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The Verbs of Everyday Living

11 Nov


This excerpt from Sunday By Sunday for November 17 seems especially apt following the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan:

“In the face of war, earthquakes, famines, plagues – the regular stuff of today’s headlines – Jesus recommends patient endurance. He has taught us how to live every day. Indeed every tragedy catches individuals in the midst of doing good, saving someone besides themselves, rescuing neighbors, helping the disabled, helping clear away wreckage. The courage of soldiers and marathon survivors inspires us as they learn to use prosthetic arms and legs.

Christianity is about the verbs of everyday living: love, share, forgive, include, speak the truth, listen, learn, build, rejoice, have compassion, go an extra mile, lend a hand.” – Joan Mitchell, CSJ

Read the full issue here.

Here is a list of ways to help the survivors of Haiyan - add other suggestions in the comments.

Gospel Reflection for November 3, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

29 Oct

Jesus asks, “Today salvation has come to this house for he, too, is a son of Abraham.  The Son of Man has come to seek out and save the lost.”

Luke 19.9-10

Jesus’ final statement in the gospel makes his mission clear: he comes to seek out and save the lost.  Jesus draws Zacchaeus, the marginalized tax collector, into the mystery of God’s unconditional love.  In response Zacchaeus pledges the almsgiving that marks a true Jew, a son of Abraham—half his possessions to people who are poor.  He promises to repay anyone he has defrauded fourfold.  Neither the law nor his greed isolate Zacchaeus any longer.

What is your experience of being an outsider?

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How to Help the Hungry

16 Oct


It’s World Food Day! Both Good Ground Press editors feel passionate about helping the hungry: Sister Therese is in Des Moines for the World Food Prize, and here’s Sister Joan’s reflection after interviewing past winner David Beckmann a few years ago.

Originally posted on Keeping Faith Today:

Bread for the World calls attention to new hunger data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released September 7. For the third year in a row a record high 14.5% of American households suffer food insecurity. What is worse, the USDA reports 25% of African-American and 26% of Hispanic households experience food insecurity compared with 10.8% of white households. That’s a lot of folks having trouble putting food on the table.

Sisters Joan and Therese with David BeckmanLast fall I interviewed David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, when he received the World Food Prize for his leadership of this Christian lobbying organization over the past for 20 years. He left a post as an economist at the World Bank to become an advocate for far less salary for the hungry. Beckmann combines three callings in one in his work. He is a Lutheran pastor, an economist who analyzes hunger needs and program effectiveness…

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Gospel Reflection for October 20, 2013, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 Oct

Jesus tells the parable of the unjust judge who gives in to a widow who persists in seeking her rights.

Jesus asks, “Will God not do justice to those chosen ones who call out day and night?  Will God delay justice for them?”

Luke 18.7

In Luke’s time widows have little place in society but many find a home in Christian communities.  The widow’s voice demanding her rights would perk up the ears of Luke’s original listeners.  The poor widow represents the helpless and abandoned of the world; she has no legal rights without a husband.  She lives at the mercy of those who ought to protect her.

People who are poor today often become victims of the powerful, pawns of the mighty.  The recession, the sequestration, the stall in Congress—all hurt those most in need.  Yet our heritage is one of a hope that comes through faith in the goodness of God and the goodness of those who follow Jesus’ way.

Whose persistence do you admire?

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Gospel Reflection for October 13, 2013, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

7 Oct

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus encountered ten people with leprosy who asked for his healing.  He sent them on and they then recognized they had been cured.  One returned to thank Jesus.

Jesus said, “Weren’t ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Did none return to give glory to God but this man who is not of our country?”

Luke 17.17-18

Luke’s miracle story raises questions people who became believers after Jesus’ death and resurrection must have asked.  Is healing more than skin deep for the nine lepers who don’t return to thank Jesus?  Does physical healing lead to faith or require faith?

Luke probes the mystery of why the same sign of God’s presence—healing from leprosy—leads a Samaritan man to believe in Jesus and nine to remain under the law of Moses.

How does attitude affect healing?  How does healing affect attitude?

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Social Action: Bread for the World

3 Oct

Social action has two feet.

Serving our neighbors means we act in charity and for justice. Charity is about responding to people’s immediate needs – serving a meal at a shelter, stocking a food pantry. Justice identifies ways to work for systemic change with national or international organizations. For example, celebrate Bread for the World Sunday in your parish on one of the Sundays between World Food Day (October 16) and Thanksgiving.

Contact Bread for the World for its packet on the 2013 effort to stop irreversible damage to malnourished children in their first 1,000 days of life and mobilize collective action internationally to Scale Up Nutrition for Mothers and Children.

Gospel Reflection for September 22, 2013, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

16 Sep

Jesus said, “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.  Neither can you serve both God and wealth.”

Luke 16.13

In the parable that forms Sunday’s gospel (Luke 16.1-13), Jesus surprisingly holds up an embezzler as a role model in ingenuity in protecting his own interests when he get fired.   Luke’s gospel does not let the self-serving manager go without criticizing him.  A series of sayings follow that pass judgment on dishonest people.  The saying insists that whoever is dishonest with a little can’t be trusted with a lot.  No one can trust a cheater.  No one can serve two masters.

What good things do you take for granted that are beyond the reach of poor people in your area or in the world?

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Gospel Reflection for September 15, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

9 Sep

Jesus tells three parables in Sunday’s gospel, ending with the story of the prodigal son.

“My son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice!  This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life.  He was lost, and is found.”

Luke 15.31-32

The parables in this Sunday’s gospel are about losses—a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son—and about celebrations for the found sheep, the found coin, and for the returning repentant child.  The longest parable is about a father’s losing not only the son who leaves home but also the son who has been distant for far too long and whose resents consume him when his brother returns.

On one level in these stories, Jesus is telling his critics and us that in our judgment of others or when we are most critical of ourselves, we are missing the reality that God’s love and forgiveness transcend anything that they or we may have done or said.  On another level, Jesus affirms that experiences of loss, of grief, and of powerlessness may be precisely the ones that lead us to new awarenesses and new reasons for gratitude.

What have you learned about yourself, about others, and about God from your experiences of loss?


 If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection,
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Independence Day: A reflection by Joan Mitchell, CSJ

3 Jul


This weekend, the people of the United States go to parks, play and swim, eat hot dogs, and watch red, white and blue fireworks cascade, explode, and spill down dark night skies. The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of this nation’s Declaration of Independence from England and George III in 1776.

We come to Independence Day 2013 recognizing that “all men” includes all women and people of every color and their right to vote. We come amid polarizing tensions in our nation on the size of government and ammunition clips, but we rise together for the color guard that leads the hometown parade.

The common good requires negotiation, listening to people unlike ourselves and giving people who are poor a voice. Like James and John in last Sunday’s gospel, many of us are willing to call down fire from heaven to destroy those with whom we differ.

The Fourth of July calls for fireworks of a different kind – involved citizens. As we gather with crowds to watch rainbow colors spill across the sky, we can commit to participate in our democracy, to talk to our neighbors, agree and disagree, dialog with legislators, build coalitions, and seek the common good together.

Order Sunday By Sunday for more from Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ

Enjoy this blessing for Independence Day and have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Catholic Relief Services: 70 Years in a Heartbeat

9 May

Learn more about Catholic Relief Services here.


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