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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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King_DavidThe Second Book of Samuel tells of the great sin King David committed when he had one of his soldiers purposely slain in battle so David could take the man’s wife for his own.
 
Speaking through the prophet Nathan, God told David, “You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down”
(2 SM 12:12).
 
David confessed his crime aloud to the prophet Nathan, who answered, “The Lord has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.”
 
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we treasure in a special way the repentant King David’s beautiful Psalm 103, which expresses his acceptance of and gratitude for God’s mercy:
 

“The Lord is compassion and kindness, full of patience, full of mercy.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve; he does not pay us back for our wrongdoing.
As high as the sky above the earth, so great is his kindness to those who revere him.
As far as east is from west, so far he has put our wrongdoing from us.”

 
Our prayer today:
 

Divine God of Mercy,
help us always remember that you care for us
as a mother cares for her children,
even when we least deserve it.

 
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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“A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.’
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
The others at table said to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ But he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:36-39, 44-50).
 
Every party has a guest list. Even the most open celebration has an implied set of “undesirables” who are not welcome. So we can imagine the reaction when a “sinful woman” from the city shows up at Simon the Pharisee’s by-invitation-only dinner party. To make matters worse, she makes a scene by crying and pouring a jar of scented oil over Jesus’ feet.
 
When Jesus fails to rebuke the woman as Simon expects, Simon begins to doubt that Jesus is a prophet. He assumes that Jesus must be ignorant, because no man of God would willingly associate with a sinner—nevermind let her touch him!
 
Both Simon and the woman have made mistakes, and Jesus accepts them both. The difference between them is that one has an appreciation for how much grace she has been given, while the other does not. Simon believes that any sins he has committed are far less than those of the penitent woman —in other words, that she has far more need of forgiveness. Accordingly, Simon’s interest in Jesus is strictly intellectual. He respects Jesus, he includes him among the dinner guests, but has little emotional attachment to him.
 
The woman, on the other hand, shows her love for Jesus devotionally. She cares for him and weeps over the sins that have damaged their closeness. Simon’s and the woman’s relationships reflect their awareness of grace. Simon clings to the idea that he is self-sufficient and has little patience for the grace Jesus shows the woman. The woman refuses to be put off by Simon’s judgment. She acknowledges Jesus’ grace, hears his call, and comes to him despite being the undesired guest.
 
When we take time to think about how much grace God has shown us, we too learn to love God devotionally and to see more clearly the physical and spiritual needs of those around us. The grace we receive enables us to become instruments of grace in the lives of others, and we set aside the notion that we shouldn’t associate with the “unworthy.” This is what Jesus taught Simon—since all are unworthy, all are worthy.
 
– How can you break the habit of judgment? How can you help heal the damage done by judging others?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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Name_of_God_Is_MercyDuring his training as a Jesuit in 1960s Argentina, Pope Francis taught literature. He also was a friend of the great Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges.
 
So it’s no surprise that his recent book, The Name of God Is Mercy, is an inspiring look at what he calls “the first attribute of God.”
 
It also happens to be a great beach read for the summer
months ahead.
 
The short book (151 pages) reads like a conversation, because that’s exactly what it is—a collection of interviews with a Vatican news correspondent.
 
In its review, The New York Times wrote, “The pope has an easy conversational style that moves effortlessly between folksy sayings and erudite allusions, between common-sense logic and impassioned philosophical insights. He is given to memorable metaphors—such as urging priests to go out in the world and be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.’”
 
The Name of God Is Mercy shows why this “Pope of Mercy” views the Church as a family. “It is the first school of mercy,” he says, “because it is there that we have been loved and learned to love, have been forgiven and learned to forgive.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Heavenly Father, mercy is your name.
Grant that we always find ways
to recognize and receive the love you have for us.

 
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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DeadEndKidsThere’s a recurring element in the story line of the TV series The Middle that struck a familiar chord with me.
 
This plot element focuses on a low-brow family whose kids are the scourge of the neighborhood.
 
The situation immediately reminded me of a family in the town where I grew up, a gang of boys who have always been, in my mind, synonymous with “no good.’’
 
The oldest of them was several years older than me, so their reputation was well established before I started crossing paths with them.
 
Well, “crossing paths” isn’t the right term, because the object seemed to be to avoid crossing paths with anyone in that clan.
 
In fact, now that I’ve had the occasion to reflect on it, I realize that those boys never did anything to me or, for that matter, caused any trouble that affected me in any way.
 
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
 
Like millions of people, I suppose, I am a member of a social-media group for people who grew up in the same town.
 
I chat in an ever-growing network of people who share memories of the schools and neighborhoods and shopkeepers in that town and who, in many cases, have had some direct connection to my family or me.
 
In the several years that I have engaged in this conversation, I have had several encounters that I would not have expected.
 
But nothing surprised me more than to see, suddenly turning up in conversation strings, the name of one of the older members of the Terrible Tribe of my past.
 
My first reaction was surprise that he had survived this long, what with what I imagined had been his lifestyle.
 
My second reaction was astonishment at the tone of his conversation, which was laced with nostalgia for the people and places we had been familiar with fifty years ago and more.
 
And it was an affront to my smug attitude toward him and his kin that I picked up from his profile the fact that he has been successful in an elite kind of business with which I would never have associated him.
 
Inevitably, he and I became involved in the same conversation and wound up talking directly to each other.
 
He said that he didn’t remember me, but he had warm and complimentary things to say about my brother and my family in general.
 
In fact, he said, “If you needed a friend, you always knew the Paolinos were there.’’
 
Clearly, he wasn’t referring to me.
 
This exchange prompted me to think more carefully about my relationship with those boys and to realize that I had had no relationship with them at all.
 
I had nursed revulsion for them for more than six decades without any insight into their personalities or their possibilities.
 
So I am grateful that through the unlikely vehicle of a social medium, I was prodded to reexamine an impression I had formed when I was relatively young and inexperienced.
 
This episode has reinforced for me ideas that I myself have preached and taught for more than thirty years: the fundamental goodness of human nature, the possibility of redemption in every human life, the need to approach each person—as Pope Francis has both taught and practiced—with the equanimity practiced by Jesus.
 
In the movie People Will Talk, Cary Grant, playing a physician, hears a bed-ridden old woman say that her doctors have given her up for lost.
 
“The nerve of some doctors,” Grant replies, “giving people up for lost as if they had found them in the first place.”
 
This post also appeared in The Catholic Spirit, Diocsese of Metuchen.
 
Charles Paolino is a member of the RENEW staff and a permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Metuchen.

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“As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, ‘A great prophet has arisen in our midst,’ and ‘God has visited his people’” (Luke 7:12-16).
 
When we read a miracle account in the Bible, we can become distracted by the flashy nature of the miracle and forget the human story it conveys. The miracle described in this Scripture passage shows that Jesus’ authority extends even over death and the dead. This isn’t an action movie; it’s a drama. Let’s look beyond the “special effects” and pay attention to the characters and their story.
 
For the widow, the young man’s death is not only emotionally devastating but also could be a material tragedy. A widow’s life was not easy in the ancient world. With no husband to support her and now no child left who to take care of her, she will live the rest of her life as a beggar.
 
This mix of grief at the present and horror for the future is what moves Jesus to compassion. When he tells the widow not to weep, it isn’t just an attempt to comfort her in her distress. In raising the young man from the dead, he provides for all the widow’s most basic needs. He offers physical and emotional healing to the mother as well as to the son.
 
Jesus’ miracle inspires the crowds to make two statements, and we should be attentive to them both. First, they call him a “great prophet,” an acknowledgement of his amazing power. But the second sums up the point of the reading: “God has visited his people!” The Gospel is not mainly about God’s power but about God’s favor, or grace. By bringing the widow hope, Jesus opens her eyes to the lengths God will go to in his love for her.
 
When we serve food to the homeless, show struggling kids how to succeed in school, or simply provide companionship to the elderly or lonely, we aren’t simply preparing them to receive some abstract Gospel. We show them that God is aware of their needs and is working to take care of them. We “preach” the Gospel by our actions.
 
– What is it like to be a small instrument of God’s hope and how have you made this part of your life?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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EucharistOne message of this Jubilee Year of Mercy is that we can be assured God loves us. Perhaps the greatest proof of this is the gift of his body and blood in the Eucharist. Pope Francis said, “The Eucharist is Jesus, who gives himself entirely to us.”
 
Isn’t this the core understanding of what love is all about—to sacrifice, to give of ourselves for the sake of the beloved? Perhaps this is a reason why we build cathedrals and churches that are as beautiful as we can make them. They are not so much a places for us to meet as they are home for the living presence of Jesus.
 
J. R. R. Tolkien, the British university professor and author who gave us The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, once wrote to a friend. “I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Dear Jesus, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus,
we know you in the breaking of the bread
and we worship your living presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

 
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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TabernacleI felt a hand fall on my shoulder and heard a familiar voice say: “Dignity! Dignity at all times!”
 
It was Jack Troy, an usher in the parish where I grew up.
 
I had graduated from altar server to usher when I was about 17.
 
Without the ritual of the Mass to restrain me, I was a little disorderly in my new role at first. I was waving the collection basket around like a baton when Jack came up behind me.
 
“Dignity at all times,” he said, and added, “you’re in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.”
 
That was an expression that I heard often when I was a kid.
 
That wasn’t only because I frequently needed to be reminded of it; it was also because the level of awareness that Christ was present in the tabernacle was very high in those days.
 
It was commonplace to see people bless themselves, or to see men remove their hats, even if they walked past a church on the sidewalk outside — because they were conscious of crossing in front of tabernacle.
 
Inside, people spoke in hushed tones. Men removed their hats; women kept their heads covered; no one walked past the tabernacle without genuflecting.
 
I’m not one to argue for a return to the 1950s when the culture of the Church was very different from what it is now, but I think the basis for all that reverence was important, and I think we have to be careful not to let it slip away from us.
 
This is a matter of balance.
 
For example, whereas the tabernacle was once at the center of every sanctuary, in many churches in more recent times it has been moved to a side altar or a Eucharistic chapel.
 
The reasoning behind this change was that the focal point during the celebration of Mass should not be the tabernacle but the sacrifice being renewed on the altar.
 
Another consideration is the healthy idea that a church should be a welcoming place, not a forbidding place—a place to which people come in joy, not in fear and not out of an ill-defined sense of obligation.
 
Our challenge is to maintain a balance between those positive changes in our practice and outlook and our core belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist that is celebrated on the altar and that reposes and is adored in the tabernacle.
 
Children are growing up in a skeptical, secular, materialistic culture that is not hospitable to such an idea. On the contrary, children are likely to hear an idea like the real presence of Christ dismissed and even ridiculed.
 
If they are to embrace the truth that Jesus is literally present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist they must learn it from adults who embrace the truth.
 
They’re more likely to learn if they see us go to church with both reverence and joy; if they see us participate in Mass not as solitary individuals but as part of a loving community; if they see us genuflect or bow our heads with purpose when we are before the tabernacle; if they see us receive the Eucharist, not by snapping it out of the minister’s hand and walking away, but by taking it into our own hands as something sacred and consuming it while facing the altar; if they see us treat the cup, whether or not we drink from it, as if it were the same vessel from which Jesus shared his blood; if they see us participate in the liturgy from beginning to end—not in a rush to get away but overjoyed at being once again in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
 
This post also appeared in The Catholic Spirit, Diocsese of Metuchen.
 
Charles Paolino is a member of the RENEW staff and a permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Metuchen.

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“Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets”
(Luke 9:16-17).
 
Bread is a simple, filling food, the mainstay of the poor. Until relatively recently in history, bread or other grain products made up the bulk of most people’s diets.
 
In Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt’s account of his impoverished childhood in Ireland, he describes going to confession, ready to atone for stealing bread for his hungry family. He expected the worst from the priest, but the priest offered instead a scathing indictment of the social conditions in which young Frank was forced to steal bread for his very survival. The priest told the boy that he was not a sinner but that rest of the community might have something to atone for.
 
That priest was echoing the compassion of Jesus in the gospel story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. The Lord knew that the people who had gathered to listen to him were hungry. Yet, he didn’t let them remain hungry nor send them back to town where they may or may not have found provisions. Instead, Jesus broke bread and some simple fish, blessed them, and distributed them to the crowd.
 
Just before we receive the Eucharist at every Mass we attend, we pray that God will “give us this day our daily bread.” Yet many go without food while we enjoy more than enough and throw away what we don’t care to eat. What does it mean to receive the Body of Christ while others go hungry? Eucharist is about helping to satisfy spiritual hunger, and it nourishes us for the work of bringing about justice, of providing for the hungry, and working to eliminate hunger. Eucharist is about living who we are as the body of Christ in our world.
 
The next time you are offered the body of Christ, think about the work it is giving you the strength to do. Pope Benedict the XVI said it well: “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.”
 
– How does thinking about physical hunger affect your experience of receiving the Body of Christ?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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TrinityFrom earliest times, our ancestors have recognized and been awestruck by God’s love for us and his mercy in creating and sustaining us. The Book of Proverbs revels in the idea that the creator “found delight in the human race” (Proverbs 8:31). And the Psalmist sings a song of wonder: “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” (Psalm 8:4-5).
 
Shortly after becoming bishop of Rome, Pope Francis explained that “God is not something vague, abstract, but has a name: ‘God is love.’” This love is not sentimental or emotional, “but the love of the Father who is the source of all life, the love of the Son who died on the cross and rose, the love of the Spirit who renews man and the world.”
 
This we know as the Trinity, one God in three Persons, the central mystery of our faith, beyond the power of human reasoning to understand or explain. The Trinity, Pope Francis says, is “the face which God himself revealed.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

 
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 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'” (John 16:12-15).
 
The feast we celebrate this Sunday is all about relationships. The Trinity offers us a model for living in right relationship. The Trinity is at the center of what being a Christian is all about: being in right relationship with our God, our brothers and sisters, and our world.
 
How can we begin to understand the relationships within the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? The Father cannot do anything but love, and that love is poured out in creation and in the sending of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. God’s love is so immense that one can make sense of God as Father only as He is in relationship with the Son and the Spirit. We can’t understand Christ as God’s son without thinking of the Father as sending forth Christ. The Son makes sense only in returning to the Father. God calls the Son back, and the Son chooses to return to him The Spirit has moved throughout history, inspiring the prophets so that in the fullness of time Christ came to earth and redeemed us. That presence of Christ continues today through the Spirit, as we are continually called back to Christ through the way we live and love.
 
We are made to be in relationships, because we are human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God. And through our baptism we are adopted as God’s children, as we are plunged into the relationship of the Trinity—we are literally baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
 
Only in relationships are we fully human, fully alive, as God has created us to be. The Trinity is a model of this sense of radical interconnectedness to which we are called—and it is through the Trinity that all our right relationships flourish.
 
Relationships are inherently dynamic—they change and grow, as do the people within them. They are meant to be life-enhancing, and at their best, allow each of us to become more fully who we’re meant to be.
 
The Trinity offers us great encouragement but also great challenge. For in and through others we are led to God; however, we are also called to help lead others to God. The Trinity is a model that can serve as a great witness to how we are to live, love, and grow throughout our lives.
 
– How are you imitating the model of God’s love in your relationships?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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Holy_SpiritThe prophet Elijah sought God in windstorm and earthquake and fire. But he heard God only as a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). In Psalm 46, we are advised to “Be still, and know that I am God.”
 
But after more than a week of prayer in the upper room, the apostles were visited by the Paraclete, who came like a wind that shook the place where they were hiding and poured out tongues of flame.
 
The apostles, their souls now on fire, boldly went out into a perilous marketplace to announce the good news of God’s love. Jesus had fulfilled his promise that “the Spirit of truth” would come to guide them to a new understanding of God’s redeeming mercy.
 
“Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples,” Pope Francis said in his Pentecost homily last year. “Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand ‘all the truth,’ that the death of Jesus was not his defeat but the ultimate expression of God’s love.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Holy Spirit of Truth,
grant us the same courage you gave to the apostles so we, too,
may be bold witnesses to the Father’s loving 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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Pentecost“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?’” (Acts 2:1-9).
 
The story of Pentecost is fundamentally about understanding and communication; but to better appreciate it, we need to look back at story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). In this familiar story, the arrogant people try to build a tower to heaven in order to gain fame. God is not pleased by this and decides to “confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says” (Genesis 11:7). The people can no longer communicate, the tower project is abandoned, and the people spread apart from each other. This story is more than an attempt to explain the different languages of the world. It warns us to rely on God rather than our own abilities and arrogance, or risk losing an understanding of each other and the security of community.
 
At Pentecost, the tower event is reversed! The disciples, all from Galilee, are able to communicate what they have experienced and heard to people from all around the world. The disciples had experienced Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and then had been commissioned by the Spirit to bring Jesus’ message of love, tolerance, renewal, and mission all people. Jesus becomes that which unites people and allows for common understanding.
 
We, too, are commissioned to be disciples of Jesus and to communicate his message to others. We can recommit ourselves today to being open to the Spirit of God at work, as the disciples were at Pentecost. Through the Spirit, we can become witnesses to love through both word and action. Living our lives in the service of others communicates the incredible depth of God’s love to those for whom and with whom we serve.
 
– What part of Jesus’ message of love is most challenging for me to accept or live out?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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