Archive | John RSS feed for this section

Gospel Reflection for November 25, 2018, Feast of Christ the King

20 Nov

Sunday Readings: Daniel 7.13-14, Revelation 1.5-8, John 18.33-37

Pilate said to Jesus, “So then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “It is you what say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth.” – John 18.36-37

In his exchange with Pilate, Jesus asks the procurator to make a judgment. Their dialogue about whether Jesus is a king invites Pilate to see and understand who Jesus is. But Pilate cannot step outside the values of the Roman Empire any more easily than we can recognize the ways our culture obscures the truth. It is not truth that governs his decision but political calculations. Similarly we live in a society that hammers us with media sound bytes that may not be true in context and often promote fear to sell advertising.

To follow Jesus we must testify to the truth within us, in the gospels, and in our Catholic social justice tradition that recognizes the sacredness of every person. As Christians we can’t help but see Jesus in the least and can’t dodge the work of including the least in our care.

How are you like Pilate? What truths do you hold self-evident? 


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 August 26, 2018, 21st Sunday Ordinary Time

23 Aug

Sunday Readings: Joshua 24.1-2, 15-17, 18; Ephesians 5.21-32; john 6.60-69

“The words I have spoken are spirit and life. But there are some among you who do not believe,” Jesus says. Many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said the the twelve: “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

In John’s gospel the multiplication of the loaves and fish sets off a long reflection on bread and wine as the signs of Jesus’ presence with us. Those who believe Jesus comes from God and is the living bread from heaven participate in this sacrament of his love. The reflection draws an increasingly sharp line between believers and unbelievers over the course of the 71 verses in the chapter. John wrote in the midst of contentious relationships between Jews who follow Jesus and those who follow others rabbis and eventually split into two great world religions.

Jesus does not offer ordinary bread and wine, but rather the transforming experience of entering into new life with him. Can we imagine ourselves standing in the company of the disciples trying to comprehend the mystery of this bread and wine and Jesus’ continuing presence in these signs of eating and drinking. “Do you want to leave?” Jesus asks. We live in the dynamic tension between that question and our new lives. We know how Peter answers. How do we answer?

How does participating in eucharist help transform your life?


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 August 18, 2018, 20th Sunday Ordinary Time

16 Aug

Scripture Readings: Proverbs 9.1-6; Ephesians 5.15-20; John 6.56-57

“Those who eat this bread and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6.58

Sometimes people speak of food and drinks as if they have a relationship. I just love peanuts. Or, I like pizza but it doesn’t like me. What if there really is a food that is a sign of a real relationship? Jesus makes bread a sign of himself and his self-giving actions, so eating the bread means having faith in him. Sharing the bread summons all who eat it  into relationship with all who believe, the whole body of Christ. It calls us into holy communion with one another. Eucharist is never solitary, me and Jesus. The bread is broken and shared; it is about solidarity.

How does joining in Eucharist give you life?


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.

Gospel Reflection for August 12, 2018, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Aug

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 19. 4-8; Ephesians 4.30-5.2, John 6.41-51

“The Jews began to murmur about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”  – John 6.41

Within the crowd following Jesus is a group whom the gospel writer calls “the Jews.” They murmur. They question how Jesus can be from heaven when they know his origins on earth. The conversation between Jesus and “the Jews” reflects the sharpening difference between the community of Christian Jews for whom John writes in the A.D. 90s and the Jews who follow other rabbis, faith to the law God gave Moses. Jesus and his followers are all Jews. The differences between between Jesus’ followers and other Jews develops after the temple is destroyed. Without temple worship to hold them together, the two groups grow into two separate world religions, Judaism and Christianity.

Jesus’ claims raise a question. Is God’s revelation only in the law of Moses and the God who supplied Israel quail and manna in the wilderness, or is God’s revelation in their midst in Jesus, the living bread?

None of the subgroups in the crowd respond well in John’s account of the loaves and fishes and what it points to about Jesus. Jesus’ disciples doubt their resources to feed 5,000. The crowd wants to make Jesus king like a pork-barrel hero but wants another sign of who he is the next day. Jesus’ claim to be the real bread of life from God is unbelievable to “the Jews.”

Where do you best fit — among the doubting disciples, the fair-weather crowd, or the Jews faithful to Moses’ law and the past?


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 August 5, 2018, 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Aug

Scripture Readings: Exodus 16.2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4.17,20-24; John 6.24-35

“What must we do to perform the works of God?” – John 6.28

Jesus interests the crowd that he fed the day before in working for the food that endures for eternal life. Eternal life is the lure. That is why they ask, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Believe in the one whom God has sent is Jesus’ answer. The abundant bread proved no sacrament to them. They fail to catch on that it points to who Jesus is. They fail to see that Jesus’ teaching, healing, loving presence is the sign of God among them. The crowd wants another sign if they are to believe Jesus is from God. They are hungry for more than food?

For what do I hunger? Of what do I want more of? In a budding friendship each person wants to discover who the other is, what he or she is about, what and who is important in the other’s life? We yearn to know one another more deeply. A new book entices us to join a book club. An encounter with a neighbor leads to a joint gardening project. You try volunteering and find a whole new purpose. Faith may become a hunger that leads to a prayer group or to bible study. A hunger for justice may lead us to work for legislative action.

Who do you feed in your daily life and work? For what do you hunger?


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 July 29, 2018, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Jul

Gospel Reflection for July 29, 2018, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: 2 Kings 4.42-44; Ephesians 4.1-6; John 6.1-15

Jesus saw a large crowd coming toward him and said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat? He said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here with five barley loaves and three fish. But what are they among so many?”  – John 6.5-9

In John’s gospel healing and feeding are called signs rather than miracles. A sign points to more than is visible. For the next several Sundays the Church reads from John gospel, chapter 6, which points to Jesus as the living bread and invites us to reflect on our eucharistic faith.

John’s theology riffs off the story of Jesus feeding a multitude with five barley loaves and two fish and having 12 baskets full of leftovers for those of us down the centuries and around the world who didn’t make the original feeding. To begin, Jesus’ disciples hit the wall about providing for such a crowd. The real crisis is about more than food. The real crisis lies in the disciples’ own resources and lack of imagination. Philip prices out the cost. Today he might be saying, “There aren’t enough priests, so we can no longer have the bread of life for everyone who is hungry.” Andrew finds resources but they’re meager. He reports a count, too. The boy who isn’t in a box gives what he has and it proves enough. Quite amazing.

To what does the sign point? What resources do the people of God have to nourish us today?


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 May 20, 2018, Pentecost Sunday

18 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13; John 20.19-23

Jesus came and stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” They rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I sent you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20.19-22

Breathing is Jesus’ sign of the Spirit’s power in us–invisible but life-essential air, moving into our lungs, heart, and blood, animating every cell of our bodies, coextensive with being alive. The Holy Spirit is a transforming gift in us.

The Spirit calls us always toward peace, unity, and new life. Where bitterness, grudges, greed, pride, estrangement, addiction put up walls, freeze people out, fray family and friendship bonds, there the Spirit unsettles us, looking to mend.

The Spirit thaws the frozen, bends the stubborn, shakes the arrogant. The giver of life empowers us to be life givers in our relationships and continuously renew the face of the earth.

What is a peacemaking action you no longer want to put off?


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 May 6, 2018, 6th Sunday of Easter

2 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 10.25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4.7-10; John 15.9-17

“The command I give you is this: that you love one another.” – John 15.17

“You are my friends if you do what I command you,” Jesus says. Do is an active verb. Jesus isn’t talking about having friends, but about being a friend.”  Being a friend means laying down one’s life for each other. Liberation theologians have a term for laying down one’s life–acompañar. It means accompanying each other, entering into the life circumstances of one’s community. It recognizes we all share a common human condition. Friendship is the most inclusive way we love. It stretches us beyond our intimate relationships into wider circles.

Minimally, love challenges us to tolerate one another. More fully, love challenges us to talk to one another and learn from each other’s experience. Most fully, love challenges us to encounter one another and open our minds and hearts to experience and faith beyond our own.

The good thing is that we have a life time to learn this love and lots of chances a day to choose it. Conversation lies in wait in every human encounter.

Whose friendship is life-giving for you? 


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 April 29, 2018, 5th Sunday of Easter

26 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 9.26-31, 1 John 3.18-24, John 15.1-8

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” – John 15.4

Jesus’ words live in us and keep working in us to transform us. They have a continuing cleansing and converting effect. Today these gospel words call us to bear fruit in a world that is global and cosmic. The Second Vatican Council challenges us to make our own the joys and anxieties, the grief and anguish, of the poor and afflicted. This is a call to solidarity, to respond to the people of Earth as a common family. It is also an abiding ethical challenge in our market-driven society that measures success in wealth, not relationships.

We are all artisans of the common good. How we drive helps set the tone of a neighborhood. Our welcoming attitudes help immigrants resettle. Our roots in Jesus’ life and love empower us to branch out and bear fruit where we live: to call others to faith in Jesus, to serve our families and communities, to make the small differences that build the common good.

What words of Jesus unsettle you and push at you to put them into action?


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 April 22, 2018, 4th Sunday of Easter

19 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.8-12, 1 John 3.1-2, John 10.11-18

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10.14-15

The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is beloved among Christians, one we return to each year in the Sunday gospel of Easter. Shepherds know their sheep and sheep recognize their shepherds’ voices. Shepherds lead their flocks in and out of sheepfolds by calling them. Sheep will not follow another shepherd’s voice.

For early Christians and for us, the shepherd images expresses closeness and intimacy with Jesus. The verses in Sunday’s gospel emphasize the wholehearted love Jesus demonstrates in loving us unto death. Three times the short gospel passage repeats what makes a shepherd good–willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep.

Who knows your voice? Whose voice do you know and hear? Who do you shepherd? For whom are you laying down your life?

%d bloggers like this: