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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

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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

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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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