Branching-Out

Prayer: Repentance

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Loving and gentle God,
for the times we have been
insensitive to the needs of others …

For the times we have not resisted evil
but have given in to it instead …

For the times we have failed to offer hope and support …

For the times we have shut ourselves off
from comfort, hope, and support …

For the times we have allowed cynicism to reign …

Lord, we repent and believe in the Good News.

Loving God, we turn to you in love and trust.
Allow your reign to grow continually in our hearts,
now and always. Amen.

Adapted from PrayerTime, Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B,
© RENEW International

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Topics: catholic RENEW program, Good News, Gospel of Mark, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, repent and believe in the gospel

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 23, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah

(Chapter 3:1-5, 10)

God asks Jonah to go to Nineveh, not a Jewish city but the capital of Assyria, an enemy of Israel, and preach a message of repentance. Repentance is a very powerful word used throughout the Bible. It does not mean changing your mind or being sorry for something. It means having a change of heart, a whole change of direction in your life. We often say we are sorry for something, but repentance involves our whole being focused on something very serious. This was the second time that Jonah had preached this message, so it must have been a difficult and dangerous mission.

Prophets were special people called by God to carry a message to people who had lost their way and were mired in sinfulness. Every age has its prophets, even though they are not necessarily called prophets. Think about people in our own time that you consider as prophets. Who would they be? How can you know that they are true prophets, not false prophets?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9)

The response to these psalm verses is, “Teach me your ways O Lord.” This is a life-long process, learning God’s ways. We need to be open to new insights and callings from God. What we learned in the third grade or even last year needs to grow continually. How are you open to God’s ongoing message as God speaks to you every day in so many ways? Is there some new call that you believe God is sending to you? How should you respond?

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, catholic renew progam, God's call, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, repent and believe in the gospel, resurrection in our lives, Ordinary Time, the prophet Jonah, third sunday in ordinary time

Prayer: 'What are you looking for?'

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Gentle God, loving Father, source of all goodness,
you bless us with many gifts,
most especially the gift
of your Son.
Jesus invites us
into loving relationship,
as he is in loving relationship with you and the Spirit.
Grant us the power of the Spirit to discern
the best way to respond to Jesus’ invitation.
Give us the determination to respond
continually and fully to that call.
We ask this in and through the Christ
who calls us and the Spirit who guides us.
All praise to you Lord, now and forever. Amen.

 Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B.

© RENEW International

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Topics: disciples of Jesus, called to follow, catholic RENEW program, invitation, Jesus Christ, power of the Spirit, prayer, RENEW International, respond to the call

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the First Book of Samuel

(Chapter 3:3b-10, 19)

“Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel , who answered ‘Here I am, you called me.’ ‘I did not call you,’ Eli said. ‘Go back to sleep.’ So, he went back to sleep.”

This happened again and then again, but eventually Eli understood what was happening, that it was God calling Samuel. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

Samuel went to sleep again and “the Lord came and revealed his presence.” “Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” Indeed, he was one of the most important leaders in the history of ancient Israel.

Each of us must make decisions in lifesome minor, some life-changing such as choosing a new school and a direction in life or deciding to marry and have children. How do you approach your callings and opportunities? Do you pray? And, most of all, do you listen to the Spirit who lives within you?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10)

“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Sometimes, it is certain what your path should be, but often, it is not clear. Is the voice of God coming directly to you in consciousness or dreams? How or through whom does the voice of God come to you? Can you say as Samuel said, “Speak, your servant is listening”?

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Topics: apostle Peter, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, catholic renew progam, First Book of Samuel, God's call, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Ordinary Time, Apostle Andrew

Beginning With the Ordinary

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 11, 2021 6:00:00 AM

One day I was having an ordinary conversation with my teen-aged grandson, Joshua. I was telling him that when I was a teen, I used to play a few tunes on an acoustic guitar and that my plan was that, after I retired, I might dig it out of the attic and try learning to play it again. My comments sparked his interest, and before I knew it, we were trudging up my old attic ladder entrance to resurrect my instrument.

I showed Josh a few of the things I remembered about the guitar. His birthday was approaching soon, so you can probably guess what Josh’s maternal grandparents’ gift to him wasan ordinary, but brand new, acoustic guitar!

It has been about three years since our trip to the attic, and now Joshua is a very good guitar-player. A family friend, Kevin, gave Josh a few lessons; then Josh bought a better guitar. Next, he took some lessons from a music teacher at the college he now attends. His father helped him to build a guitar storage stand. Josh occasionally comes to my house and serenades me. When his paternal grandfather was dying in a convalescent home, Josh went to see him and played his guitar and sang to him. While that grandpa was rather senile, he could still remember to ask for the “guitar man.” An ordinary conversation led to buying an ordinary guitar which led to Josh becoming an extraordinary guitarist. 

This week, liturgically speaking, we are beginning “Ordinary Time.” We may understand that to mean that we are not in a special season of Christmastime or Eastertide, or the preparation times of Advent or Lent. However the word “ordinary” could connote something without potential or just plain and uneventful. That certainly is not the case with any of our liturgies. Anytime we celebrate the Eucharist it is extraordinary! Ordinary Time liturgies are full of inspiring scripture readings.

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Topics: disciples, catholic program renew, Gospel According to Mark, Jesus Christ, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Ordinary Time

Prayer: Mission of Service

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

God of love, you revealed Jesus
as your beloved Son
in the Jordan River.
We praise you for the gift of Christ,
our salvation and our peace.
You anointed Jesus
for the service of the world.
Strengthen the Church’s witness
to this mission in our world today.
You brought us to new life
and made us members of Christ’s Body in baptism.
May the gift of your Holy Spirit keep us
ready to meet the demands of our baptism. Amen.

 Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B.

© RENEW International

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Topics: baptism, Baptism of Our Lord, mission, catholic RENEW program, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, service

'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.

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

Prayer: To Be Your Light

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 3, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Lord of all nations,
Father of us all,
throughout the ages
you have given us signs of your presence and action in the world.
May your light shine
through our words and our deeds
that those whom we meet
may find their way to you.

We ask this through Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
Father, and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
Amen.

 Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B.

© RENEW International

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Topics: epiphany of the Lord, magi, catholic RENEW program, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 2, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 60:1-6)

Most Jewish and Christian scholars believe that the Prophet Isaiah was really three different people writing at three different times. Today’s reading is from the last section of Isaiah, written at the end of the Babylonian Exile. It is a time of great joy: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you…. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”

The Church reads this passage today because in the birth of Jesus all this and more has come. He is the fulfillment of all the prophesies and all the promises from God.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians
(Chapter 3:2-3a, 5-6)

Paul writes, “the mystery was made known to me by revelation.” The mystery he is referring to is God’s whole plan for salvation in Jesus. However, it is not only for Jews: “The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body”

Most of the early Christians were Jews, and many of them thought that Jesus came only for them. He certainly did come to proclaim the reign of God to Israel, but Paul makes it clear that it is for all people. We are all called to be a part of “the same body.” Paul dedicated his ministry to all people but traveled far and wide to reach the Gentiles. Without him, Christianity might have been limited to being a sect of Judaism and most probably would have died out as many other Jewish communities did over the decades and centuries. No, the Church of the apostles that you and I live in and believe in is inclusive, not an exclusive club for the holy. Pope Francis refers to himself as a sinner. We are all sinners, a Church of sinners, forgiven and saved by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to always reach out our arms and our hearts to those who have felt excluded or alienated from our Church.

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Topics: magi, New Year, catholic renew progam, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, savior, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Sunday readings, birth of our Savior, universal Church

Loving Hands

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 30, 2020 6:00:00 AM

When our daughter was born, I looked at each of her little hands in aweall ten tiny fingers, little pink fingernails, small perfect knuckles. Now I wonder if Mary ever took one of baby Jesus’ hands into hers and marveled at its beauty as she compared its size to hers. Did he lightly squeeze her finger? Did she kiss that tiny hand and hold it close to her face? That’s often what mothers do. 

When the boy Jesus helped Joseph with some of his work, did Joseph ever put his bigger hand on top of Jesus’ hand to guide him in how to use a tool efficiently? Did Joseph ever, even just in his mind, compare his big hand to the little boy’s? Did Joseph make note of his own callouses, the likes of which not yet appeared on his foster son’s hands? 

Once, on a silent weekend retreat, I was praying in the chapel. My hands were intertwined, and my eyes were closed. And as I prayed, it felt as if someone’s hands were folded over mine in protective love. I sensed it was Jesus there with me, although I certainly did not see any hands but mine. What a comfort it was! For a few minutes, my whole world was in his hands, reminding me of that African-American spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” 

In his ministry, Jesus’ hands came together in private prayer, made a muddy paste to give sight to a blind man (John 9), touched and healed a leper (Luke 5), wrote in the sand as he stopped the stoning of an adulteress (John 8), and grabbed struggling Peter whose faith wavered as he tried to walk to Jesus on water (Matthew 14) —-to name just a few of his numerous loving actions. 

I sometimes wish I could have been at the Last Supper to see Jesus take the bread in his hands and pass his consecrated Body to his apostles. Priests’ hands are so blessed to be able to consecrate the unleavened bread at Masses! Even the privilege of our receiving the Body of Christ into our very own hands is so special!

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Topics: Christmas, Body of Christ, catholic program renew, Jesus Christ, Mary, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, St. Joseph

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