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Holy_Trinity

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
Amen.

 
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.
Amen.

 
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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Lord Jesus, Redeemer and Lord,
help us to be your presence in the world.
May our hearts beat with yours,
our hands reach out with your love,
our feet move us more toward your compassion.
Transform our eyes that we may truly see,
our ears that we may truly listen,
our mouths that we may learn to speak of your love.
May we grow more and more in your likeness
as we desire your love to be made visible in our lives.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 7:55-60)
 
Here we have two stories, one an end and one a beginning. Stephen, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” a deacon, was a powerful preacher and witness to the Gospel and who infuriated the religious leaders, who stoned him to death. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, Stephen forgave his murderers. He is considered the first Christian martyr, a glorious ending.
 
Saul is an avid Jew who feels called to persecute what he considers to be a dangerous sect of Judaism, the young Christian community. He obviously was held in esteem by the Sanhedrin, and the witnesses who testified against Stephen “laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul” as they were stoning Stephen. This is a shocking story about the man, known to us as Paul, who was most instrumental in the growth of the early Church. He had a deep fear and hatred for all that Stephen proclaimed. Yet, after his dramatic conversion, he became the most important and courageous apostle who is more responsible than anyone for spreading the message of Christ. That is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church, the same Spirit that abides in each of us today and in our Church with all its problems and weaknesses.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9)
 
“The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.” The psalmist lived in a time of kings. We do not, but his intention is the same as ours, to honor the power of God in our midst.
 
A reading from the the Book of Revelation
(Chapter 22:12-14, 16-17, 20)
 
“Come Lord Jesus.” These are the last words of the Book of Revelation and Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Those words were written at a time of persecution and great distress to give hope to a struggling people. “Come Lord Jesus. Come Lord Jesus.” Could these words be part of our prayer when we experience crises, disappointments, and fears for the safety of our loved ones or our own safety and health; when we see pictures and hear stories of the millions of refugees and victims of war and persecution? We may feel helpless in the face of such daunting personal or global tragedy. Let us pray, “Come Lord Jesus.”
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 17:20-26)
 
John wrote his Gospel long after the death of and resurrection of Jesus, and it includes not only the basic story that the other Gospels tell but also John’s accounts that are somewhat different from what the other evangelists recorded. This passage has a powerful theme: “so that they may all be one, as you Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us.” The dual message here is that Jesus and the Father are one and that we are one with them. That is the basis of our faith. We do not believe in an isolated being up in the sky, as it were, but in a Trinity, a community of persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and the best part is that we, in a way, are part of that community. God is our Father, too. Jesus is our brother, and the Holy Spirit lives within us. That is quite a community in which to share!
 
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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Faithful God,
you have given us yourself
in word and in sacrament
so that we may see you
with eyes of faith.
As I live out my days
help me to be an authentic reflection
of your presence within us.
Thank you for choosing to dwell
within and among us.
Grant me the courage and passion
to be a bearer of your peace
in a turbulent world.
In Jesus’ name I pray.
Amen.

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

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Holy_SpiritA reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 15:1-2, 22-29)
 
One of the first great controversies in the early Church was about whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised. This issue arose in Antioch because, as Luke writes, “Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.’” The apostles and elders in Jerusalem sent this response, which opened the Church to all: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place any burden on you beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right.”
 
The animal restrictions may seem strange to us, but it was an important part of Jewish practice that the apostles kept while eliminating the need for circumcision. This was a major breakthrough that opened the doors to thousands of Gentiles who otherwise might not have become Christians.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8)
 
“O God, let all the nations praise you.” Of course, not all nations praise God, but we do.
 
A reading from the the Book of Revelation
(Chapter 21:10-14, 22-23)
 
The writer tells us, “The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” This was written long after the physical city of Jerusalem had been destroyed. “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light.”
 
Jerusalem, the heart of Judaism, had been destroyed, but in the vision the new holy city came down from heaven. It was the symbol of the new faith, built on Judaism but fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 14: 23-29)
 
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. . . . I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me you would rejoice that I am going to the Father.’”
 
Here we have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one passage. This occurred right before Jesus left for the last time, so he wanted to be clear about what was most important for the apostles to remember and follow. They should not worry about what to teach. The Holy Spirit would teach them everything they needed to know and remind them of what Jesus had already taught them.
 
This is what was most important to remember—that the Holy Spirit would be with them, guiding them always and helping them make important and difficult decisions such as the question of circumcision that we heard about in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. We believe that the same Holy Spirit is with us today, guiding us and our leaders. Of course, the Spirit has been stifled so many times throughout the history of the Church, including in our own time when some Church leaders failed to act property to deal with sexual abuse by clergy. That does not mean that the Spirit is absent but rather that it is not heard and followed.
 
Let us pray that our Church and each of us in our own lives will be open to the power of the Holy Spirit, that we may seek wisdom and follow it in the love of Jesus Christ.
 
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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Lord our God,
it is your love that sustains us,
binds us to one another,
and calls us out into the world.
Stretch us to move beyond
our own limitations,
so that in all our actions
your love will be present
to bring about forgiveness, healing, and justice.
With grateful hearts,
we thank you
for your amazing love.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

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

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A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 14:21-27)
 
Another name for this book could be “The Travels of the Apostle Paul,” because even though other apostles are mentioned in the book, it is mostly about the heroic and enormously important 30-year journey of this amazing man. Paul was a driven man, driven by his new found faith in Jesus, driven by his guilt for having persecuted the early Church, but also energized by the forgiveness he received from the risen Jesus and by his initial belief that Jesus would soon come again and so would the end of the world. Of course, Paul was wrong about that expectation, as were so many early Christians. We don’t know when he became enlightened and changed his belief, but what is clear is that he was faithful to the end in preaching Christ crucified and resurrected.
 
Here we see Paul and Barnabas at the end of one of Paul’s early journeys. We are told that “they made a considerable number of disciples” and that they “strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, ‘It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.’” That was an understatement. Many of the new disciples would be martyred by the Roman Empire which regarded them as dangerous to imperial authority. That is why it was most important that they leave behind someone to be in charge, and so, “They appointed elders for them in each church.” The new faith spread everywhere Paul traveled.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13)
 
“I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.” The Jewish people had a series of kings but worshiped God as their true king. We don’t think of God as a king but rather as a loving community of persons, the holy Trinity, in whose image we have been born and live in God’s all-loving presence.
 
A reading from the the Book of Revelation
(Chapter 21:1-5a)
 
There is a controversy about when the Book of Revelation was written, whether around 70 AD or much later in the 90s. We know from the text that it was written during a time of terrible persecution by the Roman emperors who saw Christians as a major threat to their power. In this reading, John gives the Christians hope, a new vision. “Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth…. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.’”
 
And here is the best news for a persecuted people who were in danger of death and imprisonment every day: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” Imagine hearing that in the midst of terror.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 13:31-33a, 34-35)
 
It is now time for Jesus to leave and go to his Father. He gives the disciples a beautiful gift and a challenge: “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
 
That’s it! Simple, powerful, life-giving, and challenging! It was all of that for the early disciples who needed to stand by one another in a time of crisis, persecution, and possible betrayals. History records many instances of persecution against the Church, in the Church, and sometimes by the Church. Could it all have been avoided if during the two thousand years of our history as the people of God we had followed this simple, profound gift, living the call of Jesus to love one another? Yes, of course, easier said than done, but possible for us today if we first totally accept the gift of merciful all powerful love from Jesus. This is not something we promise to do, and then it happens. It is a lifelong journey into the mystery of God’s unconditional, ever-present merciful love. It is a love that we can never earn, no matter how we might try. But we need not try, only accept this love that Jesus gave to the disciples two thousand years ago and still gives us today.
 
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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Loving Father, with a grateful heart,
I acknowledge the gift of your Son,
our Shepherd.
Help me learn to recognize his voice
when it is spoken to me every day,
but especially when I am vulnerable
and need protection and strength.
Give me the heart of a Good Shepherd,
that I, too, will care for those
who are vulnerable, anxious, lonely.
Help me to recognize myself in them
and to reach out to them in times of need.
I pray in union with the Holy Spirit,
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 13:14, 43-52)
 
What we read in the Acts of the Apostles implies that Paul and Barnabas were inspired speakers who had a powerful effect on their listeners. They started out preaching mainly to Jewish people and converts to Judaism, but at this point their message is being received more positively by the Gentiles. It must have been hard for Paul who, in his previous life as Saul, was a rabid persecutor of the new Christian community. Up to this point, most of the followers of Jesus were Jews. From now on, Paul will truly be the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is because of him more than any of the other apostles that Christianity spread all over the Mediterranean world and beyond. Without him, it may have only been one more sect within Judaism. From what we know of Paul, he could be difficult at times but always courageous and persevering in his mission.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5)
 
“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” What does it mean for you to be a part of God’s people? How does that change you?
 
A reading from the the Book of Revelation
(Chapter 7:9, 14b-17)
 
This book was written long after the death and resurrection of Jesus—around 95 AD. By this time, there were many thousands of believers, but they were being persecuted by the Roman Empire. It is hard for us, centuries later, to imagine how hard it was for people to be practicing Christians. By then, the Romans saw them as a major threat to the empire’s power and did everything they could to wipe Christians out. Some emperors were worse than others, but persecution was the order of the day. The author of the Book of Revelation wants to assure his readers and listeners that God is with them. Their suffering will end, and they will be rewarded.
 
We do not face anything like the vicious all powerful and pervasive force that was ancient Rome, although Christians in other parts of the world are subject to violent persecution even today. We do all suffer in many ways at numerous times in our lives. When you are in your deepest and most prolonged suffering, do you still believe in the healing, saving power of God’s unconditional love? Are you able to go back in time to other occasions of deep suffering and remember how you made it through? Remembering those past experiences can help you be conscious of, and rely on, the supportive Spirit within you.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 10:27-30)
 
The role of shepherd in the ancient world is something that we often romanticize today. In ancient times, shepherds were shadowy figures, often shunned in everyday society. Some were good and took care of their sheep, but others were not devoted or honest. A good shepherd was highly regarded, because he had to take care of a large herd often in dangerous and lonely conditions. Jesus knows all this when he calls himself the Good Shepherd. He knows that his audience will get it in a way that is more difficult for us today when we do not like to be thought of as sheep.
 
The last line of this passage is the most important. “The Father and I are one.” Remember that this Gospel is the last to be written, long after the death of Jesus and the writing of the other three Gospels. Why does John write such a powerful sentence? It is precisely because that is what people believed about Jesus these many years later. Jesus is not only the Messiah, not only the Son of God, but Jesus and the Father are one. Gradually, this level of belief developed into the central dogma of our faith, the Holy Trinity. It took centuries, but then something so extraordinary was not to be written on the back of a napkin.
 
We are truly created in the image and likeness of God, and God is a community of persons, not a solitary isolated being. We are communal persons as well, in our families, among our friends, and in our parish. We are not meant to be alone. It is not in our nature.
 
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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Generous God,
thank you for the home I have
and for the food on my table.
You alone know the hungers I bear
and how they can best be satisfied.
As I look to you for my nourishment
open my eyes to the hungers around me
and with the Spirit of Jesus,
give me the voice to call out the invitation,
“Come and eat!”
Amen.

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

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A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 5:27-32, 40B-41)
 
Many commentators on the scriptures call the Acts of the Apostles the Acts of the Spirit and for good reason. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the early Church is chronicled throughout this book. The author wants it to be very clear that Jesus gave his Spirit to the disciples and that all that they do is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
I don’t know what your experience of the Holy Spirit was in Catholic school or religious education classes, but I went to Catholic grammar school, high school, and college, and I knew almost nothing about the Holy Spirit. I certainly had no clue about the important role the Spirit played in the early Church, nor did I know that the very presence of the Spirit was in me and all my classmates. The Holy Spirit was truly the forgotten member of the Blessed Trinity. If you had a similar experience, then let’s face it—we all were deprived of a most important truth of our faith. That was not the intention of Jesus, as we read here of “the Holy Spirit whom God has given.” Let us rejoice this Easter season and in all seasons in the presence of our life partner, the Holy Spirit. The Apostles and the other disciples were never alone in their challenges, suffering, and even death. Neither are we.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13)
 
“I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me.” How often and in how many ways has God rescued you? Think about it, and you will most likely come up with a rather long list.
 
A reading from the the Book of Revelation
(Chapter 5:11-14)
 
Do you find the readings we hear during this time of Easter to be weird, over the top, incomprehensible? You are not alone. This is apocalyptic writing meant to give people courage in the midst of persecution and immanent disaster through symbols and stories that were not comprehensible to outsiders but were hope-filled for the early Christians. The basic message throughout is, hold on, have faith despite your persecution and trials. God is greater than all this, and you will be rewarded.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 21:1-19)
 
Numbers are often symbolic in the Bible. For example, the number of 153 fish that the apostles caught represents all the different types of fish that were known in that region. More important, the three times that Jesus asks Peter “Do you love me?” connects to the three times that Peter denied knowing Jesus. It is an amazing story. The first leader of our Church was a “Jesus denier,” a man so filled with fear that he denied even knowing this man that he now professes to love. Peter is no longer afraid and acts in a courageous way right up to his death. How did he have this profound change of heart? Love, as Jesus said, “Love casts out fear.”
 
We are all afraid many times in our lives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we are afraid for our own safety or the safety of loved ones. Sometimes it is a fear of failure or even a fear of success. But, we can’t live our lives in fear. It will destroy our joy and possibly our very lives. Peter overcame his fear because of his deep love for Jesus and because, despite his fears and faults, he was in turn loved by Jesus. Jesus loves us in the same way, not only for our successes but in the midst of our fears, disappointments, and failures. Jesus is with us always, not only when we are “good” but especially when we are struggling, tempted, and overwhelmed.
 
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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Gracious God and Father,
the human heart is often slow to grasp
the impact of the Resurrection on all creation
and on our own lives as well.
When I doubt, give me the comfort of your peace.
Strengthen me for the challenge
and the blessing of bearing your image.
Fill me with compassion and forgiveness
so that I reflect your image more clearly.
Help me to be a sign of Jesus’ resurrected life
in my home, my parish, and my community.
With a full heart, and in Jesus’ name,
I offer you praise and thanksgiving
for the amazing love you pour out on us.
Amen.

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

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