Gospel Reflection for November 18, 2018, 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time

15 Nov

Sunday Readings: Daniel 12.1-3; Hebrews 10.11-14,18; Mark 13.24-32

“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will not.” – Mark 13.31

Sunday’s gospel contains two answers to the question of when Jesus will come again. One answer is very soon, in this generation, and the second is no one knows. We live during the no-one-knows time. Mark writes just after the Romans destroy the temple and end Jewish temple-centered religion with its prayers and sacrifices. That world ends. But Christian faith and the Judaism we know today are just emerging.

The destructive effects of our lifestyle surround us–global warming, droughts, terrible storms, oceans that teems with plastic, species going extinct. The news reports the power of trees and winter crop cover to absorb carbon and lessen the greenhouse effect that is warming the atmosphere. Jesus directs to watch the fig trees green and recognize God is always here.

What has come to birth for you out of change and seeming chaos?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or request a free sample. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Gospel Reflection for November 11, 2018, 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Nov

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 17.10-16; Hebrews 9.24-28; Mark 12.38-44

In the course of his teaching, Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” – Mark 12.38-44

Mark deliberately juxtaposes the shallow, opportunistic actions of some scribes and a widow’s gift of the little she has to the temple treasury. The two parts of Sunday’s gospel contrast people who act for show and profit with a woman who gives from the heart all she has. Jesus criticizes those who like long robes and the best seats and prey on widows. “Devour their houses” are the words Jesus uses.

Typically widows were poor in Jesus’ time. A woman lost social standing and financial support when her husband died. This common plight of widows made care for them the usual measure of goodness for Jews. God hears their cries. The widow in this gospel gives to the temple. She can’t give much but she belongs to this people who worship there. She is the model donor because she gives all she has; it’s a gift of the heart and of faith. Her story anticipates Jesus’ passion, in which he gives all he has.

The widow who takes in the prophet Elijah during a famine gives us a Gentile model of generosity. She has only enough flour and oil in her jars for one more meal for her son and herself; nonetheless she shares their last meal with the prophet and neither jar ever run empty.

Who challenges your authenticity as a follower of Jesus?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or request a free sample. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

New Online Retreat!

9 Nov

Pray with the women of the gospel.

We have a new retreat for you, based on Sister Joan’s new book, Holy Women, Full of Grace. We hope these four sessions with gospel women will be an occasion for you to bless your own life in Christ and unite you in prayer with women and girls around the world. You can view the whole table of contents for Holy Women at goodgroundpress.com. Please feel free to share this retreat with others. Click here to begin.

Visit goodgroundpress.com to see more of our Advent Resources.

Holy Women, Full of Grace

7 Nov

Women were always there with Jesus. Holy Women, Full of Grace invites you to pray with Jesus’ mother, the generous widow, Jairus’s daughter, and many other gospel women, names and unnamed. An ideal gift. Only $8!

View the Table of Contents.

View the Introduction.

View a sample chapter.

Click here to order online or call Good Ground Press at 800-232-5533.

All Souls Day

2 Nov

 

All Souls Day in a small town meant visiting the cemetery and remembering those in our family who died. Today I am too far away to visit family graves, so I light a candle at the Catholic Relief Services website—crs.org—and select a prayer. I also remember Jesus’ promise, the gospel for November 2nd.

After Jesus told the crowds he was the bread of life, he made this promise. “All that the Father gives me shall come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me. I have come not to do my will but to do the will of the Father who sent me. The Father does not want me to lose anything I have been given. Rather, God wants me to raise up all things on the last day.”

“I tell you the truth. This is the will of my Father: whoever looks upon the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. I will raise them up on the last day.”  – John 6.37-40

May you find peace and comfort in these words and this day.


Visit our website at goodgroundpress.com for daily prayers and gospel reflection.

Gospel Reflection for November 4, 2018, 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

1 Nov

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 6.2-6; Hebrews 7.23-28; Mark 12.28-34

A scribe ask Jesus, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?” Jesus answers, “The greatest of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, love the Holy One your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ That is the greatest and the second is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Mark 12.29-30

For Jesus as for all good Jews, there was no religious obligation more sacred than to keep the Law of Moses, the commands of the Torah, all 613 of them as spelled out in the first five books of the Old Testament. Which is most important? A group of Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees set Jesus up with this question.

Jesus chooses wisely. His answer is what his life and teachings are all about. These are the words Jews nail on their doorways and bind to their wrists and foreheads. They are the words Jews pray every day much as Christians do the Our Father. Love is a a verb, a word we live among our neighbors and kin, especially this week of before the election with its bitter, too-often hateful debates. Jesus is debates and disagrees but without hate and demonizing.

What actions do the two great commandments inspire in your this week?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or request a free sampleStart a small bible study. Be a leader.

Abuse Survivors and Faithful People

26 Oct

With all the endless inches of copy poured out about #MeToo and the recent Congressional hearings for the supreme court nominee, this homily offers reflections I want to share and five things to do at the end.

– Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ.

Abuse Survivors and Faithful People

HDS alumna Anne Marie Hunter, MDiv ’86, director of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse, delivered the following remarks at Morning Prayers in Harvard’s Memorial Church on October 12, 2018:

This morning’s reading features Psalm 22 interwoven with the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Psalm 22: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? I cry by day, but you do not answer, and at night, but find no rest.

Ford: “I am here not because I want to be. I am terrified.”

Psalm 22: O God, I am a worm and not human, scorned by men. All who see me mock me.

Ford: “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laugh—the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

Psalm 22: They wag their heads: “She committed her cause to the Lord, let God deliver her.”

Ford: “I was calculating daily the risk/benefit … of coming forward, and wondering whether I would … just be personally annihilated.”

Psalm 22: O God, be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.

Ford: “I did not want to tell my parents … I convinced myself that … I should just move on and … pretend that it didn’t happen.”

Psalm 22: Many bulls encompass me, they open wide their mouths at me, like a roaring lion. 

Ford: “My greatest fears have been realized. I’ve had to relive this trauma in front of the world.”

Psalm 22: O God, I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My strength is dried up. I am laid in the dust of death. 

Ford: “I thought he was going to accidentally kill me.”

Psalm 22: O God, a company of evildoers encircle me. 

Ford: “This assault drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details.”

Psalm 22: O God, be not far off. Deliver my soul from the sword and my life from the mouth of the lion.

Ford: “The details about that night … I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory, and have haunted me … as an adult.”

May God bless those who wrestle with these words.
 
There is a crisis in the United States today. One in four women and one in 10 men will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner, and one in three women and one in six men will experience sexual violence. 20 to 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of sexual assault (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Multiracial and American Indian/Alaska Native women disproportionately experience sexual assault, while 6 percent of LGBT individuals are assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (NSVRC).

Every survivor in the country watched Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony with their heart in their throat, hoping that this time it would be different, this time the survivor would be believed, not blamed or made fun of. Instead she was called a “hoax” and a “pawn in a vast political machine.”

We can do better.

I’m going to assume that faith is important to each of you because you are sitting in Memorial Church early on a Friday morning. And I’m going to assume you are leaders because you are at Harvard. Survivors need your help. When survivors reach out for help, they are more likely to reach out to family, friends, or a trusted person of faith for help than they are to call police or a hotline (Georgia Domestic Violence Coalition). Abuse is a spiritual as well as a physical and emotional crisis, and healing and justice often have spiritual components. So survivors turn to faithful people for help. That makes us all “first responders.”

Audre Lorde says that social change happens when people move from silence to naming to action (Sister Outsider). We have had generations of silence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the #whyIstayed, #whyIleft, and #metoo movements, as well as the testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford, have begun to name our experiences. It’s time for action.

  • Learn more. Start with the Safe Havens website at interfaithpartners.org.
  • Break your silence. Make your support of survivors visible. Wear purple on October 18, put up a poster, take a stand.
  • Listen to and believe survivors. David Augsberger says, “Being listened to is so close to being loved most people can’t tell the difference.”
  • Dismantle the racism, classism, and privilege that make victims from marginalized communities especially vulnerable.
  • Support local services. We should ALWAYS refer survivors to local sexual and domestic violence services, and to do that we need strong local services.

As people of faith, we have a unique role to play in responding to victims, educating our communities, and speaking out to end intimate partner and sexual violence. We are the ones, and we will do it.

Gospel Reflection for October 28, 2018, 30th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Oct

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 31.7-9; Hebrews 5.1-6; Mark 10.46-52

Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to Jesus, “Teacher, let me see again.” “Go, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said to him. At once Bartimaeus was able to see and followed Jesus up the road  – Mark 10.51-52

In Sunday’s gospel a blind beggar named Bartimaeus models the unabashed faith in Jesus that Mark’s gospel hopes from every hearer of the gospel. As he sat at the Jericho city gates, Bartimaeus must have heard others talk about Jesus. As soon as he hears that Jesus is near, he shouts out a greeting, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” In this greeting Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus is the long-expected king from David’s royal line—the messiah. The crowd cannot silence his shouting out. As soon as Jesus calls to him, Bartimaeus throws off the cloak in which he probably collected the money passersby threw his way. The blind beggar sees with eyes of faith.

What do you persist in asking Jesus?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or request a free sample. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Advent Is Right Around The Corner!

23 Oct

Our Advent issues of Sunday by Sunday bring both groups and individuals into the heart of the Sunday Gospels for this season. Only $4.00 per person (on orders of 10 or more). Call 800-232-5533 to order or visit goodgroundpress.com to order online.

Check back often for more Advent resources as we get closer to the season.

 

Luke’s Gospel, Written For Us

22 Oct
Sister Joan’s new book, Luke’s Gospel, Written for Us, focuses on the themes and stories unique to Luke’s telling of the good news. Only Luke characterizes Jesus as the Spirit-filled prophet anointed to bring good news to the poor and oppressed. Only Luke has the parables of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the persistent widow.
The easy-to-use format of this gospel study makes Luke’s witness to Jesus’ life and teaching available in nine short chapters. Ideal for Bible study groups, small Christian communities, and all who want to explore the themes that hold together the short Gospel excerpts we hear each Sunday. Visit goodgroundpress.com or call 800-232-5533 to order your copy today!

Don’t forget to also check out Sister Joan’s other new book, Holy Women, Full of Grace! Women were always there in the Jesus story. This litany invites you to pray with the women in Mark’s Gospel. This book is an ideal gift.
%d bloggers like this: