Gospel Reflection for March 7, 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20.1-17; 1 Corinthians 1.22-25; John 2.13-25

In the temple Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the moneychangers seated at their tables. Making a whip out of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. – John 2.14-15

Jesus zeal seeks to restore his Father’s house as a place of prayer rather than commerce. His explanation makes a great Tweet: “Stop making my Fathers house a marketplace.” His disruptive actions of dumping out money and overturning tables might become breaking news today. Jesus has made his point.

In John’s gospel Jesus’ cleansing of the temple becomes a revealing sign. Jesus is the new temple in whom God dwells among us.

Jesus’ example calls us to clean house during Lent, to examine our hearts. Our lives even in the pandemic zoom along. The more we stay at home to work and learn, the more we distance ourselves from the virus but also from interacting with others. Interacting is how we exchange ideas and show love for one another. Our lives easily fall into routines and ruts.

Walks in the emerging spring can awaken us to Earth’s capacity to repair itself and us. Lent calls us to assess what we consume and what consumes us. It calls us to revive our faith in resurrection as a continuing process in our lives as well as the promise of new and eternal life with the risen Jesus.

What effects of climate change anger you enough to act and advocate for change? What housecleaning do you need to do in your life?

Online Retreats for Lent

An online retreat may be a source of growth and peace for you during this Lent time. They are very easy to do. Just click here and you will go right to our online retreat page. You can browse through the retreats by clicking on a title. Read a little of the retreat to see if it is the one for you.

When you choose a retreat set aside 20-30 minutes in your day. Come back to this email and click through to the retreat you selected. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and begin. God is waiting for your attention.
 
If you wish, let us know which retreats have been helpful to you this Lent. You can reply to this email or call Lacy at 800-232-5533. We always like to hear from our customers and friends.

Gospel Reflection for February 21, 2021 – 1st Sunday fo Lent

Sunday Readings: Genesis 9.8-15; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.12-15

“Immediately after his baptism the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. There for 40 days Satan tested him. He was with wild beasts, and angels ministered to him. After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled. God’s reign has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.’” – Mark 1.12-15

When Jesus comes out of the water at his baptism, the heavens split open, and the Spirit descends upon him. A voice affirms that Jesus is “my beloved Son.” These images — the open heavens, the descending dove, the affirming voice — create a theological picture of Jesus in relationship with God, Father and Spirit.

Then the Spirit drives Jesus into solitude in the wilderness. Jesus doesn’t fast in Mark’s gospel but stays in the wilderness for the 40 days, a time echoing the Hebrew slaves 40 years in the desert becoming a people. Solitude gives us time to feel our drives and desires, the arcs of energy within us, the images that call us beyond where we are. In this testing, discerning time, Jesus keeps company with beasts and angels. God is near, within, and around him as God is near, within, and around us, with or without our attention.

Something happened in Jesus’ solitude. Shortly after, Jesus begins preaching in Galilee, announcing the good news of God. “Repent and believe in the good news.” His whole life, his death and resurrection, form the good news we believe, the faith we deepen and renew each Lent. 

After his desert time Jesus lives the rest of his life as an itinerant. He carries on ministries of healing, teaching, preaching, associating with outcasts, standing in opposition to unjust structures, forming a community of equals, celebrating meals with friends, and praying alone and with others.

What solitude can you find this Lent to feel new life stirring in yourself?

Gospel Reflection for February 14, 2021 – 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Leviticus 13.1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10.31-11.1; Mark 1.40-45           
 
“A leper came to Jesus, imploring him urgently and kneeling as he spoke, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man. “I will. Be made clean.” – Mark 1.40-41
 
The leper in Sunday’s gospel brings to his encounter with Jesus an attitude of profound need and expectant hope. Lepers in Jesus’ time and until our century lived their lives apart from other people.

Like so many other grounds for making people outsiders, leprosy shows visibly on the body. Race, gender, and age also show in our bodies. Poverty usually shows, too, in missing teeth and listless faces. On the basis of body appearance, communities establish boundaries between inside and outside.

Now the pandemic fills our news with heart-breaking obituaries of janitors and celebrities, doctors and grocery workers. To prevent COVID from spreading, we wear masks and keep distances. We experience firsthand fear of contagion and the necessity of distance. The pandemic has hit the black community hardest, making redlining and health disparities visible in our midst.

The voices of the poor and powerless, like the leper’s voice, call for inclusion in society. In Israel’s earliest traditions, it is the voices of slaves crying out against their masters that God hears and sends Moses to free. It is the voices of those left out who call us to widen our tents and tables.

In asking for justice and equality, people express their dignity as human beings made in God’s image and likeness. They give voice to God’s purpose for us all — wholeness, a community of love on earth that mirrors the divine community of love that is God.

What boundaries among people exist in your neighborhood or parish? With whom might you build a bridge from isolation to participation in economic life, parish life, or family life?

Ash Wednesday Prayer

Ash Wednesday is next week, February 17. We have prepared an Ash Wednesday prayer service for those of you who cannot make it to church or who would like to celebrate with those in nursing homes, or with family and friends online.

If you have a little bit of palm from last Palm Sunday, burn it to make the ashes. Or write down a way you wish to grow during Lent and then burn that paper to create ashes.

Visit goodgroundpress.com for more resources to make Lent a blessed time for yourself and for those you love and serve.

We have Lent resources!

Check out our Lent Resources page at goodgroundpress.com for free downloads, prayers, retreats, and other Lenten activities that you, your family, and your parish can participate in.

Gospel Reflection for February 7, 2021 – 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Job 7.1-4,6-7; 1 Corinthians 9.1619,22-23; Mark 1.291.29-39

“Immediately after leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. They told him about her at once. Jesus came, took her by the hand, and lifted her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.” – Mark 1.29-31

On the first Sabbath of Jesus’ public ministry, he goes to the Capernaum synagogue with Peter, Andrew, James, and John; he preaches and frees a disruptive man of an unclean spirit. Then Jesus and these new disciples go to Peter’s house, where he heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Sick and possessed people crowd Jesus’ door that evening; he heals and frees them. Early the next morning Jesus goes out to pray. When the disciples search him out, Jesus announces they will go to other villages and do the same healing and freeing work — this is why he has come.

As women have studied scripture, we see in Peter’s mother-in-law Jesus’ first woman disciples. She has no name but Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell her story. Two verbs lift and serve make this two-verse miracle story also her call to discipleship and response.

The translation Catholics hear at worship translates her story: “Jesus approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her, and she waited on them” (Mark 1.31). The word the New American Bible translates helped is the Greek word egeiro, which means to raise up. This is the same word that Mark uses to describe Jesus’ own resurrection. Before his arrest, Jesus promises, “After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (14.28). The young man in the empty tomb tells the three women who come to anoint Jesus’ body, “He has been raised; he is not here” (16.6).

The word the New American Bible translates waited on them is diakonie, which means serve. The word deacon comes from the same word. In Mark’s gospel Jesus identifies the word serve with giving one’s life. He says of himself, “For the Son of Man also came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10.45).
 
Peter’s mother-in-law responds to Jesus’ act of raising her up by serving him. She becomes a disciple who gives herself to his mission. The women who witness Jesus’ crucifixion have three credentials that mark them as disciples; they have followed and served Jesus and come with him from Galilee (15.40-41).
 
What do you see at stake in recognizing women among Jesus’ disciples? Who models a discipleship of service that you try to follow in your life?

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?

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