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The first reading today, from the book of Wisdom, makes its point over and over, at least five times in five verses! God is mighty, but lenient to all. God’s power is shown in kindness and clemency, not in harshness and condemnation, and those who govern God’s people must govern in the same way, with kindness. This loving kindness and gentleness is not contrary to God’s might, but is a direct result of God’s primacy over all. Who are we, then, to judge what is in the hearts of our fellow Christians and all people, when God commands justice with love and clemency? Likewise, the Holy Spirit makes up for our ignorance of what we need, speaking in a language we do not yet understand. But God knows our needs before we do, understands the intercessions of the Spirit, and helps us in our weakness. This is our hope: God’s mercy, power, and love.

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July 16 – Fruit of the Word

The seed is the word of God. The agricultural metaphors in all of today’s readings give richness to the message that the word of God, cultivated in our hearts, bears much fruit in our lives. Creation itself awaits the redemption of all, even as our bodies await the resurrection. Just as we will rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s word, so will all of creation sing for joy in the Reign of God. The word of God is effective and holy; it brings about exactly what it says. It is not futile or empty, but rich in meaning for those who hear and are healed. Those who hear the word of God and keep it will, with all creation, bear much fruit and sing for joy.

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July 9 – A Humble King

Like a tonal center in music, the note to which we keep returning in today’s readings is humility. We wait in joyful expectation for the coming of our Lord as King. But what we are told to expect and rejoice over is a meek and humble king, riding on an ass. Not horses or chariots of the great and mighty, but a humble beast carries the Ruler whose dominion stretches “from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10). This King comes to banish the tools of the warrior and bring peace. No wonder that a weary world rejoices and gives thanks to God!

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Today we have the beautiful story of the woman promised a child, the wonderful exhortation about life in Christ, and a powerful instruction from Jesus. An embarrassment of riches? Not if we take Jesus’ words about “welcome” to heart. The many challenges and blessings offered to us today by Elisha, Paul, and Jesus should be cause for rejoicing, and welcomed heartily into our lives. And, like the great treat that they are, they should be enjoyed and shared generously with others. Today’s reading from Romans was chosen very early in the liturgical life of the Church to be the sole apostolic instruction received by candidates for baptism at the Easter Vigil. This illustrates its importance as a core belief, and as a means of comprehending the story of the Resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is not merely a story about something that he underwent once upon a time, but it is our story, the story of how we joined the other members of the one Body of Christ, the church. We were not only dead, but we were buried; not ultimately buried, but raised to eternal life with Christ.

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June 18 – TRUST IN JESUS

Last week we heard that, following the Ascension, the disciples, Mary, and other followers of the Lord retreated to the upper room in prayer. This week we hear that, while praying in that room, the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Jesus’ post-Resurrection promise, recounted in today’s Gospel, is fulfilled: the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus’ followers. Saint Paul tells us that all of us, in some way, are given gifts of the Holy Spirit, gifts that can be used to spread the Good News. Today is one of the Church’s greatest festivals. Let us carry the refrain of the responsorial psalm with us throughout the coming week: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!” (Psalm 104:30).

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The God of the universe is mysterious. Science has not been able to solve the mystery of how the universe came into being or explain exactly what continues to give it creative energy and masterful design. No religion asserts that it has found words to name fully the ineffable mystery of God, for no matter what name we use, God always transcends our limited ability to understand. God is a mystery to be believed, not known. And yet, we Christians believe that our name for God best expresses that inexpressible mystery: God is the Most Holy Trinity of three persons united in a communion of love, pouring forth that creative, saving, sanctifying love into the world. Today’s scriptures celebrate the mystery of the Trinity and give us clues for living that mystery in our lives.

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June 4 – SEND OUT YOUR SPIRIT

Last week we heard that, following the Ascension, the disciples, Mary, and other followers of the Lord retreated to the upper room in prayer. This week we hear that, while praying in that room, the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Jesus’ post-Resurrection promise, recounted in today’s Gospel, is fulfilled: the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus’ followers. Saint Paul tells us that all of us, in some way, are given gifts of the Holy Spirit, gifts that can be used to spread the Good News. Today is one of the Church’s greatest festivals. Let us carry the refrain of the responsorial psalm with us throughout the coming week: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!” (Psalm 104:30).

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This seventh Sunday of Easter is somewhat like the proverbial “calm before the storm.” The Lord Jesus has ascended into heaven and Pentecost has not yet occurred. Rather than immediately taking up Jesus’ command to go out to all the nations, the disciples gather in the upper room “with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14). There they all devote themselves to prayer. The Gospel recounts the great prayer for the disciples that Jesus offered to his Father in heaven. If the words of Jesus while he was on earth finally began to sink in for the disciples, then gathering to pray was certainly the right choice, for the second reading lets us all know that to follow Christ means to have a share in his sufferings.

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May 21: People of Hope

Throughout this Easter season the readings have drawn us into the experience of the early church. We have tasted the excitement and zeal of the first Christians. Now, with them, we listen to the words of Saint Peter, who reminds us that when people notice that we are people of hope, we should be ready to explain why. This challenges us. Do others even notice that we are people of hope? In a world often marked by cynicism and hopelessness, do we stand out as people who offer hope and reassurance to others? In today’s Gospel Jesus promises that when he leaves the earth he will not leave us orphaned. Today he promises to send his Advocate, the Spirit of truth who will be with us always. Let us acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit and ask the Spirit to make us people of hope.

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May 14: The Way

Today we sense the apostles’ trepidation as they begin to realize that the Lord would soon be leaving them. In their fear, they ask, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus tells them that he is the way. The Easter season has been a time of growing in Easter faith so that we, too, may learn to know that Jesus is the way. We can take comfort in the Lord’s promise that he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for us, his chosen people who have been called out of darkness into God’s wonderful light. As the paschal candle continues to burn during this holy season, let us remember that in baptism we were given the light of Christ. With Christ our light as the beacon lighting our way, let us march toward the glory of Pentecost.

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