"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Sixteenth Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 22, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Wisdom

(Chapter 12:13, 16-19)

This reading is praise for the all-powerful, just, and merciful God. “For your might is the source of justice: for your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all…. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind.” There it is. The God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is powerful, just, and kind, and that is what we, too, should be.

I wonder how Jews who suffered through the Holocaust or Christians who lived through three years of terror in Mosul under ISIS brutality would have heard those words. What about people who live in our own country who are victims of violence or families in our own community who live with addictions that have taken or might take the lives of their loved ones?

Why doesn’t the all- powerful, just, and merciful God swoop down to fight these injustices and heal all this suffering? Of course, we know very well that fighting for justice and healing suffering is our job in partnership with God, though sometimes it may seem that God is too silent a partner. But maybe God is not really silent. Maybe we are not tuned into the powerful healing presence that is always there. Maybe we want healing and understanding only on our terms, not God’s. “I am with you always.” That is the promise of Jesus. Can we tune in? Can we be open? Can we get past what we think God should be doing and become aware of what God is already doing in our lives?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16)

“Lord, you are good and forgiving.” Are you good at asking God for forgiveness and at giving forgiveness to others?

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 8:26-27)

Saint Paul has an answer to the questions we have been asking so far in this commentary. “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” If you and I ever feel as if we can’t really pray, as if we are not connected to God, that’s all right because the Spirit of God, the very person of the Holy Spirit, lives within us. It is the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us. It may not happen in the time that we want or in the manner we choose, but if we stay present, healing will happen.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 13:24-43)

In the gospel reading in today’s Mass, we have a series of parables about agriculture, the sowing of seeds and harvesting of grain. Jesus uses these stories because everyone in his society would know what he was talking about. They were almost all poor farmers who had to deal with dry rocky soil to grow the crops. What was worse, because of the power of the Roman Empire, most of them had lost their land and were forced to work as day laborers for unjust wages.

Jesus was talking about hope in the kingdom of heaven, not something in the far distant future but something that was growing silently right before their eyes and that continues to grow in our own age. He was calling a new Israel together as a powerful force for justice and mercy, just as he calls us now to be a presence of the kingdom of God in our society.

The kingdom of God is not a political reality but rather a way of living and believing that has the power to affect all of the reality that we live in.



Illustration, by Helen Gould Harmon White (circa 1900) in Christ's Object Lessons. Public domain.

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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Topics: Bill Ayres, God's healing, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Away With Words

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 17, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Words can take us away from stress, from boredom, from sadness. Wordplay, i.e. creating puns, is a double-take brain game that can be quite humorous. Of course, we have to choose our words carefully, depending on situations.

Words are like life: many have interesting histories, come from other countries or languages, and can get distorted and misinterpreted, misspelled or misunderstood. Many words aid in solving problems, help in categorization, but also can cause dissension. Certain words are overused while others pass out of popular usage. Words can follow fads and trends, just like life. Words are big and small, old and new. Special words can console and be very calming, while others can spark controversy.

In the reading from Matthew’s Gospel in yesterday’s Mass, Jesus uses his to teach in a long parable about a sower and the different places his seeds fall. Jesus used that as an analogy for the different ways of hearing the word of God and reacting to it. We are blessed that Jesus used so many wonderful words as he patiently taught the disciples. Hopefully we take the time to digest and understand his words and yield the fruit he wants us to yield.

We know that words often go in one ear and out the other. We get busy, distracted, weary and emotional. We might not pursue nuances or go deeper. When we pray, the words can become so habitual that the meanings diminish. We should not do away with words but use them thoughtfully.

The words we use in private prayer can bring us comfort and peace. Faith sharing and praying with others can be enlightening and faith-bolstering. We can use our words to teach, to enlighten, and draw closer to Jesus. We should not “do away” with words, but “come away” with words that enrich our communication with God and with each other.

St. Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Philippians (4:4-7):


   Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known

   to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and

   petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of

   God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ


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Topics: kindness, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fifteenth Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 15, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 55:10-11)

Much of Israel when the prophet Isaiah was active—the sixth century before the birth of Jesus—was a desert or close to it. The people were dependent on the spring rains to grow food. This part of the prophecy of Isaiah read in today’s Mass was written as the people came back from the Babylonian Exile. At last they were home, but home was a desert. Isaiah assured them that “the rain and snow come down and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed for the one who sows and bread for the one who eats.” Then, he connected it with something even more important. “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I send it.” The Israelites understood this, that God’s word is powerful and accomplishes what God intends.

As we witness the refugee crisis, conflicts in various parts of the world, seemingly intractable poverty in our own country and abroad, and the effects of climate change, we may wonder where the word of God is taking root. It’s taking root in the free will and goodness and bravery of so many people who are not giving up, who are doing the right things in all these circumstances and saving lives.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14)

“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.” Our hope is that the “good ground” of the world’s best scientists will yield the fruit that will heal the world. Let us pray for them.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 8:18-23)

The second reading in today’s Mass includes a statement by St. Paul that we need to hear and understand: “Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of the present time are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed for us.” The sufferings that Paul was talking about included the oppression imposed by the Roman Empire and the grinding poverty that affected most people in that time and place. But there is a great hope:

“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that , but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, who also groans within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” I never thought of it what way, but maybe that groaning that we feel inside of us from time to time is the Spirit inside of us letting us know that we are not alone.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 13:1-23)

Many of Jesus’ contemporaries were farmers, so he often used examples from agrarian life. In the gospel passage read in today’s Mass, he tells them, “A sower went out to sow.” This was an important job. If you did not do it correctly, nothing would grow. “And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and withered for lack of roots. Some fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

“The disciples approached him and said, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’” And Jesus answered, ‘Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted…. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’”

Then, Jesus explained the parable to the disciples: “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

Now, let’s move away from agriculture to our lives today. Have you ever had the Word stolen from your heart? Was it because of personal tragedy or more widespread tragedy? Did you grow up with joy in your heart only to have it lose its power as you grew older? Have the “thorns of anxiety” choked the Word in your heart? Do you worry about things that you cannot control and shouldn’t try to, but you do, over and over? Are you one who hears the Word and understands it, and has it borne great fruit in your life? Or have you had several of those experiences at different times in your life? Join the club! Or should I say, come to the community of us believers who do not always find it easy to believe but persevere in faith.



Painting, The Sower by Jean-François Millet, 1850. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Public domain.

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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Topics: Bill Ayres, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Two Words

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 10, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Happy birthday! Thank you! Merry Christmas! Wet Paint! Marry me! Get lost! Bug off! Love you! Each expression is composed of just two words, but we get the message…and sometimes, the attitude.

 I was at a hospital one day because I had to have a CAT scan. I found out after I got there that I had to “check in” in a particular office before going to the scan room. Stressed and anxious, I was a little put out that I had to sign in down the hall. As I was strolling around, there was an aide walking in the opposite direction. Out of the blue she said to me, “Nice outfit!”

 In my red capris and floral-patterned, red and white shirt, I was caught off guard, wrapped up in my own concerns. When she surprised me with that compliment, I smiled and said, “Thanks!”

 For that brief moment, my mood was lightened and my ego lightly stroked. The smile overruled my anxiety. Those two little words! Two words can change your mind, precipitate a smile, put you on the defensive, caution you of danger, or give you hope. Simple, yet meaningful.

 In the reading from Matthew’s Gospel in today’s liturgy, Jesus first says, “Courage, daughter!” (9:22) to the woman with a hemorrhage after she has touched the tassel of his cloak and is healed. And Jesus yells, “Go away!” (9:24) to the mourning crowd and then calls the official’s daughter back to life.Two-word attention-getters!

 Recently, I have tried the two-word phrase with people I encounter, even some I don’t know. I have surprised them with little affirmations or compliments, made them smile, and maybe uplifted them a little.”Nice hairdo!” “Pretty shirt!” “God bless!”

 Maybe today some of these “two-worders” can uplift us and give us food for prayer:

     Jesus saves.       Love overcomes!

     Jesus rose.         Spirit, come!

     Abba, Father!     Renewed hope!

     Thank God!         God surprises!

     Jesus forgives.   Blessings abound!

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Topics: kindness, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fourteenth Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 8, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Zechariah

(Chapter 9:9-10)

Israel was surrounded geographically on all sides by larger, more powerful nations and was often conquered as war-like kings came riding into town. But the prophet Zechariah presents a different picture of the true king:

“Thus says the Lord: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”

Zechariah is talking about the hoped-for messiah who, we believe, was Jesus who did not enter Jerusalem (on the day we observe as Palm Sunday) as a conqueror on horseback but rather as a servant on a donkey, a beast of burden. He did that intentionally, to make an important point about who he really was.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14)

“I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.” This king is not like any other. He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.”

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 8:9, 11-13)

“You are in the Spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Paul uses the word Spirit four times in this short saying because he wants to make sure that his readers know this most important truth, that the very Spirit of God, which we call the Holy Spirit, lives in each one of us. Do you believe that for you? Do you call upon the Holy Spirit, pray to the Holy Spirit?

I must say that as a young man attending Catholic high school and college I did not “get it.” I prayed to Jesus and to our Father, who were apart from me, but not to the Holy Spirit who I later learned lived within me. Coming to know the presence of the Holy Spirit within my soul has been a wonderful gift. Think about it. You and I are never really alone. We have the presence of God’s own Spirit within us—always, even in our darkest, most painful moments. Please take a little time to say hello and open your heart to the Spirit.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 11:25-30)

Jesus said to the apostles, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The Jewish people were monotheists. They believed in one God who they thought of as their Father. Jesus is saying that he is the Son of that same Father and that he and the Father are one. So, Jesus is saying only that he is the Messiah but much more. He shares the very life of God. Many in his time could not get it, but Jesus wants those who do get it to know a different way of living—not under the yoke of an enslaver but in companionship with one who shares a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

Sometimes, it might seem that our burdens are not so light: almost routine news of gun violence, the lingering threat of illness from the Covid virus, economic hardships, and seemingly intractable poverty and dislocation of defenseless people.

What are you doing to lighten your burdens and those of people around you? What are the main sources of life for you? Do you seek them out and rejoice in them? Let us remember to be in touch with the very Spirit of God who lives in each of us.



Fresco, Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti (1280-1348). Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy. Public domain.

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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Topics: Bill Ayres, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

The Human Race

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 3, 2023 6:00:00 AM

What’s the hurry? We humans are always racing around doing something! Play that computer game! Wishing that red traffic light would change to green faster…got to get going! Quick! I guess I’ll have to find that question’s answer on the internet! Look it up! Ah! Answer comes right up! Race! Race! Race! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Instant gratification! Hurry! Black Friday sale! Hurry before supplies run out! Arms race! Race to the moon! Race to be “Number One!”

Do we race to help our neighbor? Do we race to church to pray and thank God for our blessings? Our spirituality can suffer because of all our human racing. We can forget how to slow down, how to savor Our Savior. We can get out of good habits of reverence and reflection. Oh, if we could just get past the race pace and into the prayer mode. Trying to channel the racing energy into being in the present moment in our gifted humanity to share love and affirmation is the challenge. If we must race, may it be to thoughtfully and/or spiritually offer improvement…while keeping God as our center.


Through ages and life stages

True love in concentric circles.

Keeping the Center in the center

Creative constant blessing Source;

Going around, coming around,

Kinship, community, sharing.

Steady and strong reference Point:

Always back to circle Center.

Spreading influence, challenges

In widening inclusiveness.

Like a stone dropped vertically

Into a puddle of water:

Circles growing, radiating,

Focusing on eternal Truth

Through ages and life stages

True love in concentric circles

Keeping the Center in the center:



After all the day’s hurry and flurry, it may be a good idea to say this little take-off of a children’s prayer that could be easy to remember:

         Now I lay me down to slumber,

Haste and worries do me encumber.

If I should doubt that God’s “got my back,”

I pray his Spirit puts me “back on track.” Amen.

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Topics: centering prayer, Sharon Krause, daily prayer

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 1, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Second Book of Kings

(Chapter 4:8-11, 14-16a)

The prophet Elishaa disciple of Elijah in the ninth century BC, was traveling to a town named Shunem where he was invited for dinner with the family of a “woman of influence.” This became the place for a meal whenever Elisha traveled in that direction. The woman suggested to her husband that they prepare a room for the prophet to stay overnight. Elisha was grateful for her generosity and asked, “Can something be done for her?” “His servant, Gehazi, answered, ‘Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her’ When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, ‘This time next year you will be fondling a baby boy.’”

This is one of many instances in the Jewish scriptures of the power of God to bring forth new life unexpectedly, a power that would take on new meaning in the Christian era.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19)

“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” Sometimes it is hard to see the “goodness of the Lord,” especially during times of overwhelming tragedy and sadness. Goodness may seem remote when we witness millions of helpless refugees, environmental crises, and rampant gun violence. Yet, the “goodness of the Lord” still shines forth. Where and when have you experienced this goodness? How have experiences of love and friendship and support helped you through hard times?

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 6:3-4, 8-11)

Here is this deep and powerful reading from the letter to the Christian community in Rome:

“Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more, death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all, as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wanted his readers to know that their baptism was not just one more event in their lives; it was a life-changing event. Of course, most of the people that he was talking to were baptized as adults. Today, almost all of us were baptized as babies, so it is harder for us to realize the power of our baptism, how it unites us with Christ even before we are conscious of who he is. What does it mean for you to be “living for God in Christ Jesus”? The Spirit of God lives in each one of us. Do you ever think about that?

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 10:37-42)

The apostles had families, and there were conflicts between the all- consuming ministry of following Jesus and family obligations. Jesus knew how hard it was for the apostles to leave their families. That is the context for what appear to be very harsh requirements for being an apostle: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

But then, listen to this powerful statement: “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Jesus knows that his time on earth is short, so he wants to make sure that the apostles understand how hard their mission really is and how important it is.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus today? What qualities and teachings of Jesus do we live every day? How should we bear witness to the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives, especially facing many of the evils we experience that harm individuals and whole groups of people?



Russian icon of the prophet Elisha from the first quarter of the 18th century. Kizhi Monastery, Russia.  Public Domain.

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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Topics: authentic discipleship, being a disciple, Bill Ayres

Tag! You're it!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 26, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Nowadays one can get tagged or named on Facebook, and therefore that person’s attention is drawn to a certain page or item on the website. When children play the game, tag, a child is tappedthat is, taggedand then he or she has to chase the other players around and try to catch and tag someone else. “Tag! You’re it”! If some store merchandise has a tag on it, that item has a name, price, or something distinctly designated for it.

One way or another, attention is drawn to a person or a thing. Someone or something is tagged. Think about it. What happens, for example, if you are judged or tagged as a worrier or a loser, or a weakling? Once you are tagged, it is difficult to get past the tag or change the label. It can affect how others talk to you, treat you and even dance around you. “Tag! You’re this or that. Now live with it!” Judgment has been passed!

In today’s the gospel reading in today’s Mass, Matthew 7:1-5, we see that Jesus does not want us to judge, so we won’t be judged ourselves. It is not harmful, however, to draw attention to another person’s good attributes. Those tags are good tags. What harm would it be to say someone is “a loving Christian,” “a brave hero,” a good friend,” or even “a good listener?”

St. Paul tells us several times of the value of affirming and encouraging others. Here are a few examples to consider.

     …{L}et each of us please our neighbor for the good, for building up. (Romans 15:2)


     May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with

   one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one

     voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)


   We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. (Hebrews



   Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

   (1 Thessalonians 5:11.)


What’s in a name? Suggestion? Perpetuation? Criticism? Reinforcement? Affirmation? Names are important. Let’s be careful how we play Tag!

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Topics: be less judgmental, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jun 24, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 49:1-6)

This Book of the Prophet Isaiah was not written by one person. It is, rather, a collection of writing composed over many centuries by several prophets and placed together under the name of Isaiah—one of the greatest prophets of Israel. One of the most important themes in these prophecies is that of the Suffering Servant that we encounter in today’s reading: “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made me a sharp- edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.” “You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.”

We can see the parallel here with John the Baptist who also was called from birth, was misunderstood in his short life, and was murdered seemingly before he could finish his mission. Yet, he did not toil in vain; he was a successful messenger for Jesus, and he was rewarded by God for his work.

Even when we fail in some part of our lives, it may be that there is another dimension, another truth, another level of success that we can know only in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Each of us has a mission, a calling from God to live in his love, to share his unconditional love, as insufficient and unsuccessful our mission may seem at any given time.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 139:1b-3; 13-14ab, 14c-15)

“I praise you for I am wonderfully made.” Do you think you are “wonderfully made”? When we are growing up, we may feel awkward and insecure. As we get much older, we may feel like a shadow of our younger selves. So, how can we feel wonderfully made through it all? Only if we see ourselves loved and gifted by our Father, even in—and especially in—our weaknesses and insufficiencies.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

(Chapter 13:22-26)

Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles as a continuation of his Gospel, directed mainly at gentiles. He wanted to help these converts as well as Jews to see the Jesus connection between David, the king of Israel hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, and John the Baptist—both as called by God. “From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’” John knew his role, his calling, his place in history. He did not try to be more than he was. He was given a calling, a gift from God, and he was faithful to it.

Each of us has been given a calling and gifts to fulfill that call. What is your calling in life, and what are the gifts that you have been given along the way and right now to answer your call? Do you see yourself as gifted? You are, we all are, only very often we do not believe it or focus on it. God asks us to humbly accept the gifts we have been given and use them to serve our Father and those with whom we share life.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

(Chapter 1:57-66, 80)

Throughout the Old Testament, we read of the miraculous birth and life of numerous prophets and great leaders starting with the birth of Abraham’s son Isaac when Abraham’s wife was supposedly too old to give birth. For hundreds of years before the birth of John the Baptist, there were no significant prophets in Israel. Then came this strange man, John the Baptist, so his birth is told as a wonder-filled story, because he is in the words of Jesus “the greatest of the prophets.” John preached a message of repentance and baptized many others before he baptized Jesus. He prepared the way for Jesus, was his cousin, and yet we do not know if they were friends while growing up or even if Jesus knew him before John baptized him. But none of that is important. What is of utmost importance is that John “prepared the way for the Lord.” He had a calling, a mission from God, and he fulfilled it in a wonder-filled way.

Do you feel that it is unlikely that you have been called, that you have a mission, that you are to prepare the way for Jesus to enter—or in some cases reenter—the lives of people you know and love and even perhaps someone you hardly know? As unlikely as it might seem, that is part of the mission of each of us —to prepare the way of the Lord.



Painting: "John the Baptist Preaching by Matia Preti, circa 1665. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Public Domain.

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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Topics: Bill Ayres, Birth of John the Baptist

Good Reactions

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 19, 2023 6:00:00 AM

When we look at the two main readings in today’s liturgy, Corinthians 6:1-10 and Matthew 5:38-42, we see references to actions and reactions. We know from our own life experiences that our first reactions to some situations are not necessarily the best or the most Christlike. Jesus challenges us to behave generously and not to base our reactions to situations on what other people may expect. Positivity does not have to be preached in every situation but can be quietly presented by example. Lessons of love can be surprisingly taught through generosity and restraint.

In order to behave in ways that model Christian responses, we need to spend time with Jesus in prayer. I share with you now a summer invitation I received, with hopes that you may take time to sit with Jesus and react to his peaceful presence.

Jesus invited me to sit on my front porch with him.

A gentle spirited breeze passed by now and then.

The summer sky was punctuated with cottony clouds.

A small bird eavesdropped from a power line above.

Occasionally a car would go by on the way to somewhere.

The thorns on the rose bush next to the porch only served

   to protect the lone salmon-colored blooming rose….not to hurt my Lord.

My Savior’s love warmed me comfortably….

   much better than the humid summer afternoon air.

The wood of the porch step on which we sat supported us…

   unlike the wood of Jesus’ cross that punished him.

                    There we were:



          familiar, refreshing, consoling

        loving, forgiving, understanding





 There, on my porch, with my Jesus, together.

 May our upcoming summer be a time of slowing down long enough to think about how we might grow in the kind of reactive love Jesus practiced and preached.


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Topics: patience, Sharon Krause, restraint

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