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“Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken
from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).
It would appear that Jesus is castigating Martha for her acts of hospitality and praising Mary for the better portion she had chosen. The Martha in us screams, “unfair!” What is going on in this familiar story from Luke’s Gospel?
It is unlikely that Jesus was devaluing the very important biblical principle of hospitality. Hospitality was a sacred act and a crucial responsibility for every believer. Divine hospitality was a metaphor used to describe God’s protection and care. To offer hospitality to another was tantamount to offering it to God.
In remarks recorded in the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus insisted that his audience’s response to God be rooted in concrete action. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus challenged Martha’s orientation toward “doing” and praised Mary’s posture of “being.” Jesus was inviting disciples to step out of their normal role and to look at things from a new perspective and encounter the God of surprise. Whenever disciples stretch themselves, move into uncharted waters and listen to God anew, they invite transformation in every area of their lives. Those naturally drawn to a ministry of service need to spend time in prayer and contemplation, and those drawn to contemplation need to ground their prayer in action. One feeds the other.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that the greatest action one can perform is to love the Lord with one’s entire being. Jesus invites us to step outside the routine of our lives, even the admirable routine, and abide with him. Our service will not last if not rooted in the contemplation of God’s word.
– Which of the “doing” or “being” aspects of your life needs to be stronger?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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St_PatrickNow that the summer vacation season is in full swing, perhaps we should think about making a trip to visit a Holy Door—a cathedral, shrine, or other designated church—as part of our celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Walking through a Holy Door is a spiritual journey that signals our deep desire for true conversion.
In addition to passing through a Holy Door, there are Year of Mercy graces that can be gotten through other practices:

  • Perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy.
  • Go to confession.
  • Receive the Holy Eucharist, and then spend some time reflecting on mercy.
  • Make a profession of faith.
  • Pray for the pope and for his intentions.

The elderly, the confined, and the sick can obtain the special graces of the Year of Mercy simply by living with faith and joyful hope.
Our prayer today:

Thank you, Jesus,
for showering us with your strengthening graces
during this Year of Mercy.
Help us open our hearts
to spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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

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“Jesus replied, ‘A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:30-37).
In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us in at least three ways: how close we should get to suffering, how generously we should respond, and how inclusive our compassion should be.
First, notice that the priest and Levite crossed the road so that they wouldn’t have to get too close to the injured man who may have appeared to be dead. Touching a dead body would render them unsuitable for service to God. But perhaps they kept their distance so they could avoid seeing that wounded man. The good Samaritan’s behavior, however, challenges us to move toward suffering rather than away from it. When we engage life “up close and personal,” with open eyes and open hearts, we are much more likely to be moved to compassionate action.
The second challenge the good Samaritan poses for us is to question how generous our compassionate action should be. In many situations, it’s not enough to make donations of cash, food, or clothes; send a sympathy card; or promise to pray for others. The good Samaritan personally comforted the injured man, transported him to a safe haven, paid for his care, and promised to return to see if more was needed. The Samaritan may have arrived late at his original destination, but sometimes God has other destinations in mind for us.
Third, using the good Samaritan as his example, Jesus underlines his constant teaching that the test of Christian love is not how much we love those who love us, but how much we love those who don’t love us. Jesus’ disciples are to respond to the example of the good Samaritan by imitating their master’s embrace of all people. We are called to extend our compassion to our “enemies”: those who get on our nerves, those who sometimes insult us, those who can’t repay us, those who often disagree with us, as well as those who seek to hurt us.
It takes just this kind of inclusive compassion to break down the barriers to the full realization of God’s beloved community.
– How can you move out of your comfort zone, and to whom could you respond with compassion?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store
Graphic by Dinah Roe Kendall.

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christWith the celebration this weekend of Independence Day, we remember that God’s mercy can be witnessed in both the freedom he offers us and the way he loves us.
Freedom is a big deal in the Gospel. However, freedom in the New Testament means something very different from the way we commonly understand that word today.
When Jesus says that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:36), he does not mean free to simply pursue material possessions, successes, and satisfactions or to gratify our every impulse and whim.
All these ultimately fade away. It’s when we buy into the idea that we have a “right” to be happy that we fool ourselves at the cost of failed relationships, unsatisfying ambitions, dispirited lives.
Jesus gives freedom a deeper meaning—freedom from the burden of excessively pursuing material attachments. Freedom from self-absorption, so we can discover the joy of serving others and thereby store up treasures “where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
Paula Huston writes in A Season of Mystery that Jesus is the way to inner, lasting happiness. Contentment, she writes, comes by valuing ourselves as our merciful God values us—simply for who we are.
This is the freedom offered by Jesus.
Our prayer today:

Lord Jesus,
we thank you for loving us just as we are
and for teaching us the way
to true freedom and true joy.

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

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Wheat_Field“He said to them, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you”’ ” (Luke 10:2-9).
The first thing, and perhaps the best thing we can give people when we engage in ministry is our willingness to carefully listen to them. Ministry becomes mutual service when we engage people with loving attentiveness.
Our hands, as much as our ears, can also be instruments of loving service. A gentle touch can be a powerful purveyor of God’s love. This is illustrated by the story of a man who dressed as a clown and made monthly visits to a group of children living in a shelter. Each month he came with a bag of Hershey Kisses, but rather than grab the chocolates, the children reached for the large red heart on the costume. They knew that when they pressed the heart, they would get a hug in return. The reign of God is at hand. It’s as close as our own loving hands.
But approaching our daily encounters in these open ways can also make us vulnerable. We may be misunderstood, ignored, or put down. But Jesus asks us to be willing to be like a lamb as he was. If we imitate the vulnerable love of Jesus, we become instruments of his transformation of the world. Through us as through Jesus, the reign of God is at hand.
There is a story about a World War II soldier who found a statue of Jesus that was missing its hands. At the base of the statue was written, “I have no hands but yours.” The reign of God is truly in our hands.
– What aspects or situations of your life could be seen as areas of ministry where Jesus wants you to go as the emissary of his love and peace?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store.

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