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Gospel Reflection for April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday

18 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 10.34,37-43; Colossians 3.1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5.6-8; John 20.1-9 (10-18)

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and she told them he had said these things to her. “ – John 20.16-18

Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection to new life. This is the core of Christians faith: that God raised Jesus, who was crucified, from the dead. His resurrection promises that we who believe in him will be raised up to new life with God as he has been. He is the firstborn of a new humanity.

Jesus reveals that God’s power lies not in magic or military might but in love. Love is the power that gives life. Self-giving actions such as forgiving, sharing and welcoming strangers take us beyond the boundaries of ourselves and open us to God’s presence and power among us. The power of these actions in our lives and the lives of others gives us the same hint as spring does that we have the Spirit at work in us, more power than our own for building human community.

What do you see in the empty tomb? What do you hear in Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus that affirms your faith?

Sunday’s Gospel Story

4 Apr

The Gospels for this Lent are some of Jesus’ best-known stories and parables. Sunday by Sunday encourages you to see these old stories afresh. One way to see anew is to re-title the story. Try it out.

  • On Sunday, March 24, we heard the story of the barren fig tree whose owner wanted to cut it down. What if instead we called that gospel passage the story of the optimistic gardener?
  • Last Sunday we had the parable of the prodigal son. What if we named it the parable of the forgiving father or the story of a family who forgives and needs forgiveness?

This Sunday tells about the Women Taken in Adultery. We have printed it here and left the title space blank. What other titles for this story can you offer? Let us know by responding to this post or emailing Sister Joan directly at sisterjoan@goodgroundpress.com.

Blessings on your week as we head into Palm Sunday and Holy Week. 

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?


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Cycle A Gospels for Lent

31 Jan

Is your parish is proclaiming the Cycle A Gospels at Eucharist for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent? The Sunday by Sunday issues around these three Gospels from John are available at goodgroundpress.com. You may download them and print as many as you need.

Check out our other Lent resources for you, your family, and your parish!

Gospel Reflection for January 20, 2019, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

18 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 62.1-5; 1 Corinthians 12.4-11; John 2.1-11

“You have kept the choice wine until now.” – John 2.10

In John’s gospel Jesus works his first sign at a wedding. Jesus, his new disciples, and his mother are there. The feast hints at a marriage other than the one the guests are celebrating. Turning six big water jars (20 gallons each) into wine provides 120 gallons of wine at a wedding feast that must be nearly over if the guests have drunk up the available wine. Jesus provides wine enough for celebrating the messiah’s relationship with his new community that continues in every Eucharist. The marriage feast that most concerns John is the lasting and intimate relationship of faith between the risen Jesus and his disciples down the centuries. The abundant wine is for the community that continues to gather in his name.

What do you appreciate about a wedding feast as an image of Christian community?


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 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?


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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.

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