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

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OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2014

Today’s Gospel Journey brings me to another “diversion”, this time to Luke1:39-56. Here we find Mary, having been chosen to bear God’s Son, Jesus, into the world, visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who is also with child:  John the Baptist. Elizabeth, immediately upon hearing Mary’s greeting, was filled with the Holy Spirit!  And John, her child destined to be the prophet who “prepares the way of the Lord”, leapt in her Spirit-filled womb! Elizabeth, in her joy, first questioned Mary, asking, “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” Then, she goes on to tell Mary, “….blessed are you who believed that the promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” 

 

The thing that strikes me in this entire passage is the humility of these two servants, chosen by God and filled clearly and directly by the Holy Spirit.  They both greet and discourse to each other in such eloquent words. Both CHOSEN to fulfill God’s promises from the Old Testament, yet they receive his blessings “in stride”  Mary’s eloquence in Luke1:46-55 (a “MUST READ”, this morning) is the perfect example of how we should express our gratitude to God EVERY DAY for the abundant blessings we often take for granted, even in the midst of strive and turmoil in our lives (remember, Mary accepted God’s gift even though she would be open to ridicule for being pregnant…. “….do unto me according to Your Will….” 

 

We have heard/read about, in the last few days, of the comfort and joys of the Holy Spirit….  Mary and Elizabeth were filled with great joy at the privilege to serve….  Have we rejoiced and proclaimed in His greatness lately? 

 

Lord, allow me to spend some time (with friends and family) reflecting on how you have blessed me in so many ways, situations, and persons in my life!  May I recognize the richness of Your Blessings to be chosen, by You, for Your Works.  And, may I allow Your voice, through Your Spirit, to fill me, use me, mold me, and guide me! (Don’t forget to read Luke 1: 46-55).

Paul B

 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

 


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014

Today, in reading John 16;20-23, we hear Jesus cautioning us that living the Gospel’s Truth and Value, is not for the weak at heart. When we face the truth, and in this case the “Ultimate Truth”, we may encounter pain, sorrow, and persecution. But, He assures us that through acceptance of His word and our faith in His goodness that we will receive and be filled with a joy that supersedes all human understanding. And, that joy will be for all eternity! 

 

This week, as I have enjoyed time with 11 recent graduates from Floyd High School, I have heard phrases like, “This is the greatest trip ‘ever’” or “I will ‘always’ remember this trip’. It is so easy in this human condition, to use terms like “always” and “(for) ever”. We use words such as these all the time in the love and happiness of our human condition. And these terms, in our humanness, dissipate as quickly as they are uttered. 

 

In the “blink of an eye”, we can go from a feeling of great joy to a moment of great sadness. But, in today’s reading, Jesus assures us that the great joy we will be given through standing in faith, to and by the Father, will last “always” and “forever”. Can we truly comprehend that now (today)? 

 

Lord, let us draw strength and hope from You, through Your Spirit, in all of the experiences of our human condition! May we believe and KNOW that you will always be there for us and may our hearts be strong in this hope for eternal gladness. Help me to say, “Come Holy Spirit” as a prayer of comfort during times of feeling lost, as well as in times of fleeting happiness, so that I will gain eternal joy with You!

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2014

Stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit! I am returning to the Father and We will send the Holy Spirit. Then you are to go out and proclaim the Good News to the world. As Jesus ascends to the Father, He reassures that through the Holy Spirit He will always be with them, with us!

 

As we approach Pentecost, are we aware of the Holy Spirit in our lives? In our walk of faith how often are we even aware of the Holy Spirit? Who is He? What is It? Holy Spirit! 

 

We pray Come Holy Spirit! What do we expect when we pray this prayer?

Come, and we will renew the face of the earth! Really are we that determined that with the help of the Holy Spirit we are ready to change the face of the earth?

 

During the next nine to ten days how will I and or you prepare for Pentecost, the celebration of the birthday of the Church, the stirring in our lives the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2014

John 16:12-15

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.”

 

As if the disciples didn’t have enough to be concerned about, Jesus lets them know He had even more to tell them… but not now, they couldn’t handle it. The Spirit of Truth will be with them and they will be better suited to know what lies ahead.

 

In a similar sense, how often does Jesus keep things from us? It could be that we have our prayers answered in such ways that we have so much more to be told but now is not the time for us to hear it from Him. There are other things He would prefer us to be gifted with, other people for us to love, other ways for us to give so that we may give glory to Him for all that we have through God the Father.

 

he will guide you to all truth

 

When we are in doubt, when we are faced with those uncertainties that keep us from moving forward in our faith, we must keep in mind that the Holy Spirit with guide us all to all truth. The path to holiness is a lot harder to walk than the path to unholiness. Our faith calls for us to live in such a way that others know we are faithful to His Truth, day after day, glorifying Him whatever comes our way.



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2014

John 16:5-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”

 

As reassuring as He is, the disciples are still sad that Jesus has to leave them. Can we really blame them? For someone like that to have made the impression He did on their lives—who would want Him leave? Yet Jesus still goes on to tell them that if He does not go, the Advocate cannot come then in His place.

 

And as much as Jesus has shown them and shared with them, He tells them that they will learn more from the gifts that the Holy Spirit will bring them. Gifts in the message that what the world is doing is sinful and condemnation because the ruler of the world, Satan, has been condemned for his evil ways. The righteousness comes from the message the disciples share as Jesus goes to His Father and then they must go and do as He has instructed them to do, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

So how are we to be convicted? Of sin and condemnation? Or of righteousness and virtue? We cannot choose both and have life eternal with the Father. We have to be with Him or we are against Him. As He has gone to prepare that place for us, let us do all we can here to prepare our way to get there.

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014
MEMORIAL DAY

Today, as I continue reflecting on John’s Gospel, verses 15:26 to 16:4, Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit will be sent, first and foremost, as a Witness to Him and to the Father! Yesterday, my morning reflections led me to ponder and pray that the Holy Spirit would be my own “ultimate witness” to God,  the Father, upon the completion of my earthly journey. I prayed that the Spirit is the witness that testifies on my behalf for my Glorious acquittal and final acceptance into the Eternal Kingdom. 


Today, Jesus affirms that the Spirit is truly sent from Heaven–assuring us in the knowledge that the Trinity–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct and divine presences of God, yet unified as God! Just as it was the Father’s will to send His Son to earth, as man, to communicate His Will of Salvation, Jesus promises the descent and presence of the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, and be a witness of His eternal presence, care, and love. 

 

The Spirit guides us in the obedience of His commandments, especially towards the Love and Unity He preaches in the New Testament. Finally, through the Spirit, we gain courage to face the secular distractions, rejections, persecutions, and loneliness that inevitably comes in our human condition. The good news is that he is always there for the seeking and the taking! 

 

Lord, we deeply desire the strength to be more Christ-like.  Heal, enlighten, and empower us to accept the Holy Spirit in heart, mind, soul, and deed!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2014

1 Peter 3:15-18

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

 

As the disciples and the apostles did so early on, they were filled with the Holy Spirit as they accepted the Gospel. This they passed on and communicated in word, in deed and in the miracles they performed, sharing the life they knew in Christ with others.


As they made the message their own, we make our message our own today as we live and share the Gospel as disciples. With reverence, with love, with compassion—all for one another—we humbly submit our hearts and souls as witnesses to His resurrection in our own lives. As people saw it in the letters of Peter, so too can they see it reflected in our lives.


Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have.


We may not allows have a great answer ready or one that satisfies the inquirer but we can always have our hearts in the right place to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us when challenged by the world. Let us keep reverent and holy; let us prayerfully seek His way and will so that our reason for living and loving will be evident without too many questions being asked about our worldly life but more about our next. 




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2014

Jesus, in John 15-18-21, makes it clear that there are to be no “rivals” when it comes to our love and devotion to Him. As His discourse on faith and love continues, He makes a clear statement that we must make a choice for or against God. We belong to the Lord, yet we have a choice to live His commandments. In doing so, there becomes a clear distinction between those who do (who Jesus calls “the world”) and those who choose to choose the Commandments and Gospel values of Christian Love. 

 

“The world” comes to us in the forms of temptations to be selfish, jealous, envious, or other such distractions. We, instead, as Christians are called to pray for the grace of perseverance and courage to live the Gospel values modeled and taught by God’s presence among us. We are called to withstand the pressures of “worldly” influences. Jesus, in His final discourse, is bold enough to tell us that we will be “hated” by those of “the world”. He presents here a very stark (and real) contrast to the “love” He has been expounding on in the prior 17 verses written by John. 

 

Lord, allow me the strength to withstand the rejection of the secular world that increasingly glamorizes possession (financial), popularity, and earthly power. Give me the courage to put You first, no matter the worldly cost. I pray that You (and “the world”) see that there is no other rival or distraction in my life and may it be evident in and through my heart, mind, and actions. May my belief and knowledge of Your ultimate Glory, awaiting me, sustain me through from “this world” to the Next.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2014

Today I continued through Jesus’ discourse, reading John 15:12-17. 

Jesus just finished saying that we are to remain in His Love, just as He has remained in the Father’s Love. In this discourse He goes on to truly clarify just what that love is. He does not mean, “I like you”, or, “I am attracted to you”, or “I want to ‘hang out’ with you”. He clearly and simply states, “I will do anything for you, including laying down my life.” 

 

Imagine the disciples hearing this as they are sitting around the dinner table. Did they truly understand the magnitude of what He was saying?  Did they understand that here, the night before His passion and death, He was foretelling His own death and resurrection? Or, did they hear the words and “feel good” about the idea that “God is Love”, without fully understanding such a love that knows no bounds? 

 

How often do we sit in church or spend time with each other and discuss God’s Love without truly understanding this:  “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends”? Jesus shares His Love, the Love of the Father who created us, with total and unconditional actions and He proved it through His own sacrifice. How much of our own lives do we sacrifice for people we call friends? As we share ourselves with those around us, what small sacrifices do we make that show the Father that we are willing to share, even in small part, in Jesus’ example – in Jesus’ cross? 

 

Lord, help me to share the love I have received from you so that the Glory of God will shine through my acts of Love for others.  Teach me to serve You as You have shown us, to give to others without regard to cost, and to labor for the sole reward of Your Eternal Love.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014

John 15:9-11 begins the “next phase” of Jesus’ final discourse, in which He clearly brings his new commandment of love. He has spent time explaining faith and how it works, sharing the benefits of faith, and finally acts of faith. Now, He gets to the heart of the matter: the life-giving love that produces unending joy and lasting friendship for all who accept and share it. Think about little kids on a playground…. they often (almost always) have a “best friend”. The funny thing is, that “best friend” changes almost daily. Jesus is clear that He has demonstrated love of His disciples in the same manner that the Father loves: love that can’t be destroyed and love that is creative, life-giving, and full of immeasurable joy…. eternally. 

 

There is no changing God’s love – it is not “best” one day, and “second-string” the next. It is always there for the taking! All he asks is that we love Him, in return, through word and deed.  o, in the words of “Forrest Gump”, “This is my “best good friend….”, may we always remember that “Best” has been laid out for us in the form of God’s ultimate gift: His Son! 

 

In our humanness, “best friend” may vary on any given day, based on mood or other fleeting earthy bind we may be limited by, but God’s Love is boundless and always “Best”. May we experience, know, and share God’s pure and boundless love that denies selfishness, fear, and pride. 

 

Lord, may we grow in the joy and hope of Your Love so that there is nothing in our lives that keep us from Your Love here and forever. And, may this love be shown through my obedience to your command. Finally, I pray for the unity of Christians, everywhere, as it is only through acceptance of Your command to love that this can be accomplished.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014

John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

 

Remain in me as I remain in you.

If we don’t, out we go.

Given the choice then, it seems obvious our path to take. Even as the pruning takes place, the pain involved is well worth the result in the end. Either that or take the withering heat as we are thrown aside. As unconditional is His love, Jesus tells us that God is true to His Word: as we stay a part of the vine, He will see to it that we bear the fruit He would have us bear.

 

Life with Christ is that way. As we live in Him as His disciples, He leads us accordingly with compassion and love, the sort of stuff that keeps the branches vital on the vine. Without such we would bear little if any fruit.

No fruit, no branch. So it goes.

 

Interestingly enough, it is our choice to stay attached to the vine. We can be open to have His love and compassion course through us or we can opt to be less fruitful. We can choose to follow the path He has for us or go our own way. We can practice the faith fully according to Scripture and Tradition or pick and choose what we want. We can always take from our community what they have to give but never give back what others need from us. How we can be Christ-like or unChrist-like is up to us Just as with plants, the more we want to bear fruit, the more pruning it will take to do so.

 

because without me you can do nothing.

 

Let us resolutely then hold ourselves to higher regard to bear then more fruit, no matter the cost or pain of the pruning. Remaining in Christ will always have its reward in eternal life.

 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014

“He (satan) has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.  Get up, let us go.” 

Today, in John 14:27-31, Jesus, in His final discourse, moves from describing “the way”, how we should believe and act in that “way”, and how God (in form and Spirit) has provided all that we need to remind us (and guide us) on that “way” to the peace that He gives.

 

He does not describe a peace in which we do not confront or face, head-on, the problems we encounter.  Rather, it is a peace that comes from knowing we have done as the Father has commanded, even in the face of adversity. The Peace of Christ is, ultimately, more than just the absence of trouble. It includes all that makes us better in reaching for the prize:  Eternity with God. We know, from our prior reading in John 14, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know that the Spirit is our guide because Jesus has physically gone before us, in and through great sacrifice, to prepare our home. 

 

No sorrow, grief, danger, or suffering kept Jesus from taking on His “earthly” walk, therefore, let us not take His suffering, that leads us to that peace, for granted.   Let us long for the Peace of God and seek it by obeying all that He has commanded us to do.  Through our seeking of peace, can we not offer peace to others, in the example of Christ? 

 

Lord, may Your peace be with us, no matter the circumstance, trouble, or challenge that seeks to distract us.  May you, alone, be our source of peace in this world and the next.  May we “get up and go”, with You, and do Your will today and every day.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, MAY 19, 2014

From the beginning, God has intended that man be a manifestation of His Glory. His goal is that we live in and never lose sight of His steadfast love and faithful care of us. In order for this to happen we must give daily thanks and praise and allow Him to live in the sanctuary of our hearts.


In John 14:21-26, the “instructions” by which to live and seek this goal are simply stated. Jesus tells us that we show our love for Him by keeping His commandments. If we love Him we love the Father and, in turn, will be graced by and with the Father’s love. Knowing this will not be easy as Jesus foretells Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send when Jesus is no longer physically with us. This foreshadowing, again, fulfills the fact that God Was, Is, and always Will Be – He is “I Am”. 


In the simplicity of His commands, to love one another and abide in the Commandments issued by Him and for us, we must remember that He is the Beginning and the End, and we are the “in between”. But, we would not exist without the Beginning and we will not live forever without the End. It is what we do in this “in-between” that allows us to, ultimately, share in the eternal love and care He has laid for us. 


Lord, dwell in the sanctuary of my heart and allow Your in-dwelling be manifested through my outward obedience to your commandments. May Your love and care be evident in my actions towards others so that my hands are Your hands, my feet walk in Your path, and I see others in the compassion You see, and, extend your compassion through my obedience to Your call. Through daily praise, thanks and action, I will show my love for you in obedience, compassion and faith that the Spirit guides if I but only listen and obey.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 18, 2014

John 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, "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.”

 

We don’t know where we are going… how can we know the way?

Thomas had it right. At least for those of us who are still on our journeys and admit to losing our ways. Our ways being the key term here. And with that, we really cannot know where we are going without the will and the way of God and His Son Jesus Christ to bring us and show us that Way.

 

Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled yet what do we do at the first sign of discord or trial in our lives? Better yet, what should be the first thing we do when those waves come upon us? If it were not so, He would not have said so. He gave us His Word and that is all we should need.

 

But it isn’t. We still choose to have our own ways and wills, just as Philip noted when he asked that Jesus show them the Father so that they would have enough… enough faith that they would believe. And Jesus calls for him and the rest to trust in His Word.

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.

 

Our way with Christ is not so much an actual pathway as it is a Way of life and love, just as He loved and lived. We pray that none of us are through growing in our faith. We pray none of us are through growing in our love for Him. As He was with and lived with His followers then, so He lives with His believers and followers today. We have to know and believe that because of what He said and did. That is our way on His Way. That will make us who we are in Him and with Him. Though we may be just a faint image of Him now, it is our hope and prayer to be more fully seen to be Christ in all that we are, say, think and become.

 


OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014

This morning I had the pleasure of waking up on the lake front, at Conchas, with a beautiful view from the Bell Ranch guest house. The stillness of the water, the beauty of the sun rising - casting color off the water and the rocky landscape of the water’s edge, and the company of friends made for a wonderful reminder of God’s goodness. As I sat on the porch taking in the day’s beginning, a friend of mine came out…an older gentleman with a zest for life that makes you believe he wakes up every morning just happy “to be”, joined me. He said, “Boy, isn’t this beautiful? And just imagine, it is here every morning, whether someone is here to take it in or not!” 

 

I had been reading my morning Gospel meditation (John 14:7-14), which starts with Jesus saying, “You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works….”  My friend’s stark, unintended (?) comment that “all of this is here whether someone takes it in or not” brought home the whole of our Christian faith! 

 

Whether we ask the question, “If tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound” or whether we are hit between the eyes with a simple conversational statement, that God is present EVERYWHERE whether we take him in or not…., the whole “proof of faith” is right in front of us. So, today, may you (and I) have a realization of faith, made clear in Jesus statement that we are to believe because we have seen His works…  And, brought home through my simple interaction of an old “cowboy friend” of mine that “all this is here, whether we are here to take it in or not”, may I transpose those this to my life.  Finally, my prayer is that we CHOOSE to take it in every day!

Paul B
 


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” 

In John 14:1-6 we see yet another example of the fulfillment of the Old (Testament) in the New (Testament). God said to Moses, “I Am Who  Am” in Exodus (3:14). It is from here that He is often called “The Great I Am”. So, in John 14, while assuring His disciples that they are to endure and not be troubled by the ways of this world, and to trust that He is going before them (as did God before the Israelites in the desert) to lead the way and prepare a place for them (His people), He answers Thomas’ doubt (foreshadowing Thomas’ later doubt and, ultimately, our doubt), assuring him (and us) that the way is clearly marked and explained!  “I AM the Way”.

 

Not only has He provided the road map, through His example as man, Jesus reiterates that he IS the road map. He, personally, is the Way to the Father and we can’t miss it if we fall in step with Him in our daily lives.  “I AM the Truth”: God’s truth requires more than words and ideas. To speak them (truly and truthfully) we must carry these words and ideas into action.

 

Jesus, through His existence as man, not only spoke the truth, but lived it (modeled it) in daily action.  “I AM the Life”:  Our goal is eternal life with God. Jesus, throughout the Gospels, drives this point home. Here, at the Last Supper, He continues to disclose to His disciples what is to come, not only in the immediate future (His Passion, Death, and Resurrection), but in the fact that He IS (I AM)! This provides clarity that He is the Divine Compass (The Way, Truth, and Life) that brings us to our goal/destination! He begins this discourse with:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in Me” (John 14:1). 

 

Lord, allow Your Word and assurance to fill me with Your Presence, giving me hope and joy of the eternal life you promise, if I but strive to follow the Divine Compass that IS the way, truth, and life to my “Final (Eternal) Destination”.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014

John 13 begins with one of the greatest acts of humility that Jesus demonstrated to His disciples: the washing of their feet (v1-15)! The disciples, surely, must have been in some state of confusion in trying to grasp why this man, Whom they have come to know as the Son of God, the Most High, was taking on such a menial task. And, in fact, Simon Peter questioned Him in doing this. Jesus’ simple response, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance in me,” is a sermon unto itself on the whole of Christianity!

 

After His act of service to the disciples (v16-20), Jesus goes on to tell them all, “….no servant is greater than His master, no messenger is greater than the one who sent him…” By coming as man, demonstrating service to others, and ultimately suffering, dying, and rising (for us) Jesus was able to get at the heart and simplicity of our belief: nothing is greater than Our God and No Love is Greater than the love He has for us, His Creation! 

 

When we serve others, by His Human existence and example, we are not to hold it over others, as though we are superior because we are serving.  Rather, we are called to take the occasion (to serve) as a Blessing from the Lord because He is working through both the server and the served. We must let these acts of service speak for themselves, for none of these acts, of themselves, are greater than the one who calls us to perform them. In the humility of service, let us listen to His voice, rather than be drowned out by our own pride in performing the service. 

 

Lord, grant me the grace to truly love You, know You, and serve You. May we act, speak, and love as Jesus’ example shows us: Accept the call to serve with the same humility, grace, and honor that Jesus demonstrated in washing the feet of His friends.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014

John 15:9-17

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. 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.”

John speaks often of love, as we are to love one another as God loves us. That sort of love we have come to learn is ‘agape’ love.


As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.


Remain. Stay. Linger about. Wait. Stay put. These are just some of the words that the thesaurus gives for ‘remain’. To go along even more, we see reside, dwell and live. Some what of an invitation one would think-so why not take up residence in such a love as that of Christ Jesus?

 

Sometimes love can be engulfing, clinging and maybe even suffocating and smothering. Not so with the love of Christ. As a matter of fact, it’s so unconditional, it’s a love that allows us the freedom to do as we will. And we wonder what kind of love is that? It’s still the love that was on the cross, and that was resurrected so that we could have that freedom to choose to follow Him. To stay with Him. In love with Him. Just as He loves us.

 

We do so by being so, by loving one another with the words He gave us: love one another as I have loved you. And when you do that, what St. Augustine adds makes sense: ‘Love God then do what you will.’ 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

The Jewish officials were very knowledgeable in the scriptures and tried to follow scriptural precepts in their lives yet, in John 10:22-28, we find that they could not recognize Jesus as the Messiah – the Son of God.  Throughout our reading of Jesus’ discourse on “The Good Shepherd” we see the skepticism with which His parallel is met. Here, and in prior opportunities, Jesus has given them clear sign and indication as to His Origin and Divinity, in both word and deed.

 

He tells the scribes and Pharisees, “I have told you, but you do not believe”.  How often to we, in our lives, listen, but do not hear? How many times have we seen, but do not taken in? His wondrous works are around us, yet we are listening or looking for our own solutions, rather than patiently awaiting His Presence, His voice, to lead us. Just as the scribes and Pharisees, do we say, through our words and deeds, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us…”  All of us have prayed for something we desire (with intensity). 

 

Perhaps, for example, we have prayed for a friend or family member to turn to and give his life to Jesus. Perhaps we are praying for that promotion at work? Or, for safety on an upcoming trip? Our concerns and prayers are well-placed. 

 

As we pray for such things, Lord, grant us the patience and understanding that You guide us in Your time and Your way. May we recognize the whisper we hear in the stillness of the moment or the booming voice in the midst of the storm as Your voice.  Lord, You are the Good Shepherd Who has secured a place for us to rest in stillness, if we just follow Your voice.  May we place our trust in you with open ears, minds, and hearts to follow Your commands.

Paul B





OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, MAY 12, 2014

We cannot be indifferent to Jesus: those who accept Him as our Lord and Savior are offered and given the peace and security of unending life and Joy with the Father. This we know! John 10:11-18 continues on with the parallel of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He assures us that a shepherd is true to the flock and is willing to lay down his life for the sheep within the flock.

 

In this passage we see again the reference that sheep will listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him to the comfort and safety of the fold. Jesus assures us that if we but listen to His voice, He will always be there to protect us, even when our daily challenges draw us away from God. The challenge is to not allow ourselves to stray too far from the flock, from the fold, and from the voice of the Shepherd. When we choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, as our Shepherd, we are choosing to draw near to Him and remain within “earshot”, no matter the circumstances of our lives. 

 

Lord, in my acceptance of You as my Shepherd, allow me to be attentive to Your voice and submit to Your call. May I know that, no matter the storms facing me in my given day(s), You will be there to guide me into the eternal comfort, peace, and joy of the Heavenly Fold when that day is done or danger is near! Lord, give me the strength, courage, and wisdom to heed Your call to enter the fold, lest I be left out when the gate is closed at the fall of darkness. May I take comfort in my Shepherd’s care (Psalm 23:1; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 100:3; Is 40:11; Mt 18:12; Luke 15:4;1 Pt 2:25).

PAUL B

 


OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2014
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Most Christians recognize this well-known and precise summary of Psalm 23. Throughout the Psalms, in fact, one finds many references to God as the Shepherd of His people. Isaiah, in his Messianic prophecy, clearly states that Jesus will gather and feed His flock. What can we learn from the parallels of shepherding sheep? 


At the end of each day, a shepherd brings his sheep to shelter, as well as looking for and out for them throughout the day. The sheep, because of the consistency of the shepherd in leading them to comfort and safety day-in and day-out, trust the voice of the shepherd, come to him, follow Him.  Therefore, it is no wonder that the Scriptures use so many of these references to describe God as a shepherd.


In John 10:1-10, today, Jesus describes Himself as “the gate” through Whom we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When sheep enter the fold (sheep pen), they do so through the gate and always at the prompting of the shepherds voice and the promise of comfort and security. They do not scale the fence; they don’t crawl under. There is only one way to enter a well-built fold and that is through the gate. Heaven, in turn, is a well-built fold and Jesus makes it clear to us that there is only one gate. 


Lord, may we recognize your voice and know, in fact, we are each called by name (within the whole of Your flock), if we but only listen and follow. May we look to you to receive the guidance and gift of Your care so as to gain the strength and courage we need to serve You. May we enter the gate of your fold in peace and thanksgiving and receive the peace, safety, and comfort of Your ever-present care.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2014

“You, my disciples, will you also leave?” How do we answer this tough question when “The Word”, the “Expectation”, of our Christianity is hard to accept or endure? In John 6 we have been reading of Jesus’ very pointed, stark, and clear proclamation that He IS the Son of God and it is only through Him that We can come to the Father and, as we studied, it is the Spirit and Will of the Father that we are Drawn to Him. Yet, we still have freedom to choose, thus the question: “Will you also leave?”


Today, in John 6:60-69, we read that many of those listening to Jesus’ discourse had great difficulty understanding Him and the harsh reality that they must truly change in heart, mind, soul, and deed if they are to fully accept that He is the way, the truth, and the life (both in the flesh and for eternity). We read that many simply returned to their “former (way of) life” and left their walk with Him, due to this harsh reality. Peter, though, says what God longs for each of us to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Notice, he did not stop with, “…to whom shall we go…”?


He went on to make his statement of conviction and faith: we have come to believe….that you are the Holy One of God! What is so hard to endure (from John 6:51-58)? Jesus is the living bread from heaven! The living bread that will sustain you in this life and the next! If you partake you shall be raised up with and in Him on the last day! Eat this bread and live forever! These are faith-shaking, YET faith-building words. So, we are asked, “Will you also leave?” 


Lord, give me the strength to say, “You are the way, the truth, and the life.  You are and have the words of everlasting life”. May I choose, in my freedom, to embrace, trust in, and experience the joy of surrendering myself to you in total completeness and acceptance. 

 (For affirmation, read 2 Peter 1:5-11.  Thanks, Dennis, for sharing this today. Great complement to the Gospel)

Paul B


2 Peter 1:5-11

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 believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and investigated it, investigating the time and circumstances that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories to follow them.




“Hit the Road…”  This is a phrase that some use to say, “Let’s go…” Today, as part of my daily Reading, I read Acts 9:1-20, where Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had “hit the road” to Damascus. On this road he experienced an encounter with Jesus that would allow his eyes to see and his heart to soften, as he had actually “hit the road” armed with letters from the high priest to arrest, imprison, and persecute to the point of torture and death any person who was following “The Way” – Jesus. 

 

Saul had “hit the road” to persecute and he was known as a “bad man”.  Saul’s conversion and encounter with Jesus “on the road” is a pattern in the New Testament – The Ethiopian Eunuch was converted on the road (Acts 8:26) and thus proclaimed to the ends of the earth. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt their hearts burning as they encountered Him on the road.  Mary “hit the road” and brought Jesus and the Spirit to Elizabeth, where John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb in recognition of Jesus. A point to be taken is that we are all called to action. For God to truly work in our lives we must “Hit the Road”. 

 

In baseball, I constantly am hollering to the infielders, “Motion!” This means that they need to be moving BEFORE the action (pitching and hitting) takes place so that they are ready to act and react to what comes toward them. This is what the Lord expects and needs from us.

 

Lord, may we be “hit the road” and be men of action so that we are in motion and ready when You call.  When you say, “Let’s go”, may I be open to Your grace in heart, mind, and soul to “Hit the Road” that leads me to You!

Paul B

Acts 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the Scripture passage he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

 

Not sure how we would react if we were to get instructions as did Philip. Or Samuel. Or Saul. The list goes on with Joseph and Mary and more. Any or all of these from Scripture we’ve known to have received a message if not instruction from above. From going to baptize others to taking the Holy Family to Bethlehem, from waking and following the will of God to being blinded and being transformed, the messages were clearly God-sent.

 

Philip was sent to evangelize and baptize. It was not important at the time who it was but more important was the mission itself. He soon finds out who it is and begins to do as he was called, explaining scripture to one who needs it. From there, Philip tells the eunuch that the words from Isaiah were written so that they would prophesy about the Savior, Jesus Christ, His suffering and His death:

 

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.

As the eunuch came to understand the scripture from Philip, how is it that we come to understand it from others who tell us of the Good News? How have we been transformed in our lives by the lives of others who have shared with us their good news and their faith? If we cannot understand or don’t get it, who gets it for us? Who is our Philip in our lives to lead us closer to Jesus Christ? Better yet, who will we be Philip to when God calls us to serve Him?



We are not “forced” to accept the Love of God and the Salvation offered us through Jesus. That is loud and clear. In John 6:35-40, Jesus clearly states, “It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” 

 

In today’s world there is so much focus on modern medical advancements and healthy standards of living, all for the goal of “extending our life on earth”.  The ultimate reality, though, is that our human condition dictates that our life on this earth is of a limited span.  Yet, society continues to be preoccupied with extending that span through all the media, medical, and man-made hype.  So, we must ask the question of ourselves, “How much time are we focusing on the eternal life that Jesus desires us to seek?  How do we regulate our “diet” of the Word – The Bread of Life! 

 

 John 6:35 says, “I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger.”  We go to the “gym”, the “health stores”, “Doctors”, and “Health Counselors”.  But, how often do we go to our “Spiritual Fitness Trainer”? 

 

Lord, may we seek and obtain the unshakable hope of everlasting life and demonstrate this through a spiritually healthy lifestyle. Let us take time, every day, to spend time in “Spiritual Exercise”, with you, the “Divine Trainer”. 

Paul B

“…Show us a sign, that we might believe in You…” 

Yesterday we saw Jesus rebuking many members of the multitudes He had fed for seeking Him (only) because He had fed them. His rebuke, given out of the original “tough love”, was intended to push the people toward understanding that He alone, can provide the bread of (eternal) life and that they must learn to look beyond the bread of human sustenance to the bread of eternal sustenance. This was, and is today, the challenge: understanding that God will provide in this life and in the next, as long as we believe in, seek, and know Him.

 

He promised and gave manna in the wilderness as His people made their journey to the Promised Land. This provision is easy to understand, as we have physical needs, such as hunger. But Jesus offers a kind of sustenance that is different and, ultimately more meaningful. Thus, when the Jews asked him for (another) sign so that they can believe, He clearly told them, in John 6:30-35, that He IS the bread which comes from God and will provide life for the world. We see that He puts it in more “human terms” of understanding: Bread – a staple and sustenance for life. 

 

May we be assured of a fulfilling life, living and seeking You through Your Word, and may we partake of the nourishment You offer both in this life, so as to be sustained for eternity. Lord, what better sign have you given us than Yourself as nourishment for us, allowing us share in this sacramental sign of Your offering of yourself?

Paul B

What draws us to Jesus in our daily lives? What draws us to Him when things in our “human condition” are going well? What draws us when we are in times of turmoil?

 

John 6:24-29 brings these questions to mind, as members of the crowd, whom Jesus had fed through the multiplication of the loaves, sought to find Him. Jesus chastised them for trying to find Him only because He had fed them (bread), not because they necessarily believed that He is the Son of God. Are we like the crowd, seeking Jesus solely because He can “solve a particular problem” we are experiencing.

 

In John 6:29, He makes it clear that the first and foremost way to carry out God’s work is to believe in the One whom God has sent: Jesus. May we be drawn to You in the way we live, work, and pray. May we do all for Your Glory (great reference: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, specifically vs. 31). May we experience and exhibit true worship in our daily lives and not “just on Sundays”. 

 

Lord Jesus, may we know that You, alone, can satisfy the hunger of our hearts. Guide us to a wholesome and pure belief in You that will enable us to draw nearer to you daily, under all conditions of our humanness, so that we share the eternal life you have provided through your unending love.  May we turn to you first in times of thanksgiving, supplication, and praise.

Paul B


What keeps us from recognizing Christ in our lives? How is it that we can be in His midst—or more precisely He in ours—and we miss Him so completely? Are we focused on something else? Are we seeing the world first instead of a Christ-centered life? Do we even take time to think who He might look like?

 

As the disciples were on their way, it was with a bit of wit it seems that they said to Jesus ‘Are you the only one who doesn’t know what’s been going on these past few days?’ And Jesus lets them know after a bit with His own style of wit… ‘What’s been going on—what things?’ The stories from the women, the empty tomb-even the angels yet they still don’t get what’s been going on.

 

Jesus then goes on to tell them how it was that Christ should have to go through such things to ‘suffer these things and enter into his glory’. He interprets the Scriptures for them, pointing out those references to Him throughout the Word. As He did, it could be they wanted to hear more so they asked Him to stay with them. One could wonder what might have happened had they not asked Him to stay on… but they did. As Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it and gave it to them, it was then they recognized Him. Even as He disappeared, with hearts burning.

 

As we more easily recognize Christ in our lives when we receive Him in the Eucharist, with His presence within us. He is among us as He was among the disciples then. He is on the road with us as we open our eyes and hearts to see and love who He is for us. Our hearts are also burning within us as we accept Him as our love and our guide through life.




Beginning in May we will no longer come together and celebrate the Liturgy of the Word for the day, and receive communion in the absence of a priest. During the recent past on days when a priest could not be present to celebrate Mass, those who are daily worshippers came together, heard the readings of the day, reflected on these readings, and this was followed by reception of Holy Communion. This will occur no longer.

 

Announcing this to those who come on a daily basis raised questions that are difficult to answer satisfactorily. As is often the case, after a relatively long period when persons were uniting themselves to Jesus in Holy Communion they feel deprived when this opportunity is denied.

 

It remains to be experienced what will occur beginning in May on those days when a priest is not present, will these same daily communicants come for (in our case) mid-day prayer? One woman voiced her disappointment saying she could pray at  home  with her family.

 

This perhaps is initial reaction to a change that is not understood, and perhaps unfamiliarity with the public prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours. Is this a moment of opportunity for all to reflect on the paschal mystery being celebrated in the Liturgy? Can those concerned put aside any negative reaction to this decision and through prayer and dialog, obedience to those God has ordained to lead us, and in our prayer witness to our love by imitating the Lord in prayer.

 

Could we see this as a call to deepening our awareness of a need to respond to God's call to service by becoming more acutely aware of the need for Holy Priests and thereby encouraging vocations by increased prayer and action?

 

Pray that the absence of a priest may serve us well as a call to prayer. The risen Jesus accompanies us on our way and enables us to recognize Him as the disciples of Emmaus did in the breaking of the bread. May He find us watchful, ready to recognize His face and to run to our brothers and sisters with the Good News…we have seen the Lord.

Deacon

The multiplication of the loaves from John 6:5-11 is the only miracle that appears in all four Gospel accounts. Perhaps it is because it is the ultimate example of God’s generosity – it highlights His willingness, ability, and desire to take care of us. It is also, another step in the fulfillment of the Old in the New…  Psalm 81:13-16 says, “O, that my people would listen to me…. I would feed you with the finest wheat….”  And, here in the New Testament we have thousands show up because they have heard of and want to see/be part of this “prophet’s” teachings and exhibition of miracles. 

 

So, we see here, God’s willingness to embrace and provide, if we but seek Him!  In John’s account, we see a small “test” of Philip’s (and the other Apostle’s faith) when Jesus initially questions them about where we can “buy some bread” for all of these people. How do we respond when Jesus asks us the same question in caring for ourselves, our families, and our brothers? Do we trust, unconditionally that God will answer our prayers? Is our trust and desire that prayers will be answered our way? Or His way? 

 

May our focus, today, be to widen our path of trust so that You can walk beside me, as You desire! Jesus, You are the finest wheat provided for us, God’s beloved. May we be given the grace of a generous heart so that we may freely accept all that You are and offer and in turn, share it with others.  Just as You provided manna in the desert to those freed from captivity, You provided Jesus to be our strength and nourishment in our journey to freedom and eternal life in You!

Paul B

May 1—St.Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph—where is he in your Christian walk? It appears to me that we have nearly forgotten St. Joseph. St. Joseph who models for us how to live for God.

 

St. Joseph who listened to the Holy Spirit, who followed the guidance of the  Holy Spirit as Scripture reveals he received in dreams. Perhaps dreams, but I imagine Joseph was a man devoted to God, a man of prayer who listened for God's quiet voice. Through the ages Joseph was and is the inspiration for many men of God, as he has been patron of so many activities beyond the image of the carpenter shop.

 

Today on this feast day, why not pray with St. Joseph and seek his intercession to enable us to truly know the will of God? We then may have the courage to respond in love and follow God’s will as did Joseph. As we are in prayer we might also imagine Joseph caring for his family, providing security, taking Mary and Jesus to safe places, just as we might search for our own safe harbor.

In those early years of Jesus’ sojourn among men, Joseph was His model.  In the lives of our children how do we model the life of a child of God?

 

St. Joseph, pray for me.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

 

Deacon