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“Then he told them a parable. ‘There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, “What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?” And he said, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’”
But God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God’” (Luke 12:16-21).
 
The rich man in Jesus’ parable believed that his overabundant crops would buy his future security. In the end they provided nothing. His security was misplaced.
 
Material possessions do not offer security. Our security rests in God alone. We are to spend our lives promoting the reign of God on earth as we await the reign of God. Life is our greatest gift. The challenge of the Gospel is to put our energy and trust in things that do not perish and to place our security in God, the Lavish Giver of All Gifts.
 
Christians are invited to let go of their attachment to material possessions. The disciples were not only invited to let go of the fear of the future and to divest themselves of their attachments but also to turn their lives over completely to the Master of their destiny. Only then would they know true freedom as God’s children. The amassing of wealth for a future day is not a response of faith, according to Luke.
 
A response in faith to the living God who provides and cares for his people is to lay down our lives for one another and to be generous to those in need. Spiritual freedom allows Christians to share what they have, especially with those who hold a special place of honor in Jesus’ heart—the poor, oppressed, and marginalized.
 
– How does the story of the rich man speak to your life or experience?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.
 
Image: The Rich Man and His Barns—Davis Collection.

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grainWe are accustomed to the gentle Jesus, the humble carpenter who taught us to “turn the other cheek.” But there is another side to him—the bold breaker of rules when those rules do not serve justice, love, and mercy.
 
The gospel of Luke (6:1-5), for instance, tells of the Sabbath day when the disciples of Jesus picked and ate grain from a field as they were passing by. The Pharisees, of course, were quick to condemn them for “working” on
the Sabbath.
 
Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
 
The lesson for us is that God’s mercy transcends rules and regulations. Any hour of the day is a good time to do good. Any day of the week is a good time to ask for God’s mercy. Any time at all is a good time to show mercy to a neighbor.
 
This is why Pope Francis urges us not to be afraid of making mistakes in our efforts to do good.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Dear Jesus,
Lord of the Sabbath and Lord of Mercy,
strengthen us as we seek to serve justice, love and mercy.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Be_My_WitnessGiven the challenges of the day, wouldn’t it be great if there were a turn-key process to help infuse new life into your parish? Or, how about a practical program for making Pope Francis’ call for a pastoral and missionary conversion of the Church come to life?
 
Inspired by The Joy of the Gospel, RENEW International has prepared just such a resource. Its core planning process for pastors and parish leaders includes video learning modules and guides on the following themes:
 

  • Sunday Matters: To the extent that people are still connected to the Church, then Sunday is clearly the best day to connect with them. Wouldn’t it be nice to help parish leaders as they look for ways to reinvigorate outreach opportunities on Sunday?
  • Welcome Matters: Let’s face it, we all know what “unwelcome” looks and feels like–and no one likes it. Since the world already delivering more than enough incivility and indifference, how about if our parishes were known for flipping the script?
  • Belonging Matters: Many commentators have noted that the old model for parish life was “Behave-Believe-Belong”; that is, if we acted like Christians, it would strengthen our faith and would result in us understanding to whom we belonged (both personally and communally). Today, the post-modern approach is “Belong-Believe-Behave”: that is, most people seek first a sense of belonging, and then their commitment to the Christian faith and way of life flow out from this experience. Given that Christians specialize in the communal life, isn’t it time we find new ways to share this experience in a world that is so un-grounded and up-rooted?
  • Witness Matters: Nothing is more powerful than personal testimony about how the Lord has been active and present in the real details of a person’s life; God is no abstraction, and the Resurrection is no mere symbol. Wouldn’t it be nice if we grew more comfortable about sharing our experience of his presence and the “irresistible force” of the resurrection (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel,,256).
  • Mission Matters: For those of us who might be a bit “churchy” and/or fairly comfortable with our faith life, it is time to “go forth” from our comfort zones. After all, the Church exists not to provide contentment to those who happen to show up, but to nudge the core out the door. Wouldn’t it be great if the world was once again drawn to the light of the Gospel by the mighty works of mercy wrought by her members?

 
Even if your parish is already excelling in many ways, isn’t it safe to say that every parish community has room to grow in one or more of these mission-critical domains? The following link provides more information for parishes interested in engaging leadership in such essential questions; in addition, a second phase of the Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos program helps mobilize the parish as a whole through small faith-sharing experiences: http://bemywitness.org/.
 
In the first century, St. Paul wrote, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20): The post-modern corollary to this might be, where darkness and doubt increased, inspired resources overflowed all the more. The time has arrived for us to embrace resources which will be able to equip us for the journey out of the dark valley into the light of the emerging Kingdom.
 
David Spasia is the Director of Lay Formation and Be My Witness Coordinator for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois

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Model Preacher, Evangelizer and Friend of Jesus
 
Mary_MagdalaA good friend of mine, a no-nonsense man of deep integrity and dynamic faith, was once falsely accused of a crime and was eventually acquitted. He was famously quoted as asking the judge, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?” Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus who was included in his most trusted and intimate circle, could have asked the same question. Mary of Magdala was one of the many women Jesus included in his Galilean discipleship along with Joanna, Susanna, and the other Marys (Luke 8:1-3). She was, as St. Thomas Aquinas proclaimed, an “Apostle of the Apostles,” because she was the one who announced Jesus’ resurrection to the Twelve and to the world. And yet most people today think of her as “the prostitute” or as the “repentant sinner” and not as an apostle. There is no evidence in the Scriptures to support this indictment, so how did she garner this reputation?
 
In 591, Pope Gregory the Great preached a sermon in Rome that tarnished Mary’s reputation from that day forward. He erroneously combined the stories of three women found in the Gospels: an unnamed sinful woman who anointed and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:37-50), Mary of Bethany (John 11:1-45), and the demonically possessed Mary of Magdala (Mark 6:19). Not only was Mary Magdalene not the repentant fallen woman of legend, but she was not necessarily even a noteworthy sinner. The Scripture tells us she was possessed by “seven demons” that were exorcised by Jesus. Some scholars argue that she was probably more victim than sinner; in that time and place, serious illness was often explained as demonic possession.
 
The office of Pope Gregory the Great marred Mary Magdalene’s reputation, and now the office of Pope Francis has restored it. Pope Francis has declared that Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22, is elevated to a major feast marking women as the first evangelizers—placing Mary on par with the celebrations of male apostles. She is the first woman other than Mary, the Mother of God, whose liturgical celebration has been raised to a feast. Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, says St. Mary Magdalene can be considered by the faithful as “a paradigm of the ministry of women in the Church.”
 
Although first-century culture usually minimized the importance of women, the Gospel of Luke portrays women as disciples and friends of Jesus, strong and courageous, and witnesses to his resurrection. I find it helpful to study the Gospel of Luke and reflect on the faithful women who were the first announcers of the resurrection.
 
According to Martin Lang, author of Luke: My Spirit Rejoices!—a Scripture-based resource from RENEW International—“Those who walk with Jesus are of central importance. They are not only the Twelve, as we would expect, but also the unexpected. They are the women, some of whom have been relieved of their infirmities and some of whom are followers and contributors to the cause. They accompany Jesus as disciples, unlike anything the Pharisees of the day would have tolerated.” Because the Church has raised Mary Magdalene to the stature of the male apostles both women and men can look to her as model of ministry, preaching, evangelization and, most important, a deep and abiding friendship with Jesus, the Christ.
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test’” (Luke 11:1-4).
 
In first-century Palestine, groups were recognized by the way they prayed, so when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray they were asking him to give them an identity. Christian identity is rooted in the community’s prayer.
 
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus presents us with his catechism on prayer. Jesus’ prayer was presented to the community, not to individuals. The Gospels present us with two forms of the Lord’s Prayer—Matthew’s and Luke’s. Matthew’s version (Matthew 6:9-13) is future-oriented, whereas Luke’s version, which we hear today, is present-centered with an eye to the future. The petition for daily bread is a request that God provide the physical necessities needed to carry out his mission on earth. Jesus’ prayer asks that disciples not be entrapped by the daily seductions of life and that they never stop praying.
 
The Roman Missal reminds us that the Lord’s Prayer proclaimed in the liturgy is a request for daily food and for the forgiveness of sins, so that the Eucharist, which is holy, may be given to us who are also holy. We, who are holy, are strengthened and nourished by the power of the Spirit to go out and proclaim the reign of God. For this we pray; for this we lay down our lives. The prayer Jesus taught us is rooted in love and concern for others. Are we ready to go forth boldly? Are we willing?
 
– How might you offer The Lord’s Prayer with greater devotion and expectancy?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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st_thomas_aquinasTomorrow is the anniversary of the canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas—July 18, 1323.
 
Aquinas is considered not only one of the greatest minds that formed the Catholic understanding of God and humanity but also perhaps the most brilliant philosopher since Aristotle, the ancient Greek thinker.
 
Pope Francis quoted Aquinas in declaring the Jubilee Year of Mercy we are now celebrating: “It is proper to God to exercise mercy, and he manifests his omnipotence particularly in this way.” In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis also reminded us that Aquinas identified mercy as the greatest of the virtues. Aquinas said that all the other virtues revolve around mercy. Not only that, Aquinas wrote, but it is through mercy that “God’s omnipotence is manifested to the greatest degree.”
 
On the feast of St. Nicholas in 1273, Aquinas was in chapel when he received a revelation that affected him so much that he completely stopped writing, leaving unfinished his great work, the Summa Theologiae (Summary of Theology). He reputedly explained to a colleague, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings seem like straw.’’ He died three months later.
 
Our prayer today:
 

St. Thomas Aquinas,
pray for us that we may persevere—as you did—
in hope, humility, and mercy
toward our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken
from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).
 
It would appear that Jesus is castigating Martha for her acts of hospitality and praising Mary for the better portion she had chosen. The Martha in us screams, “unfair!” What is going on in this familiar story from Luke’s Gospel?
 
It is unlikely that Jesus was devaluing the very important biblical principle of hospitality. Hospitality was a sacred act and a crucial responsibility for every believer. Divine hospitality was a metaphor used to describe God’s protection and care. To offer hospitality to another was tantamount to offering it to God.
 
In remarks recorded in the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus insisted that his audience’s response to God be rooted in concrete action. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus challenged Martha’s orientation toward “doing” and praised Mary’s posture of “being.” Jesus was inviting disciples to step out of their normal role and to look at things from a new perspective and encounter the God of surprise. Whenever disciples stretch themselves, move into uncharted waters and listen to God anew, they invite transformation in every area of their lives. Those naturally drawn to a ministry of service need to spend time in prayer and contemplation, and those drawn to contemplation need to ground their prayer in action. One feeds the other.
 
Today’s Gospel reminds us that the greatest action one can perform is to love the Lord with one’s entire being. Jesus invites us to step outside the routine of our lives, even the admirable routine, and abide with him. Our service will not last if not rooted in the contemplation of God’s word.
 
– Which of the “doing” or “being” aspects of your life needs to be stronger?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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St_PatrickNow that the summer vacation season is in full swing, perhaps we should think about making a trip to visit a Holy Door—a cathedral, shrine, or other designated church—as part of our celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Walking through a Holy Door is a spiritual journey that signals our deep desire for true conversion.
 
In addition to passing through a Holy Door, there are Year of Mercy graces that can be gotten through other practices:
 

  • Perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy.
  • Go to confession.
  • Receive the Holy Eucharist, and then spend some time reflecting on mercy.
  • Make a profession of faith.
  • Pray for the pope and for his intentions.

 
The elderly, the confined, and the sick can obtain the special graces of the Year of Mercy simply by living with faith and joyful hope.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Thank you, Jesus,
for showering us with your strengthening graces
during this Year of Mercy.
Help us open our hearts
to spiritual renewal and refreshment.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Jesus replied, ‘A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:30-37).
 
In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us in at least three ways: how close we should get to suffering, how generously we should respond, and how inclusive our compassion should be.
 
First, notice that the priest and Levite crossed the road so that they wouldn’t have to get too close to the injured man who may have appeared to be dead. Touching a dead body would render them unsuitable for service to God. But perhaps they kept their distance so they could avoid seeing that wounded man. The good Samaritan’s behavior, however, challenges us to move toward suffering rather than away from it. When we engage life “up close and personal,” with open eyes and open hearts, we are much more likely to be moved to compassionate action.
 
The second challenge the good Samaritan poses for us is to question how generous our compassionate action should be. In many situations, it’s not enough to make donations of cash, food, or clothes; send a sympathy card; or promise to pray for others. The good Samaritan personally comforted the injured man, transported him to a safe haven, paid for his care, and promised to return to see if more was needed. The Samaritan may have arrived late at his original destination, but sometimes God has other destinations in mind for us.
 
Third, using the good Samaritan as his example, Jesus underlines his constant teaching that the test of Christian love is not how much we love those who love us, but how much we love those who don’t love us. Jesus’ disciples are to respond to the example of the good Samaritan by imitating their master’s embrace of all people. We are called to extend our compassion to our “enemies”: those who get on our nerves, those who sometimes insult us, those who can’t repay us, those who often disagree with us, as well as those who seek to hurt us.
 
It takes just this kind of inclusive compassion to break down the barriers to the full realization of God’s beloved community.
 
– How can you move out of your comfort zone, and to whom could you respond with compassion?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store
 
Graphic by Dinah Roe Kendall.

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christWith the celebration this weekend of Independence Day, we remember that God’s mercy can be witnessed in both the freedom he offers us and the way he loves us.
 
Freedom is a big deal in the Gospel. However, freedom in the New Testament means something very different from the way we commonly understand that word today.
 
When Jesus says that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:36), he does not mean free to simply pursue material possessions, successes, and satisfactions or to gratify our every impulse and whim.
 
All these ultimately fade away. It’s when we buy into the idea that we have a “right” to be happy that we fool ourselves at the cost of failed relationships, unsatisfying ambitions, dispirited lives.
 
Jesus gives freedom a deeper meaning—freedom from the burden of excessively pursuing material attachments. Freedom from self-absorption, so we can discover the joy of serving others and thereby store up treasures “where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
 
Paula Huston writes in A Season of Mystery that Jesus is the way to inner, lasting happiness. Contentment, she writes, comes by valuing ourselves as our merciful God values us—simply for who we are.
 
This is the freedom offered by Jesus.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord Jesus,
we thank you for loving us just as we are
and for teaching us the way
to true freedom and true joy.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Wheat_Field“He said to them, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you”’ ” (Luke 10:2-9).
 
The first thing, and perhaps the best thing we can give people when we engage in ministry is our willingness to carefully listen to them. Ministry becomes mutual service when we engage people with loving attentiveness.
 
Our hands, as much as our ears, can also be instruments of loving service. A gentle touch can be a powerful purveyor of God’s love. This is illustrated by the story of a man who dressed as a clown and made monthly visits to a group of children living in a shelter. Each month he came with a bag of Hershey Kisses, but rather than grab the chocolates, the children reached for the large red heart on the costume. They knew that when they pressed the heart, they would get a hug in return. The reign of God is at hand. It’s as close as our own loving hands.
 
But approaching our daily encounters in these open ways can also make us vulnerable. We may be misunderstood, ignored, or put down. But Jesus asks us to be willing to be like a lamb as he was. If we imitate the vulnerable love of Jesus, we become instruments of his transformation of the world. Through us as through Jesus, the reign of God is at hand.
 
There is a story about a World War II soldier who found a statue of Jesus that was missing its hands. At the base of the statue was written, “I have no hands but yours.” The reign of God is truly in our hands.
 
– What aspects or situations of your life could be seen as areas of ministry where Jesus wants you to go as the emissary of his love and peace?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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InternetThe Internet came on the scene back in 1995 or so. By 2000, it was becoming a household word, and business people adopted the mantra “The Internet changes everything.”
 
In the Church, we are halfway through our celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
 
When the Holy Father proclaimed the jubilee year, he said, “I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy. The mercy of God must be at the center. We must ‘feel mercy.’ This word changes everything. It’s the best thing we can feel; it changes the world.”
 
In writing about the Jubilee Year, an Italian journalist and publisher noted, “If we do not understand that mercy is the heart of the Gospel, we cannot fully understand Jesus Christ or the tenderness of the Father who sends him to listen to us, to heal us and to save us.”
 
Then there is Trappist Priest Simeon Leiva-Merikakis, speaking bluntly about the immensity of God’s mercy: “Whoever receives mercy must give mercy, or else he will choke on it.”
 
God gives his mercy so abundantly that we always will have more than enough for ourselves and for everyone we encounter, Fr. Simeon explains.
 
Like the miraculous loaves, mercy is multiplied in the giving.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Heavenly Father,
I pray that I can be a witness of your mercy
and make it the focus of my dealings with my brothers and sisters.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’ And to another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ But he answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ And another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ To him Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62).
 
When we are young and idealistic, we often find ourselves able to say with genuine enthusiasm, “I’ll go with you anywhere, Lord! Here I am, Lord, send me.” The first apostles dropped their nets and responded immediately to Jesus’ invitation to “follow me”.
 
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the first apostles thought their kingly Messiah was riding in triumph to claim his earthly throne. But it didn’t take long for the glory of Palm Sunday to become the terror of Good Friday. His followers scattered in fear. Peter, his chosen representative, denied his master three times. The apostles could not keep their promise to follow him wherever he would go.
 
Jesus’ sobering words to Peter should be sobering to us as well: Someone will “lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). The enthusiastic early promises we make are purified through suffering. Like Jesus and Peter, God will lead us where we would rather not go. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded in terror, “let this cup pass from me…” (Matthew 26:39). But Jesus was quickly consoled by God’s Spirit of Love, so that he could yield himself completely to his Father’s will, “not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Realizing that Jesus knows full well the fearful reality of embracing the call to sacrificial love, we can pray in confidence for the grace to follow him to the cross, and through the cross to Easter and the fullness of life.
 
If the fearful Peter, who denied his master three times, could be brought by the power of the Holy Spirit to embrace death by crucifixion, perhaps we can endure those lesser forms of persecution that we may experience when we say our “yes.”
 
– How do you respond when God leads you where you would rather not go?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.
 
Illustration by Eugene Salandra.

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Father_SonA father’s first duty is to protect his children. That goes for not only earthly dads, but for our Heavenly father as well. His embrace encompasses even those furthest from him.
 
This is why the words we hear most often in Scripture are “Do not be afraid.”
 
Many wonder why a loving God of mercy puts up with evil, why bad things happen to good people while the sinful often seem to prevail. The world is what it is, because God has created us fully free.
 
A Carmelite writer describes God’s mercy this way:
 
“It is like a declaration of love from God to humanity, to each one of us; it is a pledge of fidelity that is relayed from hand to hand, from heart to heart, and finally comes down to us.”
 
We, too, have to pay attention to these words. After all, Jesus was not one to talk for the sake of hearing himself.
 
Through the ages, God’s message to Dads remains, “Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn” (1 Kings 2:2-3).
 
Our prayer today:
 

Heavenly Father,
your mercy flows from age to age
like a river through time.
Bless our earthly fathers
as we celebrate them on this, their day.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They said in reply, ‘John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”’ Then he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter said in reply, ‘The Christ of God.’ He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’ Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (Luke 9:18-24).
 
Peter was able to proclaim Jesus as “the Christ of God,” but he had little understanding of what this messiahship entailed. Peter did not yet understand that the Messiah would sacrifice himself for the well-being of others, and that he would expect his followers to do the same for each other. Jesus tells us that if we want to be his disciples, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. The key word in this phrase is “our”—“take up our cross.” Yes, we have to follow Jesus to the cross to get to resurrection, but our cross is not the same as Jesus’ cross. Yes, we will have to take up the cross of Jesus and accept his yoke on our shoulders, but we will not be overwhelmed. Jesus will never let that cross be more than we can bear.
 
Similarly, each time we receive the blood of Jesus in Communion, we are aware of Jesus’ question, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink” (Matthew 20:22)? We can say “yes” when we realize that each of us has our own particular “cup” to embrace. Each day we are asked to pick up our unique cup and drink it to the full. Where is the grace to do this? Among other graces, Jesus has given us his own eucharistic presence to inspire and sustain us.
 
– What supports or graces are available to help you with your crosses?
 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store

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