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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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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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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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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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Gospel Reflection for June 21, 2015, 12th Sunday Ordinary Time

16 Jun

!SBS-41-Gospel-boatSunday Readings: Job 38.1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5.14-17; Mark 4.35-41

“Leaving the crowd behind, his disciples took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. Other boats were with him. A terrible windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that it was being swamped.”

“Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” That is what his disciples say after they wake Jesus up from a nap in the stern. Their question puts the crisis on Jesus. He is the one to save them. Jesus puts the crisis back on his disciples. “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Faith is not what we believe; it is the way we set our hearts, the way we choose to live, the way we name the mystery in which we live.

So many have become non-affiliated Catholics and for clear reasons. Services rock somewhere else. Preaching against same sex marriage has alienated them. There’s too little room for women’s gifts. Sexual abuse and slow response to it has scandalized them.

How have you set your heart?

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Gospel Reflection for June 14, 2015, 11th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Jun
Photo via Flickr user Kamil Porembinski

Photo via Flickr user Kamil Porembinski

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 17.22-24; 2 Corinthians 5.6-10; Mark 4.26-34

“This is how it is with the reign of God. A farmer scatters seed on the ground, goes to bed, and gets up day after day. Through it all the seed sprouts and grows without the farmer knowing how it happens. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.”

(Mark 4.26-28)

We live in a long history of God’s love unfolding in our evolving cosmos. Some four billion years ago simple cells appeared; two billion years ago cells with nuclei appeared. A farmer in Jesus’ time and all of us who grow plants today inherit the leap from the ocean to land that early cellular life made. We can ready the field, sow the seed, and sleep until harvest time. We depend on the miracle of life in seeds to grow and become food for us.

We live in a dynamic world in which all that is has the capacity to become more, to self-organize into new wholes. This image of growth calls us to value our own potential for outgrowing present flaws. Like the seed our spiritual growth flourishes with our willingness to trust the potential and future within our real selves.

Jesus identifies the seed with the word of God. Like seed Jesus’ teachings take root and grow in us. The person of faith realizes our lives of eating, sleeping, working, and playing are more than meets the eye. God is present in our lives in every here and now.

What does the story of evolution tell us about God and God’s reign? About ourselves?

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Gospel Reflection for June 7, 2015, Body and Blood of Christ

1 Jun
Photo via Flickr user Alex Leung

Photo via Flickr user Alex Leung

Sunday Readings: Exodus 24.3-8; Hebrews 9.11-15; Mark 14.12-16, 22-26

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples. Take this; this is my body.”

(Mark 14.23-24)

Perhaps a parent or grandparent has cautioned: if you eat any more chocolate chip cookies, you will turn into one. The caution explains well why we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ and why we celebrate Eucharist weekly and daily. We gather as the Body of Christ to become to Body of Christ. Joining in Eucharist can become a school of transformation. We want to turn into the Body of Christ — to embody who Jesus is, people in our lives, and people in need in our world. At Jesus’ table we share the food that fuels us to become his feet, hands, eyes, ears, and heart in the world.

As what part of the Body of Christ do you think of yourself — feet, hands, eyes, ears, heart?

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Gospel Reflection for May 31, 2015, Trinity Sunday

27 May
Photo via Flickr user Larry Koester

Photo via Flickr user Larry Koester

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 4.32-34, 39-40; Romans 8.14-17; Matthew 2816-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.”

(Matthew 28.19-20)

Our God is no smug solitary being enclosed in egocentric self-regard but the living God, three persons in free communion, always going forth in love and receiving love. Our Judeo-Christian traditions testify that our God is irrepressibly friendly, steadfast, faithful, and compassionate toward us.

Our heads start to hurt when we think about God, whom we experience as close as we are to ourselves but beyond the adequacy of our words. Importantly the Trinity is a communion of equals, not a monarchy, giving us community and mutual love as models of how to live on Earth as in heaven.

What is at stake in trying to understand God as a communion of equals? How do you experience God?

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