Tag Archives: Jesus

Gospel Reflection for February 14, 2016, 1st Sunday of Lent

8 Feb

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 26.4-10; Romans 10.8-13; Luke 4.1-13

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for scripture has it, ‘God will bid angels to watch over you,’ and ‘With their hands they will lift you up so that you do not stumble upon a stone.'”

(Luke 4.9-11)

The devil’s third and climatic temptation invites Jesus to prove he is God’s Son. The devil mocks the poetry of Psalm 91.11-12, which describes God as protective, bearing up the faithful person to protect him or her from stumbling upon a stone.

God the Almighty is an image of God that leads to unbelief for many. Reasoning goes that if God is all-powerful, all-knowing why doesn’t God use the power to end war or violence or suffering. A better image is God the all-loving and merciful. Jesus’ Father, the faithful and steadfast God of the Old Testament, accompanies us in our failures and sufferings as surely as in our successes and joys.

What tests your faith? What affirms God’s sustaining love?

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Gospel Reflection for February 7, 2016, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Feb

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 6.1-8; 1 Corinthians 15.1-11; Luke 5.1-11

“Simon put out his nets and caught so many fish that the nets began to break.”

(Luke 5.6)

Peter fishes all night without success. A miraculous catch of fish follows the next day in response to Jesus’ charge to put out into the deep water. The two fishing expeditions express a contrast in the history of the first century church. Fewer Jews follow Jesus than the great numbers of Gentiles that join the Christian communities around the Mediterranean Sea. Two boat loads overflow with believers in Luke’s story. The response of Gentiles has surprised Peter and Paul in the same way the great catch surprises Peter in this story.

What attracts new believers to the gospel today?

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Gospel Reflection for January 31, 2016, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jan

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 13.4-13; Luke 4.21-30

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

(Luke 4.21)

These words begin Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Luke’s gospel. In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus read a passage from Isaiah that describes a prophet whom the Spirit anoints and appoints to bring good news to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind, to proclaim a jubilee in which those who have lost out in society get a new chance to thrive. Jesus invites the congregation in the synagogue to hear Isaiah’s word not as an ancient, someday promise but as a present claim. Jesus is the Spirit-filled prophet called to make the human race a whole, flourishing community. Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy, when we remember Jesus is the human face of God’s love, love we don’t deserve and doesn’t run out.

For whom are you good news? Who is good news for you?

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Wonder

15 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

The characters in Jesus’ story who have captured my imagination this week are the wise men, or magi, or kings. We think if these men as learned and wealthy, that with their titles and expensive gifts. They are not the type of folks we typically imagine packing up their things at the sight of a star to head off to the unknown hoping to meet a new king. Yet this is exactly what they do.

These men were clearly waiting for a Messiah and hoping he would come soon. Their hope and excitement urged them to take a chance on this particular star.

What was it about this star they saw that convinced them to pack up and take a quest? Are they foolish or brilliant? Did other men scoff at them, sighting reason and logic that so often override our wonder and awe?

We so often make the mistake of replacing wonder with knowledge. We pit science and religion against each other. We see God getting smaller instead of bigger as we learn more about the universe. Yet we are living in an exciting age where science is re-embracing wonder. We are curious about multiple universes and admitting the more we know the more we realize we don’t know. We are embracing wonder as the beginning of wisdom.

I think these men have something to teach me. They are inviting me back to a place of wonder where I can encounter God. Their journey to pay tribute to this baby shows humility, wonder, openness, and hope that I want to embody in my faith life. They show the lengths they are willing to travel, literally, to encounter God. In addition to keeping their noses in their books, they also turn their faces to the sky, recognizing that faith requires both our intellect and our wonder, our ideas and our willingness to be in authentic relationship. They understand that part of worshipping God entails taking risks and venturing into the unknown. They know they are on a sacred journey and remind me that I am, too.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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