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

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Seeing is believing. This is a statement that we have heard in our society many times. It is used as confirmation of incredulous things; uttered in real-life, movies, or on commercials to highlight something that may otherwise be “unbelievable”.  Luke, in 24:36-43, describes the “aftermath” of the walk to Emmaus, when the two disciples are sharing with the others, what they had experienced—the burning of the heart and the opening of the eyes—in finally recognizing, and now acknowledging, the Risen Lord. 


Now, in this recognition and acceptance, Jesus comes into their presence again, this time saying, “Peace be with you.”  We have gone from the tragedy and horror of the Crucifixion, to the fear of the darkness caused by Jesus’ absence, to the wonder and confusion of the empty tomb…. Now, we have the physical presence of Christ, standing among them, speaking, showing the marks of His wounds, eating and saying, “Peace be with you.”  


We, as humans, seem to be wired to need proof of so much of what we are told.  The disciples, who lived, laughed and loved the human presence of Jesus for three years of His earthly ministry had these same tendencies or need to have proof. How do we seek proof in today’s day and age? Do we choose to see and hear God’s presence around us? Hearing Jesus say, “Peace…” was probably something they had heard before—before the fulfillment of His Sacrifice. Yet, hearing it in the aftermath of the Resurrection had to take on full and complete meaning (and did, for them (reference: Peter in Acts 3:11-26).  


Seeing, therefore, is believing! How can and do we, today, find ways to see, so we can believe? Jesus, in John 20:29, says, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe”.  


Lord, let us not be “blind” to the many, many ways You are present to us, through the sights and sounds of our daily human interactions. May we the wounds You received for me and truly appreciate Your sacrifice.  JOY

Paul B.


Christ revealed! “They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking to us on the road, while He was opening the scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:32)  


The disciples said this to each other after realizing that the man who had just walked with them, to the village of Emmaus, using words to explain the fulfillment of scripture—Christ’s life, suffering, death, and Resurrection—and had stayed with them and broken bread with them, was Jesus. As we ponder that “walk to Emmaus”, we have no choice but compare it to our own walk through this life and it’s ultimate goal: growing and strengthening our Faith in a good, benevolent God!  


In order to become better acquainted with people we must spend time with them. So it is with God; we must spend time with Him. The first and foremost way to do this is in Scripture. To understand this we go back to the first verse of John’s Gospel: 1:1—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The disciples’ encounter with the Risen Jesus like ours, so often is: we encounter Him, see Him, and even hear Him—but do we truly listen to Him? Do we listen and respond? Or do we react with our “normal” human tendency of “responding” without fully listening?  


These are elements of the Christian walk that we must ponder. In studying this “walk to Emmaus” we see that these disciples (as were the women, and the others) were confused, scared, and still “wondering” about the events of recent days, especially the empty tomb! What did it mean? From this confusion comes doubt, self-pity, and wavering hoping—slipping faith! It is during these times that we must take extra care and time to listen to Him, ponder His Words, and SEE Him our lives—in our Communion with Him and each other!  


Lord reveal to me greater awareness of Your Presence, in my daily walk! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.


John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”  which means Teacher.

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.


Those that we haven’t seen for some time may appear to have changed where we don’t recognize them. Case in point as Mary returned to the tomb and saw Jesus after the angels asked her why she was weeping. She had seen the empty place where He had been and now—nothing but His burial cloths and her sobbing and tears. She was looking for Jesus, the man she knew before His crucifixion. Who she would find would certainly be Jesus though Jesus resurrected—the Jesus who destroyed death, bringing about new life.

Small wonder then why she would recognize Him as someone else. Such a transformation would be easy to miss, especially when one is looking for someone so close to you. Jesus asks again why she is weeping and again she explains that her Lord has been taken away. Not until she hears her name does she recognize this gardener as Jesus. She turns to Him and calls out ‘Rabbouni!’ We too often have to hear our own voice called by the Teacher, by the Shepherd, by the Master, to know Who He is to us. We too often are called by and answer to the voice of the way of the world. A greater wonder is why we have then such doubt and anxiety in our own lives when we can more readily and easily answer His call as opposed to our own.

For us to grow more in our faith, we have to let go of the things that keep us from moving forward, growing closer to Jesus Christ. That is how transformation works; we cannot be the same as we were, do the same things as we were doing and expect to have different results. Jesus showed us that in His life, death and resurrection. He gave us new life. He died so that we would have it. He transformed Himself so that we could transform ourselves to follow Him as He calls us to do.


In Matthew 28:8-15, one can only imagine the joy the two women felt. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, were there as Matthew describes Jesus saying, “Greetings”.  Upon hearing His voice, the women immediately knelt at His Feet, grasping Him, paying homage to the Risen Lord. Their joy is beyond imagination. It certainly was all the more a fulfilling joy, given that they had just witnessed His brutal suffering, death, and burial. But to see and know that He has arisen from the grave, all we can say is AMEN!


In John 20:14-18, he describes a conversation between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, in which she does not recognize Him, at first, until He calls her name, “Mary”.  In these accounts, we see fear, doubt, and anger change to amazement and true joy! This is the journey of faith! It is this journey to which we are all called: to see the wonder of Jesus’ presence in and among us! 


As Christians, our faith rests upon the believe that Jesus, God as man, lived among us in the Flesh. It rests on the belief that He lived the example of true, unconditional love so that we could have a model upon which to base our own lives. It rests on the fact that He sacrificed Himself to great suffering, ultimately death on a Cross on that hill outside Jerusalem, so that His unconditional Love and Mercy would become evident in His Resurrection, which is the center of our hope for eternal life. 


So as Christians, we must ask ourselves, “Do we exemplify this believe in our daily living….the belief that eternal life awaits those who follow Christ in total willingness to live the way He showed us?” How deep do these convictions go? Do we recognize His Presence, opening our eyes and then doing Him homage upon that recognition?  


Lord, help me to see and understand the reality of eternal life with You, therefore becoming stronger in demonstrating the JOY of my FAITH!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.


John 20:3-10

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.

Then the disciples returned home.


From an ages-old anonymous sermon... some things are best said and left just as they are. 

May the Spirit of the Resurrection of Christ fill you all this Easter.


Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.




John, in 13:4-15, describes Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet after having shared the Passover Mean, the Last Supper, with them. Jesus, knowing He was about to be turned over to the officials to suffer for the sins of humanity, shared such a selfless act with His disciples! 


What do we do when we know we are about to face a difficult situation? Do we spend it in service to others or do we spend it in worry for ourselves and the outcome? Jesus used this moment as an example for His disciples of how to witness to others—to be an example of God’s desire that we be of service to others in total humility. We, like Jesus, are called to serve people in need—all people. This need may be a human or physical need or a spiritual need or often a combination of both. 


Through our own humble approach, we come closer to the feet of Jesus while, at the same time, provide others the opportunity to become closer to Him by our faith in action. Peter, in 13:7-8, objected to the Master washing the servant’s feet, but Jesus said, “You do not understand what I am doing, but later, you will…” and “Unless I wash your feet you will have no share with me.” Peter, as previously noted, is always bold and requests that the Lord, then, wash hands and head as well. Jesus responds that one who has bathed need not clean anything but his feet. 


He goes on to point out that “not all of you are clean”, which is the first indication that Judas, one of the twelve, will betray him. After washing all their feet he said, “I have set for you an example that you also should do as I have done for you.” How do we do in serving others even those whom we think don’t deserve our compassion?  


Lord, help me to take on the task(s) of serving others in a society that shuns such service, favoring a focus on needs of self. Help my love for You and others to not waver in the face of the trials I encounter! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.


“Surely, it is not I…” (Matthew 26: 22, 25). 

In reading Matthew 26;14-25 this line appears twice. The disciples, one by one, say this as indicated in v22 until Judas, who had already made plans to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver utters these in v25. Judas, knowing that he had already made clear plans to betray the Master, is clearly unwilling to own up to his deception in front of the other eleven disciples. He justifies his betrayal by saying, “Surely, it is not I”.  


With this lie to self, his friends in faith and to God Himself, he weakens the bond between Him and Jesus. Do we not do the same when we fail to meet Jesus’ challenge to live in and deepen our faith on a daily basis? Jesus knew all along that His Father’s Plan of Salvation would lead to this day and hour. His heart was certainly torn and in pain over the fact that one of His beloved would betray Him in this moment of human weakness—for a mere thirty pieces of silver (though “a lot”, still just a mere human distraction).  


What distractions do we face in our lives that cause us to deny Jesus, even at a most “minimal” level, throughout each day? What was the ultimate reason for Judas betrayal? Did he desire to see the suffering and death of Jesus? Was he impatient for the impending coming of the Kingdom of God, promised in Jesus’ ministerial discourses? The ultimate sadness is His refusal to fully accept Jesus as He was/is, allowing Him (God) to work in His own ways. When Jesus says, “One of you will betray me” to all of His disciples He is calling them (and us) to reflect upon themselves.  


Lord, each day, let us reflect upon the ways we have lifted you up, as King, versus those times we lifted you up, “upon the Cross”. May “Surely, it is not I” be our life’s truth. J.O.Y.
Paul B


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.”

Have you ever had one of those moments? One of those moments where you came face to face with someone who has said something that wasn’t true about you? Who has done something to hurt you purposefully? A friend who has turned their back on you when you most needed them? 


From today’s gospel, we hear how Jesus had that happen to Him, not just from Judas and his betrayal yet from the eventual denials of Peter. Judas with his kiss and Peter with the bitterness he felt and the words that would come back to haunt him as he heard the crowing of the rooster. Imagine the humanity and the emotions of Jesus as He knew of the denials he was facing from these apostles, these men He called his friends. 


Imagine too not just these denials but all the sins He would carry with Him as He took on the cross He was about to bear. The sins not only of those that denied Him and crucified Him but even the darkness of our sins today. Yes, like Peter we say we want to follow Him and lay down our lives for Him but something happens between the saying and the doing. Something happens that keeps us living in the darkness as opposed to finding our way into the light of His life for us. 


The good news in the Good News is that as Jesus left His disciples and returned in His resurrection, so too does He come back to us so that we can receive Him in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. As Holy Week moves toward His resurrection, let us all continue to prepare ourselves as best we can, with cleansed heart and soul, putting ourselves in better positions to do as He calls us to do… with our own day to day conversions and transformations.


The act of washing another person’s feet appears in the Gospels. We are all familiar with Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, showing them the importance of servitude, using this act as one of the most humbling acts one can do for another—kneeling at another’s feet, washing them. 


In John 12:1-11, a few days before Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem and final steps to God’s Plan of Salvation, we find Jesus and His disciples visiting the home of Lazarus whom He had recently raised from the dead. In this account, John contrasts two very different attitudes:  that of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and that of Judas, who would be His ultimate betrayer.  


Mary, welcoming Jesus into her home, knelt at His feet and washed them. In the description of this act, John reports that she not only used a jar of very expensive perfumed oil that probably cost a years’ wage, but she used her hair to wipe His perfumed feet. Compare this to Judas, who complained at the “waste” of such costly perfume, saying that the jar could be sold and the money used to help the poor. It is simple to see the humility and love in Mary’s act. She simply “did”.  


She led by example, just as Jesus would lay out example, in a few short days, washing His disciples’ feet. Judas’ words, too, could be interpreted as an attempt of humility and love, also, if we did not know two things: 1) He regularly stole from the “purse” that was kept to help the poor; 2) He was the ultimate betrayer of Jesus.  As we ponder this, preparing (this week) to observe Jesus’ passion—suffering, death and resurrection—in relation to our own lives? Do our own words and actions exhibit true humility and helping the poor who will “always be with us” (John 12:8)? Or, do we seek the “easy way”, that focuses on our needs, over others?  Lord, help me to give of what I have—time, talent, or treasure—in total humility and love for You and those in whom I see You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B




Matthew 1:16-24 is a “must read” for any man who considers himself to be a “man of God”. In this passage, we find Joseph facing, what he perceived to be a very embarrassing situation in the eyes of humanity. Joseph has been told that his betrothed is with child. To understand this, you must first understand that to be “betrothed” was a kind of “engagement period”. During this period, a couple was considered married, but not yet living together as husband and wife. Therefore, Mary and Joseph had not yet had marital relations.  


You can imagine Joseph’s emotions—confusion and, perhaps, anger. Because he was a good and upright man, he did not wish to embarrass Mary, whom he loved. So, to avoid both their humiliation, he planned a quiet separation—divorce. But God, knowing man’s mind and heart, spoke to him. Matthew, in 1:1-16, outlines the lineage of Jesus, through Joseph, showing that the Line of David, promised in the Old Testament to be the line from which Salvation would come to all men, led to Joseph, thus fulfilling that Jesus is the Savior! So, when Joseph’s human instinct (fear, doubt) kicked in, God appeared in His dream, speaking through an angel, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as Your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20-21) Joseph, being a man of God, listened to Him.  


How do we listen when God moves us? Do we allow our will and being to succumb to God’s call? Or do we continue to question in fear and doubt? As Christian men, we MUST be an example to our wives, children family, and friends and discern His meaning in our lives and fulfill it. 


Lord, give us the same courage and strength that Joseph displayed in his care for Mary and for Your Son.  May we hold them and You close!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.


Do we throw stones at Jesus? In Jesus’ day, stoning was a manner of consequence for those who violated God’s Law. In John 10:31-38 we find those who could not (or refused to) believe in what Jesus was saying, preparing to stone Him for blaspheming—announcing He was the Son of God. (Leviticus 24:16—”He who blasphemes the Name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.”)  


Today, stoning is not an accepted practice. Yet, if we put it in the spiritual sense—a practice that silences someone—how often do we “stone” Jesus? When we put our spiritual life aside—going to Mass or Church Services, Prayer, Charitable Works—are we not “stoning” Him? By putting Him aside, favoring the distractions of the world, we are taking His Grace that we receive through our Spiritual Reverence of Him, for granted. This results in a denial of God—not much different than the blatant act of those who wanted to stone Jesus, in John’s account.  


The bottom line is that there were (and are) many who cannot see that Jesus offered Himself as the ransom for our Salvation. First, He strove to provide the perfect example of who we should be: standing firm in faith by praising God in Thanksgiving, asking for His Mercy, and acting mercifully towards others, in His Name. He then implores us that if we cannot quite believe the Words He speaks, look around and see the Works of God—those can be believed (John 10:37-38). 


Do we look around us today and strive to see the Works of God, happening daily in our lives and in the world around us? Or, do we get hung up in distraction and negativity? Jesus understood, as we do today, that “seeing is believing” and “doing embeds learning into practice”.  


Lord, let us be more than passive listeners. May we see and imitate Your example for us in mercy towards all. In doing so, may we exalt you, rather than throw stones.

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


Our earthly lives are limited—finite. We cannot deny this fact and we are reminded of our mortality by illness, aging, and, ultimately, departure from the things of this earth. But, we also know, from the very Words that come from the mouth of God, that our eternal life is infinite:  “Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps My Word will never see death.” (John 8:51)  


Many in Jesus’ time thought He was “mad” or possessed by demons. They had difficulty accepting the fact that He IS God, sent by the Father as the ultimate example of Love. Knowing this would be difficult to accept, Jesus also knew He was to be the ultimate example of Sacrifice. Yet, Jesus still came and stood firm on how we are to be, if we are to partake of God’s eternal Glory with Him. As John records the skepticism of the religions leaders, in John 8:51-59, we must look inwardly, at our own thoughts and actions and ask ourselves, “Does our daily living—our witness—affirms God or denies Him?” 


When Jesus states that those who keep His Word will live forever the leaders scoff at Him and cite the “fact” that their father, Abraham, died. In their selfishness, they could not see that life, beyond earthly possession and pleasure, is the goal. It is part of the human condition to desire control over our destiny and what is easier to understand than the “here and now”? Acceptance of our earthly mortality is like the two-sided coin. On one side, acceptance can lead to doubt and questioning, knowing that we will leave behind (or be left behind by) family, friends, money, power, etc. The other side is what Jesus calls us to see, though. We must become invigorated by God through divine strength—understanding His Word as the ultimate “curriculum” to teach us and prepare us for “LIFE after life”.  


Lord, we believe and know that Your Word is the key—the Guide—to eternal life with the Father.  Grant us strength to live it, daily!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


Jesus continues His discourse with the Pharisees in John 8:31-42. He speaks of the fact that true disciples of Jesus, that is those who truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, will be set free. Because they are stubborn in their understanding and ability to listen to his words, they get hung up on the word “free”. They contend that they are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved. They could not understand the spiritual freedom of which Jesus spoke.  


He goes on, in John 8:34, “….everyone who commits a sin is a slave to sin.” In His effort to help them understand the fact that He is God’s Son, and all who choose to believe and know that it is God the Father who sent Him, also become sons of God, He contrasts a “slave” to a “son”, in 8:35-36: “The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there, forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” He goes on to tell them, “…though you are descendants of Abraham… you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for My Word.” 


All Jesus desires from them (and us) is acceptance of Faith in God, a good, loving, and compassionate God. To see an ultimate example, we can look at Daniel’s account in ch. three of Shadrach, Meshak, and Abednego, who were thrown into the fire because they refused to worship any god, just our God! Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace, stoked to the highest degree, yet they remained untouched by the flames, due to their faith—and God’s protection of that faith! These men stood up to the temptations of the world, even in the face of life-threatening danger. This is the point Jesus tries to make with the Pharisees and us!  


Lord, give us strength in heart, mind, and soul, through faith in One God, to overcome all that stands between us and the Father.  In doing so, set us free from the “slavery” of worldly distraction. J.O.Y. 

Paul B


John 8:21-30 

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” 

He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” 

Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

If only it were that easy today for the message to be conveyed. Oh wait—but it is! The message is right in front of us each day God gives to us as we give back to Him.  Jesus told the Pharisees they couldn’t go where He was going because of their ways of the world. If He were walking with us today, chances are good there would be a great majority of the world hearing the same message. 


But what about us, those of us who are hearing His message of salvation? For those of us who hear and believe that He is as He says He is, I AM, do we know who He is in our own lives? As He told them from the beginning, He has told us as well and will tell us to the end of our days: our days are numbered in condemnation the longer we stay outside the Truth He speaks that the Father gave Him to share with us and the world. 


What are we going to do? Those who understood His message then came to believe in Him. But what about today? Even if we understand and believe, are we doing what we should do to carry it out? As Jesus did for the Father—‘because I always do what is pleasing to Him’—it might be that we do the same, doing the very things that deepen our faith and bring us closer to our salvation in Him.


The absence of light is darkness. It is that simple. The purpose of light is to illuminate the darkness so that we can see and find our way to a final destination. In John 8:12, Jesus boldly proclaims, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” Light was and is very symbolic in the religious lives of the Jewish people and, continues to be so in both Jewish and Christian tradition.  


During a particular feast, the “Lamp lighting Ceremony” took place every evening with large lamps set up in the court yards throughout the city. By these lamps, singing and dancing celebrated God’s deliverance of His people in the pillar of fire, by night.  Light, therefore, is symbolic of God’s presence. So, when Jesus reveals Himself as the “Light of the World” they immediately question His “audacity” and the credibility of His claim, saying that He has no witness, other than himself (Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus responds that the very God they claim to believe in is the very witness and authority required from which Jesus speaks.  


His words, example, and deeds, alone, are evidence that they cannot see and accept. The leaders do not understand the basis and power behind Jesus’ statements about himself, so they cannot charge Him with blasphemy not just their lack of understanding, but it is not yet His time.  So, they challenged his “sole claim” or testimony of Himself.  The religious leaders are stuck in their human condition and limited by understanding of human standards not to mention and including “stubbornness and doubt”.  This, therefore, begs the question of us in today’s world, “Does our stubbornness and doubt blind us from seeing His Light?”  


Lord, illuminate my heart, mind, and soul with Your Light. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear Your Word. In turn, may my mouth speak and hands extend and share Your Love.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B


“Go away, from this moment, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) 

These are Jesus’ words to the woman whom the Pharisees and scribes had brought to Jesus in an attempt to trick Him. They had caught her in the sinful act of adultery and, in an effort to get Jesus to speak against the law which “required” the woman to be stoned for such a sin, they asked Him, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery and the Law of Moses orders us to stone women of this kind. What have you to say?” (John 8:4-5)  


In this account, the full compassion of God is revealed. Jesus’ response brilliantly avoids the trap when he says, “Let anyone among you, who is without sin, cast the first stone.” But we must look beyond the fact that it was not yet Jesus’ time of fulfillment. Let us look at the main point of His response: Jesus challenges us to look at our own sin first and foremost.  


In our human condition, we have the habit of looking at others and what they have or do, rather than ourselves. How can we be “right” with God, when we are unwilling or unable to look at our own actions, first and foremost, and how they “square” with His expectation and desire for us?  


How do we reconcile ourselves with God? We hear all of this talk about “standards” in our schools with the latest rage being called “Common Core Standards”. Using this same concept, God has set one standard for us—His Word! How do we as Christians, measure up to that standard? How do we assess or examine our conscious effort in our daily lives? We must take time, each day, to reflect on and assess “how we performed” related to His standard. In doing so, we must end with the desire to meet Jesus’ request of the woman, “….go and sin no more.”  


Lord, help us to look within, first, and turn our own lives’ works to You.  By doing so may we, first, be an example of Your goodness and love Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


In John 7:40-53 we find the Pharisees had sent guards to arrest Jesus. In their doubt, they resorted to destructive behaviors toward Him. Because the political and religious leaders of the day were living in this darkness and confusion, the crowds, too, were wondering and questioning, this creating an environment of “lackluster” faith.  


This type of faith is fed by the inability or lack of desire to see and receive the true light of Christ—the only true freedom that can and will fulfill us. So the guards sent to arrest Jesus, like the rest of the crowd, understood “just enough” to wonder. They heard/ experienced the crowd’s confusion: is He a prophet? Is He the Messiah? Is The Christ to come from Galilee? Is He a descendent of David, as Scripture says?  


These questions were being bantered around and were laid on top of their mission from the leaders, which was to stop this “false prophet”. Perhaps in today’s day and age of “instant communication” and social media’s constant update on “who said what, and when, and where, and why”, we can understand how people can get confused and distracted from the true and primary source of necessary information: God’s Word! 


The guards, sent to arrest Jesus came back to the leaders empty handed. When confronted as to why, they responded, “No one has ever spoken like this Man.”  (John 7:46) This bold proclamation brings home the simple message of seeking, finding, listening and responding to God in our lives. The guards, though not fully convicted in faith, LISTENED to what they were hearing. Though still confused, they understood that they were in the midst of something special. Surely, the failure to “obey” the orders to arrest Jesus caused hardship on their lives as soldiers.  Does this not beg of us, the question, “Are we prepared to stand up for Christ and live, teach and defend His Word?”  


Lord, strengthen us to stand firm in this world and beyond  J.O.Y. 

Paul B


We are hurtling toward Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Mysteries. The Easter Season brings with new abundant evidence of new life as we see the world around us awakening. The Bradford pear trees are decorating our environs with all the beauty of the white spring garments. How fitting the world around us reminds us to praise God for the Wonder of His love in Jesus Christ Risen from the dead. 


Now is a time of looking within, standing before the Father most merciful, and repenting of our sins. We, all of us and each of us, are Children of God. Can we even begin to grasp the enormity of that fact? Can we begin to understand God's longing for us to be one with Him for eternity?


During the remainder of our Lenten days we can immerse ourselves in the mystery of Faith and it can and will be our strength. Our hope will light our path that we may enthusiastically enter into the quest. Love, our charity will be our goal in all endeavors as we look toward Calvary and the empty tomb.


This Sunday, we celebrate the Third Scrutiny, praying for and with those preparing to receive the Easter Sacraments as they prepare to come in full communion with the Church. We are in the presence of Martha and Mary, the apostles and those other present as Jesus calls Lazarus from the grave. ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’, says Jesus, the Christ. Though these words the reveal the mystery of Love beyond our understanding, they call upon us to fill our hearts with more faith and more of His love as we all come closer to His Light and Way. 


May Jesus who is the light of the world fill you to fullness in love and joy. 



Failure to listen or doubt is a powerful distraction and impediment to true faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus, in John 5:31:47, addresses the doubt of the religious leaders because they openly refused His Divine Authority—the authority to speak and act in the Name of God, the Father. 


Do we, as Christians, truly know the joy, the Good News? Have we truly and fully submitted to the wisdom of Scripture, striving to understand the spiritual knowledge contained in His Word? In this interaction with the religious leaders, Jesus cites three witnesses or testimonies as to His true identity: God’s Son! Perhaps this is a reference to Deuteronomy 17:6, which requires 2-3 witnesses before evidence can prevail to “make a case”. 


John the Baptist is the first testimony he cites. John openly directed people to look to Jesus as the Messiah. John 1:19-35 contains multiple references, made by John the Baptist, testifying to Jesus’ identify and divinity, with the final statement being (Jn 1:36):  “...and as he (John) watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The second testimony as to His divine origin are the signs and miracles performed at and by His Hand. He was not “bragging” or pointing to Himself with pride.  Rather, He was pointing to the power of God.  


Finally, He points to the Scripture—the Words of Divine Inspiration written by Moses. He basically, tells them that if they truly believed what Moses had written, they would see that He (Jesus) is the fulfillment of God’s Promise to Moses. But instead, they sought their own prideful position and power—using knowledge for their own gain, rather than for God’s praise. Jesus calls us to be students of God’s word—good students who listen to it with expectant hope to gain useful knowledge to further us in our eternal life.  


Lord, give me the strength and wisdom to LISTEN ACTIVELY to the divine knowledge You speak to me!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


“In all truth I tell you, whoever listens to My Words, and believes in the One who sent Me, has eternal life…”  (John 5:24)  Jesus proclaimed these words so that we would ponder upon this truth and ask ourselves, “Lord, how can I love you more fully in my thought, word, and deed?” In this case, we must understand that “listen” is not a passive act. Rather, we must take what we hear and convert it to action in our daily living. He goes on to say, in John 5:28-29, “Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”  


Those who have “done good” will hear His voice and arise to the resurrection of eternal life and those who have done evil, eternal condemnation. Also, in this passage, Jesus affirms His oneness with God, the Father, saying, “I can do nothing on My Own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just because I seek to do, not my own will but, the will of Him Who sent Me.” (5:30) This intimate and full unity with the Father is the foundation of our Christian faith:  Jesus—thought, word and deed—is One with the Father.  Thus, Jesus obeys the Father’s Will as an example for us in everything we do in this life.  


We are called to obey and love God in the same manner. How is the Lord calling each of us to deepen our love for, in, and with Him? Are we listening to that call? In this world of “instant communication” and “global connectivity”, let us not forget the first and foremost need to listen (to Him). To do so requires that we “shut off” our need to be important in “worldly communication” and experience “divine communication”.  


Lord, help me to listen to You and to turn that which I hear into action in my life and in the world around me. Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.!

Paul B.


How truly open are we to God’s desire, willingness and ability to give us His protection, healing grace and mercy? John, in 5:1-16, tells of the healing of a paralyzed man, who had been ill for nearly 40 years. The man had been laying near the healing waters in the pool at Bethseda for many years, yet no one had stepped up to help him into the waters, where many came in the hopes of experience healing.  


As Jesus came to the temple for a Jewish festival, He approached the man, who was feeling helpless because no one had stepped up to help him into the waters. Though he had sat there many years, in unanswered hope and prayer, he waited. Jesus, as He passed by, offered this man the hope of being cured, asking, “Do you really want to be healed?” This question must have sparked hope in the man, though in his long-experienced frustration, he responded, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the waters are disturbed.  And, while I am making my way, others get there before me.” 


Jesus called the man to action, saying, “Get up and walk!” There are two key points we must ponder, as Christians, when considering this account. 1) Do we have the faith to patiently await God’s healing, forgiving, and merciful presence. 2) Are we willing to take action when His voice calls out to us? Faith in Action is the theme here. The man, upon Jesus’ request, listened to His request of him and got up on legs that had not been stood upon in nearly 40 years. He simply got up, picked up his mat, and walked. Jesus approaches us, every day, with a challenged to receive His grace and mercy! It may be in the form of blessings coming to us OR being a blessing for someone around us.  


Lord, fill me with a desire to be on Your Path to Holiness.  Transform my heart, renewing me each day in Your love, growing confident faith in Your Word.  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Lent continues and we look ahead toward the celebration of the Great Mysteries, and worship in spirit and truth as we rejoice in the Salvation of Our God. This week we are reminded in Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel of how we often miss the mark as we reflect on the parable of the Prodigal Son.

God is our gracious Father who provides us with all we need in abundance, and we so often take advantage of the Father who loves us with indulgence. We like the younger son are often prone to seek more of the good things God created, amass them and seek to indulge ourselves. We go through much of life simply taking things for granted and squandering our inheritance.  


Spending time in meditation with this parable and honestly seeing ourselves in the story, who are we? Am I like the young Son asking my father for all and "living it up" without a thought of gratitude or sharing with others? Or, am I like the elder brother—unaware of the deep love of my Father and His generosity and in my unawareness? All it serves is unbecoming, with bitterness and resentment, not learning what love the Father longs to share with me and teach me. Am I even less aware of His mercy, forgiveness, generosity and love beyond measure? Can I begin to be like the Father, celebrating the recovery of the lost? 


Am I open minded, open hearted, childlike, willing to learn that God, My Father, longs for me to come to Him and be one with Him and with Jesus, the Christ?  Despite my sinfulness, can I rise us and seek my Father's forgiveness and receive humbly His forgiveness? And can I forgive myself and rise to new life allow Christ to live in, with and through me?


As we approach the final weeks of Lent and prepare for the Easter time of the rejoicing Father drawing near to us, I pray! Especially in the circumstances of our lives at Sacred Heart and the entire Catholic Family in our immediate environs, fill us with a desire to mission. Teach us to be conduits of healing in all the ways we can be. Heal the brokenness we have allowed in the body of Christ. Amen. 



In Luke 15:1-32, we find Jesus being “called out” because of His relationship with tax collectors and sinners. Luke reports that Jesus shared several parables in order to help the religious leaders, in their “blindness”, see that their spirit of unforgiving and intolerant behaviors was the antithesis of the Father’s Love and Mercy. The first parable is the “Lost Sheep”.  Simply put, which shepherd, with 100 sheep, would not leave 99 gathered together to seek the one lost? He described a woman, who had ten coins and lost one. She rejoiced after lighting the lamp and sweeping the entire house until she found the one lost. 


Finally, He shared the most well known of the three, The Prodigal Son.  Here, we have the younger, impetuous son begging for “his share” of the father’s wealth. He then left and squandered the wealth. He found himself in dire straits and realized that, though he had wasted all that his father had given him, his best option (only option) was to return his father, who would surely accept him home—into his embrace.  


These three parables demonstrate that God’s mercy knows no bounds –especially human bounds. In the Prodigal Son, we find the older brother intolerant. Though he had not been wronged, he was still unforgiving of the younger brother. The religious leaders, scribes and Pharisees, were smart enough to see that Jesus was comparing them to this older brother. They, just like the older brother, allowed their intolerance to turn into pride and contempt for one who had not been as “righteous” in his observances/respect for his father. Yet, the father welcomed him home, gracefully, understanding (hoping) that the younger had “come to his senses” and (would) change(d) his ways. So it is with God when we have turned away.  


Lord, May we not doubt Your love and mercy toward those who seek You. May we not “judge” ourselves or anyone else “unworthy” of Your Love!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


The religious leaders, in Matthew 12:28-34, “tested” Jesus by asking him the question, “Which is the first of all commandments?  Jesus begins, simply, by quoting scripture (Deuteronomy 6:4), “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 


He expanded His answer to include that having such love for God requires that we, in turn, love our neighbors in and with that same. This answer “satisfied” the scribe, though he truly did not understand that Jesus’ quoting of the “first” (and greatest) commandment, to love God above all, and His call to love each other as God calls us to love was a reference to Himself, as God, made man. Nor, did he understand that the extension of the answer (to love they neighbor) was the “invitation” to act in the example being given by Jesus.  


The Good News of the Gospel is, in and of itself, a call to a new commandment of complete, total, and undivided love (and faith) in God. Jesus’ teaching, though, takes it a step further, clarifying that our love for God must be united with and exhibited by our love and compassion for those around us—friend or foe.  As God’s love is all-encompassing and welcoming, so must ours be.  


As Christians, if/when we take time to examine our daily lives (preferably at the end of each day given us), do we find that we are living a Christ-centered life? Do we maintain this focus in times of trial, as well as times of joy and thanksgiving?  Though Jesus knew the “satisfied” scribe did not “fully understand” (just as we often don’t, or lose sight of it, in our human condition), He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew. 12:34) 


Lord, help me to be “closer” to heaven as each day I strive to love you by and through my actions towards all with whom I come into contact in my daily endeavors.  May You say, “Well Done” at my day’s end.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Undivided faith!  “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  These words of Jesus, from Luke11:23, are powerful.  As we read Luke 11:14-23, we find Jesus having cast out a demon from a man who had been mute. When the man spoke, people were amazed. Yet, even having witnessed this miracle there were many who question the source of Jesus’ authority to perform this miracle. They thought and said amongst themselves, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.” (vs 15) 


Jesus, knowing the hearts of man, knew that they had confused and doubting hearts, so He warned them of doubt and, specifically, “divided faith”. As He had just driven out a demon, a minion of satan, He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls upon house.  If satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand—how can I cast out satan by his own name?” (vs 17-18)  He pointed out that it is by the hand of God that satan is cast away.  


Through these words Jesus warns us that we must have single-minded faith—Faith in God. He warns the religious leaders (and us) that we must not question or oppose God. Rather, we make a simple and fundamental choice to stand with Him (or not). The “not” choice is to make a choice for the kingdom of darkness. Standing with God, we choose to seek God and His strength through all joys and trials in life. We become open to doubt and confusion, satan’s powerful tools, thus inviting the temptation of sin into our lives when we disobey or let ourselves wander in thought, mind, or deed.  


In order to stand firm, we must welcome Jesus into heart and home, every day.  Lord, help me to stave off any moments of doubt in Your power in and over my life’s works.  May I maintain an undivided and firm faith in Your Love!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


“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.” (Deuteronomy 4:9) 


As we look around in today’s world, we see that we have “picked and chosen”, throughout our society, what things to remember, how to “interpret” to our own benefit, and simply “forgotten” to keep God and the fact that all we have and are come from His benevolence. Moses reminded the Israelites of that they are to “take care” and “be on guard” to not forget the things they have seen with their own eyes—God’s Goodness and Mercy.


Jesus, in Matthew 5:17-19, clearly states the same thing. He proclaims that he came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. He came to fulfill the plan of salvation that truly shows us HOW to live with one another, in and for God’s Way. In this passage He makes two things clear:  1) The Son of God did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to complete them. Therefore not one dot or stroke from the letters of the law shall disappear; 2) We are to teach our children (and others) to abide by the law, as we are all called to do. Those who do not abide or who hinder others from binding shall be considered least in God’s eyes. This, therefore, begs the question, of all who proclaim believe in Jesus Christ, “Am I mature enough in my faith to accept and be transformed in my daily living—example—by accepting and acting in Christ-like ways?”  


God’s commands were not “suggestions”, but principles to loving Him and our neighbors (all of whom are made in His image).  God’s commands are not to be seen as “restrictions” to our freedom, but as pathways to (eternal) freedom.  


Lord, help me to live according to your commands, providing a picture of true happiness and freedom to those whose lives I can/do affect by my own efforts.  J.O.Y.

Paul B


Most of us, as we reflect on the world around us, on our contribution to life itself we probably are careful to seek our own ego needs.We probably wouldn't be too eager to admit it, as we are likely to have an attitude that we are living good lives and doing our utmost to be holy. We often blithely admit we are sinners, but do we really admit it to ourselves by eagerly trying to change our lives?


We can discuss what is wrong with the approaches of the Church, even the way we gather at Eucharist. We are quick to point out how the Eucharist fails to satisfy! The Eucharistic celebrations are not engaging enough to keep people coming each Sunday. Perhaps better expressed as not entertaining enough. Music is not up to what we desire. Homilies are not engaging. Boring! 


Really! Why do we gather for Eucharist? What is occurring here? Christ present in our midst is not engaging? The Lord of life present and coming to feed us with the bread of life, boring? God speaking to us through his Word not exciting enough?


I wonder what an interview with God would reveal if we asked, ‘What do you think of our Liturgies? I am bored with your selfish attitudes. You come seeking to be satisfied in your ego needs and fail to see the wonder of life! You come in fairly large numbers each seeking his or her own desires and not even greeting my Son and He gives Himself completely for your eternal life. When asked to sing songs of praise, where is your voice your heart, as you sit in criticism of the music, the prayer being offered in song. Where is you mind and heart when the Word is being proclaimed, when the homilist speaks the words I give him for you.


Why are you strangers to one another in this Holy Family you call Church?  Am I asking to much when I ask that you love one another?Is mercy unknown? Will you at least try to turn from sin and be aware that I am always present loving you? We know what we want our Masses to be but do we even attempt to care about how to worship God as brothers and sisters in unity? After hearing the Word of God, uniting us to Jesus in Holy Communion, do we sense a need to go out from our worship to change our world? Do we even do this with ourselves, our families, our Catholic community? 


In our associations do we share our faith, teach our children and share with one another the story of faith? Do we engage one another and seek to grow in faith in corporal works of mercy? Do we have Catholic friends who we share life with and support in our faith life?


Try something this Lent. Write a story of your walk with the Lord and share with a close friend the wonder of Jesus the Christ who is…to you. Jesus is…?





As darkness covers the earth and another day, another month, fades into the past, we remain in the present moment. The past is behind us simply often a memory that hopefully has enabled us to live more fully in the present moment.


Each breath, each moment is filled with the presence of God. The world and all its allurements can distract us from that reality. Yet, with each breath we can know the creator gives life. 


Today when you enter into your planned quiet time with the Lord, breathe deeply, be still in body and quiet the mind. Let any thoughts simply pass by and give them no attentions, rather simply breathe in the breath of God. Be still and know that God is close, within you.


Child of God, rest in your Father's embrace. Open your heart to receive His love, His word, His life. Let the remainder of your day be a discovering of God's presence in all things, with every gift of created life that is good, that is revealing, Know that God is near.