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AFRAIDNOT

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

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OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017


Every time we take our vehicles in for the standard oil change, most of us are given a similar list of an 8-, or 10-, or 12-point “checklist” which the technician performed on our car to make sure systems, filters, and other things are working properly and appear to be in good shape. Our spiritual lives need this same regular “checklist” and God’s Word provides for it in many ways.  

 

One such example is Matthew 5:1-10, The Beatitudes. Here, reading the eight attributes of Blessedness, we have a ready-made checklist by which to gauge how well we are functioning in our spiritual lives. Jesus, in speaking to the crowds, never said traveling down the road of life would be easy. Rather, He indicated that we would need the grace and strength of God to ensure that functioning properly for the journey and, more importantly, that we simply get there!  

 

Is this not the same reason we take care of the aforementioned vehicle:  To get us safely from “Point A to Point B”. In our spiritual lives, Point A is the “here and now” and Point B is our eternal life with God. The following “checklist” can be derived from the Beatitudes, pronounced by Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount: are we humble? 

Do we accept sorrow using humility and, knowing our reward is coming in His time?  

Are we meek in our love for God, letting Him shine simply, through us?  

Do we hunger for God’s justice?  

Are we merciful to others?  

Are we pure in heart, not letting envy and jealousy distract us?  

Do we long for peace or do we fuel the fires around us?  

Do we stand up for our beliefs when ridiculed or persecuted in daily lives, conversation, etc…?  

We must remember that we are called to rejoice and be glad, for our heavenly reward will be great.  

 

Lord, give me the wisdom, grace, and strength to regularly “check” my “spiritual vehicle” with the checklist of Your example. Give me the continued means to “tune up” my life so as to continue forward in the journey on the road to Your Heavenly and Glorious Kingdom!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2017


In reading Mark 5:1-20, the following Words of Jesus settle into one’s heart and mind: “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” In this passage, we find Jesus having crossed the sea to the region of Gerasenes, where a man approaches him possessed by a legion of demons. In this account we see the incredible and complete power of Jesus over a man, possessed and unable to be controlled by anyone; a man living among the tombs, along the cliffs, because no one or no chains could keep him subdued and tied down; a man who was a physical danger to himself and others.  

 

When the man (and the demons possessing him) saw Jesus, they immediately showed fear and begged for mercy.  Jesus, in compassion for the man, commanded the demons out and into a swineherd and they obeyed.  Those who witnessed it were in awe and in fear at the same time. Those who came upon the word of eyewitnesses were amazed to find Jesus and the previously possessed man quietly talking. 

 

Because they struggled to understand the power of God (over ALL) the people became confused and frightened and begged Jesus to leave. The man, whom Jesus had relieved of the demons, begged Jesus to take him in the boat so that he could stay with Jesus. It is at this point that Jesus urges Him to go out among His friends and proclaim to goodness and mercy of God! 

 

As we look at all that God has done for us, we must realize that we are, also, called to proclaim Him among our friends and family—out in our own communities. We are called to share this proclamation with all whom we encounter, through our words, deeds, and life’s example!  

 

Lord, help us to value each and every opportunity through which we receive You! May we recognize each and every opportunity to receive You, fully, through Holy Communion with You and in Your Unity with each other.  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2017


The beautiful, vibrant Presence of God is very eloquently described in Jesus’ Words, recorded by Mark, in 4:26-32. Here Jesus tells two parables of the wondrous mystery and beauty of God’s Presence. In the first, He says, “The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground and would sleep and rise, night and day, as the seed would sprout and grow; he does not know how. The earth produces itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head of the stalk. When the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle because the harvest has come.” 

 

Apply this to the wondrous mystery of life all around us: from the sunrise to the sunset, from the cycles of blooming trees, flowers, and shrubs; the growth of a tiny seed into the greatest of foliage; the creation of the seed of life in the womb to the birth of a child! Now, apply it to the very cycle of our worldly lives: from conception to death! We grow! The first thing we know is that God is the origin, the beginning, of all life! From there, we know that to physically grow, just as the farmer’s crop, there must be physical nourishment, all from God’s Grace! And, part of God’s grace is the gift of toil that He gave us, as man, to care for His Kingdom and all that is in it, returning all Glory to our creator, in the end!  

 

In order to return all Glory, we must not only tend to our physical growth, but our Spiritual growth. “Ripeness” for God’s harvest does rely on whether we are perfectly/physically fit in human form (again, not denying the need to take care of our physical being, while alive, so that we CAN answer His call). Rather, “fitness” for God’s harvest relies, also/mainly, on our spiritual fitness and how we use our love and desire for Him to build His Kingdom (and Harvest).  

 

Lord, may the seed of Your Love and Grace grow within me and in the fields of my life’s labors, so that when You reap Your harvest, I and those around me are deemed “ripe for Your picking”.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 2017

Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas


Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Mass

 

Almighty and ever-living God, 

we approach the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son

 Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

We come to the doctor of life 

unclean to the fountain of mercy, 

blind to the radiance of eternal light, 

and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.

 

Lord, in your great generosity, heal our sicknesses,

wash away our defilements, enlighten our blindness, 

enrich our poverty, and clothe our nakedness.

 

May we receive the bread of angels,

the King of kings and Lord of lords,

with humble reverence, with the purity and faith,

the repentance and love, and the determined purpose

that will help to bring us to salvation.

May we receive the sacrament 

of the Lord's Body and Blood, and its reality and power.

 

Loving Father, as on our earthly pilgrimage

we now receive Your beloved Son

 in the holy sacrifice of this Mass, 

may we one day see him

 face to face in glory, 

who lives and reigns with You for ever.

 Amen.




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2017 


Mark 3:22-30, though a short passage, brings three powerful realizations to us: 1) Jesus, as the Son of God, frees us from the grip of Satan; 2) The strength of God is our cloak, our armor; 3) The Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of God’s strength for us in this life. 

 

In this passage, the religious leaders accused Jesus of being possessed, claiming that it is that possession that gives Him the power to cast out demons. Jesus immediately calls them out, speaking through parables and asking, “How can satan cast out satan?”.  He goes on to describe that a kingdom or a house that is divided cannot stand, therefore, how can satan rise up against himself. Then Jesus verbally illustrates an example of a strongman being robbed—he can only be robbed if he is first bound up and unable to fight back. Finally, Jesus addressed their questioning of His divine source of strength, the Holy Spirit, by making it clear that they who question or blaspheme the Spirit of God cannot be forgiven.

 

Through this powerful exchange between Jesus and the scribes, we must come to realize that we have two choices: the Kingdom of God’s Goodness, Light, Strength, Unity, and Clarity or the kingdom of darkness, doubt, confusion, and division. Jesus came to free us from the grip of sin—from the power of satan. Our hearts and minds must be united in this belief in order to achieve the true peace and fullness of faith. Faith is a divine gift, in and of itself, and must be fostered by putting on God’s armor.  he strength of His armor is knowing and believing in God—the Word (John 1:1).  Reading and reflecting on God, the Word, fills us with the humility and enthusiasm of true faith—and His Spirit then fills us with hope, courage, and strength to share Him with others!  

 

Lord, be our hope and salvation!  Free us from evil ways, be our armor, the cloak of strength, and fill us with Your Spirit! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2017 

In the waning verses of Mark’s Gospel, he writes: “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using My name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  

 

These final Words of Jesus, while still in the physical presence of this earth and His disciples, fully reveal the saving mission of all believers. Through our proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel, He has commissioned us to be witnesses to Him, through our own words and, more importantly, our actions. His final command reflects what our 8th grade English teachers taught us: action verbs! Faith requires us to “Go into the World” and live life as Jesus taught us to live. He clearly ties our baptism to what we believe! Our thoughts, words and deeds must be a reflection of the call and promise of Baptism. If baptism cleanses us of our sins, by the sacrifice of His Blood and in the cleansing water of the Everlasting Life in His Resurrection, then our task is to strive to remain cleansed from sin!  

 

This is our Christian challenge in our human condition! Our life must be a testament, not just in our comfort zones with other believers, but to the whole world! Peter reminds us in 1 Pt 1:14-15, “Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as He who called you is Holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct, for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  

 

Lord, You created us in Your image. Help us to maintain our faith to do Your Wondrous Works and conduct Your Will, daily! Guide us to be “holy, as You are Holy”, reflecting Your light to all whom we encounter. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY IRENE AND JOHN! 


In Mark 3:31-35 Jesus brings to light the fact that living our lives in accordance with His Love, Will and Way is the most meaningful experience in this life: God at the center of all our life’s relationships. Mark drives this point home: “Then His mother and His brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him; and they said to him, “Your mother and Your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for You.” And He replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking at those who sat around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”  

 

The first thought we must focus on here is that Jesus wants us to know that those who love, out the Word of God, adhering to His Ways, ARE God’s Family! It is through this idea that we are the universal church, the family of God, that Jesus calls us to be: united in and by Faith! By His simple statement, “Whoever does the Will of God is My brother and sister and mother”, Jesus is not disavowing anyone! Rather, He is calling, as God’s own, all of us who claim faith in His Divinity as the Son of God!  How do we experience this relationship?

 

Do we truly comprehend the deep and awesome joy and peace that comes with this claim (including living it and extending it to others)? Do we explore, deeper, this relationship with God through our study of His Word and His Church, on earth? What does that mean to us as Christians as we apply that Word and Way to our daily lives? We are called to focus on family—with God as our Father, Christ as our Brother! Therefore, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!  

 

Lord, You are the source and center of all goodness. Be at the center of our relationships with each other so that we are all connected by Your Love, Wisdom, and Guidance in how we interact with one another—leading all to You! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017 


The Prayer of St. Francis de Sales

  

Be at Peace 

 

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; 

rather look to them with full hope as they arise. 

God, whose very own you are, 

will deliver you from out of them. 

 

He has kept you hitherto, 

and He will lead you safely through all things; 

and when you cannot stand it, 

God will bury you in his arms. 

  

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; 

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today 

will take care of you then and everyday. 

He will either shield you from suffering, 

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. 

 

Be at peace, 

and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

  



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2017 


In Mark 3:13-19, we find a simply stated account of Jesus’ appointment of His closest companions during His earthly Ministry: The twelve Apostles:  “He went up the mountain and called to Him those whom He wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, whom He also named Apostles, to be with Him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.  

 

Matthew and Luke also give accounts of Jesus’ selection of the twelve. Two of the commonalities in these Gospel accounts are, 1)  Jesus went to the solitude of the mountain to pray and 2) these faithful would be commissioned to go out and proclaim His Good News and bring comfort to God’s people.  

 

In today’s world, as we consider our own spiritual commitment and answer to God’s call, let us ask ourselves, “Do we behave as chosen members of God’s ‘inner circle’ of faithful, to whom He entrusts the universal mission of His Church?”  “How do we respond in accepting our call to be His disciple—a “proclaimer” of our relationship with Christ?”  

 

Our answer to these questions is revealed in our daily lives—thought, word, and deed, ultimately no less important in our lives, today, than in the daily lives of the Apostles, when Jesus walked the earth in their physical presence!  

 

Lord, help me to joyfully accept your call to follow You and Your Ways, forging a path to Your Kingdom, on which I travel and others follow.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2017 

“Then He went home to Nazareth; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When His family heard it, they went out to restrain Him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of His mind.”  

These two simple verses from Mark 3:20-21, remind us of the challenges we face in the world, even among our family members and closest friends.  

 

In Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus reminds us of the challenges of following Him, saying that man will be set against his father, a daughter versus mother, that  foes will be members of the same household. He never denied that the road would not be easy, because He truly understood the free will of man to make choices, even when selfish and against the Will of God. Yet we must continue to marvel at the fact that He came to earth, for our salvation, becoming one of us, in spite of knowing our nature. Hope springs eternal!  

 

As we study our lives of faith, let us ask, “Is Jesus welcomed and honored in our lives and homes?” As we see in Mark’s writings that even His family members were questioning His Mission. We should get an even deeper understanding that Jesus DOES know what we go through in this life—He is not some “out of touch” God/Man who can’t empathize with us! Therefore, knowing what He did for our salvation, should the question not be, “Can we empathize with Jesus?” Or, “Can we truly share in His pain, pain that was offered for our eternal life?” Or, do we worry about how we will be perceived by others in our choice to follow Jesus therefore, keeping our faith “low-key”, bringing it out only in certain places?  

 

Jesus knew, in becoming man, that He would face opposition, even to death on a cross, yet He knew that He could save all who would believe, so He did so in obedient love (Ref:  Phil 2:5-11).  

 

Lord, help us to not be part of the “opposition”, but to always put you first, last, and with everything in our lives!  May the work of fulfilling Your Will in this life, so as to enter the next, eternally, with You, bring the fullness of Joy to our lives!.  Jesus, first, last, always!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2017


With our new president taking office this month, how providential that it is Respect Life Month! We pray that our country makes more strides with the issue of abortion as well as all life. 

 

I cannot avoid constant reflection on this issue of right to life. In our land we are proud of our heritage and belief in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, Life! Does it come down to a disagreement as to when life begins? Who decides and who has the right to end a life based on that determination? 

 

It strikes me as so very, very strange and confusing that anyone can be charged with a double murder if they take the life of a pregnant woman, and yet fully give permission to end one of those lives by choice often because it is inconvenient. We are God created beings that have the ability to decide to participate in a creative act and bring another human person into being;  how seriously do we consider that gift? How have we lost our way? Have we become so self-centered, that we make idols of the self so much so, that we treat each other as objects?  

 

The coarse behavior so readily displayed by so many was frightening over the past months as our President was elected. In the name of the freedoms we profess to hold so dear, it appears we have lost our mooring and changed freedom to ‘license’. How can we profess freedom while we adopt violent and dishonest ways to achieve our selfish goals? 

 

As Christians, do you, do we, see Christ in the midst of all the mayhem? Do you hear His voice through all the cacophony of rhetoric and babble? Despite all the empty promises, do you seek to live in Love, Joy, peace, patience, Kindness, gentleness, self-control, goodness ....the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you? 

May we pray each day, together, God's family, willing to be Christ in the midst of all. 

Living Thy will be done. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017 


Great crowds followed Jesus because they heard of His wonderful goodness, through His Words and through His Healing Touch, as He performed miraculous works. In today’s world, many people are in need of His Good News, due to the increasing distractions of this world: illness, addictions, jealousy, greed, anger, confusion. How do we fulfill our call and role in bringing the Good News of Jesus? Do we bring Him to those around us, while zealously “protecting” and “preserving” Him in the way we live our lives? Not only are we called to openly “stand up and defend”, but more importantly, we must live in His Ways—in His example—so that others can actually see Faith (in Him) in Action, through us. 

 

Reading Mark 3:7-12, we find the crowds clamoring for Jesus, to the point that His disciples needed to have a boat ready for Him, to keep Him from being crushed by the great, moving and morphing crowd. He was not striving to “get away” from them. Rather, He was seeking ways to be with them and there for them. These crowds were seeking Him with good intent, personal, spiritual, and out of need in both areas. They were seeking Jesus out of sheer and utter faith that He would help them in their physical or spiritual need.  

 

How do we approach Jesus? Do we approach Him with faith and knowledge in His awesome power? Do we truly believe He will set us free from that which distracts us from moving closer to Him? And, as importantly, do we believe that we, like the disciples, can bring Jesus to those in need, setting Him before them through our protection and preservation of His Ways?  

 

To carry on the “legacy” of a loved one, we pass on their wisdom through our word and actions. Should it not be the same in preserving God’s Ways?  

 

Lord, help us to be freed of life’s distractions, to be openly and wonderfully accepting of Your Presence in our lives. In doing so, we can, then, be in tune with the prompting of Your Spirit in our ever-changing lives/world! 

Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TONYA!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACOB! 


In Mark 3:1-6, we find the Pharisees continuing to question Jesus and His observance of the laws and rituals. This time, as Matthew also notes, they were waiting for Jesus to “work” on the Sabbath, this time healing a man’s withered hand in the Synagogue. Again, in a masterful answer to them, He says, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life, or to kill?” They were silent, already understanding He was no “ordinary Man” and unwilling to be “trapped” by His Wisdom.  

 

In response to their silence and stubborn hearts, Jesus told the man, “Stretch out your hand”. In doing so, the man’s hand was restored to health. Unfortunately, in their stubbornness, the Pharisees became more determined to conspire against and destroy Him.  Matthew recounts this very same incident. He also points out that, while they actually urged Him to consider the question as to whether it is “lawful” to cure someone on the Sabbath. In doing so, their goal was not understanding Him and what He offered, rather to goad Him into violating the law.  

 

As we consider this event, recounted in the Gospels, we must look inwardly at our own lives (thought, word, deed) and consider our own actions. How do we practice our faith? Do we challenge the precepts exemplified by Our Lord, or, do we embrace them? Do we “practice” our faith? Or, do we “live” our faith? The goal of the religious leaders was to “catch Jesus”, finding Him guilty of violating rigid “teaching and norms” so that they could condemn Him. In doing so, they lost sight of compassion, imposing man’s intention first, over God’s goodness and compassion. Jesus does not call for abolishing the Law (or the Prophets) but to fulfill (ref Mt 5:17-20). Rather, He came to exemplify the “law in action” - Faith in Action!  

 

Lord, give us the grace to understand how laws and rules do (and must) enhance our lives, causing a sharing of goodness among/toward each other!  May our obedience to Your Ways bring Your teachings to life, in our lives! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017 


“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.” So ends Jesus’ pronouncement to the Pharisees about the Sabbath in Mk 2:23-28. Here we find the religious leaders questioning the idea that Jesus and his disciples would “dare” pluck heads of grain to eat while walking through the fields on the Sabbath. 

 

Jesus has a clear way of reminding his critics that care for fellow man and self—which is necessary—is very important and appropriate. To do so, Jesus reminds them of when David and his soldiers were hungry and David went into the temple and ate of the Bread in God’s Presence and shared it with his men, even though it was to be reserved for the high priests. This is not to downplay the importance of law and ritual, but, rather, to highlight the importance of ensuring we are able to carry out God’s Work and that we take care of each other, first and foremost, so that His will can be and is fulfilled through that care for one another.  This begs the question, “What is the intention behind the command to “keep Holy the Sabbath?”  

 

This command is a reminder to remember and celebrate (commemorate) God’s goodness and that of His Wondrous Works! Perhaps it is best stated that we should avoid “unnecessary” work, but remember that human need takes precedence over “ritual custom”. Matthew, in 12:1-14, we find the same account. Here Jesus not only gives the example of David eating the Bread from the Temple, he calls them out over their criticism of His healing of a man with a withered hand, on the Sabbath. He points out their hypocrisy that they would save a sheep who falls into a pit, on the Sabbath, but criticize Him for healing a man? As He says, “How much more valuable are we?” 

 

Lord, may we give You all Honor and Glory EVERY day of our lives! May our life’s work, especially how we treat our neighbor, be a testament to Your Will and Ways, not just on Your “Holy Day”, but every other day, as well. Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE!


Matthew 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

 

There is something to be said for tradition… and Tradition. Our faith has been built much on both with the ongoing guidance of Sacred Scripture. With these three as the source of instruction for the Church through the Magisterium, we have moved great strides from the days of the early Church to where we are today. 

Jesus acknowledged the Pharisees when they asked about the His disciples not fasting. Along with the fasting and the bridegroom, He compared the pieces of cloth on an old cloak and new wine into old wineskins. He then tells them that the new wine is poured into the fresh wineskins. 


His images give light to the Pharisees in that the old way of teaching cannot be compared with what He is teaching them. Their traditions were law-based that ultimately led to a ‘do as I say’ way of life for many of them, following to the letter of the law. What Jesus was giving them was a way of life that came from within, the new wine into the fresh wineskins.


Like so many other traditions, we can choose to make this more of what has been a part of the way of life for the Church or we can choose to live in the past.  We can be that new wine today should we choose to practice and pour ourselves out for the good of others, emptying the wineskins so to speak, so that we may be filled with what He may fill us as He chooses. We can be a part of the problem if you will or choose to be a part of the solution with the new wine. 

Let us pray that we all drink in the new wine that celebrates the Blood of Christ.




OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2017


‘He on Whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the One Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I, myself, have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:33-34 

 

In John 1:29-34, John declares, “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” He goes on to announce that Jesus IS the One Whom he had announced as the “man who ranks ahead of me because He was before me.”.  John was not hesitant to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, to “prepare the way of the Son of God”, as he was called to do, nor testify as to the Power of the Holy Spirit that he had seen descend upon Jesus!  

 

John the Baptist, as we know, was sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” - to shed light and knowledge upon Jesus for people to see Him! He did not know and understand fully, until the day on which he was called to baptize Jesus in the Jordan’s water. On this day, God’s voice was heard and His Spirit seen upon Jesus! John says himself, “I, myself, did not know Him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed…” 

 

The Spirit revealed to John the very essence of Who Jesus is: “The Son of God!” Just as the Holy Spirit opened John’s eyes completely, so we have the opportunity for the Spirit of God to open our eyes and help us expand our knowledge, love and truth of Jesus Christ! The true nature of God’s Divinity and His Will for us and our lives is revealed through God’s Spirit. We must seek and desire that His Presence be made apparent to us in this world, as well as desire to allow that same Presence to be shown, through us, to others! This is accomplished by striving to make Christ-centered decisions throughout each day! This can and will be accomplished through the urgings of the Spirit of God—”W.W.J.D.” is not a rhetorical question!  

 

Lord, help us to be faithful in spending time with You, in quiet contemplation! Let us live our baptismal hope to see, hear, and speak with You today and eternally! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2017


Mark, in 2:13-17, begins by describing the simple call of Levi—Matthew—the tax collector: “Follow me!” Tax collectors were considered the “lowest of the low”, as sinners, in the culture of the time. They were known for taking advantage of their very own people, for their personal gain. Therefore, when Jesus called Matthew, this “sinful public tax collector”, we are all given hope to understand that we are never too unworthy to respond to God’s call and simply “follow Him”. There is no “pomp and circumstance” in our decision…. Rather, it is a decision made in the privacy of our mind and heart. Yes, it may and must be reflected in our outward appearance, in the way we interact with others (ref: James 2:14-17), but faith still begins in our hearts and mind, as God knows them first and foremost (ref: Ps 139).  

 

Reading on, we find Jesus joining Matthew for dinner at his home and, as a result, receiving the criticism of the religious leaders, who asked, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus responded to their indignant talk, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (are in need); I have come to call, not the righteous, but sinners.” No matter how unworthy we may feel in our human condition, this passage reminds us that we have Jesus’ attention, if we but respond.  

 

After a doctor visit, we are generally asked to change some type of behavior or add one to our repertoire of behaviors, in order to “improve our life”. So it is after each visit with our Lord!  

 

Lord, let us respond to Jesus, who has come to heal, by responding to His direction, “Follow me”.  Give us courage to accept to His “prescription” and change our lives, in Him, for the better!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 2017


How creative are we in our efforts to encounter Jesus and to help others encounter Him? In Mark 2:1-12, we find a group of people, friends with a paralytic man, willing to be creative to bring their friend into the presence of Jesus. Mark tells us how the crowds gather around Jesus, making it difficult for people to encounter Him. Seeing this, the paralytic’s friends lifted him upon the roof of the house, in which Jesus was staying and, making a hole, lowered him through it on his mat. Jesus was moved by their faith!  

 

How are we in our lives when we or our family or friends encounter the painful adversities of this life? Do we step up, both physically and spiritually, to be part of the solution? Do we, through our thoughts, prayers, word, and acts, use our God-given talents and resources to help them discern and fulfill God’s Will? Or do we grumble and groan, “wishing” things were better?  

 

Once the paralytic encountered Jesus through the support of His friends, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Though the scribes found it blasphemous that anyone but God Himself, would have the gall to “forgive sins”, we understand and know that Jesus IS God and He was simply and wonderfully showing the great Power of God’s redeeming love by unbinding this man of His earthly burden and guilt. He goes on, knowing the thoughts in the indignant hearts of the scribes, to say, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? …so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority, on earth, to forgive sins”...I say, ‘stand up, take your mat and go home.” The man, immediately, arose and walked out, to the amazement of all!  

 

Forgiveness—spiritual grace and healing! If God can forgive our many, many sins, to the level that we rise to eternal life, are we not called to forgive the “simple transgressions” we encounter among each other daily?  

 

Lord, free us from the burden of sin, in this life, so that we may always walk in the truth of Your Ways. Give us the strength to accept Your Spiritual healing and enjoy fullness of Your Life. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017 


1 Corinthians 12:31 reminds us that if we but strive for the greater gifts, we will be shown a still more excellent and greater way of love. From Hebrews 3:7-14, we are even encouraged then to harden not our hearts as we are tested in our deserts, so that none of us may have an evil or unfaithful heart. In fact, we are reminded to encourage ourselves daily while it is still today.

 

For many of us this means setting aside those pains for unforgiveness, the bitterness of hateful relationships and even those bits of anger we may have for others if not ourselves. And if it happens more than once, then it needs to be let go of that many more times then and again. Seventy times seven as Jesus reminds us. How easy it is to let it roll off our lips and say ‘Oh, it doesn’t really bother me’ when in truth, the darkness of sin always bothers us, as it not only truly hurts us and indeed hurts God. 

 

As Jesus healed the leper in Mark’s gospel as he asked to be made clean, so too can we be made clean as we come to Him for our own forgiveness and cleansing. We can learn to love more, we can learn to give more, to share more as we thirst and hunger more for those graces we’ve been given. As we do, let us encourage one another to carry out our faith so that none of us are left to struggle on our own, and all together, remain encouraged in His love for our salvation.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2017


“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)  

 

In reading Mark 1:40-45, this verse from Galatians came to mind: we are all one in our belief and knowledge of Jesus, as the One, True God—Who came to show us how to live in this earthly life! We, as Christians, proclaim this “kinship”. Yet, in our professed faith, do we seek the Lord with expectant faith, as did the leper who approached Jesus? Do we receive those, such as the leper, in the same manner as Jesus did?  

 

One has to remember that in Jesus’ day, lepers were considered unclean and were cast out from “normal” society. People scattered at the sight of a leper, mainly out of fear of becoming infected. In fact, Jewish law forbade anyone from approaching or touching a leper at the risk of defilement. The leper, also, risked being stoned for daring to approach a rabbi.  

 

Bearing these things in mind, we must ask ourselves how we live St. Paul’s words, in Galatians that we are all “sons of God” and simply, “one” in Christ Jesus? Do we acknowledge and accept those that we consider “unclean”, today, in our daily lives - those that are “different” from us, perhaps suffering because of the real or perceived “difference”? And, in our humanness, do we approach Jesus in our suffering, sin, or other “affliction” of the human condition? We are called to approach those in whom we find challenges to love, just as much as we are called to seek Jesus and be loved!  

 

Lord, inspire and ignite a flame of love among us, cleansing the entire body of Your Church, so as to help us live in Your Love and Unity! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2017


Matthew 1:21-27 gives an account of how Jesus went into the Synagogue and began to preach.  “And His teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, He taught them with authority.” This gives us, as Christians called to live and profess His Word and Ways, the pause and cause to ask, “Do we live and interact with others in such a way as to reflect God?  Do our actions “speak” with and of the authority of God?”  What “impression” do we make on others when we speak and when we act, each day?  

 

Matthew goes on to tell about an unclean spirit that had taken possession of a man, asking Jesus (while He was preaching), “What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who you are: The Holy One of God!” Jesus responded, telling the demon, “Be quiet, Come out of Him!” And, the unclean spirit obeyed him! This amazed the worshippers in the Synagogue.  

 

Here, in front of them, is a man who not only speaks powerfully, but acts powerfully! We believe and know that Jesus is the Son of God, therefore, filled with divine wisdom and authority, as in this very example from Matthew. As Christians, should we not consider the same impacts of both our words and actions upon others?

 

If we speak of God’s ways, wisdom, goodness, and, more importantly, that we are called to imitate Christ, then we must remember that our actions speak louder than those words, in the eyes of our fellow man! As we ponder and grow in in God’s Wisdom, through His Word, let us remember that His Word, Truth, commands and demands a deep commitment that we live our lives according to His Ways, which we learn in and through the Word!  

 

Lord, give me the grace, strength, and wisdom to allow Your Truth to be part of my thought, word, and deed! Melt Me, Mold Me, Fill Me, Use Me with and in the fires of Your Love! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2017 


Mark 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" 
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

 

From the gospel, Jesus sets out on His mission of teaching and healing, the message that ultimately sets the people free from the darkness of sin. Even in the temple, the man possessed with the unclean spirit knew Him as the Holy One of God. Jesus silenced the spirit and commanded it out of the man. As such, the spirit came out as the man went into a fit of sorts and the people were amazed—amazed at the power and authority that Jesus had shown. 

 

As they asked about Him—His wisdom, His authority, His power—so often do we do the same in our prayers and faith, ask of Him when we submit to His will. As Jesus walked His journey, there were those who truly sought Him for healing and to listen to His wisdom. Though ours is not so much a fox-hole faith to use His mercy and grace as is convenient for us- He would not deny the truly repentant. No matter where we are, let us always call out to Him to free us from the darkness of our desires that keep us from His love. 

 

Let us pray that our minds and hearts are set like flint on the Lord Jesus so that He will restore us to life each day in faith, hope and love. As St. Paul says, let us 'cast off our deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light' not for ourselves but for His glory and the lives of others.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2017 

Today we come to the end of the Christmas Season with the Baptism of the Lord. Tomorrow we begin Ordinary time.

 

I wonder how many Christians really concluded the Christmas Season the day after Christmas? How many really basked in the wonder of the Incarnation through to the feast of Epiphany and now the Baptism of the Lord? The Church clearly leads us through these seasons and feasts to help us in our Spiritual walk to deepen our faith. 

 

Today we have an opportunity to enter into prayer and dialog with the Lord before we begin Ordinary Time. As followers of Jesus we can reflect on our own baptism and what it means to be a child of God. How does a Child of God live each day in ordinary time?  Who are the people who give light to the world as they live as brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus? 

 

Each day we are called to be co-creators bringing new life to our world. Is it an easy task?  No, not particularly. But we know through our faith that nothing is impossible for God. 

 

Spend some time in prayer today and be open to receiving God's grace. May you hear His voice ..."This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased."

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2017


As I look outside, this early morning, I see the snow collecting and thinking of my “old days” as a school superintendent, pondering the decisions that will be made across the region regarding school cancellations, delays, etc. In reading Matthew 2:1-12 this morning, the “visit of the three wise men” to the stable where the Infant Jesus lay, God made-man, is a very relevant reading!  

 

Matthew tells us that they came from “The East” - from “afar” is how it is often described. The first striking thing, to me, in light of this morning’s snow and decisions to be made about travel, is the difficulty these three wise men had, 2,000 years ago, traveling great distances (compared to today’s traveling abilities). They made great sacrifices, following a “star” and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, looking for the New Born King of Israel—The Messiah!  

 

Matthew’s gospel tells us that they were overwhelmed with joy upon entering the place where Jesus lay—they knelt down and gave Him praise. This was the first thing they did—even before opening the material gifts—of gold, frankincense, and myrrh! What joy filled them? It was the joy of faith—believing and knowing that God is with us, among us, and within us! It is the joy of the fruitful ending of a long journey, searching for something wonderful that has been promised and now delivered. It is realizing that the perceived difficulties of any journey must be assessed by two things:  the worthiness of the journey and trust that He will guide us through.  

 

While not licensed to be “haphazard” and calloused about the sanctity and dignity of life, we do have to face our walk to and with Jesus with confidence that His Joy will be ours! So, let us face each day with courage, wisdom and confidence in God, journeying toward Him with each step, as the wise men did, long ago!  

 

Lord, give us the strength and courage to make decisions, each day, that bring us one step closer to You! May these decisions be made wisely, confidently, and in true faith in You! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2017



If you would suffer with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would banish from you soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares, 

be a man of prayer.

 

If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion, 

and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires, 

be a man of prayer. 

 

If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, 

be a man of prayer.

 

In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place, 

be a man of prayer.

 

It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, 

who teaches all things.

 

St. Bonaventure




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2017


Friday! Each Friday is a reminder that this is the day the Lord Jesus died on a cross. The United States Conference of Bishops has called upon all of us followers of the Lord Jesus to respond to a call to prayer. Clearly they point out pray for families, for the greater understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage and commitment to the vocation of marriage. Fridays can be a special day to fast, to abstain from certain foods—such as meat—to commit ourselves to being in touch with God by making space for His presence in the very way we live out the day. 

 

By fasting we turn our attention to God to others, taking time to pray, perhaps attend Mass and unite to Christ and our brothers and sisters in the Eucharist we give witness to the Son of Man in our midst.  The scriptures remind us that it is mercy God desires and we have been encouraged by the Church this past year in the Year of MERCY to be merciful.

 

Perhaps we need first to receive mercy! Ask yourself if you have opened your being, your heart, your soul, your entire being to God's mercy. We have all sinned and have sought God's forgiveness. Can we be grateful and thankful that we have been forgiven and treated with mercy, and be come vessels of mercy to others?

 

It is so easy to find fault with others as we allow our ego to blind us to our own failures. We look at others and often condemn them for our own failures that we see mirrored in them.  So we hear hopefully the Lord's warning to remove the beam from our own eye before we attempt to remove the splinter from a brother or sister's eye.

 

To be called to mercy is also to become lovers in the truest sense. To seek God at all times, and to see Him in every person regardless of appearance.

Today may we all seek to see the goodness of the Lord present in all He has created. Seek the Lord while He may be found! Call to Him while He is still near!

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2017 


Come follow me! Jesus' words to Philip in Chapter One of John's Gospel. They are His words to all of us. We look to the past to see those examples of men and women who heard that call and followed. Perhaps we observe those in our midst who also hear and follow, their light illumines our own lives and they serve as beacons drawing us toward the Lord.

 

Each day we are given opportunities to encounter the Lord. These encounters are part and parcel of our human activity. We begin each day by acknowledging the Lord as we humbly kneel in prayer acknowledging God's presence as we awake from sleep. We wake to the dance of life which is filled with God's presence. Creation itself reflects the wonder and love of the Creator. We strive in our living to love knowing we have been created by and for love. We acknowledge that even in suffering we are in love with Him who called us to follow Him and in His life among us knew great suffering in love for all.   

 

He conquered death, and in His resurrection revealed the fullness of God with us. To follow Him we are being transformed moment by moment if we open our minds and hearts to Him, allowing the Spirit to guide us to new life. Today, may we all spend some moments in silence, emptying ourselves that we may be filled with His love and grace. Let your light shine!

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2017 


 

“Look, here is the Lamb of God”.  In John 1:35-42, for the second time, John the Baptist calls Jesus the “Lamb of God”. This time, two of his followers hear him and begin to follow Jesus, calling him “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus challenges them, “What are you looking for?” They ask Him, “Where do you live?” to which Jesus responds, “Come and see.” One of these two was Andrew, the brother of Simon. After spending the day with Jesus, he finds his brother and tells him, “We have found the Messiah—the Anointed One.”  Simon boldly believes and joins his brother.  

 

It is at this time that Jesus tells Simon, “You are Simon, son of John. You are to be called Cephas—translated, it means Peter, “Rock”. This account of the first disciples to heed John’s proclamation is significant to us, as we decide to follow Jesus! We call ourselves, Christians—believers that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and who came, as man, to be among us and give us the example by which we are to live. He came so that He could say to us, “Come and see” (“where I live.” and to show us the Way)! Just as with these disciples, of His time, we, too, have the choice to follow! Jesus invites each who experiences Him to “come and see”, to know Him more personally.  

 

Each time we respond to His invitation, we will discover more meaning and fulfillment, not only for ourselves, but for those whom we encounter. Simon Peter came, upon invitation, and immediately believed—Jesus recognized His bold willingness to believe and called him “Rock”. We are called and challenged, daily, to believe and deepen our faith—may we be “solid as a rock” in our response!  

 

Lord, be the foundation, “rock”, of our daily life! Be the strength, by which we withstand the tempests of this world, to “come and see” Your Home! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2017 


Behold the Lamb of God!  Today we encounter John the Baptist and wonder at his phrase, ‘Behold the lamb of God!’ For us modern-day Catholics, perhaps Lamb of God seems to be simply a title, a term of address to the person of Jesus. We tend to overlook the environment of John and what he meant when he pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God! Rather, let us sit in silence and enter that scene and realize the Lamb of God as He who will be sacrificed for the sin of humanity.

 

He is the one who will restore us to life with God.  He comes to save us, to bring us into a divine relationship as children of God, heirs to the kingdom, brothers and sisters of Jesus the Christ. John the evangelist announces, we are God’s children now, what we will be later remains to be seen, but it will be in our words—fantastic! 

 

What does all this mean in our everyday existence? How are we to live as children of the Most High God? Jesus was clear: first love God and second, love your neighbor. Love the persons you encounter every day in all circumstances. To love God first, we must love Him in the persons we see, those created in His image and likeness, those who encounter hardships and pain as well as those who enjoy the good life. How can we possibly accomplish the act of loving if we fail to allow God to be a constant part of our life, if we are not growing in awareness of His presence in all circumstances?  

 

It is in the now that we encounter God. We meet Him in the ordinary events of each day! Be alert to His presence in your life. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017


John 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, "Who are you?" He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, "I am not the Christ."  So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." 

"Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?"

He said: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said." 

Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?" 

John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."  This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

 

Not that we put ourselves on a level like that of John as he was asked ‘Who are you?’ but there have been those times when our identity has been brought into question. Be it on a personal level or even according to our faith, we have been called to give an accounting if not a witness as to who we are. 


Maybe we’ve been confused for someone else. Maybe someone thought they saw us somewhere—or someone who they thought could have been us—somewhere else. Or maybe, our faith is tested and we are at a crossroad and we are called to either give our witness or do otherwise. John put aside any talk of himself and made it all about the One Who was to come after him, just as we should do. 


As he was challenged to say something in his defense, he responded by saying he was unworthy to loosen the sandal strap of the One Who was to come after him. As John baptized with water, the One after him will share in a much greater baptism. John deferred everything away from himself to Jesus as he prepared for His coming. 


In a very real sense we do that today for our own sake as well as for those we share the Good News. We too cry out as the ‘voice in the desert’ and give our witness to Christ Who is to come. How do we reflect Him in our lives so that others may know that He lives in us to ask?



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2017


Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

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

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

 

If you or I had something to share of the latest and greatest news, we would probably turn to our handiest electronic device, be it a smartphone, tablet or computer. Whatever the great news would be, would we not want to let as many know what we know? 


The shepherds did not have the methods we have today—to hear or proclaim what they had been told and seen. As amazed as they had been, so too were those they were evangelizing as the made known the birth of the Jesus. They were the first witnesses, the first evangelists, to carry out the Good News of His birth. 

 

With the shepherds as those witnesses, so too were Mary and Joseph the beacon bearers and guardians of the Son of God. They served as the caretakers for the child Jesus in His humanity as He grew to be the Caretaker for us all in His divinity through His life, death and resurrection and ascension. As Mary kept the fullness of His love in her heart throughout their lives, may we all live with the peace and holiness in ours as we proclaim His holy name, Jesus Christ! Amen.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2016


John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.

 

Without God, without the Word, we are simply without anything else in the world. In fact, before we could even have our world, there was our God to give it to us. Light from light, true God from true God. All life has come from His light—the darkness of our sins being taken away when the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.

 

John came to testify to the Word becoming flesh, to prepare us for what He was to bring us and give us. All we have is from God; all we are is made by Him; all we ever will be is up to Him, though it is all up to us. That is His gift of free will. We have that from Him to cooperate with His will for us. How much we cooperate is up to us though that the grace we receive is all up to Him. How much more beautiful can that get? 

 

Yes, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and all that the world is today is in thanksgiving to Him, The Word being made Flesh through His Father. Though we may not comprehend what or how His power and glory has come to make this all happen—we’re not alone. He is the source of all creation and reality and life and love. In Him there is all that we need for salvation, here on earth and eternally with Him. 


May we all live and give in such a way to receive the fullness of His 'grace in place of grace' for this New Year and beyond.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2016


Today, the concept of family, primarily in the Christian sense, is being attacked in such a way, as never before in the history of humanity, so it would seem in our time-limited view of the world. As we look around, our senses tell us that this attack, in the form of promiscuity, contraception, abortion, abuse, addiction/selfishness, and the fleeting concept of commitment and lack thereof, and “throw-away” relationships are rampant! “Family” is simply challenged to survive! 

 

In reading Colossians 3:12-21, we find Paul writing about New Life in Christ and “Rules” for Christian Households! It would do our society good to read and heed, as we are called to do! St. Paul tells us, in Colossians 3:12, that we are to “clothe ourselves” in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, reflecting the Beatitudes, shared by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. He goes on to tell us that we are to forgive in the example of Christ, bind together in love, and let peace rule our hearts—as One body!  

 

Finally, we are to be thankful to Him and be the in-dwelling of God’s Word, teaching and advising in the Wisdom of that Word. In all we do, we should do so in Christ’s name! These are powerful words! And what better place for them to start and practiced and put in place than in our homes? 

 

In verses 18-21, he shares “rules for a Christian household”. These rules are rooted, not in a “patriarchal” control (as many would choose to or have us interpret), but as a concept of mutual and respectful love between man and woman, parents and child! Let us be an example of Christian Holiness with each other, in our homes, and then allow this to extend into the world, building the concept of Family—The Domestic Church—in all our lives!  

 

Lord, grant us the wisdom to listen to Your Word, as family and societal leaders, listening, first, to Your Will, then following Your desire and Mary, Joseph and the Holy family as examples.  

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B. 




OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2016


“Master, now You are dismissing Your servant in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to Your people, Israel.”  (Luke 2:29-32)  

 

These words were uttered by Simeon, upon laying eyes upon Jesus, the infant—the Messiah—as Joseph and Mary brought Him to the Temple to present Him in the tradition of Moses. Luke describes, in 2:25-35, how this righteous and devout man had waited all His life for this moment, for God had revealed to him that “he would not see death before He had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” Because he followed the voice of God, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word came to fulfillment for him. Upon the fulfillment of those Words, because of His deep faith, Simeon was ready to receive the full and final hope of His faith. 

 

Simeon lived his life in wait for the day he would see the Messiah—having full hope that God’s promise of salvation would be fulfilled on that day! He did not waver from this and knew that His deepest desire would be God’s eternal reward for his Faith! Compare this to our lives today—we just finished our period of “waiting” for Jesus and our “celebration” of His coming! Think about this! How did we wait? Was it in anticipation of whether or not we got the “perfect gift” for someone or whether we would get the “perfect gift”? Was it spent “bah-humbugging” the season with cynicism, wishing “others” would get the “reason for the season”? Or, was it patiently awaiting/preparing for His arrival, so that we will be ready/able to lay eyes upon Him when He is in front of us?

 

Lord, let us think about our preparation, every day, for the coming day—the day of our eternal salvation—that you came to offer! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2016


If we live in fear, greed, insecurity, pride, and other such distracting states of mind and presence, these things take our focus from the Goodness of God and His offer of His presence in our minds, hearts and lives. In order to live in true peace, security, humility and goodness, all that we do must be centered on love of God and God’s love for us! Matthew 2:13-16 is a very stark and real example of how losing sight of God—losing “touch” with God—results in chaos, hurt, and destruction. 

 

Here we find Herod, having asked the wise men to find Jesus and then tell him where He is so that he can “pay Him homage”; and, angry because Joseph, in a dream, was called by God through His angel, to “Get up, take the child and His mother with you, and escape to Egypt until I tell you….” (Matthew 2:13)  

 

Today, as we read this and remember the innocent children whom Herod killed—having ordered all male children who were age 2 or under—of this “King” who had been born, let us remember that the greed, pride, jealousy, and lack of understanding of God’s plan of salvation for all people led to this atrocity! What do we learn from this in today’s world? First and foremost, we must realize that we must not use our own power and human need to satisfy our own desires and will—especially at others’ cost! Secondly, we must learn that we are not to steer others away from God’s will. 

 

This is shown in Matthew 2:12, when God warned the wise men too, not to return by way of seeing Herod (so that they would not tell him of Jesus’ location). The entire lesson is summed up in that we must strive to listen/live in the Ways of God. In doing so, we uphold the dignity of all people - the innocent—both born and unborn; the poor and needy; the elderly; the sick; the imprisoned: In short, our neighbors!  

 

Lord, You offered Your Presence—Your earthly life, suffering, death, and Resurrection—for the sake of all mankind! Help us to embrace Your Word and Desire—listening to Your Call—and not be afraid to do Your Will!

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016


John 20:1, 2-8

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

 

Mary Magdalene went first to the tomb and saw it opened. She went back to tell the others, though she wasn’t sure what was going on.

Peter and John then had to see for their own eyes. John looked in; the tomb was empty; the burial cloths were there; Peter showed up and went in and saw it all the same way. 

Then John went in and saw and believed. 

 

Maybe one really wanted to believe that Jesus had risen yet, on their own, they just couldn’t see how, even with all they had seen Him do.

Maybe one needed the other to confirm the other’s heart.

Or maybe they knew all along and they were waiting for the other to satisfy this longing in those same hearts to say “Amen” and rejoice that He indeed had risen!

What a great gospel to have here at Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and the resurrection as well. The light of the star of Bethlehem merges with the light of His resurrection, as the light of our baptism cleanses us from sin and the light of His resurrection conquers the darkness of death and sin in our lives.

 

That’s the glory and greatness of God’s love for us. As John wrote in 1 John 4:10-11:

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.

 

Let our love be as God loves us-unconditional, without cost, as we remain in Him and He in us.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2016


Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be on your guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, and so you may witness to them and the pagans. But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.’


Sometimes we are at a loss for words and that can be a good thing… silence being golden at times. Other times, we need the voice of an angel if not the prompting of the Holy Spirit to guide us when we find ourselves in a condition that lends itself to witnessing for our faith. St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church that we celebrate today, heard the voice of the Holy Spirit as he was put to death for his faith. 


We may not have to suffer the cruelty of a stoning or the martyrdom that others have gone on to sainthood to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit as we proclaim our faith. What we must do is steadfastly stand for what we hold true and hold firmly and believe as we live out our lives on earth. It may not be the popular thing to do; it may not be the ‘politically correct’ thing that the world calls for us to follow. Yet it is our faith. It will take courage for us all to see the wisdom and fullness of the way of life as we follow the Way, the Truth and the Life of Jesus Christ. 


We too must stand firm to the end so that we will be saved.




OFFER IT UP!  CHRISTMAS DAY, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2016


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”  John 1:1-18 clearly states that God simply IS, that all things came to being through and by Him, and that He came as Light in the darkness!  In V 9, we learn that Jesus is the True Light which enlightens everyone and that He came into the world!  The Word Became Flesh (and Glory).  Lord, as we ponder these simple, comprehensive Words, Whom You Are, as written by John, let us desire to be In Your Presence—Your Light—and be examples of Your Light in our lives, so that others can see and come to You.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B