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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Making Room For Jesus

8 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

The season of Epiphany, this sacred time after Christmas, always brings me back to Mary, and how she made room in her life for Jesus.

When she learned of the child growing inside of her, I imagine her having to rearrange her mind and heart a bit to make room for another person. She had to welcome this detour, this unexpected gift as her path, her life shifted forever.

While pregnant, her body literally made room for him. A pregnant woman’s organs shift dramatically as the child grows. Her lungs rise, the bladder gets pressed on, the intestines shift, and the heart has to work harder.

Then after Jesus was born, I imagine how her world changed. Like so many new parents, I’m sure her love for her child took her breath away. She most likely immediately had to adjust to less sleep, less free time, and the growing responsibility of keeping a person alive and healthy. Her heart broke open in love for her baby.

And yet Jesus was not just any child. Think about the confusion, excitement, fear, pride and trepidation that must have come with watching her son’s ministry grow. Ultimately, she had to watch her son die on a cross. She had to go on without him, something no mother should have to endure.

Mary made room in her body, her heart and her life for Jesus. How can we make room for Jesus to dwell in our lives?

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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Christmas Mercy

24 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Lord Jesus, Mary and Joseph were turned away at many places before they found a stable to rest. This Christmas, be with those who are searching for home or a safe place to rest.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were brave enough to come to us as a baby. This Christmas, help us to pay attention to the babies in our midst and remember how little and vulnerable you once were.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born in a stable. This Christmas, help us remember to look for your beautiful presence in unexpected, unbeautiful places.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born to two people who loved you dearly. This Christmas, help us be thankful for those people who love us, help us celebrate the family and communities we have. Give extra love to those who need it right now.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, a bright star appeared in the sky to help the shepherds and wise people find their way to you. This Christmas, may the stars in the sky inspire us to live a life that seeks you.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you came to be a light in the darkness. There is still a lot of darkness in our world. This Christmas, shine brightly where there is war, fighting, poverty and hurt. Help us be a light to others with our thoughts, words and actions.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

 

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Prayer For Advent – Week 4

23 Dec

Prayer-for-Advent-4

God is With Us

23 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25

A young man found the courage to weather a spoiled reputation to encounter God. Filled with anticipation of marriage, the life he expected shattered. The idea of the righteous family he was building came crumbling down.

Oh, the shame.

In the darkness, he grew quiet. Quiet enough to hear an angel. He changed his mind. He held a baby that did not belong to him, but the whole world. That baby changed everything. Forever.

Like Joseph, we get wrapped up in what the world thinks of us. We fear being disgraced and dismissed, clamoring to appear righteous and good. But this world does not have the final say. Jesus is coming to show us a new way. What greater gift could God give us than God’s very presence?

There are angels in our midst. They are calling to us in the quiet. But where is God? Where is God’s kingdom? We can’t see it.

We look again. God is here. In the darkness. Offering hope that surpasses all understanding. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

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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Mary’s Yes

18 Dec

Mary and Gabriel

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” –Luke 1:26-38

What is Mary calling us to this Advent?

Here she is, engaged, anticipating a certain life. Thinking, maybe, that she had some control over where her story was heading. Then an angel came and spoke. She was open enough to hear. Her life changed instantly. Her role changed. Her path changed. She’d need to weather the possibility of being dismissed, disgraced as her belly grew. She did not, in fact, have control over her story.

Yet, she did have control over her response. “Here I am.”

I like to imagine this wasn’t an immediate response. She seems more relatable to me if I envision a period of serious turmoil, confusion, disappointment and fear. Maybe she grieved for the story she thought would be hers. Yet her response remains remarkable. She chooses to embrace the life that was given to her. She said yes to a role she was not anticipating or feeling ready for. She fell in love with her new path. She wanted the life that she got. Instead of clinging, she opened her palms to what was indeed out of her control.

This Advent, can we walk lightly enough to notice the angels among us? Can we admit that we are not in total control of our lives? Can we open our hands, our lives, and our hearts to unknown paths? Can we be brave enough to walk down the unexpected path? Can we, too, say, “Yes?”

A young pregnant girl in a backwater town encountered God in the unknown. Maybe we can join her in saying, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”

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Prayer for Advent – Week 3

16 Dec

Prayer-for-Advent-3

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