Where I am From

Scripture (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
"Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
"You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me."
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.



I am from Staten Island, the fifth borough of New York City, often called “the forgotten borough.” Despite the fact that over half a million people live on Staten Island, most Americans confuse it with Long Island (not a borough), or do not recognize it as part of NYC – if they recognize it at all.  

Staten Islanders are often characterized as having a chip on their shoulder, having to justify their borough’s existence to even their city mates. Manhattan stands for itself. Bronx has Yankee Stadium. Queens has Shea (now Citi Field). Brooklyn no longer has a ball club but could be considered a city in its own right. And in the post-Dump years (you know, the landfill you could see from space?) Staten Island is perhaps now best known for its iconic orange Ferry – a vessel which allows you to leave the borough it symbolizes.  When I left home to attend Elon University in North Carolina, I found it far easier to say I was from “New York City.” If anyone were really curious, I would go further and say “Brooklyn” – where I did attend high school and spent hundreds of hours of my early life.

There was a quote over the doors of my high school, in bold metal letters – “THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.” That truth and freedom cry out from the pages of today’s Gospel. The truth is dangerous. The truth has men out to kill him. The truth, despite his radiance, travels in secret to be with his brothers. People whisper in the corners. Is that him? Do the cops know? Why don’t they grab him? Others say – and I can almost picture the others here today in the risk-averse, quantitative aeon we live in – we know him. He is from Nazareth. His father is the carpenter. He is not the Christ; how could he be?

The answer from Christ – you know me and yet you know me not at all, because you do not know my Father. I make this mistake all the time, so I know it well – the others in this passage saw only a man when really there was the Spirit at work.  

I read this passage and thought at first – man, I like this, Jesus is finding himself and finding his voice. That’s my human projection onto the scripture, anyway! Jesus had his voice since the beginning, when the Word was with God. He doesn’t need to find his. But we are all still trying to find ours. I would so love to find my voice. I would love to stand out in the crowd who thought they could classify me, label me, and cry out my own goodness to them. Instead I accuse myself and shut up before saying even a word.

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Inspired by Christ and inspired by the words above my high school, I will say now, you do know me, and you know where I am from. I am Michael from Staten Island, New York. I grew up on William Street in a white house with my brothers and sisters. We read books late into the night and drank cups of tea in the mornings. I come from my mother and father, who selflessly gave me the life I am learning how to live. I make mistakes every single day – and every single day I ask for the grace to overcome them. I am not a big shot New York Yankee. I am a Staten Island Yankee (the minor-league affiliate that plays near the ferry terminal). I am a simple Irish guy who likes to read, learn from strangers, and take long walks through the forgotten places – where God always surprises me and sends me blessings.

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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.



  • Where do you see God at work in your life today – have you read something, met someone, observed something in nature that speaks to you of His works?
  • What is one time you felt a sense of failure in the last week?  How might God restore and rejuvenate you from this event?
  • Who is one positive person who knows you, and knows where you are from? Can you write a few words about what that person might say about you? How are you feeling about your Lenten journey?
  • Is there anything you wish for in your prayer life these last couple of weeks before Easter?
Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you, try to figure out what you have to say.
— Barbara Kingsolver


PRAY to always know where you are from and to whom you belong. 

FAST from self-doubt

GIVE voice to your faith to someone who needs to be inspired.


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Mike McCormick is a former volunteer with the Augustinian Volunteers, where he served in Ventura, CA from 2014-2015. Mike currently works as the Outreach Coordinator for Catholic Volunteer Network in Washington, DC. 

Heart of the Father

Scripture (John 5:31-47)

Jesus said to the Jews:
"If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

"I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"


I just need to start by letting you all know today’s readings were a real struggle for me… I just couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to say, what I was supposed to write that would enlighten you all. After repeated cycles of reading and thinking and frustration, I got stuck on verses 39-40.

“You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.”

I’m searching the Scriptures. I believe they give life and God speaks to us through them, but I wasn’t hearing it because I had been going to my head and my heart to come up with the words to write and not to Him, the one who gives us life. Then the Spirit really hit me hard and served up a little humble pie. He sent me back to verse 34.

“I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved.” 

Ultimately what I have to say doesn’t matter. Christ can use me and my testimony (when I’m/ it’s humble) as an instrument to bring others into Him, but He’s the one doing the work. And anything I can say or do is so small in comparison to what Him.

I swallowed that humble pie and asked, “So what are YOU saying Lord?” “What do YOU need me to hear and focus on?” His answer to me:

I AM here. I AM present. I AM at work in every moment saving you and bringing you to life. I have proven this time and time again if only you would simply believe. Let go and have faith in me when times are overwhelming, scary, hard. I was there for Moses and his people when the desert seemed like it would never end, and I am there for you when you feel like you’re in the desert. I have promised you my life and my love, and I don’t disappoint. My cross and resurrection weren’t simply to save you from sin. You were saved from sin, so our relationship could be restored. So, I could bring you deeper into my heart and my love, a love that never fades and never hides. You need to believe and trust in me in order to see and know that I am at work in every moment loving you.


I go back and read what I just flowed out when I let the Lord do the talking and those powerful words rock my core. Then I go back and reread the Scripture and I see that’s exactly what He was saying to the Jew’s, but I was too caught up in myself to hear it, just like the crowd he was talking to. He told them the exact same thing: I’ve proved time and time again that I am the one sent by the Father to bring you salvation and life. John says so; my miracles and works say so; God, the Father, says so; and Scripture says so, if only you would listen and believe.

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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.



  • Where have you seen God witnessing His love and salvation in your life:
  • Who, like John, has been a “burning and shining lamp” for you?
  • What miracles has God performed in your life lately?
  • What is the Father speaking into your heart right now?
  • What Scripture speaks most to you about God’s salvation and love for you?
Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works.
— Rick Warren


PRAY for the Lord to open your eyes and your heart that you may always see His goodness and love at work in your life.

FAST from people or things that distract you from seeing the truth of God’s love.

GIVE your time to be a “bright and shining lamp” for someone who needs to know God’s active love in their life.


Good and Loving Father,

We thank you and praise you for your faithfulness to your people. Throughout salvation history, you have come time and time again to restore our relationship with you. We thank you for the ultimate gift of restoration, the cross and resurrection.

Father send your Spirit down upon us so that we may live each and every moment with the joy and hope that comes from being your chosen people. Strengthen us that we may walk each and every day witnessing your love to each and every person we meet so that they may encounter you more deeply.



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Julie Trzebiatowski is the Camp Director for Shepherd's Fold Ranch in Avant, Oklahoma.  Before moving to Avant, she was a teacher and retreat director in the Milwaukee area.  Julie is also the proud mom of Zeke!