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“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.’ So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (Luke 24:1-12).
 
Seeing the stone removed from the tomb, Mary was fearful and upset that someone had taken Jesus’ body. She ran for help to the other disciples, who loved Jesus as she did. In the end, they really couldn’t offer any help to her. They “saw and believed” but “did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
 
Faith in the resurrected Christ, the faith that we celebrate on Easter – the greatest feast of our Church year – is not something we can easily grasp. We can’t “master” it and move on with our lives. Even the disciples, who traveled with Jesus, experienced a lack of understanding and uncertainty.
 
We can easily find ourselves in similar situations in which we experience doubt or questioning. These situations are the keys for us to develop our relationship with God, who is infinite yet close at hand; who is divine yet sends his Son to assume our humanity; who is the source of wisdom yet respectful of free will.
 
No matter what we think we know about God, there is always more to know, to experience, and to be surprised by. It is in these times of believing, yet not fully understanding, that we come to know God even more.
 
When have you experienced fear, confusion, or a lack of conviction in life? How were you able to find God in that situation?
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Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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CrossWhat are we to make of Christ’s words of sheer, seeming hopelessness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
 
St. Augustine, the fifth century bishop and doctor of the Church, suggests that this soulful prayer of the dying Savior points to our kinship with Christ.
 
“He died for our sins, he who is the only Son, so as not to remain alone,” Augustine said. “He who died alone did not want to be alone. The only Son of God made many children of God. By his blood, he bought for himself brothers; he who had been rejected, adopted them; he who had been sold, bought them back; he who had been gravely offended, filled them with honor; he who had been put to death, gave them life.”
 
Augustine preached that we should take joy in this act of divine mercy—even as we enter this week when we remember Christ’s brutal passion and death.
 
Fr. William Nelson, a priest in Japan, once wrote to a friend:
 

“How we welcome the good news of love poured out! Yes, there is a balm, a fountain, love poured out and bread broken and wine served.”

 
What more could we ask for?
 
Our prayer today:
 

Almighty God,
we praise you that in your infinite mercy
you do not deal with us according to our failings,
but treat us with the tenderness of a father.

 
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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“It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last” Luke 23:44-46).
 
During Holy Week, we will hear many words describing the suffering and death of Jesus. In times of suffering, we return to an awareness of our own human frailty. It is a place of humility, recognizing God as Creator and ourselves as finite creatures. We are not in ultimate control. That is God’s domain. So, too, is the reason for suffering and the miracle of the Resurrection.
 
The Passion of our Lord is what connects him with us in our humanity. In suffering, we grow in solidarity with Christ and with those he loves. His suffering is an icon of our own suffering, a window of opportunity that points us to God. God, who is infinite, reaches out in humility to touch us in that pain.
 
As we recall this most precious event within Christian tradition, we are called to enter more deeply into the reality of pain and persecution in our world. We also know the profound promise of a light that will not be overcome by deep shadows.
 
When do you suffer or feel helpless in your own life? Can you see God meeting you in this suffering?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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Reconciliation

God always loves us unconditionally, because mercy is his very nature. Said another way, because God is love, God is mercy.
 
We almost know the words by heart, because we have so often heard John’s story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11):
 
 

“Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

 
Fr. Simeon, a Trappist monk at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, reminds us that we must “open our heart so that the mercy of God can enter it and have its healing and life-giving effect there.”
 
Repenting of all our wrongdoing makes us capable of receiving the mercy that God is always extending to us.
 
The sacrament of reconciliation can “open the door to a new life,” Pope Francis has said, “as the merciful God enters our lives.”
 
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the pope invites us Catholics to renew the grace of our baptism by going to confession often and with contrite hearts: “The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Jesus, you saved the condemned woman from death by stoning.
Through your boundless mercy,
save us who open our hearts to your life-giving love.

 
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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“But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more’” (John 8:7-11).
 
Some of the scribes and Pharisees were resentful of Jesus’ popularity and wanted to catch him in violation or contradiction to the law. They tried to set him up by bringing him a “woman caught in adultery.” The traditional laws were unequivocal—death by stoning was required. The crowd expected nothing less than a public display of capital punishment. Jesus’ response was to “draw in the sand” and then challenge them to show mercy and forgiveness.
 
Jesus let the woman go. She was offered a second chance, a fresh start. Imagine how she must have felt. Imagine, too, how the members of the crowd may have felt when they realized that they, too, had made mistakes for which others might condemn them.
 
Our sins are all around us. Others see what we do not see. The challenge is to remain mindful of our own vulnerabilities and be aware of our own inclination to sin. We all share humanness with the ones we judge. If we cultivate compassion and forgiveness toward ourselves, are we not less likely to pick up a stone and throw it?
 
Have you ever forgiven someone who hurt you? How did you feel after doing it?

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

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