Gospel Reflection for January 17, 2021 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

John the Baptist stood with two of his disciples, looking intently at Jesus walking by. “See the lamb of God,” John said. The two disciples followed Jesus. Noticing that they were following him, Jesus turned around and said to them, “What do you seek?” “Teacher, where do you stay?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” They went and saw where he was staying. – John 1.35-39

Come and see,” Jesus says when Andrew wants to learn more about him in Sunday’s gospel. “Come and see” is a call to encounter. Come, talk, stay, meet face to face, interact, discover who I am and what our relationship might be. The invitation opens the door to more than a quick look. With our five senses and conscious minds, we humans can probe who someone really is and what life means.

Jesus invites us to stay curious. We humans are embodied spirits. Wonder and awe fuel our spirits. Beauty in nature or art can stir awe-filled moments of breathing deeper and feeling gratitude for being alive. Creation implies a creator. 

The Old Testament book of Lamentations finds God’s love in every dawn. “The steadfast love of the Holy One never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new each morning. So great is God’s faithfulness” (3.22-23).

Our experiences matter, our daily sights, sounds, handshakes, conversations. We can probe what and who gives us life and ask where God is in the events we live. We can also take the world for granted and consider it ours, not God’s gift.

What do we hear in the birds singing each morning? Their songs can awaken us to the gift of being alive or simply frustrate our efforts to stay asleep. What attention am I paying to all I see, hear, taste, smell, and feel? Where am I finding God in the ups and down of being alive?

Can I find God at the intersection where I live? The traffic starts at five. A symphony of sounds begins — the swish of buses and delivery trucks, the clang of empty side-loaders banging like cymbals on every bump. People are up for the day, interconnecting, using their life energies to do their part in a whole. I want to join in.

What do you experience in creation and your daily interactions with others, especially during the pandemic? What and who gives you life?

Gospel Reflection for December 25 & 27, 2020 – Christmas/Feast of the Holy Family

Christmas Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2. 11-14; Luke 2.1-20
Holy Family Readings: Genesis 15.1-6, 21.17-19; Hebrews 118, 11-12, 17-18; Luke 2.22, 39-40


 There were shepherds living in the fields and keeping night watch over their flocks. An angel of the Holy One came suddenly upon them and said, “You have nothing to fear! I bring you good news of 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 in a manger. – Luke 2.8-12
 
Christmas celebrates the birth of a child, the ordinary event that puts mothers and dads in touch with the awesome, creative power of God in which they share. Their love for each other gives birth to a new being. This is what God is about — love giving birth, love creating.

The birth story in Luke’s gospel anticipates Jesus’ whole life and emphasizes his mission to people who are poor. Joseph can only find shelter among the animals in a stable. Mary gives birth there, wraps the baby in swaddling clothes, and places him in a manger where the animals feed. It is shepherds who find the child Jesus in the manger and become heralds of the messiah’s birth. We recognize with them Jesus is good news for the poor.

Like the holy family, many refugees, immigrants, and deportees today experience too little room for their families. Like finding shelter in a barn during a Roman census, they live in cramped camps awaiting legal status in a new country. We recognize in families at our border the call to be Jesus’ good news for them,

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 a teenager. Our families have probably always been more diverse in form and less ideal than we remember them. Today we have regular nuclear families, blended families, single-parent families, grandparents raising children, partners adopting children. With the pandemic families face the challenges of doing school work at home but perhaps have new blessing in having more time together.

Who among us today needs the good news Jesus brings into our world? What is a strength your family has?

Gospel Reflection for December 20, 2020 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Sunday Readings: 2 Samuel 7.1-5, 8-12, 14-16; Romans 16.25-27; Luke 1.26-38
 
“Here I am, God’s servant. Let it happen to me as you say.” – Luke 1.38
 
Mary, whose body becomes home to God, responds three times in Luke’s story of her call. Three times the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger, speaks to her. To the angel’s greeting, “Greetings, favored one, God is with you,” Mary feel perplexed and wonders what kind of greeting this an be. To Gabriel’s invitation to give birth to God’s Song, Mary questions, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” To Gabriel’s promise the God will do the impossible in her, Mary says yes.

This dialogue outlines the journey in a call from God. The journey moves from perplexity, to certainty the call cannot be, to confidence God can do the impossible in me. The becoming human of God will happen in Mary’s womb. She will feel the first stirrings of salvation within her self. God’s Son will look like her. She will nurse and rock him after he is born.

With Mary’s yes to God’s invitation, the Creator makes a new move. God becomes one of us to reveal who God is. Mary trusts God’s word.  In her Magnificat which we prayed as last Sunday’s responsorial, Mary  blesses God for showing mercy, for raising up the poor, for filling the hungry. In her yes, she trusts God’s promises to her people and to her.
 
What is Mary’s importance in your life? How have choices you made in your teen years set your purpose in life?

A Christmas Story

Merry Christmas to all our friends, customers, and website visitors. Jesus makes incarnate the heart of God, full of creative and merciful love that never stops calling us into the communions of friends, family, and church. We make an early gift to you of A Christmas Story by Rose Tillemans, CSJ. Share this story with family and friends. Many blessings during this holy season.

Gospel Reflection for December 13, 2020 -3rd Sunday of Advent

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

John himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. “I baptize with water. Among you stand one whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” – John 1.8, 26-28

The Baptist is a witness to the existence we may take for granted, the light that rises with the sun each morning, the air we breathe. To testify to the light is to raise people’s consciousness that the life and light in which we live reveals God and is God’s gift. His time in the wilderness has heightened his awareness of the essentials.

John anticipates that the one greater than he is coming. He insists that “Among you stands one you do not recognize.” The words come down the centuries to haunt and taunt us into recognizing where we see Jesus among us. Our current political scene has awakened voices that divide us. What if this Christmas season we attempt to listen and learn from voices that differ from us? Can we recognize Christ speaking in their voices and values? Can we listen and learn from those we know only by stereotypes?

Like the Baptist ours is the task of recognizing God as work in that hardest of all places to see–in ourselves, in the pandemic, in our own unrelenting efforts to hold our families and communities together. We live in an unfinished drama and unfolding mystery that is God’s life-giving presence with us.

Describe a time of solitude that has revived your awareness of God’s presence with us. To whose voices today do you listen and live by?

Gospel Reflection for December 6, 2020 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3.8-14; Mark 1.1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Holy One, make God’s paths straight.’” – Mark 1.1-3

Mark begins the gospel by identifying the voice of John the Baptist with the voice of Second Isaiah, whose preaching called the exiled Israelites home from exile about 540 B.C. Mark wants listeners to hear the Baptist as the herald of a new age of forgiveness and promise. God is faithfully present in Israel’s history, making a way where there is no way — in the exodus a path for slaves to freedom, in the exile a road home for captives.

Like Elijah the Baptist haunts 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.

Advent prepares us to celebrate the incarnation — God becoming one of us. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, the one Israel’s prophets promised God would send. Jesus is the Christ, the anointed, the promised messiah. By loving us as one of us, Jesus shows us that our capacity to love is the image of our life-giving, creative God in us.

As we celebrate Christmas, love evolves in our relationships, in our world. In a year when we can’t sing in groups, carol and spread joy, our lights of every color light up the dark and pull us outside to enjoy them. We order gifts for one another and realize how sacred our family relationships are. Our lives of love and struggle are holy. We find our ways through the wilderness.

How do you see God with us this Advent?

Advent Resources

Advent is right around the corner! Visit goodgroundpress.com for gift ideas, special Advent issues of Sunday by Sunday and SPIRIT Online, an Advent retreat and fun FREE family activities!

Gospel Reflection for November 15, 2020 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Proverbs 31.10-13,19-20, 30-31; 1 Thessalonians 5.1-6; Matthew 25.14-30

A man going on a journey summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them, according to the abilities of each. To one, he gave five talents; to a second, he gave two talents; to a third, one talent. Immediately the servant who received five talents invested them and made another five. In the same way, the servant who received two talents doubled the figure. The servant who received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and buried the master’s money. After a long absence, the master came home. – Matthew 15.14-18

From the start Sunday’s gospel is a parable of judgment. Matthew’s gospel has three judgment parables in chapter 25–the wise and foolish girls (last Sunday), the talents, and the works of mercy (next Sunday). The parables anticipate Jesus will come in glory and judgment at some time and urge us to active faith.

In the parable of the talents the master sizes up his servants and entrusts his property to them according to their ability. Indeed the industrious and reliable first servant and the good and trustworthy second servant double their talents, advance to larger affairs, and share the master’s joy when he returns. The third servant buries his single talent and blames his master. Out of fear of his master’s harshness the third servants has done nothing with it. The master has no sympathy with the man’s fear and casts him out of the community of joy into which he welcomed the other two.

One talent is equivalent to 6,000 denari. One denarius was a day’s wage in Jesus’ time. The five talents the first servant receives would take 85 years for an ordinary laborer to earn. The master has not given the servants a pittance to trust their trustworthiness.

The priceless windfall each of us has received is life itself, our unique gifts, and family and friends whose lives we share. Our ancestors invested in relationships and efforts that have brought us to be. Jesus invested his life in the human race, opening to us all we can become in God. How do we use these extravagant down payments on ourselves?

With whom in the parable do you identify–the servants who risk their talents or the one whose fear paralyzes him? What gifts and talents are yours to put to work in our fractured society today?

Harmony

I was lucky to have a mother who never stopped teaching, even on a shopping trip. – S. Joan

"Now stay on the second note when I go up,"
mother coached me.
So for the 50 miles to St. Cloud in the car
we kept singing, mother repeating,
"When it's spring time in the Rockies…"
until I did it. I heard the harmony,
not just a second part I memorized;
I held my place in the chords,
that day mostly simple thirds
but ever after I could find a place
in a chord, make harmonies,
a gift awakened I didn't know I had
and later in the chapel choir
singers sometimes listened chords
into perfect pitch, the harmonics ringing
in octives beyond hearing,
evoking the sublime.
- by Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ

Make December brighter, more prayerful with the Advent Names of God. Seven images and prayers rooted in Israel’s longings for a messiah, reimagined in our evolving cosmos today. Only $10! Read sample pages and order online at goodgroundpress.com.


Praying the Advent Names of God

Make December brighter, more prayerful with the Advent Names of God. Seven images and prayers rooted in Israel’s longings for a messiah, reimagined in our evolving cosmos today. Only $10! Read sample pages and order online at https://goodgroundpress.com/product/advent-names-of-god/.

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