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

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OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 

With today’s scriptures, we hear Job praying for death and have Jesus bent on going to Jerusalem for His hour of Glory! As we encounter these moments in today’s Scripture offerings, what are our thoughts? As we sit with Job and his friends, do we try to understand why such suffering afflicts good people? As we also walk with Jesus and, like the apostles, perhaps are at a loss as to why Jesus must suffer such a horrible passion and death? 

 

Yet, we come to the Resurrection and the Ascension and we have some glimpse of understanding. We begin to understand that God's great love is evident in the free will He has given to us. We by our choices are part of the answer as to why bad things happen to good people.  Everyone has the freedom to choose and our choices have consequences not only for us but for the whole of humanity. 

 

Too often we fail to see the connections. Rather we are like the apostles who ask if they should call for fire to rain down on the Samaritans, as we must note that Jesus rebuked them. 

 

The incarnation looms large in trying to understand the mystery of faith. Jesus became one of us. He took flesh from Mary and dwelt in our midst. A man like any other except for sin. He, the sinless one, lived and loved and taught how one is to live. In His life and death and resurrection we discover the way, the life and the truth if we continually seek. The Eucharist is the very source and summit of life in Christ and having shared our humanity, He willed to become the sustenance of our life, our bread for the journey.  

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock."  

Open wide the door of my heart. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 

Today, in John—Chapter 1, we find Jesus gathering His disciples: the twelve with whom He will spend His public ministry, ultimately commissioning them to carry forward His Mission of Faith, Love, and Hope. We see, in John 1:47-51, an encounter with a young man named “Nathaniel”. Nathaniel was a friend of Phillip, one of the chosen twelve, whom Phillip invited to come meet Jesus. At first, Nathaniel was skeptical of Phillip’s invitation. Upon meeting Nathaniel, though he was not one of the chosen twelve, Jesus praises him for his integrity and willingness to be receptive to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God—The King of Israel. 

 

Nathaniel recognized Jesus as the Son of God because Jesus revealed to him that He had “seen” him “under the fig tree”. For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of peace and blessing. It was a place of respite and shade—a place to retreat, pray and reflect (See Kings 4:24-25 and Micah 4:4). There is an expression among Rabbis for comparing the fig tree to being nourished with God’s word: “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.”  

 

Perhaps while under the fig tree, Nathaniel had been reflecting on God’s promises, in scripture. In dozing off in the respite and peace of the moment, he may have dreamt of God’s Kingdom?  So, when Jesus shares that He had “seen” Nathaniel under the fig tree, before Phillip called him over, he was startled at this small revelation, but willing to accept Jesus as the Son of God, on that simple statement. In turn, Jesus reveals a larger revelation, that he will see greater things—he will see the heavens open and the Angels descending upon the Son of Man. 

 

Perhaps this is an early revelation, similar to that of Thomas’, after the Resurrection, after which Jesus tells Thomas, “You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen, yet still believe”?  

 

Jesus, through Your life, sacrifice, and resurrection, you have opened the way to heaven. Reveal Yourself to me so that I may recognize your presence, peace, and power in my life! 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2014

If you have seen the movie, “Groundhog Day”, you may be wondering why I would bring it up in reference to any Gospel passages. In reading Mt 21:28-32, though, this movie starring Bill Murray, did come to mind. 

 

In the movie, Bill plays a selfish reporter who only desires to better his own lot in life, with no regard for any other or anything else. He finds himself in Punxsutawney, PA doing what he considers “dead-end” duty. In being here, he finds himself waking up every morning to the same day, literally. When he first realizes that he is waking up each morning, doomed to repeat the same day, he feels he has been “cursed”.  Then, he transitions to finding ways to take advantage of each day, making it better for his own personal gain. Finally, he realizes that he has the opportunity, each day to make life better for someone else. And with this final realization, it changes what he chooses to do, each day!  

 

Therein lays the relevance to today’s reading. In today’s reading, a parable, there are two sons, both of whom are asked by their father to go to the fields and labor. The first openly refuses to go, but after some thought, he chooses to abide by his father’s request. The second son agrees to abide by the father’s command but goes off and does his own thing, not tending to his father’s business. The first son, who initially refused to abide by his father’s command, eventually realized the “error of his ways” and returned to the field to toil for his father.  

 

Bill Murray, in the movie, was given the opportunity (just like us) to reflect on the error of his ways and eventually came to the conclusion that to improve his own life, he must strive to contribute to the betterment of the world around him, through acts of selfless love and kindness. So it is with our lives. While thankfully, we don’t literally repeat the same day every day is because of God’s mercy, each new day is an opportunity to turn to Him and seek to live in His command.  

 

Lord, change my heart that I desire only that which pleases You. May I grow in continued respect and action toward Your will for me. 

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2014

Luke 9:43—”At a time when everyone was full of admiration for all he did, Jesus said to His disciples, “For your part, you must have these words constantly in mind: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the power of men.” Jesus tells this to his disciples at a time when many were seeking Him, clamoring for Him, though he knew their faith was fragile—founded primarily in their own (selfish) needs for what he offered them in curing their illnesses and tending to their personal needs. 


Imagine the difficulty and confusion the disciples must have experienced in hearing these words—after all, this is their Lord, their God—The Messiah. It is difficult for us, as well, to truly comprehend that God’s infinite love would require such suffering. Through our upbringing and raising, as Christians (no matter if we experienced Christianity from childhood, or embraced in our adult years), we are taught about the majesty of God. 


Do we know His true majesty, though? As humans we ascribe majesty to something/someone in which/whom we attribute greatness and respect. Jesus’ miracles revealed the awesome power of God, making it “easy” for many to flock to Him (seeking their own desires and needs). But in spite of His greatness and the sharing of His blessings, Jesus gave a grave, prophetic warning: there can be no share in God’s Glory without the cross.

 

At this time His disciples could not make sense of it because it did not jive with their understanding of the Majesty that they ascribed to their King. Just as we might react today, upon hearing bad news, the disciples probably experienced some denial and lack of understanding of what this pending suffering truly means. How do we strive to understand how the cross brings victory and new life? 


Lord, by Your Cross You redeemed us in Glory and Triumph over sin. May I forever see Your Majesty in this selfless act of Love. Help me to transform my life to Your will and follow the path You have set forth!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 

I remember many years past when one of my young sons surprised me with His acknowledgement of the words of Quoheleth in today's first reading. It wasn't so much his grasp of the words as His apparent interest in these words as a young teenager.

 

Who am I? What time is it? Who do people say I am, Jesus asks? Questions to lead us into prayer and conversation with the Lord Jesus. Will we take this opportunity and really seek to answer the questions that the Spirit raises in our hearts if we really ponder today's Scriptures.

 

Just to really examine life itself, ah sweet mystery of life at last I've found you. We travel the highways of life and too often we never even truly seek come to grips with the wonder of life, the mystery of it all.  Creation itself is way beyond us in so many ways, and we journey on without trying to understand the wonder of it all. Simply we accept all we are given and too often fail in gratitude.

 

With Peter, perhaps we come to the moment of truth, and allow the light of faith to fill our minds and hearts and accept God's revelation in Jesus the Christ. In faith we come to glimpse our destiny, and with the first glimpse we are led to the desire of our hearts and hopefully repent of our wayward ways, and seek  to be true disciples of Jesus, sons and daughters of God.

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 

As Christians, we are blessed to have the opportunity to grow in faith. For some, that opportunity is fostered from early childhood by parents who strive to provide an upbringing of these values. For others, it comes in later years through revelation of the Spirit. In either case, it takes personal effort by each individual Christian, as well as the effort of those with whom we surround ourselves to continue the journey.

 

It is through these daily efforts that our love of God can/will be built on solid ground. Whether our “Christian Revelation” comes at an early age, fostered in the fiber of our early development or it comes in our later years, one thing is true—we will often and easily become confused and shaken.  

 

This confusion can come as direct anxiety from our own actions, faults and worries, or from the actions of others. Either way, these distractions work to erode that foundation of faith. In today’s Gospel, King Herod (whom we read about several weeks back, having beheaded John the Baptist), has become anxious as he hears stories about Jesus and rumors that He might be John, raised from the dead. This anxiety is rooted in the knowledge that his actions have been sinful—giving in to human greed and delight, rather than standing up for what is right. King Herod’s immoral living (with his brother’s wife) and his actions leading up to and including John’s beheading caused him to live in continual insecurity and fear.

 

Luke 9:7-9, therefore, is a reminder that we are called to and must live for God, in His will, teachings and commands, in order to experience true peace and meaning of His Truth. If we allow ourselves to be misguided and misdirected, worry and anxiety take root in and around our foundation, just as we find with Herod as he worried who “this Jesus was”.  

 

Lord, may we seek You and Your ways, daily, and live our lives in your knowledge, truth, and ways, so as to never doubt or wonder who You are!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 

Loving the law of God, and being obedient to it are the words we utter as we pray with the psalmist. We pray and we ponder the words of Jesus in today's Gospel. As He sends forth the apostles, we realize He sends us forth also to proclaim the Good News. Will I heed his words today and when opportunities arise for me to witness, for me to spread His word, will I respond and do all I can to make Him known? 

 

The Risen Jesus intercedes for us all; the Holy Spirit sent by the Lord indwells in us and guides us. Yet, I examine my day and realize I am not always present to the Holy Spirit. In my sinfulness I am self-serving and dwell upon my own wants. My desires are not always focused on the God who loves me beyond my ability to understand.  

 

I pray and in prayer I wonder often am I truly giving my total self to God who has given me all?  There is nothing in my world I have not received.  Nothing I can claim to have created because all I am and all I have are from God who created me and has blessed my life. May I increase in awareness of this and Holy Gratitude each day and every day. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2014 

The deepest bond of friends is a relationship that is founded on seeking and trying to love God fully as Jesus has shown us through His life—Through the Gospel. In Luke 8:19-21, Jesus exemplifies this when He emphasizes that His relationship with His mother and brothers is deeper through and because of their fidelity to God’s will than through the human relationships or, even, human kinship.  

 

Through His lesson to His disciples when they announced that His mother and brothers are “in the crowd”, saying, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice”, Jesus tells all of us that as a Christian community of believers we are to be a witness to our union with God through our love and concern for each other. Jesus affirms that our love for family and friends must be founded in our love for God.  

 

As Christians, our “relatives” are those who have been redeemed by the Blood of Salvation offered by Christ’s sacrifice. Those who are baptized into Jesus Christ and, thus, live as His disciples enter into a family that is present “on earth as it is in heaven”. Such acceptance changes the order of relationships beyond the human condition of kinship—of flesh and blood. This new kinship requires a new order of loyalty to God, first!  

 

John, in 1 John 4, reminds us that it is through God that we are offered the greatest gift: Love. This love is a union of heart, mind and spirit with God because God is the very source and author of love (1 John 1 4: 8 and 16). Also, 1 John 3:1-3 tells us that the Father’s Love is bestowed upon us as His Children. We must recognize this first and foremost, as it is accepting and living this Love that brings us to His Kingdom.      

 

Lord God, You are the source of all Love. Guide me to build my kinships and friendships in that love, so that you are the constant compass point to which I lead myself and others, through my earthly relationships. 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, SEPTEMBER, 22, 2014 

In reading Luke 8:16-18, we find Jesus telling us that we must let our light shine and be seen. In His comparison He says, “No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bushel basket or to put it under a bed. It is put on a lamp stand so that people may see the light.” 

 

Lamps, flashlights, nightlights—all are vital to our world. They allow us to avoid stumbling in the dark.  The bible, throughout, also emphasizes light as an expression of the inner beauty, truth and goodness of God within! Psalm 36:9: “For with You is the fountain of light. In Your light, we see light.” We also see, in Psalm 119:105: “His Word is a lamp that guides our steps.” 

 

Think about our own lives and the importance of light—we carry flashlights when we camp because we may be required to traverse unfamiliar terrain in the dark.  In our own homes, we place strategic night lights to avoid stumbling in the event of we have to get up in the night. So, we see the importance of light, whether in unfamiliar territory, or traversing in the comfort of known places. 

 

So it is with the Word of God. Just like Tom Bodette, in the Motel 6 commercials, “I’ll leave the light on for you”, so it is with the Word of God! In turn, as in the Gospel reading in Luke, we must allow that light to shine in and through us. This is all God asks. His grace is not only to illumine the darkness in our lives, but it is to fill us with a spiritual light, joy and peace that serves as a light for all to see.  

 

As written, in Luke, “Not, it is put on a lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in.” Just as the lights we carry illumine the darkness, so the light of Christ illumines our hearts and helps us to fulfill the mission of being light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the Gospel alive and within us, as Christians. It illuminates and frees us from the blindness of sin, deception, and corruption.  

 

Lord, guide me by the light of truth, illuminated by Your Word. Fill my life with your light so that I may see your ways clearly and make me a beacon of the light of Your truth so others may see You through my words and actions 

Paul B 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2014

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.

 

Justice… mercy and compassion. 

It was once said that if a person deserved mercy, it wouldn’t be mercy that they received. From the world’s perspective, sometimes mercy is very hard to see and even harder to grant and understand. From what God offers and gives us, we have so much we will never comprehend yet should be so grateful for in His abundant love and compassion. Imagine for a moment if we all got our just desserts… no, let’s not do that.

 

How often are our thoughts not His thoughts? How many times have we gone our way instead of what was clearly a path we should have gone? This is not to say we have a firm and complete hold on all that God has to say in our lives and for the world. It is to say we acknowledge our sinful lives and should seek His mercy and compassion. And even for those times we don’t, we are still blessed with countless moments of His generous grace.

 

Let our ways now become those of what God would have for us. Let us be grateful He is near for us to lead us where we are called to be. And if we don’t quite understand His thoughts for us right now, we should continue to pray that at some point we will and for now, know that it’s a good thing that He is running the show and we’re not. 




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014

Today, in Luke 8:4-15 we find Jesus sharing a very familiar parable about soil. As the crowds gathered from far and wide to hear Him speak, He took the opportunity to challenge them as to what type of “soil” they are cultivating in their minds, hearts, and actions. He uses this parable to compare the seed to the word of God and the soil to our heart mind, and soul. I will not proclaim to know much about farming, but I do know that much of the time is spent cultivating the soil: turning the soil, fertilizing the soil, letting the soil “rest” every so often, and application of the right moisture (or prayer for God’s application of that moisture for “dry-land” farmers). It takes all of these things to prepare the soil to receive the seed and, ultimately, produce a fruitful harvest. 

 

So it is with preparing ourselves for the “harvest”-the time when God brings us home. And, ultimately, how we prepare our soil and cultivate the Seed of His Word will determine if we are separated as “wheat” or “chaff”, when that time comes. Through this parable Jesus reminds us that we need to be receptive to the Word of God, as the seed of His fruitful and eternal harvest. The hard, rocky, thorny soil is not the most receptive. Any time I travel through the mountains, I am amazed at the few hearty plants, shrubs, and trees that grow on the rocky cliffs and sides of mountains and hills. These are the few that are able to take hold, while many seeds perish. 

 

On the flatter plateaus and valleys, we find richer soil and thicker groves of trees and blankets of grass. As we look around at the various terrain, all part of God’s Kingdom, we must look within and ask, “What type of soil am I now, at this very moment in my life?” We must realize that, just as the rest of creation, we are a composite of that soil, each showing at various times and stages of our lives.  The type of soil we strive to cultivate ultimately must be the soft, tilled, moist, and receptive soil. God’s word is not only the seed, but it is the “almanac” that tells us the best conditions, tips, and tools with which to succeed. 


Lord, Faith in the Word is the way to wisdom and to grow in the Truth of Your Divine Plan. Cultivate and soften my heart and mind to be receptive to Your Will, through Your Word!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 

Today, in reading Luke 8:1-3, we are reminded that we are called to support and serve in a variety of ways, bringing the Good News of Salvation to the believers through our work, play, and worship communities! Jesus and His disciples, during His public ministry, traveled widely. As we all know, when we travel, we have many needs, ranging from hunger to rest. Luke tells us about Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna and “many others” who provided for Jesus and His disciples “out of their own resources”. 

 

In our worship communities and life/work communities, we are called to serve in communion with and support of one another so that witness to His Kingdom is evident through our lives. This call can and must be reflected in a variety of ways, including monetary resources, opening our homes for meals, bible studies, and fellowship, sharing our time, knowledge, and talents, and simply being present for active worship. 

 

As the community of believers grew, so did the supported of the needs of Jesus and His disciples. So it is today in our communities where we are blessed to have generous “lay people” who are the foundation of our worship communities. These are the people who partner and collaborate to serve and exhibit God’s Kingdom. We are all called to action. In answering this call, like the women mentioned in today’s reading, it is our privilege and joy to serve with humility, selflessness, generosity, and joy.

 

Today’s reading points out the stark difference between calls to action: we have the 12 Apostles whom Jesus called and to whom He gave “status” (which He constantly reminded them was “temporal”). Then, you have those who tended to the simple and daily needs, such as these women and “many others”. 

 

Lord, You call me to share and serve where you need me.  Give me ears to hear Your call and strength to answer, no matter the circumstance or need of that call!

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 

We try each day to comment on the daily Scripture the Church has identified for our celebrations of the Eucharist. The Lectionary proves to be a gift in enabling us to greet Jesus as we listen and reflect on the Word of God. It is truly a gift and today's readings can lead us to reflecting on the wonderful gift we are being given. 

 

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he points out what he and the Apostles preached, Christ crucified for us, Christ risen to gain for us forgiveness of sin, salvation. His words prepare us for the Gospel scene, the woman anointing Jesus' feet and drying them with her hair. The man, who is the host of the home Jesus is dining in, is taken aback because the woman is regarded as a sinner.  

 

Through the gift of salvation there is forgiveness and gratitude for the gift of that forgiveness. Perhaps much has been forgiven and the lavish gift is gratitude for Jesus' forgiveness, His love and His compassion.

 

Why not spend time today in the presence of Jesus, letting Him know how grateful am you are for His gifts? Those gifts that are beyond your ability to even understand. How are we even wise enough to see and understand the wonders of so many things we have from Him? Or rather, are we too quick to try to see if the gift is really worthwhile? Gift after gift after gift—what do we really understand as gift from Him?

 

Are we too enraptured with self and the good things God created to acknowledge the Creator and worship Him with praise and gratitude? With our gift of faith, we may find out.

Deacon

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

Today's reading from 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 is one I would daresay most believers are fond of reading and rereading. Paul's paean to love is beautiful, the word ringing with the truth. But, alas, it becomes difficult for us to live, as we are not always patient, or kind: and, as we are too frequently rude, we put on airs. Our living out this song of love is not such an easy task. If we acknowledge it is true, why can't we live it? 

 

Today, why not dialog with Jesus in prayer, and or at Eucharist, and ask for the necessary graces to live in love as Paul sings. In our human frailty, we need the graces Jesus has gained for us as He longs to pour out abundantly-all in His love. Pray that it may be so. 

 

The Gospel is an accurate picture of how we often are. John the Baptist came fasting and living an ascetic life and his contemporaries found him hard to understand. Jesus came associating with sinners and was regarded as a sinner in many instances. We can see our own selves so easily. If the day is hot, we complain of the heat; if it is cool we are finding it difficult because is too cold. Unless we are facing a drought, we may complain about the rain.  

 

Can we not learn to develop an attitude of gratitude for all the Blessings in life? For even in difficult times the presence of God brings JOY! May we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts and see the wonder of God's glory. 

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 

Today, in reading Luke 7:11-17, we read about what it means to be moved with compassion to the deepest corners of our hearts. In today’s reading, Jesus visits the city of Nain, where He encounters a widow who has just lost her only son. He is so moved by her plight and grief that He takes a moment to pray over the dead body of the young man as he is being carried out of the city. He commanded the young man to arise, which he did immediately, and began speaking to the amazement of all.

 

How do we respond to the plights of others around us? In the life of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, Jesus was often moved to the depths of his heart. As God, He personally knows and identifies with those suffering among us with a depth of understanding that goes beyond human means. Here, he demonstrates, also, the understanding of cultural nuance, something we often forget in the “busy-ness” of today’s life. In biblical times, one’s family was the primary means of personal welfare and wellbeing. This woman had already lost her husband, now her only son. How much do we know (and pay attention) in the world around us? 

 

Just two weeks ago, I was looking for a friend’s house and knocked on four different doors (all “next door neighbors” to each other) in a little town down the road. Not one of the four knew the neighbor whom I was seeking—by family or first name. This is a sad statement on how calloused we’ve become to the lives of others around us. 

 

Back to today’s Gospel reading, though, we go back to Jesus’ heartfelt compassion for this person whom He had never met. Jesus’ simple command and deep compassion not only restored physical life, but brought freedom and wholeness to the life of the young man and the widow.  Jesus makes this promise of wholeness to all who believe in Him—because He Lives, we also live with and in Him, as believers, both now and forever (John 14:19).

 

Lord, heal us in mind, body, and spirit to show compassion to all those around us. May we know and meet the needs of our neighbors, as You meet ours.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 

Standing at the Cross stood Mary His Mother, her sister, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved disciple John. It was then at that final hour of Glory, Jesus looked and Mary and John and said, "Mother behold your son."  And to the beloved disciple, "Behold your Mother" and from then on Mary remained with John. 

 

In the mind's eye we are in this scene, we see, we hear, and even hearken back to the Temple when Jesus was presented, and Simeon predicted a sword of sorrow would pierce Mary's heart. Today we remember Our Mother of Sorrows as we pray in gratitude for all that has been done for us and for Mary's continuing intercession for all God's children. 

 

At the end of each day, night prayer is concluded with a hymn to Mary. She is mother to us all and is the guiding star leading us to her Son, who took flesh from her at the incarnation. In faith we live in the mystery with hope and in the wonder of learning to love. Charity—love—the greatest of the virtues, faith, hope and charity.   

 

May our living in love this day be a source of solace to our sorrowful mother as we grow in faith and become living witnesses to the glory of God in our midst. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

“For God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through Him the world might be saved.”(John 3:17). In Reading John 3:13-17, we hear Jesus proclaims that God sent Him, out of His divine and infinite Mercy and Love, to pay the price of our salvation, through His own personal sacrifice. He was not sent as a condemnation to the world, rather, as an opportunity (for/to each of us) for Eternal Salvation.  

 

Through His suffering and death we are given the ultimate example of sacrifice for the good of others. Through His resurrection, we are shown His ultimate Power. It gives us pause to think, “How often do we make the needed sacrifice for the good of others?” Do we “give until it hurts”? Do we exemplify sacrifice?  

 

In order to experience the salvation offered we, too, must sacrifice ourselves to the good of others. The salvation that we might experience is/was offered selflessly and the price we pay is simple—Belief, that is to say, Faith, and example of that faith in all we say and do with and for others is all He asks!  

 

Opportunity: Jesus says that the Son of Man came so that through Him the world MIGHT be saved. Oh that each of us, as Christians, will strive for that salvation. This is the point that Jesus is making to Nicodemus, a high official who obviously was curious and interested in this man called Jesus. If you recall, Nicodemus snuck, in the night to see Jesus and question him as to His teachings. We as believers must also be bold enough to seek, find and openly live His example and law of love! 

 

Lord, Jesus Christ, your death brought life, eternal salvation, for us. Fill Your body of believers with Your Holy Spirit that we may walk in freedom and joy in this life, as a child in God’s Light, shining through us in our actions. Only then, may we share in the inheritance that You created for us through Your life’s sacrifice. 

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2014

Luke 6:43-49

Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

 

As the saying goes, ‘Practice may not perfect but it can make permanent.’ From the Gospel, the good tree cannot give up bad fruit in the same way a bad tree cannot give up good fruit. What those have to do with the ‘practice of permanency’ is that our behaviors are the measure of our discipleship. And our behaviors come from within. Hence, if we are not such a ‘good tree’ on the inside, chances are better that our behavior on the outside will be likewise.

 

Our path toward holiness is our witness of our faith, our spirit of what we have come to know as we grow in our Christ-like image. Our thoughts, our words, our deeds—all are on view for all to see and perceive as they will our Catholic journey in faith. Whatever is good from within shall be given its opportunity to be shone on the outside. The adverse of that of course is also true: giving into a life of darkness and sin will also be reflected in our actions. So, how do we want to be measured by those who see us?

 

Will our foundation of faith be built on the rocks and stones that will withstand the raging storms? A house that can remain steadfast against the floods and the earthquakes that are the challenges of our faith and lives? Of course it will because we all have followed and will continue to follow His commands and listen to His words, acting on them. That is our house of faith.

 

Though we may not be subject to such daily persecution of our faith, we are still bombarded with more harmful methods and ways that will test our moral core. With materialism and the attractiveness of all that the world offers, it may be easy to see the pleasures that it brings. Nothing wrong with that unless that becomes our focus instead of our focus on Christ. Keeping our foundation on that rock will help us weather the storm when tempted to do otherwise.




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2014
THE MOST HOLY NAME OF MARY

Today the Church again remembers Mary, honoring her name as Holy. I once read that no other name is repeated throughout the world more than the name Mary. So many named Mary over the centuries, men and women, streets in cities and towns, churches. The name Mary is honored in all generations.

 

With Mary we listen to the Word of God. After Jesus had lived among men, had been a constant companion and teacher, He died and rose from the dead. His closest followers were commissioned to spread His word. This is the Word that comes to us over the centuries. 

 

When we listen in faith, focusing on the Lord present in His Word, we hear Him speak to our hearts. And on days like today we hear His challenge—the challenge to live trusting in His love and mercy. The challenge to repent, and to seek to see clearly, removing from our sight anything that obscures the truth and our path to holiness. 

 

It becomes quickly apparent that we need His grace to overcome our own tendencies to self-aggrandizement.  Remove the beam from your own eye that you may see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye. 

 

When I am tempted to see  myself as righteous Lord, pour forth your grace that I may see clearly my sinfulness and have the courage to root it out of my life, becoming obedient to the Father's will.

Deacon

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, 

Have mercy on me a sinner.

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 

Love your enemies? Do good to those who hate you? If someone slaps you, turn the other cheek? You have got to be kidding! Jesus, what are you talking about? 

 

As Jesus preaches to His disciples those early days of ministry, what was their reaction to what he said? Were they spellbound by His healing, His miracles, so much that they really didn't think of more than getting rid of those who oppressed them. They likely saw Jesus as the one who lead them to a glorious new rule in their land.

 

We read these words after the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. We have the accrual of centuries of analyzing and rehashing the Good News. We live in a time when there are so many studies of who God is, who is the historical Jesus and on and on. 

 

But today as I listen to the Gospel how shall I react?  I know in faith Jesus lives, He is pleading for me and you for the Father to be merciful to us sinners. In my heart I know that He is calling me to be merciful, calling me to pray for those who may have offended me, encouraging me to be Godlike and realize the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

 

There is no one, absolutely not one who is unloved by God, Our Father. I look at the life of Jesus, I follow him to the cross on Good Friday, and realize that in my sinfulness He loved me to death. He loves you to death.  How blessed we are to have the opportunity each day to be Godlike. Grant, O Lord, that we may do all for your Glory and Honor this day.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
HAPPY BIRTHDAY COACH BINDEL!

1 Peter 2:11 - Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. This verse was shared with me this morning by a friend as I was in the midst of reading Luke 6:20-26: The Beatitudes. In addition, I received a most beautiful reflection from my father. Both of these caused me to reflect on how our lives would be more deeply rich and peaceful if we just lived in His Presence, guided by these Beatitudes. Here, Jesus presents LIVING the Gospel values. Jesus is not shunning the existence of material things NEEDED to sustain our life DURING our journey. But He does clearly warn us, as Peter reminds us (2:11) that we must control the desires for these things that can (and will) supersede our spiritual needs, should we allow that distraction.  

 

He tells us, clearly, to lift up the poor, as blessed and revered. Look around the world today, and ask yourself if we truly do this? Here, He tells us to offer up, as blessed, those who persecute, hate, abuse, denounce and otherwise ridicule the believers. Put yourself in the midst of the crowd, listening to Jesus, and imagine what would go through your mind as your ponder what you did yesterday… and what you saw around you. What you observed on television, in news reports, on the internet. How well are you (and those around us) internalizing the radical, simple (but not easy) life that Jesus advocates for us on earth? How are we exhibiting our Faith and Hope in His promise of Eternal life and love in Him if we but listen, now! Finally, do we truly understand what Peter shares in 1 Peter 2:11? Do our actions and outward expression of “desire” indicate that we grasp that earth is “temporary”?  

 

As we often pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are called to consider the phrase, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. Today, as we reflect on Luke 6 and Peter’s words, Lord, give me the ability, desire and wisdom to reflect on how and what I lift up to You in my interactions with all those I encounter and my thoughts throughout this day You have given me, once more! 

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEACON JIM!

Today we are fed with the Word of God. We listen and read the Scriptures of the day and enter into a spiritual union with Our Lord. We acknowledge that as God calls men to serve his people as priests we are faced with a shortage of priests. Is God not calling men to serve or is it that His invitations to the priestly life is not being hear? Is there a lack of response?

 

Sometimes one hears the words, "I am not worthy."  True enough but as we listen and read today’s Gospel we perhaps can come to a place where we see Jesus calling the common man.

 

As we apply all sorts of standards and tests to determine who should answer a call to priesthood, Jesus already knew His disciples as we read in today's Gospel. He gathers a large crowd and from that crowd he selects twelve to be named apostles—a few fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot. Of the fisherman there will be one who denies him three times and becomes the leader, some we know very little about, but for certain they are part of the common man. Men like any of us who are reading about, or hearing about today. Can we enter their company by pausing in silence to be with Jesus and his band of apostles seeking to know the mind of Jesus? A conversation with Peter would open new vistas perhaps in our spiritual view. Or, may to sit with Thomas and let him guide us through his experiences after the Resurrection and the remaining course of life. God has brought you to the place where you are today, He gives abundantly of His graces that you may accomplish His will.

 

How simple it may be, the love and dedication of being a husband, a wife reflecting the love of God Incarnate. How to accomplish with patience and love the very ordinary tasks of our chosen vocation. And, if the circumstances of life have led us to a new place to answer God's call with joy. Much is said to day of the new evangelization. How are we responding in the ordinary events of each day, that our actions may be a pattern of evangelization, awakening in our live and the lives of those around us to presence of the Risen Christ. He lives...where two or more gather in His name...Praise the Lord!

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


How different would our salvation be if Mary and Joseph had been unwilling/unable to submit to God’s Will? What a powerful question! In Matthew 1:18-24 Mary and Joseph are asked by God to assume, in faith, a burden of tremendous responsibility. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature and Joseph, in turn, was asked to accept God’s message and accept the child in Mary’s womb as the promised Messiah. Being just and God-fearing, they did so. 

 

Both Mary and Joseph are models of faith for us as we strive to believe and trust in God’s promises in our own lives. Mary gave up everything, fully! Her comfort, dreams, doubts—all for the sake of God’s Plan for our salvation. When Mary said, “Yes”, she trusted that God had a plan. She trusted in God that He would make it possible for her espoused, Joseph, to overcome confusion and pain. Joseph risked the scorn of friends, family, and neighbors! 

 

How willing are we, in our daily lives, to trust in God in the same manner as Mary and Joseph? We must remember that God gives us all the free will to accept Him, in our lives, minds, and hearts, as Lord and Savior! Mary and Joseph had this same choice, yet when God called upon each to take up His Will, they chose to follow. 

 

Lord, Jesus, You came to save us from the power of sin and death! Through Mary and Joseph’s willing acceptance You became the fulfillment of God’s promises. Not only are You hope for the people of the “Old Covenant”, but for all nations! You are the Savior of the World! Today, my prayer is that You give me the strength, hope, and courage to seek, discern, and complete Your will for me in this life so as to proceed to You and with You into the next! As Mary’s and Joseph’s, may my “Yes” to You resound in all that I say, think, and do!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2014

In Psalm 95, we are asked to NOT harden our hearts to the Lord. In Ezekiel 33:7-9, we are told that we are to speak out to dissuade the wicked from such ways and lead them to the ways of the Lord. In Romans 13:8-10 we are reminded that we owe nothing except to love one another as fulfillment of God’s Law. Finally, in Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus, in a discourse to His disciples, speaks of how to deal with and forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us and against God. 

 

He makes a powerful point, here, saying, “….whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven…. If two of you agree on earth about anything for which you pray, it shall be granted to you by my Heavenly Father…” 

 

As I read these related readings today, the thing that struck me the most is the desire for God to see us guide each other toward him through our thoughts, word, and deed. Throughout our lives we are provided so many opportunities to be example to and for others in this life. Today’s readings make it clear that we are to take these opportunities very seriously! As a husband or wife we are called to ENHANCE our spouses earthly experience and bring them closer to God (with us...with each other), as a parent, we are called to guide and direct our children (no matter their age!) towards God’s ways. As friends, similar to the spousal relationship, we should enhance and encourage each other toward His Kingdom. 

 

If, in these relationships, we are not making efforts to bring each other closer to the Kingdom, we are missing the point of these readings. We are called to be responsible for all of our own thoughts, words, and actions, but we are also responsible for the welfare and salvation of those around us, through our own ways and means of living His Word. How responsive are we to (these) needs of family, friends, and neighbors?  

 

Lord, make me an instrument of Your love, peace, and ways!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2014

1 Corinthians 4:9-13

For as I see it, God has exhibited us apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and men alike. 

We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.

 

Paul hit the nail on the head-more than once as he writes to the Corinthians. As an apostle, he was called to serve others, not to be thought of as greater than those he served-‘as the last of all’ as a matter of fact. Instead of getting caught up on who is who and what they should be saying or doing, the better thought should be following the message they deliver from the Word of God.

 

Being fools for Christ then and the same today carries with it a level of responsibility even if we find ourselves at the lower end of the spectrum. We may not be the smartest or the most educated; neither were the first disciples as fishermen and tentmakers. We may have to experience even harder trials than what the first disciples went through—even up to offering our lives if God calls us to that. 

 

Along the way, we will be protected by the guardians God has for us, with His angels and His saints and the power of His love and grace. Those that see their way through the trials with hope and perseverance are messengers for the ones ready to hear God’s call. Yet for whoever the messenger may be, the focus is not on the messenger but the message they bring.





OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2014

As we weave through the Gospels, we find same/similar accounts, parables, and miracles. Today, in Luke 5:33-38 we “revisit” the account of the scribes and Pharisees criticizing Jesus’ disciples for not always fasting and praying in the “right manner”. 

 

Having reflected on this in other Gospel accounts Matthew 9:14-17 and Mark 2:18-22), does not lessen it’s impact. In fact, it drives home the point that Christians must realize: we are not to reject the old in place of the new. Just as there is a right time and place for all things, there is a place for the old as well as the new. 

 

In Matthew 13:52, Jesus tells us that heaven is like the house owner who brings out his treasure and values both that is new AND old! Christian scholars from early on realized that the New Testament was and is a wonderful tapestry that lays hidden and woven throughout the Old Testament and that the Old, therefore, is unveiled and comes to fruition in the New. 

 

This is to say (and for us to realize) that the New Testament is not a replacement or revocation of the Old. Rather, it sheds light upon the means and signs that foreshadow God’s plan of redemption that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God! In these three readings that we have visited across the Gospels, Jesus gives us insight into making use of both the old and the new. He wants our minds and hearts to be like new wine skins—open and ready to receive the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit, eager to grow in knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word and Plan. This is not to say, though, that there is not a time to fast and reflect—we revel in the present goodness, but we must also consider where we’ve been and, very importantly, where our present thoughts and deeds will lead us to eternity. 

 

Lord, as I ponder the wonderful tapestry of Your Word, fill me with Your Spirit so that I grow in You and share the love and joy of Your presence. And, help me, also, to discern times to seek you in quiet solitude, prayer, and fast.

Paul B





OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2014

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.

 

Jesus got into Simon’s boat by choice just as He gets into our boats by choice. As they put out from the shore and Jesus taught the crowds, how would it be for us if we were there in our boat with Him, as He taught the masses? How humbling would it be? Would we even respond as Simon Peter did-‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’

 

And for those time we have our expert glasses on, seeing life through our smug, self-satisfied, lenses, we are reminded about those times when we don’t have such a great grip on everything. Just as Simon and his fellow fishermen didn’t. Seemingly with a sense of condescension—Simon the expert responding to Jesus, not the expert—he puts his nets out as Jesus told him to. Even though all the hard work they done produced little for their efforts… ‘we’ll do it to make you happy.’

 

From there, Simon the arrogant is humbled to his knees. He had to call for backup, he had so many fish. Nets are tearing and boats near sinking, the fish are so numerous. And all he did was do what Jesus told him to do. 

 

    Go away from me Lord. I am sinful man.

 

Maybe we would respond as Simon did should our nets be so filled when we respond to the calls of Jesus Christ. To put our nets one more time. To stay in prayer another day. To love and be loved in our families and relationships. To not be afraid and just have faith. 




OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 

This morning, as I read Luke 4:38-42, I was struck by (and stuck on) one particular verse: “”….He rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to serve them.” I am struck here by the simplicity of Peter’s mother-in-law, in this response to Jesus’ mercy. We see, throughout the Gospel, Jesus example of prayer and ministerial action/deeds. The simple response of this woman, to Jesus’ mercy, was to serve! In the busy-ness of our lives, we are called to ask ourselves, “Do we take the time to respond back to Jesus when He answers? Do we thank Him for His goodness and mercy, through our deeds—our service to others? 

 

Too often and sadly, in the hectic pace of life we utter prayers quickly, not truly turning over our hearts, minds, and needs over to Him. This morning a friend shared Philippians 4:6-7:  “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Here, we learn that if we but simply turn all over to Him, we will experience His Peace and, in turn, this will allow our hearts and minds to focus on Him.  

 

Returning to Peter’s mother-in-law, notice that, upon her healing, she did not run off and say, “Look at me!  The Lord blessed me! “Look at me go!”. Rather, she humbly served Jesus in her home, as her first response of thanksgiving! It should be and is a worthy goal to stay/be physically fit. We should desire to be healthy all the days of our earthly life. But, let us remember that our ultimate goal is to be spiritually healthy in our relationship with God, as it is in this relationship that we will spend eternity. 

 

Lord, You have the power to heal and deliver us from our earthly worry and affliction. Set me free from those earthly anxieties that hinder me from serving you fully. Set me free to serve you generously and joyfully!

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 

Today in the Gospel, as we listen to Jesus in the Synagogue at Capernaum, do we marvel at His words spoken with authority?  

 

As we reflect on the Scriptures as presented to us this day, are we even aware of His power displayed in casting out demons? Today is a day when we gather in prayer.  Unfortunately we are painfully aware that in our time we do not have enough priests to provide for the celebration of the Eucharist. We are called to prayer and our pleading is for those who are called to respond to that call to serve God's people.  

 

It is often difficult to understand the decisions of those who are given the responsibility to shepherd God's people. Yet, in fulfilling God's will, not ours, we are also called to obey in faith.  

 

Today, as we are led by the Spirit, we long for spiritual communion with Our Blessed Lord. He comes to us as hearers of His Word, and fills us with His grace.  As we come before the Father in prayer, may our response lead us to greater love, understanding of the truth and through our faithfulness and action we may be witnesses to a new resurgence of men responding to God's call to holiness in service to His people. 

Deacon 

 


OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2014

Psalm 119:97-102 

Lord, I love your commands.

 

How I love your law, O LORD! 

It is my meditation all the day. 

For those times when I went it alone O Lord and You were there, I give You thanks for Your mercy and grace all the days of my life. 

Lord, I love your commands. 

 

Your command has made me wiser than my enemies, 

for it is ever with me. 

I am forever amazed by Your wisdom as Your plan for me unfolds. All that I choose by my will pales in comparison to the goodness and fullness in Yours. 

Lord, I love your commands.

 

I have more understanding than all my teachers 

when your decrees are my meditation. 

With prayer and faith and more faith and prayer, You have brought me on my way back after countless times of darkness and sin, even with all the understanding I thought I had. 

Lord, I love your commands.

 

I have more discernment than the elders, 

because I observe your precepts. 

I am thankful for the things I know now though I do wish I knew then many of those things that I chose to ignore. The more we know now, the more we now know You. 

Lord, I love your commands.

 

From every evil way I withhold my feet, 

that I may keep your words. 

I am on a path of observing Your laws and precepts. Though I may not always know the way, You will fill me with Your Good News to show me. 

Lord, I love your commands.

 

From your ordinances I turn not away, 

for you have instructed me. 

Your commands, Your precepts, Your ordinances—all are made to keep me safe in You O Lord. Let me never stray so far from Your love and instruction and peace. 

Lord, I love your commands. Amen.