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Gospel Reflection for April 14, 2019, Passion/Palm Sunday

11 Apr

Sunday Readings: Luke 19.28-40; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Luke 22.14-23.56

Second criminal: “We are only paying this price for what we have done. This man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you enter into your reign.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23.41-44

The liturgies of Holy Week give worshipers parts to act out: processing with palms, footwashing on Holy Thursday, venerating the cross on Good Friday, following the newly lit Easter candle into the dark church on Holy Saturday. We walk with Jesus to his cross and follow the women to the empty tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. This is the week to go to church and rediscover who Jesus is, stir our dead roots, and revive our commitment to mission in the world.

Luke’s passion account emphasizes Jesus’ innocence. Pilate finds no evidence of a crime. The criminal to whom Jesus talks on the cross testifies to Jesus’ innocence. “This man has done nothing wrong.” At his death the centurion at the foot of the cross expresses Luke’s view, “Surely this man was innocent.”

Innocence is a powerful agent of change. The cries of children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexican border has awakened citizens to the immigration issues more than the plight of adults. Turning the fire hoses on children in Montgomery had the same power during the struggle for Civil Rights for African Americans. The violence we so readily justify toward one another we cannot justify doing to children.

How does violence against the innocent affect you? Imagine yourself as one of Jesus’ acquaintances or one of the women disciples who accompanied Jesus from Galilee and stands at a distance watching him crucified. What do you feel and think?


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Gospel Reflection for April 7, 2019, 5th Sunday of Lent

3 Apr

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 43.16-21; Philippians 3.8-14; John 8.1-11

“Woman, where are they all? Has no one condemned you?” – John 8.10

A group of men who oppose Jesus catch a woman in the act of adultery and bring her to Jesus to set a trap. The Romans don’t allow Jews to administer the death penalty. Both Jesus and his opponents know this and know that the Mosaic law prescribes stoning a married woman guilty of adultery (Deut. 22.23-24). Actually the law calls to stoning both a man and woman caught in adultery. Where did the man she was with go?

The woman seems the obvious sinner as the gospel begins. But Jesus’ opponents are using the woman and making her an object of public spectacle and shame. Jesus famously writes in the dirt as the accusers speak and then says, “Let the sinless one among you cast the first stone.” According to the law, a witness to a crime must throw the first stone and take responsibility for a sinner’s death. In fact, the law requires two witnesses. The accusers drift away, acknowledging their sinfulness and complicity in shaming the woman.

By standing with the woman, Jesus counters those who make her a spectacle. But what about the crowd that has gathered? How will the woman find belonging in the community again? Can she go back to her husband? Her children? What will neighbors say?

How do you treat people you must forgive? How have you been treated when you needed forgiveness?


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

Host A Passover Meal!

28 Mar

The meal Jesus shares with his disciples the night before he dies celebrates Passover, a feast remembering Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt and journey to freedom in the Promised Land. In the Christian tradition the Holy Thursday Eucharist we share celebrates Jesus’ gift of himself to us and his model of service in washing his friends’ feet.

Make this Holy Week and Easter special by hosting a Freedom Supper based on the Passover story for your family, your neighbors, perhaps the whole parish. It is easy to prepare. Just click here for instructions and a simple script.

Check out our Lent resources page for more activities that you, your family, friends, and parish can participate in.


 

Visit goodgroundpress.com for daily prayers, reflections, and spiritual resources.

Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2019, 3rd Sunday of Lent

21 Mar

Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2019, 3rd Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: Exodus 3.1-8, 13-15; 1 Corinthians 10.1-6,10-12; Luke 13.1-9

Jesus spoke a parable. A man had a fig tree, came looking for figs, but found none. He said to the gardener, “For three years I have come looking for figs and found none. Cut it down. . .” The gardener said, “Sir, leave it one more year while I hoe around it and manure it.  Perhaps then it will bear figs.” – Luke 13.7-8

How do we see ourselves in Jesus’ parable? What to do with a tree that bears no fruit? Who likes to cut down a tree? If we think of the gardener as God, then God is nurturing, caring more about another chance to bear fruit than cutting it down. If we think of the tree as ourselves or our children, who doesn’t need or won’t give another chance to grow? A fourth, a fifth?

In the Old Testament steadfast, generative love is God’s signature characteristic. Sunday’s responsorial psalm provides one of the most famous descriptions of God: “Merciful and gracious is the Holy One, slow to anger and abounding in kindness” (103.8).

Our daily interactions cultivate conversion. Like the gardener we nourish and encourage one another. Listening to others can cultivate the fruit of compassion or courage or insight. Other believers can freshen our commitments.

In what ways are you like the owner of the fig tree? In what ways like the gardener? What or whom will you give one more chance to bear fruit? What special care with this require?


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

What’s more Catholic than fish dinners?

21 Mar

Did you know the fish is an ancient Christian symbol? The word for fish in Greek is ichtus, pronounced ick-toose. The word fish in Greek letters look like:

The first Christians, who were sometimes persecuted for their faith in Jesus, made an acrostic out of this word. In an acrostic, each letter is the first letter of a word.

I        Jesus
CH     Christ
TH     God’s (the Greek word is Theos)
U       Son
S       Savior

When Christians wanted to show someone else they followed Jesus, they might draw a fish symbol on paper or on the ground. The fish meant the person drawing it believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.

So patronize your local fish dinner this Friday. Bring a neighbor or carry fish back to a shut-in person. Do it in the name of Jesus.

Feed Your Spirit This Week

Choose an activity each day to keep Lent alive.

PLANT
• Work in your yard.  Meet and visit with neighbors.
• Plant a tomato in a large pot. Put it in a sunny spot and wait for your first BLT.

SIMPLIFY
• Organize a storage area.
• Turn off the TV for the whole evening.

PRAY
• Thank God for spring. Make a litany of life, using each letter of the alphabet.
• Pray for Pope Francis and the future of the Church.

READ
• The gospels for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent are all on forgiveness and second chances. Read them at goodgroundpress.com.
• Read a Gospel Reflection for March 24.

FAMILY and FRIENDS
• Tell a family member five lovable things about him or her.
• Let go of a grudge you have held on to long enough.

PARTICIPATE
• Go to a fish dinner.
• Contribute to a food shelf at church or in your neighborhood.

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

19 Mar

When Joseph didn’t know what to do about his pregnant fiancée, he slept on it. In his dreams, an angel eased his doubt and gave him courage to act. Pray to Joseph today to fill your heart with hope and with the willingness to see God at work where you never imagined.

 Joseph is patron of the Universal Church. Ask him to bless Pope Francis’s efforts to dream a more merciful church into being. The Sisters of St. Joseph share one of their favorite prayers below.

Joseph most ordinary, on this your feast,

help us listen to our dreams with compassion and openness as you did.
Help us stretch, hold, and deepen our relationships.
Open our embrace of the future as you opened
your arms to a child not your own.

In these hard times may we, like you, dream compassionately,
provide wisely, and build community that can hold us together.
We ask this through Jesus, whom you claimed and named. Amen.


Visit our website—goodgroundpress.com—for Lenten reflections and activities.

Gospel Reflection for March 17, 2019, 2nd Sunday of Lent

15 Mar

Sunday Readings: Genesis 15.5-12,17-18; Philippians 317-4.1; Luke 9.28-36

“Suddenly two men were talking with Jesus–Moses and Elijah. Appearing in glory, they spoke of his exodus, which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.” – Luke 9.30-31

Jesus’ prayer on the mount of transfiguration is a turning point in his ministry. A few verses later he “sets his face for Jerusalem” (Luke 9.51). The transfiguration gospel calls us to set our sights toward Easter, to enter more deeply the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which transforms us still. Luke calls us to prayer–to take time as Jesus does in his 40 days in the wilderness to hear and integrate the Spirit’s urging into his life.

The transfiguration connects Jesus with the two prophets in Israel’s history who have interacted most intimately with God–Moses and Elijah. Like the lawgiver Moses, who led an exodus from slavery to freedom, Jesus leads an exodus from death to new life. Like the prophet Elijah, Jesus will confront the officials of temple and empire after his prayer in the silent stillness of a mountaintop.

Who like Moses and Elijah are holy people who help you envision your call into the future?


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

Two Books For Lent!

14 Mar

This Lent we read from Luke’s Gospel with his stories of forgiveness, compassion, and second chances. Sister Joan’s new book is ideal for faith-sharing groups, Bible study, RCIA, homilists, and anyone who wants to understand scripture better. Only $10!

Order online at goodgroundpress.com or call us at 800-232-5533.


Sister Joan and Sister Ansgar have collaborated for a second time on Gospel women. In both his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells women’s stories — Mary and Martha, the widow of Nain, Mary Magdalene, Phoebe and Priscilla. You will meet them and more in word and illustration and prayer.

Book available in April, 2019. Click here to pre-order your copy of Holy Women of Luke’s Gospel today.

Softcover, 88 pages. 1-9 copies, $8; 10-99, $7; 100+, $5.50.

Ash Wednesday

6 Mar

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

“So let us be marked not for sorrow.
And let us be marked not for shame.
Let us be marked not for false humility

or for thinking we are less than we are
but for claiming what God can do
within the dust, within the dirt,
within the stuff of which the world is made,

and the stars that blaze in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral inside the smudge we bear.”

Jan Richardson from Blessing the Dust

Happy Mardi Gras!

5 Mar

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday. In years past people didn’t eat meat for all of Lent, so this was their last chance to fry pancakes in bacon fat. We have gone beyond that small feast to all-out parties and carnivals.

Margaret Murray, CSJ, from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Los Angeles province, gives us thoughts on feasting and fasting to take into Lent. May they be a blessing to you.


 

This Lent we read from Luke’s Gospel with his stories of forgiveness, compassion, and second chances. Sister Joan’s new book is ideal for faith-sharing groups, Bible study, RCIA, homilists, and anyone who wants to understand scripture better. Only $10!

Order online at goodgroundpress.com or call us at 800-232-5533.

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