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

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Offer It Up! Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Maybe those disciples that chose not to stay the course with Jesus stayed close enough to keep an eye on the tomb. Even though they had not the courage to stand by Him and with Him as He was scourged, as He carried the cross, as He was nailed to it and died on it, something kept them close by. Maybe they had something within them, beyond perhaps a morbid curiosity, that kept them hoping that what He had told them could in fact, happen.

He would rise from the dead.

Why would they not be curious? After being with Him for so long, they had to have some sense of unity and compassion. And if they had truly believed what He told them up to that point, why then would they not believe Him about this? Fear. Fear of being found out. Having to actually share in the suffering as His partners in crime.

But that all changed when the stone was rolled away. The fear was changed to belief and confidence upon hearing about and seeing the empty tomb. Like Jesus, they would soon be offering their lives in sacrifice for what they believed.

As the disciples changed, so too can we, wherever we are as we look at the empty tomb. From Ash Wednesday through the Lenten Season, through Holy Week and now Easter Sunday and the beginning of the Easter Octave, we are given an opportunity see and live for transformation. For those newly baptized coming into the Church, for those receiving the sacraments, for those who step by step have come closer to the Body of Christ, there is even greater joy for us all to share and proclaim: Jesus Christ is risen today.



Offer It Up! Holy Saturday, March 30, 2013

Our Catholic identity is a work in progress. That is what the woman said today. Along that thought, our faithfulness, our holiness, our spirituality is all a work in progress, put in the providence and the will of God. We do so when we choose to follow what He gives us, not what we choose as our own. Today, Holy Saturday, would be a day for us to further our understanding of who we are as we move forward in our journey.

The tomb is stilled closed. The wonder and the questions remain. There are doubts. And always will be. Just as we will always be sinful but we will always find ways to come back to the grace of God. Being made in His image, we are His creation and with that, He has given us life on earth and the gift of eternal life should we so desire.

When the stone is rolled away, the doubts may be fewer and the wonder will be changed to awe. We will find even more that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and that we will have it in abundance. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.



Offer It Up! Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

With free will, we choose to live with the gifts we’ve been given or we choose to go the other way—the way the world would have us go.

Sometimes living our faith, sometimes not.

This Lenten season, maybe it was something we gave up or added to our list and two or three weeks into our sacrifice, what’s a piece of chocolate or three or maybe we had a burger on a Friday and shrugged it off. No big deal we say.

No big deal to our faith, to what we believe.

We make excuses because we want a way out. A way out from the challenges that the Church calls us to follow. The Church that Jesus made the Way for. A way that there is no middle ground to tread—we are with Him or we are not. It is being prudent as a way of life, not as a matter of choice, choosing right from wrong every time. For if we choose to fight for good, there is less chance for evil to survive.

But it is no big deal we say.

No big deal to our faith, to what we believe.

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

The good thief, as if we could say such, spent his last bit of time on earth, defending Jesus. Maybe at that point in his life, he had no other choice. Maybe he thought he had nothing to lose. A conversion? Most likely. Whatever his thought process, Jesus took him with Him to paradise.

It is enough for us to ask for our own forgiveness from Jesus when we find ourselves seeking a bit of ‘foxhole’ religion and conversion. But for the good thief and Jesus, as they were both on their crosses, both in pain, each accepting the other’s condition-one saw the light and the other was taking him to it. We are that good thief when we sin, when we steal from the goodness we’ve been given. Yet there is Jesus, on the cross, accepting us—the broken, the unworthy, the sinful—with an open heart and open arms, taking our open and humble hearts to Him.

Woman, behold your son. Behold, your mother.

I found out that the last recorded words in the Gospel from Mary were: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ As we recall, she and Jesus and the disciples were at the wedding feast in Cana and the guests had no more wine.

It may have sounded and even beensimple then for Jesus to have the jars filled and the water changed to fine wine, yet think of all that is involved with ‘doing whatever He tells you’ today.

He tells us to love one another… we find it hard to get along with our spouses and family.

He tells us to feed the hungry… we have to make sure we get our three squares in a day, not counting our snacks in between.

He tells us to clothe the naked… we gotta have the latest and greatest fashions, even if it’s a size too small.

He tells us to live at peace with everyone… we can’t even get along with ourselves half the time, let alone those around us.

He tells us that the last shall be first… well, maybe right after we get done with what we have to do then they can go…

Doing whatever Jesus tells us is not always going to be easy but it will be worth it always. Let us not stay locked in our embarrassment, in our guilt and sin and emptiness. Let us do as Jesus tells us… ‘Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me

I’ve seen those types of people who at one time or another have been so joyful they are flat-out annoying. So joyful, so filled with ‘something’ that if one didn’t know better one would have to imagine the individual might be on some sort of ‘mood enhancer’ or just might be on the ‘simple’ side of the testing scales. Always smiling, always with pep in their step. For those that know them, there is a cause for their purposeful posture. As my mother would say, ‘Walking, talking and praising the Lord. What else is there?’

There is no absence of God in their lives. At least not at the present moment. When Jesus asked God why He had been forsaken, why this cup had come to Him, there was no answer. There was the stillness and silence of the garden. Even his disciples slept in the subtle calm before the rage. Alone.

Alone. We’ve been there. Could be there right now. May not even know we are. As Jesus was forsaken, we are in that same sense when God seems so very far away. Prays go up. No answer comes down. Our faith seems weak or even non-existent. Compared to some, at least we have a little to rely on. We start looking at the world and ask ourselves if that way would be better… where is God when I need Him most?

Eventually. Pretty much a horrible word at the time but with faith and prayer, presence and perseverance, the storm will pass. God hears us. He heard Jesus. He wants His will to be ours, not ours to be His. That is the path to our salvation. A bit of suffering here, a bit of joyfulness here… a bit more joyfulness here. Pretty soon, we will get the message. And soon after that, it could be you that people will be talking about when they say ‘Look how happy that person is over there… I wonder if they’re on something?’

I Thirst.

He thirsted and suffered. As He did, He did so for us. For our faith. For our relationship with Him. So that we would not have to thirst again. From the woman at the well who left her jar to tell others about Jesus. To this point on the cross where He thirsts for us, let us seek to have the same passion and compassion as Jesus had and has. Let us learn not just from His words but from His actions so that we too may experience and encounter the fullness of God’s Love.

Thirst for His love.

Thirst for redemption.

Thirst for His grace.

Thirst to share in the Eucharist.

Thirst for all that He has for you, for us.

Thirst for the water of eternal life.

It is finished.

A question was asked once:

How often do we fail to let God be God, and ourselves to be merely human?

When the doctor’s report comes back and it is not good news, it takes faith.

When the phone rings late at night and the family member shares his or her pain, it takes faith.

When the business or company makes ‘other plans’ and wishes you well with two weeks’ pay, it takes faith.

To be human, it takes faith to let it go and turn our trust and control over to God. It takes monumental faith to do so in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds as mentioned before. Yet, when Jesus said ‘It is finished’, He said so with faith. Put our ego and self out of the way and humbly present our weak and empty self to Him, submitting our will and our heart to Him. Not as our will be done but His.

As humans, all we have is given to us. All we need to know about what we need to know we have learned from Jesus. Knowing it is one thing. Putting it into practice is another. That would be called our mission. That is where our faith and God’s will come in. To be still and know that He is God. It takes faith. And trust. Jesus showed us how. In His human life and His divinity, He can bring us closer to Him.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

The end.

Darkness throughout.

Earth quakes.

Temples rocked.

The Holy of Holies curtain torn in two.

If we have learned anything, we have learned trust. Complete trust in God. In Him that the darkness will be light. Through Him, the earth will be still. For Him, the temples restored and the curtains are as one.

And because He willed it, His Son will come again.

Through all of this, eternal life for us all.

A new beginning.



Offer It Up! Holy Thursday, March 28, 2013
Happy Birthday Mary Clare and Danielle!

John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

‘He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.’

Jesus knew and had known His hour had come. This is how much He loved those He had called to follow Him. Even those who were ‘not clean’, He was there to wash their feet. Their Lord, their Master, at their feet.

‘Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.’
Maybe Peter was the one to speak his thoughts as he wanted his ‘hands and head’ washed too once Jesus replied that their very salvation depended on their cleansing. A baptism? A washing-away? Indeed, He was bringing them closer to Him.

‘Do you realize what I have done for you?’

Jesus set the stage, setting an example of what His disciples were to do.

To serve rather than to be served.

Servant-hood through humility and selflessness.

Salvation not only for ourselves but more importantly for the sake of others.

To do this in memory of Him, with the Eucharist, with the grace and mercy of His Father and with the power and majesty we find in our faith as we place our trust in Him.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Matthew 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘“The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

What is or are your thirty pieces of silver? How is it that you have handed over Jesus the Christ—betrayed Him—just as Judas did?

Was it punching the snooze button or turning off the alarm to catch up on those precious zzz’s on Sunday instead of celebrating mass? Or was it playing those eighteen holes of golf that you betrayed Him with? Maybe it was the soccer tournament that took precedent and you handed Him over for a soccer ball. Athletics over the Eucharistic seems to be a trend these days but there are those that will couch it and rationalize it as ‘family’ time. Or maybe you just chose not to go… as if that was really going to do some sort of great ‘harm’ to Jesus.

It could be that you are nowhere near such a state of silver trading. Yet we are all at some point along that thin line of choosing to turn Him over to be crucified each time we sell ourselves out for the world. For those times when we were making it all about us and not those in need or when we were in such a state of anger or even hatred for those who had what we wanted or had wronged us. For the times when we went the other way instead of helping someone out or made an excuse to gossip or lie or even take out revenge on another.

As many the choices we have had, we have always another, one more: to come back with contrite hearts, sorrowful and penitent, humbly seeking His forgiveness. No matter the darkness of the sin, no matter pain. He will take us back. Let us pray that we all remain humble enough to accept His love and forgiveness and know that His love and mercy will never end.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 26, 2013

John 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

Weakness. Betrayal. Death. Dying.

The word is out. As if they needed any more clarification, Jesus made it perfectly clear; He was to be betrayed and one among them was to hand Him over. One among the twelve. Those closest to Him. A cohort. An associate. A friend.

Scripture notes that ‘night had fallen.’ No doubt that darkness had entered deeper into Judas. No doubt that the pending death of Jesus Christ was coming ever closer to casting darkness over the entire world. No doubt that even Peter would suffer his own darkness as he denied Jesus—yet another betrayal—three times before the cock crowed.

Yet with all the darkness, we now know there was and will be light. As Jesus died in darkness, He rose in light and triumph over death and sin. For the disciples, for them and for us. For all of us who have betrayed Him and others—our co-workers, our associates, our friends, our families—Jesus came back in glory to save us from those sins. We have all come to know the eternal mercy of His forgiveness. It is up to us to humbly put ourselves at His mercy and receive His grace and ask for His timely help and forgiveness.



Offer It Up! Monday, March 25, 2013

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

The Greek definition for martyr would be that one could and would be a witness. Reading a recent reflection site, the writer questioned whether or not our witnessing—to the truth, love and power of Christ—would be enough for any of us to stand beside Him on the cross as He was crucified? Would we be as the disciples were and be hard to find, if not be identified, as one of those who follow Him?

This is Holy Week. The holiest of weeks for the Church. It should be the holiest of weeks for those in the Church and those who want to be in the Church. If there were a time to put ourselves by the cross and stand as witness—and martyr—for Christ, this would be as good as any time to start, if not restart.

Will you be the witness like Mary and anoint His feet with the most precious of oils? Will you be like Lazarus and be there with Him in the house and stay with Him because Jesus was there for him, bringing him back to life? And Martha—will your witness be like hers, continuing to serve and feed Jesus and those there in His company? Or lastly, is it a witness where you find yourself ‘holding the bag’?

Let your faith and your hope and love be active as Holy Week begins. Take part in what you can, not just in what the Church offers but in what Jesus gives you. As Mary, as Martha and as Lazarus were there with Jesus, so can we be with Him when we give and serve—and suffer—for Him and for others.



Offer It Up! Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Philippians 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Fully human. Fully divine.

Jesus was both. Yet He lived most fully human and suffered most fully human at the cost of His life. For us. For all the times we are reminded, we are asked, we are called to suffer as He suffered, we must also know that suffering, in and of itself, is not the ‘good’ part. Like Jesus, as He suffered, He also responded to His suffering. The good from our suffering comes from how we respond as well. And since we are not divine in nature, our next best step would be toward holiness.

If we were to stay in the suffering, in the pain and not learn or grow from it, what good would there be? What good would Jesus’ death on the cross have served had He not brought us His message, His Good News of love, of faith, of hope and forgiveness? That was His mission as He followed His Father’s will to save us by putting Himself on the cross. With His unconditional love, He followed His Father's will.

Where are we on our love, our mission, our own journey toward salvation? Jesus did not resist—He certainly could have. Yet He carried out His mission with love for our salvation. So why is it that we do what we do? With the gift of free will, we can choose to witness to what God has willed for us or play along with what the world would have us choose. Opting for the will of God will not necessarily be the easiest choice but it will certainly be the one most worthy of our salvation as we make the decision to love as God loves us. Unconditionally, without reservation and abundantly. He will never love us any other way. We would do quite well if we were to do the same for Him, for others and ourselves.



Offer It Up! Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ezekiel 37:26-28

I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

It’s those unassuming, far-off, gray clouds that will sometimes bring about the gloom and dark and storms that we are ‘unprepared’ for. No umbrellas from the rain, no place for cover when the hail comes down. One just has to do what they can to get through it as best they can—getting soaked in the process, if not suffer a few dings and dents before the sun shines again.

And when will the sun shine again, we wonder. How long will this tempest last? Just as Ezekiel told those in Babylon not to lose hope, so are we to hold fast to our faith and hope in our God, the same God of Ezekiel. Our God who made that covenant with them who also made one with us. One who had a ‘glorious future for them’ has one also in store for us, in storms or in peace.

God was them then as He is with us now. From the time of Ezekiel, He has now given us His Son to further help us. How we survive, how we live, how we follow Him depends in very large part on how we trust in His plan for us, even in the storms. We cannot do it alone.



Offer It Up! Friday, March 22, 2013

THE FAMILY PRAYER OF SAN ANTONIO CHURCH

At BLACK LAKE, NEW MEXICO

God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

You created us in Love and gave us to a family

to be loved by, and to love.

Bring us closer to each other so that there can be more caring

and sharing, more healing and helping, more loving and giving.

Help us to realize anew each day that we belong—

that we belong to a family whether it is large or small, young or old,

good or bad, whole or fragmented, just beginning or complete,

together or in part, happy or sad, close or distant.

You have said that whenever we are gathered in Your name

You would be present. We are gathered in spirit in Your Holy Name.

Bless us and help us always pray for each other in love.

God, I pray now for my family and for all families of the earth.

Bring us closer to You and to each other

in love, strength, courage and forgiveness.

Give us love and understanding;

give us an ever deeper encounter with You and each other

in prayer and presence; give us the gift of praying together—

in spirit, at least, if not physically;

give us a tremendous sense of our vocation and mission

to bring You to our everyday world, both as individuals and as a family;

and give us the gift of commitment to You along with others

in the building of a God-centered family and society.

Through our family prayer, in whatever form it takes,

let us enter into a covenant with You

that will bring about an attitude that will draw us into a closer union

with You and into love and service for and of each other.

Let us turn to You always so that our families may know

the fullness of Your peace. Amen.



Offer It Up! Thursday, March 21, 2013

John 8:51-55

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word.

It is quite evident the Pharisees were having nothing to do with what Jesus was telling them. They not only could not grasp the thought of ‘never seeing death’, they were equally dismayed as He spoke of being ‘I AM.’ It was against what they had come to believe; to them, it was blasphemy. They were taking up stones to throw at Him.

How is it that our own closed-mindedness keeps us from seeing what He has for us in our own relationship with Jesus Christ? As He spoke with the Pharisees and told them about Abraham, about His Father, about keeping His Word, He could have been speaking to us. He could have been telling us of our own relationship waiting to happen. How we could be open to hearing the Good News not only with Him but with others who share in His faith and life. These are relationships that last forever.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Happy Birthday Margie!

John 8:31-32

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Know Truth and know freedom.

That is pretty what we are told by Jesus Christ. Yet how many of us actually make that our choice each day? In other pages of scripture, Jesus lets us know that we are either with or against Him, sheep or goats, hot or cold. We are not to be lukewarm or tepid. There are no two ways of living in Him.

Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe that’s what gives us the unrest we experience when we find ourselves feeling less than what we have come to know, living more in the secular world than in the way God has planned for us. Maybe it’s a grudge we’re holding onto. Maybe it’s something we cannot forgive ourselves for. Maybe it’s someone who has done us harm and we won’t let that go. Where is the freedom of living in the Truth of Christ in any of that?

The freedom and the love come from submitting to what we believe: to the Way, the Truth, to the Life of Christ. One does not live in freedom only by word but must put themselves to the test of His Word and live by it. We live in that freedom by letting those things go, by living as He showed us, as difficult as it is or might appear to be. We must reflect and show how we profess who we are as children of God. That is testimony and testament to knowing, following and loving Jesus Christ. That is Truth that sets us free.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 2:46-51a

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.

When given the choice, like everyday, how do we respond to obey God’s call? We may not have the angels and the visits like Joseph had so clearly but we are all certainly led to do the most we can with what we have been given to do His will just as Joseph did.

So the question remains: how open are we then to live in the providence of God’s will for us? Day to day, we must choose in prayer and in discernment the mission He calls us to. Our careers, our vocations, our families, our friends, they all are part of where He takes us as we submit to what He would have us do and be.

St. Joseph lived such a life. Just as it was not so ‘spectacular’ as he stayed so much in the background, how was he to know at the time what his life would mean to the world? In the same way, our lives may have such an impact. As Joseph sought the will of God, may we too seek our paths and lead others along the path to salvation.

From Pope Francis

His Angelus Address on Sunday, March 17, 2013

On Forgiveness

Brothers and sisters, hello!

After the first meeting last Wednesday, today I can again offer my greeting to everyone! And I am glad to do it on Sunday, the Lord's day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: coming together on Sunday, greeting each other, talking with each other like we are doing now here in the piazza; a piazza that, thanks to the media, has the dimensions of the world. On this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. John 8:1-11), who Jesus saves from the death sentence.

Jesus attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more! (8:11). Well, brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, who always has patience. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not weary of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. Great is the mercy of the Lord, the Psalm says.

These last several days I have been able to read a book by a cardinal, Cardinal Kasper, a smart theologian, a good theologian on mercy. And it did me much good that book, but dont think that I am advertising the books of my cardinals! It is not that way! But it did me much good, much good... Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy, this word changes everything. It is the best word we can hear: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to rightly understand this mercy of God, this merciful Father, who has a lot of patience ... Let us remember the prophet Isaiah, who says that even if our sins are bright red, God's mercy can make them white as snow. Mercy is beautiful!

I remember, when I had just become a bishop, in the year 1992, Our Lady of Fatima had just arrived in Buenos Aires and there was a big Mass for the sick. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. And near the end of the Mass I got up, because I had to administer holy oil.

An old lady came to me, a humble lady, very humble, over 80 years old; I looked at her and I said to her: Grandma, because in our country this is what we call old people: 'Grandma do you want to go to confession?' 'Yes,' she said to me. But if you haven’t sinned..., [I said]. And she said to me: We have all sinned... . 'But maybe the Lord does not forgive them'... [I replied].

The Lord forgives everything, she told me, certain of what she was saying. But how do you know that, madam? If the Lord did not forgive everything, [she said], the world wouldn’t exist. I felt like asking her, Tell me, madam, did you study at the Gregorian? Because that’s the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: interior wisdom about the mercy of God.

Let us not forget this: God never wearies of forgiving us, never! So, father, what’s the problem? Well, the problem is that we grow weary, we do not want to, we tire of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but we, at times, we tire of asking forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father, who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And we too learn to be merciful with everyone. We invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man. Now let us all together pray the Angelus.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian.

I offer a cordial greeting to all the pilgrims. Thanks for your welcome and for your prayers. I ask you to pray for me. I renew my embrace of the faithful of Rome and I extend it to all of you, who come from various parts of Italy and of the world, and to those who are joining through different media. I chose the name of the Patron of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and that reinforces my spiritual bond with this land, where as you know my family has its origins. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church, this family of God, walking together along the way of the Gospel.

May the Lord bless you, may Our Lady protect you. Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving! We are the ones who weary of asking for forgiveness.

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation
.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

THE VIRTUES

1803

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8


A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God

The Cardinal Virtues

1805

Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, Wisdom's labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage." These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

1806

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. the prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.


Our Lenten journey continues as we celebrate the third scrutiny on this 5th Sunday of Lent. Next Sunday is Passion/Palm Sunday as we enter Holy Week. This is the week of the year most Sacred as we enter into the Paschal mystery of the death and rising of Our Lord Jesus. Would that everyone who can make the sacrifice and find the time would join in the ritual observance of these fearsome, awesome mysteries. The Jesus Prayer in John 17 is that we may all be one. One with Him and with the Father to see the family gathered in prayer would be such a sign of oneness.

These last days of Lent provide us an opportunity to prepare for the Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and propel us into the Holy Season of Easter and the celebration of the Resurrection. Would that each of us could experience the Joy, the wonder, of those first apostles when they experienced the Risen Christ.

In our meditations we too meet him in the locked room, risen from the tomb, marked with the signs of our sins in the scars on his body. Then, to sing alleluia throughout the seven weeks of Easter as we look forward to Pentecost and a deeper awareness of the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in each of our lives. We are aware of our new Holy Father Francis for whom we pray and pledge our obedience as the Vicar of Christ.

Dear God, Holy Spirit, guide us to the truth in all our endeavors, let love be the standard of all our dealings with one another. May we each discover the wonder of being able to evangelize in simple ways especially in our families and among our friends. When we hear your call give us grace to respond boldly with courage. Amen.

Deacon

March 13, 2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected Pope Francis I

“We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God.... not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything, to dwell lovingly in God's presence - silent, empty, expectant, and motionless."

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

As I absorbed the news of the new Pope, I was struck by the firsts. First to choose the name Francis, first Jesuit, first from the Western hemisphere. Do these firsts signal a direction for the leadership of the Church?

I personally was very moved when Pope Francis immediately prayed for Benedict and then bowed low andasked the Church to pray for him before he conferred or better asked God to bless the people.We have a Pope and on it seems who is a servant of God’s people in humility and with a spirit of prayerfulness.

This evening on seeing the quote of the day on Zenit, which is at the top of this page and which is attributed to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta I am struck with how we all are in need of learning to pray well. To withdraw at times into deeper silence and aloneness with God. As I write these words I have a deep sense of need to learn howto be silent, empty, expectant and motionless. I hear the words in my mind’s ears, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather He emptied himself…can I empty myself?

With God’s grace, perhaps I can truly empty myself, a return to the moment when God willed me into existence, that moment when the act of creation began in my Mother’s womb.Did he speak to me even then?Can I in the silence, in the emptiness, motionlessness discover anew the love with which God gave me life, and His particular will for my creatureliness? I believe God in His great love had a mission in hope I would accept, but I also believe I have not always obeyed the Father in my unloveliness. Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity, became one of us , and was totally obedient to the Father.To do the Father’s will was His eternal desire. He lived and acted always in concert with the Father. How can I imitate Him in my journey on this earth?Only if I make Him the center of my life, Awake O sleeper the Lord is ever at your side. Christ before me, beside me, behind me, above me, below me. Can I come to know His eternal embrace even now?

We are being reminded that there is need for new evangelization, and with Joy may we throw ourselves into the activity of living with God, breathing the very air of holiness.Holy Spirit come, be our guide in all activities of life, be our source of strength that we may love one another with a passion that is the fire of Christ’s love for us!

Deacon

Isaiah 49:8-11

In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to restore the land and allot the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners: come out! To those in darkness: show yourselves! Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them; for he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water. I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level.

We cry out. God hears us.

We ask for a promise. He gives us His covenant.

For the enslaved are free and the hidden come to the light. For us all, God brings us along the path He has chosen for us to follow. And as we do, we shall find His Love for us unchanging and our love for Him ever growing.

There is not a thirst He cannot quench nor a hunger He cannot sate.

John 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
Now that day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’“ They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath.

Visit any hospital, rehab facility, or any other place where you would find those in need of healing and you can put yourself right in the middle of this chapter of John’s gospel. From the crippled and lame to the blind and sick, you would find any number of them in much the same predicament as was the man whom Jesus cured. He along with so many others sat languishing in their sorrow and in their pain.

When Jesus asked him “Do you want to be well?” he responded not with a matter of fact ‘yes’ but with an explanation of why he was still where he was. For the thirty-eight years he sat there, maybe a definitive answer would have been expected. Yet for those same years, maybe he was just explaining his plight—again. Maybe he was once again letting someone else know why he was where he was and not anywhere closer to being healed. Maybe he was saying these things in hope that mercy would be shown, somehow, some way. After all, he was in the company of so many others that were just like him, all with many of the same excuses, the same ‘rationale’ for their current state of affairs.

So instead of getting into why he was still there or asking him again if he wanted to be well, Jesus cuts through the clutter and cures him. He doesn’t waste any time; “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” And the man is healed. And not only was he healed of his physical ailments, Jesus cleansed him of spiritual malady as well when he told him that he was well—go and sin no more and let nothing worse happen to you.

Our own spiritual health is at stake each time we sin. And with the stress it causes, it can lead to greater distress of our physical condition too.As Jesus did for the sick, for the lame, for the blind, He can do for us. No explanation is necessary. Just a contrite heart and a willingness to live as He taught us, bringing us into His fullness of life. Just as He asked, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ we should all look to be transformed and grow in our holiness each day.

Living water, Light, Life.

As we continue to celebrate the Holy Season of lent, we are fast approaching our time of celebration of the Triduum. We enter into those hours of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection, seeking to understand more fully the great mystery of love and mercy that opens for us the door to eternal life.

The Gospels reveal to us the wonder of Christ with us, a brilliant light for the world revealing the Father’s abiding love for all men and women, for all creation. Today as we read or listen to the Gospel and enter into the scene which is reflected so often in our own lives, we encounter Jesus who with a word heals a father's son.

Can we identify with this father whose deepest desire of the moment is that his son will be healed? Wherever Jesus is, there is life. In our midst now, living in us as temples of the Holy Spirit, coming to us in Eucharist as our very food, embracing us in prayer as we bow down in adoration, Jesus is there, Life is there, in the here and now.

How will I live this day in such a presence?

Were you there when they prepared to crucify my Lord?

Were you there when that tree was picked out—the tree—to hang Him on? Were you there when it was cut down and shaped and put together in preparation to nail Him to it? Did you see them weave the crown of thorns? Were you there when the nails were fired and tempered? Did you see the hammer that was to pound the nails through the flesh and bone of His body?

The cross, the nails, the thorns, the hammer—all were prepared to put Jesus to death. They are a part of the Crucifixion—the pain and suffering Jesus had to suffer. We are complicit in sin for picking up a nail just as much as we are for driving it into His hand. Though we try to rationalize that what we do is not as bad as pounding the nails into His hands or feet, the sin is still the sin.

We are now halfway through the Lenten journey. As Catholics, we are blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for healing, for grace and forgiveness. Decide now to reconcile with Christ. Further your resolve, your commitment and renew your devotion, not just for your Lenten obligation but for the Year of Faith and beyond. Let us find the time, if not more of it, to pray for His mercy and grow more along our path of holiness with renewed faith and trust.



Offer It Up! Saturday, March 9, 2013


Lili's Prayer...


Offer it Up!Friday, March 8, 2013

Hosea 14:2-3

Return, Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Take with you words, and return to the LORD; say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and take what is good. Let us offer the fruit of our lips."

There is no shortcut to or through the Cross, especially during Lent or any other time for that matter. To get to our salvation, just as Jesus did, we must do as He did—pick up our cross and follow Him. We do so with love, with commitment and with trust that just as Jesus knew His way, He knows ours as well.

The more we follow, the closer we get to the Kingdom of God… makes sense in not only a spiritual way but practically as well. For just as we would do more of anything one particular way, we would become more likely to be that, practice that or act in such a way. Therein is the good news of following the path God has for us.

Even though we may stray, fall and sin, we are called back to Him. Even though we may not see His light, He sees ours. And once we have realized where we are, He will forgive us with our humble and contrite hearts, receiving His mercy as we begin again our lives in grace.



Offer It Up! Thursday, March 7, 2013

Luke 11:17-20

But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges.But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Like in Luke’s gospel then, it doesn’t take much today to see that the world pretty much whitewashes or excuses away evil and sin. Give it another word like freedom of expression or freedom of speech to call someone a hurtful name or push them aside for their nationality ‘because I can.’ Call them misdeeds, missteps, poor judgments—lack of common sense—but sins are still sins. Even with all the excuses and ‘work-arounds’, evil and sin are just as prevalent, if not more so, than they have ever been.

There is also plenty of blame to go around with it. Broken homes, lack of education, drugs and addictions, psychological and behavioral conditions—they can all contribute to the wellspring of voices and blocs that would rather ignore the real issue and stick their collective heads in the sand. ‘They’ say that stuff is old and tried. ‘They’ say we want something new.

Let someone else take care of it.

Maybe if we don’t see it, pretend it’s not there, it will go away.

What difference does it make—everyone does the same thing anyway.

How disgusting that is. How revolting is it that sin has become so cliché. So cliché in fact that we would just as soon as sin as to make instead a positive difference in our life if not someone else’s… in the process, committing yet another sin. That is not who we are, not who God has called us to be.

God calls us to do His will. In the grandest scheme of things, this is not an easy task but one well worth the effort. As we commit more to do His will, we become more of who He has planned for us to be. Out some old, in with some new. How will we continue to do that—to live more according to His way, His will for us?

How willing are we to make a difference and make things new again? It is about keeping what works from the old and making it work with the new. Restoring. Renewal. Repairing and revitalizing our faith and our lives. That will keep us from whitewashing and rationalizing sin. That will keep us doing God’s will, His way. That will keep us in His Love.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Moses spoke to the people and said: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today? “However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”

Follow the instructions. That’s all we have to do.

We’ve been there before, whether we’ve been lost driving somewhere or putting something together or baking or cooking something. Somewhere along the way we decided to do something the way we wanted to do it and we ended up with a product or an end result different than what was expected.

Moses was making it clear to his people that what God had given them was far more than what other nations had as their own sets of laws and statutes. For what they had would make them a ‘great nation, truly and wise and intelligent people.’ Not just because they had the guidance of God—no, not at all. They had to do something with them. They had to follow them as they had been instructed to do. They had to learn them and live them and pass them on.

As Moses called his people to learn and live, we are to do the same with what we have been given today. God has given us His Word and His Son Jesus Christ to follow. We have The Instructions; we have The Example. So on we go, taking care not to do as we should want but to do as we have been shown and commanded. As long as we live.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Matthew 18:21-27

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

As we continue our Lenten trek, we face our lives with Christ and examine our motives and actions. So easily it is to miss the mark and fail to live as lovers of the Lord Jesus.

Today's gospel is a reminder of the generosity we are called to learn to dispense when Peter asks how often we should forgive and generously offers seven times. Perhaps we are somewhat taken aback when the Lord Jesus says 77 times. Then he relates the story of the wicked servant who having been forgiven a sizeable debt, in turn refuses to forgive a fellow servant a much lesser debt.

Forgiveness. Not so easy. Some of us have carried grudges for long periods even years… we are so blinded at times that we suffer the worse illnesses of Spirit and even in our bodies because we carry a burden of failing to forgive.

Can we not grasp the message of God's revelation in Christ of limitless love? Are we not aware of our own sins before God that have been forgiven? Perhaps that is part of the difficulty; we are not able to receive God's forgiveness and forgive ourselves when this is necessary.

During the remainder of this Lenten season, God grant us wisdom and the ability to see clearly the love you pour out upon us, and may we find the strength to forgive all others when we are called to forgive. Amen.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, March 4, 2013

2 Kings 5:9-15

Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.
But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

What sort of miracle is it that Naaman wanted? It’s as if to be cleansed was not good enough for him. He wanted to be cleansed at the waving of a hand, right then and right now. With the power of God from the prophet, he could not understand how his leprosy could not be cured without all the bother and fuss of bathing in the river. Besides, there are better, cleaner rivers in which to come clean than the Jordan. With a miracle waiting for his ‘arrival’, he instead gets angry, insulted and indignant, and decides to stay as he is, leper and all.

Before he gets too far away and even farther into himself and about himself, there are those who help him see things a bit differently. So what if you must wash seven times in the Jordan? If something else would have been asked of you—a task of even greater difficulty—would you not have done that to secure your healing, your cleansing? He has nothing to lose and a clean bill of health to gain. Only his pride is in the way.

We know that Naaman puts aside his temporary annoyance and anger and does as the prophet tells him to. We also know that he is cleansed of his leprosy as he does. And we see that he needed some wisdom imparted by those who saw more than he was seeing. Once he submitted to the guidance, he was cured. Once he was cured, he goes back to Elisha with thanksgiving, praising God.

The miracle was not so much in the mud of the river or the prophet or in anything that Naaman did. It was and is with God. Naaman was missing it because he was looking for something else, a quicker fix to a bigger problem. As with our own prayers and concerns, we too need to look more to see God working in our lives already even if it means bathing more often than we think we should.



Offer It Up! Sunday, March 3, 2013

Exodus 3:1-8a

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Some people have those tendencies to get consumed by the smallest of issues. Others have less of a slant to let major concerns get to them, letting roll off of them like water off a baby’s bottom. What Moses had seen in the burning bush would be enough for anyone to stop and gather themselves for more than a moment to mull over—am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? How could it be?

As much as the bush was not consumed, Moses was consumed that it could happen. The closer he came, the sooner he found out the reason. God had some plans for him. And if he thought the burning bush was more than he thought he couldget his head around, the plans God had for him were just as curious if not more so. As God spoke, being this close, this near a relationship with God, Moses hid his face.

Who can blame him? Who can blame us as we come so close to God in our relationships as we hide our own faces? Hiding—as if it were possible—from our embarrassment from being not closer any sooner than we have been. Hiding from a weakened prayer and spiritual life. Hiding or turning our backs on Him with our sinful lives. And the entire time, He has always been there, with us and for us, just as He was with Moses. Ready to make greater plans for him.

God has already made greater plans for us. As He prepared Moses and had him lead his people out of slavery, He is leading us to our own land of milk and honey. Let us come nearer to His holy ground.



Offer It Up! Saturday, March 2, 2013

Luke 15:23-32

Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

Of all the popular parables, this one from Luke may be one we find ourselves relating to most often, regardless of where we are in life.

When times are good, we may think of ourselves more highly than we should. After all, someone had to do the work to make happen whatever it was that happened for you to be so successful, with you being that someone. Sure there were others around but it was all up to you to be the ‘one’, the one who stayed home and did ‘as told’ and kept their shoulders to the wheels. Obedient to a fault if not more.

There could be those times when we are in more of the role as the father, dealing with the opposite lifestyles he found in his children. One being home, obedient and responsible to your needs and the family. The other who squanders away not just his time but his inheritance and nearly his life. Any of us who are parents, who have been in relationships similar to the brothers know how difficult it is to ‘balance the blood’ between the two and pray for the wisdom to see it through.

And of course there is the role of the lost son, the prodigal. We, you, me, us. At some point in our lives, if not at multiple points, there have been those times of disillusion, pain, heartache… if not depression. And with all that, some of that or one of that, we want so badly for it to go away. When it doesn’t, we are the ones that want to go away, way far away. Do anything different from what we are doing now. Something to ease the pain, take away the hurt we have inside.

Yet no matter how far we go, how deep into it we get or how full of it we become, we can get no farther away from the unconditional love of God our Father. The parable lets us see the fullness and completeness we find only in Him: when we humbly return to Him in contrition and sorrow, He has mercy and forgiveness in abundance for us. And so as He gives and has for us, so must we have for others. From the father, to the son who stayed at home, to the prodigal, mercy and compassion are for each and are for all. God does not deny them to us; we do not deny for others as He gives to us.

Everything He has is ours; everything we have is from Him to give.



Offer It Up! Friday, March 1, 2013
Happy Birthday Jeff!
May God grant us the grace to see where it is we need His mercy more than we need anything we would or could possibly need on our own...

Birthday Note...
With children, it does not take long for the days to turn to weeks and months to channel into years. It doesn't matter the child nor the order, the growing pains or the loving gains-before one knows it or can even put their arms around them again, they have grown into their own lives.
How wonderful, how blessed, how beautiful the graces bestowed on us all to see that happen and be as much a part of who they are. The tears shed for glory. The tears shed in pain. The heart-starts shared in triumphs. The heart-aches shared in vain. To share with them the ups and downs, the plusses and minuses, the falls and climbs, and penultimately, their achievement of celebration of being who they are and, more importantly, who they are even yet to be. Oh yes, who they are yet to be with so much more to give and share and become... a surface barely even scratched with the gifts they have to give and share as their own.
It would be easy to write this about any of our children yet Jeff is the one who has the birthday so he is the with 'noted' birthday bearer today. The talents and gifts he has been blessed with have done much for him-his perserverance for success, his tenacity for life, his love for his family and friends-all drive him to be a son, a man, who makes up for 'lost time' by 'doing more' every chance he has. For sure, he has barely scratched the surface with so much before him.
Some have said the true test of a man's life is his reputation. Others may say it is his career. Still others may have their own thoughts but in the end, it is all about one's character that defines who and what you are. Jeff's character is far and above what he lives by. For it covers his life, his family, his name. And he would do nothing less than to serve them all the best he can.
Happy Birthday, Jeffrey Paul Bindel.
We love you and always will. No matter what.
Mom and Dad