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

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Today, reading John 4:45-53, this Gospel account finds a high ranking court official seeking Jesus’ miraculous power to heal his son, who is on his deathbed. Jesus’ initial response to the man’s request to cure his son could have put the man off and irritated him, as Jesus challenged his faith, basically saying that he is “tired” of those who will only believe if they actually see signs. Rather than be put off, the official simply said, “Sir, please just come down before my child dies.” 

 

His willingness to openly and simply welcome Jesus and accept that Jesus has the power to heal must have touched Him because Jesus told the man, “Go home, your son will live.” Jesus cured the son of the official because of his strong faith, not because he demanded a sign. 

 

The word used in two different reflections that I read this morning was “surrender”. How willing are we to “surrender” ourselves and risk all that we have to say, “Lord Jesus, come”, when we pray? How deep is our faith BEFORE our prayers are answered or when we don’t necessarily see the wisdom of His answer immediately and apparently in our lives?

 

Lord, may I have the courage to surrender my pride, fear and doubt to Your awesome wisdom, knowledge, and love. Open me to the peace and understanding that only You can give, regardless of the individual outcomes of each of my many prayer requests.

Paul B


And then they said…

Is it the same man?


Well, yeah, it is. He still has with him all the same attributes he had going for him before he was cured of his blindness so that pretty much makes him the same guy.


Same clothes. Same hair. Same build. Yet now his eyes have been opened and the world has forever changed for him. The world in him and around him. For as much as he is still the same, he is forever and ever different. Changed. Transformed. Converted. Committed. He is in those terms not like he was before.


As much as we have been able to see in our lives, how blind are we still? Oh, for sure we are able to see. For sure enough to see like the Pharisees were seeing—by the rules that everybody else should play by but we get the free pass when they apply to us. But Jesus says we are sinners all. Sinners who are indeed blinded by His light. A light so bright that we are fearful of seeing the darkness it shows us. And that is not such a pretty picture for a lot of us.


Maybe you’ve seen that person who’s changed so much you have asked that question. Maybe that change has happened to you and the question has been asked of you. And maybe it’s happened more than once, prayerfully. That’s the beauty of grace and forgiveness. The acceptance of what Jesus has for us from being born blind and through our baptism and His forgiveness, being welcomed into His sight and light.




“….everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

 

This morning’s Gospel meditation from Luke 18:9-14 takes the Pharisee, who is so thankful that he is “not like the rest of humanity” because he fasts, tithes, and makes “sacrifice” for the Lord and compares his prideful thanks to the simplicity of the tax collector’s prayer for mercy. The second, a simple recognition that God’s mercy is necessary to us in our human condition, is the first step we must take to allow Him to create, in us, a softer and more humble heart.

 

As we learn in Hosea (6:6), “God desires a steadfast love and not sacrifice.”  While this is not to say that we should not sacrifice our earthly desires in order to ensure we are putting Him first, but that sacrifice must spring from the heart in true love. Yesterday, we learned through Mark’s teachings, that the “circle of love” requires us to love God first and, in turn, we will be opened to others. We also know that simplicity and ease are two different issues when it comes to this love. 

 

So, in Hosea and Luke, today, we are given some advice on the “ease” side of it… Humility of Heart – Recognition that I NEED His mercy in my humanness, will help me to center on my relationship with Him, first. 

 

Lord, may Your love and truth transform my innermost thoughts, desires, and attitudes so that my outward behavior embraces and embodies Your mercy.

Paul B









God gave to the Israelites statutes and decrees through Moses that they were to follow and pass on from generation to generation in order that they might live a blessed life and have God in their midst. This was His promise that they would be a revelation to the nations that God was with them.

 

In the gospel Jesus, the complete revelation of God, reminds them that the law is not God, but the law is God's gift to them. The law is given to help them live in awareness of God's wisdom. Fulfilling the law is a matter of justice, and compassion and mercy in action. Jesus came to fulfill the law.  Every little nuance of the law is to be fulfilled that the wonder of God's love will be seen. When God's statutes and decrees are internalized, when we realize they are written on our  hearts, the reign of God comes to be fulfilled.

 

Jesus, God, in the incarnation becomes fully human. The creator in love comes and dwells among men in every way except sin. Whatever any person has experienced in the human condition, Jesus experienced as man. Can I begin to grasp what love is here, that the Creator became a creature? 

 

This day God, grant that I may see You dwelling in the midst of all the moments I share with those You have given life in this particular moment of time. Open my eyes that I may see, my ears that I  may hear, my heart that I may love with an awareness that You are always loving in and through all who seek Your face. May all my actions be a response in gratitude for Your love beyond my understanding, yet evident in Your gift of faith.  

 

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

On earth as it is in heaven.

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.

Amen.

 

Deacon

 

Throughout the Gospel accounts we find several places in which Jesus puts the Pharisees “on the spot” about their (false) diligence in keeping the laws, rituals, and practices of the Old Testament. Upon reflecting in Matthew 5:17-19, this morning, we see Jesus reminding the disciples that His criticism is not of the actual observance of these. Rather, His concern lays in what is in the heart and the deep understanding and internalization of God’s Law. 

 

If we are observing for “self gratification”, therein lays the issue He has with the Pharisees. He makes it clear that we are to understand that all of our thoughts, words, and deeds have effects on others and the world around us. His presence in our midst is not to abolish the “Old”; rather it is to fulfill it, showing us how observance of God’s desire makes us better citizens of earth (and, ultimately, heaven). We are to use the laws, the commandments, and practices to draw ourselves AND others more closely to the Kingdom. Ultimately, this is a strong statement on “citizenship” and understanding of “common good”. 

 

Lord, help me to understand that the “law” refers to the whole of  Your teachings and how it affects the way we live in this world and how our responsibilities to the law impact those around us. Reverence to and obligation to You makes me a better citizen with and to those around me.

Paul B

For the first time in many, many years I heard yesterday that we would celebrate the Eucharist on a day when we normally did not, because it was the Feast of the Annunciation. For a number of decades, March 25th passed by with no mention of the fact that it was a solemn feast.

 

In my own life, those early years were filled with celebrations of certain feasts throughout the year, ways of reminding the faithful of the life they are called to live in Christ and holding up before them the lives of those who had achieved observable holiness. Today we reflect on that moment when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son. 

 

What confusion this young maiden must have felt is likely beyond our understanding as we look to Mary as the Mother of God.  But imagine her in her human condition, a very young girl in our understanding, one who had taken a pledge of virginity, and now an angel announcing she would bear a child?  In her love for God, she uttered the fateful words "Be it done unto  me according to Your word!" 

 

Two millennia later we reflect on all this and ponder the implications of our own life and how we have answered God's unique call to each one of us.  Perhaps today as we sit with Mary in celebration of the Annunciation we can enter into spiritual dialog about our own response to discipleship. Will we be able to say with the same fervor "Be it done unto me according to Your word" or not my will, Lord, but Thine be done.

Deacon

Today we meet Elijah, Elisha, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the military leader who was cured of leprosy. As we read the Scriptures we enter into their world and bring it into ours, where we can reflect on these occurrences and imagine how they apply to our life circumstances. 

 

We who are living in the life of Christ Risen can only imagine life in the ancient world. What was it like for Naaman wanting to be healed of leprosy, seeking out a cure in Israel because of the comments of his slave girl? We can imagine how desperate he was for a cure! Then to be told to go wash seven times in the Jordan—come on! What good is that? Aren't the rivers in Syria and our country larger and even cleaner?

 

But his own men reason with him, telling him to do what the prophet Elisha says. ‘It’s a simple thing. Who know what will come of it?  If he told you to perform some ritual, you would likely do it. So what is to be lost by doing what he says?  We know that Naaman follows his instructions and is cured.

 

Look at us. We have the Risen Christ in our midst. He has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us. He remains with us, the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. He calls us to follow Him, He sends us forth to life in discipleship and to proclaim the message of salvation to the ends of the earth. Like Naaman we often balk! We need to be reasoned with to do the simple task that will bring us healing. Like humbling ourselves and entering the confessional to be healed of our sinful tendencies. 

Listen to Him. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. 

 

Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. 

Deacon

Jesus shows us how to reach out to any and all in today’s Gospel, as I read John 4:5-15. In this reading, He dared bring the good news of peace and reconciliation to the Samaritans (“sworn enemies” of the Jews), through an even bolder conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. The story is rooted in need and quest for water in this arid desert region. The first reading in my morning meditation was from Exodus 17: 3-7. 

 

Here, the Israelites are grumbling to Moses for making them leave Egypt only to thirst in the desert. The Lord, in His goodness, provided water from the rock at Horeb, answering Moses’ plea for the people of God. Romans 5:1-8, alludes to water in its statement that God’s love is “poured” into our hearts. Finally, the image of “living water” is (again, as throughout the entirety of the scriptures) used with the Samaritan woman as a symbol of God’s love and wisdom, through which life and blessing is imparted to all who receive it. 

 

Lord, may we thirst for you and seek to quench it.  May Your Holy Spirit pour into our hearts so that we find and share Your Living Water, as did the Samaritan woman after meeting You at the well.

Paul B


 

At any given point in our lives, we have been any one of the three main individuals in the gospel parable of the prodigal son. From the father, to the stay at home son, to the one who had left and squandered away what senses he may have had. Whoever or wherever we are or have been, we can all come to realize the fullness of God’s love and forgiveness.


From the wayward perspective, it might be that our own story or life is not such a ‘magnamous’ defeat or horribly degraded as the lost son’s but maybe we’ve been close enough to the bottom of the barrel to smell the stench and wretchedness of what that life is like to know we don’t want to go any deeper into it. So we start to make tracks back the other way from whence we came to make better the life we ought to have… if only we can make it that far back.


From the son who stayed at home, doing all the right things and expecting great rewards, his plate should also have been overflowing with the fatted calf and his wardrobe refitted with the latest styles and robes for all the good he did while staying put. After all, he didn’t blow the family’s inheritance on immoral living and sinful pleasures. He’s got every right to be angry, to be vengeful even, as he was loyal and faithful to the family. Nope, he’s not having anything to do with the celebration.


The father is so forgiving of them both. So merciful and loving. His compassion is no more for one than it is for the other, even with his excitement for the return of the lost son; there are no favorites in his love. No matter what, his love never fades for either, regardless of their sins.


The question is often asked when this gospel is read—who do we find ourselves most like? Who do we want most to be like?

We’ve seen our dark sides like the wayward son.

We’ve seen way too much of the son who stayed at home, shutting out our hearts from God’s love.

It’s the love of the father we strive most to be in touch with just as the Father will always be in touch with us.






Mid Lent. Where am I in my Lenten journey as I look toward the Resurrection?

 

Each day is an opportunity for looking deeply into my own heart, that place within that carries the deepest understanding of myself. I am amazed that even after seven decades plus I still discover those attitudes and selfish desires that essentially tend to keep me from union with God.

 

Sin exists. It blurs the vision of life and can bring one into total darkness. Even blindness. I look within and what I can see are those times when I walked in darkness, blinded by my own willfulness and selfishness, that led me on paths leading me away from God. When reading the stories and teachings of those saints who have gone before us, I am sometimes left in wonder as they claim to sin (seven times a day!) so often.

 

As I journey through the Lenten season, I gain deeper insight into what they meant as I realize the closer one approaches the glorious light of God, of the Christ, the results of SIN become more clearly perceived and I realize how often I miss the mark, that is awareness and life in Christ.

 

Each day may all who desire God-life find a way to draw one step closer to achieving perfection in compassion, mercy, and humility, always finding courage to forgive in love. 




Luke 16-19-26 is perhaps, one of the starkest examples of God’s (eternal) reality in the entirety of the Gospel accounts. Here he tells the parable of the “rich man” and Lazarus, who longed to partake of just the scraps and remnants of the rich man’s life. The contrast of their two lives, though they lived in close proximity of each other, is not always fully appreciated in the context of the human condition, just as, too often, we don’t see the contrast of our own lives to those around us. 

 

When we are plodding through this world, how conscious and compassionate are we of the needy who are standing right next to us? How often do we examine our own lives and find ourselves in either position:  that of Lazarus or the “rich man”? Are we more “in tune” when we are in the role of “Lazarus” and desire someone to show us compassion, whether it is a physical, monetary, emotional, or spiritual “scrap” that we hope for? How about when we find ourselves in the position of the “rich man”? When there is someone in need of some physical, monetary, emotional or spiritual treasure that we have and can/should share? Reflect on how much compassion we show at that time.

 

Lord, grant me your Grace and Wisdom when you challenge me to examine my “role(s)” today – may I be compassionate toward others who may be in need of one of the many, many gifts and talents you have laid at my feet and may I be gracious enough to receive the offerings of those around me which I may lack, all to enhance Your Glory. May the “gulf” between me and others be filled with Your compassion in this life, so that there is no such void in the next. Amen.

Paul B

Over the last few days, meditations on the Gospels have led me to ponder, throughout the day, phrases such as , “Humble Yourself in His Sight”, and “Melt Me, Mold Me, Use Me”, or “Mercy and Grace”. Today, as the morning Gospel “took a turn”, leading me to Matthew 1:16-24, I wondered, at first, why my journey is “back-tracking” to reading about Joseph, the spouse of Mary. 

 

As I read Matthew’s account of  how Joseph, through hearing God’s voice in the stillness of a night’s dream, went against socio-cultural demands to fulfill God’s will with a seemingly unwavering obedience, it brings home those three phrases that have been my focal point/reminder throughout each of the last few days. Do I have the strength to listen to God’s voice, as Joseph did? How do I respond to God’s challenge of me to live in accordance with His will, even when it goes against the “norms” or “pressures” of my social circles?

 

Lord, allow me to pray for, seek, find, and respond to Your Word, as Joseph did. Allow me to humbly accept Your desires for me., in spite of what others may think. Grant me the graces I need to persevere in Your ways with humility and strength.

Paul B


As we progress through Lent, we all do self-examinations of our life in Christ. Jesus reminds us of the call to holiness, implicit in His instructions on doing what the Scribes and Pharisees say, but do not to imitate them. 

 

Jesus continues to remind us of our humbly accepting who we are. We are God's own His beloved children. To be merciful, to humbly acknowledge our sinfulness and proceed to live as His disciples, bringing justice to bear, being compassionate and merciful the goal is to be perfect as God is perfect.

 

Each day affords us the opportunity to live as kingdom people. Moment to moment, we are given circumstance where we can love, reach out compassionately react charitably, and often to forgive. With all that, how is our Lenten involvement going so far?

 

Have I fasted and prayed as I hope I would? 

What do I need to do to enter into my Lenten walk?

What can I do today with one act that will lead me deeper into a relationship with Jesus?

 

Rise O Sleeper from your sleep. See your sins are being wiped away. No matter what we have done, those sins we regard as worthy of damnation, they are erased with Jesus' blood. Today!

Give thanks to God and praise Him. See all that he has forgiven you.

Deacon





Jesus, in Luke 6:36-38, reminds us of what makes true disciples of Jesus different from those who do not know Him and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion: It is Grace. It is treating others not as they deserve but as God treats us all – with mercy. In our humanness, Jesus’ challenge to us is often difficult. We are called to identify those obstacles that prevent us from rising to Jesus’ challenge. To do so, first, requires us to confront our own sins in honesty and humility. If we admit our own faults and ask His mercy, then we will be given strength through repentance, forgiveness and a clean heart.

 

In today’s Gospel He gives us guiding words to examine those obstacles: Do I seek ways to be compassionate in the way God calls me to be? Are judgment and condemnation part of my “daily vocabulary”? Do I pray for my own forgiveness and, in turn, seek to forgive others in the manner I expect forgiveness? In my morning meditations, the Psalm, 79:8-13, implores, “Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins”. Christ’s love challenges us to transform our hearts with a love that brings freedom, pardon, and, ultimately, joy. May Your Spirit flow through me in love and grace, healing, restoring, and transforming me into Your image, so that I may lead others to You by being an example of Your compassion, mercy, and grace.

Paul B

Today, in Matthew 17: 1-9, Peter, James, and John go up the mountain with Jesus and while there, experience His transfiguration as He shines in dazzling shining light conversing with Moses and Elijah. And, as if this is not enough to take in, they are told by the Voice of God, “This is my Son, the Beloved; He enjoys My Favor. Listen to Him.” 

 

Imagine the utter amazement (and fear) of the disciples at this moment.  Then imagine, the touch of Jesus upon them, calming them. Do you wish to experience the transfiguration of Jesus, as did the disciples? How willing are you to “climb the mountain” with Him? How willing are you to behold Him through the written word of the Gospel and behold His works in your life? How do you, in your daily life, seek to see the dazzling Glory of His Creation? How do you present yourself to Him and hear His Voice?  

 

In Luke’s account of the transfiguration, we find the disciples had fallen asleep, only to be awakened by the Glory of Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah, in God’s dazzling light. How much do we stand to miss if we are not spiritually awake?  Lord, allow me to stand in Your Presence with Faith, Reverence, and a Spiritual “Awakeness” that allows me to share in Your Glory today and forever. Give me strength and comfort to “climb Your mountain” and behold all You have offered me.

Paul B


Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect? Did Jesus say that? Did He mean it? Well, He did talk of fulfilling the law of being obedient to every little detail, didn’t He? Love my enemies, do good to my persecutors. Come on—sometimes I just want to really let someone have it. Justice my way!

 

But as Jesus points out, we are all God's creation. He has given all life and breath and the goods of the earth. Jesus was obedient to the Father and came to reveal God's love and care for the world and every man and woman. 

 

Jesus is telling us to pray for those who are here with all those ‘others’, however we may "feel" about them. With God all things are possible, with grace we can accomplish the impossible because all is possible in God's grace.

 

The Joy of loving—discover it by experiencing it! May you live always strengthened in sanctifying grace.

Deacon




What's fair? As you face the wonder of life each day do you even think of what is fair? Ezekiel today leads us to thoughts if God's fairness. God who give us this moment, this day filled with possibilities, filled with choices. We can choose to look at life in wonder and awe. We can take everything for granted and ignore the gifts of beauty, the riches of the world all around us. 

 

Whatever we choose, we must take responsibility for our choice. Ezekiel makes the point by saying the sinner who turns away from sin is rewarded with life. The virtuous person who turns to sin, dies. Life in sanctifying grace is living in the joy of God's presence; darkness living a sinful  life is choosing death.

 

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, tells us He came to fulfill the law. He proceeds to speak to all of us about going beyond the law. Jesus gets to the root of living a holy life, telling us to go deep within and change those attitudes that lead us into sinful behavior. Anger—we must seek to get rid of it. Lust—change your way of looking at God's gifts. Learning day by day to be one who loves, and come to recognize the greatest gift of loving rather than being loved.

 

Why not spend some quality time today with the Lord just quietly listening, being aware of His presence, letting Him guide you to new vistas of love, joy, compassion, mercy, wonder or any of the graces you are most in need of this day.

Deacon

Esther: C:12, 14-16, 23-25

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said:

“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you. Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God.
“And now, come to help me, an orphan. Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy, so that he and those who are in league with him may perish. Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”

 

Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

 

Ask and you will receive! What is Jesus telling us? Haven't you ever asked and not received? So what are we faced with? Reflecting on today's Gospel and reading Esther's experience of prayer may lead us to some insights.

As a thought, take the readings today and sit in quiet place and really reflect or meditate on them. Read about Esther, and then, placing yourself in her position, pray with her. How does she pray? Does she prepare to enter into God's presence? How does she ask?

Then read the gospel a couple times, listening for Jesus’ words and their meaning? Do His words convey to you that you should ask for what you need or that you can ask for anything? 

Ask, Seek, Find: they are key verbs as we read and listen. What are we seeking? What are we asking for to help find? What finally will be the requests that God grants to help us on our journey through life in time? 

Is it possible we can get so caught up in our own self and our own self love that we fail to see when and how God answers our prayers?

 

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

 

Deacon

We have all heard the saying, “There are only two things in life of which you can be sure, “death and taxes”. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus makes clear that the reality is not “death and taxes”. Rather, the reality is that we will face God, one day, regardless of wealth, age, stature, and will be held accountable for our choices. 

 

At this point, the surety is not “death or taxes”, instead it’s “death or Life”.  In Luke 11:28 Jesus says, “…blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.” Then, in 29-32, Jesus goes on to address the growing crowds, cautioning them that the reality is that there will be a final day, a judgment day, on which everyone will face God and answer for our choices during our life within this human condition. If we live a Christ-centered or directed life, we are yielding to His ways in seeking a life of peace for our own existence, as well as for affecting the lives of others. Those who “demand” signs are, in effect, waiting (expecting) God “to do unto them”, rather than “doing unto self and others for God”. 

 

Jesus cautions us to not ask for signs, rather see what is in front of us, which is His own Sacrifice and the Word of God, both in the old and new revelations of God. May we receive the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit as we study Your Word and may our lives be an observation of Your Ways as OUR SIGN of love and desire FOR You!

Paul B

Today, in Matthew 6:7-15, Jesus gives us the “perfect prayer”. Before approaching the words of this or any “perfect prayer”, He does tell us that when praying we are to “shut the door” and “pray in secret”. Often, Jesus speaks in parables or analogies. Therefore, we must remember that there are no secrets from God. He sees into the inmost depths of our hearts.  Therefore, perhaps the message here is that the humility and simplicity of our prayers and supplications are what is most important?

 

After clarifying the state of our hearts, when we pray, He shared the most humbling words we know, as Christians. He shared how to mentally/ emotionally prepare for prayer, but he also gave us words of approach. In the “Our Father”, he dares to ask that we call God “Father”. This is a sign of approach with total humility, yet a familiarity that we believe He will respond with the grace and strength of a father. We then approach with confidence that He is in heaven and, as we know from the Old Testament, he is Holy. We offer acknowledgement of the power of His kingdom on heaven AND earth. We humbly request His ultimate care and forgiveness of ourselves and for His strength within us to forgive others. Finally, we ask His protection from all sin/evil. We often take this prayer for granted. May we, today, take a moment to recognize the simplicity and humility of prayer and how God yearns for that simple conversation every day!

Paul B

The Law of the Lord is perfect! Do we really believe that? Does my life reflect what I believe about God's law? As I ponder the readings offered us today the voice of the Lord Jesus fills my soul. How are we to treat one another?

 

I see in my mind’s eye that I am before the Lord, and He is judging, separating the sheep and the goats as He points out in Matthew’s Gospel in Chapter 25. In  almost 8 decades of life, how have I done in even recognizing those close to me, the least ones who were truly in need? How like Dives I have often been not even seeing Lazarus in his needy state at my door?

 

Perhaps I can reason in my own self need that I really didn't have much myself, but that cannot be true. I can look back on the blessedness of my life and realize how often I have failed to see Jesus in those truly in need both materially and spiritually. Spiritual poverty in my own life has too often led to material excess, perhaps even depriving someone of what they need. 

 

Can I acknowledge my part in a consumer society that in many ways takes from the storehouse of God's universal gifts an excess and in some ways, not using God's abundance for the good of all? Am I like the pharisaical personages who pride themselves on their spiritual largesse and fail to see how a poor widow can enlighten them on the truth?

 

During this Lenten season may I find not only time to be with the Lord in private conversation but to become more insightful and find Him in all who pass through the moments of my life.

Deacon

In Matthew 4:1-11, we see Jesus face-to-face with the tempter, Satan. This passage not only makes clear that temptation in this world is real, but that Satan is openly behind every attempt to draw us farther from God's desire.

 

The "master of disguises" distracts us with wealth, power, and pleasure. Lest we forget, these things are hidden in the smaller, seemingly petty, emotions of our lives like jealousy, frustration, anger, confusion, impatience, or indecisiveness. These, in same force, take us away from our focus. Remember how well prepared Jesus was to face Satan after 40 days of fasting in the desert. 40 days in the desert... physically tired, physically hungry, BUT, filled with 40 days of deep union with the Father!

 

How do you feel when coming home from a weekend spiritual retreat/experience? You are ready to change the world until you are greeted, Monday morning by the office worker who angers you daily, or the student who tries your patience, or the boss whom you have to impress "no matter what" for an upcoming promotion. This is no different than what Jesus faced, fresh off of His 40 day spiritual experience.

 

We, too, can fight the tempter using God's graces. May we deepen our union with Him daily through spiritual exercises in His Word, in union with His desire to strengthen our ability to stand in word and action against the temptation of the world.

Paul B


The Pharisees challenged Jesus’ choice to “eat in public” with sinners, when Jesus joined Levi (Matthew) the tax collector. Jesus’ defense was “simple: A doctor does not need to treat healthy people, instead those who are sick. A true physician seeks to heal the whole person in body, mind, and spirit. 

 

As the “divine physician”, it is Jesus’ sole purpose to restore us. To be restored, we must make a choice to, not only share our blessings with others, but to first be touched by God in order to know those blessings. This is what Levi, a known sinner (tax collector) was honored to do, once he realized Jesus gave him the ability to follow. Levi/Matthew, therefore, figured out what the Pharisees could not. By “follow”, it was no so much the movement of feet as movement of heart: How we carry out our lives in the way of Christ. And, if our heart says we live in Christ, doesn’t it follow that our feet shall move in that direction as well? 

 

We have learned in so many earlier meditations that true conversion begins in the heart and must come from within. Lord, help me to be touched by Your blessings and, in turn, share them with those around me. Call me to have the acceptance of Levi, as in Luke 5:27:32, and give me the strength to respond to Your call!

Paul B

 



Today, in Matthew 9:14-15, the disciples bring up the question as to why they don’t fast in the manner the Pharisees do. It can be somewhat confusing when he answers, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and they will fast.” 

 

Of course, this reference is to the tradition of the day in which the bridegroom celebrated the honeymoon with friends and family for a full week. Before getting back to the “norm” and routine of life, enjoy the happiness of the occasion in its fullness. The comparison of God wanting to celebrate this immense happiness, as the bridegroom of His people is powerful. Then, he goes on to share that there IS and WILL BE a time for fasting… For suffering and sacrifice.

 

This, surely, is another prediction of the sacrifice of the cross. In order to further understand the TRUE sacrifice of fasting, read Isaiah 58:1-9. It will expand that the sacrifice of fasting is more than just “giving something up”.  It is the ultimate goal of making oneself better and more focused toward Him. 

 

Have a blessed day and may this Lenten season direct each of us to a closer understanding of the power and love of God’s sacrifice for us, His people.

Paul B

Take up your cross the Savior said! What does it mean to me to you?

As we journey through our times, what exactly does Jesus mean? Take up your cross! Follow me! If I am to follow Jesus then I must discover what it means to take up MY cross. I need to make time to sit with My Lord and live faithfully, trusting that I may begin to understand the mystery of God. 

 

It is so easy to be caught up in the wonder of creation, in the wonder of human affairs, in success, in material rewards, in what I imagine love to be. And in all this, to fail sinfully in recognizing that all is gift of the transcendent God who revealed Himself, who revealed His love for humanity, for me in the God-man Jesus Christ.  

 

My cross  is seen  in my own inability to love as I should, as I could if only I would completely give myself to the will of God, whom Jesus taught me to call Father, Abba. My cross is to learn to humbly take responsibility for my sinfulness, to even recognize by sinfulness and to strive in my everyday actions to achieve holiness. 

 

But, how can I achieve holiness if I do not approach the light of the glory of God, the Light of Christ? When I do, the light clarifies my view of self and I see more clearly the stain of sin,  my cross I often see hidden away  in the closet of my self-love, seeking all those immediate satisfactions that seem so delightful. Too often I only to find disappointment in these fleeting moments of pleasure.

 

This Lenten season, Lord guide my path that I may see clearly to take up My cross and follow you completely trusting that the Father's will is the way to the fullness of life.

Deacon

Ash Wednesday. Lent. 

We enter into the desert to be alone with God and to seek grow in holiness.  We are being called to life, life in truth as the children of God, sharers in divine grace. During the next forty plus days we are being called to repentance individually and in community. 

 

On Mardi Gras, the eve of Ash Wednesday, we gathered as a community of believers for a last hurrah before we began our Lenten journey.  Today, we fast and pray as we begin in earnest to draw close to God in prayer, alms giving, and fasting.  The temptation is to look about for some discipline that is often of some personal gain. For example, to attempt to lose weight..."I'll fast to lose weight!"  Or I will give up (whatever)!  to what purpose.

 

Give some thought to the  Scriptures these forty days, and do your best to put into practice in your life what the Lord speaks of. Begin with those closest to you. FAMILY. We can do much in expressing love in our family environment, forgive where forgiveness may be needed, and by going the extra mile to serve one another.

 

Friends, both those close and those whom we may have lost track of.  A short note to an old friend may be in order. Anyone you know in a nursing home, or home-bound who may be is lonely and forgotten? 

 

When God reminds you, that is, you find yourself thinking of someone you haven't met in a while, respond first with a brief prayer, then ask God if perhaps you need to do more, maybe with a phone call, a short note, or an email. Just do something to complete that thought God brought to you.

 

God is not calling us all to heroic action, at least I don't think He is. Rather, we are all being called to be real in our love for one another. That is being a real hero.

Deacon

The theme of the Gospel Readings, for several days now, could be compared to “investment”. In our  society we have heard it said, “You have to spend money to make money”. So, when it comes to “eternity”, shouldn’t we find the same to be true? “You have to spend time to make time.” 

 

In the past few days we have seen a wealthy man shudder at the idea that his quest for material comforts must (truly) come second to his quest for eternal comforts. We have seen the disciples actually arguing over “who is the greatest” among those who have chosen to follow Christ. We have heard Jesus admonish us to leave worry behind and let God take care of us, just as he does the simplest of creatures. 

 

In Mark 10:28-31 we are called to examine what hindrances are preventing us from responding to and living His invitation to live in Him most fully and wholeheartedly. We know that the disciples found the graces and strength to respond to His invitation. May we ask ourselves, today, “What evidence does the example of my life show that I have “invested” my time, effort, thought, prayer, and (whole) self into my “eternal bank account”. How does my “investment portfolio” truly read? May your “stock” rise today and every day!

Paul B

The rich young man in today's reading from Mark's gospel, who is he? I am inclined as I ponder this that he is me!

 

What must I do to merit eternal life? Really—what can I do? Everything I have beginning with each breath I take is a gift from Creator God, the Father of  my Lord, Jesus Christ. I look back into my past and can only see how wonderfully blessed life has been. Like Job, I need to learn to say since we accept good things from God, should we not accept those difficult times as well?

 

Like  the rich young man, would I walk away sad because I am so attached to the created things that I enjoy or have enjoyed that I am more inclined to rent storage bins to keep these possessions rather than trust in the God who cares for all His creation? 

 

We are  about to begin another Lenten season. I have another opportunity to adjust my schedule be with the Lord to listen and respond to His guidance in my life. Each day, to strive to be AWARE that in all the moments of life He is present. The rich young man asked what he could do to merit eternal life; can I merit eternal life without the Lord who paid the price for my sins, who in His inexplicable love for me opened the way to life forever?

 

Lord, pour forth in your compassion the grace I need to life faithfully all the moments of my life!

Deacon

As we approach Lent it is the time to welcome the elect those catechumens and candidates who will later this year celebrate the Easter sacraments and join us at the banquet table of the Lord. During the coming weeks during the Lenten season, they and we will prepare for the great feast of the Resurrection!

 

It is the season to enter into the Paschal mystery. During this season we look intently into our life with Jesus Christ, examining our attitude for living as His disciples. It is a season to come aside and be with the Lord daily, seeking to hear His voice and the guiding Spirit. How? By adjusting our busy schedules and making time as much time as possible to be with the Lord in prayer, to be with our community in prayer. 

 

Daily mass is at 12:10 Mon-Fri; surely there are days when you could be present.  Wednesdays, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration after 12:10PM mass until 7:30PM, surely a little time could be spent in His presence. Other possibilities include some quiet time at home, even at work, bring about the possibilities one can spare to spend some time in prayer or some spiritual reading. Scripture reading everyday following the assigned readings of the Church as listed in the Sunday bulletin is another great avenue to meet the Lord. Even discussion with your family on our life in the light of following Christian values and our belief in Jesus Christ as Lord is a way to be led by the Holy Spirit.

 

You, yes you, as you read these words know that you are God's BELOVED.  Know it because He revealed that love personally in Jesus.

He has first loved you. Will you respond in love?

Deacon

Today, in meditating on the Gospel, (Mark 10:13-16), Jesus' actions remind us that we need to have child-like qualities to enter the Kingdom of God. As an educator, I have always maintained that it is what we expose children to that forms productive (or counter-productive) attitudes towards God, self, and others. While "nature takes its course" from "conception to death", the attitudes and attributes adults demonstrate to kids serve to enhance/detract from their natural abilities and God-given gifts.

 

Children depend on the benevolence of others FROM DAY ONE of conception. From conception in the womb through their formative years, children depend on the benevolence of others to feed, clothe, clean, nurture, and guide.

 

So it is with God... He begs us to depend upon His benevolence to tend to all of our needs. Let us nurture this understanding that we need God and we need each other, as our humanness requires us to gather in like-minded settings of worship and support. The goal must be to eliminate "adult skills" of pride, arrogance, anger, and deception.

 

Lord, may we welcome our children and each other with the innocence of grace and love as an example of accepting and depending on Your benevolent mercy.

Paul B