Branching-Out

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Apr 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 4:32-35)

Saint Luke tells us, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.” How could people be so generous? It may seem foolish to us. The answer lie in their powerful belief in the Resurrection: “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great favor was accorded them all.” The community had experienced something extraordinary. The man who was their beloved leader had been crucified, but they knew that he had conquered death. They also knew that they shared in that new life, a life in the Holy Spirit. Of course they would share what little they had with all in the community. None of that was really important. They had a new life, a life in the Spirit. They would never really die even though their bodies would die.

How would our lives be different if we really, deeply believed that we were living in the resurrected life of Jesus with his Spirit within us? Would we be as concerned so much with mere things, no matter how trendy or special or necessary they were portrayed?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 118)

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love is everlasting.” Everlasting means everlasting. There is not much else that lasts forever. Let’s go with the sure thing, God’s love!

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Topics: The Resurrection of the Lord, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, gift of faith, having faith, Jesus Christ, RENEW International

Road Repairs

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When springtime arrives here in New England, driver complaints about all the potholes in the paved roads are rampant. The bouts of freezing and thawing of the asphalt over the winter cause cracks and crumbles that often lead to some very large car-threatening holes. If the potholes don’t slow us down, the prospect of wending around the road-repair crew trucks will certainly challenge us.

Have we ever thought about the potholes in our spiritual lives? Sometimes we fluctuate in the warmth of our prayer life and religious fervor. Sometimes we yield to temptations for immediate, selfish gratification. The season of Lent has been a good time to evaluate and atone for those ruts and bumps in our road to holiness; and now that Easter has come, we can rejoice in the perfect Savior solution to our challenges.

Jesus has risen! His tomb is empty, and we are full of joy and hope! We can rise, tooabove all the sickness, anxiety, and world-threatening problems that menace us with doubt and despair. Jesus’ terrible suffering and death give us powerful examples of how to follow God’s will. God the Father raised his Son to new life and showed us that, thanks to Jesus, our road to new life in heaven is open. It may not always be a smooth road, but we know how much God loves us and offers us help to avoid the ruts.

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Topics: Easter Season, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Easter Basket Prayers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 5, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Come Easter morning when I was a little child, there would usually be a good-sized, fancy-wrapped Easter basket waiting for me on the dining room table. Through the colorful cellophane wrap I would see a rainbow of yummy jellybeans half-circling marshmallow yellow chicks, small chocolate eggs, and a fair-sized hollow chocolate bunny decorated with little candy flowers. I think it is a safe guess that many of my readers share a similar memory. A perennial question is, what part of the chocolate bunny you eat first? All these thoughts about the Easter basket and its contents have inspired an Easter basket prayer.

The Easter basket, possibly made of woven wicker, is the container that holds the colored plastic grass; it is the foundation or base holding all the good stuff! I think of the foundation of my spiritual life: the religious instruction I have had, the materials I have read, the teachers I have had, and the spiritual experiences I have had in my decades of life. What holds my spirituality together? What keeps me together and supports me?

Risen Savior, I acknowledge and appreciate how You lift me up and lovingly keep me from losing my way to You. Sometimes I feel like I cannot “keep it all together,” but You are always with me, and ready to help me through my tough times.

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Topics: Easter, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Apr 3, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 10: 34a, 37-43)

The Acts of the Apostles is really a continuation of Saint Luke’s Gospel, completing the story of what happened after the Resurrection. Peter speaks for the community and recounts the major events in the life of Jesus: his anointing with the Holy Spirit, his ministry of healing and doing good for people, his death and resurrection, and his eating and drinking with the disciples after he conquered death. Peter wants everyone to know that he and the other apostles have been “commissioned” by Jesus to preach the Good News and that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Imagine how difficult all this was for Peter and the other apostles. They had lost their friend and leader in whom they had placed all their hope. They had given up everything to follow him, and then they lost him to a horrible death. They could have called it quits and returned to their former lives. There were probably many who encouraged them to stop risking their lives and lead a “normal” existence, but they persisted. Why? Somehow, in ways we cannot understand, they still experienced the presence of Jesus. He was still there for them, and they continued to answer his call. Because of those relatively few courageous people, we have a community, a Church today. Let us be thankful for them.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 118)

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” The next line is so important: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.” God’s mercy is always there, no matter how far we may have strayed or how much harm we may have done. Please pass that on to someone in your life that really needs to hear those words of everlasting mercy. That is something we can all “rejoice and be glad.”

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Topics: Easter, The Resurrection of the Lord, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International

Lamb of God

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 31, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When I hear and pray the Agnus Dei prayer at Mass, the words, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” really affect me. When I think of my own sins, I know there have been many over my lifetime; but Jesus takes away the sins of the world! We have all been fallen children of God, and Jesus died to save all of us! How phenomenal is that?

I think about that nasty crown of thorns they jammed onto Jesus’ precious head. Droplets of blood and sweat must have dripped into his eyeseyes that had seen the crowds of people who listened to his teachings and tried to understand, eyes that hd beheld the hungry multitude he fed with bread and fish, eyes that had cried at the news of his friend’s death.

Perhaps the blood droplets fell into Jesus’ earsears that had heard the conversations of his apostles, the cries of the widow of Naim, the complaints of Martha that she was doing all the housework, and the crack of the whips at his scourging.

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Topics: lamb of God, Passion of Our Lord, crucifixion, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Zeke's Story

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 29, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Here’s a little fantasy about Easter. Reading it to youngsters might help them share in the joy of the holy day:

Zeke, the donkey, was looking rather sad. His little son, Jojo, was concerned and said to him,”Papa, why are you so sad?”

Zeke replied, “I just heard that a very gentle and kind man they called Jesus was scourged and crucified a couple of days ago.”

Jojo responded, “But why does that make you so sad?”

“Well, it is sort of a family story. It was not that long ago that your cousin, Bleat, was called upon to carry on his back that man, Jesus, into Jerusalem to fulfill what the prophet had said:

   ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,

   Look, your king is coming to you,

   humble, and mounted on a donkey,

   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ (Matt 21:5 NRSV)

Zeke went on, “And a large crowd had assembled and even put their many cloaks and tree branches on the road to smooth the way for Jesus. They all shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ They were all excited and jubilant about the arrival of this prophet who was there, coming in the name of the Lord! And he was riding on your little cousin’s back! What an honor for Bleat! It made the whole stable family so proud!”

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Topics: Easter, RENEW International, resurrection, Sharon Krause, Children's Easter story

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Palm Sunday

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 28, 2021 11:11:01 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 50:4-7)

This reading is one of Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” songs. The early Christians, who were almost all Jews, related this passage to Jesus. He suffered rejection, torture, and death, but He did not turn back and was not disgraced. The early community could believe that about Jesus even though he had a terrible death, because they also believed in his Resurrection. He lives!

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 22)

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Jesus could very well have felt abandoned, but he made it through terrible torture, because his Father was with him. Our Father has given us his Spirit who lives within us. Let us call upon the Holy Spirit in our times of greatest suffering. It is not as though we will suddenly be freed from that suffering, but the Spirit will remain with us and help us to make it through.

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Topics: Palm Sunday, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, The Passion of the Lord, Crucifxion, Dying to new life

Paying Attention

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

One day my husband and I were taking a leisurely walk around our neighborhood when we saw two policemen standing on a corner. A couple of blocks away was a police car, just sitting there as if waiting for someone or something. We concluded that the first two policemen were spotters watching passing motorists to see if they were talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. The officer in the nearby police car would get the message from the spotters and pursue any perpetrators. Citations, anyone?

That observation brings to mind the importance of paying attention to what we are doing and thereby avoiding distractions that could lead to trouble. Paying attention usually allows us to perform our activity well, because our minds are focused on the task at hand. However, since we are creatures that can usually think of more than one thing at a time, we have to strive to keep our priorities in order and our distractions under control.

Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 14) reports that when Jesus was told about the death of John the Baptist, he went off by himself to a deserted place, probably to grieve as well as pray. He could not pay attention to his grief and prayer for long, however, because a large crowd followed him and wanted him to continue his healing ministry. Jesus was always taking notice of the needs of the crowds and so, in his great compassion, he found a way to heal their hunger for food as well and proceeded to feed five thousand of them.

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Topics: Lent, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Lenten Rosary Mysteries

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 22, 2021 2:00:00 AM
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Topics: Lent, prayer life, RENEW International, rosary, Sharon Krause

Being Prepared

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 19, 2021 6:00:00 AM

It was a very cold winter morning. My husband, our baby daughter, and I were in the car on our way from Pennsylvania relatives to home in Connecticut. We did not get very far on the highway when the fan belt on the car broke. This was before the days of cellphones. My husband pulled over and walked down a nearby exit ramp to find a place to phone his father to come and help us. It worked out fine, but the incident taught my husband a big lesson. From then on, he carried an extra fan belt, a box of many tools, and extra oil in the trunk of our car whenever we took a trip.

“Be prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts, and being prepared is a good idea for all of us, even though technology can bring help for any problem quite quickly nowadays.

It seems as if, in everyday life, we are always preparing for something. Most of the time we have advance notice of an exam we will be taking, a dinner we will be serving, an appointment we have made. We can plan our preparation. Sometimes, unexpected things happen; that’s when we need to have our “tools” in our trunks.

Right now, we are preparing to celebrate something wonderful: Easter and the Easter season. Lenten liturgy readings recount miracles Jesus performed, his teachings about love and the laws, the mission and identity of Jesus, and the plots to kill Jesus. We get ready for the miracle of Easter by appreciating all Jesus’ did in preparation for his crucifixion and death that redeemed us.

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Topics: Lent, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, prepare for Easter

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