Tag Archives: Jesus

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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The God of Losers

23 Jan

Before his NFL playoff game on Sunday, January 18, Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, tweeted:

“All my hope is in You Jesus! You are my anchor that is never shaken!”

His team trailed the entire game by as many as sixteen points. With a few minutes left in the game, the Packers were winning 19-7. In what seemed like an inspired flurry of adrenaline, Wilson led the charge that tied the game in regulation and forced an overtime. In the extra time, Wilson threw a thirty-five yard touchdown to send his team to the Superbowl. He gathered with a few staff and players to pray on the field after the game, and in the post-game celebration, he tweeted:

“Headed back to the Super Bowl!!!! QBs in the House! Glory to God! One Mission. #MakeThemNotice.”

In a post game interview, he thanked God for the win and said he never lost faith, never doubted. He believes God prepared him and his team for this type of situation. As a Christian myself, I reacted to all of this God and Jesus talk surrounding the playoff game. I believe that God created Russell Wilson, and that Wilson does honor God by using his gifts to the best of his ability. I even support Wilson’s commitment to thank God and lean on something bigger than himself. I think my discomfort creeps in, however, because it could be easily misconstrued that God loves the winners more than the losers. God created Aaron Rogers, the losing quarterback, too.

Maybe Wilson would have gathered to pray and thanked God as profusely if the Seahawks had lost, but they didn’t. So what I see from the tweets coupled with the win is that what is being promoted is a God of winners. God rewards those who don’t doubt and have blind faith. That God is on the side of the winners and loves the winners and interceded for the winners. That God helped Wilson win because he is a believer. That, for me, is only part of the story, it is a theology of glory that limits our God.

The day after the Seahawks win, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here was a believer and preacher who saw God more readily on the side of the losers. He took other Christians to task for not living out God’s call to justice. He reminded other Christians that Jesus loves all people radically.

Shortly after the death of King, Rev. Dr. James Cone birthed Black Liberation Theology. The black Jesus Cone wrote about reminds us that God is present even more intensely with the marginalized and oppressed people in society.

“God is a God that makes liberation meaningful to those who are marginalized no matter where they are. God takes on that identity of the oppressed” – Dr. James Cone

The Civil Rights Movement and the black power movement gave rise to Black Liberation Theology. Today the #BlackLivesMatter movement reminds us that King’s dream of equity is not yet fulfilled. Today, we can call on King and Cohen to remember that God is with Russell Wilson on his way to the Superbowl, yes, but God is also with the losers. God is dwelling with the most vulnerable people in society, weeping with those who weep:

“The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”      -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 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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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 November 30, 2014, 1st Sunday of Advent

26 Nov

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 63.16-17,19; 64.2-7; Corinthians 1.3-9; Mark 13.33-37
 
“Stay awake, for you do not know when the owner of the house will come–in the evening, or at midnight, at cockcrow or dawn.”  

Mark 13.35

Jesus’ tiny parable calls us to stay awake throughout the Church year.  There are doorways all the time where we encounter one another and have opportunities to be present.  Our houses and offices have doors.  These are thresholds where we meet and can be awake to one another.

In dark midnight moments our fears can take us over.  The urge is strong to avoid the hard.  Who has not heard the cock crow and recognized I profoundly regret something I never thought I was even capable of doing?  At the heart of our faith is the dawn moments, the hour of resurrection.  In our faith that God raised up Jesus to new life is a spirituality that believes new life can come where relationships are dead or where leaders are asleep to people’s needs.

At what doorways are you watching for God’s coming?

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‘Tis the Season

21 Nov
via Flickr user Ed Schipul

via Flickr user Ed Schipul

We are still two weeks from the beginning of Advent, but the holiday decorations are up at Target. The diamond jewelry and red-bow tied car commercials have started. Walmart is gearing up.

The day after we give thanks for what we have, Black Friday focuses on what we don’t.

We are left to figure out how to infuse our holiday season with a sense of the sacred. How do we decide which rituals are life-giving and which are life-draining? How do we shift from fear and scarcity back to trust and abundance? How do we move from feeling not-enough to enough? How do we prioritize relationship over consumption? How do we let go of anxiety and embrace laughter? How do we choose presence over presents? What tangible steps can we take this year to put Christ back at the center of Christmas?

Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He boldly asks us to trust, to live one day at a time and know that we have enough today.

Jesus comes to us as a baby to show us a different way of being. It is an invitation that is upon us today. May the utter dependence, pure innocence, daring beauty, urgent cry, calming coo, and gentle touch God, come to us as a newborn, direct our hearts and minds this season.

Gospel Reflection for November 23, 2014, Feast of Christ the King

19 Nov

Sunday scripture readings: Ezekiel 34.11-12,15-17; 1 Corinthians 15.20-26,28; Matthew 25.31-46

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?  And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25.37-40

Matthew’s gospel places the judgment of the nations immediately before Jesus’ passion in the flow of the gospel narrative.  In his passion Jesus himself becomes the least among us, suffering the kind of execution aimed to shame and subdue rebellious slaves.  Sunday’s parable invites us to recognize Jesus is all those who suffer.

In whom that you know do you see Jesus suffering?

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