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Gospel Reflection for August 2, 2015, 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

29 Jul
Photo via Flickr user Jonathan Assink

Photo via Flickr user Jonathan Assink

Sunday Readings: Exodus 16.2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4.17, 20-24; John 6.24-35

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

(John 6.35)

When Jesus sits at table with his friends, he has little more to say to them than what he has been trying to say through the whole witness of his life: “Here I am, like this bread and this cup — take it, let me be broken and poured out for you, so that the kingdom may come.” Jesus is not about being the strongest or most intimidating guy in the room or coercing and threatening people into believing the way he wants. Eucharist celebrates the one who chose to put himself on the line as a person for others.

Who in your life is a person for others?

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To Be A Tree

24 Jul
Photo via Flickr user Gerald McCollam

Photo via Flickr user Gerald McCollam

I have been noticing trees lately, more than I used to. I think it has to do with owning a home, having a yard, going on daily summer walks through the neighborhood, past the same trees. My neighbor tells me the tree in my front yard got struck by lighting a few years ago. It made her house shake, yet the tree still stands, a survivor. I notice how the wind moves through our big tree in the backyard, how the shade moves across the grass in the afternoon. Trees ground us, mark time, offer comfort and easy presence.

In her memoir about her husband’s sudden death, The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander writes:

Ficre is not here to tell me what kind of trees my parents are, but I know they are mighty trees. They do not yield to the wind; they go straight up, unbending…. I think of my parents as having many colors ranging from the new greens of spring to autumn golds. But they have the constancy of perennials. All shelter and trunk to lean on, my parents stand like trees and survey everything.

I like this image of my parents as trees. My mom is a thin tree, one that can move in the wind without breaking. My dad is more sturdy, unmoving, plush. My parents are both very active. My dad golfs and coaches, still works four days a week and goes in on his day off. My mom dances, walks, paddle boards, stretches. They both lift weights. They stand tall and strong even though they are starting to acknowledge their limits. They are living into their tree-ness as they continue to offer shelter, support, presence.

Now I need to be, like my parents, the one-hundred-year-old oak in our backyard that lives even after hammocks and tire swings have been nailed in and taken down and after the southern Connecticut tornado of 1989 destroyed wide swaths of Hamden as the wind tore down the streets uprooting trees. Our one-hundred-year-old tree stood, as my parents stand, as they saw their elders stand, as ancestors stood…To be a parent is to be terra firma, to stand, is to be planted in the earth.

I am not yet the one-hundred-year-old oak like Elizabeth Alexander, but I am a tree. Since becoming a parent, I have started to feel the roots take hold. I use my trunk and my limbs in new ways to envelop, lift, comfort, swing. I can feel my rings forming as I become more sturdy, planted, present. There is dignity in the act of taking root, offering shade. My instinct is not to flee, but to join my ancestors and stand tall.

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Social Action Has Two Feet

22 Jul

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Gospel Reflection for July 26, 2015, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Jul

Sunday Readings: 2 Kings 4.42-44; Ephesians 4.1-6; John 6.1-15

“Jesus said, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat'”?

(John 6.5)

Like a jazz musician who plays a simple melody before spinning countless variations, John tells the core story of Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes before he begins reflecting at length on all this sign expresses. The disciples’ conversation with Jesus shows they keep bumping into limits, hitting the wall. Their limitations become the Church’s limitations.

Philip sees they can’t possibly feed the crowd. Voices today echo the limitation Philip sees. “There are not enough priests, so we cannot keep this church open.” Andrew notices a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. But he asks, “But what are they among so many people?” But the food Jesus gives the crowd increases in being given.

What are our hungers today?

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Earthly Advice from Pope Francis

20 Jul

Pope Francis

In his new encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis asks us to care for our common home, Earth. He says this will take both inner conversion and global action. Take a little time each day this week to consider what our sister Earth needs from you. The numbers in parentheses refer to paragraphs in the encyclical. Type in Laudato Si to read the whole encyclical.

• TALK with each other. Such serious issues need to be “reframed and enriches again and again.” Attend a lecture. Read a book. Listen to a scientist. Open yourself to new ways to see. (16, 60, 185)

• Practice the three Rs. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Perhaps even add a fourth one — Restrain from buying more things. (22, 192)

• Can you walk instead of drive? Take the bus or subway? Share with someone going the same way? Talk to your children about their desire to pollute less. (26, 165)

• Don’t give in to denial or resignation. Think of the environmental issue that most worries you and pray to the Holy Spirit about it. “Come, Holy Spirit. Renew the face of the earth.” (14)

• 200 plants, insects, birds, and mammal becomes extinct each day. What dies when a new mall or casino is built? Are you in the coyote’s home or is he invading yours? Think about what our overbuilding is doing to the natural world. Decide where you will take a stand. (35)

• Pray with St. Francis:Blossoms-Pink

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

• Add your own prayer.

Gospel Reflection for July 19, 2015, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

15 Jul
Photo via Flickr user Sarah Joy

Photo via Flickr user Sarah Joy

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34

Crowds follow Jesus’ disciples back to Jesus. People’s hunger for his teaching and healing keep swelling. Mark writes the first gospel to tell Jesus’ story about A.D. 70, some 40 years after the events in the gospel. The disciples Jesus sends on mission and then welcomes back have in history grown old or, in the case of Peter, James, and Paul, been martyred. Who will continue the work Jesus began? Who will follow the disciples that have given their lives to spreading the gospel message — Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome? Mark writes to call for the new disciples in his time and our own.

What is a way you continue Jesus’ mission in your family life?

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Gospel Reflection for July 12, 2015, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Jul

Sunday Readings: Amos 7.12-15; Ephesians 1.3-14; Mark 6.7-13

“Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two…They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

(Mark 6.7, 13)

Why does Jesus send out twelve? Jesus’ intimate circle of followers includes many more than twelve. In fact, Mark tells us that many women followed and served Jesus throughout his ministry from its beginning in Galilee; they came with him to Jerusalem and witnessed his death, burial, and resurrection (Mark 15.40-41).

Twelve has its significance as a symbol of the universality of Jesus’ mission. The number twelve looks back in history to the number of tribes of ancient Israel. Sending out twelve apostles represents sending one missionary to every tribe. Jesus’ mission is to all Israel and ultimately to all the peoples of the world. In the book of Revelation the number twelve looks toward the future where the city of God has twelve gates, always open, for people to bring into it the glory of the nations (Revelations 21.21, 25-26).

How wide open are our church doors to every tribe? What do you think the women did while the twelve were away?

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A Blessing For Independence Day

2 Jul
Photo via Flickr user Peter Roome

Photo via Flickr user Peter Roome

Our 4th of July blessing is the final two stanzas from the poem “One Today” by Richard Blanco, composed for President Obama’s second inauguration.  We are all together under one sky in this nation and in our church, with hope waiting for us to name it.  Thank you for being a blessing to all of us at Good Ground Press.

 

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes

tired from work: some days guessing at the weather

of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love

that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother

who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn’t give what you wanted.

 

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight

of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,

always under one sky, our sky.  And always one moon

like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop

and every window, of one country — all of us —

facing the stars

hope — a new constellation

waiting for us to map it,

waiting for us to name it — together.

 

 

Gospel Reflection for July 5, 2015, 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

30 Jun

Gospel-42-WDF

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 2.2-5; 2 Corinthians 12.7-10; Mark 6.1-6

“Prophets are not without honor except in their hometown, among their own kin, and in their own house.”

(Mark 6.4)

Sunday’s gospel tells a terrible story about a town where Jesus can work no miracles. Jesus’ home folks can’t get beyond their certainty that they know who he is. His preaching astounds some, but certainty and cynicism quickly tame the amazement. The majority can’t accept Jesus as a wise and prophetic teacher. He is a tradesman who builds chairs, tables, walls, terraces with his hands. The people of Nazareth — hearers of the scriptures, sufferers under Roman rule and taxes, people yearning for the messiah — will not be carried away at the words of one of their own. They will not listen one another into new possibilities.

What is possible if we listen one another into vision?

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Gospel Reflection for June 28, 2015, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Jun

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 1.13-15, 2.23-24; 2 Corinthians 8.7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5.21-43

Jesus took the girl by the hand, saying, “Talitha cum, Little girl, arise.”

The Gospel has two daughters of faith. A girl of 12 near death whose dad begs Jesus for help. A woman whose hemorrhaging has lasted 12 years. If she lived today, she’d be filing for bankruptcy because of her medical bills.

The Gospel calls her bleeding a scourge, the same word used to describe Jesus’ bloody beating at the hands of Roman soldiers. The word identifies her suffering with Jesus’ suffering. When the woman risks everything to touch Jesus’ life-giving power and she’s healed, she tells the whole truth of what happened to her in the midst of the crowd. She preaches and gives witness. This is when Jesus calls her, “Daughter,” and affirms “your faith has healed you.”

This Gospel is a death and resurrection story. Jesus raises the girl to life when to all appearances she’s dead. Jesus’ command to the girl, “Arise,” is the same word Mark’s gospel uses to announce, “Jesus is risen.” Peter, James, and John witness the this healing. In Mark’s gospel they don’t witness Jesus’ death and resurrection but they do witness this life-giving miracle.

These two daughters of faith challenge us to identify the sufferings in our lives with Jesus’ suffering and to live Jesus’ call to arise and live the gospel.

To what new life do you hear you should arise?

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