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God calls us to listen to and believe in his Son.
 
Lord, you are with us on the mountaintops of life.
In those moments,
we glimpse the grandeur of your presence
and the splendor of your promise.
Let us hold these experiences in our hearts
even as we return to our everyday lives.
Let our sight be pure
and our hearts filled with hope this Lenten season
as we await the promised glory of your resurrection. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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Transfiguration“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, ‘Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’
(Matthew 17:1–9).”
 
Theologians have tried to explain the context of the Transfiguration—the meaning of Elijah and Moses appearing on either side of Jesus, the meaning of the clouds, the shining light, and so forth. Although we still do not fully understand what happened, we do know what effect it had on Jesus and his disciples.
 
First, for Jesus, it was a moment of great consolation. He had already begun his mission of bringing God’s message to the people, and his preaching and miracles drew great crowds. Many praised him, and a handful joined him as followers. But he also had enemies who tried to discredit him. As the opposition mounted, anyone could foresee that it was going to end in a violent confrontation. For Jesus, it was not easy to accept rejection by the very people he came to save, and he needed reassurance. The Transfiguration experience gave him exactly that — a boost to his soul. “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.” Words of affirmation and encouragement from his heavenly Father.
 
The Transfiguration helps us to realize that we need the comforting presence of God just as Jesus did. We need to be assured that our actions are right, that we are on the right track. The good news is that if we listen to God, we can hear those words, too. God speaks in many ways, and we need to be attentive. And we need to trust enough to bring our plans, our dreams, and our desires to God and then listen patiently. We will hear those encouraging and consoling words.
 
Second, the Transfiguration did something precious for Jesus’ disciples. They were shattered by Jesus’ statement that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. That was not what they hoped for in a messiah. They were experiencing doubt, bewilderment, and incomprehension about their leader. This moment of his glory on the mount of the Transfiguration reassured them as well, so much that they wanted to stay there.
 
This is our story too. Most of us want to stay in the place where we feel safe, secure, and happy. We don’t like to leave people we love and with whom we are comfortable. We want to hold on to times of great joy and do not want to experience pain and hardship. The Transfiguration shows us that life is not static but is constantly moving forward. While we will experience moments of beauty and reassurance, life comes with thorns, too. As the disciples had to leave the mountaintop and face what was to come, we must also be ready to confront the challenges that each day brings us.
 
– Where do you look for affirmation and assurance in your life?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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In the “wilderness times” of our lives, our recourse is to God.
 
Lord Jesus, when I experience wilderness times,
let me never forget God’s unqualified mercy.
As I face times of testing,
give me the grace to choose life.
Guide me through this Lenten season
with a renewed desire to entrust my life into your hands. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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Jesus temptation“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.’ He said in reply, ‘It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’ Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.’ At this, Jesus said to him, ‘Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him” (Matthew 4:1–11).
 
We all know temptation. Temptations to be less than we were created to be, to take the easy way, surround us. If we believe that Jesus is not only fully divine but also fully human, we should not be shocked that even he was tempted. He knew what it meant to live on this earth, to eat and drink, to feel excitement and joy, frustration and fatigue. He knew what it was to love and be loved and to lose people for whom he cared. He experienced temptations to be less than who he was being called to be, and he was free to say yes or no, just as we are.
 
Jesus, like all of us, was tempted throughout his life. We see him being tempted, after the multiplication of the loaves, by the peoples’ acclaim and their determination to make him king, but he escaped from the applauding crowd. Later, he refused to play the magician for King Herod when Herod demanded miraculous acts. And in his agony in the garden, we see him confront and resist the temptation to run away from pain and suffering. We have in Jesus someone who was tempted like us in many different ways. And how did he respond?
 
Throughout his life, Jesus showed himself to be rooted in prayer, turning to the God the Father who was constantly with him. We see him throughout his ministry, especially in times of temptation, withdraw to pray on the mountaintop—to be in the presence of God, and to take time to reflect. But afterward, he returned to his community, to the people who accompanied and supported him in ministry. It was the support of prayer and community that gave him strength in the face of temptation.
 
Throughout our lives we are confronted with temptations to do such things as mistreating a sibling, lying about who broke the vase, plagiarizing someone else’s work, demeaning others to make ourselves look better. Maybe we are tempted to abuse alcohol or drugs to escape an unpleasant reality. If we look to the example of Jesus who rooted himself in prayer and drew strength from a supportive community we, like him, can overcome temptation.
 
– How does Jesus’ response to temptation present a model for your response to temptation?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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“‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides’” (Matthew 6:25-33).
 
At some point in our lives, we all go through periods of worry-filled hysteria. If it’s not about work or school, it’s about money or family. We are people who are constantly concerned with our future comfort and contentment. Where will I live? What kind of job will I have? Will it be fulfilling? Will I make enough money? Is there someone out there for me? We believe our future happiness depends on getting the “right” answers to these questions.
 
In this gospel passage, the response is the simple and sometimes annoying catchphrase, “Don’t worry. Stop and smell the roses.”
 
Jesus is not simply saying, “Don’t worry.” He explains that worry is meaningless and will get us nowhere. Worry will not provide food or clothing; it will not add a single day to our lives. He asks us to question the value of the things about which we go crazy with worry. Essentially, he asks, “What is really important?” Jesus does not tell us to ignore our responsibilities; rather, he tells us to get our priorities in order.
 
“First, seek the kingdom of God…” This may seem like a very abstract concept that has nothing to do with our practical concerns; but if we are to take Jesus seriously, we must see his teaching about the kingdom of God as real and relevant in everything we do.
 
The Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx described the kingdom—or reign—of God as a time and place where love, equity, and justice prevail in a reconciling and peaceful society and all beings live to the potential that the Creator has instilled in them. When striving for such a world becomes our first priority, schoolwork, jobs, and financial security diminish in prominence. Loving our neighbor, respecting others, and showing kindness to the stranger, these are the most important things we will ever do.
 
– How do your worries keep you from living as God intends?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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