"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 18, 2023 6:30:00 AM

A reading from the First Book of Samuel

(Chapter 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a)

Saul was the king of Israel, but he had fallen out of favor with the Lord by not fully obeying instructions from the prophet Samuel. It was time for a new king who would be faithful and just. “The Lord said to Samuel: Fill your horn with oil and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Jerusalem for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” Samuel knew that Jesse had seven sons, but which one would it be? Perhaps Eliab? The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.” So, Jesse presented six of his sons, and the Lord rejected all of them. But Jesse had one more son, David, who was tending sheep. “The Lord said ‘There, anoint him, for this is the one.’” Why would God choose someone so seemingly inappropriate and so young? “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but God looks into the heart.”

Yes! That is the way God choosesnot by appearances but by looking into our hearts. Let us look into our own hearts, especially during Lent, a season of introspection. Do our hearts contain what God would hope to find there?

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4; 5, 6)

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I should want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” Whatever you are going through that is painful, stressful, or depressing, God will refresh your soul, even now. Call on him.

A reading St. Paul's Letters to the Ephesians

(Chapter 5:8-14)

“Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth…. Therefore, it says: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’’’

This theme of darkness and light has been used throughout history, because both elementsdarkness and lightare powerful and relate to our everyday experience. Entering a dark room, having the light go out suddenly, and having to read without good light can be challenging experiences. Light brings clarity, warmth, and comfort. So, as the author says, “Christ will give you light.”

In these times with their many shadows, ask Christ to give us, give you, light.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

(Chapter 9:1-41)

This is one of the longest gospel stories, and it has one self-evident meaning and one deeper meaning. Jesus meets a man born blind. In this culture at this time, someone is to be blamed for the blindnessusually, the blind person’s parents. That is why the disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answers, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus, on that Sabbath day, rubs the man’s eyes with clay and tells him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man does that, and when people ask him how he can now see, he tells them about Jesus healing him. Then the Pharisees ask him, and he tells them the same story. Some of them condemn Jesus: “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others ask the formerly blind man, “What do you have to say about him since he opened your eyes.” He says, “He is a prophet.”

The Pharisees, who are supposed to be the truly religious people, condemn Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath and therefore did not follow the letter of the Law. For Jesus, the Law of Love that came from his Father was the true Law. The Pharisees remain in darkness, but the man has come into the light and can see because of his faith in Jesus.

Do you ever feel a sense of darkness in your life or in your very soul? It can come from within for any number of reasons: illness, disappointment, the loss of mental or physical abilities, or a loss of faith. It can also originate from outside events, threats, or broken relationshipsor a combination of such things. It may even be just one thing in an otherwise happy life. Where can you find the light amid the darkness? Is there an action you can take? Can you ask for someone’s help? The one source of healing and light that is always there is your Spirit, your lifelong partner who lives within you. Keep saying hello to the Holy Spirit.



Painting: Healing of the Blind Man, by Carl Bloch (1871). Frederiksborg Museum, Hillerod, Denmark.  Public domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: healing of the blind man, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Fourth Sunday in Lent

At the Well

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 13, 2023 6:00:00 AM

What do you say? Let’s go sit at Jacob’s well with Jesus and the woman of Samaria. Let’s say it is hot outside, around the noon hour, as the gospel passage described it in yesterday’s Mass. We might be thirsty as Jesus was. We hear some birds singing. The sun is shining on our shoulders.

We are now into the third week of Lent. We might need a cupful of water that will lead to a spring of water that wells up to eternal life. We can ask Jesus how to worship the Father in Spirit and truth in a way that is more faithful, more sincere and dynamic. As the Samaritan woman carried on a conversation with Jesus, maybe we could try a little more one-on-one with him during our busy day. No one was with Jesus and the woman; his disciples were off buying food. Can we find time to be alone with Jesus, even for a little while? It is so easy these days to get awfully busy!

Did you notice that the woman remarked that Jesus did not even have a bucket to use to obtain the water? However, after speaking with him, she left her bucket behind and went onto the town to spread the news about Jesus. She had a new priority. How about our priorities? Are they in right order? Can we make some adjustments? Do we share Jesus with others, even in small life matters, when we get a chance?

Jesus knew that the woman did not have a sixth husband, that the partner she had currently was not her spouse. Jesus knows all about us as well: our gifts, our talents, our shortcomings, our sins. He will help us deal with the various aspects of our lives when we ask him. Review your inventory together!

 Jesus revealed to the woman that he is the Christ. He reveals himself to us in a very special way when we receive Holy Communion. Is it possible to receive him more than once during the weeks of Lent? Perhaps we remember that little prayer for when we cannot receive Him physically in the Eucharist, but want to receive a spiritual communion:

    As I cannot now receive You, dear Jesus, in Holy Communion, come spiritually into  

   my heart and make it Thine own forever. Amen.

 By spending more time in prayer with our Savior, we might be able to find a new serenity in the days leading up to Easter. Our gratitude to God can increase. Our Easter joy could be more intense!


Paint my portrait, Jesus, I’ll endeavor to sit still;

Capture, Lord, my best side, if it’s your loving will.

Paint my eyes to find you in everyone I see.

Don’t catch my nose turned upward; I need humility.

Render my lips smiling; a few laugh lines are fine:

They help to show the Spirit, the inner joy that’s mine.

Blush my cheeks, dear Jesus, a vibrant, scarlet red.

Help me to remember the saving blood you shed.

Paint my portrait, Jesus; use forgiving hues.

Create a ready likeness: make me look like you.


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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, Sharon Krause, spend time with Jesus

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday in Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 11, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Exodus

(Chapter 17:3-7)

In the scene described in this reading, the Israelites have been wandering in the dessert for years since their escape from Egypt; they are hungry and thirsty. They complain to Moses,“Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die of thirst with our children and our livestock?” In Egypt, they had led a horrible existence of slavery and violence; yet, that seems better compared to their present suffering. “So, Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people?’” The Lord instructs Moses to go to the rock of Horeb: “Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.”

So goes the continuing story of God’s relationship with the Israelites. With each crisis they face, their faith is tested, often beyond their ability to be faithful. No matter! God is always with them.

Thousands of years later, we face our own crises on personal and societal levels. A family member dies painfully, tragically, or unexpectedly. Sickness strikes. A relationship shatters. Addiction takes over a family. And then there are the crises of our society: the pandemic, hunger, poverty, homelessness, injustice, racism, sexism, climate change. Our relationship with God is tested in all these crises.

The key to our relationship with God and our spiritual, emotional, and physical health is what God has said to us in the Hebrew Scriptures and what Jesus said in the Gospels: “I am with you always.”

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9)

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Do you know someone who has a hardened heart, someone who can no longer hear God’s voice? Maybe your prayer for that person will reach his or her. It may take a while, maybe a long while, but do not give up. “I am with you.”

A reading St. Paul's Letters to the Romans

(Chapter 5:1-2, 5-8)

Paul tells his brothers and sisters in Rome, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope for the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Let’s read that last line again: “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It is not as though the love of God is something outside of us. No, it is within us, because the very Spirit of God is in us. Do you believe that God’s Spirit is alive in you?

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

(Chapter 4:5-42)

This is the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and it links with our first reading about water flowing from a rock through the power of God.

“Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well…. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her ‘Give me a drink.’” The woman then asked, “‘How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink? For Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans….’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘Give me a drink’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’”

The woman was skeptical and asked him, “Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I will give will never thirst; the water I will give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This woman had a hard life, with five husbands, but Jesus did not condemn her. She believed in him and told everyone in town about him. Jesus wound up staying there two days, and, “Many more began to believe in him because of his word.”

The fact that Jesus spoke in public to a woman who was not his wifeand a Samaritan at thatshocked his disciples at first, but Jesus did not care. He wanted to reach out to someone whose neighbors might have seen her as a great sinner, so he said, “the Father seeks such people to worship him.” She did, and so did the other Samaritans who were considered by Jewish people to be heretics. We can declare with them: “We know that this is truly the savior of the world.”



Painting: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guernico), 1640-1641. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. Public domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: woman at the well, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Third Sunday of Lent

Human Dignity vs Dehumanization: Final Words of Those Executed

Posted by Alice Hugh Brown on Mar 8, 2023 6:00:00 AM

The State of Oklahoma has paused its executions until May 2023. This is hopeful news as it indicates that the state is not only looking over its method of execution but also allowing more time for appeals to be filed and reviewed. Members of the state legislature who still support the death penalty have expressed concern over the possibility of executing innocent persons. This is a step forward.

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Topics: Catholic social teaching, death penalty, forgiveness, Dignity and the Death Penalty

Good Company

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 6, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Yesterday’s gospel reading told us about some of the people with whom Jesus was keeping company. Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on that high mountain when He was transfigured, and then Moses and Elijah made an appearance. Good company, indeed!

 Just think about it! During Lent 2023, we know we are in good company in our journey toward Easter. God, the Father, is with us, and that means we have access to his holiness, power, faithfulness, righteousness, and kindness. God, the Father, is the kind of company that comes to dinner and brings the foodand even prepares the meal!

 We certainly know about Jesus from the gospels. He is the gift from God, the Living Bread come down from heaven, the life-giving, Living Water through whom we are thirsty no more. Because Jesus is fully human, he knows from experience about emotions, challenges, and temptations. He relates to us with fullness of understanding. He gets up with us in the mornings and is with us throughout our days. He saves us over and over again, picks us up and helps us to respond to God’s love. His shoulder is always right next to us if we need to lean or to cry. His approving smile is always waiting when we do His Father’s bidding. Jesus’ name is our password to salvation.

 The Holy Spirit is a motivating and consoling companion, especially during this time as we anticipate Easter. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us those little nudges to pray, repent, or do a kind act. It is the Holy Spirit who can energize us and give us courage to overcome temptations. The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity prays with us, through us, and for us in words that are beyond words, when we cannot find the words. If we let the Spirit work, we can seize our lives’ moments and make them shine. Through the waters of baptism and our confirmation, the Spirit offers us make-overs that no Lenten visit to a health spa can rival. We can have a perpetual newness about us.

 At all Masses, we call upon the Communion of Saints, that is, Linus, Sixtus, Cornelius, Agnes, Agatha, and the holy Apostles, those saints we have heard about and read about, all the faithful in the Church like our families, friends, teachers, acquaintances, the people with whom we live, work, play, and pray. We ask that great company to help us. And, of course, our loving Blessed Mother prays for us generously. Even our guardian angels are keeping company with us. We might forget or ignore them, but they pray for us, too.

 We might want to customize or adapt our prayers today. We could pray the “Glory Be” or “The Sign of the Cross” to help us be more aware of the company we keep:

Glory be to the Father, who is Abba, and to the Son, who saves me, and to the Holy Spirit, who fires me up. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

 In the name of the Father who is so faithful, and of the Son who shepherds me, and of the Holy Spirit who consoles and inspires me, I pray I remain aware of such holy company today. Amen.


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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, God is with us, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Second Sunday in Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 4, 2023 6:30:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Genesis

(Chapter 12:1-4a)

“The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those that curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.’ Abram went as the Lord directed him.”

Abram’s conversation with God marks the origin of the Jewish people. God tells Abram, whom he soon will call Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation.” These words often have often been a comfort and source of hope to the Jewish people during their historic suffering and their frequent dispersion.

The same is true for us today amid turmoil throughout the world and in our own country. Let us ask in hope for God’s blessing for our country and our world. And let us ask for that blessing in the name of our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22)

“Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you…. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.” Let us remember that our hope, in God, is ever present and eternal. Do you believe that?

A reading St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy

(Chapter 1:8b-10)

Paul is writing to his disciple Timothy at a time of persecution and death for the early Christians, and Paul wants to encourage them. “Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” How does your strength come from God? Do you ask for strength? How do you respond when it seems that no strength comes?

Paul writes that God “saved us and called us to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The word “gospel” means good news, and the good news, as we know it, is that Christ Jesus destroyed the finality of death “and brought life and immortality.”

Do you believe the amazing promise that death is not the end, that we will live another life, that we are immortal? That is the teaching of Jesus, and it has been the teaching of the Church for more than two thousand years. It is the gospel, the good news, of our salvation.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 17:1-9)

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”

The Book of Exodus tells of God making himself known to Moses. Matthew, who is writing for a mostly Jewish audience, wants his readers to know that Jesus too had such an experience and that Moses himself and Elijah were there. Of course, Peter is overwhelmed, especially when he hears a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Peter does not want to come down from the mountain. He is ready to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. “But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’’’

Have you ever had moments when you were, in a sense, “on the mountain with Jesus”? Maybe it was at Mass or in prayer or at a time of healing with someone you were present with in a deep way. Or perhaps it was simply being in nature or anywhere that you felt the presence of Jesus. Did you feel as Peter did and not want to “come down from the mountain”? These special moments with Jesus or with the Spirit or with our Father occur to help us deal with our everyday challenges, hurts, disappointments, failures. The key is being open to the mystery of God being with you.



Painting: Transfiguration of Jesus by Carl Bloch, 1865. Frederiksborg Palace, Hillerød, Denmark. Public domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Second Sunday of Lent

Thinking it Through

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 27, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A news report on the TV this morning told of some extra security a convenience store had to employ to discourage the constant increase of fearless, repetitive shoplifting incidents. Obviously, the store owner had thought through the problem and had come to a decision about how to prevent some losses. Potential thieves were probably surprised at the development. The question is, did any thieves think about the possible consequences of the frequent thefts. Did they anticipate this outcome, or did their thoughts only revolve around potential from their illegal activities? In their haste, did they think about repercussions?

In this fast-paced society, it is likely that all of us take speed for granted and sometimes neglect reflective thought. Spontaneity is often applauded as a burst of creativity, and sometimes it is, but there is value in careful thought. We think about things, but do we take time to think enough—especially when it comes to spiritual matters?

In yesterday’s Mass, the passage read from Matthew’s Gospel described Satan tempting Jesus in the desert. Satan might have expected a hungry Jesus to jump at the chance of bread to eat and not think it through to the declaration about the living word from God that offers the best kind of life.

Satan might have hoped that Jesus would throw himself from the temple parapet to reinforce his claim of sonship with God and protection from angels. However Jesus saw through the deception and temptation and took time to recall,

Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Matthew 4:7)

A third time, weary, thoughtful Jesus took the time to defy Satan’s logic and reached the conclusion that God is the only one that should be worshiped, despite Satan’s offer of a ton of magnificent kingdoms.

We are often tempted to do uncharitable things, ideas can come quickly in certain circumstances, and we might rush into saying or doing something harmful. If we were to slow down a tad and consider many of the possibilities or outcomes, we might refrain. Better to spend time thinking before we act than spend time afterwards wishing we had not spoken or acted.

Maybe Lent can be a time of slowing down in this fast society. Maybe we can take time to look for the Lord in a special way and use the time to savor that relationship as we try to be more attentive to His presence.

                           Aha, God!

Aha, God, I see you, I know you are here.

You are near when I pray, when I doubt, when I fear.

You are found in small blessings, and in big ones too.

You surprise me, advise me, because you are you.

You are my teacher, my Savior, my shepherd, my guide;

You know all about me: what I show, what I hide.

I know that you love me, but I do get distracted.

Yet you seek me out, find me, give me friends to connect with.

You’re like gold I uncover, like oil in the ground.

You are more than all that, and your promise is sound.

When young, I kept laws out of fear and as duty.

As I’ve grown, I see you, I see truth, I see beauty.

Aha, God! You call me. May I be quite attentive!

Eternal life with you—heaven. What better incentive?


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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, Sharon Krause, thinking

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: First Sunday in Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 25, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Genesis

(Chapter 2:7-9, 3:1-7)

No one knows when the Book of Genesis was written, but biblical scholars calculate that it was sometime after the Jewish people came back from the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C. and people questioned why God had allowed them to experience such prolonged misery.

This story of Adam and Eve is obviously an allegory, but it provides answers to two of life’s most important questions. Why are we not immortal; why do we all have to die? And, is there not some super wisdom that can protect us from making wrong decisions that might lead to death or ruin?

The authors answer these questions by telling a two-part story. First, “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” The authors wanted their listeners or readers to know that God is the creator of all that exists, and that everything God has created is good. It was important to begin the story in a positive vein for a people who had just been through the hell of the Babylonian Exile and for people who might experience similar horrors.

The story then turns dark. “The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’” The woman answers, “It is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat or even touch it, lest you die’ …. But the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” Of course, we know that the woman gives in to the serpent, eats some fruit, and then gives some to the man, Adam.

The authors answer both those seminal questions. We do not have immortality, because the woman and man disobeyed God, and there is no super wisdom to prevent us from wrong decisions and sin. Like Adam and Eve, we enjoy free will, and also like them, we are responsible for the choices we make.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17)

“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Let us ask for God’s forgiveness for any time we may have discriminated against another person, at any time, for any reason.

A reading St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 5:12-19)

Paul traces the root of sin to Adam and forgiveness of sin to Jesus Christ. “But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam…. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one, the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” Notice the word “gift.” It is one of the most important words in our faith. Our life itself is a gift. Our faith is a gift. God’s unconditional love is a gift. We did not earn any of it.

For centuries, people have asked the question, “How can I get to heaven?” The answer is that we can’t do it ourselves. We need to accept the gift of life, of God’s unconditional love, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, our life partner, within our souls. It is all gift from our merciful Father who never stops loving us. Please share the gift with those you love and especially those you may find hard to love.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 4:1-11)

This is the story of one man’s battle with evil temptations. Notice who leads him and stays with him throughout: “At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Jesus fasts 40 days and 40 nights, and he is hungry and vulnerable. “The tempter approached and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” That was the first temptation, physical hunger.

Most of us have not experienced that kind of extreme hunger, but think of the millions of our brothers and sisters all over the world who live with hunger every day. Jesus responds, “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil ups the ante to life itself and tells Jesus that he should throw himself down from the parapet of the temple. Then, finally, he shows Jesus “all the kingdoms of this world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you.’ … Jesus said to him, ‘Go away Satan.’”

That covers all the temptations that you and I might experienceall sorts of hungers, lack of trust in God, and desire for power. Jesus faced them all, and he is with us in all of our temptations. We live in the mystery of God’s mercy and our life partner, the Holy Spirit, lives within us.



Painting: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness, James Tissot (1836-1902), Brooklyn Museum. Public domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: first sunday of Lent, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, The Holy Spirit accompanies us

Matters of Self

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 20, 2023 6:00:00 AM

As we age, we become more and more aware of who we are. While not wanting to be too self-conscious, or selfish, or self-serving, we do need to be self-aware and self-assured. We learn that we are created in the image and likeness of God, so each of us has the responsibility to be the self who lives and loves optimally. That is not always easy.

Self-control and self-discipline are skills we try to pursue. With the arrival of Lent, it may be a good idea to focus on little ways of improving such skills. Fasting, for example, does not have to be not eating a certain food. We might fast from watching a favorite television show. We can fast from using our cell phone for a certain hour or more during the day. Maybe we refrain from playing a favorite video game during Lent. How about that favorite sweater that brings you compliments from others every time you wear it? How about not wearing that sweater during Lent? 

Fasting from anything should be partnered with a positive substitution, perhaps a substitution of a spiritual nature. We might attend an extra weekday Mass, or pray some different prayers, or start a spiritual journal. Maybe we could phone a far-away friend and pray a rosary together once or twice a week. God gives us the gift of creativity, so why not use that gift during Lent?

I noticed that “discipline” and “disciple” have the same root; the internet tells me that the words come from Latin and have to do with “instruction” or “being a pupil.” Maybe this Lent can be a time of seeking wisdom and learning to be holy. We hear in today’s first reading at Mass that God gifts us with wisdom—"her” in the quote:

It is the LORD; he created her through the Holy Spirit,

has seen her and taken note of her.

He has poured her forth upon all his works,

upon every living thing according to his bounty;

he has lavished her upon his friends. (Sirach 1:7-8)

It may be a good idea to start each day of Lent by reading and trying to follow St. Paul’s recommendations in Romans 12:1-2:

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Let us endeavor to make this Lent a time of spiritual self-help which will, in turn, lead us to help those we know and love to grow closer to the human and divine Self-Sacrificer, Jesus Christ.


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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, self-sacrifice, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 18, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Leviticus

(Chapter 19:1-2, 17-18)

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” This is the beginning of a whole series of laws that Moses is proclaiming to the people, including how they are to treat one another. The reading ends with one of the most important: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus taught the same law many years later, and it is still most important today. Imagine how many millions of lives could have been saved and wars avoided if that “law above all laws” had been not only proclaimed but lived.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13)

“The Lord is kind and merciful…. He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.” Do you know this God? This is the God of Moses and of Jesus. This is our God.

A reading from St. Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians

(Chapter 3:16-23)

Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth, “Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” Throughout the history of the Jewish people, they lived in awe of the temple in Jerusalem, and yet, their holy temple was destroyed. Paul is telling them that the true temple of God is within them, because the very Spirit of God lives in them.

This wisdom that the Spirit of God lives in us is a wisdom that is often neglected or not understood. In Paul’s day, there were many other wisdom teachers, Greek philosophers and so-called mystics, and he wants folks to know that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”

In our own day, there are so many sources of information on the internet and in public media, but where is true wisdom? It is, as always, a gift from the Spirit, given in the spirit of Love.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 5:38-48)

Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun shine on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Moses told the people, “love your neighbors.” Jesus goes way beyond that to embrace enemies. He says that even tax collectors, who were universally hated, loved their neighbors. But imagine trying to love the Roman rulers who were killing Jesus’ followers and would continue to murder Christians for almost 300 years.

Unfortunately, the word “hate” has entered into our political and social discourse with increasing frequency. We hear it every day from all sorts of people and groups. Even when there is serious reason for disagreements, there is no excuse for hatred. It only breeds more hatred and division, not love. It is not the way of Jesus.            


Photograph by Dan Edge on Unsplash

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Spirit of love, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Awaken to the Spirit, true wisdom

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