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

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OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015

How do we personally know the Father and His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ? It is through the Holy Spirit that All are revealed to us. It is He Who gives us the gift of Faith’s understanding and the courage to seek understanding of God’s Word in our lives and through our lives. The Spirit is God, our Divine Teacher and Helper. As Christians, therefore, we must ask ourselves daily, “Do we seek the wisdom that comes from above and, ultimately/willingly obey His Word and desires?”


In Matthew 28:16-20, we find the Eleven meeting Jesus at the prescribed place, after His death and resurrection. Here, He gives them their directive—their commissioning, as Christians: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...” 


In Matthew’s description of Jesus last moment with His disciples, he shares Jesus’ final “earthly words”, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of time.” These final moments and words are very significant, in Mt. 28:16-20. First, the disciples went to the mountain in hope and faith that Jesus would be there. Even in that faith, we are told in verse 17 that some hesitated or doubted. As we well know, it is part of the human condition to show fear, but we must remember that even in moments of hesitation, God desires us to ultimately stand before and for Him. Secondly, Jesus firmly commissions all believers to go forth in trust and confidence (two key ingredients to successful authority) to draw in disciples and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit!  “Baptize” means to be immersed in. Therefore, the meaning of life in God is to be immersed in God’s Presence—Father, Son, and Spirit, now and forever (Mt 28:20).  


Lord, may we meet you at the “prescribed place” and be possessed wholly, by Your Spirit, and Go forth to love and serve You! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



How and why do we accept the authority of God’s Word? Do we submit to it with trust and obedience? In Mark 11:27-33 we see another example of the many, in this case the Pharisees, who take offense, exception and doubt as to Jesus’ authority in His teachings and life’s actions. Jesus had just dramatically cleared the temple of the buyers, sellers and moneychangers. The leaders, because of their doubt and lack of understanding, tried to trick him into what they would have considered blasphemy and therefore, punishable. Jesus, seeing through their question as to the origin of His authority poses a “conditional” counter-question: did they accept the works (baptisms) of John the Baptist as divine or human? If they accepted John’s work as Divine they would be compelled to accept Jesus’ place as the Messiah, the Son of God. They “ducked” the question because they were unwilling or unable to accept the truth. 


As noted in John 8:31, “The Truth will set you free” and, we know that this “freedom” to trust in God and let Him guide us is a daunting task, in reality (as opposed to word). As Christians we must strive to identify those times where we (intentionally or more often, unintentionally?) “play games” with the Holy Spirit and submission to God’s authority through the subtle and not-so-subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives? How do we face the challenges that come up, in our way, to truly acknowledging our Faith in the daily word, thought and deed that we exhibit? How far will we go in following His way? Do we have a hesitant nature or do we regularly draw courage to dare live up to our faith, regardless of the price? 


Lord, Your Word is light and truth! Guide and instruct my heart so that I may grow and live in You and by Your Word. Jesus, Only You.  JOY

Paul B

OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015

In Mark 11:11-26 why did Jesus curse a fig tree? Fig trees were a common and important source of food. In Jewish eyes, bad, decaying figs were linked to evilness or spiritual decay (ref Joel 1:7-12; Habakkuk 3:17; Jeremiah 8:13). The prophets offered several examples of the withered vine and the decaying fig trees. Yet, through it all, they offered continued hope for those who worship the Lord. The history of Israel is one long preparation for the coming of the Promised One, Jesus Christ.  We, as Christians, believe and know that the promise is unfulfilled in and for those who reject Jesus. So Jesus cursing of the fig tree is a prophetic action against those who reject His message. 


We must know and be example of the fact that for faith to be fruitful and productive, it must be nourished with the Word of God (ref 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & Colossians 3:16-17). The disciples noted the next day, that the very tree that Jesus cursed for it’s barrenness had withered to the roots over night! Jesus takes this opportunity to tell His disciples (and us) that whoever has faith in God can move mountains because whatever we ask in total and undying faith (in heart, mind, soul, and action) shall be granted. We must recognize that this is a powerful combination that makes up complete and total trust in God. 


It is nearly beyond human comprehension and is tied together by the belief that God has a wonderful and eternal life in store for us, as evidenced by His sacrifice of love for us. Jesus urges and encourages us to have full and total trust in God. We are to pray with expectant faith, no matter how difficult to situation. “To move mountains” was a common expression related to magnitude of difficulty being faced in Jewish vernacular. 


Lord Jesus, increase my faith and allow me to be fruitful in my service to you (and others).  Help me to bear the Fruits of Your love to all.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


Sirach 42:15-25

Now will I recall God’s works; what I have seen, I will describe. At God’s word were his works brought into being; they do his will as he has ordained for them. As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the LORD fills all his works; yet even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the LORD, Though God has given these, his hosts, the strength to stand firm before his glory.
He plumbs the depths and penetrates the heart; their innermost being he understands. The Most High possesses all knowledge, and sees from of old the things that are to come: He makes known the past and the future, and reveals the deepest secrets. No understanding does he lack; no single thing escapes him. Perennial is his almighty wisdom; he is from all eternity one and the same,
with nothing added, nothing taken away; no need of a counselor for him! How beautiful are all his works! Even to the spark and fleeting vision! The universe lives and abides forever; to meet each need, each creature is preserved. All ofthem differ, one from another, yet none of them has he made in vain, for each in turn, as it comes, is good; can one ever see enough of their splendor?

Day to day, we are given each of us the gift of recognizing the glory and splendor of God’s work. Even if we are to recall all the past days of our lives, recent to as far back as we may recall and then some, there would be far too many days for glory and praise contrasted to those we would choose to not recall.


How often do we share with one another those times in our lives the occasions of success, those days and times of achievement and fulfillment in our journeys? Often in detail do we describe those moments of falling in love, those hurried times of rushing to the hospital for the birth of a child, and yes, even the realization of the intimate presence again of the Holy Spirit in our lives? From the beginning of time, there was God with His hand on us all.


As He did then He does today, understanding more of where we are than we will ever have a clue about ourselves, anything or anyone else. Yet on we go, for those days as we try to make it on our own, having better avenues to stroll if not highways to go blazing down. He puts us in such a position to do His will and then we choose to do our own as if we could better understand the circumstances around us more than He.

No understanding does he lack; no single thing escapes him. Perennial is his almighty wisdom; he is from all eternity one and the same,with nothing added, nothing taken away; no need of a counselor for him!

Though we may not quite grasp that concept, He remains steadfast in His love for us. For as much as we put on ourselves as our burdens, there is no limit to the bounds He would go to save us from them, to lift them from us and to bring us closer to His heart in love and in peace. Imagine that next time you think you have a better plan than His; can one ever see enough of His splendor?



Mark 10:32-45

The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”


Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,

‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

They said to him, ‘We can.” Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”


When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”



Jesus and the disciples were always on the road. This time they were on the road to Jerusalem, the last time they would make that journey. The disciples were ‘amazed and afraid’ as the Gospel says, as they could not grasp why He was going to face what He was to face there. Jesus let them know what was to come of this journey—the condemnation, the persecution, the putting to death and His resurrection—yet there was still apprehension throughout the ranks.


James and John sought their own special places that they would sit in glory with Him.  Jesus asks them if they are ready and willing to do such a thing, if they really do know what they are asking. Are they ready to submit to the things He will put Himself through just so they can have what He has?


When Jesus was crucified, all the disciples abandoned Him. Even though they did, they did return to share in cup of His passion and death. Regardless of the higher places any of them sought, none were to reach such heights on their own; they would have to reach them with the teachings He left them. And not of this world but in the next; they would have to give their lives as He gave up His.


Our lives as disciples are not unlike those who walked with Jesus. We too are always on the road, always following Him. There are those times we are more than amazed, more than afraid and even quite a bit lost. As Christ suffered persecution, condemnation and death, we will do the same, if not to die literally but to die to ourselves to serve others and to do so to carry our own crosses each day. For those times we feel like we deserve more than the next disciple, let us pray for the humility and grace to put others well above us and ourselves more like Christ in love, in service and in peace.


Yesterday, in Mark 10, we read about Jesus’ sharing with the rich man that to inherit the kingdom we must not only adhere to the commands of God, but we must make God our priority over all earthly desires. Peter, having heard this exchange, says in Mark 10:28, “We have left everything and followed You.” Jesus responds to Peter by telling him that those who have truly done so will be greatly rewarded.  

We believe and know, as Christians, that those who live the Gospel and direct their lives in the path of Christ will be rewarded in the Kingdom! Jesus also reminds us that the path will not be easy because of the apparent and inherent conflicts with worldly ways and desires. Just as the rich man He had just spoken too, He knows that all who are born into this world will have desires for material wealth and other human wishes.  Just as Jesus assured the rich man that he must, first and foremost, desire and follow God’s ways, He assures Peter that those who detach from attractions of the human condition and embrace God (even/especially in the face of difficulty and persecution) will attain God’s favor now and for eternity. 

As Christians, we profess this when we gather for our Sunday worship and other opportunities throughout our week. But we must reflect on how we live in this “wisdom” daily? Is this wisdom on our minds, when we awake in the morning?   Does it come to mind before we speak or act in that moment of frustration or anger in our day? Is it our final thought as we put our head to the pillow each night? 

Lord, may I truly “invest” in You and follow as Your disciple.  May I, then, reap Your harvest here and with You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B

OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, MAY 25, 2015

Today, reading Mark 10:17-27, we come across another example of “simple, but not easy”. In the exchange between Jesus and the rich man, we are given a true opportunity to look within our own hearts and minds: are we attached or detached from the possessions in our lives so that God is our first and highest priority?



In this Gospel passage, the rich man kneels before Jesus and says, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds, first, with a question, “Why do you call me ‘Good’?  No one is good but God alone…” This is a perplexing response at first, until one thinks it through, because we know, Jesus IS God! Then we remember and realize, this is the first and foremost act of understanding the journey to the Kingdom! Have we not heard some of satan’s arguments that you don’t have to believe in God to be a “good person”. A “non-believer” can obey MOST of the commandments. 


So, as I read this passage, I have come to the interpretation that Jesus is “prepping” the man for His powerful answer. The next part of his response highlights SOME of the commandments, such as “not killing”, “not committing adultery”, “not lying”, etc…  The man responds that he has kept these. Jesus then “drops the boom”. He hits the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”, by saying, “You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow Me.” 


To avoid sin is not the sole way to inherit eternal life! We must also rid ourselves of distractions to the earthly things and place our trust in God’s will!  


Lord, help me to ponder the areas in my life that I place ahead of my commitment to you. I pray for the grace to make you the highest priority in my life and give You true deference and preference throughout my days. Jesus, only You!

Paul B

OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015

John 19:20-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”


At Pentecost when the Church began, so began our own journeys in faith. The doors may have been locked and the apostles may have been there in fear, yet all that changed when Jesus came to them and left them with the Holy Spirit, ‘Peace be with you.’ A peace He brought that only He could bring to them. He sent them out with the gifts they had been given to spread the Good News He was leaving with them.


They had so much more than they had to begin with, or at least they were finally realizing the gifts they had come to know they had. The presence of the Holy Spirit was made evident in their gifts, as they understood each other in different tongues. The message they were sharing and were meant to share was one not just for them but for those outside and beyond where they were—beyond their comfort zones if you will. As diverse as the languages were, so too were the people they would sharing the Good News with. And these were disciples who had no special schooling, no distinctive traits that made them better than anyone else. They were those that Christ called to share His message and to bring others to Him in love and in communion with God.


“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”


As Jesus brought the Holy Spirit to them, He did so with a breath of life. As He is the Bread of Life, the Holy Spirit is also our breath of life in the air that we breathe spiritually. How often are we re-energized with new life, a new charge in our lives when we feel the reviving gifts, fruits and strengths of the Holy Spirit come upon us? As often as we are called, so it is then that we should be mindful of the mission of the Church as we evangelize the Word of God and lead others to Him. As the disciples did so at the beginning of the Church so too do we now as the Church today, accepting our commitment as we keep in mind the promise God made to us, a love of everlasting life. As much as we are all different, we are all alike in our call to love and serve Him in all we are, do and believe.


Follow Me!

Jesus is quite clear in today's gospel dialog with Peter. But not only Peter but any of us who compare our calling with that of others. Each of us are connected to all of creation in a way we have often don't make time to think about. Each of us is uniquely given gifts that are intended to complete the "big picture" as it were. 


Perhaps if we looked at the entire scheme of eternal life and were able to see it as a large picture puzzle, failure to become fully part of that scheme and using our giftedness as God intended, we look at the puzzle with missing pieces, sort of incomplete. Each moment of life, we are always a part of the creative process God engages us in.


Think of those moments in time when you were aware of being a part of creating new life, giving support to someone in need and perhaps giving them new direction and life. Think of the times of sharing with them the bringing of new life into the world in the birth of a child, through the gift of God. A new life that may be the key to new and exciting dimensions of human understanding of the divine, 


Follow me.

Jesus speaks to you and me as He does to Peter. The Glory of eternal life with the Father is a bright light. Are we drawn to it?


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2015

In John 21, John describes Jesus appearing to the apostles on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. First, after a fruitless night of fishing, the Apostles must have been tired.  They see Jesus on the shore but at this point do not recognize Him. He speaks to them, confirming that their efforts had produced no fish. So he asks them to cast, once more, over the right side of the boat. They hauled in enough fish to nearly tip the boat and tear the nets. As they shared a fire and meal with Jesus, they realized who He was. 


In 21:15-19, John goes on to describe an interaction between Jesus and Peter. In this exchange, He asks Peter, three times, “Do you love Me?” Each time Peter responds that he does, each time, with a stronger sense of affirmation and irritation of being challenged three times. This is obviously reminiscent of Peter’s recent denial (three times) of association with Jesus, during the fear and trepidation of Jesus’ arrest and suffering. 


As Christians, we are called to ponder (daily) the same question which Jesus asks of Peter here on the seashore, “Do You Really Love Me?”  Peter, obviously, was not perfect and neither are we! After asking him three times and receiving three affirmations, Jesus simply says, “Follow Me!” And this is the simple, though not always easy, call made to each of us in our own faith journey. And, just like Peter, we must understand that the journey is not always easy, given life’s trials and tribulations. 


In fact, in verse 18 he makes it clear that there will come a time of persecution in Peter’s life for following Jesus and “feeding the word” to the people. He will be imprisoned and led away. How willing are we to follow Jesus, knowing that we may or will be persecuted, shunned or otherwise singled out (and not necessarily in a positive way)? 


Lord, may Your Spirit fill us with recognition to listen to and follow Your call, in spite of our human weakness and doubt.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


The third and final intention of Jesus’ prayer in the Upper Room, before He goes on to the fulfillment of the Father’s Plan of Salvation is to pray for Unity of all believers. Here is where His prayer extends fully to us! Throughout the prayer He has prayed for Glory of God through His conquering of death, as well as through His life and pending suffering. He then prayed directly for the strength of the eleven remaining Apostles, that they may carry out His commission—to proclaim God’s Kingdom! Now, he prays for all of us who will come to believe in God through Jesus! 


This final intention shows how deeply Jesus loves those who follow Him faithfully. Understanding that, in our human condition, we need strength and courage, He prays that we remain united in our faith and draw that strength and courage from each other, even though strength ultimately comes from the Father (Reference Mt 1819-:20:  “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”) The Apostles understood that their mission was to go forth and unite all men through and for the Kingdom of God. This is evident in what Paul wrote to the Corinthians  (1:10):  “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” 


As you can see, Jesus’ entire mission can be summarized in these final intentions and selfless prayer in the Upper Room (John 17:1-26). He “defines” glory as a selfless act of love and sacrifice. He prays for strength and courage for His believers, and He prays for the Unity of believers. 


Lord, may we model our life after Your life and teachings so that we live in the Father’s Will. We pray, today, for unity and freedom from the division that hinders our relationships with You and with each other. Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


In the beginning of John 17, Jesus prayed for Glory, brought on by His ultimate act of Sacrifice. Today, as we read John 17:8-19, we find him praying for the remaining eleven disciples. He prays for their protection from the enemies in this world, Finally, He prays for their sanctification. Jesus prays this prayer for His disciples because they have believed and they are His! He acknowledges that they are a gift from the father. He spent over three years with them and they sustained Him in His earthly journey, as friends are supposed to do! 


Is this not how we pray? Do we not pray for those we love and care about? Jesus knows He is about to leave these men as they carry out their mission and He has concern for them. He knows their journey will not be easy, just as His has not been and is about to “get worse”, so to speak. He prays for their unity, to be kept one with each other, through the Father’s authority, just as Jesus used the Father’s authority throughout their ministerial relationship to protect them. He understood the world would hate his disciples, just as it doubted and rejected His own teachings.  He also understood the level of hatred that they would experience, especially knowing the hours that were ahead of Him. 


He understood that the work of the devil, the desire of the devil, is to undermine the foundation of God’s Word. So He unselfishly prayed that they be protected, from the evil one, as the devil has no claim on them because of God’s Word and redemptive plan. Jesus also prays for the sanctification and commitment of the faithful to God’s Purpose. Simply put, He is praying that His disciples personally, willingly and faithfully commit to being used by God to Glorify God! 


Lord, as you prayed for Your Apostles and us, give us the strength to sanctify ourselves, through personal agreement, to worship You by courageously submitting to Your Will in our life’s actions. Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B



Stay with John 17 the rest of this Easter week. 

Be there as Jesus prays for you, for me, for all. 

Imagine what it means that He intercedes for you with the Father, asking that we may share life with God....Wow!



In John 17-1-8, Jesus begins “Father, the hour has come; glorify Me so that I may Glorify you….” Jesus asks to be glorified in and by the means of His pending sacrifice on the cross. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus makes repeated reference and prophecies to His pending suffering, death and resurrection. Here, in this prayer, He opens with, “The hour has come…”  This is not a selfish prayer for Himself but a final acceptance of the Father’s Will! He knows that to return to the Father, with His “Mission Accomplished”, He must suffer, die and rise in Glory from the Dead! 


In our human condition, glory is often tied to “winning the championship”, “getting that promotion”, or otherwise gaining some fleeting yet, seemingly important prize.  The word ‘glorified’ actually means to make manifest, show, some hidden treasure.  Jesus’ entire earthly journey is a glorification of God: as John writes in 1:14, “The word became flesh and dwelled among us….and we have seen His glory….” Here in the first part of His final prayer with/for His remaining Apostles, Jesus prays that by the means of the cross, something that has been hidden to the world will be manifested in full glory: our Redemption. We know, as believers, what that glory is power over all, including death. 


Paul writes, in Philippians 2, that because Jesus became obedient to the point of death on the Cross, the Father “exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Lord, the Glory of the Father” (2:11). 

John Chapter 17 contains the longest Prayer Jesus offers in any of the Gospels.  This first section (1-8), read today, shows Jesus’ unselfish acceptance of His offering of self as He prays that we seek/find the true Glory of God hidden in His humanity and ultimate gift to us! 


Lord, may we exhibit Your Glory and gift of eternal life, over all, in the lives we lead/are given!  Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B


OFFER IT UP!     MONDAY, MAY, 18, 2015

Today we celebrate Fifty-six years of growing into oneness. When I think of that Monday morning a half century ago, little did I know about the reality of life and how impossibly naïve I was about love...(and still am). 


As we approach the end of the Easter Season and are about to celebrate Pentecost, we turn to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps like those disciples of John, when Paul asked, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit?", we are a little nonresponsive because we are not that open to the Holy Spirit.


Most of us have been confirmed, the sacrament of the Holy Spirit if you will, but have we really responded to His presence in our lives? We would do well today to look back and examine our way of faith thus far and honestly respond to God, and to ourselves how we have received the gifts of the Spirit and put them to use in living a holy life and proclaiming first by how we live the very presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How marked is my life by the presence of the Holy Spirit? Have I responded to God's grace in such a way that the Spirit of God could touch the lives God intended to touch or inspire if I allowed him to fill my being with His love? 


Can I see any moments in my life when I encountered the love of God either through receiving it through the saints God placed in my life, or in moments where He chose to use me to be a light to another of my brothers or sisters? 


Sadly, missed opportunities are too easily observed, but joyfully each day I rise from sleep, I can gratefully open my life to the Spirit of God and be available to be God's servant and witness. May the JOY of living in the Spirit grasp us and urge us to fullness of life.


OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2015

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.


Jesus Christ ascended. Which means He first descended to us from His Father. His Ascension was so that He could again be with His Father in Heaven, as is our goal of salvation, the reason God sent His Son to die for us.


The mysteries are far too mysterious, as heard today in a homily, to simplify that Christ ascended into heaven as if it were an actual place. Jesus did ascend to be at God’s right hand to be with Him forever. He did so for us so that the Holy Spirit would and could come to emphasize for us those gifts we have. And we have these gifts so that we may pass on the Good News that is Jesus Christ.


That is what we have come to believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We can proclaim what we have known and all we will come to know in our faith through all the means available to us-and there are many-but most importantly through the way we live what we have learned. We are called then to evangelize, to forgive, to heal and then to share all that we have in His love.


There is a need for His grace in us all. There is an even greater need for His grace in those we see each day. Let it then be the gifts He has given us to share to bring that grace home to those He brings to us.



“Ask and you will receive and so your Joy shall be complete.” In John 16:23-28, Jesus assures us that anything we ask from the Father will be granted in His Name. Jesus confidently proclaims this truth because He knows His Father. And He knows that His true disciples would only ask for what is in accord with the Will of the Father! Herein lays the challenge of Christians: 1) To understand the Will of the Father; and, 2) To truly desire that which will bring us His Joy. 


The bottom line of the entire journey to salvation is this: the Lord will reward those who are faithful to Him and He will listen to the prayers of those who trust in Him. In order to quell doubt, God sent His Son to us.  hrough that act of love, we are called to remember the simple truth that His Love was so great for us that He endured suffering and death on the Cross. How can this not eliminate any doubt in our minds and hearts? It is this total sacrifice that provides precise and clear evidence of His love. 


Jesus, as recorded in John 16:27, tells us, “….the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.” Even though humanity has shown, repeatedly, that we are not always deserving of God’s merciful and endless love, he always loves us (endlessly and mercifully). This is a concept that is difficult to grasp, in our human condition, and can only be understood through continual seeking in His Word and, in turn, applying that word in our daily lives—thought, word, and deed. 


As we read and re-read John 16:23-28, we can’t help but begin to grasp an understanding that our prayer life is central to our relationship with God. And, understanding His will is central to our prayerful conversations with Him. In order to “complete our joy (in Him)”, we must know what Joy He ultimately desires for us! Imagine how true understanding of this concept can (and will) change our prayer experience! 


Father, help me to understand that Your love for me knows no bounds! Fill me with gratitude for blessings and confidence to understand and pray for Your will (and joy) in my life!  J.O.Y.!!!

Paul B

OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015

In John 16:20-23 Jesus reminds us, as He speaks to His disciples, that that pain we endure and “price” we pay, as faithful believers who witness to Him through proclamation of His Word, will not matter when we see Him again in the joy of the Kingdom. In fact, He compares it to the pain that a mother goes through in childbirth—a pain that is immediately forgotten upon the sight, sounds, and touch of that newborn life! Ah, such joy!


Often, in the scheme of daily life we experience moments of doubt and ask ourselves, “Why do we suffer?” During these times the challenge becomes one in which we must strive to understand that our human condition is a gift from God, one which we are called to use to experience and grow in Him and toward Him. It is no different than when we give our child, spouse, sibling or friend a gift. None of us like to see a gift that we have given someone, just laying around, put away on a shelf, or otherwise ignored and not put to use. Imagine then, how we respond with and to the gift of life that God has given us? 


When life does not always work the way we think it should or it takes a little “extra practice” to make it work in His ways, how do we respond? In order to master the “gift of life” we have to trust that our efforts to keep working in, for and toward His Kingdom will lead us to the Light of the Kingdom. In this discourse in John 16, Jesus assures as that our sorry will be turned to joy! Our weeping will be turned into tears of joy! Psalm 30:5 tells, us, “…Weeping may linger for the night, but the joy comes with the morning.” That same Psalm of Praise goes on to say (11), “You turned my mourning into dancing….and clothed me with joy.” 


Lord, as this human condition unfolds and brings with it worldly joys, trials, and other elements of this “life”, give me strength to endure in the journey to eternal salvation.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


Here is a simple morning prayer plan based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.


A Morning Offering

Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Joseph, and all the angels and saints, I offer you today all my prayers, desires, works, joys and sufferings.  May I faithfully seek your will as you envision and reveal it to me in the present moment circumstances of this day.  For through it, I will strive to accept each moment with gratitude and as a purposeful, precious gift from your hands.

Next, consider and meditate on the First Principle and Foundation from the introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord,

and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.


For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.


Finally, seek protection throughout the day via the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel. 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel


Saint Michael the Archangel,

Defend us in this day of battle.

Be our safeguard against

the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

and you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -

by the Power of God -

cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,

that roam throughout the world

seeking the ruin of souls.



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.'"


If we reflect back to John 8:32, we find Jesus telling his disciples, "The truth will set you free." So, reading John 16 we can call this "Jesus' statement on truth." In our human condition the concept of truth is a very difficult one. The reason for this difficulty is that we prefer a subjective truth that allows us to insert our own will, rather than the objective of Truth of God. Perhaps, this is why we have such a comment saying as, "The truth hurts...." in our daily lives. We often fear the truth because we feel like it might inhibit our lives and the "free will" He has given us.  Yet in our Christian faith and spiritual minds we believe (and know) better!  


Jesus knew that his disciples could not fully understand all that He said while He was with them. It is the same with us. So, He sends His spirit into the world to guide and direct us, if we only listen. Such listening begins by immersing ourselves in the Word, which we believe and know was written by hands and minds guided by the Spirit of God. Thus, when we truly believe and know, we can and must turn that knowledge into action so that others can see the Will and Truth of God and, in turn, draw closer to Him!  


Lord, free me from the subjective truth of this world, and fill me with the objective truth of your Holy Spirit.  May I love You with all of my mind, strength, and will and seek to please You in all things. Jesus, only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


In John 16:5-11 Jesus tells his disciples, though He is leaving, He will be present, forever, through the Holy Spirit. He basically tells them to “buck up” and understand the truth and understanding that this is all part of the plan of salvation: His Presence will be replaced, in full strength, by the Holy Spirit! 


He goes on to tell us that the Holy Spirit will guide us toward understanding that His ways are righteous and worldly ways will pass. The Holy Spirit will be sent to guide us to those right ways and to faith—which will result in favorable judgment for us—it is faith that will lead us to “win” the Crown of Eternal Life with God. 


How do we “receive” the Spirit? How often do we take the opportunity to allow the Spirit to guide us? Someone shared this morning that we, as Christians, often say, “It is better to give than to receive.” This is understandable and an important message, both in our human condition and in our spiritual journey. But, in the context of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, we must understand that it is better to receive, first, so that we can give in return. Spiritual gifts are different from worldly gifts, though the two often intertwine. It is only through the Guidance of God (offered, through the fruits of the Holy Spirit) that we can be guided in our earthly journey to seek, find, and live in Him! 


Gal 5:22-23 tells us , ….”the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are all gifts we receive when we welcome the Spirit within our hearts and minds. When these things fill us, what we “lose” (or is pushed out) is “….anger, greed, depression, insecurity, fear, etc….” There is no room for these when we open ourselves to Him and are filled with the Holy Spirit. 


Lord, when we pray, help us to be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the guidance we receive. May the Fruits of Your Spirit grow stronger in us each day. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015

As baptized Christians, we have each been called and commissioned by Jesus to bring the Good News of Salvation to others. God knows that we cannot accomplish this alone. We need the Holy Spirit, sent to us by Jesus, to give us the courage, strength and wisdom to witness His Truth. It is through the Spirit that we are able to say and do things that will touch the hearts and minds of those searching for God in the midst of this world. 


In John 15:26 to 16:4, Jesus continues in His assurance to us that the Spirit of Truth will be with them, sent by Jesus from the Father. The Spirit will continue to be Christ’s Witness to, with and among the faithful. Jesus again, reminds the disciples (and us) that the journey of faith will not always be easy and that many will condemn believers in word and action. Jesus specifically cautions that we will be rejected, ridiculed and persecuted because of the Name of Jesus. It is incumbent upon us to call upon the Name of Jesus and be open to His Spirit dwelling within us when we are challenged by those who doubt or prefer worldly desires over God’s will. 


In John 16:4 Jesus says, “….I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.” So, we must ask ourselves, “How do we ‘cooperate’ with the Holy Spirit to ensure we contain and use the strength and wisdom provided by His Presence?” How do we use this strength and wisdom to make the Good News a real presence in our lives: In our families, communities and places of work? Throughout our daily lives, are we able to seek and sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting to be a vessel for God’s desire? Is this evident in our actions? 


Lord, help me to spend time each day, considering my thought, word, and deed and how these represent Your Spirit that dwells within. May I stand firm in the face of doubt and persecution. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015

For a couple of days, this past week, we spent time in John 15-9-17. In this discourse on the Love of God and the gift that it is, we are urged by Jesus to remain in His love. To do so requires one primary objective: keeping the commandments of God. To do so is to imitate Jesus Christ. To do so results in the fulfillment of joy and peace to the extent that our own lives are filled with His joy and peace. To do so results in others seeing and believing—being drawn closer to God’s love through and by your words and deeds. 


One thing is clear, in this well-read passage, is that the love between the Father and the Son is so intense and intimate that both act with one accord, in one divine and perfect union. Throughout history both in the Old Testament, throughout Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, in the New Testament writings and through today, we experience God’s love through understanding of the Divine Unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, the wondrous thing is that this love is personal, intense and unwavering even through the fickle, frivolous, and faith-wavering times that humanity offers back!


In keeping His commands, Jesus made it simply and abundantly clear, in John 15:12, “This is My commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you!” How can such a simple command be so often misunderstood in our worldly endeavors? Yet God, through the gift of His Son and the last gift of His Presence through the Holy Spirit continues to offer and share infinite patience and mercy to us. We are called to be and see Christ’s example of Love for and in each other. Christians, let us love one another, first, as He loves us! 


Lord, You chose us to bear fruit—fruit that is nourished by Your love and will last through eternity. Give us Your grace so that we and others may love more fully!

Jesus, Only You.  J.O.Y.

Paul B


In Acts 16:6-7 we read, “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go in Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them;” Oh, that we would take the time to heed the Spirit! 

The Apostles, in their travels, shared His Word with all who would listen. In turn, they listened to Him as their sole Guide and Compass. Jesus never denies to us, His disciples and followers, that the path will be easy. His Apostles knew this by having experienced with Him, His earthly ministry. In John 15:18-21, Jesus clearly tells them and us that they (we) have been chosen to Follow Him and this will not always nor easily be accepted by the “worldly”. He clearly states, “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.” 

Throughout Jesus’ ministry and throughout the Old and New Testaments we hear that we cannot serve God and man: we must choose. In this discourse, Jesus warns us of the resistance and persecution we will encounter as a result of our faith!  This resistance will often take place in our homes, communities and places of work. We may meet those who are opposed to our beliefs and we may meet those who question our motives within faith. These oppositions and doubts may make us feel ostracized or mocked in our own backyards, so to speak. In the midst of such moments, we recall that the Apostles went out, in spite of this, and allowed themselves to stand firm and be guided by the Spirit, promised through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Lord, give us the grace to stand firm in our faith and to witness through patient, caring, and loving example of Your Word to those who don’t yet fully know You.  J.O.Y.
Paul B


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.”


It’s so easy to say, sort of just rolls out of the tongue… ‘love one another.’ What we say and how we put it into practice as we say it present the greatest challenges of our lives. Especially when we are called to love as God loves us, unconditionally and without reserve. This kind of love is not possible to have or to make on our own but only when we accept it from God Who gives it to us.


Think of the people you call your friend. Not just the acquaintances but those you could list as truly your friends. How long have known them? What do you know about them? What do they know about you? What are you willing to give up for them? Is the relationship reciprocal—that you both share the same concern and love and faith for one another and in each other? A love that came from what God has given you both?


As Jesus points out in John’s Gospel, it was He Who called us, Who has chosen us to be with Him as His friend. Our part in the relationship is to continue to answer that call so that we will bear the fruit of our mission, of our journey of faith. A lot like it is with those we call our friends, those who we share our lives with as we share our lives with them and they with us. As we have been chosen, let us do well then with His command to love as He has shown us with His love, unconditionally living for us all the way to dying for us.


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 passage, John 15:9-11 assures us that we shall have complete joy that can only be found in His love and living His will. Our Christian challenge is offered, yet again, by Jesus words here: “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love….” In our human condition, it is our daily challenge to remain in His love. We are confronted with this challenge every day through disappointments, doubts, crises, and the human emotions that come with this, including anger, jealousy, frustration and myriad other opportunities to falter. So, how do we respond? 


We are called to see, first, the experiences of love in our lives? John 15:9-11 can be looked at, from a logical perspective, similar to those “geometry proofs” from long-ago high school math classes: (1) “The Father loves Me, therefore, I Love you; (2) Keep my commands, therefore remain in my love: (3) I have given You example of love, therefore you can share the same example: (4) I keep His commands, therefore I am in His Love; and (5) He shares with us the fullness of Joy, therefore, our joy shall be made full. 


The bottom line is that Jesus said, “I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Remain in My love.” How do we do with this expectation each day? Do we find ourselves striving to find (and be) examples of His love in the world around us? 


Lord, may I always grow in the joy and hope of Your promise of full Joy. Fill my heart with love for Your ways, therefore, love for You! May this love shine through my words and deeds today and every day and be a source of Joy for all whom I encounter. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B


Today we revisit John 15:1-8, after having spent the last couple of days reading about Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and Peace of God that will be present and available for us to accept. In 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”


Often we focus on the idea of the “pruning” that takes place of the “bad branches” each year when a gardener (God) tends to the plants (us). Today, in reviewing these same verses, let us consider how the remaining “branches” are tended to in order to ensure that the entire garden remains fruitful. 


Once a gardener has weeded, pruned, and otherwise “pared” the garden and its plants, the remaining plants must be watered and fertilized regularly. So it is in our lives—we are given the opportunity for nourishment from God, the Master Gardener. How we, as the remaining branches, absorb and use the nutrition provided us by the Word and Spirit will determine how much fruit we bear in the Kingdom of God. Gardens left untended grow wild and, often, in “puny” fashion. 


There is a pecan orchard just up the road from my house; well over a hundred trees! The trees started out with such promise until the person who planted did not have the time or volume of water to maintain them. The trees continued growing, but remained “puny” and, now, produce very little fruit. 


As we reflect on our own lives, do we “draw enough water” in our daily lives to produce the works of His Kingdom? We are called upon to pray (and worship) unceasingly! As Christians, we should challenge ourselves and each other, to use each spare moment to thank God for His goodness and seek him in Word and deed, rather than saying, “I don’t have time in my busy-ness.” 


Lord, Your presence will enrich us, the more we spend time with and in You! 

Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



In John 14:27-31, Jesus promises a “peace that the world cannot give”. In our humanness, peace is often viewed as avoiding trouble—finding a way to not face unpleasant things. It is obvious, by His willingness to accept the path to the cross and the cross itself, that Jesus was not talking about our definition.  Jesus clearly was able to face the sorrow, pain and suffering of the human condition in order to show us that fulfillment of the Father’s Will is something through which we can/will conquer such fear and trouble. 


Yes, in the eyes of the human condition, the cross (and death by suffering) stood for shame—having done something “wrong”.  But as Christians we find true peace and reconciliation with God through His journey. In 14:31, Jesus says, “….but I do as the Father has commanded me so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.” How do we let God (and the world) know that we love Him? Throughout this discourse in John 14, Jesus is presenting to us that we have a gift, called the Holy Spirit, who will be with us—our advocate in this world who will dwell in us and guide us to the next world of Eternal peace, if we but seek and accept! 


Jesus, as we know, often spoke in “mysterious ways”. In verse 28 He says, “….I am going away and I am coming to you.” The disciples, just as we do, needed to listen carefully in order to understand what Jesus is saying. This discourse ends with “Rise, let us be on our way.” This is our call to the journey and our “company” on the journey is God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. 


Lord, we pray that Your Peace, promised to those who believe, always be with and in us. Give us the strength of Your Presence so as to not allow any trouble, trial, or affliction to rob us of Your Peace. May Your Word and Will bring a Peace that becomes the result of our life’s work. J.O.Y.

Paul B


Not to us, O Lord, but to you be the glory!


These words of the psalmist ring in our ears and hopefully in our hearts. We are alerted to what can happen in moments of God's glory shining in our midst, as we listen to the account what happened to Paul and Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe. The healing of a crippled man causes the people to react in a way to want to put Paul and his companion on a pedestal, even to recognizing them as the gods Zeus and Hermes. We too can experience similar circumstances when the Spirit of God acts in our midst and we are moved by the Spirit. 


It is in those moments we must be alert to God in our midst and react by giving glory and honor to God. When our own ego is being massaged by compliments, we must learn to give God the glory in a way that acknowledges in all humility and gratefulness that He has allowed us to experience the moment of grace.


Focus on the Christ Jesus. Seek Him always that you may come to know Him, and to love Him. His words in today reading of John's gospel are a powerful meditation for all of us to come to recognize that to love Jesus, is truly the way to the Father where we become one with love.



As spring is upon us we see trees starting to bud out, grass and weeds are “greening up”, and we are celebrating another “awakening” of beauty around us, as we do this time every year. In John 15:1-8, Jesus says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit He cuts away. And, every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.”


Just as we celebrate new birth, new growth, trees blossoming even bigger than they did the year before, God wants to celebrate the same in us. Each year, we prune our trees with the intent that they grow bigger and more full! Pruning is cutting away the dead, withered branches. In doing so, the “good growth”, survives and gets stronger. Water absorbed from the ground is no longer wasted on dried up parts of the tree or vine, once it is pruned. So, if we allow God to “prune away” the withered parts of the human condition—things like false pride, jealousy, hatred, bitterness—then His word, like water, will strengthen and nourish our lives and love, mercy, kindness, and compassion will thrive. 


Just before Easter we spent time in preparation for the resurrection—time examining our lives, minds and hearts. That is the time we “sharpened” our tools and made our plans to “grow” in Him, just as a farmer or gardener makes plans for his growing season. Now that we have experienced the true joy of the Resurrection, it is time to put our tools to use! The eternal spring will be upon us and in order to take full advantage, we must recognize that the Spirit of God is flowing to life within us. Our time to bear spiritual fruit is here. This fruit can and must be evident as we grow and blossom as Christians. 


Lord, strengthen me, the branch, as You are the true vine through which the branches gain strength.  May I grow in You and You in me! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


As Christians, what is the greatest thing in this life (and, as a result, the next) for which we can strive? What is the best thing we can possess in this life and the next? To know God and to have knowledge of Him brings more joy, contentment, and happiness than anything else in this life and the next! 


God’s desire for us to know Him did not come  as a result of Jesus’ presence. Rather, this has always been God’s desire, as noted in Jeremiah 9:23-24, for example, where the Lord says, “….Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast, boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight….” 


Knowledge of and working in His ways is the greatest gift of our faith—we can and do know the Living God in personal ways. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in John 14:7-14. When He told His disciples, “If you know Me, then you will know My Father”,  Phillip responded, “….show us the Father….” Jesus chastises him, basically for not realizing that through His Words and Works, the Father dwells in Jesus, therefore, Jesus in Him and as One with Him. He continues on, in John 14:12-14, saying, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do and, if fact, will do greater works than these… I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If, in My Name, you ask Me for anything I will do it.” 


Jesus tells us here, in this discourse, as well as by His life’s example and ultimate sacrifice, that we must have confidence in our supplication for His Father’s love and mercy! It is that simple! 


Lord, may I know the Father in and through You in all that I am and encounter today and in days to come! May my life glorify You! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B


John 14:1-6

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 He said, He meant it and we should know it to be true. Yet there are those times we still don’t quite get it, even when it so clearly stated for us. Our anxieties, our fears—we let them get in the way of what our faith tells us to believe. Where is our trust in what we have learned, in what we have come to know and believe all these years of faith, hope and love?


Jesus tells this to the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them, in fact, many places. And if it were not so, why would He have said anything about it? Indeed, what good would all that they have shared and come to know be to them if it were not so? And one more thing: I’ll be back to take you there, ‘to Myself, so that where I am you also may be’.  


He wants nothing more for the disciples and us than this—to share in His eternal glory. Yet like Thomas, we have our doubts: how are we going to get there if we don’t know where You are going?


Jesus not only had the answer but was the answer; He was and is The Way. ‘No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ And for us today, He is not a pick and choose sort of lifestyle to follow. We are either with Him or we are not. As He gives Himself to us conditionally so must we give ourselves to Him. That is how we make our will His will, how we align our lives with His, how we come to have more trust in Him and less in ourselves. That’s living The Way, the Truth and the Life He has for us.