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Holy_SpiritThe prophet Elijah sought God in windstorm and earthquake and fire. But he heard God only as a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). In Psalm 46, we are advised to “Be still, and know that I am God.”
 
But after more than a week of prayer in the upper room, the apostles were visited by the Paraclete, who came like a wind that shook the place where they were hiding and poured out tongues of flame.
 
The apostles, their souls now on fire, boldly went out into a perilous marketplace to announce the good news of God’s love. Jesus had fulfilled his promise that “the Spirit of truth” would come to guide them to a new understanding of God’s redeeming mercy.
 
“Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples,” Pope Francis said in his Pentecost homily last year. “Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand ‘all the truth,’ that the death of Jesus was not his defeat but the ultimate expression of God’s love.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Holy Spirit of Truth,
grant us the same courage you gave to the apostles so we, too,
may be bold witnesses to the Father’s loving mercy.

 
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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Pentecost“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?’” (Acts 2:1-9).
 
The story of Pentecost is fundamentally about understanding and communication; but to better appreciate it, we need to look back at story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). In this familiar story, the arrogant people try to build a tower to heaven in order to gain fame. God is not pleased by this and decides to “confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says” (Genesis 11:7). The people can no longer communicate, the tower project is abandoned, and the people spread apart from each other. This story is more than an attempt to explain the different languages of the world. It warns us to rely on God rather than our own abilities and arrogance, or risk losing an understanding of each other and the security of community.
 
At Pentecost, the tower event is reversed! The disciples, all from Galilee, are able to communicate what they have experienced and heard to people from all around the world. The disciples had experienced Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and then had been commissioned by the Spirit to bring Jesus’ message of love, tolerance, renewal, and mission all people. Jesus becomes that which unites people and allows for common understanding.
 
We, too, are commissioned to be disciples of Jesus and to communicate his message to others. We can recommit ourselves today to being open to the Spirit of God at work, as the disciples were at Pentecost. Through the Spirit, we can become witnesses to love through both word and action. Living our lives in the service of others communicates the incredible depth of God’s love to those for whom and with whom we serve.
 
– What part of Jesus’ message of love is most challenging for me to accept or live out?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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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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