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

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OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2016 


As we listen to the Scriptures today at Mass, how do we react? Amos speaks is upbraided by Amaziah as he is saying things against Israel, things they don't want to hear. Amos defends his word by insisting God called him to prophesy. His words are proven to be true, but they were difficult to hear, and many refused to take them to heart. 

 

In the Gospel Jesus heals a paralytic, but first He says to the man, "your sins are forgiven". This is a blasphemous cry to those that hear it, the leaders of the religious community. He is playing God. Where does He come off forgiving sins? This is only God's prerogative. As we hear, and in our minds, become present to all this, how do we react?  

 

As people of faith and disciples of the Risen Christ, what does this offer us? Do we respond positively, accepting the truth of Christ or do we look to our own lights? Do we follow our own desire to be in control and charge out on our own self—directed path? Will I today seek truly to do God's will in all the moments of my life?  

 

Each day I pray often the Our Father and no sooner have I said the words and I am so often off on my own quests to fulfill too often selfish desires.  

Jesus, hear my plea for mercy ...guide me to the truth....J.O.Y. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2016 


Today is the Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul. We honor them as stalwart heroes of faith. If we were to have a Hall of Fame in the Church, these two Fathers would be prominent. That would be our way of remembering them and they would likely be the first to lead us in a different direction and remind us to give honor and glory to God.   

 

As we celebrate this day we hopefully look to them as guides and models of faith to lead us to the truth of who we are as children of the Most High God, the Giver of life. In the first reading at the mass during the day, we perhaps are in prison with Peter, and for each of us, we are to observe God's action in leading Peter out of prison. How do we react to this report by Luke? In faith, do we believe that God is present in our life today—this moment? And will He act to release us from the prisons we have chosen for ourselves? 

 

We come to receive Jesus in Eucharist and what is our response? Do we hear Him asking us over and over ‘Who do you say that I am?’  And what is our response? Does our life reflect our belief when we say with Peter, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God?’ Day after day, moment by moment, do we strive as Paul says to, ‘Pray always!’ How can we do this? Do we put forth the effort to see God in all of our actions and reactions? 

 

At the center of our lives is a person, Jesus Christ. He pitched His tent among us, and after His earthly sojourn, He died as a common criminal, then rose from the dead and commissioned His closest friends, His chosen ones to proclaim the Good News. We are also chosen as we receive the gift of faith, the gift of Christ still dwelling in our midst as the very bread of life. With each breath, let us be filled with the Spirit who guides all who are open to love. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016 


Matthew 8:23-27 

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” 

 

First thing they did right was follow Jesus into the boat. After that, they kind of lost their bearings. But don’t we all when things get out of control and we lose our perspective, our sense of direction—if not our trust and faith. 

 

And there will be some say that the next thing they did right was that they woke up Jesus since they had little clue what to do on their own. Again, often as we would do when we are flailing about on our own, trying to make our own miracles without the help of the only One who can make those sort of things happen. The disciples indeed were frightened of the storm around them. We too are frightened of the storms around us, regardless of what they may seem to others. We see them, we perceive them, and we feel them as real to us just as the disciples did. 

 

Whatever storms we are facing, however terrified we might be, like the disciples, our faith can be brought into question. The doctor saw something. The bank called again. Another job interview, another person more qualified. Family concerns. They all bring their own storms and only Jesus can bring the calm. His peace for us will come back when the faith comes back in our lives as Jesus calms those storms about us and in us. And in that peace is our faith and His love. As the wind and sea obey Him, we should also do.



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2016 


“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”  

Both Luke (9:51-62) and Matthew (8:20) felt that this particular statement, from Jesus to a “would-be-follower” was significant enough to record in their Gospel accounts. Jesus’ point, in responding this way to a person who says, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go”, is that following Him will not be easy. We know this this was a time when Jesus had resolutely turned His face toward Jerusalem. What does this mean? Though He knew from “day one” that His sole purpose in coming as man was our redemption—by His Death on the Cross—it was at this time that He knew it was time to turn toward that final entrance into Jerusalem and that final “walk to Calvary”.  

 

Following Jesus requires a discipline of self, a strong heart, mind and spirit and a willingness to sacrifice. While it does not mean we ignore our basic human needs in order to be able to sustain our efforts while on this earth, it means that we must always recognize from where that sustenance comes.  hen Jesus makes it clear to His would-be-follower that it will be a difficult path, his resolve, though weakened (in our human condition we tend to hesitate when the conditions change (for the “worse”), is still there. But, the “excuse-making” begins—”May I go bury my Father first?” or “May I go say goodbye to…”  

 

But, Jesus response is firm—once we commit to Him, we must not look back. We must not be distracted by the things of this world! And, while breathing, we must remember to look to God, as told in Psalm 50, “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way, I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)  

 

Lord, help me to let go of all distractions and place You first! Give me the wisdom to recognize Your goodness and strength/courage to follow Your example! J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2016


In the Gospel of Luke 9:51-62, we find Jesus setting His sights on Jerusalem, preparing for the final walk of God’s earthly plan for Him – our salvation. Similar to what we read in Kings about Elijah, who knew He was going to be taken up to heaven, Luke writes, of Jesus, in 9:51, “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  

 

He sent disciples ahead, to a village of Samaritans, to prepare to receive Him. But the villagers were not ready to receive Him because they did not understand – the Samaritans and Jews were unfriendly toward each other, thus they didn’t understand the significance of who Jesus was. So in Jesus’ Spirit of Mercy and Love, they moved on to the next village, though the disciples wanted to bring down a rain of fire upon them.  

 

As they moved on, a would-be-follower of Jesus approached, asking to follow Him. Jesus reminded him that the journey would not be easy, as just proven, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. But in saying this, He then asked the would be follower to, “Follow Me”.  

 

Are we not all called to follow Jesus? Are we like the would be follower who, once called, suddenly comes up with excuses to delay the walk?  “Lord, let me go bury my father”; “Lord, let me say farewell to my family”; or, “Lord, let me do this, first; or that”. Jesus, in response to these excuses, says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”   

 

Let us ask ourselves as we ponder this account: are we like the people in the Samaritan village, not ready to receive Jesus? Are we like the would-be follower, appearing ready, but hesitant or with an excuse to wait before moving with Him?  

 

Lord, forgive us, as You forgave the Samaritans who were unwilling to receive You! We pray for your patience and mercy as we, sometimes, stumble or move hesitantly (or find excused not to move) towards You. May we walk with You with sincere hearts!  Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y. 

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2016


The news if we are attentive to it focuses on so many crises and ills in our world. Today's first reading from Lamentations could well apply to many circumstances on the planet. In Matthew's gospel periscope today we see however that the Lord heals all our ills. Can we imagine being present when the centurion comes to Jesus, and we hear the words we so easily repeat at each Eucharist, "Lord, I am not worthy....Domine non sum dingus ut inters sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea." 

 

Merciful and great is the Lord who tends to all our needs. Throughout the gospels we encounter Jesus, healing the sick, casting out demons, restoring mobility to persons crippled in some manner, always His merciful love is being revealed. Yet, it appears we are too frequently bent on doing our own thing, and even forgetting what God desires for us. God invites us into a loving relationship and we too often are fearful, fearing He will demand something costly of us. We fear something may be taken away from us. 

Perhaps the greatest fear is we will have to relinquish being our own god. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016


Today we celebrate John the Baptist! He announced, or if you prefer, blazed the trail for the coming of the Christ. John was preaching by the Jordan and turning the lives of many persons to God. Many considered John the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, and they soon were discussing whether he was the Messiah.  

 

John assured them he was not the Promised One; he said he was not worthy to unstrap his sandals. In faith, we listen to John today as we come to celebrate the Eucharist, knowing in faith that the Lord Jesus is with us in this sacrament in a very profound way. 

This is my body, this is my blood. We remember that He told us to do this in memory of Him. Today with the eyes of faith and the heart of love, we look to John as the announcer of Jesus’ presence in our midst and we again celebrate the mystery of love. 

 

Now this day we too are to be transformed by the very presence of Jesus who comes to us as the bread of life. We come to open our hearts, our minds, the very essence of our lives to Him, to become His dwelling place today. In the very conduct of our lives we are being beckoned to become His messengers to the world in which we live and move. Moment by moment, as we breathe life we are called to be His witnesses. 

 

May we find deep joy in praying this day, My soul rejoices in God My Savior. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2016


We have often heard the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” These, again, come to mind after reading Matthew 7:21-29.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”  Jesus is speaking here on how we, in our human condition deceive ourselves and each other when we speak “just words”. He goes on to speak of “hearers and doers”.  “Everyone, then who hears these Words of Mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock….”  

 

The rock is a foundation of trust, rooted in God’s commands and desires. It is only upon this rock that we can succeed in our journey to Him. It is not that He is NOT a compassionate and merciful God, as we know He is! But we must understand that He knows what is truly in our hearts. If our lives are not rooted in Him, the foundation of His rock- trust in His Wisdom and Guidance—then we shall fall short of attaining our eternal salvation, with Him, at the foot of His throne!  

 

As Christians, followers of Christ, we must, therefore, ask ourselves every day, “Upon what is my life resting? Is the foundation resting upon God’s Will and Desire for me? Or, is it upon shifting sand, that moves with the winds and tides of this life?” We have heard that the road to heaven is narrow and challenging. We have heard that upon that road we must labor to produce “good fruit” and foster others to do the same.  

 

So, as we look upon our final destination we know the answer is “simple, but not easy”:  do God’s Will in love for Him and one another. Simple? Yes! Easy? No! Loving someone as God loves us is not always easy in our human condition.  

 

Lord Jesus, You came among us, in human form knowing the challenges of the human condition and experiencing them as no man should. Yet, You sacrificed Yourself as an example of unselfish love. Lead us toward living a life for others, as You have shown us and call us to do!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2016 


Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.           Matthew 7:13-14  

 

As we ponder upon these words of Jesus to His Disciples, and us, we need not look very far in today’s world to see that the “road to destruction” is a wide and easy one. The path to eternal life is a pretty focused one—fulfilling what God desires us to be as His creations! Several things come to mind as I think about the “easy path to destruction”. One such thing is an analogy that may help us envision the ease which He is talking about.  

 

Imagine the huge interstates going into LA or San Diego. These are up to eight lanes wide (one way), or sixteen across both ways! And they are packed at various times of the day and there is never a part of the day where they are not well-traveled. These were designed for the “ease” of traveling for the millions of people going to work each day. If you have ever traveled these wide roads you will understand that it is a very hectic experience as the traffic moves at a fast pace, even when “bumper to bumper.”  

 

The hardest thing to navigate is getting across lanes when you want to exit this “jungle”. So it is with the “wide road to perdition”.  Getting on it and even moving on it is easy.  But, where does it really take you? Are you any less restless when you get to your place of work or other destination, having traveled that road? 

 

Now, imagine the single-lane byways that are recommended for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the travel? Though not always the easiest or most convenient, when you arrive, you are more at peace, having enjoyed a slower, more focused travel experience. So it is with the narrow path God has set for our lives! 

 

Lord, help us to focus on You, keeping our final destination point—Eternal life with You—as our final goal! May Your road, too often the “road less traveled”, become more worn by our example, leading others to it, as well. Holy Spirit, be my navigator on the right path! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016 


Matthew 7:6, 12-14 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” 

 

Yesterday’s gospel, still from the Sermon on the mount, Jesus said that the road to our salvation would be just a bit narrow, steep and lonely. The road to perdition, the road to hell, would not be so… a little more like an interstate highway using today’s vernacular—eight lanes wide and 75 miles an hour. Kind of hard to keep us on the path to righteousness at that speed, wouldn’t you say? 

 

From today’s gospel, He cautions us again, this time to be watchful of those who we hang out with for we are known by the company we keep. Look at us here this afternoon—pretty decent company we are in. Because we choose to be here. Jesus goes on to say we should treat others how we would want to be treated—really, as He would and does treat us. As He says, Do to others whatever you would have them do to you… the Golden Rule.  And just as we do treat them, we’ll find how it will be to enter the narrow gate. Will we be a part of the many Jesus talks about or will we be those few who find our way through the narrow gate to Him? 

 

Connecting the gospels then from yesterday and today to tomorrow’s, Jesus tells us about those false prophets who lead us with empty promises and deceive us with their pride and self-centeredness. It all sounds good and makes for great copy yet if we buy into it, we will be the fools for such a life. There will be only one true way of life and that would be one in the spirit with Jesus Christ. Let us all then find ourselves in His company and be known by the company we keep with Him.



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016 


“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)  

 

In our human condition it seems to be a natural and easy tendency to look at and judge others—and usually, in a not-so-positive way. Knowing we have this tendency, therefore, we must always remember to look inward, at our own thoughts, words and deeds before looking at others. This scripture is perhaps, one of the most “misquoted” scriptures or at the least, misunderstood. It is often used for someone to justify their own behaviors, which may not be “in line” with what Christ desires. As Christians, we must try to remember that these words were not said to be used as a “defense” for our own behaviors, but rather as a light shining upon our own behaviors.  

 

For example, if I choose to make fun of someone and my friend or spouse tells me, “You shouldn't do that….”, I have two choices: 1) I can choose to listen to their admonishment, looking at what they are pointing out—truly asking myself, “What Would Jesus Do?” This would be an application of Jesus’ call to be brothers to each other, guiding us towards God’s Ways and Desire for us. 2) I could say, “Don’t judge me! Who are you to tell me what is “right or wrong”, only God can do that!” Here, we have a “misunderstanding” of what our Christian call is. The challenge to hold each other accountable, without being deemed “the judge” is a big one in today’s world.  

 

Lord, give us the strength, wisdom, and courage to be guides for each other in this world, while allowing Your light to shine on, in, and through our lives.  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LILIANA!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL!


“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me….”  (Luke 9:23)  

This statement comes after Jesus has a conversation with His disciples as to who other people say He Is and followed by who His disciples say He Is. To the first question, many others are saying that He is John the Baptist or one of the ancient prophets, such as Elijah. Peter though, in response to the second question says, “You are Christ, the God.” Surely Jesus was pleased with Peter’s response, but He also needed to point out that the world was not “ready” to understand this, in its fullness.  

 

He said, “Do not tell anyone….for the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected... killed and raised on the third day.” This entire discourse outlines just what has to happen within us in order for to truly “take up our crosses and follow Him.” First, and foremost, we must truly believe Who Jesus Is. We must know in our minds and hearts that He is the Son of God—that He Is God! From there, “taking up the Cross of Christ” means that we present ourselves in a manner that shows we trust God and are answering His call.  

 

This includes love and compassion towards others and acceptance of all we experience in this life—both joys and trials—with a good heart. By doing so, we choose to commit our words, thoughts, and deeds to Christ NOW, so as to dwell in His eternal kingdom in the next. 

 

Lord, help us to recognize You as True God and True Man!  May we be like Peter and profess that You are the Messiah. Send Your Spirit upon us to strengthen our faith so that we draw closer to You and bring others to You by our witness in word, thought, and deed. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.


BIRTHDAY NOTES


We are given so much in our name. 

Does it describe us or do we become our name? 

Some say we are the very roots—the heart and depth—of our given name. 

Some others say we spend the entirety of our time on earth searching for that defining character of who we are by our name. 

 

Yet what if it were both? What if we are indeed described by the name given us by our parents and what if we are continually on our journey making our distinctive self by the love and faith we become and share? 

 

Liliana was given much in her name: the lily, pure and beautiful. How appropriate then that she would begin a life that would lead her across continents and around the world, touching lives as she would bring the purity and beauty of the love and faith of Jesus Christ. 

 

Her life of faith has inspired those close to her in family and those strangers who became sisters and brothers as she crossed the boundaries of countries, states, cities, towns and cultures. One doesn’t do this without the courage and strength of the Holy Spirit within. One doesn’t accomplish ‘everyday miracles’ without the fortitude and the determination to do the right thing for the right reason. One doesn’t deny themselves to pick up their cross to follow Jesus Christ without the grace and healing found in His Body and Blood. 

 

Yet with all that she is and all that she continues to give, she finds her way in Him, to live in Him and follow Him. Yes, this is why she was born this day just a 'few' years ago. To bear witness to the purity and beauty of His love for her, to live out that love for others and to do so more abundantly. 

 

Well done good and faithful servant, our good and faithful friend, Liliana. 

Happy Birthday to our friend—May this day and all the days God has for you be full of joy and grace and peace, with the pure beauty of His love. 

 

Love and peace- 

Linda and David




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2016 


  



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2106 

What is your retirement plan? In the secular world we are taught that our “life after work” is of great importance and that we should store up any reserves we can over the year, a bit from each paycheck, savings plans here, investment plans there, etc. Yes, it is true that as we age in this life that we will become slower, less able to work and need to have some “stores” in which to support ourselves when this occurs. 

 

But we must bear in mind that it is a fact, of the human condition, which requires a basic understanding that our time in this earthly existence will end. At this point, your material, earthly “stores” will do you no good. In Matthew 6:19-23, Jesus reminds us that these stores will eventually become moth-eaten and rot. But He also reminds as that there is a different (and more important store) that must be tended to: one that will carry with us into eternal life with God—One that we must have to enter into eternal life with God!  

 

While we must have daily sustenance during our time on earth, we must be careful that we spend no more time than necessary upon these things, ensuring that we are spending our time storing heavenly treasures—faithful worship of God through Faith in Action—returning to Him all that we have through prayer AND deed. This begs the question, “Am I living in Jesus wisdom and love in the way I think, speak, and act in this world? This question brings to mind the question raised in the parable of the ten bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13) where five have brought enough oil to wait the whole night, not knowing when the groom will appear (and five did not). When the five left to get “better prepared”, the groomsman came calling. 

 

Lord, You call every day. May I be prepared, in each moment, to hear and answer Your call so that when Your final call comes, I am prepared for eternity with you.  May I, every day, build for my heavenly “retirement”.  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2016


Matthew 6:1-18 is a lengthy discourse, from Jesus, on worship, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and general Christian Behavior. In reading it, there are several admonishments and encouragements, all of which are designed to enhance our relationship with God, which should be our ultimate goal. I hear people say, sometimes, “If mom or dad ain’t happy, no one’s happy.”  

 

As Christians, we can apply this to our relationship with God, in some fashion. If things are not right in our relationship with God, we are not in “balance” with His Creation, either. The passage begins with an admonishment, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them…” Jesus goes on to admonish us to not “sound the trumpet” when we give alms and to pray in solitude not “just” publicly.  

 

While I have heard some people try to twist these passages to disparage “worship in group”, we must understand this is NOT Jesus intent. He says several times, that what you do in “secret”, in your heart and mind, God sees and knows. His words are not to discourage faith in action, in our churches and communities. Rather, the caution is for us to make sure that we are not doing “faith-filled acts” in public only, while forgetting about God when in the privacy of our own lives—private time. Bottom line: God knows the genuineness of our overt actions based on “who we are when no one is watching.” He gives us a simple prayer of worship that recognizes God in His ultimate place and awesomeness, implores Him to shower His goodness and grace, and asks for His protection from things not of God.  

 

Lord, give us the strength to seek You sincerely, at all times in our lives—in thought, word, prayer, and deed. May that which we do in private be a reflection of Your goodness so that it extends to all of life’s experiences. May our desire for Your Will be mirrored in both public and private pursuits! Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y. 

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!


Prayer! We are to pray and we encounter so many comments and instructions on how we are to pray. How do you pray? Is your prayer a meeting an encounter with the Lord?  

 

At the center of our faith is a person, Jesus the Christ, who entered into the world as a human person, the Son of God, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity. He took on our humanity and dwelt among us. He emptied Himself of His divinity! We sit with this for a while and try to deepen our understanding of this mystery of faith. He lived as a human person, subject to a family with Mary and Joseph. We can imagine perhaps that life even though it remains hidden in time.  

 

He was a child of the time taught by his mother, Mary; He grew up with Joseph as a guide and teacher and learned the skills of carpentry. He grew in wisdom and grace and was obedient to the will of the Father, God. And He prayed. He turned to God and spent time in conversation.  

 

We too are to live in imitation of Jesus. We discover the gifts God has endowed us with and use these gifts in our own corner creation revealing by our willing to live in accord with God's will the love of God for all humanity. We too need to pray. In prayer, in those moments of quiet and entering within, opening our mind and heart to God, to Jesus, to Mary our help, we grow in holiness. 

The call for each of us is to love. In order to really love we need to be in the presence of Love. John tells us in his letters that God is love. May we in our willingness to pray with open hearts and minds discover LOVE.

Deacon


BIRTHDAY WISHES

Families have foundation. That foundation is in faith. That faith lies in heritage. That heritage has a home. That home is in the womb of a mother. To tie these together then, the faith of a mother strengthens then the foundation of a family.

 

As Christ builds His Church, He also builds the love and faith of those who call on Him in prayer and hope. How great is this love seen then in the lives of those who bear children, those mothers who bring life into the world. Those who help build the foundation, whose children make for the bricks and mortar of the rest of the home she continues to build; an extension of the love, the faith and hope she shares in them. 

 

This is made especially evident in those who celebrate the glory of the Lord in their lives every day He gives them, no matter the trial, no matter the beauty or wonders that come their way. We can enjoy that celebration with such people because they live such a life in truth, in authenticity and in fullness of faith as they dedicate their lives to Him. With the gifts they have, they share with so many others in return, striving to show them the still more excellent way not so much by their holiness yet only by their trust in the way God has shown them.

 

Maybe you know such a person… or two. I am blessed in my life to know of one who gave me another. My mother-in-law, Lorraine ‘Sam’ Maynor, celebrates the gift of life today for the so many years God has given her. She has given more to so many in countless ways the immeasurable gifts God has given her—and still is. From her, I have the love and beauty of my life in my wife and the family we share. Indeed, how good is God to us, more than we deserve.

 

May your day be blessed beyond measure and may you continue to enjoy the countless graces God bestows upon you.

 

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: to dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life, to gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple. 

Psalm 27:4

 

I love you Mom.

David

 



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2016 

As a parent of three children and a career educator, I have heard, countless times, “But, he….” or “But, she…” after confronting a child on an act they committed against another child. It seems it is an instinctual reaction of kids to say, “Yes, but…”, to justify their behaviors of retaliation. Yet, in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus makes it clear that we are to love those who have wronged us or whom we perceive as having wronged us.  

 

He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” In our human condition this is a challenge! How do we love those who cause us real or perceived harm? As Christians we are called to understand that “all things are possible with God”. There are many references (Old and New Testaments) that affirm this sentiment (Ref: Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37; Philippians 4:13; Jerimiah 32:17; Job 42:2; Genesis 18:14). God’s Word gives us this affirmation. Knowing this, we must then pray for the Grace that our faith says we can and will receive, if we are open to it. 

 

We are called to treat others with love: kindness, forbearance, and mercy. Jesus speaks of how “easy it is” to love those who love you and agree with you. He cites several examples of this, saying that even gentiles and tax collectors love each other. The challenge is finding a way to be “perfect”, as the Father is perfect. We are sometimes challenged or confused by limited language. It would be easy to be frustrated and defeated over Jesus’ call to be “perfect, as the Father is perfect”, except if we understand that the original meaning of “perfect”.  In Aramaic, to be perfect is to be complete or whole. We are called to strive for the wholeness of God’s love. That definition makes it much more “possible” in our human condition, though still a challenge!  

 

Lord, Your love and grace promote freedom through forgiveness and mercy!  Fill me with the Spirit of Grace to allow true peace to overcome the anger/frustration that is inevitably a part of this human condition! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2016


When we feel hurt or slighted, it seems to be human nature to want to retaliate. And in that retaliation, we have a tendency to want more than a “pound of flesh”, even if that was all that what was taken from us. That is the challenge when we are in that mind-set. Who is the judge of what is “just” retaliation?  Do both “sides” of the situation agree on what is “just” retribution?  

 

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus discusses the concept of revenge or “just reward”, if you will, but does so in two phases: 1) He points out the “good intentions” of the Old Testament system (eye for eye; tooth for tooth (Ref:  Leviticus 24:20). 2) He goes on, though with a novel and controversial concept that, rather than respond with vengeance, we should respond with a new law—one of Grace and Love.  

 

Regarding retaliation, He says in Matthew 5:38-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ but I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”  

 

How do we fare in today’s world with this direction? In a world where we are “slicing and dicing” humanity into uncountable segments of “protected groups”, how do we ensure one man’s dignity is observed, while not “offending” the man next to him? 

 

Lord, give us the wisdom to seek Your Grace and Love, honoring the dignity of each man, as You made us! Give us the courage and strength to “turn the other cheek”  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 2016


We are back in Ordinary Time. We are to walk in the light carrying the torch of faith setting a fire of love on the earth. Today we are faced with David, the favored King of Israel who we see in today's Gospel as a sinner. Can we grasp it all as we see David committing adultery with the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba, and subsequently instructing his Commander to place him in harm's way that he may be killed? Thou shalt not kill! David sins and pleads for God's mercy and we are assured that God in His MERCY does forgive, not only David but also you and I.

 

There are enough indications in the Jewish Scriptures to indicate David's love for the Lord. Not only David, but in the Gospel Luke tells the story of the woman who repents of her sins and washes the feet of Jesus, anointing them and drying His feet with her hair. We sit in meditation and allow the scene to unfold as we hear the host comment on this action, and we hear Jesus point out to him his failure to welcome Him properly while this woman, this sinner, has expressed great love by her actions. We are then left to ponder what comes first to love? To be forgiven and then express love? To trust enough to admit our sinfulness and plead for mercy?

 

We do know that whatever we have done, God in His amazing love for humanity sent His Son to reveal that love, emptied of His divinity, He accepted a role as a man, He accepted not only life but also death and God raised Him in glory. In Him, united to Him, we offer God the atonement of our sins. Jesus becomes the scapegoat for all humanity and opens the gateway to our sharing in the very life of God for all eternity. How difficult it is for us so often to grasp this message. 

 

What to do? Learn to LOVE! Each day unfolds for each of us in ways that offer us in so many simple ways the opportunity to be love. Can we become aware of this? In baptism you became a child of God. Indeed! Walk as a child of the light! Keep the flame of faith alive in your heart.  See in every moment of your life, the very presence of God. 


His will? 

His Love. 

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2016 


“Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.  Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no”. Anything more is from the evil one.’” Matthew 5:33-37  

 

These are powerful words that bring home two points:  1) Everything is of God and comes from God; and, 2) To offer anything less than total praise and recognition of this is to deny Him and recognize evil. Jesus calls us to truthfully demonstrate allegiance to the Father in our word and deed—honoring our vow to Him through all our works. He warns us that we are not to swear by Heaven or earth, as these are God’s. Nor are we to swear by our vey selves/each other, as we, too, are His creation, NOT OUR OWN. This passage brings to mind, again, all of the self-promoting hype in today’s society—trying to promote the idea that “we are we want to be of feel we want to be” rather than “we are who God made us to be”. He calls us to be convicted in our commitment to Him. Verse 37 calls us to firmly answer “Yes” to that call and to firmly reject anything that is not of God by saying, “No”. 

 

To waver from this is to consider evil’s temptation. Are we answering our call, individually and collectively, to step up in today’s world and allow our “yes” to God to be seen and our “no” (to anything not of God) to be apparent. Why do we find it hard to meet and speak His truth? May we speak honest words and His truth ultimately set us free!  (Ref Job 6:25 and John 8:32).  

 

Lord, give us the strength to stand firm and proclaim Your Word and Truth to all in this world. May we stand firm in/as what You have created us to be.  

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016 


We are each day at present offered Gospel periscopes from the Sermon on the Mount. Today we listen to Jesus’ words as He speaks about adultery. In the current moral climate we live in, Jesus’ words are very apropos. After stating adultery is sinful, He uses strong language to warn us about sin. If the eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. If a member, our hand, causes us to sin, cut it off.  

 

What is your reaction to this? Looking at a woman with lust, as an object, a thing that can be a source of pleasure and cast aside? Or perhaps we can extend this thinking to the woman who uses men and regards them solely as objects to be used to gratify selfish desires. Certainly as we experience life in our present time, we cannot deny that permanence in the Sacrament of marriage, too often, does not occur. Divorce is a reality in Catholic venues, even though the Church teaches divorce does not exist, rather one must prove in failed unions that a marriage never existed. 

 

This certainly is difficult for many to understand. So many after having attempted marriage and failed seek to marry again, sometimes ignoring the church. They perhaps at times enter Christian communities, or no longer consider being part of any Church home. Some remain in the Catholic Church and ignore the message of the Gospel reflected in the Church's teaching and discipline and live according to their own lights.  

 

The need is great in our Catholic families to live the faith. As husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, we have the vocation, the call. We do this as we receive from God the gift of creating life and accepting His children in love and by our lives leading them to faith. Leading them to a life of prayer that enables them to discern the will of God in their lives. As parents, we are to imitate God in the virtues of love, mercy, justice and how can we accomplish this without prayer and the support of a loving community? 

 

As we reflect on this Gospel may we make time to be in God's presence and reflect honestly on how well we give glory and honor and praise to the Creator. Perhaps we are rather caught up with created things and our own hedonistic pursuits.   

Jesus may we love as you loved and as you love! 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2016 


In reading Matthew 5:20-26, many emotions can run through us, as Christians who strive to understand what it means to love God, live an upright life and to respect and affirm the dignity of each whom we encounter. In a secular world that promotes materialism, hedonism and a prevailing “I’m OK, You’re OK” attitude of anything goes, this passage can create serious confusion in the minds of anyone striving to achieve what Jesus proclaims.  

 

Our hearts are called to be receptive to the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is The Word, yet we are called to love ALL of our brothers in a Christ-like fashion. We are called to be reconciled with our brother, first, before honoring God. The phrase that comes to mind, is one that I heard my parents say a few times and am sure I said it to my children, “This hurts me more than it hurts you!” 

 

As children we, most likely, do not understand what this means, but as we grow in wisdom, we understand that, in love, we are called to be examples of and to help guide others in their walks. Our parents could have easily looked the other way and not been upset with us or corrected us. But that would have been to deny God’s desire for them to be good stewards of the children entrusted to them. Good parents do this lovingly and sometimes the pain of correction (and, ultimately, forgiveness) is overwhelming.  

 

So it is with this passage, it must be out of love that we do two things: ensure that we stand firm in faith and in our example of that faith; love our brothers enough to praise, admonish, and ultimately, love even in spite of each other’s sins. These, for all of us, make up the challenge to love each other unconditionally.  

 

Lord, may we, as Christians, be beacons of faith through our word and deed, in this life. May we accept the challenges of our own human condition, with the ultimate goal of turning to You, striving for the same through our love of our brothers, helping them turn to You, in their word and deed, as well. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 2016 


Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   Matthew 5:19  

 

In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus assures us that He is proclaiming the Good News—a good news that brings peace and fulfilment if we simply heed His words. He tells us that He has not come to abolish the law of the prophets, rather, He has come to fulfill it—to complete it! His teachings are not some “abstract” concept, rather, they are filled with a wisdom from which we are to receive guidance. Jesus was and is, perhaps, speaking to the idea that people find God’s commandments to be demanding and, by some of our behaviors, “unreasonable”? In fact, though, we must build on the understanding that God’s love and mercy are rooted in this guidance—His precepts are designed to prevent us from going astray.  

 

As we consider our obligations as parents of or adult examples to children untrusted to us, we realize that in that role we must create rules and boundaries in order to get a child to move in the direction of right and good. Is God’s role and desire for us not the same? He has an end result in mind for each of us: eternity in Heaven with Him. A good parent, teacher, or other adult role model does not make rules, regulations, or other expectations unless they deem these to be for the advancement and good of the child. God, therefore, has not designed anything that we cannot and will not benefit from in His Word! As Christians, therefore, we are called to both teach and exemplify His commandments, living by His commands to the “nth degree”.  

 

Lord, may my example be pleasing to You and be one that draws others to You. May my efforts both teach and meet Your precepts so I may enter heaven! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2016 


Matthew 5:13-16 

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

 

Yesterday’s gospel we heard the beatitudes as part of the Sermon on the Mount. 

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Hearing this beatitude and the others can do us only so much good. Like one of our favorite songs we hear, it can do us only so much good to lift our spirits for only so long. With the song in our hearts, we must do something with it—dance, sing, play, feel better about the life around us, if only for a little while. 

 

Much like with the beatitudes, we must do something with them as the results can and should be seen in our lives. As others have said before, would there be enough evidence in the actions in our lives to convince them that not only that we do good things but that we are good people as Christians, as Catholics? 

 

That is the true measure of our faith as Jesus reminds us from today’s gospel that we are the salt of the earth. Not only are we His disciples in what we do for Him, we have to be His disciples in what we proclaim for Him. And how then do we proclaim Him in our lives? How evident do our actions show our faith? 

 

And what sort of impact does that proclamation have? Are we putting ourselves in a position to do what God calls us to do? Are we being who He calls us to be? Are our lights under a bushel basket? Or are they on the lampstand, so that our light may shine for others? 

 

As we are reminded from the beatitude, what are we doing for righteousness—for decency and justice? Tomorrow’s gospel Jesus tells us that He has not come to abolish the law but to complete them. To offer it another way, He wants for us to get out of the laws what God has given us in the commandments, to see the goodness in them, not the restraints we may see in them. 

 

There is freedom in His law, His love. 

There is freedom in the light that He wants for us all to live in with Him and for Him as we follow His will, His way. 



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2016 


Suffering is something we, in our human condition, seek to avoid. Yet as Christians we are pointed to the fact that suffering may very well be part of the Cross we bear, with Christ. Thus, suffering is a “mystery” within the Truth of Eternal Life. While it is not our human nature to seek suffering, it must be our Christian Nature to seek to understand suffering—especially in striving to seek God’s presence in the midst of suffering.  

 

In Matthew 5:2-10, Jesus shares His deep love for us through sharing the Beatitudes. The word beatitude means “supreme blessedness” - so, as Jesus shares these conditions that cause us to be among God’s blessed, we must understand that, that through accepting these sufferings willingly and, more importantly, with the understanding that God is helping us through these sufferings. The conditions of supreme blessedness that Jesus highlights in this account are:  the “poor in spirit” (humility); the “gentle”; the “mourning”; the “hungry/thirsty”; the “merciful”; the “pure in heart”; the “peacemakers”; the “persecuted”.  

 

The rewards of accepting these as gifts from God (and opportunities to rely on God’s strength), are 1)  eternal Life; 2)  comfort; 3)  fullness of life—quelling of hunger and quenching of thirst; 4)  God’s Mercy; 5)  experiencing/seeing God; 6)  God’s (ultimate) goodness recognized in/through this life and eternal life for those who follow Him.  

 

This sermon shows us that God sees and is part of everything in our lives! He will not leave behind anyone who accepts the conditions of this life, in His Name and for His Name. This includes giving Him Glory in all we do, whether in times of trial or times of perceived success.  

 

Lord, even in suffering we can experience true joy through humble and pure worship and acceptance of You! Help us to see you in all of the experiences of our lives and accept all we have, are and experience in Your Name!  J.O.Y. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JUNE 5, 2016


Luke 7:11-17 shows the ultimate in the extent of Jesus’ compassion for us.  “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ “ 


In this account, Jesus had come across a funeral procession in which He found the mother of an only child weeping.  He was moved with pity for her. He commanded the man to rise, at which time he did. The crowd was fearful and amazed at the same time. Is this not how we are to approach God and all that He is? With reverent fear and amazement? We cannot comprehend the power of God in our day to day lives, due to limitations of our human condition. But what we can and are called to do is to seek Him and strive to understand all that we can, so as to be prepared to enter into the eternal reward that is Heaven—life forever in and with God. 


In our human condition, we experience grief at the loss of people from this life. To grieve is to show our humanness—humanity requires love and care and the grief we feel at the loss of someone we love and care about is natural to us.  As we read such examples of Jesus’ compassion, as we find in Luke 7:11-17, let us contemplate the fullness of God’s mercy in our lives and, as faith requires, that is awaiting us at the end of our earthly journey. 


Do we allow Jesus the opportunity, in our lives, to truly sense AND respond to our needs? Do we take the time to let Him? Doing so requires a willingness to be open to His merciful presence. Doing so requires that we are vulnerable to HIM. Finally, as we contemplate Jesus compassion to the widow, let us contemplate our own compassion towards each other? After all, in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus did tell us that God would show each of us the same mercy we show to each other, here on this earth. So, as we consider evidence of God’s mercy, let us look to each other and the presence we are to each other.  


Lord, help me to be an example of Your Compassion to others, as You work through me in word/deed.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2016


In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus shares a parable about how the shepherd will leave the flock, gathered and safe, to go out and search for the one stray who has wandered from the fold. This analogy demonstrates God’s all-encompassing love for us and helps us imagine the joy He encounters when that one sheep is found and turns back to home, joining the flock. Being a parent gives us one of our greatest opportunities to share and experience love! In Luke 2:41-52, we see such an example. This is the passage in which Mary and Joseph take Jesus to Jerusalem for the annual Passover Celebration. 

 

Upon leaving, they join the caravan out of Jerusalem. They soon realize that Jesus is not with them or with any of their friends and relatives in the caravan. Frantically, for sure, they return to Jerusalem to find him. Three days later they found him in the temple listening to and interacting with the teachers. Mary, surely relieved and angry at the same time (as all parents experience) asked him, “Why have you done this?” and shared her “worry” with him. 

 

As parents, Mary and Joseph had a serious role to fill (as we all do).  Verse 49 tells us that Jesus responded, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” They, at the time did not understand Him (v 49).  This could, very well, mean that they, as loving parents, gathered him up, scolded him and, perhaps, even punished him with grounding or spanking. What we do know, though, is that Jesus went with them and was obedient to them. 

 

True love, as parents, requires firm and loving direction and, as children, obedience to the firm loving direction. Finally, says Mary treasured these things His Words in her heart and Jesus increased in wisdom, in years, and in both human and divine favor.  

 

Lord, may we, as did Mary, treasure our children and, of course, all of Your children in our minds and hearts, offering firm and loving guidance to and through You, as our Father! May we, in turn, be obedient to Your Will for mankind! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDA!


The day came and went with some of the usual celebratory fashions for a joyous day as we celebrated her birthday. But there is more to my wife than the 'usual'. 

Way more.

 

For those of you that know her, you know how blessed I am to have such a woman in my life to share the love and faith God has given her to give to us, to give to me.

This all comes out of the heart and soul that makes up her spirit. Her faithfulness, her confidence, her will--all reveal the true meaning and depth of what God means in love for woman and man. Her radiant beauty, her persevering strength, her gentle and tender humility serve not only our home and our family but go well beyond the borders and reach those who she knows as friends and those she knows who could use a friend. Indeed, a servant as Christ calls us to serve.

 

Psalm 16 beautifully reads that God has put in our hearts a 'marvelous love'. There is none more marvelous than the love found in Linda's heart, her giving, her compassion. We would--I would--do well to better emulate such a practice.

The psalm also goes on to read that 'my heart rejoices, my soul is glad'. As God makes our hearts and souls glad with His grace, He also does so with the love of those He brings us with those in our lives. My heart does rejoice for the love He has given me in her and my soul will always be glad for what He has made in her. Some of His best work is made evident in her.

 

For this birthday and all that you have had and all that He may bless you with, I love you. May this be your prayer for all that He has given you and us now and forever.

 

May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness.

May He preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body, irreproachable at the coming of the Lord. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

 

Happy Birthday Linda-

I love you-

me




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON!


Mark 12:28-34 finds Jesus answering the question, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” This, of course, was another attempt to trip Jesus up and find something with which to indict Him. As usual, Jesus answer is clear, pointed and unquestionable. “The first, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart...soul...mind...strength. The second...You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

In reading this, one of the things that comes to mind is how we demonstrate our love for God and for each other. Is this not a clear statement to us that we must, TOGETHER, share our common love for God both in worship of Him and in our support of each other in that same worship? I often cringe when I hear statements such as, “I don’t go to church because it is filled with hypocrites.” Or, “God does not care where I sit on Sunday.”  Or, “I worship in solitude or in the beauty of nature.” In light of the commandments that we must love God with our entire being AND love one another in the way we treat each other (striving for the example of God’s love), are we not called to share our love for God and each other?  And, in turn, what better place than in “group worship”?  

 

The scribe who asked responded that to love God and share that love with each other is much more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices which are very individual and circumstantial. Jesus commended him for this response, saying, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” How far are we from the kingdom of God in our daily example of loving God with our entire being? Through our example to and with each other?  

 

Lord, may our worship and daily living be a model, to all, as to how we are develop our relationship with You.  May we live so as to bring others to you, so we may be inseparable from you, in Christian Unity, on earth and for eternity. May we grow, together, in love for You and each other! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2016 


How do we envision heaven? How do we envision our “homecoming” when we consider the resurrection of the body that is promised us by God and shown (won) for us by Jesus’ sacrifice? 

 

In reading Mark 12:18-25, we find the Sadducees questioning the very promise and concept of resurrection of the Body. They could not allow themselves to conceive of heaven beyond the limits and constraints of human vision. How often do we find ourselves, in this world questioning “what heaven will be like”? We know there are many books written about near death experiences and glimpses that people have had of heaven. We, as Christians, have faith that heaven is our eternal reward if we but follow God’s laws and desires—carrying the cross of Jesus as the ultimate example of God. But, to understand heaven, as Jesus explained it to the Sadducees, who tried to trick him with a question as to “whose wife will a widow be, in heaven, if she marries each of seven brothers who pass away, with the next one marrying her, as prescribed by law”, we must remember the Sadducees were limited by their lack of believe in immortal beings—they were literally grounded in earthly image of heaven.  

 

Jesus, however, points out that God is God of the Living—Exodus 3:6—God refers to himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who had long left the earthly realm. David, in the Psalms, sings of the reality of immortal life with God.  Ultimately, our understanding of love is limited by our human condition, but in heaven, we will experience true unconditional and encompassing love beyond our imagination.  

 

Lord, John tells us that You ARE Love.  May we strive to love as You have taught us, here on earth, in the faith and hope of resurrection to eternal happiness and glory with You! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.