"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 5, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Second Book of Maccabees

(Chapter 7:1-2, 9-14)

Seven brothers are tortured and killed by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes for refusing to eat pork in violation of God’s law. This is a brutal story, but the reason it is included in this week’s readings is because it includes a promise of an afterlife. One of the brothers, near death, tells the king, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up with him, but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”  

This is an early testament to the belief in resurrection, something that did not appear in the Hebrew scriptures previously but became a joyful and hopeful belief for Christians.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 17)

“Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.” This was written long before the ministry of Jesus Christ but points to a hope for an afterlife. “But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence.”

A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

(Chapter 2:16-35)

It was not easy to be a disciple of Jesus in the days following the Resurrection. Christians lived in fear of the Roman oppressors and often of their Jewish brothers and sisters who might consider them heretics. Paul assures them, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. … May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.”

That is good advice now as it was then. We do not suffer persecution because of our faith—certainly, not in the way the early Christians did—but for us, the “evil one” may take other forms, such as a preoccupation with material things and with social prominence or political influence. If we open our hearts, God will direct them.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

(Chapter 20:27-38)

The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection and tried to trick Jesus with a complicated hypothetical question about seven brothers. In their narrative, the oldest one marries but dies childless. Then each of the others in turn marry the widow. The Sadducees’ put this question to Jesus: “Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus does not answer this silly question but rather states the truth about God: “And he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Yes! We do are not called to die forever but rather to live with God forever. Do you ever pray about that? What a gift! The greatest gift of all—eternal life with our Father.


Image: Oldest known icon of Christ the Savior, sixth-century, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt. 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: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, resurrection, Sadducees

Restarting Fresh

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 9, 2022 6:00:00 AM

In so many public places nowadays we see bottles of hand sanitizers for public use. The pandemic has caused many of us to be very aware of cleanliness. Whether it is a bank transaction we do, or credit card machines we finger-tap, or groceries we touch, sanitizers offer chances to immediately clean off any contaminants and start fresh. Small chances to start over, to refresh, to be clean again are good, whether it be on a physical level or even a spiritual level.

With regard to the spiritual life, for example, we read in the Letter of James,

   Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners,

   and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (4:8)

At the beginning of Mass, after the greeting, the first prayer we say is a prayer of penance. We consider our past sins and ask forgiveness, so we start our Mass with a sort of conscience sanitizing. In fact, even before that, as we entered the church, we might have dipped our fingers into the holy water font and blessed ourselves so as to start fresh. We end the Mass with a new start as the celebrant gives us the final blessing.

Think about it. Would it be helpful to frequently review our interactions with others and try to “clean up” our possible sarcasm or uncharitable remarks or our not-so-loving afterthoughts? It is not that we are so terrible, but with the speed of modern technology and ease of communication, it is easy to come up with fast responses that are not always so loving. Perhaps we should sanitize a little more often and freshen up with kindness and understanding.

   Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,

   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)



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Topics: penance, resurrection, Sharon Krause, starting fresh

Thinking Farther

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 2, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A few nights ago, my husband and I were asleep in bed when, all of a sudden, I was awakened by a chirping sound. Every 30 seconds or so, I heard a chirp in the dark hallway. Ah! The smoke detector battery was dying, and it wasn’t going to go quietly. My husband’s hearing is poor, so I woke him and asked him to take the detector down from the ceiling and relieve its distress. Neither of us was happy about the untimely chore. Everything ended well, but I was a bit annoyed about being awakened. As I lay there trying to get back to sleep, I thought a little more about the trivial incident. It really is a good thing that the detector alerts us when the safety device cannot perform its function. Safety first, sleep later!

On that same night, Buddy, our elderly cat, decided not only to jump up into bed with us, but to jump again, onto our headboard whose upper edge is only about two inches wide. Have you ever watched a cat as he estimates distance before trying a jump to a certain height? Well, Buddy was considering the third phase of his caper, likely to the cluttered top of our chest of drawers, when I grabbed him and gently changed his mind. He was thinking farther ahead, but so was I! I could imagine the clock, the lamp, and a great number of pocket treasures sent flying if our “Feline Wallenda” had his way! In that case, I had to think farther and fast in that room lit only by the minimal glow streaming through the windows from the outside streetlight.

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Topics: evangelization, resurrection, spreading good news, Sharon Krause

The Love Continues

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 25, 2022 6:00:00 AM

In Chapter I of the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that Jesus stayed among his followers for 40 days after his resurrection. After all his suffering, wouldn’t we expect Jesus to choose to go straight to heaven to be with his Father? Jesus continues to love us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that the risen Jesus told Mary Magdalene and her companions not to be afraid but to go tell his brothers that they would see him in Galilee. (Matthew 28:10) And when Jesus saw his disciples, he assured them that he would be with them always and commissioned them to make disciples in every nation, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all his teachings. (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus did not want them to be fearful or feel alone. He loved them.

In the episode described in the passage from Mark’s Gospel read at Mass today, Jesus told his followers to go in to “the whole world” to proclaim the Gospel and, in his name, drive out demons, heal the sick, and speak in new tonguesall of this in spite of whatever dangers that might challenge them. (Mark 16:15-20) Disciples have Jesus’ promises of signs, miracles, and safety because they have Jesus’ love.

In the famous passage in Luke’s Gospel, we read about Jesus explaining Scripture to two disciples as they walked to Emmaus. He wanted them to open their hearts and understand. He loved them. (Luke 24:13-35) We read a few verses later that he also helped the eleven remaining apostles to understand the scriptures after telling them all to be at peace. (Luke 24:36-49) Again, Jesus commissioned his disciples to witness to the good news of salvation. He told them he was sending what the Father has promisedthe Holy Spirit. Understanding. Hope. The promise of help. What love!


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Topics: Christ's love, resurrection, road to Emmaus, Sharon Krause

Last Times

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 11, 2022 6:00:00 AM

We all are aware of what I call “last times.” For example, if a coworker is retiring from a position, and is not a personal friend or neighbor, there is a chance that will be the last time you will see that person. If an acquaintance is moving far away, you might not see that person again. When you have finished a college course, you don’t plan to see the teacher again. You hear about an actor who is ailing, and you conclude you may have seen him on the big screen for the last time. Your teenager just passed her driving road test, so you may have been her regular driver for the last time. Or how about the last time you changed your little child’s diaper, because now he is potty-trained?

I know, some “last times” we don’t miss, but others come unexpectedly, and we are sadly surprised. A lesson we try to learn is to savor the good times and experiences with special people. We attempt to muster up the energy and wisdom to bring our best selves with us into our everyday interactions. Unplanned “last times” can lead to regrets if we aren’t careful.

When we read the story of Lazarus (John 11:1-45), we know that Martha and Mary, his sisters, and all the friends and neighbors would have thought that they had seen last of Lazarus, because he had died. However Jesus called him forth alive from the tomb four days later. In today’s gospel passage, we read of Lazarus in attendance at a dinner given for Jesus in Bethany. Obviously, Lazarus had not yet eaten his last supper.


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Topics: raising of Lazarus, resurrection, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jun 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Wisdom

(Chapter 1: 13-15; 2:23-24)

The Book of Wisdom was probably written less than one hundred years before the birth of Jesus. It contains one of the most overt references to life after death in the Hebrew Scriptures. The author wants to convey that “God formed man to be imperishable…. God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” Sometimes death comes peacefully to a person surrounded by loved ones. At other times, it is the result of violence. In any case, it is the termination of a precious life. What comes next? Those who do not believe in an afterlife anticipate nothing. Those of us who believe have hope in the promise of new life. That promise begins in the scriptures right here and comes to fullness in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 30)

“I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me.” Think of all the times the Lord has rescued you. Sometimes it is dramatic. Sometimes it is hardly noticeable until you think about it and then give thanks.

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Topics: eternal life, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, resurrection, thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, promise of new life

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

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