, February 16, 2013

Isaiah 58:13-14
If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the Sabbath a delight, and the LORD’s holy day honorable; if you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice–then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

How cool and grand of us to do the things we are doing for Lent. Be it giving up things, do more things or even being more things, they are all well and good in their own rights as we might be as well. Yet, if all we do is stand there in our ‘look at me’ smugness, they carry little, if any, weight.

Lent is not about the ‘centrality of me’ but about the looking beyond ourselves and finding more of what God has in store for us. We do that by the sacrifices we make. We do that by ridding ourselves of those things that keep us from coming closer to Him. We do that by the daily crosses we bear and share with Jesus Christ. We do that by calling out to God in prayer and in thanksgiving for all that we have been granted and given so that we can further share the gifts He has blessed upon us. Not by seeking our own interests, not by slander or following our own ways instead of God’s.

I’m not sure that it’s possible for me to make God any happier than He can already be—He is God, He can be as happy as He wants—yet we certainly can find ourselves more in His joy and love and light the more we come to Him and honor Him. For sure, He will let us ‘ride on the heights of the earth’ and nourish us with the heritage of Jacob.



Offer It Up! Friday, February 15, 2013

On this first Friday of Lent, perhaps we can spend some significant time reflecting on that Friday before the Resurrection, the Friday we call Good. We enter into a walk along the Via Dolorosa-The Way of Grief-and meet Christ in the disguises He wears along the way.

In the course of each day we are presented with opportunities to meet Christ: are we prepared for those eventualities? When we rise to meet a new day, what are our first moments like? We have just risen from sleep, sleep that is not so terribly unlike death. We rise into a newness of life, in a sense, that is offered us with each rising. Is it not fitting to greet the Creator, the Giver of life with praise and thanksgiving?

The Church enters the Season of Lent with all intent for all to seek God's mercy, to seek love, to act in faith not only individually but in communion. Unity with one another, supportive in our seeking truth and holiness of life. Who will you share life with this day? Who will you meet along your way? Have you dedicated the day to the Lord? Will all your encounters with life be seen in the light of God's love revealed in Christ Jesus and freely bestowed upon you?

On Ash Wednesday, you perhaps heard the words, ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you will return!’At the end of our journey, all that remains is life with and in Christ. For you and for me all that often seems so important is passing away…

At the beginning of this Lenten season, the message reverberates in my being—Repent, turn to Jesus Christ, seek to love God with every fiber of being by loving all whom He has placed in my life and all He has poured into my life.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Thursday, February 14, 2013

We have entered into the holy season of Lent. Jesus modeled for us the way we approach this time in our journey of life itself. It is an opportunity to enter into dialog with our Lord and to look deeply within. Perhaps unwittingly we too often allow the culture which surrounds us to effect changes in our spiritual understanding of how we are to live our lives in this world. The influences of the culture of death in our time have strong attractions for many.

When Jesus says, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart is also’, we need to reflect on what motivates us daily in our journey.

In our society, material success is certainly a desirable attainment. At present we are driven often by fear and see danger lurking behind every pillar. It affects our judgment in so many subtle ways. The culture of death spoken of by Pope John Paul II can probably be referred to as the culture of ‘ME’. A time when the greatest concern is that I obtain what I desire at any cost. It becomes apparent at times that even in Christian environments, belief in God, Christian attitudes are formed that justify actions that are not life giving but rather self serving.

Lent is a time to truly look within with brutal honesty and through deep prayer, fasting and charity to seek God's grace to transform those areas of our life that are in need of change. We are all called to repent, to change where it may be needed. In this Year of Faith, it would be beneficial to reexamine our direction after Vatican II and check our understanding of the Spirit's guidance from that council. Perhaps this week we could begin by carefully reading from the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the section on the Universal Call to holiness.

In our Sacred Heart community we have begun well. At the start of Lent, two weekends of Christ Renews His Parish remind all who previously went through this process to revisit what has taken place in their lives since that weekend, For most of us, it is a time to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation, to pray for grace in our own lives and for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

When Christ returned to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us. For those who have never experienced Jesus Christ, when they seek Him, we come to a stark realization in our Christian walk, in looking for Christ what seekers find is you, Christian. Jesus has chosen you to be His visible sign to the World.

Will you respond?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The following is taken from Zenit a daily news service from Rome. Thoughts on preparation for Lent. Perhaps each of us can find some inspiration in this brief message.

Deacon


Preparing for the Journey of Lent 2013

By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

PHILADELPHIA, February 12, 2013 Zenit.org

More than 70 years ago the great French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos published a little essay called “Sermon of an Agnostic on the Feast of St. Théresè.” Bernanos deeply loved the Church, but he could also be brutally candid when it came to himself and his fellow believers. Above all, he had a piercing sense of irony about the comfortable, the self-satisfied and the lukewarm who postured themselves as Catholic – whether they were laypeople or clergy.

In his essay he imagined “what any decent agnostic of average intelligence might say, if by some impossible chance the [pastor] were to let him stand awhile in the pulpit [on] the day consecrated to St. Théresè of Lisieux.”

“Dear brothers,” says the agnostic from the pulpit, “many unbelievers are not as hardened as you imagine. … [But when] we seek [Christ] now, in this world, it is you we find, and only you. … It is you Christians who participate in divinity, as your liturgy proclaims; it is you ‘divine men’ who ever since [Christ’s] ascension have been his representatives on earth. … You are the salt of the earth. [So if] the world loses its flavor, who is it I should blame? … The New Testament is eternally young. It is you who are so old. … Because you do not live your faith, your faith has ceased to be a living thing.”

Bernanos had little use for the learned, the proud or the superficially religious. He believed instead in the little flowers – the Thérèses of Lisieux – that sustain the Church and convert the world by the purity, simplicity, innocence and zeal of their faith. That kind of innocent faith is a gift. It’s a gift each of us can ask for, and each of us will receive, if we just have the courage to choose it and then act on it. The only people who ever really change the world are saints. Each of us can be one of them. But we need to want sainthood, and then we need to follow the path that comes with it.

Bernanos once wrote that the optimism of the modern world, including its “politics of hope,” is like whistling past a graveyard. It’s a cheap substitute for real hope and “a sly form of selfishness, a method of isolating [ourselves] from the unhappiness of others” by thinking happy or seemingly progressive thoughts. Real hope “must be won. [We] can only attain hope through truth, at the cost of great effort and long patience. … Hope is a virtue, virtus, strength; a heroic determination of the soul. [And] the highest form of hope is despair overcome.”

We can only attain hope through truth. And what that means is this: From the moment Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” the most important public statement anyone can make is “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

This year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 13. It marks the beginning of Lent. For Catholics, this is a time to be honest; to take an unblinking look at the truth of our lives. Every year God offers us this great season of humility as a chance to remember who we are as believers, reflect soberly on our actions and refocus ourselves on the source of our hope, the only real hope of a bloody and despairing world: Jesus Christ. We do this through prayer, silence, the sacrament of penance, seeking out and reconciling with those whom we’ve hurt, forgiving those who’ve hurt us, generosity to the poor, and fasting, not just from food, but from all those many things that distract us from the God who made and loves us.

If we call ourselves Christians, then let’s live like we mean it – beginning today, with this Lenten season; so that people who look upon us will see the presence of Jesus Christ instead.


Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! Carnival! Revelry as we experience one last gasp of partying before we enter the 40 days of the Lenten Penitential season.

I must examine my own attitude as I enter desert this Lenten season. Am I prepared to do what is required to still my mind heart and soul so as to entire into meaningful dialog with my Lord? It seems fitting that the readings of this day lead me into gratitude for all the Lord has done in creating the universe, and giving me life in abundance.

The Gospel also reminds one to look at t he attitudes with which we approach life. Do I go through the rituals of religion with a similar attitude displayed by the religious people in today's gospel whom Jesus calls hypocrites? Wisely the Church sets aside these weeks in preparation for celebrating the Resurrection at Easter. Now is the acceptable time.

God grant me the grace to enter into the season with a deep desire to know Your will, and to know myself as You know me. Grant me the strength to live each day close to You that I may come to know more fully and completely the path You have chosen for me, and to courageously return to You all the glory due to You. For truly to You belongs the glory forever and forever.

Open my eyes Lord this that I may see. Open my ears Lord that I may hear Your voice which is always clearly communicated to those who truly listen and seek to hear. Give me a heart Lord that always seeks to love as You have loved me and all whom You have given life.

Let me always remember that you are creating moment by moment, that You are loving me moment by moment, and that Your grace is sufficient to enable me to be a sign of Your love.

Deacon

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.

And as many as touched it were healed.

All they did was touch the tassel of His cloak. That is how strong their faith was in Jesus the Christ. Here are these people ‘scurrying’ about the countryside, hanging on every word, knowing fully that their lives are about to change just from a touch of His cloak—or even the tassel of it.

Much of our faith—much of mine—has been based on what I/we have read and heard. Maybe we’ve seen miracles such as the healing power of Christ right before us. Maybe we’ve seen the miracle of birth in our lives. Maybe other miracles have been shared with us—as they happen everyday. All we have to do, in faith and in prayer, is do as the people did.

Recognize Him. Know Him. Follow Him. Have faith in Him. Let Jesus Christ and His touch be in our lives so as His healing power can do for us as it did for them.

Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we prepare to for the Holy Season of Lent, and the Rite of Election for those Catechumens and Candidates who are seeking the Lord with sincere hearts. We offer up our prayers and sacrifices as we long for the Lord to pour forth grace into all our lives that we may come to ever deeper faith and courageously life the virtue of charity or love.

The gospel today fittingly reminds us to set out into the deep. Like those first apostles and fishermen to cast out into the sea of grace that we might more fully enter into the mystery of God's life now. Like our ancestors we to become fishers of men, messengers of the Gospel bringing to the world the message of salvation.

God is truly in our midst. As we pray this morning we find ourselves united to brothers and sisters who are seeking to know the Lord more intimately. Christ Renews His Parish is that opportunity to know Christ in communion with the baptized. Brothers and sisters who were chosen and anointed by God to live as children of the light. They were presented with the light of faith and charged to keep the faith alive in their hearts. Now in the course of time they recognize the need for renewal, for coming to a deeper knowledge of how much they are loved. In the crucified Lord they come to experience the love of Christ. New insights to faith are being revealed and each of us continue to walk the path of conversion. Even in the joy of these hours, we come to realize that conversion is a lifelong process and this renewal is only an oasis in the desert journey of life.

O Lord, may the moments we spend this weekend in your presence, lead us to live our lives in holiness. May the fruits of the Holy Spirit be evident in all our lives as we live courageously in seeking to do your will in imitation of Jesus and with the docile obedient attitude so like that of Mary. May each encounter with others always be filled with an awareness of your presences in all you have created.

Deacon


Hebrews 13:20-21

May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Maybe you’ve been there before. Maybe we’ve all been there before. That place where we’ve been ‘brought up from the dead’. And maybe we’ve experienced that re-birth more than just once or four times as the events and matters of our lives have unfolded with us grasping for our breaths time and time again.

How we got there is not important at the moment—how we survive is of great import and God knows that. Yes, there will be repentance and penance but for the Good Shepherd to bring us to Him, we must first be ready to do His will for Him. That is and has been THE plan all along. The plan being His plan, not ours.

That’s the beauty of following His will and in being and in doing what we are called to do. Through prayer. Through sacrifice. Through living and even through rest, we are called to give Him thanks and glory. For whatever we face, whatever we carry as our cross, let us give Him the glory and praise and thanksgiving for the life we have shared and share with Him.


Birthday Notes....

May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Guys like Brad don’t make the loop very often. Meaning they don’t often surface as the good friend, good guy sort of person who shares his life of service to God with such a humble spirit. Granted, a life like that for any of us would be hard to live much less practice as a profession—which he does as a heart doctor.

His life’s journey has brought him to another anniversary of his birth—he’s not as old as he would have you believe but he is moving out there. I know this because I live out there in that same atmosphere. But to get there, his life has been made up of faith, family life, friends and of course his profession. Work in with all that his Christ-centered attitude as he shares his faith and his love and his resources as a good steward of the gifts he has. Combine that with his love for his faith, his wife and family, and you would plainly see his commitment to live more in God’s light.

No, not saying he’s perfect at it or that any of us are; I am saying that he is committed to making that his way of life like so many of us want to have as ours. Obedience and trust does not come easy yet we do make progress with putting ourselves in a position to do things that God has called us to do. So does Brad; that’s his goal and a decent one to have. He is more than decent to have as a friend, as a brother and as a fellow follower of Christ Jesus.

Happy Birthday to my very good best friend. May God continue to carry out in you everything acceptable as his servant.

I love you man.

I pray that the God of peace, who brought our Lord Jesus back from the dead, by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant, may make you ready to do his will in any kind of good action; and turn us all into whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick –no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Jesus sent out the Apostles. Was that only for that time? Not hardly. As such, we are now the disciples; we have received much and perhaps now it is time to be sent out.

How do you live your Christian faith? Are you content to receive from the Lord without sharing the good things of the Lord with others? Those near and those who God allows to touch our lives even in the briefest of moments? Go and glorify the Lord by your life!

Each time we celebrate Eucharist we are sent forth to be messengers of Good News, bearers of Hope, witnesses of the Faith, and above all Lovers of the Word. We have been given much, we have been loved beyond our understanding and now is the time to respond to the Lord for all that He has done for us.

Open my eyes Lord that I may see every opportunity to serve, open my ears Lord that I may hear and respond to the cries of those in need, open my heart Lord that filled with your love I may love with the courage of Jesus.

Deacon

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.

Those who don’t believe don’t receive.

My sister, (one of them), is known in our family for espousing this little ditty around the Christmas season. Growing up within a large and loving family, there were times we didn’t know exactly what Santa was going to be bringing us so we certainly held high hopes that our beliefs and faith in him (and in all she would have us believe) would come true in any shape or form of presents and gifts. Rarely, if ever, were we disappointed.

Imagine the chagrin then of Jesus with all that He had hoped for those around Him to believe. How often have we read or heard Him tell those not to discuss or disclose what they had seen or experienced from Him. And yet away they would go, doing just as He would have them not. Now, here those are around Him again, bringing into question His very heritage as if ‘nothing good could come from Nazareth’, to borrow a similar sentiment from Nathaniel. As if curing a few sick were not enough. Small wonder then He would be so amazed at their lack of faith.

How often is that we get a little too comfortable in our own surroundings and with what we call our comfort zone? How many times have we failed to respond when we have been dutiful called by Jesus to stand for Him if not recognize Him in those we choose to pass by? And then we wonder why we have the challenges and issues and problems we have when we find ourselves outside of the ‘comfort zone’ Jesus has for us. We wonder ‘What just happened?’ instead of what should have happened. A priest friend of mine pointed out sometime ago: we have to get out our own way and God’s way and get on the right path of God’s way. Trust that He will know the Way. And we can all be on it with Him.

As we approach Lent it is a good time to reflect on some possible directions for our Lenten Journey. Forty days in the spiritual wilderness, seeking to root out of our lives any attitudes or attachments that have accrued and keep us from developing our relationship to the Lord in the fullest possible way would be a good place to start. The allurements of various cultures can attract us and interfere with our spiritual journey.

The political, economic, and even religious cultures can cloud our relationship with our God of Love. Power, sex, money and false religious values can lead us down paths that keep us from developing our relationship with our transcendent God. We have counterparts in the religious history of faith that we too often find ourselves mirroring, especially as we form groups of righteous who are capable of judging and excluding others.

Our model is Jesus who reached out to those living in the margins, those in need of release from captivity to sin and addictions. Jesus, totally obedient to the will of the Father, and totally in love with all God’s children. We truly are temples of the Holy Spirit; we must live so as to be signs of God's presence that bring light to a world that so often finds itself in darkness.

Deacon


On the spiritual horizon is the Holy Season of Lent. The Spirit of God is in our midst and we experience God's presence in so many ways.

At Sacred Heart, with the nearness of the weekends of two more Christ Renews His Parish experiences, we can see the wonders that are occurring as we enter into the Lord's presence, seeking his transforming grace.

With RCIA, we welcome into our midst those who have been chosen by God as His Elect. They will prepare to enter into the waters of baptism to be washed clean and to enter into the family of the Church, children of the Most High God, brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, heirs to the Kingdom.

As we enter into the mystery of faith, our lives are transformed and we are called to live in the light of God's grace. Yet, we are still suffering from the allurements of other gods. The tempter remains at work even now, Peter's reminder that the devil prowls the world seeking to separate us from life and draw us into the land or culture of death.

The temptations are subtle and appear to be the path to goodness. We are tempted to look at others as not spiritually sound, and in so doing see ourselves as further ahead on the path to holiness. Rather should we not imitate the Lord Jesus, who came to heal the sick? We are to love God with all our minds, all our hearts, all our spirits, with every fiber of life in us.

As we approach the season of Lent, perhaps it is time to plan our spiritual schedule for this holy season. Time with the Lord, in adoration, in discovering day by day the way of obedience to the Father's will. Time with those like minded in faith to pray, to deepen our understanding of living the life of faith, to discovering the path to holiness in our particular path to life.

May God guide each of us to the fullness of faith, to holiness of life, to love beyond all telling.

Deacon


Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Amen.

Hebrews 11:1-3

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.

We’ve seen it and heard hundreds if not thousands of times, this first verse from Hebrews 11. Yet how many of us really come to grips with the strength of our own faith when that is in fact all we have? Through the rest of the this chapter, you would read about Abel, about Enoch, Noah and Abraham and that, with faith, sacrifices were offered, God was pleased, even salvation for the world all were seen and experienced because of the faith of one.

So if it is true—and it is—that the universe has been ordered by God’s Word, what makes us so indifferent to living our own lives in the manner the others did before us? Their faith moved mountains. Their faith saved the world. Their faith made our faith possible for us today.

There is so much we have to learn and the good news is that we have learned so much already. But like loving your family doesn’t stop for a day or after the first ‘I love you’ or even paying the bills doesn’t stop after one month… we have to keep loving and keep having faith to perpetuate what we will need each time we call on God to fill us with it. The centrality of our faith is Who we believe in and Who our lives are focused on: Jesus Christ. Let us keep our paths and our trust—and faith—all directed toward Him.



Offer It Up! Friday, February 1, 2013

Prayer of St. Brigid

I would like…

an abundance of peace.

I would like…

full vessels of charity.

I would like…

rich treasures of mercy.

I would like…

cheerfulness to preside over all.

I would like Jesus to be present.

St. Brigid of Ireland