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“After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:4-11).
 
Anyone who knows fishing knows that night fishing produces the largest yield. In the incident described in Luke’s Gospel, Simon and his companions had just finished their night of work and were preparing to pack their things away. They were exhausted. They had been up all night working, and they had caught nothing.
 
As they packed up, Jesus came along and asked to use their boat. After talking to his people from the boat, he told the fishermen to lower their nets “one more time.” Simon objected but did as Jesus suggested. Once Peter did this, he and the other fishermen were amazed by the number of fish they caught.
 
This contrast between what humans think is possible versus what is possible with God is a central theme in Luke’s Gospel.
 
We have all had moments of doubt and disbelief. In times of struggle, we may even doubt that God hears us or is with us. When facing doubts about our future, our relationships, or even our world, we often make assumptions about what is possible and what is not possible. In these moments of doubt and disbelief, we must trust that God is with us and that anything is possible with God.
 
When have you experienced someone challenging your perception of God and the way God works in others. How did you respond?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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palm-trees-705843_1280During this Jubilee Year of Mercy the Church offers us a general pardon, an indulgence that is open to all, and the possibility of renewing our relationship with God and neighbor. It’s an opportunity to deepen our faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.
 
In calling the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis focuses the attention of the world on the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to him.
Ruth Burrows, a Carmelite nun for more than 50 years, reminds us that “God liked to walk and talk in the garden in the cool of the day with the man and woman he created.”
 
The initial rite of the Jubilee Year on December 8 was the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This door is opened only during a holy year. It is shut tight during all other years.
 
This rite of the opening of the Holy Door illustrates the idea that, during the Jubilee Year, the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” to salvation.
 
When we repent, it’s as if the door to the Garden of Eden is open to us once again. And we can walk in the garden with our God.
 
Our prayer today:
 

My God, I have wandered far from the path you want me to follow.
Thank you for your mercy in allowing me to walk at your side once again.

 
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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“And he said, ‘Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.’ When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away” (Luke 4:24-30).
 
In this Gospel, Jesus returned to his hometown and encountered people with whom he had grown up. Last week, we heard about the first part of his visit in which he read from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue. This week, we hear that Jesus suggested that he was the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy.
 
Those present might have been able to accept that one of their own was the Messiah, the one who would restore Israel by destroying enemies and vanquishing all who were not the chosen people. However, Jesus asserted that God’s mission and ministry were meant for all people, not just them. His words revealed a message of love that extended even to the Gentiles. Those who were listening to Jesus were challenged to extend their vision of who counts as God’s people. In fact, they were so challenged by it that it drove them to anger and to want to get rid of Jesus.
 
It can be difficult to hear and accept words that draw us out of our comfort zone, but our call is to live out the mission of Jesus, loving God and all of God’s people.
 
When have you experienced someone challenging your perception of God and the way God works in others? How did you respond?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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bibleIn announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis drew our attention to Psalm 136, where the phrase “His mercy endures forever” is repeated no less than 26 times. By one count, this refrain appears in the Bible 41 times.
 
Why is this refrain ubiquitous in both Old and New Testaments?
 
Francis explains: “To repeat continually ‘His mercy endures forever’ seems to break through the dimensions of space and time, inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history, but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father” (Misericordiae Vultus, 7).
 
Before his passion, Jesus prayed this psalm. Matthew attests to this in his Gospel when he says that, “when they had sung a hymn,” Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives.
 
When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he did so in the light of his mercy.
 
Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon his passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the cross.
Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more meaningful for us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: “His mercy endures forever.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

I thank you every day Lord,
for your enduring mercy.
It is only because of your mercy that I am saved.

 
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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angel-645594_1920Recently I read an inspiring book by Chris Lowney entitled Heroic Living. He reminds the reader that we were born to change the world. He outlines three important skills to live heroically: discover your mighty purpose, choose wisely and make every day matter. Jesus lived a heroic life with both fire and focus—fired by God’s Holy Spirit and focused on healing the spiritually and physically poor.
 
In Sunday’s Gospel (LK 1:1-4; 4:14-21) Jesus began his official ministry by proclaiming a passage from the prophet Isaiah in his home synagogue. In this passage he articulated his mighty purpose—a purpose worth living for and more importantly, one worth dying for. He read with clarity and conviction: God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free. The words of Isaiah became his own and Jesus ushered in a new era, the arrival of the reign of God embodied by his loving words and life changing actions. God’s unconditional love entered the world with a new intensity as Jesus chose to give his daily attention to everyone he met and to make every day matter. He chose to spend his days eating with sinners, touching the unclear, living on the margins, bringing hope to the downcast and always in communion with his God. He lived with a mighty purpose, died with a mighty purpose and transformed the world.
 
God has anointed and consecrated each one of us. The purpose of our lives coincides with the purpose of Jesus’ life. We are called to be the best versions of ourselves, to change our part of the world. Like Jesus, we can care about what and who God cares about. We can be witnesses of hope and healing for family, for friends, for neighbors, for strangers. We can lift burdens, help people to see their own goodness and the goodness of others. We can live each day with gratitude. Empowered by the Spirit of God, we can live heroic lives—we can step up and live for a mighty purpose, make wise choices, and make every day matter.
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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