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So often, we get bogged down with negative emotions. I’m tired, I’m stressed, I’m anxious. I’m bored, I have too much going on, I don’t have enough going on. Rarely do we pause to celebrate the glorious life we are living. Do we ever stop to recognize the beauty in the mundane, the miracle in the everyday? Often, we don’t. Instead, we need a cause for celebration—a wedding, a birthday, a promotion. But this past Wednesday was a day for celebration—for the United States, for women, for life. And while some may say that the United States Women’s National Team danced and celebrated a little too big, I disagree. We are called to live a joyous life, and when we live filled with joy, we are praising, thanking, and glorifying our Creator.
 
Pope Francis writes in his encyclical Christus Vivit, “Dear young people, make the most of these years of your youth. …dream freely and make good decisions. …Make a ruckus! Cast out the fears that paralyze you, so that you don’t become young mummies. Live! Give yourselves over to the best of life!” Our Holy Father is encouraging each of us to celebrate, to take risks, to be joyful. I would argue, that when we live like that, we are living holy lives.
 
Annie, Samantha, and I—interns at RENEW International—were encouraged to attend the United States Women’s National Team’s ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning. We quickly agreed and figured out the logistics of it, while maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving and excitement for this opportunity. Throughout Wednesday morning, I was astounded by the moments that were filled with grace, or holiness—for example, when we made it into the city with no complications or over-crowded trains, and when we had time to grab some yummy coffees. Another such moment occurred when we found a great spot to watch from, with no one in front of us! A few minutes later, we met our neighbors, two young women who had traveled from Vermont to celebrate!
 
Soon, the crowd began to thicken, and we overheard stories of women who had played soccer their entire lives and young girls sharing which players were their favorites. We saw police officers selflessly and bravely protecting the people, acting with integrity. We witnessed sign after sign held by young and old, boys and girls, demanding equal pay for the soccer players they had watched diligently throughout the season. We had an easy and safe walk after the parade and caught trains that worked seamlessly and helped us make it back to the RENEW office on time.
 
But, most of all, there was holiness in the joy. There was holiness in the faces of the young girls who rode down Broadway on floats and looked out into the crowd with excitement, joy, and dreams. There was holiness as people in office buildings threw confetti from their windows, and others watched with awe as it fell beautifully. There was holiness when we saw the U.S. Women’s Team dance and laugh with joy, experiencing disbelief at the support. There was holiness when the young women next to us laughed with joy when they saw women in real life whom they have supported from afar. There was holiness everywhere.
 
Pope Francis also writes in Christus Vivit that when St. John Bosco taught St. Dominic Savio that “holiness involves being constantly joyful, he (St. Dominic) opened his heart to a contagious joy. …Dominic died in 1857 at fourteen years of age, saying: ‘What a wondrous thing I am experiencing!’” Indeed, while standing on the streets of New York City, laughing and cheering amongst new friends and strangers, I paused to think, “What a wonderful thing I am experiencing.”
 
Jessica Guerriero, at left in photo above, will be a junior Catholic Studies major at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas this fall. Jessie was born and raised in Ohio, but enjoys travelling and adventuring across the country and the world. “I love learning about social justice, women in the Church, and the Holy Cross Tradition,” she says, “and I am so grateful for my time spent here at RENEW this summer.”

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The word of the Lord came to me:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
“Ah, Lord God!” I said,
“I do not know how to speak. I am too young!”
But the Lord answered me,
Do not say, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak. Jeremiah 1:4-10

 
This summer we have fresh air blowing through the corridors of our RENEW office. Along with the Holy Spirit, the source of this fresh air is three young, faith-filled, and talented interns. Besides significantly lowering the median age of our staff for the summer, Samantha, Jessie, and Annie have brought a new and vibrant perspective on all things faith and Church. Please read more about them—and from them—in this newsletter.
 
The faith and exuberance of these young women is exhilarating. Still, it reminds me that young Catholic like them are becoming more and more exceptional. The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape survey by the Pew Research Center found that almost 23 percent of the public in the United States identified themselves as religious “nones” (unaffiliated with any faith group). Close to another 16 percent said “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious affiliation. Adults under 30 made up 35 percent of “nones.” These are startling but not surprising statistics.
 
RENEW is deeply concerned about the loss of young people engaged in our Church. We believe the significant number of Catholic young adults and young families who are disengaged from their Catholic faith, or who now number themselves among the “nones,” has made it urgent for everyone in the Church to focus our attention on children, adolescents, and young adults. My hope is, first, that more pastors and lay ministers will recognize the urgency of this situation and, second, that this recognition will move them to change, renewal, and reform.
 
Young people force us to revisit, rethink, and redo the ways we think about and do Church. We not only need to listen to young people who are still practicing the faith (and those who are not) but also invite them to participate in reimagining the context in which the sacred teachings of Christ and his Church are presented in the 21st century. We should encourage them to not only speak but lead. Their ideas are unique and relevant and are needed to attract other young people and make our parishes vibrant. Young people are not only the future of the Church they need to be called and encouraged to be leaders in the present.
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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God of power and might,
you teach us the marvels of the universe.
You have given us your Son,
the revelation of your divine presence,
and you invite us into deep and everlasting relationship.
Help me
to grow in my desire to know you,
my hunger to be fed with your love,
and my longing to be imbued with the wisdom of your Spirit.
Strengthen me
to become an effective witness of the gospel
and to promote your reign of God in the world.
I ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.

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

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prayingA reading from the book of Genesis
(Chapter 18:20-32)
 
Imagine making a deal with God, bargaining with God over the fate of thousands of people. That is the scene here with Abraham asking God to spare the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is like a scene from a Middle Eastern marketplace, except this one has the fate of two cities in the bargain. The authors of Genesis use this story because they know it will resonate with their audience.
 
“In those days, the Lord said: ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.” Standing in the divine Presence, Abraham sees an opening and asks, “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!’” God then says that he would spare the city for the sake of the innocent people, and the bargaining begins! Abraham keeps on lowering the bar to forty five, then forty, thirty, twenty, and finally ten. God then relents: “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”
 
This may seem like a strange story about an all-loving and forgiving God, but remember, this was written at a time when most people believed in pagan gods that were unloving, violent, and untrustworthy. Abraham was the first of a whole new order, a new relationship with a God who was just and always on the side of his people. We Christians come from that tradition, which was fulfilled in the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8)
 
“O Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” That’s the refrain, from verse 3; we also read in Psalm 138, “When I called, you answered me.” But there is no timetable. Prayer is not like putting your card in the machine, and out comes money. Even if we know that, we can be disappointed when it seems there is no answer, or at least not the one we want and when we want it. We need, then, to pray for discernment and patience.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
(Chapter 1:24-28)
 
“Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” Paul wants all the converts to Christianity to know that in baptism they died with Christ and were raised with him. There was no need for them to be circumcised. “And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all of our transgressions.”
 
There was a major controversy in the early Church about whether gentiles who wanted to be baptized needed to be circumcised. Paul spoke out many times against this obligation and eventually won the battle, thus opening the Church to thousands and soon millions of new converts.
 
For Paul, baptism was the first step in finding a new life, a new community, and the presence of the Holy Spirit who comes to all in baptism. That is so important for us to remember—that the very Spirit of God dwells in each of us, even if and when we may have our doubts and major failings.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 11:1-13)
 
A disciple said to Jesus, “‘Lord, teach us how to pray.’” He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.’”
 
Then Jesus told a parable about a man who knocked on the door of his neighbor at midnight to ask for food for a friend who had just arrived hungry. The sleepy neighbor replied, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.” Jesus then said, “I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
 
The point Jesus is making with this short parable is that we need to be persistent in prayer. It may be that we ask God to grant us a request, an important and appropriate request, but nothing seems to happen. Persistence! The answer may come to us slowly, or it may not be the answer we are hoping for, but we should persist and trust in a God who is not far away, but who lives within us.
 
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 God,
in your wisdom you invite us
out of our complacency.
You open our eyes
to see you with new vision.
You open our hearts
to love you with greater passion,
and you open our hands
to serve you with the purest intentions.
Lead us more deeply
into the mystery of discipleship
so that we may follow you
with steadfast faithfulness.
Give us the heart of Mary,
so that we may be transformed
by your Word
and fortified by your presence.
Give us the mind of Martha,
so that we can diligently accomplish your mission.
But above all, continue to invite us
into intimate and lasting relationship.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the book of Genesis
(Chapter 18:1-10a)
 
“The Lord appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre. … Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.” So, God appeared to Abraham, but not as one person but rather as three. It is hard to know who these men were except to say that they represented God or that one of them was God. In any case, Abraham knew that they were special, and so he asked his wife, Sarah, to make them a meal.  After they ate, the men asked Abraham where Sarah was. He replied, “There in the tent.” Then, one of the men said something wonderful to a couple who had no children and a woman who was beyond child-bearing age: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”
 
This is how it all started. Abraham would be the father not only of children but of a whole nation who would be called the People of God. Throughout the Scriptures, God comes to his people in the context of a meal, and so he does today, at the celebration of the Eucharist.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5)
 
“He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” Do you consider yourself a just man or just woman—in your family, your business, your community? Great! Beyond that, where do you stand on so many of the justice issues of our day: sexism, racism, economic inequality, the criminal-justice system, immigration, tyrants around the world? It may be that you feel powerless facing these difficult issues but living in a democracy means we need to keep informed so we can act are not passive to injustice and can act when it is within our power.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
(Chapter 1:24-28)
 
In this letter, Paul writes about one of the deepest and most important elements in our lives, mystery— not a mystery story that eventually is resolved but the Divine Mystery, the very presence of God in our lives, not in some far-off future but NOW. Paul writes that he is “to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this MYSTERY among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.”
 
There it is! That is the great mystery, Christ in us. The spirit of Christ lives in us. Amazing, but, of course, like any great gift, we need to accept it. How and when have you experienced the presence of Christ in you and all around you? How have you responded? Please remember that you and I and all of us are living in the mystery of God’s eternal love right now.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 10:38-42)
 
This is the story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, whom Jesus loved. At first, what occurs in the incident described in this passage may seem unfair. There was “Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” It sounds like a reasonable request. But, “The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’” It seems as if Jesus is putting Martha in her place. Maybe so, in a way, but we know that Jesus deeply loved both Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus, so much so that he came at their call to raise brother Lazarus from the dead. Here, he is pointing out that he would rather the sisters, and we, spent more time with him and less time absorbed in worldly things.
 
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.
 
Image credit: JESUS MAFA. Martha and Mary, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48311 [retrieved July 17, 2019]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

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Jesus,
please help us open our eyes and hearts and hands
to those children of God suffering in our midst.
Help us stand with people, as you did,
when they are victimized or vilified
because of their sexual orientation,
their race or nationality,
a disease they have,
or criminal deeds they have done.
Help us, O gracious God,
become good neighbors to all your children.
Help us to become sisters and brothers,
in deeds as well as in words,
and advance the coming of your beloved community.
We pray in the name of your Son, Jesus
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever
Amen.

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

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A reading from Book of Deuteronomy
(Chapter 30:10-14)
 
Moses said to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the Lord your God, with all your heart and all your soul. For this command that I enjoin on you today is not mysterious and remote for you. . . . No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
 
The Law of Moses was superior to any other law that existed at that time. Moses was saying that the people had this Law not only in their mouths but in their hearts. There was a beautiful intimacy there that became much more complicated over the centuries as various priests of the temple, rabbis, Sadducees, and Pharisees piled on hundreds of dietary and other laws that became a terrible burden for the people and pushed them away from the powerful simplicity of the Mosaic Law, which focused on loyalty to the one God.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37)
 
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.” Which of God’s words give you Spirit and life? Ideally, it is love, God’s love for you and the love you share with others.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
(Chapter 1:15-20)
 
This is one of the most beautiful canticles in all of Scripture. It tells us who Christ is: “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, … He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.”
 
Paul wants his readers and all who heard him to know the place of Jesus Christ in all of creation. This is not just another prophet or religious leader. No, he is the presence of God in our midst and being “the firstborn from the dead,” he brings eternal life to all. That is worth taking the chance that, even if you are martyred, you will have a new life with Jesus. That is the same promise that awaits us now.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 10:25-37)
 
From time to time there were “smart guys,” in this case, “a scholar of the Law who stood up to test him and said, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’” So, this smart guy said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus answered him, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.”
 
Then came the trick question. Because the man wanted to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with one of the most important parables in the gospels, the story of the Good Samaritan. A man coming from Jerusalem “fell victim to robbers” who “stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.” A priest of the temple and a Levite came that way and passed him by. Why? Jesus does not say, but perhaps it was because they were on their way to the temple and did not want to be defiled by blood and prevented from worshiping in their official roles. Then, there was a twist in the story as “a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.”
 
Then Jesus asked the man the key question: “Which of these three, in your opinion was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” The man was trapped by his own smart-guy question. So he answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him “Go and do likewise.”
 
Jesus expanded the Law of Love to everyone, including someone you might consider your enemy, as a Jew would have regarded a Samaritan. That’s a tough one! Is there someone that you consider an enemy, in your family, your neighborhood, our country or state? Even though you may strongly disagree with that person, would you help the person in a time of need? Could you try to see that person in a different light, from a different perspective?
 
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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Here at RENEW, we’ve been having much-needed repairs done on our roof, particularly the flat part towards the rear of the building. One afternoon, the workers came across a tiny baby bird that had been uprooted, possibly by a severe wind storm two days prior. The bird had fallen to the ground, and was following the crew around, anxiously looking for some lunch. The workers waited a bit, hoping the parent would return, but the day was getting warmer and warmer. Afraid someone might step on the bird or that a cat might find it, the crew brought this situation to the attention of our shared-services department, those wonderful people who answer our phones and help direct our emails, who fill orders and help make sure things in general run smoothly.
 
Animal lovers Marty and Dawn rose to the occasion and took our guest under their wings, so to speak. They researched best practices on the Internet and were soon fashioning a new nest in one of our shipping boxes. Lunch for our visitor consisted of smashed blueberries and some dog food, brought in by Dawn’s family. The dog food is reported to be high in protein and similar in taste and consistency to the baby’s usual diet of digested worms and bugs. Having no prior experience with any of this, we took “the hive’s” word for it. Apparently, the advice was correct, and the bird was soon enjoying a real feast.
 
After lunch, it became clear that the bird needed more care. It was then transported to a local bird sanctuary, The Raptor Trust, where it could get what it needed to grow up healthy and strong.
 
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says, “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it.” (129). We at RENEW had the opportunity to take part in a particularly special type of “interaction” and to reach out to help a fellow member of God’s kingdom here on earth.
 
Every day, there are opportunities for us to be part of creation, maybe by planting a garden or caring for our yards, or by caring for a baby bird. Love and discipleship, following the Lord in his way of love, cannot be confined only to an hour of church each week. It is truly something that must extend into our everyday lives, be contained in each breath we take. As we do for this one, this family member, this loved one, this friend, this stranger, this refugee, this criminal, this baby bird, so we indeed do for him. Just as we were able to find sanctuary for our bird buddy, let us be ready to seek out sanctuary for all those around us in need, be it a homeless shelter, a drug recovery program, or simply our sincere attention.
 
Today, keep your eyes open for ways you can be part of the work of God, ways you can sustain creation. Think with broad thoughts, not narrowed by what you may have done in the past or anything you read or were told. Join our Lord as a partner in his ministry and see what could happen. You never know where that next surprise may lead.Lords
 
Mary Foy is RENEW’s Assistant Director of Pastoral Services and project manager for Baptism Matters. She is also a Pastoral Associate at St. Joseph Parish in North Plainfield, NJ.

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Jesus, we did not choose you.
Rather, you chose us
to go forth as emissaries of God’s love and peace
into every part and place of our lives.
What an awesome calling–
to be your eyes, your ears, your hands for others.
Free us from the selfishness
and fears that hold us back.
Still us at the beginning of each day,
so that we may hear your voice
and feel your love blessing us and sending us forth.
Open us to the giftedness
of those with whom we minister,
and help us become more attentive and supportive allies.
All of these blessings we ask in your name,
as you told us to,
you who live and reign
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

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

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A reading from Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 19:16b, 19-21)
 
This book has three sections, and this is the last. It refers to the Babylonian Exile from 597 B.C to 539 B.C. Jerusalem was in ruins as the exiles returned. Imagine how they felt coming back to their holy city, the center of their ancient religion, to find it destroyed.
 
God encourages them by promising that Jerusalem will be restored and will nurse them like a mother. “For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort. When you see this your heart shall rejoice.”
 
These words gave the people hope and courage in the face of devastation and the exhaustion from having lived so long under tyranny. This is why Jerusalem is so important to the Jewish people today, after so many centuries of heartbreaking disasters and disappointments. It remains a powerful symbol of God’s promise.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20)
 
“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” Sadly, our beautiful earth is crying out to us today in pain as we continue to pollute its land, water and air. Let us learn more about this tragedy and how we can help.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians
(Chapter 6:14-18)
 
The Galatians were divided on the issue of circumcision; it was one of several issues that were causing division among them. Paul tells them, “neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.” There is something much more important: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The Galatians have argued among themselves and with Paul, so he tells them, “From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.”
 
Paul knew what was most important, the powerful love and presence of Jesus. It is a good lesson for us as we sometimes become upset over small matters and miss the big picture.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 10:1-12, 17-20)
 
Obviously twelve apostles were not enough to reach all the people who wanted to hear the Good News, so Jesus chose 72 more disciples and told them to depend on the generosity of the people in each town for food and lodging: “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals, and greet no one on the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Jesus was aware that not everyone would accept the message and he has especially harsh words for those who reject the message. “I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.” Of course, there is no record of that happening anywhere the disciples went, so we have to consider this as hyperbole that Jesus used to make a point. These were going to be very hard and dangerous journeys. Many of these disciples were harmed and several were martyred, but the message was powerful, and it gradually reached far beyond Jerusalem. It is a truly amazing story of courage and the power of the Spirit of God that went with those disciples and is with each of us today. Can you think of times when you had to do something challenging, and it worked out? Have you thought how the power of the Holy Spirit within you helped you make the right decision and respond to the challenge?
 
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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God, our Father,
let us sow seeds of love and mercy.
Let us sow the seeds of the gospel
so that the Good News of your Son, Jesus,
will take root throughout the world.
Give us gifts of kindness and respect.
Send your Holy Spirit with whatever gifts we need
to plant the gospel throughout the world.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the First Book of Kings
(Chapter 19:16b, 19-21)
 
Elijah was one of the most important prophets of Israel, and now God was telling him that he must choose Elisha as his successor. The Lord said to Elijah, “You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah as prophet to succeed you.” So, Elijah found Elisha “as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. . . . Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.” That was all the sign that Elisha needed to understand that he was chosen to be a prophet, so he slaughtered his twelve yoke of oxen and fed the people in his neighborhood. “Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.”
 
This is one of many stories in the Bible about someone receiving a call to serve God, what we today would call a vocation. Most of us grew up thinking that the word vocation meant only being a priest or a religious sister or brother, but the truth is that each of us has a vocation, a calling from God to do some kind of service with our lives. For most of us, it means being a wife or husband or parent, but it can also mean being a devoted son or daughter, sister or brother or friend. It also may mean using our talents or positions in society to help others, especially those in need. It may be many of those roles, and we should celebrate each of them in our lives, especially those that are most challenging.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11)
 
“You are my inheritance, O Lord.” Most of us may or may not receive a large financial inheritance. No matter! In our response to the verses of this psalm, we acknowledge that God is our inheritance. What more do we need?
 
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians
(Chapter 5:1, 13-18)
 
Paul tells the Galatians, “Brothers and sisters: for freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”
 
The yoke of slavery that Paul is talking about is the old law with its hundreds of prescriptions, including circumcision. Jesus had simplified the law into two great commandments: Love God and love one another. But Paul does not want the people to emulate the mistakes of sects that promoted practices that were against Christian morality.
 
He concludes by telling the Galatians, “But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” So, when you and I are faced with difficult decisions, we need to reach for guidance to the Spirit that lives within each of us. The Holy Spirit is our partner in life and our guide. That may not be news to you, but even if it is, it is good news. The very Spirit of God lives within you!
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 9:51-62)
 
Jesus is preparing to make what will be his last journey to Jerusalem. He wants to stop in a Samaritan village first but is not permitted to enter because the Samaritans know he is going to Jerusalem, place they hate, because the Jewish people consider them to be heretics. The apostles James and John ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But vengeance is not the way of Jesus, so he rebukes them. Along the way, many people are attracted to him, and three say they want to follow him. “I will follow you wherever you go,” says one man. But each of the three had conditions, so Jesus did not accept any of them. And yet, we know he had many disciples who stayed faithful to his message after he died.
 
What does it mean for you to be a disciple of Jesus? What do you think he is asking you to do with your life? Perhaps it is something heroic, but more probably it is a series of loving responses and service to the people in your life—at home, at work, and in your community.
 
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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feeding-the-poor-

Our Father in heaven,
God and Father also of the hungry,
please care for them.
May we honor your holy name
by doing your will
regarding those who hunger.
As you give each of us each day
our daily bread,
we pray that our sisters and brothers
may be blessed in like manner.
Forgive us our sins of greed and indifference.
Lead us away from such temptation
and deliver us from the evil
of turning away from you and your children.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
Whose death and resurrection is our everlasting hope.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the Book of Genesis
(Chapter 14:18-20)
 
Abraham was the father of the Jewish people. Melchizedek is a shadowy character from the Book of Genesis who is mentioned only one more time in the Hebrew Scriptures—in Psalm 110. “You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.” In this reading Melchizedek is described as a king who “brought out bread and wine and, being a priest of God most high, he blessed Abram with these words: ‘Blessed be Abram by God most high, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God most high, who delivered your foes into your hand.’” So, Melchizedek is a priest and a king, and he shares bread and wine with Abram even before Abram becomes Abraham—the name God gives him as “God’s chosen one.”
 
It is an odd story, but it is in this liturgy because it mentions the sharing of bread and wine which is what we do during at each Mass, with one major difference. We believe that Jesus is truly present in the form of bread and wine as he was at the Last Supper.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4)
 
“You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.” Every priest that is ordained in the Roman Catholic Church is ordained with these words.
 
A reading from the first Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 11:23-26)
 
The Eucharist is the center of our weekly worship, and the center of the Eucharist is our participation in sharing the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the form of bread and wine. In this reading, Paul tells the Corinthians, “Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
 
Remember, in the beginning, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, most Christians, including Paul and the other apostles, believed that Jesus would soon return. Until then, they were to share his presence by celebrating a meal together as Jesus did with the apostles the night before he died. As it gradually became clear that Jesus would not come back as soon as the early Christians had hoped, the celebration of the Eucharist became more and more important and central to their worship, and it kept the various communities together just as it does today with us.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 9:11b-17)
 
“Jesus spoke to the crowds about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.” There we have the two most important ministries that Jesus pursued for three years and that almost all scripture scholars agree were at the core of his preaching: announcing the Kingdom of God and healing people who were suffering. Luke tells us in his Gospel that Jesus was doing this all day, and at the end of the day the apostles told him to “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodgings and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” That made sense. They seemed to be saying, “Let’s call it a day. Everybody is hungry, and we do not have anything to give them.”
 
That is when Jesus displayed another dimension of his gifts. Five loaves and two fish for all those people! How did he do it? We do not know. The news media were not there. But we do know that he healed all sorts of illnesses and touched the minds and hearts of thousands of people. So, we believe that he did feed people on this occasion and many more. We also believe that he feeds us with his very presence at each Eucharist we celebrate. That is much more remarkable than feeding a large number of people, no matter how many, and it happens at every Eucharist.
 
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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