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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

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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

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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

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