Tag Archives: Jesus teaches in stories

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 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?

 

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Gospel Reflection for July 14, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

8 Jul

The story of the Good Samaritan leads Jesus to pose the question, “Which of these is your neighbor?”

The lawyer responded, “The one who treated him with compassion.”
Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Luke 10.36-37

The parable stands at the heart of Jesus’ message of salvation.  In effect, Jesus tells the lawyer (and all of us) that to be saved, whole, and happy we must love God and ourselves by loving our neighbors, including those for whom we may have no understanding or liking.  Jesus asks us to act as the Samaritan does when he stops to help and heal another marginalized person, someone whose wounds and distress everyone else has ignored.  He asks us to allow compassion to change our hearts and lives.

What experiences have taught you compassion and the need to be less judgmental?

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Gospel Reflection for March 17, 2013, 5th Sunday of Lent

11 Mar

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery.
Jesus said, “Let the sinless one among you cast the first stone at her.”

John 8.7

Only John’s gospel tells the story of the hypocrites who take a woman they catch in adultery to trap Jesus. The Romans have denied the Jews the right to administer the death penalty. Both Jesus and his opponents know this and know that the Mosaic law prescribes stoning a married woman guilty of adultery (Deut. 22.23-24). Actually the law calls for stoning both a man and woman caught in adultery.

In this story Jesus confronts individuals that can exist in any religious group or organization—those who are inflexibly certain they are right.

What double standard have you experienced in which one person takes public blame for many who have done the same actions?

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Which son are you?

7 Mar

The topic of siblings usually provokes conversation. Siblings may consider some of us oldest children bossy even though parents might use the words dependable and responsible.

Many of us have the wild or special-needs brother or sister who absorbs more attention than the rest. This is the one who wrecks the car or who gets taken to the police station for spraying graffiti on garage doors or stays at a friend’s house without asking or telling.

My next younger sister needed constant attention to learn to speak because she was severely hard of hearing. Mother put all her teaching skills to use on constant phonics lessons. If Jan held her ears or suggested any of the rest of us were bothering her, we got a reprimand. Naturally my sister became very creative in using her ears against us – sounds as if I haven’t entirely let that go!

I’m the dutiful oldest child who spent a week retying the bamboo shades on the porch and painted the cattle sheds. I’m the one who could do errands the fastest.

I’m not the prodigal younger son in the parable Jesus tells this Sunday. I’m the older son who is supposed to celebrate the homecoming of my brother who hurt our father, wasted money on his wild friends, and lost everything.

How do you characterize yourself – more a wild, willful, wasteful child or more a responsible, obedient, dutiful child?

This excerpt from Sunday By Sunday is by Joan Mitchell, CSJ

Gospel Reflection for March 10, 2013, 4th Sunday of Lent

4 Mar

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 lives again.  He was lost and is found.

Luke 15.31-32

 
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Luke holds up not only a model of conversion in the younger son but also a characterization of Jesus’ faithful and forgiving Father.  The father in the parable does not wait for his son to arrive home but runs to meet him, embraces him, and kisses him lovingly.

The father never allows the son to finish the confession he has planned, which ends in asking to be a hired a hand.  The son’s act of coming home acknowledges his new desire to reconnect as much as any words can say.  The father restores him as a son with robe, ring, and sandals and sets a homecoming table for him.

But the elder son resents his father welcoming his brother home.  Will he join the celebration as his father urges?

What does the father in the parable tell us about God?

Gospel Reflection for March 3, 3rd Sunday in Lent

26 Feb

Jesus tells a parable about a man who plants a fig tree in his orchard but finds no fruit after three years.  The man tells the gardener to cut it down.

The gardener said, “Sir, leave it one more year while I hoe around it and manure it.  Perhaps then it will bear figs.  If not, you can cut down.”

Luke 13.8-9

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree reveals God’s hope and compassion for people.  The gardener, who cares for each tree, pleads for more care and more time.  Let it grow another year.  A little loosening of the soil, a little more nourishment, maybe it will bear fruit.

In what ways are you like the owner of the vineyard?  In what ways like the gardener?

Gospel Reflection for August 12, 2012, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

8 Aug
 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

John 6.51


Jesus argues that the revelation of God in Israel’s holy history and law ought to lead real believers to recognize God at work in him.  He contrasts himself with manna.  Israel’s ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and died.  Those who eat the bread that comes down from heaven, namely Jesus, will not die.

When Jesus speaks of himself as the living bread, he invites faith not only in himself but in his Eucharistic presence in the continuing Christian communities.  The bread he gives in every Eucharist is his flesh for the life of the world.

Where or in whom do you find Jesus really present?  People?  Sacraments?  Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?  Scripture?

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The Cost of Discipleship: Mark 6.7-33

11 Jul

an excerpt from Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story by Joan Mitchell, CSJMark's Gospel: The Whole Story

At this point in the story strand the narrative introduces another literary sandwich, another story within a story. The narrative delays the second sea crossing story and adds a literary sandwich focused on mission.  In the first slice of story Jesus sends his disciples out to do what he has been doing – preach, heal, cast out ungodly spirits. While the new missionaries are out, the narrative ominously tells the story of the beheading of John the Baptist.

The Baptist’s beheading supplies time for the twelve to be out on mission. More importantly, John’s senseless death at the whimsy of a drunken king foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry. What happens to John may happen to Jesus and those who follow him. Jesus’ disciples and those Mark’s gospel calls to faith have reason to fear for their lives. The disciples return and report to Jesus all they have done but cannot find rest even when they go away with Jesus in a boat to a deserted place. The Jesus movement keeps growing.

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