Branching-Out

Signs of Love

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As my husband and I drive around our town running errands and shopping, we pass many residences that have signs either on their doors or windows or on posts in their front yards. The signs often consist of drawings or cutouts of hearts, and usually words of thanks to healthcare workers. The signs are not elaborate, but they are wonderful examples of recognition and appreciation for the sacrifices and hard work of those on the front line of providing medical care, especially to pandemic patients.

St. Damien de Veuster, whose memorial is celebrated today, would certainly have merited such signs if they had been in vogue in the Kalaupapa Peninsula leper colony in the mid 1800’s. As a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Damien was sent to Hawaii in 1866 and to the leper colony at Kalaupapa in 1873. For 16 years he worked to get houses, schools and even a church constructed; he also ministered to the spiritual and medical needs of the lepers, until leprosy claimed his own life.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, St. Damien, Acts of love

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 8, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48)

The first great internal crisis that the early Church faced was the question of inclusion or exclusion—who could be in the Church? Almost all of the first disciples were Jews, and Peter at first believed that new members who were not Jews had to be circumcised and keep other Jewish religious laws. Paul, who preached mostly to gentiles, disagreed. He wanted the Church to be inclusive, reaching out to non-believers. Here we have a great example of how Peter, who we consider to be our first pope, changed his mind and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” This was a major breakthrough for the young Church. It meant that it was to be a universal church, a catholic Church, not merely a sect or offshoot of Judaism—a Church where everyone is welcome.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 98)

“The Lord has revealed to the nations his power.” God first revealed his power through the people of Israel. Today, he reveals his power through all of us who believe in him and in his Son, Jesus Christ.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, God is love, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Sixth Sunday of Easter

Come, Have Breakfast

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 3, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, we read of Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his resurrection. I enjoy how this account is written; there is a brief conversation between Peter and six other disciples that puts the reader into the scene. We can see them getting into their boat and earnestly fishing in the Sea of Tiberias. They caught nothing except discouragement until Jesus appeared and told them to cast the fishing net to the right side of the boat. After they obeyed Jesus, the net was loaded down with 153 fish! What a difference! I don’t know how big the fish were, but the disciples had to drag the net full of fish a hundred yards, and the implication is that there was some worry that the net might tear, but it did not.

Then Jesus invited them: “Come and have breakfast.” What an invitation! Jesus, the Risen Jesus, not only took the time to give them fishing advice but had prepared a charcoal fire with fish on it and told the men to add some of the fish they had just caught. Then Jesus even served them bread and fish for a surprise daybreak meal!

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Topics: encounter Jesus, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The risen Jesus

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 9:26-31)

Let us try to imagine for a moment what it was like to be a Christian in the early years after the death of Jesus. The Romans targeted Christians as strange and possibly dangerous fanatics. Most Jews saw them as a danger to their faith and to their very lives if they were seen by the Romans as being at all sympathetic to this new movement. We know that Saul was a persecutor of Christians and that he had some sort of conversion experience on his way to Damascus where he had planned to help suppress Jesus’ disciples. Of course, people were afraid of him. He was a personification of the enemy, so Barnabas must have been well respected and trusted to get the community to accept the man now known as Paul.

It is amazing how someone we do not trust, someone we may even despise, can have a change of heart and become a friend or ally. Without Paul there would be no Roman Catholic Church as we know it. Redemption is possible, even for a persecutor, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 22)

“I will praise you Lord, in the assembly of your people.” That is exactly what we are doing in church today and every day that we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Windows

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 30, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When our television is on‒which is often because we are home so much‒I hear so many commercials for new and replacement windows for your home. These windows could be carefully installed and, because of the expert installers, fit right in, even if you have special trim or casings. I started thinking that perhaps some of us may need new windows in our spiritual lives‒that is, new ways of looking out at our troubled and chaotic world, and new ways of letting the Light, the Risen Christ, shine into our hearts.

We are still in the joyful season of Easter, a time to eagerly count our blessings, especially the blessing of our redemption through Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, we rejoice and look out on our world with renewed hope. This hope is not a gift to be hoarded; it is a breath of fresh air and has to be circulated.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, new perspectives

Good Reminders

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 26, 2021 9:15:00 AM

I was riding through a residential area that I don’t have occasion to visit often when I noticed a small cross on the side of a house. I thought to myself, what a nice idea! Of course, I don’t know the reason for its being there, but it could be a pleasant little reminder to say a prayer before you go out in the car on an errand, or to pray in thanksgiving at your safe return.

In these days of carefulness about sanitizing, I often go to my kitchen sink as soon as I return from an outing and wash my hands. I grab the plastic bottle of dish detergent, give it a squeeze, and wash for the recommended 20 seconds. Lots of times I will notice some tiny bubbles that come out of the bottle along with the liquid soap; they float in the air all around me for a second or two. Each bubble, self-contained, silently reflecting the sunlight, gently glides through the air. They remind me of the numerous little blessings I take for granted each day of my life. My hands function, I have clean running water, I can smell the lemony fragrance, I can sanitize even though I have happily received my two doses of virus vaccine. Sure, those are small things, but they should not be overlooked.

People are easily reminded of bad events in their livesa scar on their skin reminds them of an accident; a dent in the car brings to mind the time someone backed into them; a doctor’s bill evokes a recent illness that was not completely covered by insurance. We all encounter such reminders, but we have to try to keep a balance by also noticing the good reminders in our everyday life.

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Topics: gratitude, Gratitude to God, RENEW International, share your faith, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on Apr 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 4:8-12)

Peter and the apostles are being criticized by the Scribes and Pharisees for healing a disabled man. Peter tells them that the man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ, the very person they condemned to death. This was not the kind of thing that the leaders wanted to hear. They thought they were done with Jesus forever when he was crucified, and now his followers are healing in his name. They thought they must put a stop to this, but they never could, no matter how hard they triedand they certainly tried.

Jesus was a healer and our Church, founded in his name, should always be about healing, reconciling, forgiving, not condemning and excluding. Pope Francis is working through his words and his deeds to heal so much of what is missing from our Church and to allow the power of the Spirit to heal and unify.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 118)

“The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. “

Throughout the history of Israel, the people have rejected the God who revealed himself through Moses, yet he has remained the cornerstone of faith as Jesus is for us Christians.

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Topics: The Resurrection of the Lord, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, The Good Shepherd

Treasures

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 23, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I assume most of us hav­e little treasures or keepsakes that we hold dear. A few years ago, I decided to share my little collection of music boxes with my two teenaged granddaughters. I set the music boxes out on a table and told the girls they each could choose one. I expected that each of them would happily pick one and cherish it forever because, if for no other reason, it was their grandma’s. To my dismay, neither of them really wanted a music box and politely declined. So much for sentimentality!

I figured out that those music boxes were not things that these modern young teens had personal experience with and, while the girls love me, they could not relate to my keepsakes. Maybe those music boxes are for older people.

I remember some discussions around that time in which the implication was that religious practices, too, were more for older people. Perhaps in my granddaughters’ immaturity, they preferred experiences that were more tangibly interactive on their level. With cell phones, computers, and so many sights and sounds at their fingertips, it seemed that taking time to savor or treasure something didn’t have the appeal it had for me who had not had all the hi-tech devices in my youth.

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Topics: RENEW International, share your faith, Sharon Krause, treasure the faith

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on Apr 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 3: 13-15,17-19)

This reading has been misinterpreted over the centuries and became a basis for the virulent anti-Semitism that caused the death and suffering of millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters. Peter said to the people, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence when he decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”

There is the accusation that has led to millions of deaths. But somehow, Peter’s next words of Peter are forgotten: “Now I know brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouths of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

All of the apostles were Jews, and most of the earliest Christians were as well. Moreover, the Church teaches that God’s covenant with Israel was fulfilled in Jesus, that covenant was in no way abrogated by his ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Jewish people, the Second Vatican Council declared, “are most dear to God because of their fathers.”

Responsorial Psalm

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 4)

“Lord, let your face shine on us.” What a great and beautiful image! Imagine that, God’s face shines upon each of us. We cannot see the face of God in this life, but the face of God shines on us. I must say that I never thought of it that way, but it is never too late to learn more of God’s powerful love for us.

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Topics: The Resurrection of the Lord, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, gift of faith, having faith, Jesus Christ, Jews, RENEW International, New Covenant, Covenant with Israel, Suffering Messiah

Our Loving Father

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Our Easter season is 50 days long. No need to put all the plastic eggs and bunny decorations away in a hurry. On a spiritual level, this is our period to extend our rejoicing, to bask with gratitude in the light of our Risen Lord.

We have probably said The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times, but I think we can pray it with a few different meditations during this time of the church year.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

We have a Father who, while being fair and just, loves us very much. Sometimes, I think, he seems a big distance awayup there in heavenbut he is not far away at all. Heaven is where he is, and he is everywhere, all of the time. We can never honor and praise enough his name and who he is, but it is our challenge and privilege to try. If we God-watch, we can appreciate just how much he fathers each one of us every day. He expects us to behave like brothers and sisters in his family and share the love we know. We spring into loving action as we blend into springtime!

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Topics: Easter Season, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The Lord's Prayer

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