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

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OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2014
Happy Birthday Mom... Grandma... Irene 
On a bookshelf in my office is one of those home décor 'accessorize' signs one can buy at the local arts and crafts store. This one reads "Everyday is a Gift.'
Indeed, it is, each day we have.
 
The décor piece hung for quite some time in the home I grew up in. When my mother moved to be with my sister and her family, it was one of those things I took as the siblings helped move some of her belongings around. Of the many things my mother professed, each day she proclaimed the greatness of the Lord and the glory of His name... and the love He gives us all in the gift of each day and breath we have. She was walking and talking and praising Him with each breath she had and each day she had to do it.
 
Today she would have been proclaiming His greatness on her 91st birthday here on earth. God had a greater plan though some months ago when He brought her home to Him, with a far greater gift she has received for the love and gifts she had shared here in His earthly kingdom. I have to believe that if she's not already found her place among the saints, she is so very close to being there, taking hold of the gift of eternal life she's been promised all along the way. 
 
If there are any saints that have walked among us here, she has been one. Happy and glorious Birthday to a wonderful woman, wife, sister, mother, grandmother, great-grand, friend and beyond. As much as you are missed and loved, you are where we are all longing to be.
 
 


OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2014 

In Luke 13:22-30, Jesus tells us to take care not to assume that we can simply enter the Kingdom and share eternal life. Rather, we must ensure that we show our belief in Him and His Ways by living the Truth of Salvation. He uses the analogy of entering through a “narrow door” as the way of entering into God’s Eternal Heaven—a door that not all are fit to enter. He uses another example, saying, “Once the Master of the House has gotten up and locked the door, take care not to find yourself outside, standing and knocking….”  

 

It is at this point you will find the Lord saying, “I do not know from where you come.” We must take the time, therefore, in our lives to recognize the Lord and strive to meet Him in the face of all whom we encounter. Matthew 10:32-33 tells us, “So everyone who acknowledges me before me, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven. But, whoever denies me before me, I will also deny before my Father, who is in Heaven.” Who, among us likes to be on the outside, looking in? Jesus, through his answer to today’s question, “Sir, will there only be a few saved?” tells us that if we but TRY we shall stand a chance of entry through the narrow door—of being inside the Kingdom when the “door is shut”.  

 

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we are called to remember that His mercy and His Justice are equal elements of His “swift sword”. His mercy is great and endures forever, but we must realize that it is tempered with His Justice—and, His Justice is “doled out” on the basis of our actions, desires and effort to follow His Ways and Means in our lives!  

 

Finally, Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that it is through Faith and by His grace that we have been saved and will receive eternal salvation.  

 

Lord, give me the wisdom to “show up on time and dressed” to enter through the narrow, but open door! May I enter with Your Glory on my lips, heart, and actions! 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014 

Today is the feast of Saints Simon and Jude. We don't know too much about them, but we do know they were among the twelve Jesus called to be Apostles. They, like the others, were the first to spread the Good News of Salvation. 

 

They were called to go out to all the world. What about you and I? At Baptism the priest or deacon asked the parents, ‘What do you name your child?’ David.

What do you ask of God’s church? Baptism. 

David, I call you by name, receive the sign of Christ the cross, which I now trace on your forehead and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.  

 

In that moment, you and I were called by name, signed with the cross, the sign of our Salvation, the sign of our adoption into the life of Christ. We call upon all Christians to intercede, on the angels and saints to pray for us... We enter the waters of baptism, to die with Christ and to rise to new life as children of God. We become heirs to the Kingdom. We are now in God's mercy and given the freedom of His sons and daughters. We are now free to live in Christ, yet also free to live in the ego bound self and outside of God's will. 

 

We have been called to carry the message of Christ to a world not yet convinced of God's love and mercy. Like Simon and Jude, we can be sanctified by choosing to be obedient and do God's will always. We can choose to hear Christ asking us to imitate Him in meekness and humility.. "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart."  

 

May our time of prayer this day be a time of joy in the Lord, and may we hear and obey, and even seize every opportunity to share the Good News with someone God may place in our orbit. 

Deacon 



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2014 

Sunday we were reminded that the greatest commandment was to love God completely and our neighbor. Today, Jesus has strong words for the teachers in the synagogue who are disturbed because He healed on the Sabbath. Again we are faced with love and compassion. 

 

In baptism we entered into the death of Christ and rose to new life in Christ.  All of us and each of us are gifted by God with new life, Life in the Spirit. We are indeed children of God through baptism. Yet, this free gift leaves us free to live as members of Christ's body or to live according to our own lights. 

 

When Jesus points to the commandment to love God as the center of our Christian life, He also indicates love of neighbor is like it. Why? Because love of neighbor is the living sign of love of God. We love our neighbor because it is what God desires, not simply a nice human act. We are to follow the example of Christ, the tremendous lover. 

 

The words can be said so easily. The will to love is not so easy. We are to grow in faith, which calls for growth in knowledge, seeking to know God  through our relationship with Him. We have been gifted with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and it is when we strive to live these virtues moment by moment that we come closer to living the will of God. 

 

Today, why not spend some moments reflecting on how we are doing in nurturing our spiritual lives, examining the allotment of our time to truly enter into a prayer relationship with the Trinity. Where exactly are our priorities with regard to building God's Kingdom in our lives?  

 

God grant me the clarity of mind, heart and soul to see you  in all the moments of life. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2014 

Daily, as Christ’s disciples, it should be our goal to be a reflection as the image of Christ, who loves and forgives unconditionally. He offers this love to each of us regardless of race, religion or status, if we but turn to Him and live in His Love among one another!  

 

Matthew 22:34-40 provides us the reminder that the greatest commandment of God’s Law is that we must love God with our heart, mind and soul. The second, in line with the first, requires us to put that love into action by loving our neighbor. The ultimate example of His Love for us, as we know, is the Cross!  As we ponder and meditate upon Christ, crucified for (and by) our sin, we cannot help but to know and desire to know more about His Love! Through our meditations, therefore, we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, paving the way for His guidance and strength to overcome us and allow us to resist temptation and grow in Christ. What a simple formula!  

 

In today’s Gospel, the answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment”, came as a response to the Pharisee’s attempt to test Jesus’ knowledge of Old Testament scripture, of which they were experts, and to hopefully trip him up and give reason to doubt and discredit Him.  Instead, Jesus shows the simplicity of God’s expectation along with a solid understanding of the Old Testament journey (reference Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18). Through His simple, yet comprehensive response, we find that God’s love is holy, just and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial and life-giving. It is not sanctimonious, self-serving and blind to other’s needs. It is here that we get a glimpse into the fact that the New Testament is the bringing forth of God’s promises of the Old.  

 

We find that we are not to be a people of letting God’s love be “done to us”.  As Gen 1:27 tells us, we are made in His image, which is Love! Therefore, Lord, may Your love encompass all that I am. May I reflect You always.

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2014

Today, Jesus shares the parable of the fruitless fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. The words of the Gospel must be applied to our lives, daily, and this parable brings this to light! We are called to examine each area of our lives and determine which are not bearing the intended fruit. In turn, we need to challenge those areas and “fertilize” them so that they grow in the ways He intends.  

 

In the parable, a fig tree had not given fruit for three years. The owner commanded the gardener to cut it down to the ground, as it was “wasting space”. The gardener, in response, begged the man to leave it one more year, giving him time to dig around it, freshen the soil and fertilize it so that it may bear fruit next year. If, at that time, it does not bear fruit, then it can be cut down.  

 

Upon reading this, as Christians, how can we not be called to take some time away from the busy-ness of our everyday lives and cultivate our hearts and souls through thought, prayer and reflection upon our lives, behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles—in the light of God’s Word! The Word must be the cultivation—the freshening, the watering, the light, and the fertilizer by which we grow!  As we have previously learned, though we don’t know the “hour” in which the Master will come, it is incumbent upon us to be prepared for His arrival. In order to bear His intended fruits, we don’t tend to our spiritual needs just periodically.  

 

The “bed” of spirituality in which our spiritual garden grows must be tended to at all times throughout the year so that when “growing season” for any particular fruit is upon us, we are ready and an abundant harvest in each area of our lives is readied and apparent to the Master! We must be like the gardener and promise God that we will cultivate our lives in His ways...then, we must do the work so that we are fruitful when He comes!  

 

Lord, may the yield of Your Harvest be evident and bountiful in all that I say, think, pray, and do!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014 

"Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face!" We take up this psalm response today as our prayer. Saying the words is one thing while praying these words—quite another. 

 

As I strive to make this prayer the cry of my heart, I hope in faith to raise my entire being in this plaintive cry asking God to make every fiber of my being cry out with desire to see His face. In baptism I was presented to God and died with Christ and was gifted with the dignity of being a child of God. It is difficult to fully explain the mysteries of faith, to come fully to a clear understanding of God's mercy in restoring life after the death of sin.

 

To  love Jesus, to be obedient to the will of the Father, to be guided by the Holy Spirit requires learning, to be aware moment by moment, breath by breath, of the tremendous love for each of us individually, and for all of us in the unity of faith. Can we in our striving to be one in faith, one in love, one in hope, find the path to unity in God's Kingdom now and forever? Most certainly! Because God has deigned it to be so!  

 

Make today a day of total awareness of God's presence in every moment and may every action give Him glory!  A M D G

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014 

Jesus has come to light a fire on the earth! Thus begins Luke 12:49-53. We have all heard the phrase, “I have to light a fire under him…”  And this phrase is usually used in reference to getting someone to move in a forward direction to get something done. So too, does Jesus use the fire reference here!  

 

While God is a loving, kind and patient God (evidence #1: He puts up with us!!), He desires to “rekindle the fire” that was started with our Baptism—the Fire of the Spirit that is alive in our hearts. In today’s Gospel, He goes on to say that families must be dismantled and rebuilt on a foundation of His love, if/when they are “held up” by things of this world—dependence on things other than God’s love as the foundation. These distractions, or “false pillars”, can be fear, finances, or other confusion not rooted in God’s Word and Love. Unless God is at the center, families cannot be what He wants them to be.  

 

When Jesus speaks of father against son, son against father, brother against brother….and so forth, He is not proposing or encouraging strife!  Rather, He is proposing an ultimate reunification of these relationships in love, self-sacrifice, holiness and peace. Psalm 140:30 says, “When You send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” We see the fulfillment of the Old Testament, therefore, in Jesus’ statements. Jesus’ fire, therefore, is designed to ignite our hearts, minds, and souls and bring us to a purified or renewed state with Him and with each other.  

 

Today, let us examine our family relationships and ask Jesus to help us dissolve selfishness and deception among us. May we receive gifts in keeping with His riches, strength through the Spirit, His dwelling in home and heart, and charity for one another as our familial foundation (Reference: Ephesians 3:16-17).  

 

Lord, may Your love melt me, mold me, fill me, and use me! May I be transformed, by Your Fire, so as to be strong in love and fidelity! 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014 

What lesson can we take from the parables about the “thief in the night” and the master who surprises his servants with an early return? Luke 12:39-48 is a continuation of Jesus’ warning to us that we must remain “on alert”, as we do not know when our time to enter eternity will come. Both of these parables bring to light the reality of losing all that we presently are and own, in our human condition, leaving us only with the hope of our eternal prize/inheritance.  

 

The parable of the thief re-emphasizes the point made before, in vs. 35-38, that we don’t know when Jesus will come knocking. Here though, Jesus says we must be on constant guard to prevent the danger of plunder and destruction of our souls under the cover of darkness. The thief will not announce his intent to attack. So we must be constantly vigilant against evil because evil lurks until our “guard is down”. We must guard the treasure of faith—the gift He has given us through the salvation He purchased by His blood and sacrifice on the cross.  

 

This parable warns us that Satan comes like a thief in the night to rob us of that gift of faith. We must not deceive ourselves that we are “safe” within our worldly comforts. Jesus goes on to say that we are given all that we need from the Master, God, and all that we are given is to be appreciated and kept at the ready to Glorify God, upon His presence and appearance. This requires us to keep our homes (hearts) clean, tables ready and hearth warm in order to share God’s love. 

 

In Matthew 25-35-45, Jesus reminds us that when we tend to those in need, around us, we tend to God. Therefore, this parable drives home the point that we must open ourselves (our “homes”) to welcome God (through our neighbors) in all opportunities.  

 

Lord, you have captured my heart. Keep it strong, beating in steadfast and vigilant hope for You. May I be generous in love, bring you Glory, and see You in all I encounter. 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2014

If Jesus were to knock on our door, how ready are we to open it and welcome him? Think about those times when someone has made a surprise visit to you? Whether it is a friend or that “crazy relative” who calls and says, “Are you ready for company?” Then, they break the news they are “2-minutes away!” Do you make a mad scramble to put clothes away? Clean up the kitchen counters? Clean up the general clutter?  


In Luke 12:35-38, Jesus wants us to be prepared for His coming at any moment, today or tomorrow, at the very hour He chooses. In this reading, using another parable, Jesus warns us that we are to be as servants awaiting the return of the master from the wedding feast. The expectation is that the door will be opened immediately upon His arrival. In waiting, the servants are expected to have lamps lit to light the way in and to be fully dressed, waiting.  

 

Recall, in Jesus’ time, there was no “Tom Bodette” to “leave the light on” at the Motel 6!  There was no way to flip a switch to light the walk up to the house. Rather, lamps had to be manually set on fire, readied and watched so they wouldn’t blow out! It is the same for the flame and fire of our hearts, ready to illuminate the way of the Lord!  

 

Revelation 3:20 tells us, “Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together.” Another thing to keep in mind, during Jesus’ time, those homes of grandeur had large doors that were heavy and at night, bolted tightly from the inside. Servants were required to have an attentive ear that would recognize the master’s voice. One can imagine that servants who were not attentive or who delayed in opening were rebuked. How do we listen for God’s voice?  

 

Lord, You loved me first and gave all for me! Fill me with strength to wait in hope for your arrival at my door and the wisdom to be prepared for Your knock!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2014

Ephesians 2:1-10

Brothers and sisters: You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

It could that following the ‘ruler of the power of air’ would be akin to living according to the ways of the world. Instead of living according to the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, we instead align ourselves with the ‘spirit of the disobedient.’ It wouldn’t take much to see the path that would take us on and what transgressions lie ahead; the deeper we go along it, the ‘deader’ we become in our flesh. 

 

The good news though is that we know and have always known that we have a way out. Through the generous abundance of God’s mercy and grace—and certainly through nothing we earn or deserve—He will save us from ourselves and our spiritually splintered condition. It is with His compassion that we experience His love, a love that knows no bounds and comes to us without condition or reservation. A gift of true, unencumbered love. 

 

That sort of grace and that sort of love as Paul notes, comes not from works yet from our faith, but not just from our faith alone. It is all from the gifts that God has given us, continues to give us and we pray that He will give us as we submit to His will and His way. Indeed, ‘we are his handiwork’ and for us to think we can do better than what He’s done is pure folly. It remains then up to us to live as He calls us to, to pray as He has shown us how and to love as He has commanded us to. 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2014 

“Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”  Jesus used these words to unravel the Pharisees in their efforts to trick him into contradicting Himself or speaking against the government. The extended answer to the question, one that is answered repeatedly throughout the Gospels and books of the New Testament, is another other question:  “What do we owe God and our neighbor?”  

 

The theme of all of our scriptural learning in the New testament can be summed in saying that we are expected by God to give everyone their due and to owe them nothing except love and dignity in the example of Jesus.  Romans 13:7-8: “Therefore, render to all whatever is owed: taxes, to whom tax is due; revenue, to whom revenue is due; fear, to whom fear is due; honor, to whom honor is due. You should owe nothing to anyone, except so as to love one another, for whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”  Here, St. Paul drives home the “rest of the story”. Jesus avoided the Pharisees trap by confronting them with the coin that had the image of Caesar on it.  

 

In the ancient world, rulers would issue new coins when they came in power. These coins depicted their image. The coin, therefore, was the ruler’s “personal property”, if you will, showing his current and particular political rule over the people. Therefore, Jesus appealed to the earthly rule and order that must exist. He was not saying it does or even should take precedent over God’s law, but, in a sense, he is acknowledging that there must be rule and order in our earthly existence.  

 

Now, let’s take this deeper—we each have been “stamped” with God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). We, therefore, belong to God who created us, rules us, and, as evidence of that rule, has redeemed us from our earthly bonds through His Son’s sacrifice.  

 

Lord, because You made me, I owe You my entire self in thought, word, and deed. In the fullness of my daily living. Please give me the strength and courage to render my whole self to You in my daily life and example to others. 

Paul B 



OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2014

In Luke10:1-7, Jesus makes clear what we, as disciples, are to do in our “commissioning” as His disciples. Here he tells us that the harvest is rich and plenty, but the laborers are few. Knowing this, in 10:2, He directs us to pray that the Lord will send more laborers into the field! We must be selfless and committed in living the faith of Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to envelope our lives, hearts and minds. 

 

We have seen the warnings to the Pharisees and scribes, that we must not live lives of observance to the law but ignorance of compassionate works. These must go hand in hand! Our witnessing is complete and fruitful if we do not allow distractions of superficial, self-focused acts and rituals to supersede or exclude loving acts for one another. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 says, “People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient…. lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny it’s power. Avoid them!” Paul’s words to Timothy are similar to Jesus’ caution to the 72 disciples that we find in Luke 10. 

 

The harvest that Jesus had in mind was not just the gathering of people who are already “ready to be harvested”. Rather, we are obligated to go out and cultivate the Seed—the Word of God—in our own hearts, first. The Word of God, once sown in the heart, does not die, but it does need to be cultivated and tended to, lest weeds and drought choke out the good growth. In order for a harvest to be successful, the land must be cultivated, the seed planted, and the growth monitored and fostered.  

 

It is the same with the Harvest of the Master and this takes the time and effort of laborers, from start to finish! Jesus cautions that disciples will be “lambs among wolves”. Though Isaiah prophesied that the wolves and lambs (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25) will live together, in the meantime disciples will encounter opposition and persecution from those who oppose the Gospel. 

 

Lord, we are called to speak, live, and act in Your Word and Love. Grant me the knowledge, strength, and wisdom to spread your truth and merciful love wherever I may be—evident in my actions so as to attract others to You.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2014 

Be on your guard against hypocrisy! This is the premise in Luke 12:1-5, as Jesus speaks to His disciples and to many gathered to hear Him speak. He continues this theme from His interactions with the religious leaders. Jesus warns that, as Christians, we cannot lead a life of double-talk. In simple terms, our “Yes” must be yes and our “No” is to be no! To mask anything else comes from evil (Matthew 5:37). 

 

Jesus tells us today, “Everything now covered up will be uncovered and everything now hidden will be made clear...Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight...whispers will be proclaimed from the housetops.” He ends, telling us that we are to ultimately, not be absorbed in earthly fear and wonder. Rather, because God knows the depths of our hearts, minds and soul, we cannot hide a single thought, word or deed from Him. Therefore, our fear should be a healthy, real and responsive fear of Him as He has sole power to affect our eternal life.  

 

It is this understanding that can and must guide us to patiently endure life’s trials, knowing that He knows our heart and ways and it is the truth of these things that He will judge. A friend shared with me, this morning, Colossians 1:(10)-11, where Paul is praying for the Colossians that they be strengthened in every virtue and glorious power of God so as to have the endurance and patience they need to walk in a manner worthy of God. In reading Luke’s Gospel in the first five verses of Chapter Twelve, we are given assurance that living His truth will “set us free” and that our healthy fear of God, in reality, is to have no fear.

 

Imagine a life in which we have no worry, anxiety, and fear. Such a life is offered if we can just simply and completely give ourselves into His hands.  Simple? But, not easy! This is faith!  

 

Lord, let Your Word light my heart from sin’s deception and expose only a burning love of truthful ways.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2014 

How often are we hindrances to ourselves or others, instead of being helpful in seeking to deepen relationships with the Lord? Are we aware it is happening or has it become habit in the din and distraction of our daily lives. 

 

In reading Luke 11:47-53 we are given pause to pray for all people in authority—church leaders, political leaders, educational leaders, heads of families, etc. We must pray that they and each of us become instruments of God’s peace, justice and truth in our thoughts, words and deeds. In this Gospel reading, Jesus says clearly, “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge.“ 

 

Yesterday, we read about the obstacles created by the legal scribes by prescribing miniscule, detailed levels of ritualistic acts, rather than focusing on goodness of heart through actions toward and on behalf of others. It is this adherence and commitment to ritual acts, rather than acts of kindness over which Jesus’ wrath and rebuke was displayed. The lawyers and scribes, as we have noted, were the “official interpreters” (the “Keeper of the Keys”) of the Scriptures. Jesus points out that their interpretations became so distorted and difficult to comprehend that it was “closing off” the minds of the very people they were intended to guide. So, their actions not only become a hindrance to their own salvation, they become obstacles to the salvation of all. Jesus ends His rebuke, in today’s passage, saying, “You have not gone in, yourselves, and have prevented others from going in, who wanted to go.” We are reminded that we, in any position to lead others, must be the first to show example so that those we are leading (children, employees, voters) may follow.  

 

Lord, may Your Word, Ways, and Wonder take root in my heart and transform me (and those for whom I set example) into a model of understanding and wisdom of Your Will. 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, OCTBER 15, 2014 

Our daily encounter with the word these recent days has us listening to Paul's letter to the Galatians. He is quite clear in his language that the law, though important, is not where we find our redemption. It is in Christ, in the revelation of God in Jesus. It is in living as a disciple and being filled with the guiding Spirit of God.  

 

Paul continues today to remind us of the fruits of the Spirit, to live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, to seek always to do God's will, we see in life the  fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity...  Daily, in our lives as we seek to live truly as children of God we see the effects of the fruit of the Spirit. 

 

In the Gospel, Jesus castigates the Scribes and Pharisees for their external actions while nurturing habits, those hidden actions that are contrary to life in the Spirit. We are so often capable of putting forth a vision of what is beautiful while within harboring thoughts and in secret performing in an unloving manner. 

 

We look at our world and see sin but refuse to acknowledge sinful behavior as sin. Rather, we seek a truth that we create and find ways to justify continued sinful behavior. We look upon the crucified Christ and perhaps we fail to see the love that led to this. We fail to return that love with a passion that seeks to imitate the passion of Jesus in giving all for love of me, for love of you. 

 

Many are looking for easy answers as evidenced by hoping for solutions that will ease their consciences as the Bishops seek to come to pastoral decisions with regard to family.

 

We are called the repent, and believe the Good News. To repent includes turning away from sin. It is not repentance when we claim to repent yet continue to repeat objective sinful behavior.  As we dialog with Jesus this day, may we ask of Him the graces necessary to turn from any sin in our lives. We are so fortunate: We have the opportunity to celebrate Eucharist daily, to be fed on the bread of life daily: do we seek the Lord while He may be found? Let us pray for one another! 

Deacon 



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014 

In Luke 11:37-41 we see Jesus accepting an invitation from one of the Pharisees to share a meal in his home. The man undoubtedly heard Jesus preach and, perhaps, wanted to hear more. At the table though, the Pharisee attempts to rebuke Jesus for “not washing His hands” before sitting down to eat. Immediately, Jesus turns the tables by saying, “You Pharisees!  You clean the outside of the cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness….Did not He who made the outside make the inside too?”  

 

The question that forms as a result of reading this account is:  “Which is more important to God—clean hands or clean mind and heart?” Jesus repeatedly called out the Pharisees for their strict and outward observance of the law, while harboring unclean hearts that sheltered greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and other impure motives. Psalm 139 tells us that God knows us inside and out. He knows our hearts and our ways.  In fact, the singer of this psalm implores God to search his heart, to know his thoughts, and to lead him away from wickedness.  

 

In Luke’s account of dinner with the Pharisee, Jesus challenges him (and us) to examine and exhibit a clean heart. This is the true sign of conversion, over and above outward observances of the law. Jesus does not condemn tithing, almslgiving and rituals such as cleansing hands before meals.  Rather, these things must be done from the Spirit within. There is a “spirit of the law” that exists in and for God, not exclusive and separate.  

 

To truly have a conversion of heart cannot be solely expressed through observance of laws and rituals. It must also consist of a conversion of heart. This is an interior decision and cleansing that ultimately gives way to the love of Jesus being expressed in our thoughts, words and deeds toward others.  

Lord, fill me with Your love and thirst for You. Cleanse my heart from evil thought and desire. Help me to commit acts of kindness and charity toward family, friends, and neighbors. 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2014 

What are you looking for? You want a sign?  

The sign is the Lord who speaks to you each day.  

Listen to His word and let it guide your actions moment by moment.  

 

The sign is the Lord who comes to you each day as the bread of life. 

 In the Eucharist we meet Jesus Christ who loves us to the death and bids us come that we might rise up with Him to new life, to life forever. 

 

The wonder of God surrounds us, so much so, we are often seduced by the created wonders and can easily forget who created all that is, and has given us life. As we walk in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac, Israel (Jacob), Moses and finally in Jesus the Christ, may we come to deeper faith each day in the wonder and awe of God's presence. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2014 

RSVP! We have all seen this set of letters on various types of invitations. It is French: “Respondez, s’il vous plait” or, in English, “Please respond.”  Such a response allows both the inviter and the invitee to be better prepared for the event. The simple courtesy of extending the invitation and the courtesy of accepting are both as important as the other. Neither can be taken for granted if the event is to be successful for all.  

 

So it is with the Father’s invitation to partake in the eternal celebration of the Kingdom. The unconditional love with which His invitation is extended cannot be taken for granted. In Matthew 22:1-10, Jesus shares a parable in which a king sets up a great feast to celebrate the occasion of his son’s wedding. Many were invited and, when the time came, the lavish meal prepared. He sent out his servants to gather those invited and bring them in. But none came.  

 

The king then sent out a larger number of servants and had them describe the feast that had been prepared. Though the feast sounded wonderful, they were not interested. Rather, they tended to their farms, businesses, and things of this world as these were more important. Since the servants kept showing up, reminding them of the feast, they chased them away, irritated, some to the point of maltreating and killing those servants. Since the feast had been prepared, he advised his remaining servants to and search the ways and byways searching and collecting anyone who was willing to partake of the feast.  

 

This parable is the perfect example to show that we are all invited to the feast—but, there are many of us who are ignoring and, flat-out rejecting the invitation. We have RSVP’d, through our own baptism and overt acceptance of Jesus’ Saving Grace….but, are we making plans to “show up”? Are we ready to “show up? God is asking us, daily, to “RSVP”! Please respond!”  We have been asked to “mark the date”, “prepare our gifts”, and “dress for the occasion”. All of these take effort: Preparation!  

 

Lord, may my “RSVP” to Your banquet be visible in all I think, say, and do!

Paul B

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2014 

Jesus affirms that God’s love for us AND our love for Him must be at the center of our lives. I was recently reminded of this, not only in Luke 11:27-28, but in a meditation shared by my dad in which he wrote of someone who said to him, “No matter what, I know Jesus loves us.” My dad’s response was, “Ah, this is true. But, do we love Him?”  

 

We are called to love in return. That is the simplest and most humble request God makes of us! In the referenced Gospel from Luke, a woman points out the blessedness of the womb that bore Jesus into this world. We can all agree that Mary is an example of the “perfect disciple” in her willingness to sacrifice all that she did to accept God’s call to be the Mother of Jesus! Her faithfulness is beyond question. Her actions, therefore, call to mind the question as to how far we each are prepared to go to listen and put into practice God’s Word and desire for us in our call to daily living in Him?  Jesus, in reply to the woman who calls out, “Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you” turns the focus back upon all of us when He says, “More blessed, still, are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.”  

 

By definition, a faithful disciple is one who hears AND practices the Word of God.  In Luke 8:21, Jesus points out that whoever does the will of God is a member of His family. Through our commitment we become truly blessed by knowing God personally through hearing Him and finding joy in obeying His commands. We were made by and for God, in His image. Is this not why we are restless until we truly rest in Him? Rest-less—the end result of anxiety and worry! In today’s Gospel the simplicity of receiving His blessing is clear—hear and keep His Word!  

 

Lord, my heart is restless until it rests in You. Help me to live in Your Presence and exemplify the knowledge of Your great love!  May my words and actions please You! 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, OCTBER 10, 2014 

Luke 11:15-26 is a powerful and direct statement regarding the source of Jesus’ power—that of God! He is criticized by leaders for casting out demons. The criticism contains an accusation that the power to cast out satan’s demons comes from satan, himself! Jesus, here, basically makes a couple of arguments. 1) How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Basically, He is asking, how can it make sense that satan would give someone the power to cast out himself? 2) The second argument is, in continuation, that a house divided against itself cannot stand!  

 

Look at civil wars, throughout the world’s history, as an example. If satan were to lend his power among his own forces, against each other, then he is finished! Jesus goes on to share a parable about a vacant house (our own bodies and souls) being occupied by sin and evil forces. Through baptism, sin is banished! Therefore, our bodies/souls are cleansed of all evil. We know by faith the cleansing is ultimately done by the Grace of Jesus’ sacrifice for us (ref: Galatians 3:24 and John 8:34). It is our duty to keep that house clean! Jesus’ parable reminds is that the house cleansed of evil spirits has a “void” that must be filled with God— all that is good, wholesome, true, and (eternal) life-giving.  

 

If we leave the void unfilled, it can easily become filled with something else, not of God! Jesus clearly warns us that if this happens, we end up in a worse state than before our cleansing. Basically, if we allow him, satan returns each time with a stronger will to break us down! So, we must ask ourselves: how do we keep our “houses” clean? Jesus makes it clear that there are two forces trying to occupy our minds, hearts, and soul. To obtain true freedom and protection in Him, we must allow Jesus to be enthroned within us   

 

Lord, be the ruler of my heart and master of my home! May nothing in my life’s efforts not be guided by You!
Paul B
 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2014 

Today as we listen to Scriptures at Eucharist or in our own prayer time read and reflect on today's readings, we are perhaps startled by Paul's words to the Galatians: Stupid? Foolish?  

 

Paul is disturbed that they seem to be lacking reason, and being led astray by others. He upbraids them for so quickly turning from the faith they believed because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Don't they realize the gift of faith God gave them when they turned to the message He had sent them through Paul? 

 

Let us examine in quiet prayer own faith, and how we respond by nurturing the gift of faith in prayer, daily celebration of Eucharist or in absence of a  priest sometimes meeting Christ in prayer and communion. Take time this day really take time...sit quietly with Jesus and listen in the quiet to his voice measured with your heart beat, your breath a constant beating in praise of him. Let Him pray through you and strengthen the gift of faith you have received. 

Deacon 



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2014 

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.  

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.  

Give us, this day, our daily bread. And, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  

And, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. 

Amen.

 

Jesus gives His disciples, us, this prayer in Luke 11:1-4. This prayer is truly about the certainty we must have, as believers in God, that our prayers will be answered. Jesus opens with a powerful and trusting statement, “Our Father.” This brings fruition God’s true benevolence and mercy—The Old Testament commands true and total respect for the role of “father”. And, this prayer brings home the expectation that God is our ultimate provider, giving God total honor and glory in that role.  

 

Once we acknowledge God as Father, we recognize His omnipresence over the expanse of the universe—the Heavens—and that He is hallowed above all! The humility of recognizing this Holiness is designed to “bring us to our knees” each time we acknowledge Him in prayer.  

 

Bread, throughout the Old and New Testaments is a symbol of His ultimate provisions—our basic necessities. “Our daily bread” implies not only physical, but spiritual sustenance. This includes daily time in The Word, recognition of the blessings given us through our provisions and the “gift” of friends, family, and acquaintances—those tiny (and sometimes, not so tiny) blessings we encounter each day, that lift us up or give us opportunity to lift up another.  

 

In our human condition, we must pray constantly for our failings—we must reflect on how we have treated others (as opposed to how we want to be treated).  Finally, we ask His guidance and protection.  

 

Lord, may this “perfect prayer “remind me, daily, of my need to know You, recognize You, trust You, accept Your Will as my own, love others as You love me, and to seek Your protection always! 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2014 

The Liturgy of the Word today leaves us with so much. Where to begin: with Paul in his word to the Galatians about his proclamation of the faith after his days of persecuting followers of the way? Or can we rest with the psalmist who so eloquently professes the truth about God probing and knowing each of us from the moment of our creation, from the first moment of life as a result of God's desire and plan to give us life? Or can we dwell with Jesus, and Martha and Mary and listen to their conversation? 

 

Why not sit quietly for some moments at least five minutes and just gaze at the Lord, listen to the beat of the heart that we open to receive His word for us, for me. Can we let the silence empty us of all that could block the Lord's coming to us, our minds are too often so busy we fail to understand, to hear the Lord speaking to us in a very personal way? We fail to hear Him speak of our own daily concerns. We know He loves us as many have told me that Jesus loves them. "No matter what Jesus loves me" someone recently said to me. My own reaction was ah yes, but do you—do I love Jesus? In return I received a puzzled look that "seemed" to indicate the person hadn't really thought about that or was taken aback by my question.  

 

It is a question I ask myself. How can I say Yes Lord and do so many sinful acts or omissions each day. Is the desire I have to respond to Jesus' love, to do the Father's will enough? Will each day be a more fruitful effort in achieving holiness?  

 

Jesus, I pray, grant the grace I need to respond as you to do the will of the Father, to accept each day moment by moment seeking always to follow the will of God. May the fruit of the Holy Spirit be the source of my strength always. Amen. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014 

Today we find Jesus being asked, “Who is my neighbor”? This leads into the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, that we are all familiar with as Christians. This parable comes as a result of a devout Jew who was questioning Jesus as to what it takes to become one of the inheritors of eternal life.  

 

As Christians, we are called to love God as best as we can and, to do so, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. As the conversation leads in this direction we, like the man questioning Jesus in Luke 10:25-37, ask ourselves, “How do I know that I am fulfilling my duty to love my ‘neighbor’?” The law of love seems so simple when it says, “...treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself...”  

 

Too often, we understand “neighbor” to mean those in our immediate “circle”. The man in the Gospel reading understood neighbor to mean one’s fellow Jew who belonged to the same covenant which God had made with Israel. Though we use our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances as a strong reference point, through the parable, Jesus challenges the man (and us) to see that God’s view of neighbor goes far beyond our narrow sightedness of daily interaction. 

 

Jesus uses two powerful references, Samaritans (who were not members of the Jewish covenant) and the road between Jericho and Jerusalem, which was noted for its danger to travelers, both in terrain and susceptibility to robbers. In this backdrop, we find a holy man, first, who finds a man beaten and robbed. Rather than risk impurity, he hurries on. Then a Levite passes, but fearing for his own safety, moves on. Finally, a Samaritan (despised by the Jews) stops to help the man, rendering assistance and even leaving some money for continued care. Our neighbor, therefore, is anyone in need! We learn here that we must be willing to help those in need, no matter their (or our own) circumstance. Our actions go beyond good intentions and must extend to all.  

 

Lord, may Your love for all be my foundation.  Help me to extend the my vision of “neighbor”, that I may freely give myself in service to You!

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2014
Happy Anniversary Linda!

Anniversary note: 

God has given us much, more than we could ever imagine. 

For sure, He has certainly given me more than my fair share of love and kindness that He made in you as my wife, my love, my friend. As much as He has entrusted me with, I have found I must do better with the beauty and wonder of the love He has in you… for me.

 

Whether we have been together for twenty-nine days, twenty-nine weeks or years, we’ve just begun putting more love into what God has given us. From the celebration of our wedding to the reception and to those weddings we’ve attended and shared all the way to today, with our faith and prayer we have tried to reflect the light of Christ in all we do and are. That could not have been done and cannot be done without your steadfast spirit of hope.

 

Yes ma’am, we have come a few miles and a few days in many ways since our first days together. Yet we have come closer in faith more than anything else, bringing us even closer in our love for one another and of course, our love for God. He’s made it all possible—you’ve made it all so worthwhile. 

Happy Anniversary to my love. 

I love you- 

me 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2014
Happy Birthday Deric!

Do I bring joy to those around me? Is that joy the kind of joy that is derived from faith, hope and love for God? These are questions that come to mind in reading Luke 10:17-22. 

 

Earlier in this Gospel, Jesus had appointed 72 disciples to go out ahead of Him to the towns and villages He intended to visit. Here, we find them returning and filled with joy over the fact that even demons were subject to their commands, in Jesus Name! Jesus immediately reminds them that their joy must rest not in the fact that demons and spirits are subject to their commands, rather they must rejoice in the fact that their faith has written their names in heaven—giving them eternal salvation.

 

Why does Jesus tell us that we are not to take joy in our own successes and personal efforts above those of God? It is a reminder that regardless of the circumstances in good times or in bad, God has assured us one thing in our Faithfulness: that is the victory of our Lord, Jesus Christ, over sin and death!  

 

After advising the disciples to appreciate, first and foremost, the mercy of God and the fact that it is their faith in God, first and foremost, that brings salvation, Jesus utters a prayer of thanks to His father in Heaven. This prayer of thanks is for revealing to His disciples the wisdom, knowledge and power of God. This prayer tells us that God is both Father and Lord of heaven and earth. He is the creator and author of all. In this prayer is contained a warning that pride can be/is a barrier between the human condition and God’s infinite love and mercy. We have recently and often reflected on the fact that true humility and confidence in God’s mercy is required to truly experience God’s love and mercy. 

 

Lord, nothing should give me greater joy than to know that my name written in heaven because Jesus has ransomed each of us from sin’s slavery. Fill me with that joy and the strength to show and share it with others. 

Paul B 



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2014 

If Jesus were to walk into our towns, villages, places of employment or even our homes, what would He say? In Matthew 10:13-16, we find Him issuing a warning to the people of Bethsaida and Chorazin. He laments for them because they have heard His Word and visibly witnessed His miracles and blessings, yet they still struggle to repent, change their actions and live an example of God’s will and desire.  

 

Why does Jesus lament and issue this stern warning—using the word “woe” (or, often translated as “alas”)? God, as we may know, calls each of us to action through Him, with Him and in Him! Here we have people of Bethsaida and Chorazin who, firsthand, have seen and witnessed God’s benevolence, not only through hearing the Good News but literally witnessing and seeing miracles and blessings in their daily lives. Yet the community as a whole responds with indifference to the need to live in the ways of the Good News.  

 

Repentance demands more than just acknowledgement of error and sin.  It requires a change of heart and visible change of action. We are called to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the love of God that is made manifest in our lives. We cannot be blind to the blessings that He bestows upon us through our families, friends, communities, places of work and all of our daily and regular interactions in His creation. The people of Bethsaida and Chorazin were chastised because they could not see their own need to repent and change their hearts and actions.  

 

Our blindness to the truth can be called “SEE-sickness”.  Matthew 6:22-23 tells us that the eye is the lamp to the body and soul. If the eye is sound, your entire body and soul is filled with light. Ultimately, the Lord asks us the question, then, “Do you see what I see”.  

 

Lord, give me the simplicity to gaze upon Your face, Your joy and ultimately the Mercy and Blessing You bestow upon us, Your People. Remove the blinders that hinder us from illuminating our souls with Your love and allowing Your light to be our own, eliminating the darkness of sinful choices! 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2014 

Feast of the Guardian Angels. If any are like me, I have so much to say thanks for in my guardian angel. Over the years I have mostly been remiss in acknowledging God's unfathomable love in watching over me with a guardian angel, ever there to protect me.  

 

Looking back at life as it has been, how blessed to have been protected in so many moments of life. How in need of repentance for the countless times I failed to heed my angel guardian who would have guided me from sin.  

 

The image of the child that was on the wall near my bed in childhood, the angel hovering in protection as the child faced danger on the rickety bridge is still  burned into my memory.  How could I have failed so many times in adulthood to view all in gratitude? 

 

Today's gospel is a reminder to be childlike. To trust in God's abiding love, evidenced by the Angel at your side. To develop a childlike attitude of humility, taking the Lord Jesus at His word that the childlike will dwell with Him eternally. Come to Him today in prayer, recognizing that you are a child, knowing in faith that Our Father longs to hold you and listen to your prayers.  

 

Remember also to pray this day and every day this month for the Bishops gathered in synod that the Holy Spirit may guide them and pour forth grace as a new Pentecost. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!      WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014

Yesterday found Jesus advising His disciples to set their minds on the prize, no matter how difficult the journey—this message was delivered, not only through Jesus’ words but by His actions in resolutely facing the task ahead—by His sacrifice for the salvation of all men. Today, continuing in Luke 9:57-62, we are called to ask, “Are we ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads?” 

 

In this passage He is very clear on what it will take “cost” - to follow Him.  Jesus was clear with each disciple who came forth—there will be sacrifice.  In order to truly follow The Way, we must experience detachment from all that distracts us. Throughout the Gospels we note that Jesus often “detaches” Himself to spend time with His Father. He often goes off in solitude to pray. Upon return, He advises and provides example each time.  And, whether in solitude or in “group”, spiritual detachment is necessary to truly hear, listen and respond. It gives us time and freedom to dedicate our full selves to His service.  

 

Most of us will not have to give up the creature comforts of our homes, beds and table to follow Jesus. Nonetheless, how willing are we to part with ways, traditions and “comfort zones” to prevent/eliminate barriers between God and us? Finally, Jesus uses the example of a plowman in his field. He says that a plowman must set his sights ahead, rather than constantly looking over his shoulder. By setting his sights ahead, he is able to keep lines straight. Constantly looking back causes him to get off course and the field becomes a mess. 

 

So it is with looking back on things we have freely left behind in order to follow and focus on Jesus. If we continually dwell on what was or some other distraction from doing His will, our paths across the field of life will diverge and we will miss what God has set in front of us. 

 

Lord, lead and guide me in the path of your truth, for you are the God that saves me! (Psalm 25:4-5) 

Paul B