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child_at_mass“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the world.’’ Acts 1:8
 
The act of sharing your faith, being a witness to Christ, can be difficult, a bit scary, and sometimes risky. Recently a young mother shared with me how she took that risk in a very natural and authentic way. Amy admits that her faith used to be more cultural than a personal faith in Christ. But she now has a living faith and tries to give her crazy, busy life over to God each day with intention and joy. Although it is a struggle with two very active preschool boys, she and her husband attend Mass weekly. She recently moved into a new neighborhood and joined the local parish. She mentioned this to a new neighbor, also a young mother. Her neighbor said that she, too, is a Catholic, but that it was difficult to take her small children to Mass. She told Amy that her family would eventually go to Mass once the children needed to go to religion class. Amy shared how much attending Mass strengthened her faith and their family, and how she managed her two young boys during Mass. “I bring Cheerios and a book,” she said, “and the boys are usually pretty good.” Their sharing continued, and then Amy said, “Why don’t you go with us next week? We can all sit together.” The woman replied, “Yes, okay, I would like that. I haven’t felt right about not going to Mass.”
 
Although sharing your faith can be difficult, it can also be natural, loving and fulfilling.
 
Studies reveal that the most effective way to share one’s faith is through meaningful relationships. More than 80 percent of unchurched people who come to faith in Christ said it was through the witness of a friend, neighbor, co-worker or a family member. Evangelization is simply sharing how God is real in our lives, how God loves, accompanies, and strengthens us on our life’s journey. We witness to Christ alive in us through our words and through the goodness of our lives.
 
We cannot change hearts, or give someone faith—faith is a gift that comes through God’s grace. But we can be God’s humble, gentle, and persistent instruments. Our faith sharing must be rooted in the joy and ongoing transformation that grows from a vibrant relationship with God and the love for the person to whom we give witness. Jesus invites us in Acts 1:8 not to do witnessing but to be witnesses by embodying the teaching of Christ to love one another especially the least among us.
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.
 
Listen to Sr. Terry’s podcast of this blog.
 

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JesusIf Jesus forgave and prayed for those who were nailing his hands and feet to the cross, how much more does he love us who turned to him in repentance during Lent? This is a most welcome thought as we journey through this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
 
As Eastertide draws to an end, we should pay attention to the urging of Saint Leo the Great, who was pope from 440 until his death in 461. In one of his sermons, he said, “What is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.”
 
In other words, not only should we keep the reality of Christ’s resurrection alive in spirit, but we should also conduct ourselves as resurrection people who someday will be citizens of heaven.
 
As members of the Body of Christ, we can take comfort in Pope Leo’s promise that “the body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If we walk in the way of his commandments, we, too, will rise to share in the glory of Easter.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Jesus, we thank you today
for sharing your resurrection with us
and making us forever an Easter people.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:46-53).
 
Have you ever had a friend who moved away and who at first, visited so often that it was as if the move never happened? But after a while the new place took precedence, and the visits became less frequent and, finally, came to an end. How might you have responded differently if you knew a certain visit was the last time you were going to see your friend? Would that visit have been special?
 
It may have seemed much the same way for the disciples after the resurrection. Jesus was gone, but he appeared and spoke with them several times. When he took the disciples out to Bethany, blessed them, and ascended into heaven, surely it gave them quite a shock! Was Jesus gone? Jesus left the disciples physically, but they knew he wasn’t completely “gone,” because he promised that God would send to them the power to continue preaching his mission of love.
 
We are the inheritors of this same mission. The disciples handed off this mission to spread the Word to others who handed it off to others, all the way down to us. God did not send “power from on high” only to the disciples in Jesus’ time. We have come to recognize that the Holy Spirit still moves in us and among us, filling us with joy and enabling us to speak of and praise God.
 
– In what ways have you felt empowered by God to speak or do something?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
‘Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them
                                 even as you loved me’ ” (John 17:20-23).
 
Perhaps you’ve heard of a “Last Lecture Series” wherein noted experts in their fields share the wisdom they would impart to the world if they knew it was their last chance. Maybe you’ve seen the last lecture of Carnegie Mellon professor, Dr. Randy Pausch. Because he was dying of cancer, Dr. Pausch’s last lecture was not an imagined premise but truly one of his last chances to pass on his wisdom. It is an inspiring testament.
 
This gospel passage is known as Jesus’ farewell discourse, the last time he addressed his disciples before he was arrested and crucified. Here he expresses his deepest prayers for himself, his disciples, and for those who will come to believe in him.
 
Jesus prays explicitly that our participation in the divine life be realized in a life of love and unity. Several times he prays that his followers may be one, just as he and the Father are one. We are to share in the oneness of God by being one with each other and by recognizing our unity in Christ.
 
Hearing this account of Jesus’ “last lecture” is a good opportunity to assess those places in our lives that do not reflect the divine life within us and that draw us away from unity and love. When we do not act according to our beliefs, we can experience division within ourselves, and that promotes division in our relationships with others and with God. Jesus’ challenge and promise in this passage offer us an opportunity to look at these struggles and ask ourselves if our actions reflect the life that Christ prays for us to have.
 
– In what areas of your life do you struggle most to maintain unity between your Christian beliefs and your actions?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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Mary_JesusMay is traditionally the month dedicated to the Mother of God. She holds special significance for us during this Jubilee Year of Mercy because, through her willingness to bear the Christ child, God became “visible’’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy.
 
Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), calls Jesus the incarnation of mercy. No one has ever seen God (John 1:18), but by virtue of Mary’s motherhood, God is made known to us by Christ, and known above all in Christ’s “relationship of love” for humanity.
 
Mary spoke some very heart-warming words during her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth—“His mercy is from generation to generation”—heart-warming words because God’s mercy continues to be revealed in her and through her—right down to us today.
 
Mary obtained mercy in an exceptional way, as no other person has. She, then, has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Mary, Mother of Mercy,
we thank you for your share in revealing God’s mercy.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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