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The earth is yours, O Creator,
and all that dwells therein is sacred.
There is nothing that exists
without your mark of divine love.
Enlighten my mind, open my heart,
empower me to act with justice.
Help me feed the hungry,
rather than hoard,
clothe the impoverished,
rather than consume,
give out of my wants and needs,
rather than oppress.
I pray that justice will reign
on the earth
and the light of your shalom
will break through the darkness.
I ask this through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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

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A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 53:10-11)
 
“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days: through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt they shall bear.” The suffering servant here is not any one person but rather all of the people of Israel who had suffered the exile in Babylon. The prophet sees redemption of many through the suffering of the people.
 
Have you ever thought that your suffering can connect you to those in need of forgiveness? No one of us should ever seek to suffer, but when suffering is upon us we can offer it up for the needs of others for healing and forgiveness while at the same time working for our own healing. Our Father does not inflict suffering on us; suffering arises from the perils of life, and we need to seek healing and freedom from whatever the suffering has brought. However, it is also an opportunity to become connected with all those who suffer, especially someone close to us whose suffering we may have taken too lightly.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 33:4-5. 18-19, 20, 22)
 
“Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.” What does it mean to trust in God? Is our trust focused on a specific prayer or request, or is it something that is deep within us, a powerful openness to God’s mercy at any moment and every moment in our lives? A deep enduring trust in God is a gift that no one of us can accomplish by ourselves but only by accepting God’s merciful love.
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 4:14-16)
 
The author tells us that “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God…. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
 
The message is clearly that Jesus was one of us, and we do not have to be afraid to ask for his mercy and help. Do you think of Jesus that way, as your brother and friend?
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
(Chapter 10:35-45)
 
Did you ever think that there were scandalous squabbles among the apostles—selfish outrageous demands of Jesus about who was the greatest? Here we have a big one. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?’ They answered him, ‘Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking.’” Then Jesus asked them whether they could “drink the cup that I drink,” meaning his suffering and death, and they said yes. Then Jesus let them know that, indeed, they too would suffer and die, but he would not promise to seat them in places of honor. When the rest of the apostles heard this “they became indignant at James and John.” So, Jesus let them know that “those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles Lord it over them and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
Imagine if all of the successors to the apostles, the bishops throughout the centuries—and, for that matter, if all Christians—had followed the command of Jesus and served rather than dominated, listened rather than demanded, and lived the humble and heroic lives that the apostles eventually led. Many have done so, of course, and have been true servants of Jesus and of each other.
 
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, you came to set us free,
but materialism threatens to enslave us.
Give me the strength
to confront my own unreasonable desires.
Help me to take to heart your command
not to worry about what we are to eat
or what we are to put on.
Free me from worry about my possessions.
Help me to love people and use things,
rather than love things and use people.
Give me the grace
to embrace your whole vision of life,
to see your handiwork in all of your creation
and in all those I meet.
I 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 Wisdom
(Chapter 7:7-11)
 
The Book of Wisdom is one of the last books in the Hebrew Bible, compiled not too long before the birth of Jesus. Notice that Wisdom is referred to as “she,” an interesting term in a patriarchal society. The writer imagines the words coming from the mouth of one of Israel’s greatest leaders, King Solomon. Here, Solomon prays for prudence and wisdom which are more precious than gold and silver.
 
Have you ever prayed for wisdom in the midst of a crisis or difficult decision? Have you asked the Holy Spirit, the giver of wisdom, to help you decide or act prudently or boldly in times of distress? Remember, the Spirit is not “out there” somewhere but lives in each of us. That is exactly what Jesus told the disciples, and we have been given that same Spirit. Try being quiet in times of stress or crucial decisions, and pray for the wisdom to make the right choice, to help someone you care about, or to heal wounds that are causing pain.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17)
 
“Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” That is why we can sing with joy—because God has given us unconditional love, way beyond our imagining. It is rejoicing for receiving such an unimaginable gift.
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 4:12-13)
 
“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective.” What does the “word of God” mean? We know that Jesus is the “Word of God,” the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, but we also call the Gospels the word of God. Which is it? Perhaps the author, who can be very enigmatic at times, means both. The point the author is making is that God’s word is alive, not a dead set of letters, and it is effective, not like so many words that are just words with no power or deep meaning.
 
Have you ever noticed that words you hear and speak sometimes have a surface meaning but also a deeper meaning that can be heard and known only by the heart?
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
(Chapter 10:17-30)
 
This is the famous and controversial story of the rich young man. Jesus challenges him to take the next step, to follow his call. Jesus is talking to this one man, not proclaiming a universal commandment. He is not condemning the man to hell but giving him an opportunity to have a much richer life as a disciple. Jesus was a poor man living in a society comprising mostly poor people. This man was an exception. We might say today that he was a part of the one percent. Jesus knew how difficult it would be for the man to go beyond his worldly riches. Jesus knew this was a good man: “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” Imagine that. Jesus looked right at the young man, into his heart, and called him.
 
When we talk today about a calling, we usually mean our profession in life, but each of us has a deeper more wonderful calling to follow Jesus. It does not mean that we all have to sell everything we own but rather not to put material things first. We live in a super-materialistic society, and it is so easy for us to be seduced by products—bigger and better things. We are told that “greed is good,” and many of the richest people in America have power over so many less affluent people. Sometimes the wealthy use that power for good, but sometimes they treat people—especially those who are poor—unfairly, or at least indifferently. Pope Francis asks us to follow the example of Jesus and reach out to those who are the poorest in our society and around the world. One way to do that is to support and volunteer with an organization in our community that is working to help people in need.
 
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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My friends all know that I am a Catholic, because I have always been very open with them about my faith. So, when the news broke about Cardinal McCarrick, who long served in my home archdiocese of Newark, and the grand jury report was released in Pennsylvania where my father now lives, many people asked me, “How can you stay when the Church is so corrupt?”
 
I think my answer surprised them. I told them, “I stay, because the clergy are not the Church—I am. The Church is the millions of people of faith who sit in the pews every Sunday and then go out into the world to do good.”
 
I stay also because my Catholicism is so deeply rooted in my identity. My ethnic heritage, my family life, and now even my professional life are intertwined with my faith life. To walk away from the Church is to walk away from who I am.
 
Most importantly though, I stay because this is where I find God. I stay because through the sacraments and prayer I nurture my relationship with God. Where else would I go? As a Catholic, I believe that in the Eucharist I become one with my Savior. That cannot happen anywhere else.
 
We all have different reasons for staying. I believe, however, that we all need to think about my initial response to my friends. Now, more than ever, those of us who are not clergy need to stand up and claim our Church. We are the Church. We cannot be “consumer Catholics” who just show up at Mass on Sunday and then walk away. We need to engage. We need to be willing to take on leadership roles in which our voices are heard.
 
Many Catholics are hurt and angry and feel betrayed by this latest wave of abuse scandals. They have every right to those feelings, and we must address those feelings in our faith communities to begin working through them. At the same time, we need to understand our role in making sure that it does not happen again. We need to listen with open hearts to the stories of victims. We need to be vocal, engaged members of our parishes who will not be quiet until we know exactly what is being done to prevent future abuse. We need to be willing to serve on lay review boards or as secondary ministers/volunteers, so NO adult is ever left alone with children.
 
We are not powerless. We have a voice. We must use both. It is up to every single one of us to answer God’s call to St. Francis of Assisi: “Rebuild my Church.”

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