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you are the light that pierces the darkness.
Open our hearts to encounter your presence,
and to recognize your divine Spirit among us.
Give us the courage to seek you
and boldly proclaim the Good News.
Transform us into faithful disciples
that we might bear the light of Christ
in the darkest places of our world.
We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name.

Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of the Prophet Malachi
(Chapter 3:1-4)
“Thus says the Lord God: I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me. And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek. … But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire. … He will purify the sons
of Levi.”
Who is Malachi, and who is the messenger he writes of? The name “Malachi” means “messenger.” This book was probably written after 500 BC by one or several prophets. The text talks about the sins and lawlessness of the people—especially the priests of the temple, who were not being just to the poor, widows, orphans, and aliens, and not paying their own contributions to the temple. These priests and other offenders will be purified “like gold or silver.” Throughout the history of Israel, there were many prophets who delivered this kind of message to the people, but especially to the priests of the temple who, above all, should have been examples for the people.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10)
“Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord” “King” is a kind of a foreign word for us who overthrew a British king to gain our freedom, but for the Israelites it conveyed the greatest of honors. It is in that spirit that we pray this Psalm of praise to God.
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 2:14-18)
The author wants his audience to know this about Jesus: “Through death he might destroy the one who has the power over death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.” This is important, because at that time many people believed that the devil controlled life and death. No! It is Jesus: “He had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” As we read today in the prophecy of Malachi and can read in the words of other prophets, the high priests were not always faithful and holy. They could not be effective ministers for the people in life and death. Jesus could and can.
Do you experience the presence of Jesus in your life? He is present always, especially in our times of greatest suffering, doubt, and need, and yes, even when death threatens us or those whom we love. Jesus is there for us in life and in death.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 2:22-40)
Biblical scholars tell us that Luke was probably a Gentile convert who had studied the Jewish scriptures. He also wrote the Acts of the Apostles and was a companion of Saint Paul on some of his journeys. His Gospel was written sometime after those of Mark and Matthew but well before that of John, which is believed to have been written around 90 AD. That is important, because it means that Luke wrote well after the death of Jesus, when the Church had spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Luke wrote as dozens of churches had sprung up, and many people had died as martyrs for their faith.
Luke’s Gospel is often referred to as the Gospel of the Spirit, because he uses that term, “Spirit,” more than any other gospel writer, and he sees Jesus as the fulfillment of a long line of Jewish prophets, but as much more. Simeon, described in this passage, has been waiting all his life for the Messiah: “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Sprit into the temple; and when the parents had brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God saying: ‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.’” As always, Luke makes the connection between his Gentile roots and his Jewish faith fulfilled in Jesus.
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.
Image courtesy of
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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One of my favorite forms of prayer, one that I learned in my studies for spiritual direction, is the Daily Examen, which St. Ignatius of Loyola described in his Spiritual Exercises. As he began writing the Exercises in a cave, Ignatius realized that he needed a tool or a method that would bring back into focus for him who he was, what was important to him, and what his priorities were. The result was the Daily Examen.
For me, writing is clarity, and so I journal my Examen daily. I have gone through dry periods or chosen other types of prayer, so I took a break, but I always return to the Examen as it has been a very rich prayer experience for me.
As a businessman brought up through sales and operations, and as a former business owner, I found the Examen an invaluable help in dealing with the pressures of balancing my faith and work lives. Between those pressures and being a single father and raising nine kids on my own, I had to have daily prayer time. Otherwise I couldn’t have done all that I did.
The Examen allowed for a daily time to thank God, look at my emotions and at how I drew closer to God daily, or fell away from him, and ahead look to the next day by asking God for what I needed. It was part of the recipe I used for a successful life.

Here are steps to the Examen:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.

The Daily Examen is the subject of one of the sessions in RENEW International’s faith-sharing book Balancing Faith & Work. This is a fantastic resource for people who are trying to live a faithful life while balancing all the other daily concerns. It can be very challenging to live a life of faith in today’s world.
This book can be used by individuals or, more powerfully, in a small group. If you have an existing small group and you are looking for a new resource, check this out. We can also help you start a small group or a small-group program in your parish with this resource and the others that RENEW offers.
Check out Balancing Faith & Work by clicking HERE.
Rich Vosler is a sales consultant at RENEW International. Contact him at 908 769 5400 x149 or [email protected]

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you come to us in our ordinary moments
to awaken us and call us toward a new reality
not of our own making.
Help me to be willing to let go
of what I seem to control
in order to be claimed as a disciple of your Son.
Let me have a share
in your liberating and transforming ministry
through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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

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A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 8:23-9:3)
We are way back in the eighth century B.C., and the Assyrian army has taken over the two provinces Zebulun and Naphtali. Isaiah says that darkness covers the land, but now, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed.” The Assyrians were terrible rulers, but now God has spared his people from domination.
Today, countless millions of the poorest people on earth are under the rule of despotic powers, and millions more in more developed countries such as Russia, Iran, and Brazil live in dictatorships where democracy is being strangled. Let us be thankful for our democracy and the Constitution that protects us, and not take these gifts for granted.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation.” There are times in our lives when the darkness seems to surround us, but the light of the Lord is always there to guide and protect us. Let us seek the light of the Lord when darkness tries to drag us down.
A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 1:10-13, 17)
There are real divisions within our Church throughout the world and right here in our country. As we hear from St. Paul today, this is nothing new. He beseeches the Corinthians, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you are saying, ‘I belong to Paul’ or ‘I belong to Cephas’ (Peter) or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? … For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”
As we know, there were real differences among the apostles and the various Christian communities, and yet, they stayed together. They worked out their differences. That is our challenge today, as it has been for Christians throughout the past twenty centuries—to work out our differences without bad mouthing the other side, and to focus on the great truths we all believe in that bind us together.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 4:12-23)
Matthew tells us that when Jesus hears that John the Baptist has been arrested, he moves to the same land that we read about in the prophesy of Isaiah, the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Matthew reports that as Jesus “was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once, they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them and immediately they left their boats and their father and followed him.”
So, that is how it all started—poor, uneducated fishermen were somehow moved to make a radical change in their lives. Obviously, Matthew gives us only the short version of these conversations. There must have been much more said, but Matthew wants us to feel the immediacy and power of the call from Jesus.
You and I have a “call” from Jesus, not just once, but throughout our lives. We refer to it as a vocation, but not long ago that word, “vocation,” applied in popular use only to people who were called to priesthood or religious life. Now, we know that it is a call to each of us, perhaps several different and related calls. In any case, it is a call to serve others—as wife, husband, father, mother, sister, brother, friend, partner. Do you see your life as a response to a call from God, perhaps several calls at different times? Ask yourself if you feel called, if your life is a response to calls from God. Your calls are gifts as well as challenges. Have you said yes? It is never too late.
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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