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

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OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2016 

So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward the things of God.”  Matthew 12:21 

 

This is Jesus’ summary of His parable about the rich fool. In Matthew 12:13-21 He answers a request from the crowd of listeners, which was, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” His first response was, “Friend, who set me to be a judge and arbiter over you?” This request and Jesus’ answer, even before He shares the parable, tells much about human nature—our free will in this human condition—and about Jesus’ desire that we see and seek the way He lives—learning from His example. But knowing the stubborn and hard hearts He was facing, He goes on to explain that we must “Take care and be on guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 

 

To clarify, He tells the parable of the man who has harvested a great abundance of crops and ran out of room to store. So he tore down his barns and bins, only to build larger bins. Then he sat back, saying, “relax, eat, drink, be merry”, to which God responded, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you, so whose will be these things you have gathered?”  

 

This parable highlights two things we must remember as Christian believers: 1) The fleetingness of this life (as compared to the eternal life that God has in store for us); 2) God provides all that we have and we are called to seek him, give thanks and praise, and return to Him the same goodness He has shared with us! We are called to reflect on HOW we are using the treasures, which we call “blessings” that God has bestowed upon us.  

 

Lord, when we respond, “I am blessed more than I deserve”, may this give us cause to pause and thank you by praising You, first, and truly sharing that which You’ve given us to all who need (You). May we return all that we have to You through our service to others, in Your Name!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2016 


How do we react when we are told or otherwise discover that we have strayed from the ways and desires of our God? Do we contemplate what we have done, seek forgiveness and rectify our ways? Or, do we “resist” in, either subtle and “not-so-subtle” ways? 

In reading Matthew14:3-10 we find Herod and Herodias giving in to pride and human desire, abandoning and rebelling against God’s ways. In this account we find that Herod had John arrested for telling him that it is against the Law of God for him to have his brother’s wife, Herodias. 

 

In their unwillingness to hear and abide, they succumbed to human desires. During the celebration of Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter danced for him and his guests. He was so enchanted with her dancing that he swore to give her anything she wanted. Herodias, wanting to see John the Baptist dead, convinced her daughter to ask for John’s head on a platter. Though Herod knew that her request was wrong (just as he knew John’s admonition against his relationship with his brother’s wife was a just statement of God’s law), he allowed pride and desire to rule over God’s ways and gave in to her request.  

 

Herod chose to kill John just to “save face” among family and friends. As Christians, we are called to live by the values of God, as lived by Christ in the Gospels, no matter the pressure of human desire. To do so, we must know the Word of God—Jesus! We must hear it, read it, and live it. We cannot react, like Herod, in a weak and prideful manner, lest we give in to our own desires, rather than His. We must seek strength through Him so when challenged by the human condition, we can stand firm for Him.  Firm faith will overcome all fear.  

 

Lord, give me strength to stand firm in Your Love and to live the Way of Christ fully and faithfully in the face of sin! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016


“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26 

 

Jesus asks this question, “Do you believe this?”, as John recounts the death of her brother, Lazarus, and Jesus’ compassion for her and her sister, Mary (See John 11:17-44). Martha’s response is one that each of us are called to say and reconfirm every day:  “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world.”  

 

As we read on, we see Jesus’ mercy and compassion at work with these two sisters, who are clearly distraught over the death of their brother, yet clinging to Jesus as the Son of God. One thing that seems evident is that they cling to their hope and faith in God, although their humanity shows through when each, at separate times, makes the statement, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  

 

How often in our lives to we question God? Yet, as we read on, we see that Jesus not only shows mercy, He shows his total and complete love, weeping with the sisters, even when He knew that He has the power to conquer all. We all know, in this account, what happens next. Jesus commands Lazarus to rise from his tomb, and he does! What do we believe will happen when we turn to Jesus in total humility and giving our all to Him—believing that He can and will provide all that we need in this life and in the next? While it does not mean we get “all that our little heart’s desire”, it does mean that our “little hearts” need to fully and wholly desire Him, at which time, He will be present forever.  

 

Lord, give us the strength to call upon You in our times of distress, ask for Your intervention, and know that You have the power to conquer sin and death, eternally!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2016 

In Matthew 13:47-53, Jesus shares, yet, another parable about the Kingdom of Heaven and how the righteous in God’s Ways shall be separated from those who choose otherwise. Here, He gives an example close to the hearts of many along the Sea of Galilee: a fisherman’s net. He describes how a fisherman casts his net and brings in a haul of fish. Once in, he separates the good from the bad, keeping the good in their buckets and throwing away the bad. As He finishes His discourse on the Kingdom of Heaven and how it will be upon the “day of judgement”, Jesus asks, “Have you understood this?” to which they replied, “Yes”.  

 

Jesus then challenges them to take that understanding and treasure and understand it. He tells them, “….every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out from his treasure what is new and what is old.” What He makes clear, here, is that He has given us the “key to the Kingdom” - to follow in the Good and Right Ways of God. It is that simple! Perhaps He makes His point, that those who hear and understand are called to live a life, in thought, word, and deed IN that understanding—not just knowing it but living it.  

 

Jesus came as a fulfillment of God’s promise in and of the Old Testament. The New, therefore, is the fulfillment of the Old. This can and must bring us to the realization that God’s Word is forever—there is no “substitute”, no “new way” - IT IS! This always brings me back to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  

 

Lord, give us the strength and courage to walk closely and talk often with You, through our thought, word, and deed so that Your Goodness will shine upon us in Your Kingdom, forever! May we face Your justice knowing that we spent our lives seeking, knowing, and understanding Your Word!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2016 


In Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus repeats to His disciples the same caution He gave to the crowds in 13:9, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” The disciples had asked for further clarification of His parable of the weeds in the field in which the evil one also sowed bad seed with the wheat. Jesus explains to the twelve, clearly, that the good seed represents the children of the Kingdom of God and that the bad seed represents the children of the evil one.  

 

This passage clearly states that we have a choice. To follow the Kingdom of God or to follow the path of evil. His life on this earth was spent defining the life we must lead in order to live as Children of God. He does not leave anything “to the imagination”, in this explanation. He says that the harvesters—angels—will separate the Children of God from the children of evil. And, just as with the bad growth from the bad seed, the children of evil will be cast into the fiery furnace and the Children of God shall be let into the Kingdom of Heaven.  

 

Jesus was preparing His apostles to go forth and proclaim the Kingdom. As stated earlier, the “mysteries of the Kingdom” are revealed to those who seek and believe and are revealed in ways that people can understand. In the earlier passage He had been asked (by His apostles) why he spoke in parables. His answer was, simply understood, that He was speaking in terms that the crowds were ready to understand, while explaining to the Apostles that they were at a “farther stage” of their faith, thus had greater understanding/belief and knowledge that He is the Son of God.  

 

As we read this passage, and especially the repeated caution that “whoever has ears ought to hear”, perhaps we need to focus on the fact that those of us who do have faith—belief and knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God—need to be the voice that those with ears “ought to hear”.  

 

Lord, grant us the wisdom to seek and find you, continually, in our walk in this life. And courage to be a voice to others who need to hear the message of Your Salvation and Kingdom. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.

 



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2016 

On the 25th of July, the feast of St. James, Carter Jade Benoit was born. We are blessed with another great-grandchild. We give thanks to God for the wonder of life. 

 

July is a month for us to revel in God's wonder of creating new life. We celebrate anniversaries of birth throughout this month. Can we even begin to understand the wonderful mystery of God's work of art? On the 26th, we honor St Anne and Joachim Mary's parents. Imagine them and what they were like to have given the human race Mary, the Chosen One. 

 

It is wonderful to sit in silence, to still one’s body, soul and spirit—to allow God to speak or not, to just be. The ego strives to distract one, but we just allow noise, distractions, thoughts and ideas to simply drift pass giving them no attention. We say the words so easily about being temples of the Holy Spirit but we allow our egos to despoil the wonder of it all. It becomes difficult to just be, but not impossible. 

 

Soon at Sacred Heart we will begin perpetual adoration. What a wonderful opportunity for all to set aside time to just be in God's presence. We are capable of scheduling so many things in life, can we schedule one hour a week to just be with our creator, our savior, the Holy Spirit, just to be? 

 

We enter the quiet and discover what it means to be in the presence of love. To know that God loves me. In the words of a priest who is a spiritual director, God loves you not because you are good, but because God is good. That is worthy of a great deal of reflection. 

 

Today, make time for examining your God time. Consider spending an hour a week from now on in the quiet of God's presence in the Eucharist! Do not be afraid! 

Deacon 



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JULY 25, 2016


“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:21-28  

 

Jesus said these words to His Disciples after James and John’s mother came to “bargain” with Jesus as to her sons’ place at the hand of God when they come into the Eternal Kingdom. She had come to Jesus asking that her two sons sit at his right and left hands in His Kingdom. Jesus, knowing that she nor they fully understood what she was asking, said so, and also asked, “Can you drink of the cup that I am going to drink?” Both responded, readily, “We can!”  

 

As a side note, James did die a violent death, by sword. Upon His execution, his accuser was moved by James’ faith and asked to be executed along with James and he was. As we ponder this entire passage we must ask ourselves some questions: 1) Do we find ourselves bargaining with God, asking for things that are beyond the humility with which we are called to serve? And, 2) Are we willing to share of the same walk that Jesus walked?  

 

Keeping in mind these two questions, while we pray, are paramount! In everything that we ask of God, the answer to the second question must be first and foremost on our minds. Jesus, in all of His teachings, even here in answering a mother’s simple request for her sons, Jesus teaches us that we must be humble in heart, mind, word and deed—we must follow the example He laid out for us through both His life and His death. In doing so, we are truly promised the eternal reward of living with Him in His Kingdom.  

 

Lord, help us to put You above our human desires in order to obtain the everlasting fulfillment of eternal unity in Heaven. May we follow the example Jesus set forth for us by serving You in all we say and do! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2016


“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Luke 11:9)  

 

What is striking here is that Jesus uses three action verbs. Often we focus on the fact that “God provides”.  But as we examine this closely, we see that we are directed to “Ask, Seek, and Knock”. Each of these actions requires persistence and perseverance, at times. God is a “constant” in our lives. When we think of this in mathematical terms, the word is “absolute”. He is the only “absolute” and is a being that has unconditional love in His “absoluteness”. 

 

Jesus assures us that though His Father knows us/accepts us (as we are), He knows our needs. Yet, He still desires that we call upon Him—speak to Him—and seek Him. His disciples desired the ability to pray, to truly speak with God. So, in Luke 11:1-9, when they ask Jesus to teach them to pray, He shares with them the words which we call “The Lord’s Prayer”, that call upon the Father in the perfect way:  Praise, Provision, and Protection.  

 

He begins with words of praise. Then, He shares words of supplication, asking God to provide that which we need each day. Then He ends with asking for protection from evil, both in being able to be forgiven and forgive, as well as protection from times of trial and presence of sin. He goes on to share an example that persistence shall be needed in our efforts. We must understand that while God will provide for our needs (both here and forever), His Ways and Time are not always ours. We tend to want things “here and now”, in the moment”. We must remember to be patient and persistent in faith.  

 

Lord, give us patience and persistence in our faith and prayer. Give us the strength to bear the fruits of our labor, for You, in Your time and ways. Give us courage to hear and act upon Your answer! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2016


The United States Conference of Bishops has called upon all of us followers of the Lord Jesus to respond to a call to prayer, each week. Clearly they point out to pray for families, for the greater understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage and commitment to the vocation of marriage. Any day of the week we fast and pray but Friday is that day can be a special day day to fast, to abstain from certain foods (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 today remind us that it is Mercy God desires and this is the year of MERCY when we are already being encouraged by the Church to be merciful.

 

Perhaps we need first to receive mercy! Ask yourself if you have opened your being, your heart, and 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 other and often condemn them for our own failures that we see mirrored in them.  So we hopefully hear 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!    FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2106


Let's accompany Mary Magdalene to the tomb today by entering into a reflection on the Gospel reading! Imagine being with Mary as she discovers the empty tomb. We are aware Jesus died and was buried and we too are startled by the empty tomb. We react by accompanying Mary to tell Peter and the apostles what we have found and follow them back to the tomb. 

 

What does this mean? Where is Jesus? Then Mary sees what she believes is the gardener and asks Him where Jesus is, and is shocked into a new realization when he speaks her name, Mary!  

She responds teacher, Rabboni!  

 

We stand in awe even today, He is alive, Risen! 

He speaks your name and startles you into the realization that He is God, that He is Risen, that he calls you to New Life, to ONENESS with the Father for all eternity.  

 

We pray—is it enough to transform a life? Mine? Yours?

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2016


Matthew 12:46-50 records an account in which Matthew writes that Jesus was speaking to the crowd when someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you.” In response, Jesus says, as He stretches out his hands towards a crowd of His disciples, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the Will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

 

This response brings to mind Luke’s writings in 10:25-37 (The Good Samaritan), in which Jesus “schools” a lawyer on the question “Who is my neighbor?”, to which Jesus shares the story of the Samaritan helping a Jew. Here, in this passage, Jesus is reminding us that we are all on the same journey, we are one Church: a body of believers that says, “Jesus Christ is Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God, Who came into the world for the salvation of many (all who would believe).”  Yet as we look around at the splintered believers in Christ—all of us who claim “Christianity” as our fundamental faith in God—we often find ourselves placing our own conditions on faith—”Who’s church is better than the next”.  

 

While all of these are a direct result of the free will that God has given us in our human condition, we must also strive to build upon the fundamental faith in God, the Father of all Creation, His Son, whom He sent into the World to show us how to live (knowing that He would be (had to be?) rejected by a powerful segment of society that would result in His suffering, death, and, for our Salvation, His Resurrection into new and eternal life, and His Spirit, whom He gave to the world (yes, the World) to guide us in wisdom and hope! This same Spirit, God, Is the Word of our Hope and Salvation!  

 

Lord, give guidance and wisdom to all Christian brothers and sisters (mothers and fathers) to seek unity in the belief in the One True God, the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May we band together and strive for Your peace in our communities, states, country, and world.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2016


In Matthew 12:38-42, Jesus tells the scribes and the Pharisees, “On Judgment Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached, they repented, and look, there is something greater than Jonah here.” The leaders had asked Jesus for a “sign” as proof that He is Who He says He is, God. Jesus, in frustration, tells them that the sign they have been given IS present among them. He also makes a prophetic statement of His earthly fate, comparing Jonah’s three days in the belly of the whale to the three days that “Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth….”  He admonishes them that there is something greater, here, than either Jonah or Solomon.  

 

In today’s world we are often like the scribes and Pharisees, constantly looking for a “sign” from God—thus causing our faith to rise and fall, like the tide. At one moment our faith is on a “high”, and we are proclaiming God’s Goodness and in the very next, we are frustrated and calling out, “Where are You?” Jesus wants us to understand that this expectation for a sign, when He is clearly present among us, causes us to experience or exhibit insincerity or skepticism in our faith, similar to that of the leaders of His day “demanding” a sign.   

 

Our challenge, therefore, becomes to continually pray for and seek God’s guidance and Will in our lives. We must rely on the presence of Jesus through the study and adherence to the Word of God. To seek otherwise leads us to more self-centered needs, rather than building a relationship among the people of God and with God, Himself. So, we must ask ourselves, “What is the quality of our conversation, our prayer, with God?” What would Jesus say if He walked the streets of our neighborhoods? Came into our work places? Or our homes?  

 

Lord, we pray for the gift of Your Wisdom to open our hearts to fully experience the trust You desire from us, thus experiencing Your Guidance in our lives.  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016


Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”

But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

 

When Jesus was first told that His mother and brother were standing outside, wanting to speak with Him, what did He say?

First He says ‘Who is my mother?’

Then he says ‘Who are my brothers?’

 

He doesn’t deny them yet goes on to say that whoever does the will of My Father is my brother, my sister and my Mother. He does this as He stretches out His hand toward those as He speaks. And throughout the Gospels, Jesus often stretches out His hands to heal, to save, to cure and to include those He has chosen as His.

 

Here, He is not so much rejecting those on the outside of the house as He is including those He has chosen on the inside. The outside Jesus speaks about is the outside of the relationship with Him, the commitment to follow Him, as being on the inside. The inside-the commitment to be and do as He would have them be and do. His disciples had the commitment, as did Mary His mother. And what sort of commitment did Mary have?

 

    'Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.'

 

So as it was for Mary, as it was for the disciples, let it be for us. Let our commitment be on the inside as we do the will of God the Father as we follow Jesus Christ in all we do. And just as Mary told the servants at the wedding feast, we could no better than to...

 

    'Do whatever He tells you.'




OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JULY 18, 2016 


Look around. See the signs? They are everywhere. 

As you began this morning, the first sign was your alertness to a new day. What were your first thoughts or recognitions? With a little effort, one can develop the behavior of waking to the presence of the God who made us and who gives us life and breath. 

 

From that way of beginning each day, we come to prayer immediately and our relationship with Jesus the Christ is constantly developing. Life takes on a new wonder as we see our world through His eyes. We see others more and more as brothers and sisters in the family of creation. All creation takes on new meaning and we are aware of the SIGNS ever present. Once more, we stop praying for signs.

 

We gather as one to celebrate our oneness in Christ. We open our hearts to receive Him in a Eucharistic embrace and seek to be transformed. I long to be able to say like Paul ‘I no longer live my life; Christ lives in and through me.’

 

May we all be more aware this day of the signs of God's presence in all of creation and particularly, in all the people we encounter.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2016 

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed, only one” 

 

Luke 10:38-42 recounts Jesus visiting Martha and her sister, Mary. Upon Jesus’ arrival, Martha busied herself with tending to the Lord’s needs and serving Him in her home. Her sister Mary, meanwhile, sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Words. 

 

Jesus tells Martha that she is “worrying too much”, in response to her request (complaint) to Him that she is doing everything to serve Him, in her home, and that He should tell Mary to help her.  Martha’s warm hospitality is surely appreciated, but then it becomes “tainted” with worry and anxiety wanting everything to be “just right”. 

 

Is this not how we tend to live our lives, wanting everything to be “just right” and worrying when WE perceive that it is not? Jesus frankly tells Martha, Mary has chosen the “better part.”  Because of our human condition and the need to sustain ourselves in this life, there will always be some element of worry and anxiety in our lives, though we know we are called to simply trust God.  

 

This is not easy. So, as a result there is a little bit of Martha in all of us. We worry about work, family, possessions, relationships, etc. So Jesus points out to Martha that there must be a little bit of Mary (actually, a “lot-a-bit” of Mary) in all of us. We must take time to put aside our worries and sit at the feet of Jesus and simply listen to His Words. 

 

How often do we do this? As we ponder this visit of Jesus to Martha’s house, let us consider how we invite Jesus into our lives and how we spend time with Him? Do we spend it distracted with things other than “simply Him”?  

 

Lord, we thank you for all that You give us and pray that You give us grace and strength to endure our “Martha-times” of worry and courage to take more “Mary-times”, at Your feet, listening and laying all our joys/trials at Your feet.  

Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2016


Jesus withdrew because He discovered the Pharisees were out to get Him. He went out to those in pain, suffering the deprivations of life, which in many cases we religious folks would label as the choices they made. We would look at them perhaps as sinners, if not heretics or "fallen away". And certainly as those who don't quite meet the requirements of holiness grade of our own lives. 

 

Indeed, we have earned our status whatever it may be and we are on the right side. We've made the rules or accepted them and we are OK. Its those who don't accept the rules who are out, not those of us who made them. 

 

Like our Jewish forbears we are the Chosen ones. But we don't seem to question what we are chosen for. Like Israel we fail to understand the prophetic voices that remind us we are chosen to reveal to all others they are chosen too. Today we can stop and quiet ourselves and encounter the Lord and begin to dialog with Him in all honestly and self-critical evaluation. We learned it as examination of conscience. We sit and see ourselves on a level with all other brothers and sisters struggling with life's ups and downs. We calmly realize that we all are part of the wonder of creation and we have been chosen to fulfill our small role in this great wonderful cosmic reality. 

 

Take time today to be with God. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2016 


In Matthew 12:1-8, the Pharisees scold Jesus because His disciples are doing something forbidden on the Sabbath: working! They criticized Jesus and His disciples because they were picking and eating heads of grain on a day set aside for nothing but rest. Jesus tells the Pharisees that in their stubbornness and dedication to the law, rather than to God, Himself, they fail to see the meaning of the words, “Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice” (ref Hosea 6:6).  

 

One example He gives them is when David was held “guiltless” when he and his men entered the temple and ate of the bread, from which only priests were to partake, because they were hungry. Today’s Christians typically value Sunday as the “church” day. It is the day in which the family dresses up, goes to church, perhaps goes out for a family dinner or prepares a nice family dinner at home. Yes, Sunday is a day to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and His Works, both the world around us and all that we have been given, as well as the salvation that Jesus won for us.  

 

While it is a day set apart from the others, Jesus reminds us that if it is the only day we think of, honor, and thank God, then we are missing the entire point of His Presence and example of mercy and compassion. If we truly understand God’s desire that we Honor God by taking care of our neighbor with true compassion and mercy, we cannot pick just “one day”. Living the mercy of God is, as we say in today’s day and age, a 24/7 call, not one day per week. 

 

Lord, help us to give all Honor and Glory to You through our “regular worship”, learn from these lessons of Your Word, and live these lessons in our daily lives. May our lives reflect Your Ways every day! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016 


Today as we read the Scriptures the Church wisely has set before us, can we not be in awe in the presence of Jesus Himself. No less than the contemporaries of Jesus two millennia ago, we listen to Him speak through the Gospel. Today we like those who first listened to the Lord, we hear him address us and point out no one knows the Son except the Father, no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.  

 

Can we not be in awe as we listen or read these words, and in prayer discuss them with the Lord? 

You have been chosen to go and bear fruit.  

You have been chosen to proclaim the Lord by your life! 

Each morning, each day when the light reveals through creation the wonder of God, do you in your heart give Him glory and praise and thanks?  

 

With each breath we take this day, can we not begin to understand in faith the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? With each breath life is renewed in us, and the course of our lives is open to the action of the creator who invites us to co-create. In whatever seemingly small, seeming unimportant action of our lives, we can be aware that God is with us. 

 

And the question then becomes… are we with God? 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2016 


In Matthew 11:25-27, Jesus cautions us against the intellectual pride that seems to come on stronger in each of us as we grow older in the world of our human condition. He says “I Bless You, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children.”  

 

Jesus says this on the heels of chastising those who would not believe, even though they hear His Word and Witness His miraculous deeds. Jesus knows human nature and He knows a child’s native innocence to believe and trust in the one(s) that give them love and care. There is not (or should not) be anyone among us who is not moved by the simplicity of a children’s Sunday school class. The teacher tells them that Jesus loves them and they believe it!  It is that simple for a child with his natural innocence intact. Yet, as we grow older, we tend to use our intellect to “justify” our (own) needs and wants.  

 

What Jesus calls us to do, by praising and thanking His Father for the innocence of a child, is to deepen our love for Jesus throughout our entire lives, by striving to seek Him through both joys and trials. So as Christians, we must take some time to consider what we do, daily, to deepen our love and faith—trust—in Jesus. Do we allow our intellectual pride to throw roadblocks in the paths of our minds and hearts? Do we allow it to become the source of distraction, rather than a tool to seeking and understanding His Wisdom and Guidance?  Intellect is a gift from God!  

 

Pride in the use of our intellect, for our own gain rather than His Glory, becomes a basis for looking away from God, rather than deeper into His Goodness. So, as we ponder how we use our minds to strengthen our hearts, today, consider how we can submit to Him in true trust and humility.  

 

Lord, give us the strength to simply trust in You—that You will provide us with all I need to follow You!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016


True repentance requires a conversion—a “change of heart” in which a person not only says words of repentance (“I’m sorry”), but  changes the thought, word, or deed from which he is repentant. This is the challenge Jesus calls us to—to be truly repentant of our actions against His desires by changing our ways in both profession and deed.  

 

In Matthew 11:20-24 we find Jesus chastising citizens of Chorazin and Bethsaida for their unwillingness to believe and repent, even in the midst of God’s wondrous Word and Works. He clearly tells them in their unrepentant nature, “Woe to you (for your failure to believe)”. He chastises the people of these cities, telling them that if the city of Sodom (among others) had seen what they have had the opportunity to see and heard what they have heard, they would not have been destroyed.  

 

Jesus’ purpose in calling them and us to repent is so that we believe and look toward him, not just in word, but in deed. He makes it clear that if they and we don’t change our ways and look to Him it will be more bearable for those destroyed in Sodom than for us on the final Judgment Day. 

 

So what does this mean for us in our continuing struggles of today’s world? A world where we are constantly “called out” for our Christian beliefs? It means that we must resolve to deepen our love for Jesus, striving to grow in our prayer life, charity to others, and humility toward self. We must find ways to see God’s Word in action and His Works. We must find ways to appreciate all of His Wondrous Deeds in our lives and in others’ lives—present in the midst of both joy and trial!  

 

Lord, let us receive Your Word—through careful consideration of it—in faith and obedience. May the strength of Jesus and His disciples erode any doubt or indifference we have and bring us to true repentance—conversion of mind and heart! May Your Love and Mercy shine and save us!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     MONDAY, JULY 11, 2016 

Reading Matthew 10:37-42 one finds Jesus challenging His disciples in several areas. First, He challenges them to truly examine their hearts and souls and determine who they love, above all, first and foremost. He clearly states that we are to love God and trust God to the point of willingness to forsake all of this world for Him! That is a true challenge as we muddle through this world in and with our human condition! Keeping our eye on the goal of eternal life is required. 

 

The second challenge has to do with our relationships with our loved ones here, in this life. He presents some “perceived” challenges when he says, “No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me….” (nor son, daughter…). As we ponder this, we must realize Jesus is calling us to ensure that He is at the center of all. In fact, our relationships with father, mother, son, daughter, etc., will be truly enhanced if God is at the center of our focus! After all, do we not believe two things central to our Christian walk: 1) God is at the center; 2) Love of others is an essential extension of a loving relationship with God. The second cannot truly exist without the first!  

 

Jesus calls us to serve one another, just as we would serve a child in need. We know and understand that children (and child-like persons) are the greatest in need of our love, care, and guidance, as they are not “developed” in skill and knowledge to take care of themselves. Yet, they are the most loving and open to others. So, not only must we be like children, in our openness, we must tend to others’ needs as we would a child. That, fellow believers, is the challenge!  And, striving to meet it will allow us to reap His eternal reward (Matthew 10:42).  

 

Lord, may we answer Your call to make you the focal point of all we think, say and do towards each other. Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2016 


Luke 10:25-37, the well-known story of the Good Samaritan, brings to mind a beautiful song, words put to a Ghana folk song, by Tom Colton, called “Jesu, Jesu”. The words to the chorus are, “Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.”  

 

Two of the verses are: 1) “Neighbors are rich and poor, varied in color and race, neighbors are near and far away.”  And 2) “These are the ones we should serve, these are the ones we should love; all these are neighbors to us and you.”  

 

The words of this song highlight Jesus’ response to the lawyer who tried to justify himself as to helping some, but not others, after learning that Jesus’ answer to the question of “How shall I inherit eternal life?” is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus goes on to highlight this in a parable about the Samaritan, a sworn enemy of the Jews, being the only one to stop and help a man beaten by robbers on the dangerous path to Jericho.  

 

He specifically points out that a Priest and a Levite walk by the beaten man, purposefully avoiding him so as not to “see” him. Yet, the sworn enemy stops, helps and shows great compassion, bringing the man back to health, caring for him. Jesus instructs the lawyer and us to do the same for all he meets along the way. Imagine how this world would be if we would simply heed the voice of God—His Word of guidance! Moses, having spoken to God, makes it clear that the voice of God is not some “up in the sky”, mysterious voice and command.  

 

It is written in the Book of His Word (Great Read:  Deuteronomy 30:10-14) Lord, help us to know You through Your Word and Commands. Give us strength and courage to carry out Your call to love all.  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2016


“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 


This statement, made in Jesus’ continuing discourse from Matthew 10:28-33, calls us to not fear those who would do us harm because of our faith. As we consider this, we know it is our human nature to fear things that will hurt us, whether it be physical or emotional fear. While this is natural, Jesus is referring to “spiritual fear” or, perhaps, better summed up as “loss of hope”—loss of Faith in God.  

 

This loss begins perhaps in very minute ways, but all rooted in clinging to the material comforts of this life, including our possessions and, even, our reputations. When we lose hope, even for a moment, it is a dent in our armor of faith. As we consider God’s protection of us, of our eternal souls, one of the greatest accounts is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:19-97).   

 

As a result of their faith that God’s protection is one that exists in this world and into the next—His Eternal Glory—they were thrown into a fiery furnace, which they survived unscathed. Their example of faith led King Nebuchadnezzar, who persecuted them for their belief in God, to say, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They disobeyed my kingly command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” 

 

Lord, give us the faith to stand firm in our Faith and Hope in You and Your ultimate and eternal goodness and the Eternal life You promise all who Believe in You! May we witness with strength and courage, standing for You in the face of any trials we may face. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2016 


“….and you will be hated by all because of My Name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”    Matthew 10:22

 

As we read from Matthew’s gospel, we see Jesus continuing His instruction to the disciples as to their mission. He begins this section of the discourse saying, “I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves.” This recalls Is 11:6 and 65:25 where it is foretold that wolves and lambs will dwell in peace. Of course we know that wolves and lambs are natural enemies in this world, with the lambs falling prey to the wolves. 

 

It is this worldly view that Jesus tells us we must consider: opposition and persecution of the lambs by those who oppose the Gospel (and, those who inappropriately “apply” the Gospel for their own gain, not God’s Glory). In this entire discourse, we find Jesus not hesitating to tell His followers to be ready to face hardship for their commitment to God. He does not “sugarcoat” anything, which is often the world’s way of “coaxing” people into doing something. 

 

Though it is not always the message we want to hear, that the going may be tough, we MUST understand the privilege it is to proclaim the Kingdom and follow the Path of Jesus. Simply put, we must ask ourselves if we willing to put our life forward for Him, who laid down His life in order to show is the way to the Victory (He won) for us over sin and death: the Path to Eternal Life.  

 

Lord, may we gain the patience needed to bring us to the joy of our eternal reward of living in the Glory of Your Kingdom. Strength us to face and accept any adversities that result from our Walk with You. You promised that God would speak through us in these times:  may my words and actions prove this. J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GENE!


In the liturgy this day we first listen to the prophet Hosea who speaks God's word. We are reminded of how God loved Israel with a merciful love, drawing them with bonds of love and mercy. Israel did not respond to God's love but wandered and chose to worship other gods.  

 

As we listen and reflect on the message in Hosea, perhaps we can see more clearly our own wandering, our own missed marks, our own failures and even recognize God's presence and action in our lives.We too cry out with the psalmist Lord, ‘Let us see your face and we shall be saved!’  

 

We listen also to the words of Matthew's gospel; we are hopefully moved attentively to the commission to the apostles and to us. Go proclaim the message, heal the sick, raise the dead, cure lepers; and as we ponder this directive of Jesus, we look into the mirror of our lives and see reflected the results of our response. The body of Christ— the Church, (that would be us), are we bringing healing, are the dead being raised? Spiritual death is a reality in our world. Do we rise to the challenge of proclaiming God's love and mercy, and by our actions and life, bringing new life by being conduits of God's healing grace?

 

The call is loud and clear, we are to be a loving merciful people. It is a goal that is possible if we open our hearts, our minds our lives to Christ. The Son of Man came to show us the way. He referred to Himself as Son of Man over and over again, pointing by His life the direction we are to take. The direction of the cross, the path of human endeavor, that includes the cross, that includes the transition we call death, that leads to a life of eternal love. 

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2016 


“And, as you go, proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.”  (Matthew 10:7) 

 

These words from Jesus are as relevant to us as they were to the twelve Apostles whom Jesus called and sent out to proclaim the Good News in Matthew 10:1-7. Within that call, He bestowed upon them the power over unclean spirits and to cure disease and illness. Imagine these twelve men striving to comprehend this call—rooted in complete and total faith and trust in God.  

 

We too, must strive to understand our call to total faith and trust in God. Jesus did not call His disciples to “move mountains” or “call down rain of fire” from heaven. Rather, it was a much simpler call—to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and to bring comfort and healing to the afflicted. 

 

In our world, both of these continue to be our call. In our human condition, often we look for the glamor and the “show” of the things in our lives, and this includes things “of God”, as we perceive them. The first part of our calling Knowing and Proclaiming God’s Word is simple though not always easy. The second part of the call, to bring healing and comfort to those afflicted, is the challenge.  

 

True faith and trust brings the opportunity for God’s grace to come upon us and those for whom we pray. In order for this second piece of our faith’s call to come forth, we must first approach God with humility and the expectant faith—total trust that His Will for our lives or lives of those for whom we pray will be done. Remember, in the prayer Jesus taught us, we are called to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”  

 

Lord, in our chosen-ness, teach us to humbly take and use what You have given us to offer for the Glory of Your Kingdom and Will in this life. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!     TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2016 


As morning breaks we look to the Lord on this new day with hope. In faith we acknowledge He is in our midst. The Risen Lord who came and dwelt among men as fully human, "the Son of Man". We stumble through life too often failing to acknowledge all that Jesus came to reveal to us. We listen each day to His Word and perhaps too often find ways to twist the meaning of the gospel to suit our own purposes, our own egos.  

 

Like those artisans who carved idols, gods who could not see, hear, smell or speak we too find ways to create gods who in some way are subject to our longings. In today's gospel we are presented with a portrait of Jesus who cast out demons, cured the sick of all diseases, was troubled in spirit because He saw the people confused and harassed, like sheep without a shepherd.  

 

We are presented with a picture of Jesus who loves beyond our understanding. How will we take this in today? Will we allow the Word of God to enter our hearts, to spark our thoughts throughout the day in such a way that we are able to see the Lord in the events of our day? Will we pray that the Lord send laborers into His harvest?  

 

As we pray may we hear His voice and be willing to be the laborers He sends.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JULY 4, 2016 


Matthew, in 9:18-26, records two instances in which Jesus is approached, in total trust and expectant faith, and He shows immediately His mercy upon those who approach Him in that manner. The first is a synagogue official who approaches Jesus, upon the death of His daughter. He risked the ridicule of his fellow officials and family by approaching the controversial Jesus. But, he had a characteristic which all who believe that Jesus is God must share: hope in God’s ultimate benevolence and desire that we love and live in and with Him for eternity.  

 

Do we approach Jesus with the same expectant faith which this man did in verse eighteen? He simply approached Jesus and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.”  The power of His faith is displayed in his simple, direct request of Jesus. Jesus, moved by His willingness to ask in such clear acceptance, immediately proceeded to go with him to his house to lay hands upon the daughter.  

 

As Jesus began toward the man’s house, a woman came through the crowds, simply hoping to touch the hem of His cloak, believing that this simple encounter would cure her of a hemorrhage from which she’d suffered for twelve years. Jesus felt and knew her faith, simply from her willingness to see His touch and to touch Him. How often do we think as she did, in our daily searching, as she said to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be made well”? The woman was instantly healed, as Jesus said, “Take heart, your faith has made you well.” 

 

Jesus continued to walk to the man’s house and raised his dead daughter in the same merciful manner. As we read these two accounts, Christians must seek and desire Him in total humility and trust in order to truly encounter Him.  

 

Lord, You love each of us uniquely and in a personal love. Help me to seek and understand Your love for Me so that I may fully share that love with others in the way You show and call us to do! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 3, 2016 

How are we being called and challenged to live in the Love of the Gospel each day? In Luke 10:1-9, Jesus calls a multitude to go out and ahead of Him, to prepare the Way, into the towns a villages, proclaiming the Good News and sharing God’s Goodness. In sending them out, there are several conditions He sets: 1) He sends them out in pairs; 2) He sends them out with the directive to trust in God, bringing with them no extra sandals, clothes, etc..; and, 3) focus on the mission ahead, avoiding distractions on the road.  

 

He warns them that they will be among the wolves, as lambs are. As we look at these directions, we first note that He did not send them out alone, but in pairs. While we know that God never fails and that He is always present and available to us, He directs them and us to remain with likeminded people, sharing the journey. This call, we must remember, as there is strength in the power of our collective faith. In the second directive, he calls them (and us) to serve God in a focused and trusting way. We must “detach” from the distractions of the human condition. This call to trust is emphasized in several places in Jesus’ discourses.  

 

Finally, do not be distracted by those who would doubt and detract from the Mission to Proclaim God! He calls on His disciples to exemplify and disseminate the Peace of God—openly and directly. If you (we) do so, we will see and feel His peace in, around, and among us. We will know when His peace is not settling upon any with whom we are trying to share it! To do so, we must truly believe and truly share our faith!  In today’s world, there seems to be a hesitancy and, often, a downright unwillingness to commit to God. Jesus calls any and all, who will, to be “laborers” in His harvest.  

 

Lord, may I hear and heed Your call to labor.  Help me to go out and live in the Love of Your Gospel, an example to all whom I encounter.  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 2, 2106 


Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians: 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” His encouragement of the faithful in Corinth (and us, of course) comes from Jesus’ Own Words in Matthew 9:14:17, where He is responding to a question from His disciples as to why they do not fast, as the Pharisees fast.  

 

While we must clearly understand that Jesus is not eliminating the idea of fasting, His point in responding the way He did is to emphasize that we must celebrate God and live in His joy at every opportunity—unconditionally and giving all praise to Him! To make His point, He tells the disciples that “bridegroom attendants don’t mourn as long as the bridegroom is still with them”; and, “no one puts unshrunken cloth on old cloth”; and, “neither is new wine put in old wineskins”. In making these analogies, Jesus is calling us to understand that He is the “bridegroom,” the “new cloth”, and the “new wine”.  

 

As Christians we are called to be renewed in Him, by Him! He calls our minds and hearts to be made anew, open and ready to allow God’s Word to transform us. We cannot fully accept Him without shedding our old desires and ways. This obviously becomes the challenge of the human condition! This obviously must be our answer to the naysayers who say, “God does not care where I sit on Sundays”, as a reason for NOT going to church to hear and receive God.  

 

To make ourselves new in Christ, just like in anything else, we must spend time with Him and surround ourselves with likeminded people. It is no different than if you want to become a better tennis player, for example. You spend time with people who desire to play and be better at tennis. So it is in making ourselves anew in Christ!  

 

Lord, make our minds and hearts new in Your Joy, opening us to be open and ready to Your transformation of us from our sinful and earthly ways and desires. May our new selves fully contain and be a celebration of YOU! Jesus, Only You!Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016 

Come follow me!  

Matthew the tax collector is being invited by Jesus to come with Him. The Pharisees don't understand this as they ask, ‘Why does your teacher eat and socialize with sinners, in fact the worst of sinners who are extorting our people?’ We listen to Jesus’ response as He enters Matthew's house: ‘Whoever believes in me my Father will love and we will come and dwell with them.’  

 

As we come together in prayer, we acknowledge that we are coming into God's presence. How? By going to certain holy places? Performing certain actions? If Jesus has promised to come and dwell in us, if we are truly temples of the Holy Spirit, should we not pray by turning to the Spirit within?  

 

Take time this day, today and every day, to stop and enter the stillness. Remember that Friday, and the stillness of the day of Christ's Passion. Perhaps we can hear—or have heard already—the weekly call to prayer made by the US Council of Bishops—will you be with the many who have already responded to that call? 

 

We can take up the challenge to fast, to give alms and even to abstain from meat products. Simply to offer the day in union with Christ praying for families throughout the world and for a restoration of married life. How easy would it be for us all. 

 

God of Mercy and Justice hear our prayer. Amen. 

Deacon