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“After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last’” (Luke 13:25-30).
Luke wrote his Gospel for people of Greek culture who were refined and intelligent. They were attracted to Jesus’ message and wanted to follow him as Christians. They were joining a community whose first members were all Jewish but who recognized in Jesus the fulfillment of the promises made to them in what we now call the Old Testament. The Jewish converts could look back on thousands of years of religious belief and practice: they had long believed in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth; they were familiar with speaking about “the Spirit of God;” their understanding of Jesus as Christ was enriched by all the prophets had said about the Messiah; their celebration of the Passover informed their understanding of the Eucharist.
For all the sophistication of their Greek learning, the Gentile converts could very easily have felt like second-class Christians. They were coming from pagan tradition, with its pantheon of gods and goddesses, and were now having to come to terms with monotheism, with one true God as Father and Creator.
Luke’s message to the Gentile converts is one of reassurance: do not feel like second-class Christians. Yes, those with a Jewish tradition may have been “the first to hear the word of God,” but “the first” could end up being “the last.”
– How does this reading speak to you about ways in which you think of yourself as “first” or others as “last”?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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earth_on_fireMany people blame religion for bringing strife into the world. They point to the Crusades and the Inquisition as examples.
But religion itself is not to blame. The blame falls on those who call themselves Christians, for instance, but fail to live according to Christ’s commandments of love and mercy.
This is what G. K. Chesterton meant when he said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
Christianity should be thought of as not so much a religion as a spiritual pathway towards union with God. In fact, “The Way” was a name adopted by the earliest Christians.
Paul, before his conversion on the road to Damascus, was obsessed with finding “any men or women who belonged to the Way,” so he could haul them away in chains (Acts 9:2).
Hear what Catherine of Siena urges: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” Her words echo Christ’s, as recorded in Luke 12:49: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
Want to help Jesus set the earth ablaze? Simply be who God meant you to be—a Christian who lives by the Gospel every day.
Our prayer today:

Jesus, Lord of love and mercy,
strengthen us as we follow the path you have set for us.

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 said to his disciples: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’” (Luke 12:49-53).
Luke is preparing his readers for the reality, described metaphorically by Jesus, that as Christians they should expect to encounter indifference, ridicule, and resistance, even from members of their own families. Many of his listeners were journeying toward their initiation at Easter, and Luke wants them to be prepared for the realities of life as a follower of Jesus. There are others, already Christians, who are finding it difficult to live up to the commitment of being followers of Jesus. To both, Luke is saying “You want to be a follower of Jesus? Well, this is the path he took …”
Today’s gospel reading faces one of the hard paradoxes of Christian life for the people of Luke’s time. This is a mission of love, yet it is also the kind of love that threatens as well as consoles. Jesus will bring division. Because of him, households will be divided right down the middle. His message and person are so powerful that he will generate love among some but loathing among others.
As disciples, we will discover that the more we take this Gospel passage seriously the more we will bring both division and healing. So much of what we believe and are called to live out as Christians causes us to take positions that go against popular political currents, which may make us quite unpopular in some circles.
When that happens—and it will happen when we take living our Christian lives seriously—how well we persevere will depend on the strength and maturity of our faith.
Even in division, faith offers an immense consolation. Jerusalem is the city not only of the cross but of the resurrection. Today, though, Luke is putting it the other way around: remember—he warns us— that to reach the resurrection, we have to go via the cross.
– When have you taken a stand that was unpopular but in line with your beliefs?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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oil_lampJesus spoke often of our need to be vigilant. For example, he told the story of the five foolish virgins who let the oil in their lamps run out before the arrival of the bridegroom and the story of the faithful and prudent steward whom the master left in charge of his servants.
“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival,” Jesus promised.
But that is only half the story, because God displays his great mercy toward us through his own expectant and loving vigilance in waiting for us to return to him.
Pope Francis points out that patient waiting is a quality of God. In his book, The Joy of Discipleship, Pope Francis writes:
“God does not forget us; the Father never abandons us. He is a patient Father, always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but he remains faithful forever. And when we come back to him, he welcomes us like children into his house, for he never ceases, not for one instant, to wait for us with love.”
And when we come to God in love and repentance, his heart rejoices. “He is celebrating because he is joy,” Francis says. “God has this joy, when one of us sinners goes to him and asks his forgiveness.”
Our prayer today:

we pray for perseverance
in faithfully and joyfully awaiting your coming.

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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In 1995, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. One of the highlights of that trip was our visit to Mount Tabor. According to Christian tradition, Mount Tabor is the site of the Transfiguration of Christ, the feast we celebrate today. This is the site on which Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, Peter; James, son of Zebedee; and John the Apostle, and was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah ( Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36).
Mount Tabor’s distinctly rounded shape rises more than 1,800 feet above the eastern end of the Jezreel Plain and about eleven miles west of the Sea of Galilee, making it easily recognizable. Getting to the top of that mountain is a feat in itself. We rode in taxis, albeit Mercedes, and I lost count of the number of twists and turns. It took the better part of a half hour and was well worth the ride. The Church of the Transfiguration is an impressive structure. A magnificent highlight consists of the upper and lower altars which are adorned with golden mosaics. The upper level commemorates the divine nature of Christ and the lower recalls different manifestations of his humanity. We celebrated Mass in the lower chapel, which has a remarkable ability to beautify and amplify sound due to its bell shape. We were blessed with some very talented singers in our group and it was a powerful experience to hear the voices reverberate in glory and praise of God.
What is the meaning of the Transfiguration for us today? In 2008, the first Iron Man movie was produced. It is based on a fictional character found in the Marvel Comic books. A billionaire and clever engineer Tony Stark suffers a severe injury during a kidnapping in which his captors want him to create a weapon of mass destruction. Instead he creates a powered suit of armor that in turn saves his life and enables him to escape his captors. This suit, when worn, empowers Stark as Iron Man to fight crime and terrorism. Iron Man needs to put on his suit of armor to become a better version of himself. We celebrate the Transfiguration today, a feast in which Jesus’ humanity is stripped away in order that we may see his true self—his glorified self. In our tradition, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, the point where human nature meets God. Three disciples were invited into Jesus’s life in an intimate way—to see him in his glory, his humanity stripped away and his divinity made visible to them. We are invited into this same intimacy with Jesus each time we celebrate the sacraments, enter into prayer, or reach out to a brother or sister in need. The question for me is do I prefer to build the tents as Peter wished to and keep this experience to myself, or do I allow the beauty of this transformation to stretch me to go where I might otherwise fear to go?
Sr. Maureen P. Colleary, FSP is a member of the Pastoral Services team at RENEW International and a Franciscan Sister of Peace.

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