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

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Offer It Up! Thursday, May 31, 2012

Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”He called a child over, placed it in their midst,and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Quit acting like a child.

Act your age, not your children’s ages.

Behave yourself!

That is so childish!

Well, there is something to be said for ‘being child-like.’ Maybe not so much childish but more along the lines of the humility and innocence that is seen so beautifully in the loves and lives of children. Yes, our children—they grow older and sometimes they even mature. So do we! We are all still called to be as God’s children, humble and trusting.

As adults, we get so encumbered with things that are not about humility and not about innocence. We know they are there and we know we must have those qualities in us somewhere. Yet they get buried deep beneath the veneer of the man-stuff and the woman-stuff we slather about us each day. Gotta have this. Gotta do that. Must see this. Must hear that. I want. We want. I need. We need.

There is nothing we need more and nothing we should want more beyond the Love of God in our lives. Everything else is redundant. Everything else is redundant. And how better to fill our lives with the joy and grace of God than to be like a child in the midst of His Love. There is no better way than to be humble in His presence, trusting in Love and open to the receiving of His grace. So go ahead, be a child. Act as if you were in God’s midst. Let Him recognize you as His child so that you may grow to be more like Him. That’s how we enter into our eternal salvation, the kingdom of heaven.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1 Peter 1:18-25

Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb. He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another intensely from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for:
"All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever." This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

Spinning your wheels, going in circles, stuck in a rut—use whatever euphemism you care to. We probably have all been there, in the ‘hand basket to hell’ or so it seemed at the time. It is in that ‘futile conduct’ of our lives we were practicing—maybe more than once or thirteen times even, it's there we’ve found ourselves in those inglorious predicaments.

Call them poor judgments. Call them lapses in the practice of our moral character. Or just call them sins or sinful ways of life. Whatever it was or is that you were or are doing just was or is not working. The more we run, the farther behind we get or the deeper the rut seems to be. And rightfully so as we come to realize the insanity of our ways. (Always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.)

And then it happens. The tow truck appears. The life preserver floats to you. The Saving Hand pulls you out of the rut from hell. Not to place you in the warmth and cuddliness of your own home or bed but into the depths of the passion and Love of Jesus Christ. The Love that was offered on the cross for your salvation and that of the world. The Love that pulls us closer to Him and farther away from the pits and ruts and circles we found ourselves in. Wash cleaned, ‘you have been born anew’ through and by this Love that will last forever. We all have been washed clean through our Baptism. With His grace, mercy and forgiveness, we can stay that way.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1 Peter 1:12-16

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the Good News to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look.
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.

Peter is full of encouragement as he writes with excitement about the Good News. He shares that people are already getting the message about serving others. And not only were they then serving others, they set out then to serve us! The Good News they preached was to last forever and the Holy Spirit was with them to send it forth.

This was a message founded in Jesus Christ. And as they grew in Him, they had to change from what they had previously—their former ignorance—and strip away the way of life that was contrary to their new life in Him. Through the grace they received in Him, their nourishment they received in Baptism, their lives with Jesus Christ were transformed. It’s as if they couldn’t change.

How are we any different once we are baptized and filled with the same Spirit? We’re not, really. Yet , how is it that we let our own former ignorance get in our way? We let ourselves go, in a sense, and begin to see things less holy, living a life of unholiness, rather than holiness. Literally, we become disobedient to what we have been called to be, His children. Our redemption was gained for us by Christ suffering and death on the cross. Our answer to that call to redemption is living a path of love and holiness. Once we have come to know the love we have for Jesus Christ,we cannot ‘unknow’ the Love He has for us.



Offer It Up! Monday, May 28, 2012
In Honor of Memorial Day-God Bless Those Who Served

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.

He didn’t have to give us anything then, us being the believer and the disciples. He doesn’t have to give us anything now, us being the current day believers and disciples, those who still carry out and carry on His Word today. It was then and is still today that all we have is because of His great mercy.

The greatest gift of course was His life. From that and His Resurrection, we have an unfading and unending hope for our salvation ‘kept in heaven’ for us, ‘safeguarded through faith.’ For this we give thanks and we give praise and rejoice. Yet for this we also experience tribulation. So we will suffer. So we will have trials. There will be sorrow and grief. All this to bring about a greater, genuine faith, ‘more precious than gold.’ As we progress through our faith, we will come to find that our commitment is deeper and stronger, building on a faith and find that it will have no particular ‘end’ to how deep or how strong it can be.

The more we have, the more we want. The more we want, the more we find we need Him. Even though we don’t see Him. Even though sometimes we may not hear Him. We still pray. We still love. We still press on. There is the joy and the eternal happiness awaiting us at our salvation. Let’s make the best of the journey.



Offer It Up! Sunday, May 27, 2012

Galatians 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.

For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

The first and last sentences reinforce the essence of the epistle: live by the Spirit and follow the Spirit and your chances of living rightly are pretty good. Yet there is that business of the ‘flesh’, those things of the world that seem to bring about temptation. Let’s call it what it is; it’s sin and it happens to us all.

If we needed a ‘shopping list’ of sorts, one is provided. How are we doing with those anger management issues in relation to our ‘outbursts of fury’? What to make of our jealous thoughts and ‘occasions of envy’ because the guy next door got the newer car and your still driving the same old heap? What do you do when you see the email that comes across and invites you to see some really hot photos—does the ‘lust’ button click on it or do you send it to junk mail? What about those things we hate? Do we treasure the world more than we treasure our faith?

Paul goes on to tell us that those who have died to themselves, who ‘have crucified their flesh’ will belong to Christ. In doing so, they kill those passions and desires of the flesh and submit to a life centered on Jesus Christ. A life that enjoys the fruits of love and joy, of peace and patience, of kindness and generosity, of faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is the sort of shopping list we should have. One that brings us to holiness and Godliness and to a greater renewal of our love and faith in Him.



Offer It Up! Saturday, May 26, 2012

John 21:24-25

It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Of all that we know in scripture, of all that we have learned of the Old and New Testaments, of all that has been prophesied and written of the Messiah and Jesus Christ—we still don’t know it all.

From John’s gospel, we read that the testimony is true: of all the miracles Jesus performed, of all the parables He shared, of all the messages He preached in the synagogues, we have only a small portion of what He accomplished.

Who knows of His life from the early times of His birth to the beginning of His ministry? Who knows of all the blessings bestowed on His journeys to and from the cities and towns He called His home? The treasures unknown that He left unheralded for us only to find out at such time upon our arrival for our eternal salvation.

Until then, we live as Jesus lived. Humble and small. Testifying to what we know as true and right and just. Our words and lives may not be recorded as His was by the likes of the disciples or anyone else for the matter. But for all we are and all we give, our lives do matter to Jesus Christ. We are His now and forever.



Offer It Up! Friday, May 25, 2012

John 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

How many times has someone asked you to do something and you quickly responded ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll get right on it.’ Or maybe it was ‘Okay, I can do that… just not right now.’ Or it could have been that you just outright rejected the request and went about your way without giving the request another thought.

That is the beauty of free will. It is also the ugliness of it as well. Choices. Options. Decisions. Every day God has blessed us to breathe, we are given those options to share our faith, to share our love and to respond as Peter responded… ‘Yes, Lord. I do love You.’ Three times he was asked, three times he responded fully and powerfully and even a bit resentfully. Peter knew that Jesus knew all and there was no denying his faith in Him. Just as we know that Jesus has His faith in us and knows of our faith in Him.

Yet, as we recall, Peter had a few challenges with his own faithfulness and his trust in Jesus a little earlier on in his own journey. If that sounds a bit like our own lives, it’s no accident that it does. As often as we respond that we do love the Lord, we too turn our backs and our answers away from Him. And still He says, ‘Follow me.’

As Peter fed His lambs and led His sheep, so to can we be feeders and leaders of those who seek salvation. The choice and free will remain ours.



Offer It Up! Thursday, May 24, 2012

Acts 23:9-11

A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue him from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

What’s all the fuss about? There’s nothing wrong with this guy? What if we keep bugging him and find out what he’s saying is actually the real deal?

That must have really set the stage for things to really get rumbling as the commander rather alertly plucked Paul from the goings-on and saved his bacon from any additional thrashing he may have been receiving.

Paul was probably grateful, as many of us would have been. Not that he was afraid for the thrashing or the persecution. For Paul still would have suffered—as he would continue to do—for what he believed. Just as many of us would and still do. No, probably not our first choice but if that is what we have been called to make happen for His sake and call, so be it.

Let us stand with courage as Paul did. And as the Lord stood by Paul, so He stands by us. Though we may not speak like Paul, have the knowledge as did Paul or the even the faith as he did—remember from whence he came. Begin with what we know and as we grow, our faith will allow us to show more. Let us all make our witness with the same fortitude and faith that Paul shared and glorify Him till He comes again.


As the Easter season fades into Ordinary time we are preparing to celebrate the feast of PENTECOST. The Holy Spirit in wind and fire transformed those early Apostles and disciples into courageous witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ. This band of men and women who secreted themselves in prayer, likely fearful of what was to happen, believing perhaps a bit reluctantly in the promise that the Holy Spirit would come.

Are we any different? We who were baptized as infants, received the Holy Spirit shortly after birth, and depending on those witnesses in our lives, we were nurtured in faith so we too could respond to the Holy Spirit. But alas, too often we can say with the men at Ephesus who responded to Paul, we have never heard of the Holy Spirit. Or if we have it was often in passing with little understanding of what it all meant. Maybe we too were told at one time we would receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

What were they?…uhh Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Courage, Counsel, Piety, Awe and Wonder in God’s presence (Fear of the Lord). If we remember them what does it all mean?

Perhaps in preparation for Pentecost we can prayer the following prayer each day and maybe began to a renewal of our life in the sprit!

Deacon

John 16:29-33

The disciples said to Jesus, "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God."
Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now?Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."

For every heartache and problem that comes our way, we tend to doubt.Does God care? Does anyone care? For all of those times that we felt alone or unable to share with someone our hearts deepest thoughts, we allow ourselves to get stuck in the muck of those thoughts and feelings.

Jesus shared often and openly with His disciples, but they often ended up scratching their heads in confusion. It seems they wondered, “What did He mean by that? I don’t get it.” I don’t know about you, but I often end up scratching my head about life circumstances and saying “I don’t get it.” And the more I say that to myself, the harder it gets to share my thoughts and feelings with someone so that I can “get it.” Withdrawing from others and deeper into those thoughts only leads to more head scratching.

At some point, Jesus knew it was time to reveal all to the disciples. He knew they were ready to receive the facts and the details of all that had happened and was about to happen. For the disciples, there came a point that they realized Jesus did not need to be questioned. They did not need to understand it all–they only needed to believe. Absolute faith and trust were the keys to unlocking the heart, mind, and soul to a better understanding and acceptance of the facts. They had to get themselves out of the way in order to see it. They had to surrender themselves to the truth that Jesus laid before them.

Surrender. We associate the word with defeat. But if we surrender ourselves to what is right and good and truthful, then the only thing being defeated is the muck of our confusion and despair. Jesus does not promise it will be easy, but He does promise that if we surrender to Him, we will have peace. lgboyd

Ephesians 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

As unfortunate as it is, there are some people that talk often about their love and faith in God and have little in the way of deeds and actions to support their discourse. Yes, there are even some of us that have the same love and faith in God that supplement our own belief system from time to time with our own sense of rationale… ‘God will understand this time if I don’t stop to help that guy out…’‘I gave at the office...’ ‘Nope—not gonna be the one to forgive this time; it’s always me that does it.’

If our value system and our Christian belief system were that shallow, like the baby pool waters, behavior like that might be understandable and correctable. Yet, as true believers and as much as we have come to know with as much as we have been given—the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him—our values and morals and beliefs should be in the deep end of the pool.

As His church, we are His body here on earth. As His church, He is calling us to serve Him at all times and in all ways, not when we find it convenient or suitable so that others may see us as we might want to be seen in action… self-aggrandizing would be the big word for that. As the eyes of our hearts come to be enlightened even more, we will see how the light will lead us not for ourselves but for others. Not to make us greater but to make us smaller so that others may grow. That will be the riches of our inheritance to our eternal happiness, sharing God’s Love in His heavens.

Romans 14:7-9

None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as his servants. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

There is safety in numbers. The more that are in a group of the same belief and or knowledge, the more likely the validity and security of the individuals in that group for the personal security, their ego and their intellectual well-being…not to mention their spiritual sanctuary of sorts. Think about the last time you were in such a group and recall how you felt.

Living as he did and telling us as we should live, Paul is talking about that same sense of security. Whether it be in greater numbers—those of the congregation you attend or those of your family and friends—or should it be in just you and Jesus Christ, that safety remains as we are His. One on one, two on two, thirty-three to a hundred fold or more, we find the confidence of protection of being a servant to Him.

We are His as we live. We are His as we die. As we die to ourselves to become more of what He is calling us to be as His servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. Through that death to self, we do come to life in Him, through the renewal of our spirit, through the renewal of our baptism, through the cleansing of reconciliation and God’s merciful forgiveness, we are His.


John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."

Good night, good night!

Parting is suchsweet sorrow,that I shall say good night till it be morrow

Apologies to W. Shakespeare…

It might be that the disciples really didn’t have much to look forward to the next day after the Ascension of Jesus Christ. One could imagine not only the sadness they were feeling but also the stress and pressure that had to be upon them: now it was up to them to do all that He had left them to do. He gave them permission to grieve, to weep and mourn. He let them know that the grief and mourning would soon turn to joy just as a mother shares in the pain and joy of a newborn child. She lets go of the recent, raw, intense pain to welcome the newness of life found in the birth of her child. A new life is hers to share.

Jesus did as much for the His disciples, leaving them with their new lives to share. As they let go and endured His leaving, He left them with the good news that He would see them again and that they would all rejoice with a joy no one could take from them. A joy of new life in Him.

Jesus knew them inside and out and knew their pain. Just like He knows ours when we hurt. When we are in the throes of grief. Of suffering. Of sorrow. He knew what to take from them and knew what to let them have so that they could grow. Just like He knows what to take and share with us—our burdens, our anxieties, our trials.

When we go to Him in prayer, He comes to us with His response. It could more faith to see us through. It could be a cure or a healing. Or maybe it could be just what we wanted. Whatever Jesus gives us, it will always be what we needed from Him. We grow with grief as we grow with joy. Jesus is with us all the way.



Offer It Up! Thursday, May 17, 2012

Luke 24:50-53

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them.As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

He was with them and then He was gone. Though before His Ascension, He did leave them with some work to do. Not just any work, but the work of spreading the Good News of salvation. The work He had begun with them but more importantly, for them.

Luke 24:45-47

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third dayand that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Up till now, Jesus had been with them to let them know how His message was to be delivered.Up till now, He was with them to open their eyes to greater things in store for them and the world. Up till now, Jesus had given them firsthand the tools necessary to go to all the world and share the gospel. Now it was up to them.

And now it is up to us. We’ve been passed the baton from generation after generation. We’ve been running the race—either running well or not so well, straying from our lanes as we might and have. With forgiveness, we come back to run the better race. We have the tools. We have the stamina. We have His kingdom at hand here on earth to work in and live in and love in so that we may live in eternity with Him when we finish our race.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, May 16, 2012

John16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

Even though our minds are cluttered with stuff of the earth, we know better to fill our hearts and souls with what satisfies us spiritually—the love of Jesus Christ and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe you’ve heard the lines thrown around ‘I’d tell you but then I would have to kill you’, ‘another story for another time’, ‘yes I heard you but that’s not important right now’ and the one ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ They are all different ways of saying I have something else to tell you other than what you are expecting or wanting to hear.

The disciples for whatever reason were not ready to hear what else Jesus had to tell them. They had already the faith in Him yet He was preparing them for even more;the Truth to come upon them in the Holy Spirit that was to fill them and guide them. The closer they would come to the Truth in the Holy Spirit, the closer they could bring the believers to Jesus Christ.

As much as we ‘can’t handle the truth’ sometimes, it is still the Truth. The Truth we find in the love of God and the fellowship in Jesus Christ. The faith shared among the disciples and Jesus is the same faith we have today, thousands of years later. That is the Truth. And that Truths sets us all free.

John 8:31-32

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



Offer It Up! Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honoring Saint Mathias.

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Mathias. What do you know or what do we know about Mathias? Reflecting on the readings, you will encounter Mathias in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter, addresses some 120 or so disciples of Jesus and points out that Judas chose not to honor his office as one of the chosen twelve, and that they must, according to the Scriptures (Hebrew Scripture), give his office to another. Two were selected Mathias and Joseph, or Barsabbas also called Justus. They prayed and drew lots and Mathias was the chosen one. Mathias filled the requirements of being a disciple who witnessed Jesus' life from his baptism to the Ascension. He was importantly a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus. We certainly do not know a great deal about Mathias' life from that point on but surely he was a factor is the spread of the Gospel.

We are the recipients of all that the early Church accomplished in proclaiming the faith, and we are now the chosen ones called to continue the work of bringing the Church to the fullness of God's Kingdom. Chosen! Do you know you are chosen? What happened on the day of your baptism? If you were an infant could you possibly even remember? Maybe it was two days from the womb, and you were baptized, chosen? What happened then? God spoke and people responded. Parents brought their child to the Church and those awesome words and actions brought this child into God's own life. You are indeed a child of God, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

But, now how often do your ears hear the word of God? How often do your eyes behold the revelations of God? What is your experience of God's love?

God's plan includes the cooperation of those human persons He has chosen—and that means all of them. He became a human person to share our humanity and offer us the possibility of sharing His divinity. We are chosen. Perhaps we can understand in some way that being given life itself in human form is being chosen. What seems to be difficult to grasp is that concept of freedom where we can refuse to be chosen. We can ignore God's love and choose to live by being in complete control, believing perhaps that we can generate our own happiness however we choose without any recourse to love itself. Love becomes in those instances turned inward and exclusive.

Eventually we find ourselves alone, perhaps in some ways like the man Adam was alone before God created a suitable partner for the man.

Why not ask Saint Mathias to intercede for us and pray for the grace and wisdom to see ourselves clearly in the light of God's love, in the radiance of the Resurrected Christ, and to become one more completely with the Trinity.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, May 14, 2012

Ephesians 2:19-22

You are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord; in him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.

All along, we are instructed, led, commanded, even blessed with gifts and talents to become one with Christ. Indeed, we are strangers no longer as we bring not just ourselves but those we share our lives with into fellowship and service with Jesus Christ.

As He has told us elsewhere in scripture, houses built of stone and on solid foundations are sure to last. Those that are built on shifting soil are subject to destruction. Those that are built with lesser materials and on less solid ground are pretty much doomed. As a community of believers—fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God—we must come together to build that household on solid rock, with stones and mortar, to withstand the temptation and attraction of sin.

Just as a well-constructed home can withstand the storms, so too can those that are formed together in faith. Just as we come together to share in prayer and in the liturgy and Eucharist, we also come together as a holy temple of the Lord. As He has chosen us to be His people, let us make for Him the proper dwelling place within our hearts to keep Him there.



Offer It Up! Sunday, May 13, 2012
Happy Mother's Day!


Offer It Up! Saturday, May 12, 2012

John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me."

I didn’t say it was your fault. I said that they were going to be blaming you.

No, this is not in any way what Jesus was telling the disciples but it may have been what they were hearing. After all, they were human and they had some seemingly insurmountable tasks in front of them. It was their worldly thinking that would lead them to think of their insecurities, just as the ‘world’ was thinking against the Word Jesus was laying out for them.

The world wanted what they could see and know. The message that Jesus and the disciples had for them was more than they could or would want to handle. Yet the Word and message went forth. And things began to happen.

People of the world began to keep the Word. They were changing. They were being transformed by the message from Jesus and the disciples. Yes, the persecution continued. Yes, the worldly thinkers still moved on, loving its own. Yet those that kept His Word, the disciples and those that came to follow them, persevered and continued to change their own world.

How is this any different for us today? We have the Word. We have the disciples. We have the worldly thinkers. We even have those that get blamed even though the fault is not their own, as Jesus first let His disciples know.

"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”

May we will all keep His Word so that others may come to keep it too.



Offer It Up! May 11, 2012
Happy Birthday Rita!

John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."

There are those who would rather spend their time discussing the ramifications of what costs there are to friendships: the time, the effort, the things that are shared all for the sake of having one called as friend. I guess that has some value in the long run only if it helps them become aware of what friends they really have. And those can be found out more not by what they say but more by who they are, what they do and how they do it… with love and for love and in love.

Paraphrasing the lines from the poem 'Outwitted' by Edwin Markham, some people find ways to keep people from coming into their lives by drawing circles or walls around them to shut them out. Others, like real, authentic friends, draw their circles to bring them in. And they do so with the same love that Jesus had shown in His ‘circle’ of friends. He chose them as He has chosen us today. To bear fruit, to pass along the goodness and faithfulness we have accepted from Him. Just as authentic friends would do for one another.

Authentic friends. One such authentic friend is celebrating her birthday today. Not a milestone birthday—that one comes next year—but when you are as young as she is, she’ll be around to have many more milestones to share. Just as she shares her gifts that God has given her. And those gifts are plentiful and her number of friends equally so for she draws and opens up her circle far and wide to bring in family, friends and those who are next to be friends.

That is how Rita is. In her faith. In her family. In her friends and in her vocation. Her faith is that important to her, so much so to share it as Jesus commanded us to. Her family is that important to her to nurture them and instill in them all the same faith, hope and love she has come to know in her Christ-centered life. Her friends are that important to her to laugh with them, to love with them, to live and to cry with them throughout the same passages and trials of life she has lived and shared. That is Rita. Authentic in her faith. Authentic in her family. Authentic in her friendship. Authentic in love.

Resolute nearly to a fault

SpIritually gifted

TrusTing soul

Authentic friend

Anyway you ‘spell’ her, she is indeed all the gifts we see in her. We are better family, better friends and for sure a better world for having her in ours.

Happy Birthday to our very dear and good friend. With God’s love and blessings, may this day be the special day you deserve.



Offer It Up! May 10, 2012
Happy Birthday Bishop Vann!

John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.
"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete."

Complete Joy.

Complete Love.

Nothing short of either will Jesus settle for us. Neither should we settle for less in our love for Him or for one another.

Complacency is settling for the status quo, the same stuff, different day, ho-hum, sort of attitude and existence.

Completeness is striving for the fullness we find in the Love and Joy of Christ Jesus. Every day. Not just on Sundays. Not just when we feel like it. Not just during those times of the year when everyone else is ‘in the moment’.

This type of Love is authentic and is based on the centering of our lives on a conscious faith in Jesus Christ. As His Love is real for us and complete, so can ours be for Him and for those He has called for us to share it with.

Just everybody. Completely.



Offer It Up! May 9, 2012
Happy Birthday Joe!
Happy Birthday Becky!

Romans 14:17-19

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.

Fasting is good, especially in conjunction with our prayers as we put ourselves on the path toward holiness and God’s plan for us. Not that we should give up entirely on the food and drink but we certainly can see what Paul means when he tells us that it is a matter of how we fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit, not with what we load up on in food and libations.

As we limit what we take in for our physical needs, we can focus more on what we need for our spiritual needs. Peace and joy are two we can all identify with—who among us has all of either of those we can stand? I will get in line for more.

As we serve others to an end of peace and joy and righteousness, that is how our lives can and will be more in line with what God is calling us to be. As our bodies are supplemented by the foods we take in, so too are our souls nourished by the Holy Spirit, filling us with our spiritual food necessary for our salvation.

Acts 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God."
They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Two steps forward and three steps back. Whatever strides that Paul and Barnabas and the other disciples were making seemed to be an exercise in futility. On top of that, Paul had his life stoned from him-or so the Jews had presumed-and that must have set the others to wondering about the depth of their own dedication and faith.

Yet they stayed on. They stayed on and brought Paul back to his old evangelizing self. Paul and Barnabas moved ahead with the Good News and ‘strengthened the spirits of the disciples’ as they did. With all the trials they faced, they knew what it was going to take to not only spread the Word of God but to enter into His eternal kingdom. Those that accepted their teachings grew with them and the Church. Those that did not struggled with their own beliefs.

We accept today the same teachings that Paul and the disciples brought to the people they evangelized. We accept them or we continue to struggle with the same issues those that chose to ignore them did—we will be continue to be troubled and afraid in the face of humiliation and danger of the darkness of sin. As Paul and the disciples gave us through Jesus Christ, there is a way with hope and peace that will allow us to not only face the temptation and tribulation but to overcome it. As He gave them the promise of salvation through Him and with Him, He gives it to us. It is there for the asking and the taking.

Acts 14:14-18

The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.
In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts." Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

Throughout our lives, we get the experience of seeing things that ‘might be’ based on our current vantage points. Things may or may not always be what they appear to be. Case in point: from where I sit now, I see an overheard expressway with traffic that had been nearing a standstill some hour and a half ago now beginning to flex its muscles a bit more and carry on almost as traffic should be. Not knowing or being able to see what was causing the standstill or slowdown—construction, an accident, something in the roadway—I can only presume that one of those causes or another less obvious one was playing havoc with the travel plans of a few hundred drivers.

The drivers themselves were a little closer to the action and they would eventually find out what the hold-up to the traffic was. Yet much good it would do them; they were still at its mercy (or were) and there was little else to be done about it. Change the way they had to look at it and accept the current plight and move ahead, however slowly it might be. No, it does no good to get angry at the roadway or the accident or the cause of it. (Expressing one’s displeasure at inanimate objects is not really a good sign mental or emotional health anyway…)

That is the message Paul and Barnabas were trying make: people, you guys are offering your efforts to things that are of this world—yes, inanimate objects included with those that you offer to us as sacrifices. As they proclaimed then and as we read in scripture today,

We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.

If we put our trust in His Truth and fully believe in all that He has given us in scripture and in the faith we have through Him, we will find as Paul and Barnabas did the will and strength to carry on.


1 John 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

There are times we concern our thoughts—sometimes overly so—with matters of doing and being the person God called us to be. We waffle and waggle between the right and sort of right things to do, sometimes paralyzing our actions with so much analysis that we end up not doing anything at all. When that happens, we find out that we are not then any closer to what we want to be as God’s children. To put it in its most direct term, death by indecision means you’re still dead.

Just as it states in 1 John, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God. We can move from indecisiveness and temptation to deeper faith and following His will for us by keeping His commandments. This is nothing new of course. Nor is temptation or falling into it. Just so, we have always had the gift of free will to make the path our own or follow the one chosen for us from God… by keeping to His commandments.

From our faith, scripture and our beliefs, we have come to know that God is greater than our heartsand knows everything. With assurance like that, we can move from the uncertainty of temptation and sin toward His everlasting covenant of faith, hope and love. We must become even greater disciples of the message that covenant holds for others. We can do so not only by the way we say it but more importantly by the way we live it. We must trust in the Truth as we do so.



When guests—special guests at that—are invited to dinner or visit, we often spend an inordinate amount of time putting things in just the right place, cleaning the corners of the rooms not usually cleaned and making sure that all is in ‘just right.’ Even as the knock on the door is heard, we are scampering about the house making last second adjustments to this or that area so that our guest or guests are duly impressed.

If we go through all of these motions for such a worldly impression, what should we make of ourselves for our place in eternity?

Prepare the Way of the Lord. Fill in the valleys and lower the mountains.

Is this something we do just once and then we’re done? Are we okay with giving Him an occasional acknowledgement then for His impending arrival? For all the time we take putting our earthly house in order for these special guests to visit—not to mention the friends we have that we welcome to our homes just as they are and just as our homes are—what of our spiritual ‘homes’ that we take less time preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ?

Our baptisms were just the beginning of our salvation. We were not one and done, saved and won. It takes preparation. It takes effort. It takes what Jesus took for us: sacrifice. Love. Death. Death to self. Emptying of our worldly selfishness so that we may be filled with His Light. That is how we prepare the Way. That is how we prepare our paths and the paths of those we share. There will be trials, there will be failings. And through it all, there will be Jesus Christ with us on our path to see His Father in eternity.

Isaiah 40:11

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care

Zephaniah 3:16-18

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, Zion, do not be discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days. I will remove disaster from among you, so that no one may recount your disgrace.

God is with us. Right here and right now. Yes, it is true that He is also larger than life. He is greater than anything we can possibly imagine. Greater than the sum of any and all imaginations. He is. God.

We can choose to be overcome by the vastness of what we don’t know about Him and carry on with somewhat of a table-pounding, do-this or suffer the consequences sort of God. Or we can elect to submit what we do know about His Love for us and learn more how to live and love according to that knowledge and wisdom. That is acceptance. Just like He accepts us where we are, we can accept what we do not know—yet—and form our lives around more of what we do know of what He teaches us instead of what we find in the things of the world.

That is how our spirituality changes. That is how we change and grow more in our holiness. And as we do, we come to find out that God is still with us as He has always been. And the table pounding sounds we may have associated with Him could have been His heart pounding out our love for us. Now it could be that it is our hearts that pounding and on fire for Him as He renews us in His all powerful Love.


John 14:6-14

Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."

For some of us, it’s not a question of if we’ve ever put our foot in our mouth but a question of how many feet we’ve stuck in it... sometimes both at the same time. After Jesus pronounced that He was the way, the truth and the life, Phillip must have thought he could show his intelligence by asking Jesus for them to be shown the Father. This of course, even after Jesus clearly states that not only does no one come to the Father except through Jesus but that if you know me then you know the Father. And if that wasn’t enough, He emphasized His point by saying that you do know Him and you have seen Him.

With all of that, Philip still had a brain and mouth disengagement moment. We’re not sure what tone Jesus took with him but one could imagine that He may have been leaning toward being a teeny bit frustrated or maybe even discouraged by Philip’s and maybe even some of the other disciples’ lack of acceptance. Jesus wanted them to know and believe that He was with the Father and the Father was with and in Him. The works that Jesus performed and the words that He spoke came from the Father. He wanted the disciples to believe in Him for what He said or of the works He did. He was putting them in a position to do as He was calling them to do and they needed a clear and present understanding of that calling. Indeed, He had chosen them and they were on their way to do the works He did-even greater ones as Jesus pointed out. So yes, they needed to know for sure that He and the Father were with them and in them.

This is about the time in these reflections I input something about our lives today and how they relate to the scriptures… so here it goes. We too are challenged by our egos and what we think we know. Maybe Philip had a momentary lapse where his ego—Extraordinary Glory Overload-took over and he had a showboat moment. That’s okay. Jesus helped him through it like He does us when we do the same thing. Maybe He didn’t grab Philip’s ear and take him aside and have the first ever ‘come to Jesus’ meeting but He made His point: Whatever you ask in My Name, so the Father will be glorified in the Son.

He makes His point with us every day we come to Him in prayer. That is how we come to know Him, love Him and come to be like Him. Let us dwell in His house forever.

John 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me."

He didn’t just say it, He ‘cried’ it out. He shouted it out. He called out to those who could hear him—who were ready to hear Him and wanted to hear Him. Jesus was letting those who were within earshot that He was here for them, for their salvation—‘for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.’

And by saving the world, He brought them from the darkness of sin. The darkness of sin that the world was in. The darkness of sin that the people were living in. The darkness of sin and death that they had when they did not believe in Him.And this was not about Jesus making it all about Him but about Jesus making it all about what His Father had sent Him for... that they might have eternal life. They could take up with Him and follow the Light to eternal life or stay in the darkness of their sins.

The choice was their choice then as the choice is ours today. As Jesus came into their lives, He comes into ours. He can fill us with the Light of His forgiveness and grace. He does fill us with His Light as we give our lives over and up to Him. As we empty our hearts and souls of the darkness of our sins to be filled the Love only He can give. Truly then as Jesus was reflected in those that followed Him when He walked the earth, His Light will be reflected in all of us who follow Him today.


The fourth Sunday of the Easter Season was Good Shepherd Sunday. We all know the Good Shepherd is Jesus, and we all know at some level he died for us. But, so often the question remains, so what? What difference does this make in the way we live our lives?

There is no doubt for most of us that Christ left us with the Church. We look back and see that the bishops are the successors of the Apostles. Yet, through the course of history we have found ways to fracture the Church, and still find ways to ignore what the Lord says in and through the Church.

If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and most would agree He is, then why do we so readily fail to heed His voice when He speaks to us in and through his Church? We cannot fail to see that sin is justified in our minds and hearts every day as we choose to live according to our own desires and whims rather than to live faithfully to the teachings of the Church. We continue to refer to ourselves as followers of Christ, as Catholics, but then we pick and choose according to our own lights what will guide our living.

Living the faith often takes a back seat to what we consider makes us happy. We see persons treating one another as objects, things that can be used to achieve our own selfish desires. God? We will fit God in somewhere in our busy schedules, but that is not a priority. Success that is the goal, and success is measures by the measure of the wealth we accumulate.

The Good Shepherd asks: Do you love me? Feed my Sheep.

As we continue on our journey will we feed the sheep entrusted to us?

In our families are we feeding the Sheep God entrusted to us?

Is the climate of faith in and around us conducive to receiving and transmitting the Word of God?

You and I can do our part by making prayer a planned part of our daily life, by paying attention to opportunities offered to enter into God-talk or faith discussion. We can all do our part in loving one another and being open to being broken for the other. None of us has all the answers. Together sharing God's gifts of live and love we come to deeper faith and chaste love that leads us to peace.

Today, share with someone a rose of caring.

Deacon