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

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Offer It Up!   Monday, September 30, 2013

2 Timothy 3:14-17

But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

Why is it sometimes difficult to remain so faithful to what we have learned? And it isn’t necessarily all about our faith, either. Think back to our grade school days about those English classes and math classes and think about what we learned then and what we use—or remain faithful to—today. The fact that we may have learned it from nuns or others of a holy order may have contributed to our retention then but today we find ourselves a bit slacking in punctuation and grammar and multiplication and division.

 

More importantly, what we learned early on about our faith either in school or from our family is what we base our foundation of faith on today. More than information, more than words, more than memorizing favorite passages and chapter and verse, we will find true wisdom. Wisdom that comes from God and witnessed to us in His Son Jesus Christ. As Paul notes, ‘all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching… for training in righteousness.’

 

We didn’t quit learning the basics when we left grade school. We didn’t stop seeking ‘worldly wisdom’ after we received our diplomas. And we shouldn’t quit looking for the guidance and direction we find in scripture, in the way and life of Jesus Christ. As we do put ourselves in that position, we will find that, like Paul and Timothy and so many others before us and to come after us, we will ‘belong to God and be competent, equipped for every good work.’




Offer It Up!   Sunday, September 29, 2013

1 Timothy 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. 
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. 
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

 

Maybe you know some holy people. Maybe they are ‘men or women of God.’ They live and compete well for their faith as evidenced in their pursuit of righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. The sort of folk we wouldn’t mind our parents seeing us with on any given day. Not that they have any theology degrees or greater education or have any greater knowledge of the faith but they know how live what they have come to know in their witness.

 

As Paul wrote, as it was their charge to live and keep the commandments, it must be ours to do the same. For as those that came before us lived and showed us the way with their witness and their faith, we have been called by Jesus Christ ‘to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Quite the looming task if we let it overwhelm us. Yet if we give ourselves a chance to hear what He has to say to us, and heed His word, the task becomes easier to undertake.

 

We often look at the task at hand as too imposing, too much to bear or get done without first looking at the entire picture. Upon further review, we then find that what may have seemed a weighty tome turns out to be several chapters to be read a few at a time. We can recognize the situation for what it is-a little less imposing than originally presented. Let us pray that all we come to in our lives we give God—the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords—the glory for all He has brought us to as He will bring us through it. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

 


Offer It Up!   Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jesus in speaking to His disciples said, "The Son of Man shall be handed over to men." The meaning of this eluded them much perhaps as it eludes persons today. When it comes to Jesus, who do we say that He is? Really, this question is to be pondered by each of us in the quiet moments when we are alone with God, with our thoughts. Who do you say Jesus is?

 

Sunday after Sunday, day after day we encountered Him in the written word, or the word heard as we prepare to meet Him in Holy Communion. Who is He? Perhaps a great teacher is what we imagine. Oh sometimes we say the words Son of God, do our lives indicate that is what we really believe? We come to Him and unite ourselves to Him in such an intimate union as receiving Him as out daily bread, the sustenance we need on our spiritual journey.

 

What is then my relationship to the Son of God who comes to me in such an intimate union? Will I now allow Him to transform me bit by bit so that my obedience to the Father begins to be as His, and the light that I was given in the rebirth of baptism shines brightly. Because He is with me always, can I eventually become so transparent that others may see through me and find Him, who gives all for their redemption? Each morning as the light of dawn pierces the darkness, do I wake to an acknowledgement of the God who gives me this new day, who is the light that dispels the darkness? Do I take some moments to express my thanks and my longing for His presence and seek to know and love Him who is love?

 

So often we are caught up in rules and what we should do, and would we perhaps do well to seek a loving relationship with our God, and come to understand the phrase "love, and do what you will." Love eludes us because we often have lived in darkness we create by creating our own God, the God we can manipulate. We have that tendency of "me first", that urges us to play God, often thinking we are being and doing what God wants. How tempting the ability to deceive ourselves in imagining that we are holy!

 

Will you take a little time, today, tomorrow and each day...to really converse with Jesus, Mary, perhaps add a favorite saint?

Lord, come dispel the darkness that comes in our lives!

Deacon



Offer It Up!   Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ezra 9:9

For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us. Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.”

For slaves we are indeed. Slaves as we would be slaves to a faithful spouse, a faithful friend—our faithful God. For all He has given us and has blessed upon, as the saying has been said—let us not complain about the food we eat with our mouths full, full of the bounty we share in.

 

God has turned much good will toward us in spite of what we may choose to see, in spite of what we may choose to see, in spite of what we may choose to respond to when others chastise, penalize, or even exercise their so-called rights to say and or do as they will. We must still believe and still hold true to His Truth, the only Truth. For in His Truth, there continues to be New Life every day we are given in Him.

 

New Life in each of us, New Life as a community, New Life ‘to raise again the house of our God’ so that we may restore what needs restoring, clean what needs to be clean, share what needs to be shared, and love who needs to be loved. This is what we have been granted in our life in Him. God is there with us always, faithful and True.



Offer It Up!    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mother, help our faith!

Open our ears to hear God’s word

and to recognize his voice and call.

Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps,

 to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love,

that we may touch him in faith.

Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him

and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial,

beneath the shadow of the cross,

where our faith is called to mature.

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.

Remind us that those who believe are never alone.

Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus,

that he may be light for our path.

And may this light of faith always increase in us,

until the dawn of that undying day

which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

Amen.

                

The prayer above is taken from the encyclical Lumen Fidei of Pope Francis.

Today we meet Jesus in our midst calling, teaching, healing bringing the message of Mercy the message of love from God, Our Father. We echo his words, those who hear my words and act on them are my mother and brothers.

 

As we hear these words we see in our minds eye, Mary kneeling in prayer, confronted by the Angel Gabriel and responding to his message..."Be it done to me according to your word!" We continue to meditate and walk with Mary listening to her accounts of Jesus' life with her, and marveling at how she responds to God's will in every facet of her life and her motherhood as she teaches Jesus about life with God.

 

Mary the model disciple, after her son's passion and death, is in the upper room with the disciples praying with them as they await the coming of the Holy Spirit. She is the disciple who shows the way to all in those days of preparation to receive the Holy Spirit and begin the mission of Evangelization. May we reflect today on Mary's role in our lives in leading us in our time of evangelization.

 

May all our efforts begin with prayer, prayer as conscious and intense as was the prayer of those who accepted the charge of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit and go out to all Nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. All the processes, Acts, CRHP, RCIA, Cursillo, Communio, Catechumenate Way, and countless others remain processes and programs to aid us in meeting and coming to now Jesus Christ intimately.

 

Pray that following the year of Faith, we may all find ourselves deeply committed to setting the world on Fire with the Love that springs eternal.

Deacon

 


Offer It Up!    Monday, September 23, 2013

Luke 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.

For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

The gospel of the day suggests for me, a group of children singing, "This Little Light of Mine".

 

For so many of us some years ago we were baptized, cleansed in the saving water, brought into the family of God, identified as a child of the Most High. What followed in the lives of each of us is a journey sometimes marked by that realization of who we are, sometimes lost in the distractions of God's wonderful creation of which we take for granted, and sometimes unfortunately sinking in the grasp of SIN.

 

Still we are offered the Mercy of a loving God. We are called to repentance and realization of the light that was given to us in Baptism, called to let that light guide our path and shine brilliantly that others may know the wonder of the God who saves, the God who loves beyond our understanding, the God who longs for us to share eternity.

 

Let you light brighten not only your path, but let it shine that others may also find the WAY.

Deacon



Offer It Up!    Sunday, September 22, 2013

Christ Renews His Parish! Another group gathered to meet the Lord and listen to His call. What does it all mean for the parish of Sacred Heart? Each individual who responded to God's invitation was in a place to hear His voice in their own circumstances, and in their communal circumstances. A parish, what is it but a part of the Body of Christ! We are a people uniquely called to live out our discipleship in this place at this time. We are called to support one another in our spiritual walk, assisting one another in the call to holiness.

 

What now lies ahead as we meet Christ in this encounter with Him in the Eucharist, and with Him in our sisters, in our brothers? This moment of prayer will it set us afire with a desire to be close to the Lord, close enough to engage Him day after day seeking to know His in the circumstances of our life journey? Perhaps it is as simple as fulfilling our responsibilities in Family life, making atonement for past sins and striving to live in His presence knowing that being aware of His presence always, and His love... sin would not be an option for us. How am I being called to a deeper involvement in the Church community? How am I called to minister to others, using talents God has given me to lead others to Him? Only you can answer the invitation to follow Him.

 

In prayer, discover the love of Christ for you personally and your unique place in His body, the Church. What do you have that is truly your own? What do you possess that is not from Him? Your breath, these last few moments from whence do they come?

Deacon

 


Offer It Up!    Friday, September 20, 2013

1 Timothy 6:10-12

For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.

 

Maybe it isn’t the love of money that destroys those who love it; maybe it’s more what they choose to do with it that keeps them from following a path of holiness. The more they work to attain wealth and fame, the less they put forth the effort toward their faith and holiness, therein being the challenge of aligning one’s choice in their pursuit. One has to decide between ‘happiness’ in the material world or the choice of ‘eternal happiness’ for their salvation.

 

Paul notes that some have strayed and have found the pains associated with the chase of the great American dream (wonder how he knew that all those years ago?). Bigger houses, newer cars, climbing the corporate ladder all may be well and good given the right perspective. Yet when done at the cost of one’s faith, one’s family, one’s health, there is little to be said for the worth or effort made as the chase wears one down.

 

More can be found in pursuits elsewhere Paul says, in the pursuit of faith and love, righteousness and devotion, patience and gentleness, a list of virtues not often associated with the larger scheme of things in the corporate world for many but they are there. That is where Paul says for us to ‘compete well for the faith’ and to do so as we were called to do. He does not say quit your job or change careers; he does offer that we do what we do with the virtues ascribed to us as we live our faith, keeping the bigger picture in mind for our eternal salvation. Indeed we must ‘fight the good fight’ so that we may one day hear ‘well done good and faithful servant.’




Offer It Up!   Thursday, September 19, 2013

1 Timothy 4:12-16

Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.

Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

 

If you didn’t have anything else to live by-no code of ethics, no policies and procedures, no character standard or even any commandments or beatitudes to fill out those things you stood for, what Paul has here in his words in Timothy have, if nothing else, a good place to start.

 

How often do we catch others setting the not-so-good example? My good best friend in fact has made the comment upon occasion-‘I am good example of a not-so-good-example.’ His words roll off the tongue a little better than that but I would hope you get the point. Instead of setting out to catch them doing wrong, what of it if we set ourselves to doing right and find others doing the same?

 

What if we became so ‘diligent in these matters’ that we did become ‘absorbed in them’ that they became a way of life and not done on as needed, somebody is watching, I best be on my best behavior, sort of approach? If we did become so involved, so absorbed, soon it would become a way of living for all to see. As a matter of fact, the other way of living—the as needed basis—everyone will be seeing that as well. And which would we rather them see? Paul let’s know that we should continue to attend to our teaching because we will save both ourselves and those who will be listening to us. What better way to evangelize, to live, to share the gifts of our witness than that?

 


Offer It Up!   Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Luke 7:31-35

‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.”
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’

 

It’s as plain as the nose on your face!

You can’t see the forest for the trees!

If it were a snake it would have bit you already!

We played the flute for you and you did not dance!

 

In other words, how much more obvious do things have to get for some people? ‘Thank you Captain Obvious!’ is the refrain often heard when someone states something that really needs not be stated. Yet when Jesus tells the Pharisees what they need to hear, they refuse to listen even though they know it is precisely what they should adhere to. They called John the Baptist a demon and Jesus Himself a glutton and drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

 

Putting ourselves in such a position of judgment as were the Pharisees, how would we go about ignoring the sins of our own lives with the proverbial 4x4 in our eye? How often have we turned a blind eye to the person who needed help but refused to give? How often have slept in and missed our obligation for mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of obligation? How often have we spoke ill of others when given the opportunity to defend them?

 

We have that staring us in the face each day—the chance to live as we have been chosen to live as children of God. If we see the opportunity, we see the love and wisdom of God. If we choose otherwise, well, we see otherwise I guess. God speaks to us in so many ways and through so many people and situations—through friends and strangers, through young or old, saints or sinners. Our hearts must be in tune with His to hear and respond to His call when given that opportunity. It may not be as plain as the nose on our face but He will let us know as long as we put forth the effort to hear Him.

 


Offer It Up!   Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Matthew 5:17-19

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

We sometimes think the laws we have do us more harm than the good they are supposed to bring. Yet in the grander scheme of things, what we have in place to keep us safe and sound do what they are supposed to do. There are reasons speed limit laws and seat belt laws are what they are, personal protection laws and ownership laws are what they are, and health laws and safety laws are in place for our good, at least for the most part. And those are just some of the civil ones that are in place—what of those that are there to keep us safe from the darkness of sin?

 

Like them or not, most of the laws and rules we have are around to protect us from ourselves, just as the Ten Commandments do as we submit ourselves to following them. Pope Francis made the comment recently in a homily to the Jesuits on the Feast of St. Ignatius: “Is Christ the center of my life? Do I really put Christ at the center of my life? Because there is always the temptation to want to put ourselves in the center.”

 

Along with the Beatitudes, along with a Christ-centered life, along with an active, growing faith that keeps the focus on Jesus Christ and not what we want or think we want. That is how we can best carry out and on the mission of the Gospel, what Jesus sent the disciples out to do. They set the example for us thousands of years ago and it has been passed from generation to generation so that we too may carry out the same mission as we ‘obey and teach the commandments.’

 


Offer It Up!   Monday, September 16, 2013

Can we share in the same sort of confidence, that same sense of faith that the centurion showed? Even as an outsider from the faith, he believed that Jesus would be able to help him and his slave. What can we show then as believers, as ‘insiders’, that would further our own cause as we come to Jesus in prayer and supplication?

 

As He showed those then, He healed the slave without even entering under the roof. As the centurion was unworthy and exhibited such faith, Jesus was amazed to hear such coming from someone like him. How is it that we could amaze Jesus ourselves? Probably more of a rhetorical question than anything else but we certainly could put our own lives to the test and maybe even amaze ourselves as we commit to living a more centered life in Jesus Christ, one that leads us to be more worthy of His grace and forgiveness.

 

That is where the healing begins as we come to accept what Christ has for us and we learn to live and love all that He is for us, not for ourselves. A life of ‘smallness’, humility and selflessness, as we come to learn the path before us and the life for which we were created.



Offer It Up!   Sunday, September 15, 2013

Luke 15:1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  So to them he addressed this parable.

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

 

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them,

‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

Then he said,  “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.  After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.  When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.  And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.

I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;

I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.  Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.  Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

 

 

The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Pick your poison, if you will. The parables all speak to how God will go as far as He needs to go to bring back any of us to where we are supposed to be.

The tax collectors and sinners must have known something as they all were coming near to listen to what Jesus had been saying. Something about His words were obviously stirring within them to have them ‘draw near.’ As for the Pharisees and scribes, they were a bit peeved at the thought of the sinners doing just that-how dare they be in mixed company and how dare someone ‘welcome’ these sinners!


If this sound the least bit familiar, you are welcome to join the club along with the rest of us who have at one time or another judged others on our own set of stereotypes. Those being our own rules and standards and not what has been set before us by the commandments, by scripture and by the life of Jesus Christ. We sometimes find it easier to dismiss rather than to assist. To look and judge rather than to see and reach out.

Maybe you were the lost sheep. Maybe you were the one who brought it home on your shoulders. It could be that you lost something dear to you. You may have been the one to shed the light on it to find it, rejoicing all the while with family and friends. Or it could be that you were the son or daughter that fell off the edge of the earth, so to speak, and didn’t come to your senses till you had very few of them left (personal experience noted). Or maybe you were the son or daughter who stayed with the family and did your thing at home. A bit of resentment, a bit of bitterness to swallow, however hard that was to do. Or maybe you are the parent, who with open arms welcomed home his or her child. You didn’t wait for them to come to the door. You didn’t wait for them to call and ask to come home. You ran to meet them to bring them back home.


How difficult it must have been for those on the outside of Jesus’ believers to grasp what He was telling them in these parables. How difficult is it still today for those who do not listen nor hear what the Word has to tell them. We are often among those as we choose our paths instead of the path willed for us. Yet once we figure it out, once we realize that what the pigs are eating is better than what we have, we too will finally rejoice as we come home to Christ.




Offer It Up!   Saturday, September 14, 2103

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

 

Nowhere in this reading does it say go and live according to the way you want to live. Nor does it say go and do the things that others tell you to do. Nor does it say anything about keeping to yourself, not using what gifts you have been given or not putting up with our family, our friends and those that are brought into our lives. As a matter of fact, we would be hard pressed to find anywhere in scripture those sort of ‘admonitions’ that go against what Paul is urging us to do as he wrote to the Ephesians.

 

Our gifts are many. The opportunities we take to use them also are numerous. What we choose to do or not do with them is the connection between answering our call from God or remaining stuck in the realm of a materialistic, selfish world. As goes our gifts, so goes our faith. As goes our faith, so goes that of those around us. And so on and on it should go. As we empty ourselves of what is of the world, we are more open to receive what God has for us that is Him.

Grace. Mercy. Faith. Peace. Love.

With the gifts and grace given to us all, there is much for us to be and much for us yet to become.

 

…for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.




Offer It Up!    Friday, September 13, 2013

1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

 

How nice it is that others trust us with their confidence, their emotions, the things of their lives that they may not necessarily share with others. We or they share and trust enough to give, considering them trustworthy to hold in their hearts what we entrust to their care. Be it emotional, spiritual, physical, or material care, we have a sense that whatever it is we have shared, it is in the best of care.

 

In many cases, that sort of trust did not happen overnight. Relationships take time and to gain deep convictions of trust takes a positive view of things to come and a letting go of those things past. Strengthening and rebuilding trust and confidence in many instances, takes even more time and through faith and forgiveness, through grace and mercy and the power of the love of Jesus Christ, it can happen. Bridges once burned are rebuilt and lives brought back together as both parties let go of their condemning ways and quit ‘acting out of ignorance in their unbelief’ since the ‘the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.’

 

It's not as if we ‘reconvert’ everyday; more like we are in constant state of conversion each day we have. Both are gifts—the day and the conversion part. It is up to us then to accept the plan God has given us. Our bad, His good, He is ready for us no matter how much we may have screwed things up. As much as we may judge others and as much as we may be done the same for who they or we were—Paul is a great example—we are all not who we were.

 

Hopefully and thankfully we have grown and matured in the ways we have been called. God will have will have the last say-so; better for us all to be in the readier place than not. Let His love, grace and mercy be enough for us all to get us there.



Offer It Up!   Thursday, September 12, 2013

How hard do we try make things work our own way when it is a matter of submitting to the will of Christ? We spend time with shrinks, with self-help books, with this TV talk-show doc or that TV talk-show wonder woman. All this effort, all this time, all this ‘stuff’ that keeps us from the real matter of the subject—giving up our lives to the Truth that is Jesus Christ.

 

Will there be difficulties and pain along the way? For sure there will be as the saying holds— ‘No pain, no gain.’ Not that we go out searching for the persecution or the trials; there will be plenty of those that will find us on their own. As they happen, they help us strengthen our faith, our will, our perseverance as we put ourselves in a better position to answer Him in prayer. We become more aware of what His plan is for us and more aware of how far we are along we are on our journey—and how little we know and understand of our great and glorious God.

 

As we focus less on who or what we are and give ourselves over to who and what God wants us to become, we will not only understand more of our glorious God but more of who He is ready for us to become. We fight less with ourselves, we have less to do with aggravation, less to do with the self-help books and gurus and more to do with the glory and praise that God will have from us. Not to say the hurting will go away… we’ll all get to share in that as long as we are believers and have faith in our eternity. It is to say that we are on a journey with our God who will be there with us all the way to the end-and then some.




Offer It Up!   Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Colossians 3:1-11

If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.

Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew,

circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

 

If.

Answer the ‘if’ first before going any further with the rest of the reading-beyond being raised with Christ and seeking what is above. For ‘if’ we are not seeking and thinking along those lines—what is above and not of the earth—the parts that Paul gets to later won’t carry much weight with us if we are not.

 

Everyday we are die more to ourselves to live more in Christ. Living smaller for us, greater for Him and for others. Paul lists those things that keep us from doing just that: our greed, idolatry, our evil desires, our immoral ways and impure thoughts and passions. And if we say we don’t have some of those, we can add lies to the list too. He adds that we must let go of and put away our anger, malice and those things that get us to the furious point. Clean up our language-let nothing obscene come from your mouth.

 

If.

If these old practices are being put aside for the new ones in Christ, we are putting on our new self in Christ Jesus. We are being renewed with each practice, each active ‘gift’ we have been given from Him, all in His image. 




Offer It Up!    Monday, September 9, 2013
Happy Birthday Jim!

Each Sunday we gather as the Body of Christ to give praise, to thank God, to seek the graces needed to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who emptied Himself of His divinity that He might live in our midst, experience life as one of us in totality but without sin.

 

We reflect on His birth in a cave at Bethlehem, His life in Nazareth the son of a carpenter, and His ministry in Israel after His baptism by John. We know little of the hidden years in Nazareth, but we know from the Gospels of His ministry and teaching. We know enough of human living that we can perhaps enter into imaginative prayer and reflect on those years of preparation for ministry. Can we not imagine Jesus and Mary in conversation as He was growing and maturing? Did she not tell Him of His birth and the circumstances of that birth? In emptying Himself of divinity and becoming man, did He not have to grow in age and wisdom as do we?

 

And what about Joseph? Can we perhaps spend time with him and Jesus as they work as carpenters listening to their discussions? His awareness of God and His relationship is certainly at least hinted when He is found in the temple at the age of 12 and reveals to His mother He must be in His Father's house. We don't know how long Joseph was with them, but can we imagine Jesus in his early twenties working as a carpenter and caring for His mother perhaps? And how was He preparing for the mission the Father had for Him?

 

We 21st century Christians must enter into the mystery of faith. Prayer, the kind of prayer that takes us into His presence, that enables us to enter into dialog with Him, with Mary, with the saints can lead us to greater faith and into the wonder of what the mystery of faith calls us to be. We too are called by the Father. In baptism we are reborn and become brothers and sisters, adopted sons and daughters of God. We are heirs with Christ to the Kingdom! We are called to announce the Good News to the world, does my life begin to witness to that good news?

 

Mary Queen of Peace, Pray for us.

Lord Jesus, King of Kings, have mercy on us!

 

Deacon



Offer It Up!    Saturday, September 7, 2013

Today, Saturday from 1 to 6PM, we all have an opportunity to pray for Peace, to pray for the end of violence in Syria, to pray that our World Leaders will find a way to resolve difficulties without resorting to military actions.  

This Saturday will you join in the prayer vigil? Fast and pray. 


A worldwide effort has been requested by Pope Francis, asking that all people of good will to unite in this effort to call on God to change minds and hearts and enable all men to begin to live in peace and harmony. This is not a request that is difficult to respond to; what is required is that we stop, pause in our busy lives and spend these hours in dialog with the King of Kings. Perhaps one method might be by meditating on Jesus’ agony in the garden—certainly that would provide motivation for some to realize the agony throughout the world, if not some of their own. Are we asking Him to once again enter into His passion, or are we willing to drink the cup with Him?


Please Pray.

Pray, pray for Peace. 

 

Our Lady Queen of Peace, Pray for Syria, Pray for us.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us, as sinners.

 

Deacon




Offer It Up!    Thursday, September 6, 2013

Luke 5:33-39

The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.”

Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.”

And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

 

Maybe you’ve heard it said that the only Catholics that like change are the baptized babies with wet and dirty diapers. And maybe it’s not just us as Catholics that are so resistant to change as we are all subject to developing habits, good and bad, that keep us from developing into the person that God has called us to be.

 

Matthew Kelley has been noted to say that our lives change when our habits change. To further his point, he adds that for a person to get in better shape, he has to change from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one that will get them more active and more fit, from one that found them on the couch or in front of the computer instead. The same could be said for the shape of our spiritual life, even more importantly than that of our physical well being.

 

If we are set in our ways of only attending mass—emphasis on attending—and not doing any more than that for a prayer life, then it is certainly time to up the ante on what we should be doing with our relationship with God in prayer. We cannot just ‘go’ to mass once a week and call it good. Of course, that would be better than about 78% of the rest of the Catholics in the world but the point still begs its attention. We need to actively participate, be prepared for the readings and the gospel, be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist and to be then someone ‘different’ than who we were before we entered the sanctuary.

 

New wine in old wine skins won’t work any better today than it did when Jesus spoke of it in His parable. The change must come from within so that the outside reflects what is on the inside. Said another way, it is not so much the circumstances or our environments that need changing so much but ourselves. Once we get over that hump, the circumstances, the environment, the world around us will begin to look a lot different, if not better. Try some new wine. Pour some into some new wine skins. The change will do you-and us all-some good.




Offer It Up!    Thursday, September 5, 2013

 

Luke 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

He first went a short distance from the shore as He spoke to the crowds, teaching them from the boat, the boat belonging to Simon. Not finished with His lesson teaching, He had Simon put his boat out into deeper waters to bring in a catch. Resistant at first, he did as Jesus told him to do. With more fish in the catch he and his men could handle, another boat had to come help them bring in the fish. With a catch like this, one would think their fishing days would be taking a turn for the better. We know that Jesus had other plans for them, already in the making.

 

As remarkable as it is that they all left their fishing and boats behind to follow Him, it is just as remarkable that Jesus was already at work in their lives, taking the steps to bring them even closer to Him as disciples. From healing Simon’s mother-in-law to this huge catch of fish, Simon, James and John all had their sights refocused for the rest of their lives. And when it happened, it was enough to make a grown man blush with the pain of his sins as Simon felt the darkness of his come over him.

 

‘Do not be afraid.’ We should all heed such a call from Jesus when we are in similar straits and situations. Christ will go to great lengths to get those He will use—all of us—to spread His Word, His Life. He used Simon. He used Paul. He used Judas and Herod. He will even use folks like you and me. As the disciples all had the desire to love, to follow and serve, so should our desire be to do the same.

 

Offer It Up!    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Luke 4:38-44

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.
At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Just as Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law, so too can He cleanse us of whatever it is that would be ailing us, be it ill health or the darkness of sin. And just as He cured her and she began serving, so too must we be accountable for the forgiveness of our sins and be thankful for the health restored us and serve as He calls us to serve. The health of our bodies and the health of our souls.

 

As Jesus left the house, He continued to cure others and ‘demons also came out from many’. They knew who He was as their cleansing could only come from God, not from evil. Just as our purification can only come from Christ, not from materialism and the things of this world. That was His message then and remains His message today.

 

And as Jesus went to a deserted place, we too must find our own place to get away, to pray, to rejuvenate our lives and spirituality. And as much as we find ourselves holding to the Truth of Christ Jesus, we must find ways to share the Good News wherever it is that we go, just as He did. As His disciples, what better way to experience what He has done for us?



Offer It Up!   Monday, September 2, 2013
The God of Hide-and-Seek
When my youngest was two, I could sense his little heart beating a mile a minute as I approached the pantry door, even though Patrick had hid there five times in a row. His wide-eyed surprise and uncontainable joy made my daddy-heart skip a beat.
Oh, if I could live in that moment forever!
Fatherhood on earth is a pale reflection of God’s eternal paternity, so I can’t help wondering if He feels the same way I do, giddily joyful with anticipation, when I round the kitchen corner toward the pantry door. I also can’t help but feel pulse-pounding wonder, when, after selling His Son for thirty pieces of silver for the umpteenth time, his ever-surprising mercy again opens the door of my heart.
Pope Francis, through his Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone, sent a special message this week for a meeting of the faithful held every year in Rimini, Italy. This year’s theme “The Human Person: A State of Emergency” prompted a reflection about how God is constantly on the lookout for each one of us.
“From the very dawn of humanity, after original sin, God sets out in search of man. ‘Where are you?’ He asks Adam who hides in the garden (Genesis 3:9.) This question, which appears at the beginning of the Book of Genesis and never stops echoing throughout the whole Bible and in every moment of the history which God, over the course of millennia, has built with humankind, reaches its highest expression in the Incarnation of the Son.”
I don’t know if it’s a failure to remember an idea and forget the book you got it from. But some forgotten book years ago taught me that the morality of the People of Israel was unique among ancient peoples. It wasn’t based on appeasing or pleasing the gods as much as it was on imitating God. Imitating his fidelity above all. He seeks us. We have to seek as well. And anyone who has played hide-and-seek knows that the hiders eventually get a turn at being the seeker.
If you happen to play hide-and-seek with a group of kids of different ages, you will probably play the version of the game where the found former hiders become assistant seekers. Or the version when someone found cries out “Ollie Ollie oxen free,” which some say derives from the German “Alle, Alle auch sind frei!” (Everyone, everyone else is also free!) In the joyful context of Faith, the hiders-becoming-seekers is called Evangelization.
The Cardinal spoke with great clarity: “This is the task of the Church, this is the task of every Christian: serving man, seeking him out even in the most hidden social and spiritual corners."
So a quick two-question conscience exam comes to mind: Did I hide from God today? Or rather did I let Him find me and join Him in the search for others?
Since God the Father is so much more than my imperfect reflection of his fatherhood, He tires even less of the game than now six-year-old Patrick used to. He sets out to find me everyday. When I seek Him, I always find Him already on the lookout for me. And the endgame is to be found for all eternity.
We are called to live with Him in wide-eyed surprise and uncontainable joy. And we are all called to live that together. Oh, to live in that moment forever!
* * *
Reprinted from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College.
 


Offer It Up!    Sunday, September 1, 2013

Musings on Labor Day Weekend. 

As we Americans take time to relax on Labor Day, a last gasp of summer vacation for many, we perhaps should reflect on the goodness of work. I sometime wonder if in our prosperity we sometimes lose sight of the worth of work.  I reflect on that time almost a century ago, when work was so essential.  I remember those days when we finished school in the 5th grade were driven off to the farm where we worked for a few hours for what would seem today like child abuse. 

 

Today's young, for the most part, are really dependent upon their parents, sometimes even into young adulthood. They are supplied with many necessary things and too many nonessential niceties without being held accountable. And they often care little for the goods they so easily are supplied with.

 

Labor—real work, toiling even—would  be a wonderful gift for many of them. They would discover gifts they were created with in abundance. They would develop a sense of responsibility and take ownership of their part in creating a better world. They would in many cases learn the art of sharing and giving rather than becoming a burden on those who have learned the lesson of work.

 

What are the responsibilities of modern parents in teaching within the family the need for accepting responsibility for what is done in community? The early Christian communities were truly communal, sharing many of their goods and possessions in common. We read in the Acts of the Apostles how the community brought and laid their possessions at the feet of the apostles, how they distributed as each needed. Little discussion takes place when this pericope is read. I  recall once a gentleman who complained to me when this was read at Sunday Mass that this was communism, this sharing of goods of another person’s labors and earnings!

 

Perhaps then it would be to our benefit to discuss the meaning of labor, sharing, caring; perhaps reading the thoughts of Popes who have written about labor.  e.g.  JPII Labor Exercens.

Maybe that discussion could begin here?

If not, maybe it could begin within your own heart.

Deacon