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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?


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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? 


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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?


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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?

Gospel Reflection for April 8, 2018, 2nd Sunday of Easter

5 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 4.32-35, 1 John 5.1-6, John 20.19-31

“Peace be with you. Thomas, take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe.” – John 20.26-27

The testimony of those who saw Jesus leaves Thomas unimpressed. He doubts as many people do today. He wants hands-on proof. When Jesus appears again, he invites Thomas to go ahead, “Poke away. If this is what it takes for you to believe, I’m at your disposal.” Thomas responds with a confession that soars above all others, “My Lord and my God.” How do we later generations come to faith, we who are unable to touch the nail holes in Jesus’ hands or the wound in his side?

God is available in the Word. The Word has become flesh not only in the person of Jesus but in the story about him and the words spoken in his name. Sunday’s gospel concludes by expressing the reason for the writing of the gospel stories. “These have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name” (John 20.31).

The God who creates is the God who comes among us in Jesus to save, heal, forgive, and make whole. Jesus continues to live among us in the gospel story, which calls us to hear and believe what we can no longer see and believe.

When have you questioned as Thomas did? Where did your questioning lead?


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Gospel Reflection for March 18, 2018, 5th Sunday of Lent

12 Mar

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34, Hebrews 5.7-9, John 12.20-33

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.”  – John 12.24

The grain of wheat metaphor in John’s gospel uses the transforming process we call growth to help us understand all Jesus’ death and resurrection promises us. In the growth process, warmth and moisture swell a seed poked down in the soil until the life secreted within it bursts its hull. Actually, the seeds doesn’t fall into the earth and die but rather germinates. It swells with more life than the seed can hold. A new sprout pushes above ground into sunlight at the same time roots spread out underground in search of nourishment. With rain and sun, a grain of wheat grows a stalk that heads out with a hundredfold new seeds. The short life cycle of seeds dramatizes all that happens in the human life cycle, but the planting that we do in loving our children, teaching our students, being faithful in our relationships takes years to flourish.

The hour of Jesus’ death is a dynamic process, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit hundredfold like the wheat. At the heart of Christian faith is Jesus’ life-giving resurrection from his self-giving death. Jesus challenges us to follow his self-giving way, to love and serve one another and in doing so lifting others up.

What seeds of hope are you planting with your life?


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Gospel Reflection for March 11, 2018, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Mar

Sunday Readings: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21

“God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but so the world might be saved through him.” – John 3.17

Jesus’ mission is not to condemn the world but to save it. He calls us who believe in him to do like wise. Like Nicodemus to whom Jesus is talking in Sunday’s gospel, we find this hard to understand. We are accustomed to the harsh realities of our world, such as terrorism, war, collateral damage, market forces, corporate downsizing, torture, ethnic cleansing. We take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow humans with disinterest and bad-news fatigue. Like Nicodemus, who later helps take Jesus down from the cross, we by the grace of God can come to the foot of the cross to stand in the light of the one like us who is lifted up. We can begin to see God’s kingdom in our midst and live the new life Jesus brings. We can do our part to take broken and suffering human begins off their crosses.


How do you respond to others pain and suffering? Whom does God send us to love?


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Gospel Reflection for March 4, 2018, 3rd Sunday for Lent

28 Feb

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

“Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” – John 2.6

Jesus seeks to reclaim the temple as a place of prayer rather than commerce. His short explanation is a great Tweet: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disruptive actions of dumping out money and overturning tables would become breaking news online today.

Similarly Pope Francis has made direct, quotable statements about repairing Earth, which he reverences as God’s creation and our sacred home. He urges us to stop pollution and our wasteful ways. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he says (#21). “Earth is a shared inheritance. God created the world for everybody” (#93).

Jesus’ actions to cleanse the temple calls us to clean our houses this Lent and to examine our hearts. Our fast-paced, productive lives can erode our relationships with God and make us feel like cogs in the wheels of commerce rather than friends of God and one another. Lent calls us to assess what we consume and what consumes us.

What housecleaning do you need to do in your life? How can you change to help clean up our common home, the Earth?


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Gospel Reflection for January 14, 2018, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

10 Jan

Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 3.3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6.13-15, 17-20; John 1.35-42

“Come and see.” – John 1.29

“Come and see,” Jesus says when Andrew wants to learn 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.

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 that we live. We can also take the world for granted and consider it ours, not God’s gift

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 very bump. People are up for the day, interconnecting, using their life energies to do their part in a whole. I want to join in.

Where am I finding God in the ups and downs of being alive?


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Gospel Reflection for December 17, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Advent

12 Dec

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 61.1-2,10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24; John 1.6-8, 19-28

“A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” – John 1.6-7

John’s gospel begins with 18 verses about the preexistent Word who becomes flesh in Jesus. These verses include the three about John the Baptist that begins Sunday’s gospel. The Baptist is a man sent from God to witness to the light. His witness has the same purpose as the whole gospel—that all might believe in Jesus through him.

The Baptist is first of all a witness to the existence we may take for granted, the light that rises with the sun each morning, the air we breathe. To testify to the light is to raise people’s consciousness that the life and light in which we live reveals God and is God’s gift.

Like the people of Israel during their sojourn in the wilderness, the Baptist must have learned God’s nearness in the silence and solitude of the wilderness where he lives. His preaching opens people’s hearts to God’s presence in Jesus, in whom Wisdom, the Word, has come into the world and become one of us.

How do you witness to the gift in your existence in this Advent season?


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