Skip to main content

AFRAIDNOT

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

Home
A Daily Dose
Offer It Up!
Your Catholic Is Showing
Friendly Links
Archives
About Us
Contact Us
Site Map
 Offer It Up!

Reflections on prayer, on life and on all of us.If you take something away from here that does more for you than what you had when first got here, so be it. From there, you now may share what you have with others, much like St. Francis is often quoted as saying: Preach the Gospel every day and if necessary, use words.

All are invited to 'offer it up' with us as we never know whose life it is we may change--forever. If you find that you are so inclined, send what you have to us at david@afraidnot.org.
Don't be afraid-just have faith! Thanks for stopping by. 
In His Faith and in His Light.   

            Within Your peace, patience and presence O Lord, let me learn to live more prudently in Your providence to serve others in Your love. Amen. 
 
 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017

Imagine the scene in today’s Gospel on this feast of St. Matthew. Jesus sees Matthew at his place of work, the tax collector’s custom post. Hear the words spoken to Matthew, “Follow Me”! Be aware of Matthew’s quick response as he rises and follows Jesus. Why Matthew? He’s a tax collector,  certainly not a favorite of the people who regarded him as working for Roman oppressors.  Jesus chooses him and he responds.

We can only look on as realize that Jesus’ ways are not our ways; we don’t know His reason for calling the other. We can only observe and seek to hear the voice of Jesus as we encounter Him in our lives. Meditation on the Word enables us to become more inclined to hear the voice of  Him who loves us beyond our wildest imaginings. 

In the first reading to the Ephesians we encounter in Paul’s words the make-up of the Body of Christ, the various roles we are called to fill in the Body of Christ. As we encounter the Word this day, each of us in our particular situation in the body are being called to action. The Spirit knows and we can know if we are bent on listening actively. It may be that we are simply called to simple loving acts throughout this day. It may be a call to recognize a particular giftedness which God has endowed us with and therefore is choosing us for a mission we had not considered.

You have not chosen me, I have chosen you! John 15:16

This applies to Matthew, to me, and to you. As we pray we are reminded always that the Lord desires mercy, justice, forgiveness, love, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, non-violence. We find ourselves in situations and circumstances where we are challenged to live at least one of these virtues.  Always, we need God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

On this feast of Matthew may He intercede for us to enlighten us and enable and encourage us to rise up and follow wherever Jesus leads us. 

Father, fill me with the desire to seek and do your will!

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2017
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAMELIA LILIANA!

Mark 12:35-37

As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said, "How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said:

 

The Lord said to my lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.'

 

David himself calls him 'lord'; so how is he his son?"

The great crowd heard this with delight.

 

Jesus was challenged often-about His miracles, about His teachings, about His practices and even about His heritage. Yet never once did He flinch in the face of any challenger. He now lays claim that in fact He is the Messiah, as He recalls from Psalm 110.

 

The Lord said to my lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.'

 

Indeed: how much more we know today is that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. He sent His Son so that we might have eternal life in Him. How is it that we are living our lives so that we might share in that glory? How are we sharing everything we have in our lives to live in that glory in His earthly kingdom?

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 2017

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” 

 

These words, written by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (3:18-19) contain a touching, powerful prayer—one which I pray, each day, for my fellow man and myself – all Christians. The simplicity of Faith, believing in God and believing He sent His only Son into the World to Show us how to live and love, on the surface, is a “thin cover” over an incredibly challenging reality of the human condition. Thus, we come to know that faith is “simple, but not always easy”.

 

We know, in our studies of the Life of Jesus, that His venture into the human condition was not easy, because He was challenged by man’s inability to truly understand the comprehensiveness of God’s love and desire for us.  Thus, in Mark 12:13-17, we find the religious leaders challenging Jesus’ authority, trying to trip him up, catching Him in some type of heresy or blasphemy. They offered false flattery, while only trying to trap Him into saying something bad about the roman leaders. His response was brilliant, in that He stated that we must “pay our due” (in this case, taxes) to our worldly leaders, but we must also and always remember to render to God, that which we owe to Him which is, in all reality, our life itself.

 

So, in an effort to get Him to speak out against the ruling authority, which would “land Him in jail”, Jesus made it clear that we can serve God by being respectful to lawful authority in this life—which, ultimately, serves His Purpose and Example of loving our neighbor as ourselves. 

 

Lord, help us to understand the comprehensive nature of Your love and, in doing so, live our lives in Your Way!  Let us acknowledge each other in Your Love, which will ultimately allow us to truly give all that we are and have completely and fully. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 2017

How do we use our energy, as stewards of all that we are surrounded with?  Mark 12:1-9 is the story of the ungrateful tenants of the vineyard. This story is paralleled in Matthew’s Gospel, as well, in 21:33-45. In both accounts, the writers emphasize Jesus’ quoting of scripture, Psalm 118:22-23, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”. 

 

There are several elements in His sharing of this parable of the wicked tenants, who occupied the owners vineyard and, when the collectors came to reap the man’s harvest from the tenants, greed overcame the tenants and they rejected the collectors, even when the man sent his son. Of course, we get the prophetic nature of this parable, in which we, the tenants of God’s earthly creation, reject Jesus. In our human condition, the pettiness of greed and jealousy can easily distract us from our mission, which is to enjoy this life, and all in it, for the Glory of God.  It does not mean there won’t be work! 

 

In fact, our reaping of His Glory requires an INTENTIONAL effort to value God’s creation and share it with others. His harvest is our benevolence to one another, which is a reflection of His benevolence to us! This realization must bring us to the point of looking within and assessing how we use our energies on a daily basis: do we focus on accumulating personal and material wealth and, if so, does this focus supersede our love of God and neighbor? This parable highlights God’s Creation—the Vineyard is the exemplification of God’s Kingdom. The behavior of the tenant, therefore, is what we must consider. How do we accept our role in this temporal world, KNOWING that eternal life awaits and that our eternal reward awaits us, based on how we reap, store, and return God’s bountiful harvest given us? 

 

Lord, guide us in being a responsible steward of the gifts and blessings with which we been bestowed. May we share Your goodness with each other, bountifully. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2017

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

John 20:19-23 

 

The days after Jesus’ arrest, suffering, and brutal death on the Cross had to have been terrifying moments for His disciples as they witnessed these things.  As the gospel notes here and in other gospel accounts, they find that Jesus has risen from the Dead, as He said He would! Imagine their continued confusion, a mixture of joy in what Mary Magdalene has shared with them about having seen the Risen Lord and fear of those who had indicted, convicted, and brutally tortured Jesus to the death.  So, they locked themselves in the upper room to gather themselves as best they could. 

 

Jesus appeared, despite the doors and windows being locked shut, saying, “Peace be with you!” He showed them His wounds and they rejoiced at the sight of Him!  Jesus, then, emboldened them, saying, “….as the Father has sent Me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” To be emboldened means to be given the courage, confidence, and strength to behave in a certain way.

 

Lord, Your gift of the Peace of the Holy Spirit is our strength to go out into the world and behave in the fashion in which You taught—Love, Compassion, and forgiveness and tolerance for each other’s human frailties!  May we be emboldened, by Your Spirit, to proclaim the Kingdom of God in every aspect of our earthly lives!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2017

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” 

 

In reading John 20:15-19, we find Jesus on the shore, talking to His Disciples after appearing to them. Jesus, having risen from the grave, joined them at the shore, after they had fished all night.  After eating breakfast, Jesus asked Peter, THREE times, “Do you love me?” 

 

Perhaps Jesus made this point due to the fact that Peter had denied Him three times in the courtyard, during His Passion? As we consider this, parallel it to our own lives: 1) How often do we deny Christ through our own words and deeds, failing to act in the manner He exemplified for us?  2) How many times do we have the opportunity to answer, “Do you really love me?” 3) In answering that question, do we respond by stepping up to “feed His Sheep” by our daily lives and caring for/tending to each other? 

 

Lord, help me to consider and respond to Invitation to demonstrate my faith in and love for You!  Faith in action testifies to my belief!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   PENTECOST SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017



The Breath of God



OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2017
Happy Birthday Linda!

The seeds of love grow only where God has sown them and only as He wills them to grow.
Love then grows where it will, with those seeds and the love of God and the free, total, faithful and fruitful love He brings together.

Long before there were any thoughts or seeds of love to be considered in that fulfillment of joy that is now our lives, He brought into the world the goodness, beauty, joy and steadfast spirit that is my wife today. Her humble soul, her giving heart, her indomitable strength have held together not only her health over the years but a family that always looked to her for the same humility, giving and strength that kept us as one in our faith and in our love. For sure, not only does she take her faith quite personally but sees to it that we do so together for that makes us who she is and who we are. And with so much love, the unconditional love God intended for us to have, together that faith and love form a relationship with Christ at the center that will last forever.

Those seeds that God had planted--He planted plenty and continues to plant even more. Indeed, love continues to grow in her and in our home. There is much to celebrate in her and the love that is her, our source of our home's love and perseverance. As family, as friends, as we are all in a far better place for having her in our lives as God is always at work in her for us and in us for her.

Happy Birthday to the most beautiful woman in the world! 
You are so much a part of me as all that God has made me--and us--faithful, loving and good!
I love you-
me



OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2017
Happy Birthday Jason!

We sometimes limit ourselves to what we see, trusting the known versus the unknown. Then there are those times we take a few steps forward with a bit of faith and find out that the unknown was not so bad after all. It’s those times we venture out and the road gets a bit rocky that we realize the path we chose may not be so glorious after all. That’s that time we test our faith, we test what we are made of. Do we stand and take on the battle or do we tuck and run the first chance we get?

 

Standing one’s ground is a testament to one’s personal development and one’s faith. How they handle adversity is a direct connection to where they’ve been before, how they have seen others respond and what they have shared in their experience. And it cannot be faked or pretentious. This sort of thing is the real deal, for work, for family, for friend, for life.

 

Whether he will admit it or not, Jason stands tall—literally and actually, for just that—his faith. Adversity in life, in family and in work have shown the greater part of his spirit. Options to go the other way have been appealing, yet he stayed the course and chose to do the right thing. A chance or two or more to say no to help out—and there were some times he did—though there were enough times ‘brother dad’ did step in.  And there are too many times to list the lunches and dinners he has purchased for those in need, the employees who needed extra time away or more time to get to work. All these things bear witness to his own witness. We should be so tall in our own. Others have noted that if you want to see the commitment of one's heart, follow the path that leads to it and see what they treasure. You'll see what Jason truly treasures--the things not of this world but of family, friends and virtue and faith. 

 

Happy Birthday Jason. May you continue to live out such a powerful spirit, beyond the limits and reaches you may ever imagine, with all those things good and great coming and going to and from your heart.

We love you-

Mom and Dad




OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2017

In reading both Paul’s word’s to the church leaders at Ephesus, in Acts 20:17-27 and re-reading the beginning of Jesus’ prayerful dissertation in John 17:1-7, the parallels are amazing. Paul reminds the presbyters that he spent time among them, preaching, teaching, and giving example of serving God with humility. He announces to them the Holy Spirit’s plan for him to go to Jerusalem where he does not know what welcome he will receive, nor the fate of his journey, there. 

 

Paul’s words to the elders must be internalized in our hearts, souls, and outward lives, as we read in Acts 20:24, “But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Good News of God’s Grace.” He goes on to tell them, “Therefore, I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring you the whole purpose of God.” 

 

Jesus, in John 17:1-7, begins a similar prayer. He recognizes that the Father’s Plan is coming to fruition. In His recognition we are reminded that His life and ministry have exemplified the Glorification of God and the Fulfillment of His Plan of Salvation’s offering—Jesus on the Cross.  Paul, in saying “...if only I may finish my course…” Jesus words in John 17, “Father, the hour has come; Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.”  Jesus also reiterates that He has “made Your name know to those whom You gave me from the world”, just as Paul went forth and followed Jesus’ command that we do the same! 

 

Lord, we not only have Your Divine example, we know that Your Spirit fills Your believers with strength to carry out Your Will—that we live on earth in Your example so as to earn the eternal Salvation Your example won for us!  May we Glorify You by our lives today!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2017

“His disciples said, ‘Yes, now You are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech!  Now we know that You know all things, and do not need to have anyone question You; by this we believe that You came from God.’  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.  I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” 

 

John records this exchange between Jesus and His disciples as He continues His discourse with them as to His Divine Origin, His Authority, and His desire to ensure they receive the full strength of God’s Love and compassion that comes with Faith. The expectations of God are clear—live in the love of God, as exemplified by Jesus’ ministry and life and gain strength from this and His ever-present Spirit. 

 

Here, as He ends this particular discourse, He not only prophesies His own struggles, He acknowledges the challenges the disciples we will have in maintaining a faithful demeanor, saying, “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.  Yet, I am not alone because the Father is with me”. He goes on to tell us to take courage in the fact that He (and, in turn, we) are never alone, no matter the struggle.  And, even when we lose sight of God, He NEVER loses sight of us! 

 

This is not tacit permission to do so—lose sight of Him—but it is clearly another, and perhaps the greatest, evidence of God’s compassion and understanding that, even if we falter, He is there, awaiting our return to Him. 

 

Lord, You call us to “take courage” in the Salvation You brought to each of us.  Give us strength to bravely uphold Your precepts and live in the way You have shown us!  Spirit, fill and strengthen our resolve to stand for and with You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2017

In John 17:1-11, Jesus begins what is considered the longest prayer in the Gospels. He lifts His eyes to the Father. He knows that the “hour has come” for the fulfillment of His purpose in becoming Man. He makes a powerful statement, one that we all must understand is our call, in striving to be like Jesus, “I Glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You gave Me to do.  So, now, Father, Glorify Me in Your Own Presence with the Glory that I had in Your Presence before the world existed.” 

 

Jesus came to show us all the Pathway to eternal life. This was His mission and purpose in living and ministering to others in complete and total compassion and service and, having lived His earthly life in this fashion, He prays to be welcomed back into the Eternal Kingdom. This should be our daily prayer, especially at day’s end. We can use these words to assess our daily life, asking ourselves, “Did I glorify God on this earth today, doing the work He has given me means and strength to do and in the fashion by which He called me to do?”

 

He goes on to clarify some of the things we should be doing: 1) Making God known to those around us; 2) Encouraging them to keep His Ways (by living them in our own word and example; 3) Prayers for the world which God created. 

 

Lord, You came to show God to us! In fulfilling The Word, You challenged us to Glorify Your Loving Ways through our word and deed, loving each other and showing that love through service to one another.  By our own witness of You and service to others , may more people be drawn to You.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, MAY 29, 2017

“Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in My Name, He will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in My Name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father, Himself, loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

John 16:23-28

 

If we proclaim our belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and that we shall honor His Name upon bended knee, then we accept the Love of God, as Jesus says in verse 27, “…. the Father, Himself, loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.” That we will be loved and accepted by God for honoring the Way His Son showed us to live is reinforced in Paul’s writing in Romans 14:10-12:  “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister… for we all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For it is written, ‘as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every gong shall give praise to God.’  So then, each of us will be accountable to God.  And, in Philippians 2:10, he tells us, “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

 

Lord, let us remember, as we honor You, that “bended knee” and “proclaiming Your Name” is more than “just talk”.  May we proclaim our belief by living Your example in all our words and deeds.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2017
THE ASCENSION





OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2017

“When the Advocate comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify on my behalf.  You also are to testify because you have been with Me from the beginning.”  John 15:26-27

 

These Words are not “if”, but “when”! This is the reality. When we say that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that we believe that God is One God, in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Spirit—how do we exemplify this in our lives? Is our life of word and deed a testament to that belief? The Spirit of God IS present among and within us.

 

Jesus goes on in this discourse to say, “I have said these things to keep you from stumbling” We need to remind ourselves and strive to be fully aware of the Spirit’s Presence in us and around us. We can only do this by being a witness to Christ’s example. When one looks up the definition of witness, he finds two definitions. The second focuses on the word witness as “evidence” or “proof” that something has taken place or exists. As a verb, it means “to give or serve as evidence; to testify to”. This definition serves His purpose that we examine ourselves as a witness to the very belief we proclaim! 

 

This exam requires an honest assessment of our willingness to accept the Spirit into our very being and stand up in the face of the distractions of this world. Jesus makes it clear that we will face these distractions and adversities, just as He has. People will not only doubt the sincerity and validity of our beliefs, they will scorn, ridicule and persecute us in their lack of belief. 

 

Lord, help us to “witness” to the truth of Jesus.  May we not only see the Spirit in action around us, but allow ourselves to be moved into action by the Spirit!  May we be “in tune” with the Spirit through our words and deeds, bringing forth Salvation’s Light!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017

“If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments.  And I will ask The Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with You and He will be in You. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you.” 

 

These words, in John 14:15-21 contain a simple summary of Jesus expectations of each who have Faith in God—in Him, as the Son of God—as well as His Promise of the Holy Spirit, the completion of the Triune “circle” - the wholeness of God. It gets no more clear than this: when we strive to “do good” and love people by living in the Example of Jesus Christ, we are inviting the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit into our very being.  Jesus clearly promises us that He will remain with us, His Spirit indwelling in and among us, to provide strength, wisdom, and guidance for our daily living. 

 

How we invite and experience Him is the key! We must be open to and intentionally seek a personal relationship with Him—in the Word of God and in living by Those Words. Jesus promises that we will not be left alone, “orphaned”.  The word orphaned is a powerful word to which we must not harden our hearts. It is a powerful word of abandonment and purposefully placed here. God will NOT abandon us. Even though we don’t always see/feel Him, we can and must experience Him (or be someone else’s experience of Him) by seeking and allowing His Presence among and in our lives! 

 

Lord, allow our personal efforts to lead us to full faithfulness and acceptance of Your Holy Spirit within and among us!  May Your Grace be our light and strength!  Jesus, Only You!  JOY

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2017

John 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples: "A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me." So some of his disciples said to one another, "What does this mean that he is saying to us, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" So they said, "What is this 'little while' of which he speaks? We do not know what he means." 

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing with one another what I said, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy."

 

And so it goes. The disciples-with as much as they know of Jesus-were still unclear of His latest message about not seeing Him and then seeing Him again. As if leaving everything behind and following Him was not hard enough, they were still trying to make sense of the life He was living and leading them to live with Him. And now He tells them He is going away and while some will rejoice, others will weep and mourn.

 

Of course they will be the ones to weep as will others when He offers Himself as sacrifice for the sins of the world. It will be those who put Him to death that will rejoice who believe they have conquered His message. Yet we know today that Jesus conquered death by His life, death and resurrection and ascension into heaven. That is the great cause for our joy, the joy of the disciples as they witnessed His resurrection and ascension.

 

As we continue to open our hearts and minds for this Easter season and rejoice at His resurrection, we can further realize not just our joy but our mission in carrying the love He has given us. We have been promised a salvation with Him if we but have faith in Him, a faith that is active and compassionate. Let all we do be done in His name and for His glory, for the good of others.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2017

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:  "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

 

Sometimes the news is just too good to hear; other times it’s not so good. What Jesus had to share with the disciples, much of it He had already given them. Indeed, so much He had shared He told them they could not bear it for whatever reason. For all that He gave them, it would take them a bit more time to understand and put into practice all He gave them.

 

The good news/bad news He left with them was that while He was ascending to the Father, He was not going to leave them without some guidance. The ‘Spirit of truth’ will lead them farther down their path. As much as they trusted and learned from Jesus, they would come to learn, from the Spirit of truth, that all they know comes from the Father who sent His Son to die for the sins of the world.

 

Just as the Holy Spirit guided the disciples then, we rely on that same faith and guidance today. There is freedom in the truth we have in our faith and the way we choose to live it. That is the gift of our free will, the same gift given to those who chose to follow Jesus then as we choose to follow now. Bishop Robert Barron notes that we don’t think our way to an understanding of God; we live our way into it. As we make ourselves available beyond our thinking, we can actively and intentionally live our way to what God has planned for us.

 


OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

John 16:5-11

Jesus said to his disciples: "Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:

sin, because they do not believe in me; 

righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."

 

Preparation and providence.

How are we doing so far?

Jesus tells his disciples that it is better that he goes, only that the Holy Spirit, another advocate, may be with them to further prepare them as they go out and spread the good news.

 

Just as Jesus prepared them as he was with them, so too will the Holy Spirit bring about more conversion in their lives as they seek to do the will of the Lord. They are to help those they bring the word to step out of the darkness of sin and condemnation and into the light of salvation. Just as Christ brought them together in one body, they will seek to bring together into one body of Christ all those that hear the word of God and share in His love.

 

So back to that first bit-preparation and providence. How are we doing with ours? Every day we are given that opportunity to share in His message and grow-being renewed in His spirit of salvation. What are we doing to make our lives different for others to hear the word of God and share in His salvation?



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017

John 15:26-16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."

 

There have been-probably-a few times we have been chastised or attacked for the position we held or for even the truth we believed in. Maybe that didn’t keep us from our path or our conviction as we held fast to our beliefs and confidently journeyed on.

 

Jesus gave that same conviction of purpose to the disciples as He prepared them for the Advocate He was sending them. The disciples, as much as they had been prepared, were still going to need help. That help was going to come from the Holy Spirit, the Advocate that was the ‘Spirit of truth’ from the Father. The disciples could no more do their work on their own as we can today; just as they needed then the power of the Holy Spirit, so too do we as we submit to the will and way we are led.

 

Though we are prayerfully and faithfully led by the Spirit, it does not necessarily mean we will be without our trials and our sorrows. Challenges will arise; pain will come. How we respond, how we continue to realize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be the measure of our strength we find in Him. Not our will be done but only His will forever and ever.

 


OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” 

John 15:12-17

 

What does it mean to “lay down one’s life for one’s friend”? Jesus proclaims in this passage that there is no greater love! He goes on to say that if we accept his call to friendship, we accept an appointment to “go and bear lasting fruit” by following the commands we’ve been given, by which to live and Love. 

 

Laying down one’s life is complete and unconditional love. He is not only talking about the fleeting life of our human condition, which fades away, but He is talking about laying down our eternal life by choosing to take up the life to which He calls us. We often think of Jesus’ suffering and death when we think of how he “laid down His life” for us.  But let us consider that from the origin of his very humble and impoverished birth to His ministerial life of Service, Jesus laid down His entire life as the example by which we are to  abide in our lives—loving each other in the Father’s Love! 

 

Lord, help us to bear the lasting, eternal fruit of Your salvation through our lives’ words and works.  May we share the Love You exemplified by laying out your entire life as guide for our salvation!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2017

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

John 15:9-11) 

 

In these few words, Jesus drives home the point that we must abide in the love of God.  He makes it clear that following His example is how we abide in His Love. We often spend time dwelling on what we and others should NOT be doing, but here, Jesus calls us to dwell on what we SHOULD be doing. This requires an entire different mindset from what we fall into as a result of our human condition. We tend to want to give the “Yes, buts” and the “If only he or she would do or not do”. 

 

In John’s gospel, Jesus tells us that He has given us example of the Father’s love and if we do as He has done, we will be keeping God’s precepts, therefore living His Love. He goes on to say that this is the path to COMPLETE joy. In our human condition, it is tempting and easy to take joy in the fleeting moments and materialism of this world.  The challenge is to look forward to the concept of “eternity” and how we want to spend it. Because earthly joy is fleeting, we have difficulty understanding the “complete joy” promised in the eternal—that joy will never end. 

 

To obtain that complete joy, we must strive to speak and act in the manner Jesus showed us—the manner prescribed in God’s Word. As we ponder this, let us focus on intentionally doing what God asks of us, rather than focusing on what He tells us “not to do”. Imagine intentional acts of love, rather than continual “worry” about avoiding something: the Spiritual approach to the “glass half-full/half-empty theory! 

 

Lord, help us to live our love for you in our daily words and deeds.  May we love others as a testament to our faith in and desire for You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” John 15:1-8

 

As we ponder this bit of John’s gospel, let us consider that the branches cannot exist without the vine or the “base” of the tree. Jesus is that stalk, the base, from which fruitful branches grow. As we ponder how Jesus laid out himself on the tree, made into a cross, for our salvation, the parallel cannot be ignored.  Jesus, outstretched arms on the extended “branches” of the Cross, welcoming us to Salvation. 

 

This image carries so much.  The cross and the brutality of the journey to it are overshadowed with the hope and the joy of the subsequent Resurrection! How do we accept Jesus’ open-armed invitation to abide in Him and bear the Fruit of Salvation? Jesus, in this example of the vine and branches, calls to see and know that He is the vine, the base of all fruitfulness. He calls us, as believers, then, to grow from Him, in His Wisdom. 

 

Lord, help us to remain branches on and from You, the Vine of Salvation!  As we grow in you, may we be an extension of You, bearing and being the fruit of Your love and labor; bringing fruitful results to/in Your vineyard  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2017

“’They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.  I have said these things to you while I am still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.’”

John 14:21-26

 

The simplicity of the beginning of this reading is seemingly, “too good to be true” and in our human condition (the distractions, thereof), this can too often, be the case.  We “only” have to keep and follow the Word and example of Jesus in order to demonstrate our Love of God and He will be present in and among us by this example.  Are we confused, just as some of the disciples were, as to how Jesus can be revealed to some and not others? 

 

Jesus responds to this confusion, saying that God will make a home in those who believe by keeping the Word and example of Christ. He goes on to say that God will send the Holy Spirit, Who will guide and teach us everything, reminding us of all that Jesus is saying. As we ponder this Mystery, we are called to open our hearts and not “wonder” how God can and will do this, but actually LET Him into our hearts and minds. How do we try, each day, to discern God’s Will? Do we sit back and wait for Him to speak to us?  Or, do we actively seek His Will by striving to live His Will? The more we strive, the more the Spirit grows in Us. 

 

Lord, help us to listen to and live by Your Word attentively, each day.  May we live our faith through word and deed, filled with Your Spirit, revealing Your Ways to the world.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.

 


OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2017

In John 13:1-38, we find Jesus “troubled in spirit”, as He declares, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me”.  This statement follows John’s very personal description of Jesus’ servant relationship with His disciples. John is the only Gospel writer to give this detailed account of the intimate moment when Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples, after sharing Himself in the Breaking of the Bread. There is so much in the entire chapter from which we are to take the “ultimate example” and how it describes Jesus, after dining with His friends, tying a towel around himself and kneeling at the feet of each, washing their dusty feet.  Jesus tells them (especially Peter, who declined, at first, the washing), “Unless I wash you, you have no share with Me.” He uses this lesson to teach them, “So, if I, Your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For, I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.”

 

After this poignant and teachable moment, Jesus announces that He is about to be betrayed by “One of You”. One of these twelve! Certainly, this was “unthinkable” to all of them (except Judas, who had already succumbed to the temptation of evil in his heart). Peter, of course, protested Jesus’ warnings that things may “get tough” for those who truly believe that He is the Son of God! Peter even boldly stated, “I will lay down my life for you”, at which time Jesus questioned him, knowing that Peter would deny Him three times in that very night! 

 

Lord, You know our human frailty, yet you have given all to us, including Your undying love and commitment through the life, example, and sacrifice of Jesus, Your Son! Strengthen our resolve to follow Him in this life, so as to join You in the eternal life of The Resurrection!  Jesus, Only You!  JOY

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2017

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also.” John 14:6-7

 

In John 14:1-12 we find Jesus speaking to His Disciples as to where He will be going and to Whom. In particular, in this passage He addresses Philip and Thomas, who expressed questions of doubt, with Thomas asking, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how can we know the way?” and Phillip asking, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”  Jesus in both instances, makes it clear to them that He is present among them, to show them the Way, to be the Light, and to exemplify the Truth along the Way and with the Light! 

 

He opens the discourse saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  This is the very reason He came, to provide us with the way to live with, care for and love each other in the Way the Father designed us to do! He describes Heaven as “My Father’s House” in which there are “many rooms”. He came here to “give us directions”. He asks us to follow Him and when we arrive, we will find that He has gone ahead of us in the Fullness of the Resurrection of the Body to prepare a place for us.

 

Even with this graphic and vivid description of Heaven, believers often struggle to truly understand and know that Jesus speaks the Way, the Truth, and the Light. In our daily trials, we experience emotional and physical disappointments and pains that cause us to question and demand “signs” from God. This passage is rich in example to show how God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Spirit, as one God, provide us guidance and strength for our Journey Home, to Him! 

 

Lord, help us to be aware of Your desire that we live our faith fully and give us the strength to do so.  May our lives be a witness of Faith in You, by our word and deed.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MAY 15, 2017

John 12:44-50 is subtitled “The Summary of Jesus’ teaching” and says, “Then Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in Me believes not in Me but in Him Who sent Me. And whoever sees Me, sees Him Who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears My Words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My Word has a Judge; on the last day the Word that I have spoken will serve as Judge, for I have not spoken on My Own, but the Father who sent Me has, Himself, given Me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is Eternal Life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” 

 

Jesus clearly explains, here, that His sole purpose in becoming man is to light the way to the Father!  It is clear that we are called to accept Him as the Messiah—promised by God—to lead us to Salvation, Eternal Life in and with God. Jesus says, “I know that His commandment is eternal life”.  The Word of God is the Path to Eternal Life and, knowing that The Word IS God, how can we not desire and strive to know Him in the Word, and, in turn, heeding The Word? 

 

Throughout the Gospels, we find several references to Jesus as the “light of the world”.  In order to benefit from this light, we must open our eyes to the Wonders of His Presence! God is the Triune God!  He “is, was, and always will be”.  He created the world, He became part of this world, and His Spirit is in this world. Understanding the reality of His “omnipresence” is the root of grace and knowledge by which we come to know the Truth and shared Love that brings us to Eternal Life! 

 

Lord, help us to see, hear, and believe in You! Open our eyes as to absorb You in the fullness of the Light by which You expose the Path to the Father!  You are the Way! Guide Us!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2017

“Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

John 14:8 

 

Imagine Jesus’ frustration when one of the very men standing with Him throughout His ministry asks this question. As Jesus continues His discourse with His Disciples after the Last Supper, He is reminding them that the greatest thing that they can do is understand and know the importance of a relationship with God. As we read the Word of God and reflect upon the importance of building this relationship, we find Jeremiah 9:23-24:  “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not the wise man glory in his own wisdom; let not the mighty glory in his own might; let the rich man glory in his own riches; but let him who glories, glory in this: understanding and knowledge of Me.’” 

 

Jesus, in response to Philip’s questioning and Thomas, in John 14:1-6), reminds the disciples that He is among them, all this time and if they truly see Him, they see the Father, for the Father dwells in Him! This is the true meaning of the Trinity. Jesus asks, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” He goes on to say,”...the Words that I say to you, I do not speak on My Own, but the Father, who dwells in Me, does His Works through Me. 

 

Jesus was and is our opportunity to know the Living God! He made it possible that we truly know God and not “just something about God”. Jesus calls us to truly and fully believe and know, as we profess in our Christianity, that Jesus is the Son of God. This is a challenge of our human condition, because in the face of challenges and doubt, we look up to God and ask, “Where are you?” and “Why me, Lord?” Let us look at these times as challenges, then, to enrich and “double down” on our call to Faith, relying on God, the Father, through God the Son, in God the Spirit! 

 

Lord, fill us with the Joy of Your Presence! May we show our Faith, Hope, and Love in You by putting our Faith into daily word and deed.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 

John 14:1-6

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Thomas, known as the “doubter”, asked Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how can we know The Way?” 

 

In our human condition, it is true “heaven” is a mystery and we often find ourselves pondering that mystery:  “What will it be like?”  “What will ‘we’ be like?” Will we see each other and interact with each other (in the ways we understand now)? What is not and cannot be a mystery, though, is the answer to Thomas’ question. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

Jesus, by His Presence among us, came to show us HOW to live! That is the way! The manner in which He spoke to His Disciples, the example of compassion He showed in His daily preaching, teaching, and wondrous works, and, ultimately, His complete giving of Self at Table and on the Cross. What is there not to know, “Thomas”, if we but open our eyes, ears, and hearts to His Word? 

 

Lord, give us the wisdom to ponder our journey and way to Heaven first and foremost.  We know that Salvation awaits, so let us focus on “The Way”, first, knowing and trusting that the Mystery of Heaven holds unbounding love, joy, happiness, and hope of true life in Your Eternal Home!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2017

After Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples, John records His Words in John 13:16-20, “Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” 

 

Through this act of complete servanthood and by His Words, Jesus tells us that the servant, the messenger, is not greater than the Master. He tells us that we are truly blessed if we carry out the calling and message of The Master. In carrying out the message, we are to serve in the same manner as Christ showed us in His life, ministry, and sacrificial offering of Himself!  We cannot judge or pick and choose which dirty, dusty, stinky feet we wash.  We must recognize that God created and chose us for a purpose. We have the choice to do so!  To choose Him requires that we strive for complete humility and fullness of faith. 

 

Think about the “washing of the feet”. Jesus washed the feet of all twelve, even the one whom He knew would betray Him! Washing of feet and other acts of service are viewed, too often, as tasks for servants or slaves.  Unconditional love rejects that notion, as evidenced here!  Our challenge is to ponder those by whom we’ve been hurt or disappointed and imagine Jesus calling us to “wash their feet”! How do we respond?

 

 Lord, give me strength and courage to have faith in Your call and respond lovingly in all situations that I encounter today and throughout my life.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017

“I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

John 10:25-28

This is Jesus’ response when the worshipers in the temple gathered around and asked him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” How often do we, in our trials and tribulations, challenge God with this same question? How often do we act or respond to our lives’ events as if we’ve put God on the backburner or forgotten Him, all together? Whether we are in times of trial of times of joy or success, do we remember that God is at the center of all we are and have?

 

This question from the worshippers, comes after they have had the opportunities to see Christ’s wonders in earthly awe: by His miraculous deeds and the hearing of His Word. Yet, they were still struggling to understand and believe that He is God, that His words and deeds are from the Father, and that, ultimately nothing can or will take that away because He is One with God! 

 

In today’s world, Jesus might ask, “What part of ‘Good Shepherd’ and ‘protector of all’ do you not understand?” With their inability to understand the simplicity of His Words, we can only guess that they did not understand that He was telling them He would, literally, lay down His life for them so that they could have eternal life with God. In our daily living, how do we overcome our challenges of faith to make the choice and commitment to follow His voice? 

 

Lord, may our lifestyles and daily choices reflect our willingness to hear and heed Your voice—to follow You, the Good Shepherd, through the Gate into His Kingdom!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2017

John 21:1-14 gives an account of the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, this time, seven of them, as they were fishing. Here, Simon Peter had said to them, “I am going fishing!” to which several responded, “I will go with you”. As they were out on the Sea of Galilee, after a long, fruitless night of fishing, they noticed a man on the shore who called to them, “You have no fish?” 

 

The man then instructed them to cast the net to the right side of the boat, at which time they hauled in such a load as to strain the nets and prevent them from fully hauling the catch into the boat. John immediately realized that it was Jesus standing on the shore and called out, “It is the Lord!” Peter, always impetuous, jumped into the water and swam the 100 yards or so to the shore to get to Jesus first, while the others dragged the haul of fish to the shore by boat. Jesus was their waiting with a fire and some fish on the coals and commanded them to “bring some of the fish you have just caught.”    

 

Jesus invited them all, “Come, have breakfast”. This entire account highlights the simplicity of experiencing Jesus in our daily lives. The disciples in the aftermath had “gone back to their regular lives”, so to speak.  Though forever changed by Jesus’ impact in their lives, they had gone back to some “normalcy” (which we must have to continue to move forward in our human condition). In the “routine course of their lives”, in this case, their profession fishing, they encountered Jesus simply, yet fully! They experienced success with their catch and took the opportunity to share that success with Jesus!  This is our call! 

 

Lord, help us to always experience Your richness and blessings in life’s “every day” experiences and, in turn, share them in Communion with You and others and in complete Thanksgiving to a loving God! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2017

Jesus, through the example of His earthly life, ministry, suffering, death, and Resurrection, showed us exactly what it means to fully trust in God.  Thus, in John 10:11-18, when He continues His discourse on and analogy of “The Good Shepherd”, we can (or should) fully understand when He says, “I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  He goes on to state that the hired hand, the one not “fully vested or committed”, runs away in the face of or at the sign of danger, leaving the sheep to “fend for themselves”. 

 

The shepherd, on the other hand, knows the sheep and they know his voice.  So it is with the faithful who believe in God, the Father, Son, and Spirit! Because of this intimate knowledge and love, the shepherd does not abandon the sheep and will, in fact, lay down His life to ensure the flock is not destroyed and has the opportunity to safely come into the pasture, following His voice. Jesus was entrusted, by the Father, to come among the sheep and be the voice that leads them to the heavenly pasture.

 

This example of trust and fulfillment of trust brings us peace, knowing that Jesus laid down His life for us openly, willingly, and faithfully, following the command of God. In turn, the promise of the Resurrection and fullness of Eternal Life was completed. Just as it is fact that this life will be filled with both joys and trials, we also find peace, strength, and comfort in the voice and guidance of the Good Shepherd—Jesus—and His example! The question becomes, “Do we truly believe (and know) that Jesus loves us fully, compassionately, and unconditionally? If yes, do we hear and heed His voice, beckoning us to follow His Ways?

 

Lord, give us the grace and strength to hear and follow Your Voice!  May we strive to remain in your fold, following it into the gates of the heavenly and eternal pasture!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MAY 8, 2017

In John 10:1-10, Jesus is speaking to all who claim faith and belief in His Father.  He is explaining, to the Pharisees and to all of us that He came, not only to show is the way to live, but to be the voice we follow. Sheepherding was a commonly understood profession. So using this example, He emphasizes the importance of using the gate to gain access to the sheep.  He tells us, “The Gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd and the sheep hear His voice. 

 

The Shepherd calls His Own sheep by name and leads them out. Let us consider the power of this analogy. This world is the “pen” in which we abide, as sheep of the Good Shepherd. Ultimately, to get out of the pen and into the “pasture of eternal life”, we must utilize the gate. There are no short cuts or options to go through or climb the fence. He makes this example saying, “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate, but climbs over, elsewhere, is a thief or a robber”. These “fence-climbers” are the distractions of this world, whether they are material distractions or human-to-human distractions. 

 

As we read and re-read John 10:1-10, let us consider that we have a role in Jesus’ analogy to be gatekeepers in one another’s lives, helping each other find ways to focus on the Shepherd coming through the Gate and truly heeding His voice. His voice is THE voice which we will follow through the Gate to eternal life. There is no other way! We cannot go through the Gate except at the heeding of His voice! Jesus is the Shepherd and is the ONLY way to access the gate into Heaven’s pasture! Let us be gatekeepers who lead to the opening of the eyes and ears of all of God’s Sheep (US) to the Voice of God! 

 

Lord, through prayer for each other, example of Christ’s life and ministry, and responding to His Voice, may we be “gatekeepers” of faith for each other, focusing on the gate and not being distracted by the “fence-climbers” in this world. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2017

“When many of His disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’”  John 60-69 brings to a close Jesus’ teaching at Capernaum on the Bread of Life and what it means in our lives. Jesus knew that among those listening and hearing, many had struggles even though they had seen and heard miraculous things. To drive His point home, He says, “It is the Spirit that gives life. The Words that I have spoken to You are Spirit and Life.”

 

He went on to say that He understood that there were some who were challenged in their ability to believe. He knew, for example, that there would be one who would betray Him fully and completely. He knew that there would be many who simply walked away, shaking their heads, wanting to believe, perhaps, but conflicted in their human desires and distractions. He also knew that there would be many present and many to come who would turn to Him in full belief (even in the lack of full comprehension), such as Peter who answered Jesus question, “Do you, also, wish to go away?” with, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the Words of Eternal Life. 

 

We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” Yes, God has given us each the freedom to resist the Power of His Word—the prompting of His Spirit in those Words. With that, as we “turn it around”, is the power to desire, seek, obtain, and “master” the way of Life He exemplified and laid out for us through His Life and Ministry on earth! 

 

As we read (and re-read) John 6, let us strive, as Peter said, to believe and KNOW that Jesus is the Son of God and gave/gives Himself fully to us in Word and fullness of Self! 

 

Lord, help me to embrace the promptings of Your Word and fully accept Your Presence within Me.  Through This acceptance, may I fully understand that You are here, with me, in all of my daily interactions in this life!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MAY 6, 2017

“The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’  So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.’”  John 6:52-58

 

As we ponder the Words of Jesus and the challenges and doubt about His bold proclamation, let us consider the True Presence of Jesus in our lives! We, as Christians, proclaim the Presence of God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Spirit. We don’t debate that one is greater or less than the other. The Trinity is ONE God! Jesus came to show us how to live and we proclaim that He is God! Let us read this passage and, especially, verse 56, “Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood abide in Me and I in them”. 

 

As we claim and celebrate Union and Communion in and with Christ, let us consider how we truly believe and more importantly, demonstrate that belief. Do our words and deeds, each day, reflect that we truly believe Christ dwells in and among us? Do we truly reflect understanding that Christ walks with/in us on our daily journey, side by side, talking and listening to/with us? How much more intimate can it be that God gave Himself to us in flesh and blood, in the Bread and Wine and on the Cross? 

 

Lord, help us to love and appreciate the Precious Gift of Self You have given us through Your Human Presence and Ministry!  Inspire me to walk and talk with You in each encounter today and always! 

Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2017

Jesus says, “I am the Living Bread that came down form heaven. Whoever eats this Bread will live for ever; and the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is My Flesh.” In John 6:41-51, those listening to Jesus speak had become upset and confused over Jesus powerful words. They questioned Him because they did not understand how he could say, “I have come down from heaven.”  After all, was He not “just the son of a carpenter”? 

 

As Christians—believers that God sent His Son into our midst—we are called to ask ourselves every day, “What does it mean to ‘Eat the Bread of Life?” In this life, we have many distractions as we expend time, energy, and our (worldly) resources on building our earthly life. What pondering this question does is “force” us to consider how we spend those very resources on building our eternal life, as well. 

 

Jesus came to give us direction in  how to center on building our eternal life.  What “infrastructure” are we building for this life? The most important planning piece for building this infrastructure is “spiritual investment”. By investing ourselves spiritually, we build understanding as to how Jesus is present among us and, as important, that He IS present among us.

 

It is easy to “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came and dwelled among us. The challenge comes in taking this belief, internalizing and “knowing” it through our actions. If we truly believe that Jesus is present in the Bread and Wine and we truly partake, as He tells us to do, then we will live as He calls us to do.  At this point, then, “Very truly, I tell You, whoever believes has eternal life”. 

 

Lord, helps us to live in such a way as to answer the question, “What does it mean to “eat the Bread of Life?”  Let our lives reflect that we truly understand that You are here, dwelling in and among us, daily!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2017

“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Thomas asked Jesus this question after Jesus was assuring His disciples that they should not allow the hearts to be troubled that He will be leaving them, but only to go and prepare a place for them in His Father’s House (John 14:1-6). 

 

The disciples, of course, in their human condition, had difficulty truly comprehending that of which He spoke. In our human condition, in our distraction, we often “lose our way” and lose sight of all that Jesus did, in his life, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus makes it clear that following Him is the way to the Father. In fact, no one comes to God except through the Son. He says, “If you know Me, you will know My father.” 

 

What does it mean to truly know Jesus? Even the disciples, who had His flesh and blood presence, often struggled with truly understanding and knowing. This is why He came in the flesh and blood, to provide a real and living example. This is why He IS the Word. We have His presence among us in so many ways:  1) He is present in the Bread and the Wine, His real Presence Dwelling among and in us, causing us to strive to focus on His Presence; 2) He is present in the Word, as John tells us, He IS the Word;  3) He is present among us in the way we recognize His presence by heeding His Word (Him) and behaving with the belief/knowledge that He is Present in the Bread and Wine, in and among us! 

 

If we truly internalize His Presence, how can we not choose to act towards each other as He desires?  Do we truly believe He is here in Word and in/among us?  Or do we allow ourselves to get distracted and forget His presence? Philip demanded a sign and Jesus told him, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father.” 

 

Lord, help us to believe and know You are present in our lives through our interactions with each other!  Dwell in us so that we may dwell with You, forever!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2017

All things are possible with God! There are many scripture verses that remind us of this and give us inspiration and strength for our faith in His Power and Love! As we understand this, we should therefore hunger for Him in this life and we have Him among us through both the Word and In His Body and Blood. 

 

John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There is a reason that we are “moved” emotionally and spiritually by the Word of God—because these Words are God! They are truly Him speaking to us and we are called to listen—to discern what He is telling us in our daily lives. Our hunger for Him, through the Word, can be quenched through a “daily diet” of the Word, not just in reading, but in application of His Call to our daily interaction with others. 

 

In John 6:30-35, Jesus is asked, by the many who were following Him, “What sign will you give us then, so that we may believe in you?” They then brought up how Moses had brought down manna from the sky, for their ancestors in the wilderness. They brought this up because they had just witnessed Jesus feeding the multitudes with a few fishes and loaves. So, Jesus took the opportunity to remind them that it was not by the works of man that manna from Heaven came, nor was it by man’s works that the food in front of them had been multiplied. Rather, it was the Work of God! He then said, “….it is my Father who gives you the True Bread from Heaven”. The people, not quite understanding, but seeking in true desire, said, “Give us this bread”. Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.  Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”  

 

Lord, help us to come to You and experience You, every day, in Word and in Communion with You! May we, the Church, be Your Body, in this life, doing Your Will, both now and forever!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2017

After Jesus had fed the multitudes and His disciples had crossed the Sea (and Jesus, with them, having walked to them, on the water, in the storm), the crowd had remained on the other side. When they realized that Jesus and His disciples were not among them, they got into boats and crossed the sea, looking for Jesus. When they came upon Jesus, He said to them, “….you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves…” 

 

Jesus was pointing out here, the difference between physical and spiritual hunger. He goes on, in John 6:25-29, to tell them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” For what do we hunger in this life? Do we value our material wealth or worldly peace and love? Or, do we seek first, to understand that which eternally satisfies our heart and soul—God’s truth that brings eternal life and love? 

 

This is reminiscent of Isaiah, in which the prophet calls all to the abundant life in God (55:1-2): “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and you that have no money, come, buy, eat!  Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy. Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good and delight yourselves in rich food.” The people who followed Jesus across the sea asked, “What must we do to perform the Works of God?” Jesus response was simple, “….believe in Him who He has sent.” The simplicity and power of this response calls us to a life of love and service in His Name! 

 

Lord, only You can fulfill the spiritual hunger that, when quenched, leads us to full happiness and, ultimately, eternal life in and with You! May we not only always hunger for You, in this life, but be nourished and strengthened, daily, in/for our Journey to You! May our search find you and bring us fullness of Your Joy! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017

The days and weeks following the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus were certainly days of confusion, turmoil, fear and doubt for the disciples of Jesus. Though they had come to some understanding of Who Jesus was, the human condition brings these emotions. To overcome these elements of this finite life and look toward the realm of the Everlasting Life, we must rely on building this understanding of Who Jesus Is through seeking and seeing Him! 

 

Luke 24-13-35, in what is traditionally entitled the Walk to Emmaus, we see the “basic layout” of how Jesus brings us to Him and has given us Himself in both Word and Body—fullness of Himself! As the disciples are walking along toward Emmaus, they encounter Jesus, though they struggle to recognize Him as they are discussing the events of the past few days, in wonder and confusion. Jesus asks them what they are discussing, to which they respond, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know…..The things about Jesus of Nazareth…..?”

 

Jesus goes on to bring forth the Scriptures to them, sharing about Moses and the prophecies that brought all this to fruition. In spite of hearing this, they still did not recognize Jesus, yet they were intrigued enough to invite Him to join them for the evening. At table, when “the Stranger” broke bread and gave it to them, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him! At this point, they realized how their hearts had been burning when they were listening to His Word while on the road with Him. At this point, they went out proclaiming, that He is Risen, indeed! 

 

Lord, thank You for making Yourself known to us in the Word and in the Bread and Wine!  May our hearts and lives burn with this passion for You, as you come to us in the same way You came to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus:  In the Word and In the Breaking of the Bread!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B. 




OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2017

“When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.  The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, "It is I. Do not be afraid." They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.” 

 

Here, in John’s account of Jesus walking on the water to His disciples (6:16-21), the point is made, simply, in verse 20, “It is I, do not be afraid.” John goes on to tell us that they wanted to take Jesus into the boat, but instead they were “immediately” at the shore, at the place to which they were traveling.  John makes two relevant points in his short, but meaningful account. First, we are called to simply trust:  Jesus is with us, what do we have to fear? Secondly, He sees us through the storms and gets us safely to our destination. There is no promise of “smooth sailing”, after all, it was in the midst of the storm that Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” 

 

By truly welcoming Jesus “into our boat”, we will find things much easier to comprehend and handle, especially knowing that our arrival at our final destination is assured because of Him! Of course, in the storm, the disciples were frightened. This example helps us overcome the darkness of fear. We must remember that “spiritual darkness” exists when we doubt the Lord’s Presence. It is during these times when we must strive harder to see and Hear Him! 

 

Lord, help us to see You in our midst, no matter the stormy circumstances of our lives. Help us to hear your calming voice, calling us to recognize You and let go of our fears! Finally, may we welcome you “into our boats” so as to move forward in our journey!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 2017

We find John’s account of the “feeding of the 5,000” in John 6:1-15. This story tells us of God’s ability and willingness to always provide! Do we strive to always be aware of how God provides in our lives? Do we strive to see, on a daily basis, how He puts things in front of us, showing His goodness? Even in challenging times, we are called to see His Hand in our lives’ events! 

 

In looking at John’s account, John 6:7-9 stands out. There were multitudes of people who had followed Jesus out to the side of the hill, along the Sea of Galilee. They listened for hours and were getting hungry, but they were out in the countryside, with nothing nearby. Philip said, “Six months wages would not buy enough bread to feed them.” In response to Jesus’ query that they find food to feed the throng,  Andrew (Peter’s brother), told them that a young boy had five loaves and two fish (but, that’s not enough). 

 

The disciples were “just not sure” who Jesus was, as expressed by their concern that “there is not enough” though Jesus had indicated he wanted to feed the multitudes. Yet, here was this young boy presenting five loaves and two fish! This young boy could have saved this for himself and his family, but these were given to Jesus who prayed over them and fed over 5,000 people!  It is that simple. 

 

Do we look at what we have and keep back some for ourselves “just in case”? Or, do we put all that we have and are, out for Jesus to use “as He will” for the benefit of others? These are challenging questions of faith, intermingled with the desires, wants and needs of the human condition! 

Lord, help me to have a generous attitude in sharing the blessings of this life.  Help me to be aware of the blessings You have showered upon my life and every opportunity to share them in Your Name, bringing others into the light of Your Goodness, Mercy and Bounty!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2017

John 3:31-36 reads, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” 

 

John the Baptist reiterates here to us all that Jesus told Nicodemus, the religious leader who came to Jesus in the still and darkness of the night. John the Baptist tells his own followers this, after they had expressed concern, in John 3:26, “The One who was with you across the Jordan, to Whom you testified, here He is baptizing, and all are going to Him.” 

 

John, in an effort to tell them that he is only the “friend to the bridegroom, makes a brilliant statement, in verse 29-30, “….for this reason, my joy has been fulfilled, He must increase, but I must decrease.” In order for this to happen that we grow in and from our relationship with Jesus, we must truly understand that Jesus is God—He was sent from above to not only give us the “manual” for our journey, but to be the Light and the Pathway to Heaven! 

 

One thing we must remember is that John the Baptist was the herald—the voice in the wilderness—who called attention to Jesus!  We are called to be the same voice to those who are struggling and wandering in the wilderness, if we truly embrace our belief and knowledge of Who God Is! 

 

Lord, help me to experience/exhibit the same joy and confidence as John. May I confidently proclaim and live my faith in Your Eternal Life, awaiting all believers! May I bring others to You through my example of faith  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2017

Jesus tells Nicodemus, in John 3:16-21, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have Eternal Life. 

 

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” This is a clear and direct statement that each of us needs to “take to heart” as Christians. First, the simplicity of the fact that “all we have to do is believe” is, seemingly too good to be true is just that:  simple. The second part of this statement deals with condemnation. 

 

How often do we find ourselves relying on our perception of how “Christians should act” to make a judgment condemnation of another? When we make the commitment to believe in God and in the fact that He sent His Son into the world to show us how to live, true conversion inevitably becomes evident in our words and deeds with and towards those in our sphere of influence. We must consider both of these, the simplicity of believing and it’s result and the importance of modeling our own life on that of Jesus, in order to follow the path to eternal life.  We must, first, not confuse simplicity with “ease”. 

 

In our human condition and the distractions we face, the simple act of believing must be accompanied by a set of behaviors that reflect that belief. True belief, that Jesus is the Way, extends with/from the ability to hold oneself accountable to the Standard of the Cross and the Way of/to the Cross. Personal accountability is important, in belief, followed then by forgiveness and lack of condemnation of others in their shortfalls - forgive us, as we forgive. 

 

Lord, strengthen my resolve to believe and know that You are the Son of God, through my life’s works! Forgive me when I fall short fall short in faith-filled works and help me to forgive those around me, as You have taught!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2017

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

Mark 16:14-20

 

Jesus has a clear message to those who profess faith in God and in His Very Son, who lived and died among us and, most importantly, gave example of Eternal Life by His Resurrection and Ascension to the Right Hand of God! How can we just “sit on” this good news and not proclaim it to the whole world? 

 

This is the commission of the Apostles and, in turn, it is the commission to all who believe in the Good News of Salvation! Therefore, in today’s world, just as in the time of Christ, we must continually ask ourselves, “Is my life’s word and deed daily fulfilling this “commissioning”? Through my actions and words, do I go forth and cause people to see my enthusiasm for God’s Word and Ways?  What “signs” are present in my life as proof of my Christian Faith? 

 

Jesus said, during His 3-year ministry, “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, that, you do unto me.” These acts toward those around us are how we exemplify our faith! 

 

Lord, may  we accept Your call to action and live our lives as a sign of our faith in You!  May our words and actions reflect love and understanding of Your Commissioning of those who believe in You!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2017

The Disciples, in the days after Jesus’ Resurrection, encountered Jesus several times. These encounters helped them to build understanding and, in turn, faith in all that He’d taught them during His time and ministry. These encounters helped them to begin to overcome the natural fear and doubt that had filled them in the days they watched Him suffer and die. We must find ways in our lives to encounter Jesus so as to build and increase our understanding of and faith in God and His Ways and Will. We have to be open to His Presence and strength to help us overcome our moments of struggle in our daily lives. 

 

In John 3:1-8, we find one such event, during Jesus’ earthly life, in which Nicodemus sought out Jesus. One must first understand that Nicodemus was a Pharisee and, by exploring just “who Jesus is” and building his understanding (thus, establishing a basis for faith), he was risking ridicule and, ultimately, persecution. Yet, he still came in the dark of night, but he came! In the conversation John records here, Nicodemus was struggling to understand this concept of being “born again” - born from above, in, through, and by the Spirit of God. 

 

Nicodemus came in the darkness of night because of his fear and doubt. He lacked the gift of faith, perhaps too distracted by his position in life? What distractions do we have that cause us to come to Jesus with troubled mind or in the cover of darkness? Do these things cause us to be blind or have limited vision toward the truth of Jesus? Jesus makes it clear that just as we do not know from where the wind comes and goes, yet we can hear it and feel it, so it is with God’s Spirit—we must strive to hear it and feel it and, in turn, experience it. 

 

Lord, help us to seek you, not in the cover of darkness and doubt, but in light and joy!  Doing so will allow us to experience You and the guidance of Your Sprit!  Grant us understanding—faith.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2017

     The place where they were at prayer shook and they were filled with the Holy Spirit! They went forth and boldly proclaimed the Good News. When we are at prayer, when we celebrate Eucharist does the place shake? Do we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and go forth to proclaim the WORD? Are our lives our actions a witness to the Good News lived out in our lives? When opportunities are presented do we speak the wonderful news of salvation?

      Week after week many of us are united to the Lord in Holy Communion we are filled with his presence in the Eucharist, and in our communion with each other. Do we recognize and understand that in welcoming each other, we welcome Jesus, and in welcoming Jesus we welcome the Father who sent Him? As we celebrate EASTER during these seven weeks which will lead to Pentecost, how often will I seek the Lord by emptying myself of all the concerns that often consume my time, and sit in silence and simply be open to whatever the Lord wills. To gaze at the crucified and allow Him to reveal the wonder of God's mercy and love even as I realize the horror of my sinfulness.

       The Church leaders have provided for us a rich serving of the Word if we avail ourselves of these offerings. In our own Sacred Heart community we can avail ourselves by simply keeping our Bible within reach, and along side a weekly bulletin with the daily references to the Word of God. Each day to make the time to read His word to us as individuals and as a community of faith, and allow the word to goad us into action in our relationships, and in our faith activity.

        What is the Lord calling forth in you? Perhaps it is fulfilling with deeper love family relationships. Maybe it is job related issues that need attention. Sometimes we have become addicted to a behavior that is spiritually harmful and we need to repent and seek forgiveness. Maybe we need to forgive! 

        We have become in many instances an people who are dedicated to self-improvement, mentally as we seek to sharpen our skills, and physically as many try to stay fit and to work at getting fit. How about our spiritual fitness? When we reach our ultimate destination, what will we take with us?

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!  DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2107

John describes, in John 20:19-31, two instances in which Jesus appeared to His disciples. In the first, He comes to His disciples as they huddled in fear of the Jews. In spite of the fact that they were behind locked doors, Jesus came into the room and said, “Peace be with you”.  He then said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit….”, as He breathed upon them. The second time He appeared, about a week later, they were, again, behind closed doors, and Jesus came in again saying, “Peace be with you.”

 

Thomas, who had not been with them when Jesus came to them the first time, was skeptical and had said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hands in His side, I will not believe.” It is during this second encounter that Jesus says, “You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and, yet, have come to believe.”

 

How often are we like Thomas, doubting and “demanding”, if you will, that we get some type of “proof” of God’s Truth? When things are going smoothly, it is much more easily accomplished to hold “confident faith”. Think of the times in our lives that we say (or think), “God is good” or “God is an awesome God”! Yes, many have been blessed with the opportunity to say this often! But think of those times we are “huddled behind locked doors” out of fear, worry, sadness, or other distraction. It is during these times that we must strive to acknowledge the awesomeness of God and not question Him! It is during these times that we must bring our individual and collective faith and combine that strength in support of each other (ref Acts 2:42-47):  “…..all who believed were together and had all things in common….” 

 

Lord, help us to encounter You, daily, and bless us with Your Spirit and Grace. Give us the strength to be at peace with and bring Your love to others in our faithful words and deeds.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2017

Mark, in 16:9-14, records in quick fashion, how Mary Magdalene had found the tomb empty, and had encountered Jesus in the garden. When she ran and told the others, they struggled to believe it. So Jesus appeared on their “walk into the country”, presumed to be the walk to Emmaus, described in Luke 24. 

 

Finally, for a third time, He appeared to them in the upper room as they dined gathered in fear and darkness and, after chastising them for their stubbornness and doubting faith, gave them these instructions:  “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

 

These are Jesus’ last “earthly words”, in the form of human flesh, to us.  How do we respond to the Risen Christ?  In these first few days after we have commemorated the pinnacle of our Christianity, the Resurrection, how have we done in “maintaining the joy and wonder of that which we profess to believe (and know): He is Alive!? Have we continued to bask in the “glow” of the “Happy Easter” greetings we smiled and offered in the hours following our commemoration? Have we continued to ponder the effects of our Lenten walk, which prepared us for the three days of suffering and sorrow that led to the incredible Joy of finding that Jesus is alive—His dark, empty tomb opened and filled with His Light? 

 

Lord, help us to share, as called to do, the experience of the RISEN LORD and experience and share His Joy with all, every day!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2017

    Easter week! The alleluias still fill the air, and we rejoice that Jesus is Risen! At least that is the message of the Gospel. However, as life swirls around me I can't help but wonder at times if we really believe, that is believe in a way that matters how we live.

     Today's Gospel reading chosen for us at liturgy is the ending of Mark's Gospel. The picture drawn in words has Mary Magdalene telling the apostles the tomb is empty and she has seen the Risen Lord and they choose not to believe. Then we find ourselves observing two disciples walking (to Emmaus?) and they also report that they have seen the Risen Lord, to no avail. Finally, for His third appearance, Jesus appears to the Apostles gathered for the evening meal, gathered in fear of the authorities. He calls them out for not believing and finally commissions them to go out and tell the Good News.

     Great! Now, we so many centuries later have the new passed on to us. We know what they did after the Holy Spirit filled them. They went out to tell the World. HE IS RISEN!  Alleluia!  HE IS RISEN! That's it, Jesus who walked with us, ate with us, played with us, suffered with us, cried with us, laughed with us, the one we saw crucified and buried is ALIVE. 

     Remember what He did and said. All those signs: blind recover their sight, lame people healed, demons cast out. Remember Lazarus in the tomb for four days, remember His words on the mount, surely He is the Savior the Messiah. I believe, I say! And, I ask-does my life proclaim what I profess to believe? He Who welcomes you, welcomes me, whoever welcomes me welcomes He who sent me!  When I look at another do I experience the oneness of who we are in the love poured out into creation? 

     The signs of the time make it too clear that many still choose to be unconvinced that Jesus is Risen. Do we need to see His hands, His feet and His side to experience the Risen Lord? He still reveals His wounds each day sadly in our suffering, and in the human suffering we see around the world. Today, seek His face, even in the mirror you are looking into.

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2017

“Peace Be With You!”  These were Jesus’ Words when He stood among His Disciples in Luke 24:36-44. “They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts?’” 

 

Let us ponder these first few verses. Jesus came to bring peace to the world! As He came to His disciples after His Resurrection, it only makes sense that He would say, “Peace be with you!” He knew that they would be scared, especially after having witnessed His recent condemnation, suffering and death. Their human nature, He knew, would give in to concern over their own fate, in addition to the confusion and confliction of faith in God. 

 

How do we respond when we are faced with moments of fear, anger or frustration in our lives? What we are called to do, at these moments, is remember Jesus’ Words: “Peace be with you”! Knowing that, in their humanness, the disciples were still skeptical, Jesus then showed them the wounds in His hands and feet and asked them for something to eat. He invited them to touch Him and see that He is real flesh and bone. 

 

How open are we to the real Jesus in our daily lives and, especially, in moments of trial and tribulation? Do we open our minds and reach out to Him? Do we offer Him part of ourselves in order to be open to His Spirit? Just as the Apostles experienced fear, hiding in the room where Jesus appeared to them at this time, how often do we hide under even less stressful circumstances? How often do we feel hopeless? During these times, we are called on to experience renewed hope and peace in the Risen Lord—be open to His Presence! 

 

Lord, open our minds and hearts to see You, Feel You, and Share with You during times of trial in our daily lives! May we share in/with You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen as He said.

The sounds of Easter reverberate all around and reminds us that this moment in the course of life is awakening  us to something we perhaps don't really grasp.  Life swirls around us and we attach priorities to very often rather meaningless events and circumstances.  This season of Easter can we look deep within, walk with the Apostles through the accounts in the Acts, read the entire New Testament and with each day discover God's transforming grace being poured into our minds and hearts?

As we walk with those close to us, as we encounter life each day with mind and heart focused on God present in all of creation, renewing, creating moment by moment, calling us to fullness of life as co-creators, yearning to share life with us we can rejoice.  If by some chance you come upon these thoughts, perhaps it could be to take a moment to be in God's presence, silently setting aside all ego thoughts and desires and praying be being totally focused and present to the Father, son and Holy Spirit.

During the next Seven Weeks through to Pentecost we have an opportunity to open our lives to New Life in Our Lord Jesus Christ!  He came that we may be restored to life in God. It is pure gift that only requires our openness to receiving it.  Imagine if you will a transformed life! 

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Generosity, ..Eternal life. 

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2017

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:1-3

 

These words, “I have called you by name, you are mine”, come to mind as we read John’s description, in John 20:11-18, of Mary Magdalene’s first encounter with the Risen Jesus, at the tomb. First, she hears Jesus’ voice, though does not recognize it in her grief, thinking Him to be a gardener. He asks her to share her grief and for whom she is looking. Then Jesus says her name, “Mary”. 

 

In this very moment she recognizes Him as Lord and “Teacher”. Jesus then goes on to tell her that she must go and tell the others that she has encountered Jesus and He is, as promised, arisen and ascending to His Father—God. He specifically says, “My father, YOUR Father, My God, YOUR God.” And Mary listened, going forth and telling the others what she had seen and heard!  At the sound of the Lord calling her name, Mary was transformed from a “mood” of mourning, sorrow, fear, and doubt into one of great hope, faith, joy, and exuberance! The moment she heard the Lord call her name, the truth of Christ’s purpose—the realization that His suffering brought the new (resurrected and eternal) life that is promised—came to fruition! 

 

Lord, in the midst of our life’s distractions, let us hear You call our name, understanding, then, that you will be with us through all our days, inviting us to be with You and our Father,  Our God, for all days to come.   May we have Mary’s courage, and accept Your call! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  EASTER MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2017

Matthew 28:8-15 describes two very different reactions to the empty tomb. The first is the reaction of those who believe and know that Christ has Risen. They were filled with awe and wonder—great joy—and experienced Jesus, who told them, “Do not be afraid!” The second is the deceptive reaction of those whose hearts and minds are closed to God. The soldiers who were charged to be on guard, at the tomb, ran to the leaders, telling them what they had seen. 

 

The leaders, in turn, continued weaving a web of spiritual deceit, offering them money to say that Jesus’ very disciples had stolen his body, in order to continue the false pretense that He is the Messiah. As we faith-filled believers in Christ celebrate the commemoration of the Resurrection, we must strive to be like the women who found the open and emptied tomb! We must be open to encountering Jesus in our joy! We must be willing, then, to worship at His feet. It is through this openness that we are able to see Him and, more importantly, live in hopeful joy and anticipation of the promised eternal life that is offered through this blessed event. 

 

The human condition, with its ability to freely choose, makes the challenge “do not be afraid”, a difficult one. In our distraction, it is easy to allow doubt and skepticism to erode the strength of faith, especially in moments of trial and tribulation! It is a loving God that calls us to “take comfort” in so great a sacrifice as Jesus suffering, and that is exactly what we are called to do. We must allow the loving example of His life and ministry and the Joy of His triumph over death and sin to supersede the sacrifice of suffering. In doing so, we begin to understand how miniscule our own trials are, in comparison. 

 

Lord, let us truly seek and find You, in Your Risen Glory, worshipping and proclaiming You as Risen Lord!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 2017




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017


How open are we in heart and mind to the Joy of Salvation that was won for us by Christ’s Sacrifice of self and ultimate victory on the Cross? As we ponder the Crucifixion of our Lord, in anticipation of His triumphant Resurrection and defeat of the darkness of sin, we must consider how we are called to thank Him! 

 

In Matthew 2:1-10, we find Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visiting the tomb in which Jesus had been laid. What they found was an Angel of God descending amidst light and shaking of the earth to roll away the stone. The angel announced, “There is no need for you to be afraid…. He is not here….Go and tell His disciples that He has been raised from the dead.” Matthew also tells us that the Roman guards were frozen with fear. 

 

The women at the tomb, though fearful, also believed and knew who Jesus was, therefore, their joy was full and greater than any other emotion! In their Joy and Faith, Jesus then appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, there they will see me.” We are called to be filled with the Joy of the Resurrection. We are called to strive to share the same love that led our Lord to become man, show us how to live with and love each other, and, ultimately, sacrifice Himself in order to expiate our sinful ways. 

 

As we consider what the women encountered at the tomb, in Matthew’s account, we must strive to be like them, allowing our joy to overcome all other emotions and doubt. The guards, because they did not believe or understand, were frozen in a “deathlike state”. Jesus defeated sin and death through His completely selfless act of Love for our Salvation! 

 

Lord, give us strength and hope through the joy of Your Resurrection.  Open our hearts/minds Your Spirit, filling us with the courage and desire to make You known to all others!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017


Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent! In John 19:4 He says, “Look, I am bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no case against Him.” Yet, when the people in the crowd continually pressured him to “Crucify Him”, Pilate finally gave in and said, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him. I find no case against Him.” 

 

On this day, as we commemorate the Crucifixion of Our Lord and Savior, we are at a distinct advantage over the people of Jesus’ day—we have the “historical facts” on our side. We KNOW what happened on that third day after this fateful, dark, Friday! We KNOW that Jesus arose on the third day and that this was the fulfillment of His Promise of Salvation! That being said, we read about the darkness that set over His believers. 

 

It was a darkness of fear and doubt as they watched their Friend, their Lord, and their Savior go through mocking and shaming, suffering and pain, and ultimately death on a cross. In the heat of the moment, they were no different than Pontius Pilate. They knew who He was (and even more so), yet many allowed their human fear and doubt to cause them to “lay low” and let things happen. 

 

John describes three faithful women and His Disciple, John, at the foot of the Cross.  Where were the others? As we ponder this incredible sacrifice that God made on a Cross, for our salvation, let us ponder how we, in our daily lives, accept the truth in the face of doubt and controversy in today’s world? Do protect Jesus in the face of the distracting “crowd”?  Jesus, just the night before His suffering, called us to “Aspire to Servanthood”, as He showed us in His life, ministry, and even in death on a cross. 

 

Lord, You showed us The Way!  Give us the strength, courage and grace to stand for, with, and beside You always, never abandoning You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2017


On the eve of Jesus’ Passion—knowing that He was about to endure horrendous mocking, suffering, and death—John describes, in 13:1-15, the most humble, intimate moment, when Jesus washes the hot, dusty, dirty feet of His Twelve Apostles, including Judas, the one whom He knew would betray His Love and Trust! 

 

John 13:12-15 sums up the message that Jesus gives us in this selfless act:  “After He had washed their feed, had put on His robe, and had returned to the table, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and your are right, for that is what I am.  So, if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are to wash one another’s feet.” 

 

Jesus teaches us the way to serve with total humility with and in Him by this act.  There are two great obstacles for us, as human beings: 1) the first is our inability to see others through the eyes of forgiveness (we are able to see them as sinners, especially if they have wronged us or one of our loved ones); 2) the second, extends from the first and it is our unwillingness (or inability) to see ourselves as sinners, through the same lens by which we view the very people we are challenged to forgive. Jesus, throughout His ministry, challenges us to take on both of these distractions. 

 

And, by His act of total humility, kneeling and washing the dirty feet of twelve men who had walked miles on the dusty roads, we must not let His challenge go unnoticed and, more importantly, unheeded! Let us ponder, today, how we can “wash one another’s feet”. How do we humble ourselves each day? Do we consider others in careful, Christ-like word and deed? 

 

Lord, help us to be witnesses to Your call by our word and deeds, today. May our humility be rooted in a true desire to be live Your example, solely in/for the Eternal Glory of Resurrection, promised by Your Sacrifice!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2017


“On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.  When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, ‘You have said so.’”

Matthew 26:17-25 

 

As Jesus dines with His twelve Apostles, as the time of His Passion nears, Matthew gives his account of Jesus’ announcement of betrayal. Each disciple, one-by-one, says, “Surely not I, Lord”, including the one, Judas. Jesus had just spent three ministerial years teaching and providing example for these men, so one can only imagine the betrayal of trust that must have overwhelmed Jesus and the eleven others. 

 

We have all had experiences in which we’ve been “let down” by someone whom we loved. As we consider these moments, we are called to consider God’s desire that we accept/honor Him for Who He is: the Creator of All! What a stark, awesome reality! 

 

Lord, give us the strength to accept You for who You are! In grasping Your awesome presence, we can then be open to Your Spirit of Grace to live in faithful love for You and share that love with one another, committed to Your Ways! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017


In John 12:1-11, we find Mary and Martha focusing their entire attention upon Jesus: Martha, serving Jesus at table and Mary, anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume. Their brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, dined with them. Jesus’ disciples were with Him, as well. Judas questioned Mary’s use of the costly perfumed oil to wash Jesus’ feet, saying, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii? And, the money given to the poor?”

 

In saying this, Judas missed the entire point of Martha and Mary’s service to Jesus. Of course, they were grateful to The Master for having called upon the Father to raise their brother from the dead. And, through this, they understood that Jesus Authority came from God—establishing His Divinity and their complete faith in Him!  Mary felt it appropriate to give all that she had to The Lord. Jesus, knowing that Judas’ motives were not pure, as He knew that Judas would betray Him and that he did not care about the poor, whose behalf he invoked only in the hopes of getting his hands on more money, told him to leave Mary alone. He took the time to remind Judas that the poor will always be here and need our compassion, but that the Son of Man would soon leave His earthly existence. 

 

As we ponder the gratitude of Martha and Mary, let us ponder our own gratitude in our daily lives. Do we return “our best” and “the best” to Jesus? Do we remember that there are those in this world every day and all around us that need our compassion? How do we show our gratitude to Jesus for our very lives? Do we serve Him in our service to others? 

 

Lord, give us the Grace and Humility to serve You!  May we one day kneel at the foot of Your throne, anointing Your Feet, as did Mary, in the fullness of Joy and Thanksgiving! Grant us the wisdom and courage to see You in all of life’s situations! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2017


Too often, leadership is about control rather than concern and compassion. While it may include command of a situation, it cannot be in the end about control. 

 

In John 11:45-56, we see the continued plot to kill Jesus unfold and we truly understand that the religious leaders were reacting to their perceived fear of “losing control”. They perceived that their respect was based on their knowledge of recalling the historical facts of the History of God’s creation, while paying little attention to the application, which was Jesus’ point throughout His ministry and miraculous works. They asked themselves, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave Him alone, all will believe in Him.” 

 

How often have we seen the “tee-shirt” or poster that says, “Let Go, Let God!” We are called to simply trust in God and let His wondrous Work and Compassion flow in and from our lives. Jesus never preached passivity—just sitting back and waiting for God’s work. Faith, by His example, is an action verb.  So, “letting go” does not mean doing nothing, but it does mean seeking and listening to His Will. This is the first action to which we must commit! From our seeking and listening, comes the ability to be attuned to opportunities to say and DO His will! 

 

This, therefore, is what the leaders were afraid of because they wanted the people to continue their passive following of their word, not the free, independent, joyful liberation of following God’s Will and Word. The truth is, they feared that which they did not truly understand, which is proof we often “know” something, yet not truly understand internalize it!

 

Lord, free us from the fears and distractions of this world so that we lift You in praise and thanksgiving.  Liberate us, heart and mind, freeing us to see, hear, and take every opportunity to do Your Will!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  PALM SUNDAY, APRIL 9 2017


“So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’” 

Matthew 27:24 

 

In reading Matthew 26:14-75—27:1-66, this verse is this is one that stayed in my mind, even as I read this account of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus’ suffering as He is arrested, mercilessly whipped, mocked and forced to carry the very Cross upon which He would be nailed to suffer an agonizing death. This verse remained as I read of how His very disciples abandoned Him, leaving only His Mother, the three women, and John, the beloved disciple, at the foot of that Cross. 

 

Pilate had the chance to “do the right thing”! Yet, in the face of “popular opinion” he caved. He took the easy route, basically saying, “If this is what you want, I can’t stop you, but I take no blame.” Yes, I am moved to tears any time I ponder the suffering that Jesus endured in order to show us the path of salvation. But it is Pilate’s unwillingness to do “what is right” that causes me to consider that which we must strive to avoid, even especially in today’s world, 2,000 years later! 

 

It is in reading these words, today, that I ask myself, in what ways do I simply “turn Jesus over” through my daily actions or lack, thereof? In what ways to I differ or share similarity to Pontius Pilate in my ability and willingness to stand up for Jesus in this secular world or “wash my hands of Him” out of fear of what others may think? Do I stand, boldly, at the foot of the Cross, or do I hide in its shadows? 

 

Lord, I humbly stand, pondering Your Divinity, Life as Man, Your Suffering, Death, and Resurrection and ask for Your Grace to have the courage to stand bravely for and with You in this World that is so distracted from You! May I have the courage to stand not only at the Foot of Your Cross, but at the open mouth of Your Empty Tomb, joyfully! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 2017


As Jesus continues His dialogue with the religious leaders, in John 8:31-36, He tells them, “If you continued in My Word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the Truth.  And, the Truth will set you free.”  The religious leaders, not understanding, ask, “What do you mean by saying, ‘you will be made free?’” 

 

Jesus, points to their sinful ways and tells them that it is their worldly desire that makes them a slave to that sinful way. Nothing has changed! Our human condition continues to pull us away from God, toward our own desires over His Will! He makes it clear, saying, “So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”. These are powerful words and a challenge for all of us to internalize in our daily life—word and deed, even with the belief and knowledge that we have, today, of Jesus’ Divinity, Sacrifice, and Resurrection to Eternal Life! 

 

Let us consider these words and ask ourselves, “Does the Word of God dwell within us and exude from us? In what ways to we give evidence in our lives that we truly believe and know that which we profess? In what ways do we contradict that which we profess? The bottom line, for all Christians is that Jesus came and offered us The Way:  Himself and His Example in word and deed. The choice, though, is ours. We can choose to walk in the way of Jesus! Too often, we find ourselves “stumbling” in that walk—or taking the proverbial “one step forward, two steps backward”. Jesus, ultimately and willingly died on the cross to clear the Path to the Father! What do we do to offer ourselves up and keep clear the path? 

 

Lord, free us from the bonds of earthly desire by opening our ears to Your Word and our lives to Your Ways! Fill our hearts and minds with Your Voice so that we block earthly distractions and walk forward toward You—clearing the Heavenly Path! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2017

In John 8:1-11, we find the religious leaders continuing in their plot to find a way to condemn Jesus.  Here, they bring forth a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  As Jesus is teaching, again, in the temple, the leaders bring the woman in, standing her in front of everyone, confronting Jesus by saying, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.” 

 

This of course was not about enforcing the law, but finding a way to force Jesus to contradict Himself in His teachings, as well as speak against the law so that they could charge Him and arrest Him. Jesus, knowing this, contemplated their questions and then said, “Let anyone among you, who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 

Imagine a situation in which you felt confident (just as the leaders did, thinking that they would trap Jesus, this time) and then things unraveled. The religious leaders must have been stunned at Jesus’ simple, yet compassionate, response. As they considered His response, they realized that there is none, among them, without sin and slowly walked away. This too often, is where we in our human condition leave the story “hanging”, because it is easy to say, “Don’t judge me” and ask people to leave us alone. But the most challenging part of this passage is yet to come.  Jesus asks the woman, if there is anyone still standing to condemn her, to which she replies, “No one, Sir.” He then says, “Neither do I.” 

 

Again, we could end the story here, but let us consider the last words of verse 11:  “Go your way and from now on do not sin again”. This is the piece that we are called to internalize in the entire interaction! 

 

Lord, help us, not only to lift each other up in Your Goodness and show compassion and forgiveness, but to also look within and strive to “sin no more” in each new day, though You continue to love us in our imperfect ways. Create a clean heart and mind in us!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2017

John writes, in Chapter 11:1-45, an incredible and detailed account of friendship, love, and compassion as he tells of the death of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, whom we see in Luke 10, welcoming Jesus to their home and serving Him. 

 

In John’s account of Lazarus’ death, we see many elements of the deep love and friendship that are part of the human condition. And with that, we see perhaps, the greatest account of Jesus’ humanity and His Divinity. In reading this, what struck me the most, after reading about the anguish of the mourners and the anguish of Jesus, at the Death of brother and friend, was Jesus’ instruction at the end: “Unbind him and let him go.” 

 

Let us first, consider that we read about the anguish of Lazarus’ sisters and friends. We experience their frustration, when Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother wound not have died.”  In her frustration though, she maintains faith, going on to say, “But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask of Him.”

 

We experience their doubt when Jesus commands that the stone on the tomb be removed, though Lazarus’ dead body had been in it for four days, when Martha, again, says, “Lord, already there will be a stench because he has been dead four days.”  Jesus insists that she believe and do as He has commanded, then sincerely asks His Father to raise Lazarus and commands him to come out of the opened tomb. When he comes out, wrapped in burial cloth, Jesus says, “Unbind Him”. This final command, is a message to all of us, to love each other in the same love that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus shared with and for Jesus. 

 

Lord, help us to live in such a way as to “unbind” each other so as to live in Your love and the Glory of Eternal Life and Resurrection. Jesus Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2017


In John 7, we find Jesus facing many challenges as He navigates the very path of disbelief that He came to earth to destroy and “re-route”. Jesus was very aware that the Jewish leaders were looking for an opportunity to do Him harm. Knowing His time of sacrifice and resurrection would come, He continued His ministry in the region of Galilee, avoiding Judea until the appointed time (John 7:1-2). 

 

We must also realize that Jesus was raised by Joseph and Mary in the devout customs of the Jewish faith so there were occasions, Jewish festivals and celebrations, which required Jesus to go among the Jewish people. In 7:25-30, John describes the doubt of people and the efforts of the leaders in Jerusalem when He went for the festival. People, though amazed and intrigued by His Words, still doubted His Authority—that He is the Son of God. Jesus clearly states, in John 7:28-29, “You know Me, and you know where I am from! I have not come on My Own. But, the One who sent Me is true, and you do not know Him. I know Him became I am from Him, and He sent Me.” 

 

These words clearly tell us that which we claim to believe: Jesus is God! And, God sent His Son among us! Yet, there were many who doubt. In this case, the leaders tried to arrest Jesus for His “blasphemy”. Let us consider how many times we “arrest” Jesus in our daily lives? Remember that “arrest” means to “stop” or “hinder”. In our stubbornness we stop Jesus from truly and fully affecting our lives.  e fail to listen to His beckoning to us. Wisdom 2:12-22 is a “good read” to understand how we simply “lay in wait”, in the same way that the religious leaders did for Jesus, finding a way to stop Him in our lives! 

 

Lord, give us the strength to welcome You, stand for You, and welcome You into our hearts as we prepare to celebrate, understand and know You through Your great suffering, death and ultimately, Your Resurrection! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017


Psalm 14 is entitled, “The Denunciation of Godlessness” and begins, “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there are none who do good.” 

 

This Psalm comes to mind as one reads John 7:40-53, which describes the confusion of the people as to Who Jesus is. John describes the division of the people who argue as to whether He is a prophet or the Messiah. He goes on to describe the complete “unbelief” of the religious leaders who continue to find ways to discredit and, worse yet, to arrest Jesus. The arguments become so petty as to plant doubt as to where Jesus was from, saying, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”

 

Such triviality brings to mind what we are seeing, still, in today’s world 2,000 years later. The apathy of people regarding the seeking of truth! We have so many ways to share information in today’s world, yet we are so ready to believe that which we see or hear—whether it is “water cooler talk” at the work place or a one-liner on the internet.  “Fact Check” and “Fake News” are the big words being tossed around, any time we turn on the TV or radio. One needs only read John’s description of the divided listeners and the doubting leaders of Jesus’ day to see that our society, today, still has division and doubt. 

 

How do we, as believers (knowers) of Christ’s Divinity respond daily? Is Jesus truly our Savior, the Son of God, as evidenced by our daily word and deed? Or do we stand, divided and distracted by worldly matters? 

 

Lord, help us to stand firm in our belief and knowledge of Your Divinity!  May we unite with those seeking You and may we bring light and hope to those who doubt You, all by our adherence to Your example.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2017


He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 

Isaiah 53:3-4 

 

When we read Isaiah’s prophecies of the suffering that the Messiah would endure, for our sake and salvation, yet at our very hands, we tend to first think about Christ’s immediate suffering that began on a fateful Thursday night and ended on Friday afternoon. His Agony in the Garden; the brutal Scourging at the Pillar, the mocking of the Crowning with Thorns; the Carrying of the very Cross to which He would be nailed. And finally, the painful Crucifixion.  It is easy to dwell on these acts, committed against our Lord and Savior, for the very reason that these were committed over 2,000 years ago by others.  And it is even easier to dwell on the ultimate truth of His Resurrection on the third day after His suffering, knowing that He endured this for our salvation! What a sacrifice! What a promise! 

 

Now though, let us remember that we are called to understand that Christ’s entire purpose in becoming one of us was to provide us an opportunity to accept or reject Him. Jesus’ discourse, in John 5:31-47 ends with these very points about how the religious leaders and us, today seem challenged to understand and accept Jesus’ authority from God. How easy we are to accept and believe in each other, but cannot see the very Presence of God before our very eyes. Jesus challenges us to not just read the Word of God from the Book or from rote, but KNOW and LIVE that Word, by His example! 

 

Lord, let us not reject You in our daily lives! May we understand that Your ENTIRE earthly journey was designed for our salvation, thus may we accept EACH lesson fully as we seek You daily!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2017


The Gospels record 7 Sabbath Miracles performed by Jesus: the Driving out of the evil spirit (Mark 1:21-28); the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31); the healing of the man’s deformed hand (Mark 3:1-6); restoration of sight of the man born blind (John 9:1-16); healing of the woman (Luke 13:10-17); Healing of the man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6); and the healing of the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18).

 

From these accounts, two questions or issues seem to appear: 1) Jesus’ authority by which to perform such wonders; and, 2) His lack of respect for the Sabbath. Both create a basis for which the leaders of the day to criticize Jesus. In the last account referenced, Jesus has compassion for a man who has sat by the healing waters at the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made well?” The man responds, as many of us do,  “I have no one to put me in the pool”.  Jesus tells him, “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.”  The man listened and was immediately made well, took his mat, and walked. 

 

In each account we must focus on the fact that there were two elements: God’s compassion and listening and responding to the command of Jesus. Both of these elements are necessary for the fulfillment of faith! Faith is not passive—it is an action verb. It requires that we NOT question God’s Authority (He created all!) It requires that we demonstrate faith in action at all times. 

 

Observing commands for our own gratification, rather than that of God and all that whom He created is not an option:  the “day of rest” is not a “day of ignorance or oblivion” to the world around us! 

 

Lord, let my heart, mind, and body be purified by Your Living Word, so that I may “get up, walk, and glorify You!” May Your Presence shine through me every day!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 2017


At the Jewish Festival, in John 5:24-30, Jesus speaks to the Jews, and us, of eternal life. The formula is simple, as He states, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears My Word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life.” He goes on to tell them how we are to exhibit how well we have listened and how truly we believe through our deeds and actions. Our statement of belief is what we do. And, our judgment—our eternal reward—will be based upon our very “faith in action”.  He states this clearly, “….all those who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” 

 

So, bearing this in mind, let us ponder how we live our belief, each day!  Jesus continues this discourse with a glimpse into the “secret” of how we can accomplish this “simple, but not easy” formula:  “I can do nothing on My Own.  As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not to do My Own Will, but the Will of Him Who sent Me.” This, for me, brings to mind Philippians 4:13, where we are told, “I can do all things in Christ, Who strengthens me.” 

 

How do we live this statement of belief each day? Do we approach a “big day” with apprehension? Do we worry that some big meeting is going to go well? Do we sleep or not sleep restlessly the night before or many nights before? Do we stress over such things as squabbles and spats? Or, do we do as Jesus asks and simply turn things over to the goodness, compassion, and grace of God? While faith requires action, it requires an “equal dose of trust”, as we listen to God’s Voice and strive to do what’s right in His Eyes. 

 

Lord, help me to accept the wisdom of Your Words—in complete humility—strengthened by Your Grace to seek and desire only that which is pleasing to You today and always!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017


John 9:1-17 is a powerful reading! It begins with Jesus’ disciples and Him walking along and coming across a blind men, known to have been in this condition since birth. The disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 

 

This question reveals a fault of the human condition over or into which we find ourselves falling: assigning fault or blame. Jesus’ answer is brilliant and thought provoking, as He says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s work’s might be revealed in Him.” He goes on to point out that we are called to be instruments of God’s Work at all times and that He is the Light by which this can be accomplished; otherwise, there is darkness and such work cannot be accomplished.

 

Let us consider how we react to adversity, in light of (pun intended) Jesus statement? Do we take each day, even in the seemingly darkest moments and strive to find God in them? Or, as we read on in this passage, do we challenge God? In this case, Jesus goes on to make a salve out of mud and spit and spreading it on the man’s eyes, then asking him to go and wash them clean in the Pool of Siloam (which means “sent one”).  The man did so and was able to see! 

 

While many people were amazed that this man, who had been blind his entire life could see, there were skeptics, including the religious leaders, who questions Jesus’ source of authority and questioned His disregard for ritual, because He had worked this miracle on the Sabbath. The human condition is filled with “buts”!  Are we open to God’s Spirit to work in our lives? Or, do we allow our hang-ups, our “buts”, to get in the way? 

 

Lord, help us to observe Your Law, “but”, may Your love and mercy be first and foremost in our minds, hearts, and deeds.  Guide us, Holy Spirit, to bring Your compassion to others!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2017


Jesus tells a powerful parable, in Luke 21: 33-43, through which we are called to ask ourselves about our own responsible behavior as stewards of God’s Gifts—our life, this world, and all that is in it. 

 

In this parable, He tells of a landowner who builds a vineyard and leases it out as he travels to other lands. When it comes time for the harvest, the servants he sends to collect that which is due are beaten and even killed. This happens each time he sends someone to speak on his behalf. Assuming they would respect his son, he sends him, next.  The tenants, in their arrogance, decide that if the kill the son, there will be no one, but them, to inherit the owner’s vineyard. 

 

Jesus, in telling this parable, asks His listeners, “Now, when the owner, comes, what will he do to those tenants?”. Let us think about this: we have been given the gift and freedom of tending to this world—God’s creation. How often do we challenge God by abusing this freedom, whether in thought, word, or deed? 

 

2,000 years ago, God became man—He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world. We, in our stubbornness behaved in the same manner as the tenants in Jesus’ parable. Jesus knew that the “tenants” would be stubborn and He knew that He would ultimately face suffering and death. Yet He willingly carried out His Father’s desire, coming to harvest the Good Fruits that have been produced in God’s Kingdom. 

 

Yes, Jesus found some willing to follow Him—even in struggles of doubt and lack of understanding. His Apostles were not perfect men, but they strove to be with and like Jesus, as best they could in their human conditions. This Lenten season, as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ Sacrifice and Resurrection, let us strive to NOT crucify Him, but Glorify Him in our daily efforts to return to God, that which is His from our earthly harvest of His Goodness. 

Lord, give me strength to overcome earthly desire to do my will and to do Yours.  Let me return to You’ve given!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017


We are called to share God’s Blessings that we have in this life, through our thoughts, words, and deeds! In Luke 16:19-26 Jesus shares, with the Pharisees, the story of a rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. In this parable, the rich man is described a living lavishly, wearing royal colors made of the finest cloth and feasting on the finest foods. At the gate of his grand home was Lazarus, a poor beggar who simply yearned to eat the scraps from the rich man’s table. 

 

It is implied that the rich man simply “did not see” Lazarus at the gate, daily, as he was too busy tending to his own earthly desires. Upon death, each man was carried into eternity, Lazarus carried by angels, to the embrace of Abraham and the rich man to the torment of hell. As he looked up to the heavens, from his torment, the rich man begged that Lazarus be sent to bring him water to east the agony of the flames. The rich man is reminded that he had had his “fill” of good things in his earthly life, just as Lazarus had borne his cross. He was reminded how he had ignored Lazarus’ needs, each day as he passed him at the gates of his home. 

 

This is a clear and living example of what Matthew writes in Mt 25:45, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  Just what are the blessings we have? Treasure! Time! Talent! Besides wealth, we have kindness, compassion, and care. A visit to a sick friend or an infirmed, elderly community member is sharing God’s Blessings.  Sharing thoughts and prayers with a friend in crisis is a sharing of God’s Blessings: a phone call to say “Hey, You are on my mind. Preparing a meal for a busy or sick friend. Writing a song to warm a heart or make someone laugh. The possibilities are endless! 

 

Lord, help me to examine my life’s time, treasure, and talent so that I can find and share all that you’ve given me with any who are in need, with an open heart!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017


“When He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him, since they had seen all that He had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival. Then He came again to Cana in Galilee where He had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household.” John 4:5-53 

 

Jesus says to the official, who was seeking His favor and compassion, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” How often do we leave Jesus with that same feeling? Do we tentatively approach Him or do we confidently do so? Jesus healed the man’s son because the man was bold enough to approach Jesus and ask Him!

 

Jesus was not chastising or criticizing, perhaps He was just making a general statement of the human condition. After all, He had just returned to Cana where He had performed His first public miracle and many had seen His wonders since! This story calls us to confidently ask Jesus for that which we need and it calls us to see and accept His answers. Are we aware of Jesus’ blessings? Do we “mark them” when they occur and, in turn, celebrate them with others. 

 

Lord, help us to see you with deep faith and celebrate the miracles we experience daily!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017


To the Jewish people, Samaritans were not only strangers or foreigners, but they were enemies.  The Jews considered them unclean and unworthy.  So in John 4:5:42, when Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, He risks ridicule and scandal to even speak to her, let alone ask her to draw water and give Him a drink. Jesus was moved with compassion for her, because He knew the pain in her heart, so He offers her the “Living Water”. 

 

In the interchange, we see this woman grow from no understanding to desire for God’s Goodness. First, she hears of God’s Goodness as Jesus tells her of the Living Water that will allow her to “never be thirsty again”. Who among us is not interested in such things? God promises eternal life, eternal happiness, and here, eternal satisfaction. 

 

We know from experiences in our Christian walk, these are the rewards of faith. As Jesus and the woman continue conversing she comes to a deeper understanding of Jesus’ Wisdom, “suspecting” that He is a prophet, struggling to understand when He says, “I am He, the Messiah, the one Who is speaking to you.”

 

When we encounter Jesus, do we truly comprehend and respond with understanding that He IS God? The woman ultimately returns to the village and tells others of this Jesus and everything He shared with her. She brought them out to the well to see Him!  Verses 39-42 are the fruits of the sharing of this account.  We are called to bring others and ourselves “to the Well of Living Water” through our words and deeds! When we encounter Jesus, let us listen to His Word and examine ourselves through the lens of His Word. 

 

Lord, may the words and works of our lives be exposed in the Light of Your Word and through this examination of our lives may we strengthen our faith and allow Your Light to shine in/through us!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2017


Matthew 18:21-35 is a lesson in forgiveness. Jesus shares a parable of the unforgiving servant in response to Matthew’s question, “How many times should I forgive? As many as seven times?” After responding, “Not seven, but seventy-seven times”, He goes on to share the parable of the wicked slave who was forgiven his debt, by the mercy of the master, yet went out and showed no mercy, demanding payment from another who owed him.  The master, upon hearing of the slave’s hard heart (even after showing him mercy), summoned the slave and turned him over to be tortured until his debt was paid. 

 

Jesus, in giving this parable, said, “So, My Heavenly father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” How do we respond to acts of kindness in our lives? Are we grateful? Do we take them for granted? Do we respond in-kind? As we study this story, we all have debts to repay in life? From our earthly debts, tied to our possessions, to our spiritual blessings. One thing all of our debts have in common is that we owe all that we have and are to God’s benevolence. 

 

We are indebted to Him for our very lives. And He forgives our imperfections and our occasional lapse in desire or ability to truly repay Him through adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication! He gives us all that we need but at times we resent the “gap” between our needs and our desires. It is this gap that causes us to falter in the same way that the servant in the parable faltered. God offers peace to us the same peace each and every day to which we awaken! This peace is available if we simply accept His forgiveness and, in turn, offer the same mercy to others! 

 

Lord, give me the strength to show mercy, thus giving hope, to others, by sharing all that You have given/shown me in my life!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 2017


“Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

 

As we ponder this, there is a clear understanding that there are things in life that we do because “we have to” do them, and there are other things that we do because they are a labor of love. In loving God and doing His Will, we are called to look at it as a labor of love and God gave us the free will to do so. Many of us have been blessed to do a job, in this life, that pays the bills and is a true vocation - a labor of love. We do it out of a desire to please God by having a positive impact on this world: we do it to serve Him by trying to exemplify that which is Good—Love! 

 

In Mark, 12:28-34, we find a scribe asking Jesus, which is the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response is simply summarized in two elements: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The love that we are to have for God is not the trite, fleeing “I love you’s” that we see thrown around society today. Jesus clearly says we should love with all our being: Heart, Mind, and Soul! 

 

If we strive to meet this call of loving God with our entire being, we find that the challenge of keeping Love of God and love of neighbor together, in our lives, to be somewhat easier. If we forego the love of God, then “love of self” creeps into the gaps in our heart, mind, and soul, thus impacting, too, our ability to love our neighbor more fully! True Love of God, interestingly enough, fills us and empties from us (pours forth) at the same time!

 

Lord, melt my entire being, mold me into an example of Your Love, Fill me with Your Goodness, and use me in my word and deed to bring others into Your Eternal Presence. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19) 

 

Jesus makes it clear that He came to fulfill the promise of God for those who adhere to His Will and Desire—His Law for His People. Clearly, He is addressing the seeming element of our human condition that seems to cause us to separate the idea that love and obedience are separate, in and of themselves. This is not the case! 

 

Adherence to His Law is not intended to be a burden, nor is it intended to be option. Rather, obedience to the law comes from love and exudes love when extended from a good heart! That is Jesus point when He says “...whoever does them and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” We know, from life’s experience, that the best teachers do so by example and a joyful example.  This goes hand-in-hand with the warning that we are to follow His precepts willingly, not begrudgingly (Matthew 6:16). Let us challenge ourselves to go beyond our human desire and allow the Wisdom and Goodness of God be our true guide in all of life’s endeavors! 

 

Lord, open my mind and heart to Your guidance and allow Your live to shine in and through me.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2017


Luke, in 11:14-23, gives an account of Jesus driving out a demon from a man. While some in the crowd were amazed by His wondrous power and love for the man, which enabled Him to openly show His compassion, there were some in the crowd who were skeptical, to the point of attributing His ability to drive out evil to the power of evil, not the power of God. Still others asked Him for additional “proof” that His power came from heaven. 

 

2,000 years later, even in the awe and wonder of our world, many are still doubtful and “un-convincible” when it comes to the power of God! Just like the people in Luke’s account, how often do we remain stubborn and overlook the blessings in our lives, attributing them, perhaps to luck or some other source, rather than to the Goodness of God? Jesus goes on to explain to them (and us) that we must see the power of God around us. He does so, first by refuting their contention that He is using satan’s power to cast out demons.  He basically says it makes no sense for satan to cast out satan.  He challenges them to be strong in their faith. 

 

Verses 22-23 make it clear that those doubting need to “get on board” in order to take full advantage of the strength that God offers us in this life, in the journey toward eternal life. If we don’t get on board, we end up “missing the train”, so to speak. We are called to examine our lives and identify areas where we are resisting the voice and presence of God, choosing our own “version” of events over His! 

 

Lord, give me the strength, courage, wisdom, and grace to embrace all that You are in my life!  May I be Christ’s example and see His Example every day!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2017


There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

The Three are Inseparable

Fasting is the soul of prayer, almsgiving is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you. Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.

 

The Sacrifice of Oneself

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

Watered by Almsgiving

To make these acceptable, almsgiving must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in almsgiving overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.

St. Peter Chrysologus

 



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017


Matthew 23:1-12 is about one concept: Humility! Jesus, addressing the crowds, “called out” the religious leaders. First, he points out that they sit on the Seat of Moses and the faithful are to “do whatever they teach you and follow their word”.  The “calling out” comes when He says, “But, do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach”. He goes on to chastise the leaders who lay heavy teachings and burdens on the people, but show themselves to be unwilling to actually “do” things to help them. 

 

They do things for show—fasting, wearing their phylacteries, and seating themselves at places of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. They desire the privileges of title, but not the humble work of servanthood that goes with these leadership titles. Jesus never seemed to criticize the knowledge of the leaders. In fact, He admires their “knowledge” of the Law. Rather, he challenges their “motive”. It reminds me of a shirt I once saw, “Anyone can be a ‘father’, but it takes someone special to be a ‘daddy’”. While this was a cute little shirt and slogan worn by a baby girl, the sentiment is in the same vein as this passage: it is our actions that speak for what is in our heart, not our words. 

 

When Jesus cautions people not to call one teacher or father or rabbi, he was not prohibiting the use of these words. Rather, He was cautioning us to know the difference between those who earn these honors by truly fulfilling the humble and loving and active role that is associated with these endearing titles. He tells us, “The greatest among you will be your servant”. It is those people, who truly serve others, for whom these titles are reserved. 

 

Lord, help our words AND actions be an example of Your love, exemplifying the humility of a teacher, father, or religious mentor who follows Your loving example!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2017


A bit of Catholic trivia: how many times does Joseph speak in the New Testament? If you're thinking zero, you’re thinking correctly!

 

For the role he played in salvation history, there is very little we know about him, much less anything he was noted as saying—well, like nothing to be precise. We do know that he was going to divorce Mary for after they were betrothed, he found out she was pregnant. We do know that he was a humble servant who did all he could to keep the holy family safe, ever silently protecting them and serving as the husband and father of the family.

 

How much easier would it have been if he had known going in the condition she was in? Maybe he would have made other choices… maybe not. For as Mary made her choice, so too did Joseph. They both aligned their hearts and minds and souls to the will of God. They did so as they both needed the guidance and insight of angels. They both needed their heavenly intervention to overcome their fears as they set out to raise the Son of God. They did so not only with their words but with their example.

 

We can do the same with ours. We may not be called on to be the next saint or of holy orders or the like. Yet we are all called on to be saintly examples and witnesses just the same. Just as those who have come before us in so many different and humble lives. Just as Joseph did in his small and subtle way, so too can our lives be lived so that we may give as he did, not for our glory but for the greater glory of God.

 



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2017


“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” 

 

In Luke 6:36-38, Jesus speaks of mercy towards others. We are called to forgive, not judge and condemn others. What we give in this life will come back to us, in full measure, in the next. If we have been hurt or challenged, by others in our lives, this call to be merciful is not an easy one.  In our human condition, we seem to lean toward judgment and condemnation of others, especially when we perceive we have been “wronged” by another. But here and in Jesus’ entire life’s example, we are to understand that the simple acts of mercy, forgiveness and charity will be given back to us in great fashion, “running over” in abundance. 

 

In the 23rd Psalm, most of us recognize the famous beginning, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. But in Luke’s words,  we are reminded of the words that end the psalm,  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord my whole life long.” 

 

We shall dwell with the Lord forever, if we but seek to emulate His Mercy in this life! We must understand that no one is perfect, except God. Yet, how easy do we find it to see fault in others, while bind to our own:  Do not judge others! 

 

Lord, help us to be generous in our views of others, understanding, accepting, and forgiving. May Your Mercy extend, from us, toward all whom we encounter! Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 2017


Jesus foretells His mission, His Death and Resurrection for our Salvation, for the third time, in Matthew. 20:17-28. As He is walking with The Twelve He tells them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death….mocked and flogged and crucified and on the third day He will be raised.” 

 

In the midst of these revelations, the disciples struggled to understand this, perhaps in their humanness and, certainly, in their lack of understanding of Jesus’ true goal in having become Man. No matter the strength of faith, we all face challenges and distractions, something Jesus understood, yet patiently continued to fulfill His Father’s Will. In this account, Jesus finds the mother of two disciples, James and John, challenging Jesus to assign her sons to sit at His right and left in the Kingdom of God. Jesus responds with a challenge of His own—one which calls them and all faithful to “drink the cup” of which He is about to drink. 

 

Both James and John (similar to the boldness we see in Peter, several times) proclaim that they are able to drink of the same cup. Jesus tells them that the “cup of salvation” and the implication of the Cross borne to receive it, is available for everyone who believes. Finally, we find the other disciples upset, over the audacity of James and John’s desire to be at Jesus’ right and left. 

 

It is here that the lesson of humility and service is driven home yet again by Jesus. He reminds them that it is man’s prideful nature to seek power over others, but that it will not be so with true believers… “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be a servant and whoever wishes to be first, a slave… the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve.” 

 

Lord, give us grace to be servant leaders of Your Love—furthering Your Kingdom.  Fill us with a desire to serve others and give of ourselves in the Light of Your Service and Sacrifice for our Salvation!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017


The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation
.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017

“When He had entered the house, His disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’” Mark 9:14-29 ends with this passage.  Mark gives an account of Jesus casting out an evil spirit from a boy who had suffered from seizures, throughout his childhood. The father came to Jesus because his son, a deaf mute, was unable to speak and often overcome with seizures. He had taken the child to Jesus’ disciples, but they were “unable to cast out the demon”. 

 

Jesus addresses and admonishes His disciples for their lack of faith in being able to help this man, who had come to them in faith and hope. He then asked that the boy be brought to Him. He asked the father about the boy’s seizures. The man told Jesus that the boy had suffered throughout childhood and it was often so severe that the seizures endangered the boy’s life, causing him to fall into fire or water. The man begged Jesus, “If You are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”  Jesus immediately questioned the man’s statement, “‘If you are able?’ All things can be done for the one who believes.” 

 

The man replied, “I believe; help my unbelief”. It is this response upon which we can and should focus: “Help my unbelief!” We know and profess belief that all things are possible with God.  (Ref Matthew 17:20; 19:26; Mark 1:37; 9:23; 10:27; Romans 8:31)  We profess that God strengthens us to face all things (Philippians 4:13). But, in our profession of this faith, do our heart, mind, word, and deed act together to truly embrace putting our full trust and faith in God? Do we say, every day, “I believe, help strengthen my unbelief?” In this passage we see the importance of truly believing in placing our trust in God—fully! 

 

Lord, give me strength to Praise You, Glorify You, and truly Seek Your presence in all things of my life.  Help me overcome every moment of doubt!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2017


How often do we struggle to find the words to pray, especially in times of struggle? Or there are those times when we hear someone pray and find ourselves in awe of their eloquence in stringing words together. In Matthew 6:7-15, Jesus focuses on the simplicity of prayer and conversation with God.

 

In this passage, in which Jesus gives us the Words to the “perfect prayer”, we can say the simplicity of the formula is that prayer contains words of reverence, submission, supplication, forgiveness, and strength and support. He begins by telling us that when we pray, we must first recognize the Glory of God’s Name and the Kingdom He created for us here and in heaven. We then submit to His Will in our lives and commit to His ways in this life and the next. We then ask for His care and His mercy. 

 

In doing so, we recognize that we will be given the same mercy that we show others and we actually ask for that same mercy. Finally we ask for the strength in our times of trial and protection form the temptations of this world. The formula for prayer, truly, is that simple in this prayer that we, as Christians, call the Lord's Prayer. Perhaps this is a misnomer, as it is and must be OUR daily prayer, given us by the Lord, as the simplest way to converse with God in a way that recognizes His greatness and calls upon Him to strengthen us.

 

The point of these words is not to “script” our conversation, but to lay out how to sincerely converse with God. The “sincere conversation”, can and must translate into sincere living: daily words and deeds! By calling God “Father”, we are accepting a deep and personal relationship with Him that calls us to reverence, submission, and supplication for and to His Will, mercy, and goodness! 

 

Lord, I am called to pray with joy, hope, and confidence in Your grace and mercy!  Help me to ensure that my life, in turn, is an example of a “living prayer” between You and me!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.

 



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017


Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” These Words of God make it clear to us that God desires us to not only express our love for Him, but live that Love by keeping His precepts. Jesus in turn, reiterates this same call when He tells us that the call to love is not just for those who are “easy to love”. 

 

If we answer God’s command to love Him and keep His commandments, then we answer His call to Jesus’ Words in Matthew 5:43-48:  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”. This contradicts the notion of the human condition that says, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. Jesus goes on to point out that we must understand that the sun of God’s creation rises on the evil and good, as does the rain fall. 

 

It is sometimes human nature to be envious of that which others have and to be angry or frustrated when that “other” is someone whom WE perceive as “not worthy”. He goes on to point out the ease of loving those who are “easy to love” even the tax collectors the sinners of the sinners, in Jesus’ day do this. Even the Gentiles are friendly to each other. So how do we accomplish this?  We strive to be God-like perfect.  

 

Jesus tells us that we begin this journey by praying for those who we perceive as being “against us”. And, in that prayer, we prayer for understanding of them and their understanding of us. Being “perfect, like God” requires total openness of mind and heart. Yes, we understand we won’t be perfect, in this human life, but we must still seek Him-Perfection. 

 

Lord, help me to openly examine my thoughts and actions towards others and to prayerfully lift these up to You!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017


As Jesus continues His discourse to the faithful, in Matthew 7:7-12, He says ‘Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’” 

 

Here, we learn of the abundance of God’s love for us and all He asks of us is one simple thing: to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Again, we see the simplicity of His desires and, as we know in our human condition, it is “simple, but not easy.”  He provides clear and concrete examples when He asks if we would give a child in need, a stone when he asks for bread or a snake, when he asks for a fish. As a parent, a spouse, or a friend, with any sense of decency, these examples beg us to answer a resounding, “NO!”. 

 

If we follow this simple command (reiterated in Luke 6:31, when Jesus calls us to even love our enemies), we are then open to be filled with His Spirit of Love!  It is then that we can freely and in good conscience “Ask”, “Knock”, and “Seek” God’s Divine Presence in us and in our lives. Jesus wants us to be able to approach God in confidence voice—faith—and, in turn receive. So He gives us this “two-fold” formula that consists both of “doing” to others in order to receive from God. 

 

Lord, help us to respect and love others, all, and especially those we deem “difficult”.  Give us to grace to receive Your Grace!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MARCH 12, 2017

In Matthew 17:1-9, “The Transfiguration”, Peter, James, and John were led by Jesus, up a high mountain, and were shown the Glory of God—seeing Jesus, the Son of God, transfigured in a dazzling, brilliant, white light. It is toward this goal that we all strive in our Christian Faith:  To experience God in His Glory. These Apostles were given an opportunity to experience God in this manner.

 

Upon seeing God’s brilliance, they immediately wanted to immortalize the vision with a monument or three dwellings: one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. Then they heard God’s voice, from a bright cloud, overhead, saying “This is My Son, the Beloved, with Him I am well-pleased; listen to Him.” Suddenly, as we hear some folks today say, “Things got real”.  The disciples were filled with fear upon hearing the voice of God from the cloud.  Jesus, the moment that the Transfiguration over, was filled with compassion and told them, “Get up, do not be afraid”. 

 

In our lives, today, how often do we encounter the Presence of God in our Christian Walk? Perhaps it is not as “graphic” as described in this passage, but we do have many opportunities to hear His voice! How do we react? The Apostles, literally walking with Jesus, reacted in fear, even though Jesus was physically with them. Think about how we feel, perhaps after a retreat or other spiritual mission or program. We leave, on fire, perhaps wanting to make our lives a “monument”, symbolized in the same manner as the monuments the apostles wanted to build. Yet, when “things get real” in our daily lives, fears and distractions of the human condition interfere! 

 

Lord, help us to overcome the fears and distractions of this world and truly tell everyone of God’s Glory, as we believe and know it, through our Salvation, secured by Your suffering, death, and resurrection. May we experience and truly share Your Glory through/by our Christian walk in this world!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 2017


“When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!” 

 

In Luke 11:29-32, Jesus graphically reiterates His point when He said, “Blessed, rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it”, in response to a woman from the crowd to whom He was preaching saying, “Blessed is the womb that bore you….”.  In doing so, Jesus chastises the crowd as being an evil generation for failing to see the Presence of God right before their very eyes. 

 

He goes on to cite Jonah’s experience in Jonah 3:1-10, where he prophesied the destruction of Nineveh because of their evil ways. He points out that even the people of Nineveh responded to the word of a prophet, Jonah, and laments that what they, today, have in front of them, Jesus, the Son of God, is greater than Jonah, yet too many hearts are hardened and ears closed. Rather than repent, they ask for further signs or “proof”. 

 

We must ask ourselves, “If Jesus stood, as man, in our generation TODAY, what would He say to us?” For two thousand years, God has been present among us (The Word) and do we listen to His teaching of love, service, and repentance? 

 

Lord, help us to see You in our daily journey!  Open our minds and hearts to Your Presence, in the Word, and let our words/deeds draw us/others to You.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017


On the Wonderful Effect of Divine Love

 

Deepen your love in me, O Lord,

that I may learn in my inmost heart

how sweet it is to love, to be dissolved,

and to plunge myself into your love.

Let your love possess and raise me above myself,

with a fervor and wonder beyond imagination.

Let me sing the song of love.

Let me follow you, my beloved,

into the heights.

 

Let my soul spend itself in your praise,

rejoicing for love.

Let me love you more than myself,

and myself only for your own sake.

Let me love all men who truly love you,

as the law of love commands, which shines out from you.

 

Love is swift, pure, tender, joyful, and pleasant.

Love is strong, patient, faithful, prudent,

long-suffering, vigorous, and never self-seeking.  

 

For when a man is self-seeking he abandons love.

Love is watchful, humble, and upright;

love is not fickle and sentimental, nor is it intent on vanities.

 

It is sober, pure, steadfast, quiet, and guarded in all the senses.

Love is submissive and obedient to superiors,

mean and contemptible in its own sight,

devoted and thankful to God,

trusting and hoping in him even when not enjoying his sweetness;

for none can live in love without suffering.

 

Whoever is not prepared to endure everything,

and to stand firmly by the will of the beloved,

is not worthy to be called a lover.

 

A lover must willingly accept every hardship and bitterness

for the sake of his beloved,

and must never desert him because of adversity.

 

Amen.

 

Thomas à Kempis

 



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of My family, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

In Matthew 25:31-46, we find Jesus telling us of the final judgement. When God comes in all of His Glory, all will be gathered before Him and He will separate people as “sheep are separated from goats”. He goes on to describe how the sheep will be placed at His right hand, entering the kingdom of heaven and the goats will be denied. Those who will enter the Kingdom will be ones who lived in the example that Christ laid out for us. 

 

Here it is clear, that we are to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger and unwelcomed, the needy, the sick, those imprisoned (justly and unjustly). These are the ones in whom we are challenged to see Christ, for whom we are to be examples of Christ, and from whom we are called to bring to Christ and to draw Christ out and into their daily life’s works. 

 

To those who do not seek to do this for the hungry, sick, unwelcomed, needy, and imprisoned, who, rather, focus on their own needs, they shall be sorted and separated from Him. The bottom line, from Jesus’ words, is that we cannot proclaim love for God if we do not love and care for those who are in need of that love. God’s final judgement of our lives will be based upon our personal response and the way we live and love in this life—especially our response to the “least” around us. 

 

In James, 2:14, we are told, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? James reiterates that point in 2:26, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” 

 

Lord, You are full of mercy and compassion. Give us strength to show mercy and kindness to all others. May we see You in all others and may we be an example of Your Presence for all those whom we encounter in need of You.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2017


Mark 10:1-12 finds the Pharisees questioning Jesus on the topic of “divorce”.  They ask, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife”? Jesus first challenges them to recall what the Law given to Moses stated and they gladly obliged, stating that the laws of Moses allowed it. Jesus, of course, had a goal in letting them “show off” their knowledge of the law. Once they gleefully pointed out that “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and divorce her”, Jesus then explains, “Because of your hardness of heart, this command was written for you. But, from the beginning of creation, God made them, male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.’”

 

Jesus’ hope was that the Pharisees would understand that it is our stubbornness that is often the cause or need for having a law or rule that might allow something that is clearly against the Law of Love that He was preaching! So Jesus is able to point out that God’s original premise of creation was to provide for man to live in the peace and love of a perfect kingdom. But in our free will and in this secular world, we have replaced fullness of joy with the temporary, worldly or material joy, even in our relationships—both marriage and even daily friendships. 

 

He points out that “from the beginning” God’s intent was that the relationship between a man and a woman be life-long and unbreakable. “Hollywood” and “materialism” have truly distorted the view of real, long-lasting—even everlasting—joy! 

 

Lord, help us value the commitment of Your Love, Christ’s example, in marriages.  May men and women join hands in Prayer to You and their love be rooted in You, The Word: The preserver of Love!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017


In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were not highly esteemed and considered great sinners. They not only collected taxes for those who would rule over and oppress the Jewish people, they often “double taxed” so as to collect more money for their own, personal coffers. Therefore, when Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of His followers, the religious leaders were scandalized by this “travesty”.  In 5:27-32, Luke gives the account in which Jesus called Matthew, he immediately stopped and left everything to follow Jesus. 

 

In the Lord’s honor, he called a gathering of his tax collector friends at his house. The religious leaders immediately took note, saying “Why do You eat with sinners”, to which Jesus responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do. I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” 

 

This response challenges each of us to consider how we view those around us! Are we quick to pass judgement or opinion on someone, upon sight or upon “first impression”? Do we fail to consider what another person who does not “fit the mold” on how we feel we should behave, as Christians, may be considering in heart and mind?

 

As it says in Luke 5:27-28, Jesus simply told this tax collector to “Follow me”.  And Matthew just “got up, left everything, and followed Him”  There was no hesitation indicated. This “sinner of sinners”, this person of betrayal, changed and softened his heart upon Jesus’ simple, two-word request! Yet the leaders focused on the fact that he was a sinner, not considering the ability of God to touch someone’s heart. Here we see the power of a simple invitation to follow Jesus!  We are called to be His invitation through word and deed! 

 

Lord, You are the “Divine Doctor”. Heal our righteousness and indignation, leading us to be pure examples of Your love, inviting all others to join You.  Touch our Hearts! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, MARCH 6, 2017


Matthew 4:1-11 tells us that Jesus, after His baptism, was led into the desert for forty days, where He fasted. After His fast He was famished and it was during this time that Satan came to Him to “make his move” - to tempt Him away from His focus on God. He did this by tempting Him with worldly desires. He tried to tempt Jesus into using His Divine power for personal gain, first by taking advantage of His physical needs, challenging Him to “turn stones into bread” to ease His hunger. Jesus responded, “One does not live on bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God”. Jesus’ immediate response, therefore, was to draw strength from His Father, the Word! 

 

In the second attempt to challenge Jesus to use His Divine Power, He tried to dupe Him into “proving” He was God, by jumping from the pinnacle of the Temple. Jesus, again, used God the Word by responding, “Do not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  The devil, not easily thwarted, decided to try a third time, this time using greed, showing Jesus the kingdoms of the world, from a high mountain, tempting Him with the splendor and beauty of this view, saying, “All these I will give You if You will fall down and worship me”.  Again, relying on God, the Word, Jesus said, “Worship the Lord, Your God, and serve only Him”. Then, the devil left Him and suddenly angels came and waited on Him. 

 

Jesus, in this passage, shows us the Power of God’s Strength and how important our relationship and reliance on Him is! We can and must know God through a personal prayer relationship with Him: The Word! It is truly through the Word by which He speaks to us.

 

Lord, help us to know You through Your Word—Fill us with the strength, courage, and desire to embrace You as and in the Word. Allow the Spirit to help us discern Your Word as a source of joy and strength over temptation: To seek You—Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2017


Matthew 9:14-15 

 “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

 

We are taught, in the infancy of our Christianity, that to love God and to be loved by God is to experience true joy! Yet we have this concept of fasting? To a young, confused or doubting Christian, this can be a confusing concept, yet, it is one we must always consider and explore. 

 

Through Jesus’ response to the question of fasting, we must come to the understanding that “fasting” is more than just abstinence from food or drink. In and of itself, fasting or abstinence from anything has no spiritual value. It is simply withholding something from oneself, unless we take the time of that abstinence to enrich our spiritual relationship with Jesus. 

 

Jesus uses the example of the Jewish wedding feast, which in Jesus’ day, lasted a week and was a time in which all stayed and joined in continued celebration. He compared Himself to the bridegroom, pointing out that until the time of celebration is over, He is present. When He departs, the “cleanup” begins. Perhaps His response is a “veiled” prophecy of His pending suffering and death? What is clear, is that the cleanup will require disciplined commitment to “restore” ourselves when the bridegroom is not readily in our presence. 

 

When we lose sight of the Bridegroom (Jesus), it is easy to get distracted and the joy we felt in His Presence wanes. When we feel separated from Him, we must strengthen our resolve to seek and to be with Him. Fill the void that is caused by a fast with HIM! 

 

Lord, in this season of Preparation to truly understand Your life, suffering, death, and resurrection, give us strength to fill our void(s) with You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 2017

Luke 9:22-25

’The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’” 

 

 There are two points in this passage. First and foremost, we are called to commit ourselves and our lives’ works to imitating Christ’s example. In order to save our eternal life, we are to strive to be “Good” (as God is Good) in this life. The Word of God is God’s constant call to us to turn to His Ways. To know God is to know His Word (as He is the Word, ref Jn 1:1). 

 

The second message in this passage has to do with the challenges of the human condition, in relation to seeking God! In this moment, Jesus had just heard Peter boldly proclaim, “You are the Messiah of God”, in response to His question, “Who do you say that I am?” How quick and easy are we to “say” that we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, yet get distracted from that revelation in the next breath? 

 

 Jesus, in Peter’s “feel good” moment, did not want Him or any other disciple to be deceived that the road is easy. We must be prepared to face the challenges of this world’s distractions. We all have and will experience both joys and trials, as did Jesus. Jesus knew what was in store for him, yet He willingly submitted to His Father’s Plan, as a blessing for the salvation of all. 

Lord, through the joys and pains of our lives, give us Your Spirit’s Wisdom to rely on You, especially when things do not seem to be going “our way”.  Give us strength in our despair and a strong voice, in Praise to You, in our joy!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2017

Matthew 6:16-18 

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 

Christians, everywhere, begin a journey for the next 40 days—the Lenten Season. And, as Jesus’ earthly walk leads Him to Jerusalem and the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection that signifies His loving example and sacrifice, for our sins, looms ahead we are called to consider His Words, in these verses, that remind us that our own example should “just be”. 

 

Our Lenten sacrifices are not to be “worn on our sleeves” (or “sour faces”, in this example). Rather, they are to be a covenant between ourselves and God, made in our heart and offered solely to Him. As with obedience to Law and His life’s example, our sacrifices are part of our commitment to God. The fruit of our commitment, then, is to be reflected in our daily thought, word, and deed and how we interact with others. People should not know we are fasting or sacrificing something because we look miserable or have to “tell them about” it in some overt/prideful way. Rather, they should, ultimately and simply, see a Christ-like example in our ways. 

 

When someone feels good, they “glow” (such as a pregnant woman or someone with a good secret, etc…). Let Christ’s example be our “glow” that shows who we are, as a person, not who we just “tell” people we are. In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus tells us we should not “sound a trumpet” when we give or pray. Rather, we should “just do it”, in His Spirit. 

 

Lord, You know my heart and it’s ways (Ref Ps 139).  Let Your love be evident, simply and solely, through my thought, word, and deed, glorifying You!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017


Matthew 6:24-26

“But strive, first, for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. So, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” 

 

Matthew ends a discourse on how we should put God first and trust that HE will provide for us. Too often though, we allow our worry for ourselves and our own desired outcomes, in this life, to take precedent over our desire to serve God. He begins the discourse, saying, “No one can serve two masters- You cannot serve God and wealth”. 

 

In this statement he points out that it is human nature for us to desire or prefer one of two “masters” or things upon which we place our focus.  He goes on to point out that in the beauty and wonder of His creation, God the Father, takes care of the birds, though they do not worry about sowing, gathering and storing. He points out the splendor of the flowers and grass of the field, clothed in God’s beautiful colors and radiance, yet they don’t worry about color and design of that tapestry. Therefore, why do we worry about such things, tending to serving God and trusting that He will provide for us, as He provides for even the smallest of things in His Kingdom! 

 

He asks us to consider how much more He will do for man, whom He created in His Image. He desires that we learn to trust as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.  The crux of this passage is that we are to make God our first focus, each day, seeking to see Him in others, be Him for others, and strive to be Christ-like in our thought, word, and deed, rather than distracted by worldly desires over Godly desires. 

 

Lord, help us to see Your beauty in our daily lives. Help us to trust in Your benevolence, knowing that You will guide us through this life to Your Eternal Life! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFFREY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARY!



Birthday Notes...

He's a good man, a good son, a good brother--a good friend.

He's all these things and more.

He's humble. He's giving. He's of course a very loving and caring man, one who lives with respect and compassion for his family, his friends and for the world.

He has a giving heart and a grateful heart as he is generous and kind, at the same time selflessly devoted to what he feels is right.

Indeed he is richly blessed as are we--celebrating his birth today thirty-one years ago today!

Happy Birthday Jeffrey Paul!

May this day be as special and blessed as you are to us!

We love you-

Mom and Dad