Image 18 Oct

Gospel Reflection for October 22, 2017, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 45.1,4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1.1-5; Matthew 22.15-21
 
“Whose image is on the coin and whose inscription?” – Matthew 22.20

In Sunday’s gospel Jesus confronts a worldview about who images God. Jesus insists that we cannot keep separate our obligations to God and those to government. God blesses and calls us to integrate the spheres of our lives and image the One who made us. Being made in God’s image and likeness calls the Christian to act as God acts with compassion and forgiveness for everyone.

Christians image God by helping people who are poor, caring for the abused and sick, visiting the imprisoned, grieving with those who mourn, listening to those in pain. We give to God our very selves through our goodness to

How do you participate in work for the common good?


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Gospel Reflection for October 15, 2017, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 25.6-10; Philippians 4.12-14,19-20; Matthew 22.1-10


“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.  Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” – Matthew 22.2-4


The meal Jesus describes in Sunday’s parable is no ordinary dinner but the messiah’s wedding feast. The royal wedding setting is unique to Matthew’s way of telling the parable. Matthew adds other details to the parable that give the story double meaning. In this way he creates an allegory in which characters and action in the parable parallel events his own time in the A.D. 80s. The king’s fury at guests who refuse his invitation seems overkill until a reader realizes Matthew is connecting the parable with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the event that effectively ends Israel’s ancient temple-centered religion.  Matthew’s interpretation shows the danger of allegory; it fixes the meaning and  perpetuates an ancient conflict that led to genocide in the Holocaust.

The parable speaks more to us today without the allegory; it asks what we do with our excess and who we invite to our tables. Abundant food is one of the most fundamental blessings in our lives. The parable is very different in Luke’s telling (Luke 14.15-24). When people refuse to come to a great dinner in Luke’s version, the host invites in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.

How do you think the kingdom of heaven will be like a lavish dinner?


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Gospel Reflection for October 8, 2017, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 5.1-7; Philippians 4.6-9; Matthew 21.33-43
 
“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will yield a rich harvest.” – Matthew 21.43

Economically in Jesus’ time, 95% of the people were poor peasants who worked hard to survive. Roman soldiers from the occupying army often received land as payment for their military service and kept peasants as tenants to cultivate and tend their vineyards. Poor overtaxed peasants might have reason to resent and resist giving a Roman owner a share in the harvest. But the parable has no hint of this political motive.

The tenants simply want the whole harvest and the vineyard for themselves. Toward this end they kill the tenants and the owner’s son. The parable has an allegory that closely parallels Jesus’ life. In the allegory or double meaning God is the owner of the vineyard and Jesus the son.

In this parable Jesus is trying to reform his own religion. Jesus wants temple leaders to take responsibility for the poor, blind, and lame people who flocked into the temple after he cleansed it. Similarly Pope Francis connects repairing Earth with sustaining people who live in poverty.

With whom in the parable do you sympathize?


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Gospel Reflection for October 1, 2017, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Sep

Scripture readings: Ezekiel 18.25-28; Philippians 2.1-11; Matthew 21.28-32

Jesus told this parable. A man had two sons. He said to the first, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” “No, I will not,” the first son said. But afterwards the son regretted it and went. The father asked the second son to do the same. “Yes, sir,” the second son said but did not go. “Which of the two did the father’s will?” asks Jesus.

Only Matthew’s gospel tells us that after Jesus cleanses the temple, the blind and lame come to him there, and he heals them.  Those he heals proclaim, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” hailing Jesus as messiah just as the people who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem did.  The welcome, the temple cleansing, the healing, and acclaim anger the officials, the chief priests, scribes, and elders who witness these things.  In this volatile situation Jesus tells the parable of the father with two sons, Sunday’s gospel.

Jesus wants the temple leaders to change and do God’s work among the people as he does. Jesus invites disciples of every time and place to work in God’s world for compassionate relationships among people and with our planet home. Share bread with the hungry. If a neighbor asks for your coat, give your shirt as well. Do not put off until tomorrow the good you can do today.  Provide health care; it’s a human right. Help those who have become suddenly last and least through hurricanes and earthquakes.

What gospel duty do you carry out most? Avoid most?


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Gospel Reflection for September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Sep

Photo via Flickr user Mat79

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 55.6-9; Philippians 1.20-24,27; Matthew 20.1-16

“So the last will be first and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20.16

The vineyard owner in Sunday’s gospel has a unique pay scale. The owner pays the full-day wage to those who find work only at the last hour. Some will perhaps count these workers as the laziest and resent that they receive the day’s wage the need to feed their families. In effect, this owner shows a preferential option for the least, for the people most in need. This is a basic principle of liberation theology.

The householder’s largesse invites us to ponder who this employer really is. As an image of God, the householder is not transcendent and distant but repeatedly seeks out workers in the market place and cares enough about their well-being to pay the living wage. We workers all stand in the same relationship to God, who owns the vineyard of all creation, resources for all to live.

When have you received more than you deserve? How like the vineyard owner is your God?  


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Advent and Lent packs are available!

15 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure every household in your parish has access to these prayers, calendars, traditions game, and more! Only $12.95 for a pack of 100. Order at goodgroundpress.com or call us at 800-232-5533.

Gospel Reflection for September 17, 2017, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Sep

Sunday Readings: Sirach 27.30-28.7; Romans 14.7-9; Matthew 18.21-35

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?” – Matthew 18.21

We know Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question. Seventy times seven times. That’s always. In the Our Father we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others every time we pray it–scary. Forgiveness may not be our first impulse when someone hurts us. We may want to strike back or perhaps just nurse festering resentment, or perhaps like Peter we want to count. This is not God’s way or Jesus’ way.

The parable that follows Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer is about the servant who owes his master a big debt that a generous master forgives. Then the forgiven servant insists a fellow servant pay a debt of 100 denarii, refuses pleas for patience, and puts the fellow servant in prison. The master finds out and hands the unforgiving servant over to be tortured. The parable challenges us to recognize God’s expansive love and mercy and make room for growth and grace in our relationships.

How has making room for grace and growth helped you forgive others or yourself?


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Gospel Reflection for September 10, 2017, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Sep

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 33.7-9; Romans 13.8-10; Matthew 18.15-20

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  – Matthew 13.20

“Talk it through” is the nub of Jesus’ advice on what to do when one disciple wrongs another. Step one is one-on-one dialogue. If that fails, step two advises us to bring witnesses for another face-to-face talk. The aim is to win over an offending member of the community. If that fails, the person gets treated as a Gentile or tax-collector, an outsider. However, Jesus is famous for reaching out to just such people.

How much festering resentment and ill will can we avoid if we speak directly with people or organizations that wrong us–not to chide or scold but to let them know how we feel and how what they are doing affects us. The binding and loosing Jesus empowers his followers to do is not for punishing but for healing.

What value do you put on face-to-face conversation for clearing up a wrong or supposed wrong? What works to stop the spread of accusations on social media?


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Poem of the Week

1 Sep

This is the last poem of summer. We have enjoyed sharing our favorites with you. Sister Joan wrote this one in the autumn on the north shore of Lake Superior.

The Chair
 


From the chair

on the deck

one can see across Lake Superior

where it ends at the sky

and rock there
in Grandma’s chair

and remember her lap

and rock to the waves

spilling on the basalt rock

the Earth’s core left here

five billion years ago

to crumble a little every day


I rock from time present

to time past

and back where

purple asters bloom

and maples will turn red tomorrow

I could be someone’s grandma
but I’m not

I while away a moment

Of the little time I have
 

Empty white chair

on a balcony overlooking blue sea

at the door of a room

with open windows

     showed me

     where every chair sits

     exactly between inside and outside
     here and there

     now and then

What steadies me

is knowing

that I got here
     where I’m going
             

Joan Mitchell, CSJ

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