Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 7, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

(Chapter 13:14, 43-52)

What we read in the Acts of the Apostles implies that Paul and Barnabas were inspired speakers who had a powerful effect on their listeners. They started out preaching mainly to Jewish people and converts to Judaism, but at this point their message is being received more positively by the Gentiles. It must have been hard for Paul who, in his previous life as Saul, was a rabid persecutor of the new Christian community. Up to this point, most of the followers of Jesus were Jews. From now on, Paul will truly be the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is because of him more than any of the other apostles that Christianity spread all over the Mediterranean world and beyond. Without him, it may have only been one more sect within Judaism. From what we know of Paul, he could be difficult at times but always courageous and persevering in his mission.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5)

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” What does it mean for you to be a part of God’s people? How does that change you?

A reading from the Book of Revelation

(Chapter 7:9, 14b-17)

This book was written long after the death and resurrection of Jesus—around 95 AD. By this time, there were many thousands of believers, but they were being persecuted by the Roman Empire. It is hard for us, centuries later, to imagine how hard it was for people to be practicing Christians. By then, the Romans saw them as a major threat to the empire’s power and did everything they could to wipe Christians out. Some emperors were worse than others, but persecution was the order of the day. The author of the Book of Revelation wants to assure his readers and listeners that God is with them. Their suffering will end, and they will be rewarded.

We do not face anything like the vicious all powerful and pervasive force that was ancient Rome, although Christians in other parts of the world are subject to violent persecution even today. We do all suffer in many ways at numerous times in our lives. When you are in your deepest and most prolonged suffering, do you still believe in the healing, saving power of God’s unconditional love? Are you able to go back in time to other occasions of deep suffering and remember how you made it through? Remembering those past experiences can help you be conscious of, and rely on, the supportive Spirit within you.

Read More

Topics: epiphany, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Holy Trinity, RENEW International, The Good Shepherd

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Most Holy Trinity

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 29, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Deuteronomy 

(Chapter 4:32-34, 39-40)

At the time of this writing, about 1200 B.C., virtually all the nations and tribes that surrounded the Hebrews believed in more than one god, in some cases many gods. Moses was telling his people once again that there was only one God, and that it was the one God who had given them a new homeland. The Hebrews had been in the desert for 40 years, and now the day had arrived for them to enter the Promised Land. But, there were two conditions. They must worship only the one God, no false gods, and they must keep God’s commandments. Of course, the people said yes, but they were often seduced by false gods that led them to disaster.

We can all think of celebrities and millionaires that have given into money, power, and prestige. But about us? What false gods can take the place of the one God in our lives?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 33)

“Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” We are that people, and we are blessed.” That is quite a gift and quite a responsibility. It does not call for passivity or false pride but rather for joyful thanks.

Read More

Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Holy Trinity, RENEW International, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Abba

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Baptism of the Lord

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

(Chapter 55:1-15)

This reading begins, “Thus says the Lord: all who are thirsty, come to the water.” The Middle East was and is a thirsty place, a desert area. We tend to take water for granted today, but for the Jews it was life itself. Isaiah portrays a loving, bountiful God who promises to give plentiful water and food to the people and offers to “renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.”

Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, God seeks out the people even after they have betrayed him and suffered because of their sins. Our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is never far from us and actively seeks us out. Isn’t that amazing, God pursuing us? Sometimes the Jewish people felt that God had abandoned them. That was never the case and is not now with us. God pursues us in so many ways that we are not even aware of. Do you think that God is pursuing you now in your life? How? What is God calling you to do? The Holy Spirit who lives within you will guide you discern how God is calling you.

Responsorial Psalm from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

(Chapter 12:2-3,4, 5-6)

“You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” This is not just any water; it is from the spring of salvation. Throughout history, people have sought a fountain of youth and even risked their lives for it. There is no fountain of youth, but there are the “springs of salvation.” They will renew us if we will drink from this never-ending spring.

Read More

Topics: catholic renew progam, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, RENEW International, savior, Sunday readings

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all