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Father, we give you thanks
for loving our world enough to give us your Son.
Through the light of the Spirit, help us to judge clearly
as we seek to make informed and unselfish decisions
for ourselves and for others.
This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the Book of Exodus
(Chapter 34:4b-6, 8, 9)
 
“Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking along the. two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, ‘Lord.’ Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.’ Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.”
 
This is one of the truly monumental moments in the history of Israel, Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God and pleading with God, “O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins and receive us as your own.”
 
The false gods that Moses knew of at that time did not have the wonderful qualities that Moses attributes to the one true God: merciful, gracious, slow to anger, full of kindness and fidelity. That is the God that we believe in today.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56)
 
“Glory and praise forever.” Yes, especially today, amid the horrors that we face in our society and in our world. In these times, it may be harder for some to believe in this one true God, but it is ever more important.
 
A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 13:11-13)
 
Here is a beautiful blessing from Paul to a people in crisis and great danger. “Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the love of God and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
 
Here we have a trinitarian blessing has been used from the beginning of Christianity.
 
I remember being taught as a child in Catholic school that we are all created “in the image and likeness of God” and that God was not an isolated being but a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That being true, then we are all communal beings, starting with our families and moving out from there to friendships, various communal groups, and the community of our church. Of course, each of us is an individual, and we can and should pray to God in our own solitude, but praying in community is also something in our very nature. So, we miss our communal celebrations of the Eucharist. Let us pray for one another while apart and hope for our coming together again soon.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 3:16-18)
 
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
 
Many people think of God as “up there” or “out there somewhere,” but the true God, shared his life with us in Jesus, and his Holy Spirit lives within every one of us. Sadly, right now we cannot experience that presence in community. We may have become separated from several other communities that give us joy. Let us do our best through the various electronic means to stay in touch with so many people who make up our community until we can see them in person and rejoice in the love and presence we share with them.
 
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. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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I have an office/workroom upstairs in my old house. There are two windows, side by side, offering a treetop view. One day as I was doing some ironing—yes, I am one of those people who still irons clothes—I saw what I thought was a clump of brownish leaves at the very top of a 90-foot fir tree down the street. All of a sudden, those “leaves” took flight and flapped away! What I had thought were leftover dead leaves from the preceding autumn were small birds, full of life and energy. I was pleasantly surprised. How did those birds all balance on that little top limb?
 
How often have I made incorrect, pessimistic assumptions about life circumstances and not prayerfully looked up with hopeful expectations? After all, Psalm 212:1-2 says: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” If I go out on a limb, my Lord, my Creator, will hold me up and support me.
 
Another day, my attention was seized by a commotion just outside my windows, in the cedar tree next to our garage. A big—and I do mean big—flock of starlings flew in wonderful synchronization and landed in that cedar tree! Apparently, a large number of the birds somehow got the message that that tree was the place to be together at that moment. It was a sight to behold! As quickly as they arrived, they departed in one fell swoop! It got me thinking about my flock. I have so many family members and friends with whom I am blessed. I must not leave out my guardian angel or the Communion of Saints, on earth and in heaven, who pray for me.
 
We can be thankful that none of us is alone, and we have the promise that we will never be alone; we will have a home for eternity. Psalm 84:3-4 reminds us, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”
 
One afternoon I shared a few minutes with a nice plump robin who came to rest in that same big cedar tree in my yard. I had a good view from my upstairs window. The robin landed on a wide branch and just sat there…and sat there…and sat there. I expected him to leave and flit from one neighborhood tree to another. No, he just sat there in all his robin glory for at least ten minutes. Of course, I started thinking about my personal benefit of just sitting still and praying or meditating…or just being. Psalm 46:10-11 says: “‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
 
Being my best self, my true self, and not my rushed, distracted self is a good idea. Thank you, Mr. Robin, for that reminder! Perhaps my upstairs reflections may help you take flight from this troubled world for a little while.
 
(Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version.)
 
Image: Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Come Holy Spirit, come!
Open our eyes to those whose minds are locked in fear,
whose hearts still cling to what was.
Direct us to those who need a sign of your love.
Show us how to heal our world, one person at a time.
This we ask through Jesus Christ
who abides with us through you.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Openings and reopenings…comings and goings…home and not home! How are we supposed to know if we are coming or going in our troubled world? To remain calm and control our anxiety, it is helpful to take time to pray and remember who is really always in control.
 
I have been thinking about some of the numerous comings of God in the Old and New Testaments. Remember when Adam and Eve heard God coming in the garden right after they had sinned, and they felt the need to hide? (Genesis 3, 8-10) Recall when God came to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17) and again to Moses with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). How about when God came to Elijah at Mt. Horeb, not in the wind, the earthquake or fire, but just in a quiet voice? (1Kings 19:11-13) Such variety in those few examples! That should not be surprising. After all, God is the Creator!
 
Let’s consider the comings of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Look at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:6-7). The Son of God came to earth and was laid in a meager manger in a stable. In his ministry, he walked through Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Jesus’ wonderful sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) should give us cause to be so grateful that he came to the multitudes! Once, he even came walking on the sea (Matthew 14:25)! Yet again, after Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to the apostles despite locked doors (John 20:19). Who would expect that? How wonderful when we stay unlocked and keep a lookout for God among us! When the eleven apostles came to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus was present but about to ascend into heaven, he blessed them and commissioned them to make many more disciples; he promised to be with them always (Matthew 28:16-20.) The apostles—and we—have a mission, but it comes with a reassuring promise of help!
 
Now, in the afterglow of the celebration of Pentecost, we can meditate on the great coming of the Holy Spirit with all the spiritual gifts, refreshment, comfort, healing, guidance, and zeal that could come only from a God who is love. We are fortified for our mission of coming and going to small and even great lengths to spread that love.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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