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

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OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2015


Isaiah 35:4-7a

Thus says the LORD: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!

Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

 

With divine recompense He comes to save you.

Isaiah is giving us a heads-up: with His power and might, God has a plan to save us, according to our reward. It’s up to us to remain in His love, to remain strong in His faith, and of course, to fear not! Not with a blind eye will He judge either, as He will be with us all the while as we make our way along that path He has laid out before us. As simple as it sounds, why is it then so hard to practice?

 

That’s the wonder and beauty of His grace and love. For where and when we are blind to our path and in the darkness of sin, He opens our eyes as we seek His mercy and forgiveness. For those times we choose to hear the message of the world and not Good News of salvation, our God will open up our deafness so that we may hear Him again. As we lay broken in our relationships, from thought or word or deed, it is His healing touch that will put our feet back on the path of hope and redemption. And for those whose lives and names have been harmed by our sins of omission, He will bring about our openness for sharing and caring the spoken Word.

 

Yes, all this is ours as we give our lives to Him in strength and in love. He in turn gives us fullness of life with the cleansing waters of baptism and the sanctifying grace of reconciliation and the source and summit of our faith in His Body and Blood.




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2015


We must always honor God in our work, at rest, at play—at all times. We are called to do so by treating those around us (all) with respect and kindness. In Luke 6:1-5, this respect and kindness includes taking care of our own and others’ basic human needs. These needs are physical, emotional and spiritual in nature, and all must be tended to. 

 

Do we honor God in the way we treat our neighbors by example and deed? Or, are we often critical of them, acting self-righteous in the way things “should be done”, in our own eyes, rather than by God’s will. Are we like the Pharisees in this passage, upset over ritual practices, rather than daily observance of kindness, love, peace and goodness? 

 

In Luke 6:5, Jesus makes the statement, “The Son of Man is the Master of the Sabbath”, in response to the Pharisees’ criticism that Jesus and His disciples are “plucking corn” on the Sabbath. He reminds them of David and his followers eating the loaves of offering (of which only the priests were permitted to eat) that had been placed in God’s House because they were hungry and in need of sustenance. The center of our entire worship and obedience stems from worship, but this worship must extend into our daily living. Our expressions of faith are not “limited to Sunday Worship”, just as our attentiveness to this life’s basic needs cannot be ignored any given day. Rather, all should be offered up to Jesus. 

 

Spiritual health is the base of both emotional and physical health, but while drawing breath, we must maintain the latter two, as well. Spiritual health can and must be present first and foremost, permeating the total health or well-being of each of us, as Christians!  

 

Lord, I call upon You to give me strength and courage to love You, by example, more fully each and every day! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015


Luke 5:33-39

And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." And Jesus said to them, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." He told them a parable also: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, `The old is good.'"

As often as Jesus spoke of and practice fasting and praying, one would have to wonder what the Pharisees were paying attention to when they approached Him as they did. It seems they knew that about John’s prayers and habits and their own but with what they had to say to Jesus, it was like the many other times they would come to Him, looking to trap Him or trip Him up. And like all the other times, Jesus came away unscathed.

 

This time, He told them about how the garments they wear don’t match up when you take a piece of a new one and put it with an old one that is torn. ‘How much sense does that make?’ one would say to themselves then and even today. He made His point another way when told them about putting new wine into old wine skins. Too many things happen when you do and none of them are good: the new wine gets ruined, the old wine skin will burst and the skins themselves will be destroyed. Jesus went on to say how the new wine is better saved in new wine skins. Why? So the new skins can hold it and stretch with it—adapting to its environment.

 

With our fasting and praying, with our almsgiving and compassion, we can begin to put ourselves closer to the steps that Jesus took. We won’t be looking to sew new patches onto our old garments but will be looking to completely renew our lives in Him, clothed in His grace and mercy. As we are filled with all He has for us, our new self will further adapt to what He has filled us with—the new wine, His precious blood—as we are transformed. We won’t be satisfied with what we’ve had before in the old way of life, in the old wine we had before.



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2015


Today we are blessed by the beautiful prayer of Paul for the Colossians, 1:9-14.  We would do well to meditate on this prayer in gratitude and in turn, pray for our brothers and sisters, at home and throughout the world.

 

That all may be filled the knowledge God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing in knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with His glorious might; for all endurance and patience with joy giving thanks to the Father who  made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. We have been delivered from darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of Jesus, our redeemer who has obtained for us the forgiveness of sins.

 

In prayer may we enter into the Gospel event and with Simon Peter and the others be amazed at the wonder of the Lord.

May we also be willing to let go of whatever holds us back and, having let go, follow the Lord in sincerity and truth glorifying God by our lives.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2015


God’s gifts, talents, blessings, healing and graciousness in our lives are not only to give us health of mind, body and spirit but to also bring us to active service to Him through our lives—through our care and love for others. How do we experience and share this, as Christians? 

 

In Luke 4:38-43, we find Jesus healing many who were being brought to Him. So many were brought to Him throughout the evening and night, as He laid hands upon them and cured them of their ailments and illnesses, rebuking evil spirits from them. At daylight, when it was time to leave, the crowds wanted him to stay but He admonished them, saying He came to proclaim and share the Good News with all. Therefore, He must move on to other towns and villages. 

 

In reading this passage, there are two points that we can take to heart: 1) we, too are called to share in the spreading of and the mission of proclaiming His Word and Power! We do this through the sharing of the gifts, talents, and blessings with which we’ve been bestowed, by Him! 1 Corinthians 4:7 states, “Who confers distinction upon you? What do you possess that you have not received (from God)? But you have received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it (from God)?” 

 

We should not covet and be prideful of what we’ve been given. Rather, we must share it, for His Glory, with others! 2) This leads us to the second point to take to heart: we must serve Him in all we do with all we’ve been given. In Luke 4:39 we see Simon’s mother in law healed her suffering of high fever and, upon receiving this gift she “immediately got up and began to serve them.” This, in reading this passage today, we must examine our lives—all that we have and all that we offer—and strive to ensure that we are using His Gifts to His Glory! 

 

Lord, let me not be “possessive” in my practice of faith. Rather, give me strength, courage, and wisdom to share all You have given me to proclaim Your Glory—May my words, thoughts, deeds,  blessings and trials be offered in Your Name!  J.O.Y.

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2015

We encounter Jesus in Capernaum, at Peter's house. They have just returned from the Synagogue. The disciples intercede with Jesus on behalf of Peter's mother-in-law who is sick with a fever. He heals her and she immediately gets up and waits on them. The day is spent and the sun is setting and crowds gather, the sick and those in spiritual distress. Jesus heals them all taking time with each one, and many demons were cast out; they knew Him but He would not allow them to speak.

 

What a scene and it goes on it seems all night, because at daybreak Jesus leaves for a deserted place. I imagine everyone wanted to be near Jesus, not only because He healed the sick, but He saw each of them. They sensed His love for each individual and they wanted to be in His presence. 

 

Isn't that the way it is? We come to Him with our brothers and sisters to express our desire and to wonder at the tremendous love being poured out even when we are mired in our sins. We come to be united to Him in the Eucharistic banquet that we may be transformed and strengthened to live in imitation of Him. 

Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me for I have sinned.

Deacon