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Have you ever been with someone who spends much of the time checking his or her cell phone or writing and receiving texts? It is as though you were not there.
Have you ever had a conversation with a co-worker, neighbor, relative, friend, or family member in which a controversial topic came up—especially regarding politics or religion? Neither side really listens, and one or both may get hostile. How would that affect your relationship and your connection to truth?
Scenarios like these are part of the great disconnect that haunts our society.
There are many things that can break us apart, and not all are controversies or annoyances or misunderstandings.
For example, we live in a very mobile society. Young people grow up with beloved families and friends and then go away to school or military service and never come back except to visit. A person gets married and has children, and whether he or she stays local or moves away, lives in a different world. Other people change jobs, either because they see better opportunities or get laid off. Perhaps they had good relationships in the old job, but they lose touch with most or all of their former co-workers. Some relationships may survive such changes, but many do not, at least not on the same level of connection.
We live in a very fast-moving, disconnected society; yet, there is always hope for connections and reconnections rather than isolation. That’s because most of us are naturally communal beings.
Remember when you were a child and were taught that you and all people were created in the “image and likeness of God”? Did you associate that idea with God the Father or with Jesus, the Son of God? What about the Holy Spirit, the forgotten member of the Trinity?
If, as we believe, God is a community of equal persons, and we are created in the image of this communal God, then we, too, are called to be communal, living in relationships with others. This is the great mystery of God’s everlasting love, a community of love.
Yet, we are torn in so many directions, so distracted by cell phones, the Internet, social media, cable TV, and video games that we can lose one another and drift into isolation and perhaps depression.
When was the last time you had a deep and meaningful conversation with someone you love?
Are you involved in a community—whether spiritual, healing, or intellectual—or in a cause beyond yourself? Perhaps your involvement is local, connected with your school, place of worship, or a community-based service program. Maybe you are attracted to a national organization or movement for justice or protection of the environment or another issue that is in your heart but has not yet involved your presence.
We each have different interests, beliefs, personalities, and availability, but we all need connections, some form of community and belonging. Yes, we are all living in the mystery of God’s community of love, created in the image of a loving God who is a community of persons. Let us rejoice in who we really are and who we are called to be.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Lord our God,
thank you for bringing us
into the love relationship
that exists in your being from all eternity.
We humbly offer you ourselves in return,
and ask that you use us as you will
in the work set before us.
As you embrace us in solidarity,
help us to embrace those around us
who are alone and in need
of your living presence.
We offer this prayer,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit

Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of Proverbs
(Chapter 8:22-31)
“Thus says the wisdom of God: ‘The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.’” Who or what is this wisdom that seems to speak as a person? Is it God himself, or herself, because in the Hebrew Scriptures wisdom was often called Lady Wisdom? Later, in the Gospels, Jesus is called the Wisdom of God. Are you confused? Join the crowd that has been trying to determine this for two thousand years. We who are Christians or Jews refer to ourselves as monotheists, people who believe that there is only one God, and yet we Christians believe that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent is also God. How does this all fit together? Welcome to the greatest mystery of our faith—the Holy Trinity, one God who is three Persons. This is not a mystery to be solved. It is the mystery that you and I live in every day, the mystery of God’s unconditional love.
Remember when you were taught as a child that you were created in the image and likeness of God? That God is not an isolated single being somewhere out there but rather a community of persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And that God’s very Spirit lives within each of us even when we are off track, when we have seriously sinned or have disbelieved. God never abandons us.
It also means that we are not meant to be alone. We are communal beings created by our God who is a community of persons. That is why we long for the love and friendship of others, why we are willing to make great sacrifices for our families and friends and our larger communities. It is a major part of our spiritual DNA. Let us rejoice in who we truly are, not only created in the image and likeness of God but living our lives in that divine and human community.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9)
“O Lord, our God, how wonderful is your name in all the earth.” Our love for one another is what makes God’s name wonderful. We are God’s messengers of that love.
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 5:1-5)
Paul is writing at a time of great persecution and suffering, so he wants his people to have hope. “Brothers and sisters . . . since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that but we boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character , hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Do you pray in the Spirit of hope, realizing that the answer to our prayers is often not what we may expect or when we expect it? Some prayers seem to be answered soon, others in time, and still others in ways we had not imagined. Yet, we pray in hope in the embrace of our God—all three Persons—in our Community of Divine Love.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 16:12-15)
Remember that John lived for many years after the death of Jesus and had much time to pray and be inspired to share deep truths not recorded in the other Gospels. Here, he gives us more clues about our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but will speak what he hears, and will declare for you the things that are coming. . . . Everything that the Father has is mine. . . .”
All of this is a deep, enduring truth. God is a community of persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer it is not just to the Father but also an entry prayer into the depths of the Holy Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit within us that carries forth the prayer, and it is Jesus our brother who is always with us in our prayer. Our prayer is not simply a series of words but a communication with the Holy Community of which we are a part, whether we pray silently by ourselves or as part of the Eucharistic Assembly.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Most Holy Spirit,
you were present with the Father and the Son
when all of creation was called into being.
Your moving presence
took a small group of people
and made it into a new communion
that is your Church.
Make us worthy of your constant presence.
Divine Advocate,
direct my actions as an individual
and as a member of your Church
so that all I do
will reflect to the world
your love and presence of God.

Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

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pentecostA reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 2:1-11)
If you wonder why there were so many people from so many countries in Jerusalem on the occasion described in this passage, it was because Pentecost was first a Jewish feast and a time when pilgrims from all over the near world would travel to the holy city to worship. But on this particular Pentecost, Saint Luke tells us, there were strange happenings: “A noise like a strong wind” and “tongues of fire”, signs similar to those that occurred when God established the original covenant with the Jewish people. Luke wanted his audience to know that this was God confirming a new covenant with a new diverse people—thus, the people speaking many languages but still understanding one another. Luke wrote this a few decades after the actual events, and he wanted people to know that this was the beginning of something new that had its roots in a previous tradition and fulfilled that tradition. Today, we say that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34)
“Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” Here is a common thread between Judaism and Christianity, the Spirit of God. The difference for us Christians is that we believe that the Spirit of God is not just “out there” somewhere but rather lives in each one of us. That is one of the major breakthroughs of Christianity. God is not some distant being but absolutely close to each of us even when we might not feel that presence. We are never alone.
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 12:3b-7, 12-13)
Saint Paul tells us that we may each have different gifts and forms of service, but what unites us all together is the one Spirit. And, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
You and I each have different gifts from the Spirit. Do you believe that? What are your spiritual gifts? How do you use them, share them? Can you appreciate the gifts of someone else, even though you might disagree with them on one or more issues? That is particularly important today when our country and even our Church are often divided in many ways.
As we read the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Saint Paul, it becomes clear that there were a series of major differences within the early Church with so many groups coming in and out of focus, each believing that their version of the truth about Jesus was the right one. This has continued for some two thousand years and has been the cause of wars and numerous unjust actions. It is only when we listen to the Spirit and act in the loving power of the Spirit that we have peace and true communion.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 20:19-23)
Jesus said to the Apostles, “Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so also I send you.” Then, “He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
John wrote these short few sentences, at the end of the first century, to validate the connection between the Church after Jesus with his words before he was no longer visibly present. Jesus conferred gifts, first the Holy Spirit and then the power to forgive sins. Remember, John wrote his Gospel during a time of persecution, and he wanted to make sure that his readers would know how blessed they were and how they were strengthened in the midst of endless trials. The Holy Spirit was with them and is with us today.
What are the special gifts that you have received in your life? How have you used them, especially the gifts of forgiveness and healing?
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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