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

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Recently someone asked about Jesus' brothers and sisters in Matthew and Mark's Gospels? The gentlemen asking was a cradle Catholic who like, it seems, are struggling as they read Scripture and wonder about Mary's virginity as taught them.


In our age of sexual awareness it seems that we must question Mary's remaining a virgin.We have become so absorbed with sexuality that we likely fail to really understand what sexuality is. We find ourselves like those contemporaries of Jesus in today's Gospel who wonder at His eloquence and ability to perform mighty deeds. After all, He is the Carpenter's son isn't he? He is one of us. We know his family! Where does He get all this?  Where does He get off speaking so authoritatively? 


The gentleman who was asking about the Scriptures was expressing doubts as to what the Church has long taught about the Virgin birth, Mary’s perpetual virginity. He finally simply said, "Does it matter?" 


I fear in our desire to KNOW we are finding it difficult to live in the mystery of Faith. Perhaps we all need to learn to sit in the presence of God, pray by being simply present and allowing the God who came to us, shared our life and left us the Bread of Life, His very self to be united with us forever. We need to be silent and emptied enough to let Him fill us that we may live in Him, through Him and with Him. He will reveal to us all we need to live faithfully in love.




Matthew 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied,

“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.


When Jesus says ‘the Kingdom of heaven is like’, there are many of us that wish He would just come out and tell us what it was like. From Matthew, we’re not much closer with today’s Gospel as we are told it is like a ‘net thrown into the sea’, collecting fish of all sorts. From there, the good fish are sorted from the bad, with the bad being thrown away into the fiery furnace-with wailing and grinding of teeth. Like the weeds from the wheat, so too will the fish then need to separated, the good from the bad.


At some point, separation has to happen in all our lives, we have to move from the lives we choose that keep us from being close to holiness and God. The longer we wait, the greater the chance we have of not being able to share in His eternal glory, no matter how long our lives might be. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase of being in the right place at the right time—and some of us may ascribe to that for our own calling home. Probably not the best method nor the surest way of spending eternity in heaven. Better yet would be putting ourselves in such a position each day-through the sacraments, through prayer, through grace-and let then the love of God fill us as we place our love and trust in Him. 



Images come to us through the Scriptures. We can find ourselves in the desert with the nation of Israel, daily feeding on Manna, and perhaps grumbling with them. Certainly we are sometimes awed at the leaders Moses and Aaron and sometimes find fault with them and with ourselves for allowing them to convince us to lead the comfort of our slavery and find ourselves struggling in this desert.


Life is sometimes like that. We don't always respond to our leaders as God's chosen, and even begin grumbling and complaining about how things are not as they should be... at least not as we think they should be.


Then it is so easy in our busy schedules to adapt a Martha syndrome and feel like we have been left to do all the work while those like Mary seem to bask in the presence of the Lord. We look at life the way we have been guided through all those years, Mom and Dad modeled life for us and we see things often through black and white lens. We pray, but our prayer is directed to the God we often have created rather than the God who creates even now and longs to unite us to Himself. 


Have Mercy on me O God, heal me of my infirmities and guide me to your truth. 




Matthew 13:36-43 reads, “Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’ He said in reply, ‘He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world and the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.


Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.’


The parable, itself (Matthew 13:24-30), ends with, “Let both of them (weeds and wheat” grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” When we are baptized we are cleansed of our sins and, at that moment, are in a pure and perfect union with God, just as a freshly sown field of wheat is pure and seed ready to grow. However, as life proceeds, the environment of the world influences and distracts us from that pure and perfect union. Yet, we also believe and know that God is still there amidst these times of distraction. Through this parable in His explanation, Jesus affirms that we are blessed, abundantly, in our earthly lives, though we do not always produce the “rich harvest” that God has sown in us.  As Christians we must ponder our habits, daily, knowing that in the end, the wheat and the weeds will be separated! 


Lord, allow your love to rule my heart and earthly ways.  May I sow (for the final harvest) what is good, worthy, and pleasing to You.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Each day we have the wonderful opportunity to be present to the love that gives us life. The Church has sampled for us the very Word of God spoken to His people through the ages and fully revealed in His Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ. 


For a few moments today, we can listen to the conversation between Moses and Aaron, experience the anger of Moses when he saw what the people had done while he was on the Mountain receiving the law of God. In quiet moments we read/listen to these readings and hopefully allow the still, soft voice of Our Father fill our being with His loving counsel. 


Each of us in the experience of living can find God within and sense His presence. He created us in love, and that love gives us the freedom to turn to Him… or not. 


In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God. What is like?  It begins very small, like me, like you. From a mustard seed to large bush that provides home for birds, just as yeast leavening dough—even as egg and sperm growing into a creature destined for eternal life and love. Such it is for Kingdom living now! 

Our Father…



In reading John 6:5-13, we find an account of Jesus’ miracle of multiplying two fish and five loaves to feed 5,000. In reading this today, I find myself reflecting, not only upon the miracle itself but upon the significance of the “gathering of the left overs”, “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.” 


What do we do with the “leftovers” of God’s goodness in our lives? He provides us with all that we need… and more. As Christians we are called to share, with others, that which we have been given. In what ways do we do so? Do we offer encouragement to others, by living an example of Christ’s love to those whom we encounter? Do we offer to pray (and actually do so) for the general and specific needs of others? Do we read to a young (or old) person in need of our company and our voice? Do we give of our time, money, or other resources to those who need our “leftovers”? 


In John 6:12, Jesus tells His disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over so that nothing may be lost.” As we look around in today’s world we see that we must take time to “gather up the fragments”. In the miracle of multiplication of the loaves, Jesus is able to solve an apparently humanly impossible problem. And once the problem is solved, He still has and takes the opportunity to cause us to realize that in His provisions, He always gives us more than we need, so that we can, in turn, share with another, thus bringing by our example, others to Him! 


Lord, our only and real hope is in Your compassionate love. May we offer all we have to You, just as the little boy did, with five loaves and two fish—may we, in turn, share that which You have given us, in example for others, drawing them to You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


The mother of James and John came to Jesus asking for a place of honor, one at His right hand and one at His left hand, in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ response, in Matthew 20:20-28, is, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Both of her sons replied, “We can”. From here, Jesus went on to tell all of the Apostles that they are not to “lord it over each other” as rulers of this earth do. Rather, in order to become great in the kingdom of God, you must be a servant to one another. 


He reminded them that the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served, to give His life for the salvation of many. Here we have two references to the suffering Jesus would endure. James and John readily answered, “We can”, though I don’t know that they fully understood the reference that Jesus was making when he said, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink.” Do we answer, “I can” when we are called to be witnesses—knowing that our ultimate goal is to obtain the prize of the Kingdom? Do we say, “I can” in moments of doubt and weakness, calling upon our faith in God to sustain us? 


We desire happiness and profess to know and believe that the true path to happiness is serving one another in the Love of God. But, how often do our human needs cause us to put service to Him second to our own needs? We have to eat, rest and otherwise conduct ourselves so as to meet our physical and emotional needs. However, we must also strive to maintain our knowledge and belief that the sole way to happiness is to live in His loving example. Jesus gave His life (both through ministry and, ultimately through suffering and death) to show the ultimate sacrifice. How do we give our lives, in return? 


Lord, help me to put others’ needs before my own, as you have called us to do.  May I readily drink from Your Cup of Salvation and live in God’s peace and love forever.  J.O.Y.

Paul B


As we read or listen to God's word presented to us in the liturgy we are reminded that God Alone is to be worshipped and adored. We revisit the Exodus experience and the Law given to Moses and God’s Holy People. We pray with the psalmist the Law of the Lord is perfect refreshing the soul. We then sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to the parable of the Sower once again.


As we listen can we examine our own lives and begin to see where we are in relation to God's Word, God's gift of life, His love? Looking within at our life, our attitude, our concerns in our living, are we the good soil where the Word can take root and produce in abundance?


In recent weeks I have heard some persons in my family announce that God has always been in their lives. How true! God indeed has given us life, sustains it and provides that all may come to Him. God is present, but are we present?


For us to be present with Him, I am reminded of a book written almost half a century ago,  "Whatever Happened to Sin" Menninger.



Where is God? 

As we immerse ourselves in the readings for the day, Exodus and Matthew, we can perhaps see ourselves in the darkness of unknowing. For the Israelites they experienced God's presence but often failed to fully realize that God really was near and guiding them. Moses was God's man, he spoke to them for God, he led them in their life’s journey responding to God's guidance.


Then we encounter Jesus in the Matthew's Gospel. We too are being taught in parables, we also encounter the wonders and signs Jesus performs, and yes, we too are like so many in the course of  human history who believe, doubt, seek signs, choose to live by our own light (which is too often darkness). God who is beyond our understanding, calls us to faith. Will I believe, and trust by loving though I cannot know?


Be with me, O Lord at every moment of life, may each breath I take be in inspiration of the Spirit, may each action of my life be accomplished in Jesus, the Christ, that I may, like Paul, live not but Christ living in and through me. Lord grant all those you have called to leadership in Your Church, all leaders of nations, wisdom, love for all Your children, a sincere desire to do your will. Amen.



We, as Christians—believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Almighty, should be completely faithful to Jesus in all that we do. Our faith must be developed, tuned and maintained to a level of understanding that He will never abandon us! 


Today, in reading John 20:11-18 we find proof of the fact that He never abandons us as He consoles Mary Magdalene as she is crying at His empty tomb, not understanding yet that He has risen from the dead. In her grief and mourning she did not immediately recognize our Lord but as we read, she hears His voice calling her name and immediately is comforted at the sound of His voice calling her! Seeing Mary’s grief outside the empty tomb of Jesus, longing to know of and feel His Presence (and, ultimately seeing it) shows just how faithful she is. 


In this, the ultimate moment of crisis, her desire for Him is overwhelming to her. How are we in our moments of crisis in our lives? Is our first reaction to respond in anger towards those who hurt, spite, or otherwise “cross” us? Or, is our first reaction to seek Jesus’ counsel and consolation? How do we show Jesus that we love him personally and intimately in these moments, not just those easy moments when we are in prayer or study of His Word? 


In those moments, do we react when we hear His voice call us and remind us that He is (right) there? Or, do we get blinded by the din of our anger or other emotion/distraction of this world? It is truly a great blessing and opportunity to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Is my relationship one in which, each day, (and throughout it) that I hear Him say, “Paul!”, in those moments when I need a reminder? Do I find Him in those moments when I can love, serve, forgive, or otherwise show His example through my own? 

Lord, may I never fail to recognize Your voice, calling my name. May I not let my focus on self overcome my willingness and ability to seek, see, hear, and feel Your Presence!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Exodus 14:21-15:1

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them right into the midst of the sea. In the night watch just before dawn the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic; and he so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly drive. With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel, because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.
Then the LORD told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea, when the LORD hurled them into its midst. As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army that had followed the children of Israel into the sea. Not a single one of them escaped.
But the children of Israel had marched on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the LORD had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD: I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Maybe we’ve seen the re-enactments of this miraculous scene a number of times in the movies: Moses stretching out his arms to split the Red Sea and then, crossing over, to do the same on the other side to bring it back together.


All at the command of God. The power was not through that of Moses lifting his armshe was followingthe will of God and it was that will that did the rest. He put himself to do God’s will.


It’s been said and noted that the idea running all through both the Old and New Testaments is love and liberation; God fills us with His love and gives us the opportunity to make ourselves free as we give ourselves to Him; He liberates us from slavery of all kinds. 

As the Israelites were freed from their slavery so too are we freed from ours—the slavery of sin, as we follow God’s will and let Him do for us as He did for the Israelites.


His Son Jesus did the same through His healing and curing. As a believer, a disciple, we must hold fast to our relationship with Him, with love and with the freedom and free will He has given us. As Mary His mother did, so should we as His brothers and sisters, as His children and as His disciples. That is our commitment to our faith, to Him.


So the choice remains ours; are we fully living our faith with that love and freedom He has for us?


Can we relate with today's Scripture offerings? Life is sometimes like that of the Israelites leaving Egypt, and the demands we have allowed to consume us. We have been made slaves to our own demons, and as we try to leave them behind, we find them following us. Sometimes we may even fear they will destroy us. We too need someone to lead us out of slavery, and we often need to be reminded that this Savior is close at hand. 


Sadly, we are too much like the Scribes and Pharisees of today’s Gospel periscope, as we seek signs. We too want miracles, and though they are right in front of us, so many we fail to see. The sunrise this morning is the light of life for all to see, the wonder of God painted in all of creation. Can we make the time to sit in silence and see and listen to the breath of God in all that is around us—even in us?


The Lord Jesus reminds us often enough to stop, relax, be present, and trust in God, Our Father. He holds us in love, and will guide us in all truth if we let Him.  Let go of the helm… Trust!





Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.  They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


From senses of accomplishment to thoughts of rest to feelings of compassion. All in a day’s work for those who love God. And so it went for Jesus and the apostles as they made their way from place to place, spreading the Good News of salvation. It seems the job they were doing was so good that their reputation was preceding them, so much so that it was difficult for them to find that time to rest, to recharge and regenerate the power one needs to carry out such a mission, such a calling.


Such was the mission of Jesus as well. Such was His mission as shepherd for all—to teach them many things. With pity, with compassion, with love. As much as He and the apostles needed their rest, He knew that those who found their way to them needed more of what He had than the rest He and the apostles felt they needed.


Maybe then the call was easy to make—the large crowds, the sense of urgency, the empathy He could feel. Indeed, the need was genuine and the need was met. Yet if they did not take time to care for themselves, they would soon not be able to care for others as well and as often as they should. As I read elsewhere, they would need to evaluate their spiritual energy as they go about meeting the demands of towns and the peoples in them.


Our own spiritual energy, our spiritual gas tank, also needs to be kept as far from empty as possible. Too many times we say yes to projects when we should say no. Too many times we over-commit when we should delegate. Too many times we find time for less important things when the real needs are left unattended. As shepherds, we can do better. And as a member of His flock, He would want for us to be doing so.



Isaiah 42:1-4

“Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put my spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His teaching.” 


In reading Matthew 12:14-21, we find fulfillment in the words of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus, in the face of persecution by the religious leaders, withdraws, as it is not yet time for the fulfillment of the Father’s plan, yet continues to console those who seek Him, curing and comforting them! In doing so, He simply asks that they not make Him known, because it is not, yet, time. This request is not to “hide” His divine presence, but fulfills two purposes: one, already alluded to, is that it is not yet time for the fulfillment of His Sacrifice—God’s Plan of Salvation for all—and, the other is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah, that Christ will come to redeem all and that this can/will be accomplished through powerful works of mercy, compassion, and loving example, not in a forceful, heavy-handed demand for compliance. 


God designed us to freely and openly worship and adore Him.  His desire is that we do so by emulating His goodness towards each other. Just as Isaiah prophesied (and Jesus fulfilled), He will not be crushed until He has established justice on the earth.  This is the ultimate statement of hope!  He will not be crushed!  Even in our weakest and most doubting moments, we simply need to strive to recall His protective and merciful hands,—remembering that they are there—placing into them our trust and hope!  Lord, give me wisdom to rest in Your arms during the most trying and enduring times (and all) of my day(s)!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



Is it not the Presence of Jesus that we seek? Is not the presence of mercy towards those around us a clear indication of His presence? As we read Matthew 12:1-8, we find the Pharisees seeking a way to condemn Jesus.  In this passage they accuse Him and His disciples of dishonoring the Sabbath by not fasting, because they picked corn as they walked through the field (on the Sabbath). It is obvious that, from the beginning (to the end) of His ministry, the religious leaders never understood the deeper truth of Jesus’ purpose and message. 


The truth of “fasting” becomes the discipline of ourselves with the spiritual purpose of growing in greater detachment from the things of this world so that we can allow Jesus’ love and mercy to fill us fully and become not only what gives us hope but that we become an example of that hope for others. This cannot be accomplished if we are solely concerned with the “appearance” of a Godly life. We can’t fall into the “pitfall” that fasting and ritual is not necessary (at all). But, Jesus encourages us to understand it is those things we do when not “in the spotlight” that are most important. 


How do we react to those in need? Do we even see them (unless someone is watching us)? Do we seek to find the face of Jesus in all whom we meet, no matter the time of day or moment of busy-ness (or relaxation)?  As we read about the Pharisees condemnation of Jesus and His disciples, can we recall a time when we “disapproved” of someone who did not follow “rules”? In our “disapproval”, did we take the time to understand the circumstances that motivated such a person to act in a manner that went against the rules? In our ignorance of circumstance, we must be careful not to judge others, as it is not our place to do so. 


Lord, give me wisdom to learn your lesson of mercy. Allow me to be slow in condemnation and rich in empathy to those in need, as Your Mercy exemplifies!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


“Shoulder My yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

This is the charge given by Jesus to us, as His faithful, today in Matthew 11:28-30. What is to be particularly notable is that we are called to action (“Shoulder My yoke”), not just offered something! This is the “part” of our Christian faith that is so easily overlooked. Yes, God has laid out the “perfect offering” of salvation to us, evident through His entire and merciful journey in the Old and New Testament. 


Jesus clearly came to offer us salvation and, in listening to Him in this Gospel passage, we know that the “yoke of salvation” is easy and the burden of carrying that yoke is light. We know this because it springs from God’s love for us and Jesus, Himself, shared (and shares) the yoke’s burden if simply ask and allow. Jesus mentions “rest” twice in this short exchange.  As I read this, in light of past reflections that have ensured understanding that the path to salvation is “simple, but not easy”, I compare today’s reading to my recent labors in the hot sun. 


Having recently retired, I decided to tackle the job of sanding, priming, and re-painting the pipe railings around our front porch. Laboring for a few hours a day, for several days, in 95 to 102 degree heat is grueling for anyone, let alone someone not used to such effort. My evening rest had not been so physically deserved in a long time! So it is with carrying the “yoke of salvation”. 


The well-deserved “eternal rest” that Jesus offers is the reward for laboring on His behalf while living in this world! Jesus assures us that He will always be there to empower us and encourage us when we are overwhelmed by this, the human condition. We are to hold our heads high and not be discouraged, for rest in Him will be well deserved and freely offered for our effort! 


Lord, give me the courage and endurance to faithfully shoulder the yoke of Your call to proclaim the Good News of Your Kingdom in this world, humbly, gently, yet firmly, in all I think, say, and do!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



How do we share the Good News? We have been reading about the commissioning of the Apostles, the “risks” they are taking in traveling about and sharing the good news through their life’s example and work. We have heard Jesus lament about the communities and peoples who seem disinterested in the gift(s) of the Father. In contemplating our call through all of this, do we experience a desire, then, to know Jesus more fully? Or are we too, indifferent and run “hot” or “cold”. 


As we step up to God’s call, we ask Him for the strength and courage to share the kingdom so as to share IN the kingdom! But what do we offer? Do we just sit back and go about our lives waiting for God to “tell us” exactly what to do, and when? Or, do we pray more often—both speaking AND listening? Do we participate in activities and sacraments in our chosen houses of worship? Do we look for how God reveals Himself and His desires to us? Or, do we sit, idle, waiting to be struck with a bolt of lightning or fire? 


The Fire of the Spirit is something that we must desire and seek, not idly await. When you want a new house, car, dinner in a specific restaurant, or other material item, you take the time to “seek”, ask friends, and “research” the “best deal”. Well, ask yourself, “How do I seek the “best deal” with God?” How do I invite the Spirit to guide me to live more fully in His ways? Do I pray before every meal? Do I thank God for safe travel, after each jaunt down the road? Do I thank Him by thanking those who help me, feed me, pray for me? 


Lord, reveal Yourself to me! Allow me to know You and Your Father today and in the eternal Kingdom of our reward for following You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B


If Jesus came into our towns or communities, today, what would He say? Would He issue the same warning He gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:20-24. Would He say to us, “Alas for you, had these miracles been performed (in a more faithful community), those people there would have repented a long time ago”? Are we repentant of our sins? Are we appreciative of the blessings we receive daily, from the time we arise to the time we lay our head upon the pillow? 


Many of us hear the Good News, as it has been proclaimed yet our response remains indifferent, disinterested, sometimes negative and (often, “best case”), selective depending on our mood and the “magnitude” of a particular blessing. Do we only call upon Him, in Thanksgiving, when we get “what we want”, instead of listening to and responding to what He wants/needs in this world, from us? 


In this Gospel passage, Jesus is upset at those who live in Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum for their refusal to repend from sinful ways, even in the face of many miraculous acts. This reading, therefore, should give us cause and pause to reflect on genuine repentance for our ways and appreciation for ALL blessings we are given. In pondering this, one way to consider this is to review the many, many blessings we are given: life (each day), food, shelter, clothing, family, friends, transportation, sunshine (and rain), sacraments, Word of God, and the list goes on! Do we thank God for these things? When we talk “repentance”, this is a form of thanks—turning from sinful acts, words, and thoughts, mean we turn toward Him and recognize blessings, great a small, more frequently! 


Lord, provide me the graces to be a light that not only praises and thanks you, but turns to you in thanksgiving, as well as supplication, throughout my days. May I, by doing so, draw others to You and inspire them to stand firm and welcome You into hearts and homes.  J.O.Y.

Paul B



The Love of God requires that we put God at the center of our lives. True and desirous love of Him means that He must be the first priority in our actions/ decisions. In Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus cannot be clearer when He tells us, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” 


This is one of the most powerful and direct statements Jesus makes to His Apostles, during His Ministry. As we read this, we cannot help but think how it applies to our roles as parents, spouses, friends (to each other), siblings or other intimate relationship in which we are in a position to impact another’s life. If we value these relationships (or material things, for that matter) at the expense of faith in and love for God, this causes a compromise of faith for those things, in effect making earthly desires our focus, instead of God. 


These are painful challenges, especially when we face a seeming dilemma of choosing between God (His ways) and a loved one’s (thoughts or actions). In today’s society we are, more and more, placed in a position in which the secular world is forcing immoral behaviors (adultery/free-living, redefinition of marriage; alternative life-styles) that fit the very image of what Jesus meant when He talked about bringing a “sword”, which will set man against man. Fortunately, in Matthew 40, he goes on to say, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes Me; and anyone who welcomes Me, welcomes the One sent Me.” This gives us Hope! 


Lord, give us ALL strength to welcome You by our lives!  Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B



In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus sends the Apostles out with minimal possessions. In doing so, He made it clear that they are to trust in God’s goodness for their needs. As Christians, we are called to trust in God so as to focus on how Jesus is personally present to us in all aspects and times of our lives. Jesus’ call to His disciples to proceed with nothing but a staff and a spare tunic called them to be focused on their mission—to detach from earthly ties. Such a demand is not easy, yet He promised them (and delivered) that their faith would allow them to do great things in God’s name. 


We have the same call! Jesus calls us to “travel light” and trust that God will provide. As Christians we have heard, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. “Poverty of spirit” frees us from preoccupation of and distraction by our possessions and provides room for God’s provision for us. God wants us to recognize our dependence upon Him and not things of this world. In Matthew 4, when Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He said, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus had the authority and power to withstand the temptations of this world and so do we, if we just call upon Him and accept the strength He gives through the Word.  


Like the Apostles, we must go forth and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and to call on people to acknowledge sinfulness and earthly attachments, repent of these by focusing on Him and His ways, and to serve Him in heart, mind, word, and deed. In doing so, The Lord will recognize our readiness to use the spiritual authority and power He provides and to exercise these on His behalf. Are you ready (and willing) to use your entrusted gifts and talents for His service and do His bidding—witnessing truth wherever and to whomever? 


Lord, free me from distractions so that I may pursue, joyfully and willingly, Your heavenly Kingdom.  May I do so in thought, word, and deed so that others may find You through my life’s work.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y

Paul B


Matthew 10:24-29

Jesus said to his Apostles: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”


We have heard it in many ways and or forms that life is a school. And throughout the many semesters we’ve enrolled in over the years, we’ve had many teachers and will have many more as we continue our studies. Whatever the course, whatever the lesson or whatever the homework we’ve had to suffer through, the instructions have not always been easy nor have they been all calculus or rocket science or brain surgery, either.


What they have all been are useful to some extent for our own growth and maturity as we share with others as we transform our lives from student to teacher. During this change—ongoing as it is—we find ourselves in the dual mode of the student/teacher, learning from those who have taught us as well as gathering what we can from those we teach.


As the disciples found themselves becoming more like what Jesus taught them, they too became more Christ-like with the Good News He shared with them. All He could tell them, He told them. All they could understand, they understood. And He made it clear to them to not be afraid; not to be afraid of those who might kill their bodies as they could not kill their souls. He did say to them to be afraid of those who could kill both their body and soul—the loss of one’s character and integrity for the sake of the world. Not to have such faith would be a fate far worse than death itself. Maybe you've experienced a decision like that in your life. Maybe a few times where those choices made could have been and should have been 're-choiced'. Join the club.


Present day martyrs understood and will understand this more than most, the choice between one's character and that of one's deep conviction and faith. As closely related as they are, faith should and will, win out. Faith will do that for a person. Should their lives be given up, even should our lives be given up for the sake of another or the sake of our faith, Jesus Christ will be with us. We must continue to hold true and fast to Him and deny ourselves as we acknowledge Him and follow Him in the light, proclaiming on the housetops, the Good News of salvation and the glory and love of God.


Happy endings! We love happy endings… Psalm 37 is an exhortation of trust and patience for those who believe in God. Specifically, 37:18 says, “The Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever.” 


Jesus reaffirms this and the path to eternal happiness—the ultimate “happy ending”, in Matthew 10:16-20.What He makes clear is the importance of patience and trust in God, because the path will not be easy and it will not be accepted by all, as we read yesterday in Matthew 10:7--14. He warns that in our patience and wariness, we must be prepared to be persecuted for our stance and believe in God and the proclamation of His Good News. But He informs us of the “happy ending” if we but have faith. 


God will guide us in our lives and the Spirit will give us words to speak in times of persecution. The bible is rife with “happy endings” - Israel, in Genesis, mourned Joseph’s loss for 15 years and rejoiced upon his reappearance.  Then, in Revelation 7:17, we are told, “...for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” And, the “happy ending” upon which our Christian faith is built, Jesus arose on the third day, after His ultimate sacrifice. Paul writes in 1Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord, Himself, will descend from heaven… and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage one another….” 


Lord, in spite of difficulties that we may face, give us patience and trust to share in You, with each other, and accept, in patience and joy, Your Will! May we unite, in Your strength now, so as to live in the eternal “happy ending” of Your Kingdom!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



Most of us have had the experience of giving someone a gift. We love those moments when the gift is uncovered and the receiving persons face lights up with excitement upon receiving it. We get even more satisfaction when the person puts the gift to its intended use. Sadly, we have had the experience of presenting someone with, what we thought was, the “perfect gift”, and the disappointment is apparent on their face from the moment it is uncovered or, we find that they put the gift away, not using it. 


Today, in Matthew. 10:7-14, Jesus not only tells the Apostles how to share the Gifts of God that they have been given, but how to react to those, with whom they strive to share it, who do not accept it willingly. Jesus understood that the Gift of the Good News and the strength of that Good News, which provides comfort to those suffering, was not accepted willingly and wholeheartedly by all. He understood that the Salvation He came to give could not be forced upon any one person.


He made it clear to His Apostles that they are to share the Good News freely, laying it out for all to see, just as they have received it in the same manner.  

But, He also wanted them to understand that they would encounter “hardened hearts” and would be rejected by some. But do not be discouraged! Instead, move onward. While we should still pray for such persons’ conversion, we trust that God’s Spirit will lead them in a different way and at a different time. We are to continue to proclaim His Kingdom to the next person whom you encounter!


Lord, You have given us a great gift!  May I exhibit the joy and wonder I feel in that gift so that others may desire to partake of You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”


The disciples had very little instruction and training to carry out their work and mission. And they were being sent with even less as Jesus bade them farewell to carry out His mission. By virtue of their calling—the calling from Jesus Christ—they were no longer the ordinary men that were chosen but now they were His apostles called to do the Master’s work.


‘Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ These are the people who would be the first to be evangelized—the same faith from which they came—first to hear the Good News from those who were sent. How could it be then, these men with such diverse backgrounds, with probably little if any education and even less to take with them, how could it be that what they were sent to do then carries on even today?


As they did it with what was inside of them, so did those who took it from them. Through faith, through baptism and lives of ongoing sanctification, they brought more disciples, more apostles, more faith-bearers along with them. As the Church has grown with its Tradition and tradition, so has the faith of the thousands and millions since the days the apostles set out to proclaim the Gospel.


Just as others were added on as was Paul and Matthias, so too are we joined in as disciples to carry on and carry out the faith and Truth. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let our message be as theirs was then: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’



“The harvest is plenty, laborers are few, therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). 


As Jesus was ministering throughout the region, teaching, healing and exhibiting the living example of God’s expectation of all the faithful, He came to the (painful) realization that the crowds were lost—they were a stressed, harassed, dejected and rejected people. He compared them to sheep without a shepherd. As a response to this realization, Jesus urges His disciples (and us) to come forward and to help! 


In reading Mt 9:35-37, we are called to respond—each of us, who proclaims His Good News and profess faith in Him as the Son of God! Will our response be “conditional” by saying (or acting out), “What about my needs, first?” Or, “Help yourself, first, and then God will help you”? Will we delay until “later” to reach out with His Good News through word and action? 


His call, hope and desire for us is that we respond, “Yes, I will help regardless of what it takes.” We continue to see shirts, bracelets, posters and other proclamations that state, “What would Jesus do (WWJD)”. Just what does this “logo” mean? The Good News has touched one billion Christians, or more, throughout the world. What does this mean? If we don’t integrate the Good News into the fiber of our being—in word AND deed, are we helping those to whom we are proclaiming? By urging us to be a living example and come forward, Jesus is challenging us to do all we can each day to make the Good News known (and accepted by how we live and love. 


Lord, give me strength to be Your laborer, among all people seeking Your mercy, as I profess/proclaim Your eternal Gift in word and deed.  J.O.Y.

Paul B


In our human condition, we know that death defines the finite nature of our earthly existence. Then, as Christians we must believe and know—through faith – that death is not the end, but a step into eternal life, as established by God’s power and by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


In Jesus’ time on earth, He performed many miracles from turning water to wine, feeding multitudes on several fishes and loaves, healing and commanding the dead back to life. Matthew, in 9:18-26, records on such an event. While Jesus was speaking in the synagogue, one of the officials approached Him, in complete humility, asking him to come lay His hands upon his young daughter who had just died. He had bold and complete confidence that Jesus could and would have mercy upon him and restore life to his daughter. 


First, and foremost, we must consider the courage it took for a synagogue official to approach Jesus, publicly, and invite the scorn of his neighbors and friends. Just as we read, in Matthew 6:1-6, a man is least valued by those with whom he is closest. We read in Matthew 9:23-24 that even the mourners and flute players at the man’s house scoffed when Jesus said, “…she is not dead, but asleep…” But the official, the father of the little girl, had the confidence—hope—the faith—that Jesus has the power to save us from all. 


Do we approach Jesus with a confidence and hope that underlays the faith we proclaim? Just as the woman who touched Jesus, as He was on His way to the officials house—just a touch in the hopes that she would be cured from her hemorrhaging. Do we yearn for just a touch from Jesus that will make us whole in any situation we lay before Him? 


Lord, in You, may we see that God’s infinite love extends to each person You meet.  Touch my life with Your love and power to help me give fully in service to You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Before we are too quick to judge the people of Nazareth for questioning Jesus' wisdom, eloquence, power, and Divinity (Matthew. 6:1-6), we must remember our own human condition and the fact that Jesus came among man in human appearance. Remember, that these very people watched Jesus grow up from a boy to a man. Though we have very little account of His childhood, we can only imagine that he had friends and spent time with them in the streets, temple, and other places where children worked, played, learned, and grew.


Now, think of our own lives and how we often treat people with whom we have become familiar. People we’ve come to know and pass judgement upon. In our human condition we know, all too well, the truth of the phrase, "familiarity breeds contempt." Even through his hurt feelings, Jesus was able to step up and acknowledge and forgive those who discounted Him based on "familiarity" and blindness due to that familiarity. He knew He could do no mighty works in the midst of their closed mindedness. 


So, in His Wisdom, Jesus acknowledged to them that, “….a prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations, and in his own house.”  Yet, even in the midst of doubting and questioning His wisdom and authority, He showed mercy and understanding, not only of human nature, but He laid hands upon several who came to Him in faith, though still amazed at the overall inability of His own to accept Him! 


As followers of Christ, today, we are called to understand human nature and to forgive those who make us feel like we are being taking for granted. But, more importantly, we must strive to not take our faith and His Power, in which we profess to believe, for granted. 


Lord, you are the fulfillment of all hope and desire. May we fully take in and accept Your truth, grace, and freedom to live on Your path to eternal life! May Your Spirit guide our thought, word, and deed, so as to reflect a living faith that opens our minds/hearts to Your works.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Matthew 9:14-17

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”


The question of fasting was brought up at a conference recently: what is it really, what should we be doing with it, how should we fast, what are we really gaining from it and does it really matter were just some of the thoughts that were identified throughout the segment. The overarching thought seemed to be that the fasting was just one more way for us to verify our devotion and help clear our path toward salvation. Faith, works and grace in action as it were and of course there is nothing wrong with that. What can get us skewed from that is if we put all the eggs we have in that one basket: if that is all we think there is to it, we will be sadly mistaken when the time comes to answer for our time here on earth.


What John and his disciples and the Pharisees saw was a changing of the way things were understood, at least as far as what Jesus was bringing to the world. Gone would be the days of the external practices to ‘look’ good at what your faith did and was for you and now there would be an internal transformation of faith that would be made visible outwardly. Hence, the new wine in new wine skins. The change would call for not just a change in a way of thinking but in a way of life, a way of loving and a way of faith—including fasting.


Today there are those who still are caught up in the old way of thinking, longing for the days of fasting from the day before, communion rails and Latin masses. All well and good—times and places for them all. This is not about an ‘either – or’ mentality but a ‘both – and’ sense of belonging and worshiping and faith. Christ did not come to separate us but to bring us His body and blood in communion, in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. However it is we do so to bring unity—according to His Truth, His Way and His Light—will make us one, preserved in Him.


John 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”


There are those days when it seems that the story and tone of our life could be relegated to those instances when we think what could have been or what might have been. A red light here, a missed phone call there, or even a ‘called in sick’ excuse on the day everyone else gets a giant bonus from the boss… all these and more can give us cause to pause about ‘what might have been.’ Sometimes we think it might be too good to be true-like the huge bonuses everyone received when you called in sick. Yet as it turns out in many cases—the truth wins out.


What might it have been for Thomas had he been there that first time that Jesus came to the disciples? What would his excuse have been for not believing what had happened, Who he had seen or what he had just witnessed? Would he have discounted it or Him as a dream, an apparition? What kept him from believing His return was the real deal as the others had related to him? What keeps us from believing He is the Way, the Truth and the Real Deal when we are in those times of doubt and disbelief? Even though we have been taught the Truth. Even though we have at least some faith. And even though we have been on our journey toward holiness, there are those times we waver and falter.


What will it take—what does it take—for us to steady ourselves and maintain our sense of ‘Christian sobriety’ and believe without seeing? Like Thomas, some of us may have to touch the wounds. Some may have to be overwhelmed by His presence and be humbled beyond all doubt…ever again. Indeed, the Truth, the Way and the Life will win out should we give it that opportunity. It’s our free will to do so and remains our responsibility to carry it on for the sake of the Church, for others, for ourselves. That’s the faith we have in Him and the faith He has in us-the Truth and living it.


In reading Matthew 9:1-8 we find that Jesus shows His redeeming love and mercy to a paralyzed man not only by healing his physical ailment, but by addressing his spiritual needs as well. When Jesus arrived in His hometown of Nazareth, the people who had heard of His wondrous and merciful acts of kindness and healing brought a paralytic to Him. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to him, “Take comfort, my child, your sins are forgiven.” 


Now this phrase caused unrest among the scribes, who were appalled at this man who was blasphemous enough (audacious?) to tell another man that his sins are forgiven? Jesus, as always, was wise in His response to their indignant attitude. He said, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?” Then He said to the paralytic, ’Get up, pick up your bed and go off home.’” 


As we apply this to our own lives and attitudes, we know that our sins are forgiven if we have a pure heart and do two things: 1) acknowledge our sins and God’s willingness to forgive us our failings; and, 2) strive to avoid sinful occasion. I find significance in Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:6, “Get up, pick up your bed and go off home” in relation to those two necessary elements of forgiveness (acknowledgment and avoidance of sin). Jesus realized that, after announcing, “Your sins are forgiven”, the scribes (and many of us) do not realize the implication of those words and the impact they are supposed to have on us. 


Knowing we are forgiven should be enough for us to “change our ways” and avoid the act that led to the need forgiveness, in the first place. But in our stubbornness He has to “draw the picture”.  Let us interpret “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home” as a clear statement that he expects us to do things differently (better) in our forgiven state! 

Lord, free us from our stubbornness so that we can hear Your merciful words and answer your call to pick ourselves up and move toward our home, which is with our Heavenly Father.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Jesus has power over all—in this world and in the next! This is something we know and believe, but do we truly understand and grasp what it means? 


In Matthew 8:28-34 we find Jesus encountering two men possessed by demons. As they came toward Him they shouted, “What do You want with us, Son of God?” Recognizing His power, these demons were fearful and said, “If you drive us out, send us into the nearby herd of pigs.” Jesus “granted” their request, after which the entire herd went over a cliff. 


Jesus has divine authority over all, including Satan and all evil spirits. Knowing He has that power, how can we question and doubt His willingness to free us from any and all things that bind us and separate us from God’s love? Note that even these demons, in this Gospel account did the first and primary act of recognizing Jesus as the Son of God! In order for us to be freed from the attachments of the world that prevent us from experiencing full joy of living in His Presence we must first recognize Him, speaking to Him from depths of our hearts. 


Jesus’ power is awesome. As we read on, after the expelling of the demons and the destruction of the herd into which they were sent, we find that the people of the territory became fearful of what they had witnessed or heard. How often do we let fear or pride get in our way, causing us to reject Jesus in different ways? When we truly witness and experience the Love of God in our daily lives, how do we respond? Do we allow ourselves to be transformed in our thought, word, and deed? Do we internalize the Joy so as to experience and re-experience it each new day? Or, do we allow the temporal nature of our existence and the needs/wants of that existence to distract us? 


Lord, release the bonds of my earthly existence in order to allow me to love You more completely and walk in Your ways. May nothing keep me from the joy of living in Your Presence!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B