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Gospel Reflection for February 14, 2016, 1st Sunday of Lent

8 Feb

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 26.4-10; Romans 10.8-13; Luke 4.1-13

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for scripture has it, ‘God will bid angels to watch over you,’ and ‘With their hands they will lift you up so that you do not stumble upon a stone.'”

(Luke 4.9-11)

The devil’s third and climatic temptation invites Jesus to prove he is God’s Son. The devil mocks the poetry of Psalm 91.11-12, which describes God as protective, bearing up the faithful person to protect him or her from stumbling upon a stone.

God the Almighty is an image of God that leads to unbelief for many. Reasoning goes that if God is all-powerful, all-knowing why doesn’t God use the power to end war or violence or suffering. A better image is God the all-loving and merciful. Jesus’ Father, the faithful and steadfast God of the Old Testament, accompanies us in our failures and sufferings as surely as in our successes and joys.

What tests your faith? What affirms God’s sustaining love?

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Gospel Reflection for February 7, 2016, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Feb

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 6.1-8; 1 Corinthians 15.1-11; Luke 5.1-11

“Simon put out his nets and caught so many fish that the nets began to break.”

(Luke 5.6)

Peter fishes all night without success. A miraculous catch of fish follows the next day in response to Jesus’ charge to put out into the deep water. The two fishing expeditions express a contrast in the history of the first century church. Fewer Jews follow Jesus than the great numbers of Gentiles that join the Christian communities around the Mediterranean Sea. Two boat loads overflow with believers in Luke’s story. The response of Gentiles has surprised Peter and Paul in the same way the great catch surprises Peter in this story.

What attracts new believers to the gospel today?

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Gospel Reflection for January 31, 2016, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jan

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 13.4-13; Luke 4.21-30

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

(Luke 4.21)

These words begin Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Luke’s gospel. In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus read a passage from Isaiah that describes a prophet whom the Spirit anoints and appoints to bring good news to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind, to proclaim a jubilee in which those who have lost out in society get a new chance to thrive. Jesus invites the congregation in the synagogue to hear Isaiah’s word not as an ancient, someday promise but as a present claim. Jesus is the Spirit-filled prophet called to make the human race a whole, flourishing community. Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy, when we remember Jesus is the human face of God’s love, love we don’t deserve and doesn’t run out.

For whom are you good news? Who is good news for you?

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Gospel Reflection for January 24, 2016, 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

19 Jan

Sunday Readings: Nehemiah 8.2-4, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12.12-30; Luke 1.1-4, 4.14-21

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; God has anointed and sent me to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty for captives, sight for the blind, release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord.”

(Luke 4.18-19)

Prisoners make the list along with the poor, the weak, and the disabled — the people about whom it is easiest to say, “not worth it.” Perhaps some of these undesirable folks may open important places inside us, like the towers of arrogance, the locked doors of self-deception, or the vaults of false pride. One of them may transform us.

Who has been surprisingly transforming for you in your life?

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Gospel Reflection for January 17, 2016, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 62.1-5; 1 Corinthians 12.4-11; John 2.1-11

“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding 20 or 30 gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.'”

(John 2.5-7)

The wedding setting in the gospel hints at a marriage other than the one the guests are celebrating. His mother and newly-recruited disciples accompany Jesus to the wedding. Turning six 20-gallon jars of water into choice wine provides 120 gallons for a wedding feast that must be nearly over if the guests have drunk up the available wine. The abundant wine Jesus provides is not just for the wedding guests in Cana but for the community that continues to gather in his name at every Eucharist.

How do you live the words of Jesus’ mother, “Do whatever he tells you?”

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Gospel Reflection for January 10, 2016, Baptism of the Lord

5 Jan

Sunday Scripture Readings: Isaiah 40.1-5, 9-11; Titus 2.11-14, 3.4-7; Luke 3.15-16, 21-22

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

(Luke 3.16)

After the exile in Babylon many people return to the land of Israel, rebuild their city and temple, and revive their worship. Then Greek and Roman conquerors arrive, threatening the temple and the people’s religious identity. By the time of John the Baptist, people wonder where to look for salvation. If God’s salvation isn’t able to come through the land, or the king, or temple worship, or the law, then how and where will it come?

Into this very unsettled state of affairs arrives John the Baptist. No one works with greater zeal and tirelessness than John to make the people ready to welcome the messiah. He insists that God’s savior is near at hand and prods the people to keep looking. At his baptism Jesus comes out of the waters to be blessed by the Spirit and voice of God in his mission as servant and Son.

What do our baptisms empower? What does this action call us to live out? To what does it set fire in us?

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Gospel Reflection for January 3, 2016, Epiphany

30 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 60.1-6; Ephesians 3.2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observe his star at its rising and have come to pay him h0mage.”

(Matthew 2.2)

The three kings stand for all of us who do not share the Jewish identity of Jesus and his first followers. Jesus is not just for Jew or just for Christian either. Exclusiveness is a natural inclination. Life is easier with people who are like us, who think the way we think, and do things the way we do. But there is no mistaking the message of Epiphany. God is inclusive and wants us to be so in matters of faith and worship and managing the goods of the world. Jew or Gentile, Christian or Muslim, native or alien, black, brown, yellow, red, or white, male or female, straight or gay — whoever we are and wherever we are from — we are all invited and welcome to visit the child of Bethlehem and receive the good news of peace, mercy, and reconciliation he brings.

What have you learned from people of other faiths about what they value about Jesus?

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Gospel Reflection for December 25 & 27, 2015, Christmas/Holy Family

21 Dec

Christmas Gospel Readings: Luke 2.1-14; Holy Family Readings: 1 Samuel 1.20-22,24-28; 1 John 3.1-2,21-24; Luke 2.41-52

“Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the in.”

(Luke 2.7)

The child who is God’s joy for the world is born among the poor to include the poor in God’s good news.  Christmas opens doors and widens tables in the spirit of making room for the Christ child for whom there was no room in the inn.

Fittingly the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas.  Already in the gospel for that day Jesus is a tween, a 12 year old who goes his own way instead of journeying home from Passover with his parents.  When Mary questions why he didn’t tell them where he was, Jesus expects they should have known he’d be about his Father’s business.

Mary gives us a model of a reflective disciple.  She is amazed at Jesus’ insight and wisdom; baffled by why he left their company; reproachful about the hurt and fear she experienced; and finally, willing to keep reflecting on what happened.

With what young people have you talked about how you live and practice your faith?

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Gospel Reflection for December 20, 2015, 4th Sunday of Advent

15 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Sunday Readings: Micah 5.1-4; Hebrews 10.5-10; Luke 1.39-45

“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child of your womb.'”

(Luke 1.41-42)

The encounter between Mary and her kinswoman Elizabeth is spiritually electric. Each woman has responded to God alone. As they meet, the Spirit arcs between them like sparks. At Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb. Her words express ecstatic awe at the holy happening within their wombs. The new life that is good news for the world does not come from within the existing temple structure but in the wombs of two believing women. In Elizabeth’s time, new life is stirring among unlikely people — Gentiles, people who are poor, women, tax collectors. Perhaps now like then, people at the margins experience enough discomfort with things as they are to open their hearts to impossible, transcendent hopes.

What do you see coming to birth in younger women? What do you see coming to birth in older women? In yourself?

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Gospel Reflection for December 13, 2015, 3rd Sunday of Advent

8 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Justin Kern

Photo via Flickr user Justin Kern

Sunday Readings: Zephaniah 3.14-18; Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.10-18

“Crowds of people came to hear John the Baptist and seek the baptism of repentance he proclaimed. They asked ‘What shall we do?’ In reply John said, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.'”

(Luke 3.10-11)

Just as John the Baptist helped people of his time examine their consciences, Pope Francis is calling us to ecological conversion. He wants us to redefine progress, so it can include all people and sustain us all. What are we to do? The pope urges us to pause and recover depth, to see beauty, share joy, and keep up our human capacity to encounter and care for one another (Laudato Si’ #113)

Talk as a family or group of friends about what in creation inspires awe and gives you joy. Plan to see and experience it.

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