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Gospel Reflection for February 1, 2015, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

26 Jan

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 18.15-20; 1 Corinthians 7.32-35; Mark 1.21-28

Just then there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?”

(Mark 1.23-24)

All of us have the work of discerning the spirits that drive us. What possesses us? Maybe ambition, an advanced degree, a higher-paying job. Alcohol or chocolate or drugs can possess us, becoming a comfort in our stress more perfect and pliant than any human friend. The unclean spirits are right to ask Jesus if he has come to destroy them. The answer is yes. Jesus claims us for wholeness.

What clamors for attention in yourself? What erodes your energy? What enlivens you?

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Gospel Reflection for January 25, 2015, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

19 Jan

Sunday Readings: Jonah 3.1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7.29-31; Mark 1.14-20

Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

(Mark 1.16-17)

Mark writes the first gospel to call a new generation to faith in Jesus.  Until the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, Jewish Christians prayed with other Jews at the temple, offered sacrifices, and joined pilgrimages for the great feasts. Temple worship ceased as eyewitness disciples were reaching old age or had already died. The Christian community in Jerusalem fled the city during the rebellion that led to the destruction of the temple and city. How will the community hold together?

Like the generation for whom Mark wrote, Catholics today live in a Church in discontinuity with the past. The Church renewed itself and caught up with the modern world at the Second Vatican Council. We recognize the Spirit moves in all the baptized. We recognize we have obligations to the poor in the world. We dialogue with people of other Christian denominations and other religions. We text messages around the globe.

How does living Jesus’ good news make a difference for our time?

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Gospel Reflection for January 18, 2015, 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

13 Jan

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 3.3-10,19; 1 Corinthians 6.13-15,17-20; John 1.35-42

John the Baptist points out Jesus to two of his disciples, Andrew and another. They  follow Jesus, who turns, sees them, and ask what they are looking for.
 
 Andrew said to him, “Teacher, where are you staying?” Jesus said to them, “Come and see.” They went and saw where Jesus stayed and remained with him that day.

John 1.38-39

The few hours Andrew and his friend stay with Jesus changes their lives. Afterward Andrew immediately tells his brother Peter that he has found the messiah. Encountering Jesus impels Andrew to mission, to invite others to find out who Jesus is. Jesus’ disciples stay with him as he heals, teaches, and models how to live. They follow him through misunderstanding, bewilderment, footwashing, his death. Staying with Jesus on the journey of discipleship leads to abiding in lasting love.

What spiritual practice have you stayed with in your life?  How have your grown through this practice?   

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Gospel Reflection for January 11, 2015, Baptism of the Lord

7 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 55.1-11; 1 John 5.1-9; Mark 1.7-11

“You are my beloved Son.  In you I am well pleased.”

Mark 7.11

Mark’s gospel, the first to be written, begins with Jesus the adult, God’s beloved Son and servant, one with the Father and Spirit. Baptized Christians share Jesus’ identity. We are God’s beloved, whom Jesus calls to join him in the embrace of God. We are God’s servants, who share Jesus’ mission of calling all those we meet into this embrace. We are baptized into one faith, one Spirit–a communion that calls us beyond the limits of any one Christian denomination. We recognize our call to unfold Jesus’ servant story in our lives among the people of our world.

In what ways do your baptism and anointing in the Spirit challenge you to lead?

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Gospel Reflection for January 4, 2015, Epiphany

30 Dec

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

“The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child was.”

Matthew 2.9

MagiMatthew’s stories of Jesus’ birth don’t mention the manger, the swaddling clothes, the shepherds, or angels singing in the sky. Matthew gives us journeyers for whom a star in the sky sets them on an earthly journey. The great thing about being human is that we can always change.  Conversion, turning toward or turning away, is a capacity we have. We can become more and respond to mystery. We simply have to look up, see the star that is calling us, find some traveling companions, and set out. The divine awaits the seeker on every horizon.

What new horizon summons you?

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Gospel Reflection for December 25, 2014, Christmas/Holy Family

23 Dec

Christmas-Tree

Christmas Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-20

“The angel said, ‘You have nothing to fear.  I bring you good news, a great joy to be shared by the whole people.  For this day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.  Let this be a sign to you; you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’”  

Luke 2.10-12

Many people today may identify with how unusual Jesus’ family is. His mother is not married when he is conceived. His mother’s husband is not Jesus’ real dad. His mother is still a virgin, probably still a teenager. Mary and Joseph face all the challenges any child presents new parents, but Luke’s story also tells us their baby is extraordinary–the savior, the messiah, God’s Son.

These titles make claims about who Jesus is that eventually get him arrested and condemned to death. Angels announce Jesus’ identity to shepherds and give them and us a sign. The sign is the baby lying in a manger, a feed trough. Jesus’ first crib hints he will give his life to nourish ours. A manger is a place of low status, a place among animals and shepherds who live at the margins of society. The child is good news for the poor, joy to all of us, and safe with temporarily homeless parents making do.

Where might Jesus be born today to express God’s willingness to identify with all of us, especially the lowly and left out?

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Reflecting the Light

18 Dec
via Flickr user Amanda Slater

via Flickr user Amanda Slater

We are waiting for our Savior. We are waiting for the light.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. –John 1:6-8

Our world needs a little light right now, and it is easy to make the mistake of feeling like we have to produce that light. We look out to see poverty, Ebola, torture, Ferguson, and Gaza, and get overwhelmed and burned out trying to create light. But we can fire ourselves from that unachievable job. God is the light, God can bring light out of darkness. We don’t need to create the light, but we do need to recognize it and multiply it by reflecting it out into the world, into the dark corners of our hearts and our lives.

We are not the light, but are called to bear witness to the light. So this Advent I’m asking myself, “How, in the quiet waiting of Advent, can I prepare myself to reflect the light?” What does active waiting look like?

My newborn is especially attracted to light right now. He stares at the contrast of window blinds and stares contentedly toward any light that is on. He himself emits light through his innocent goodness. I get lost in the deep well of beautiful light coming from his eyes. I watch him be a witness to the light and reflect that light effortlessly every day. How can I do the same light reflection and sharing as naturally as he does?

This year my spouse and I bought a solar lamp, which is supposed to help combat seasonal depression in the dark, dreary winter season. I sit in front of the light box for about 30 minutes every morning while I sip coffee and start my work. I love my light therapy. I look forward to getting out of bed, knowing that coffee and light await me. This Advent, I have taken that time in the morning to pray in front of the light and intentionally feel my body soaking in the rays. I imagine the light welling up inside of me so that I can glow for the rest of the day and share that light with others. When the time is up and I switch the light off, I feel energized and at peace. I’m warm, open, and looking for light in the rest of my day. It is a small spiritual exercise, but it is making a change in my heart.

For me, I’m taking the charge to bear witness to the light this Advent quite literally. I seek out light daily in hopes of being more warm, open and ready to receive and reflect that light that is Christ. How are you preparing to bear witness to the light?

Gospel Reflection for December 21, 2014, 4th Sunday of Advent

16 Dec

Sunday Readings: 2 Samuel 7.1-5, 8-12, 14-16; Romans 16.25-27; Luke 1.26-38

“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The girl’s name was Mary.”

Luke 1.26-27

In Mary, the Most High will overshadow and dwell in a human person, intensifying God’s presence among us. No longer will God only tent among Israel’s tents and dwell in a house among Israel’s homes, but God will become human incarnate, one of us and one with us. How can this be? This same God who created all that is will make the impossible come to be in Mary.

The becoming human will happen in Mary’s womb. She will feel the first stirrings of salvation within her own body. God’s Son will look like her. She will nurse and rock him after he is born.

How is Mary’s call like the call of every Christian?

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Gospel Reflection for December 14, 2014, 3rd Sunday of Advent

8 Dec

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 61.1-2,10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24; John 1.6-8, 19-28

“Among you stands one whom you do not know.”

John 1.26

John the Baptist refuses to apply people’s expectations of the messiah to himself.  He anticipates one greater than he is coming.  He testifies to the light.  He insists that “Among you stands one whom you do not know.”  The words come down the centuries to haunt and taunt us into recognizing where we see Jesus among us.

Ours is the task of recognizing God at work in the hardest of all places to see–in ourselves, in our passion for justice, in the events of our history, in our own unrelenting efforts to hold our families and communities together.  We live in an unfinished drama and unfolding mystery that is the Spirit of God’s life-giving presence with us.

To what light do you testify in your unrelenting struggles?

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Gospel Reflection for December 7, 2014, 2nd Sunday of Advent

1 Dec

Sunday Scripture Readings: Isaiah 40.1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3.8-14; Mark 1.1-8

“One more powerful than I will come after me.”

Mark 1.7

Like the prophet Elijah, John the Baptist haunt the wilderness. Like Elijah, who discovered God speaking not in storms and lightning but in silence, the Baptist in the silence of his wilderness life senses God is coming among the people in a new way. His preaching and baptizing bring people into the wilderness and ready them for this breakthrough. His baptism washes away a past of simply keeping and breaking the law and symbolizes openness to the reviving Spirit of God.

John promises one more powerful than he is coming. He envisions that this coming figure will also baptize but with the Holy Spirit. Baptism in the Holy Spirit will create people anew more wholly than water cleanses and invigorates.

What do you need to wash away to open yourself to God’s reviving Spirit this Advent season?

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