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Gospel Reflection for April 23, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Easter

18 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 2.42-47; 1 Peter 1.3-9; John 20.19-31

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20.21-22

On the evening of the first Easter, Jesus’ followers lock themselves safely in their own company within their own walls. Most of us know a safe circle like this in which we all share the same values and express bewilderment at those different from us — the people who cook smelly food or accept same-sex marriage or love incense and Latin Mass. Many today have become the non-affiliated who stay in their own big chairs far from the rigidity and scandals of institutional religion.

The risen Jesus surprises the community of his friends who have gathered in fear and teeter between the fact Jesus is dead and the unsubstantiated news that he is risen. Jesus comes among them, breathes Spirit into them, and forgives them. He hands over to the community the work that God has sent him to do — to bring God’s love, forgiveness, and healing to people int he world. In John’s gospel, to believe is not only to share in the life Jesus receives from God but to be sent from God as Jesus was, to live in the world in the power if the same Spirit. The gift of love and forgiveness which Jesus gives his followers on the first Easter becomes their mission to others.

How do you continue the first disciples’ mission to love and forgive?

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Gospel Reflection for April 16, 2017, Easter Sunday

13 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4; John 20.1-9 (and John 20.10-18 to read Mary Magdalene’s part in the Easter story)

“Then the disciple who arrived first at the tomb went in, saw, and believed.” – John 20.9
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the lord.” – John 20.18

The Easter Sunday gospel ends with the beloved disciple’s model faith. He sees the empty tomb and believes. Neither on Easter Sunday nor the Second Sunday of Easter does the Church proclaim Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus risen. Without Mary Magdalene staying and grieving at the empty tomb, the Easter gospel presents only the mystery of the empty tomb but not the full revelation that Jesus is risen.

Significantly, Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in a garden, a setting that echoes the Genesis garden and suggests Easter is a new day of creation. First two angels and then a man she supposes to be the gardener ask Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping?” When the supposed gardener speaks her name, Mary Magdalene recognizes her teacher, risen and present. Jesus commissions her to tell the other disciples, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene becomes the apostle to the apostles as she returns to Jesus’ followers and announces, “I have seen the Lord.” She is the first preacher of the good news that Jesus is risen. She shares with them that we share Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus entrusts us as his brothers and sisters to his mission in the world.

Which disciple who goes to the empty tomb on Easter morning are you most like? Who responds as you would? The beloved disciple who sees the empty tomb and believes? Peter who goes back to the community of Jesus’ followers without saying anything? Mary Magdalene who stays at the tomb and grieves Jesus’ death, encounters Jesus risen, and then becomes the apostle of his good news to the others?

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Lent Retreat – Week 5

29 Mar

Join artist Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, and Sister Joan as they pray the gospel about the raising up of Lazarus. Visit our homepage at goodgroundpress.com and click on the Sunday gospel image there. Share this retreat with your parish by including our website in your church bulletin or by forwarding this email. This is the last part of our online Lent retreat.

Gospel Reflection for April 2, 2017, 5th Sunday of Lent

28 Mar

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 37.12-14; Romans 8.8-11; John 11.1-45

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” – John 11.25-27

Jesus grieves in Sunday’s gospel with three people he loves. His friends Martha and Mary believe Jesus could have saved their brother Lazarus, but he didn’t come in time. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus in a sense puts himself in his friend’s place. News of this sign incites religious officials to plot Jesus’ death (John 11.45-53).

Both Martha and Mary go out to talk with Jesus when he finally comes to their house after Lazarus has been dead three days. In John’s gospel it is Martha who makes the same key proclamation of faith the in the other three gospels Peter makes. “You are the Mesiah.”

None of us knows what lies beyond death. We have only our experience of God in our world and in our holy history. Henry Nouwen compares dying to the trust between trapeze artists. One lets go, trusting the other will catch him or her. Christians are companions in hope that the God who creates and sustains the world will raise us up. We are companions in hope that the new life Jesus promises will be ours. We live in promise, not certainty. We walk with Jesus, who did not sidestep death but gave himself in trust and human unknowing.

What funerals to you remember especially? For what reasons?

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Lent Retreat – Week 4

23 Mar

The fourth part of our Lent retreat features the man born blind and the one who healed him. Click here for the poster and Sister Joan’s reflection.

Gospel Reflection for March 26, 2017, 4th Sunday of Lent

22 Mar

Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 16.1, 6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5.8-14; John 9.1-41

“I do know one thing; I was blind, and now I can see.” – John 9.25

The man born blind becomes the talk of his neighborhood when suddenly he can see. His neighbors want to know how this happened. The man explains that a man named Jesus put mud on his eyes and told him to wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. He washed his eyes and can now see.

Jesus appears in this story only at the beginning and end. In between the man has to explain his new sight. His parents confirm the man was born blind but insist he must speak for himself.

“What do you have to say about Jesus?” the teachers ask. “He is a prophet,” the man tells them. The teachers insist that Jesus is a sinner because he has healed on the Sabbath. The man counters that unless Jesus came from God, he could not have done such a thing as given sight to a man born blind.

As the story ends, Jesus finds the man and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

“Tell me who has is, sir, so I can believe in him,” the man says, seeming not to recognize Jesus by sight. He was blind when they met.

“You have already seen him,” Jesus says, acknowledging the man born blind sees with faith, and introduces himself, “He is talking to you now.”

“I believe, Jesus,” the man says.

Who opened your eyes to see with faith in Jesus? What turning points do you remember in your faith journey?

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Lent Retreat – Week 3

16 Mar

This Lent artist Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, and Sister Joan are praying the Gospels in words and images. You can join them by going to our homepage, goodgroundpress.com, and clicking on the Sunday Gospel images there. This coming Sunday is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. Share this retreat with your parish by including our website in your church bulletin or by forwarding this email.

Gospel Reflection for March 19, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Lent

15 Mar

Photo via Flickr user Ashley Van Haeften

Scripture Readings: Exodus 17.3-7; Romans 5.1-2, 5-8; John 4.5-42

“Many Samaritans from that village believed in Jesus on the strength of the woman’s testimony.” – John 4.39

The Samaritan woman meets Jesus at Jacob’s well. He asks for a drink. In their conversation the woman from Samaria moves from misunderstanding to seeking living water, coming to believe the man from Nazareth is the messiah. She recognizes that although most Jews consider Samaritans heretics, Jesus comes in spirit and truth to include her people in his community. Like the fishermen who leave their nets to follow Jesus, she leaves the water jar that symbolizes her work and goes to tell her townspeople she has found the messiah and brings them to hear Jesus for themselves. Her witness can inspire our own.

Whose witness led you to believe in Jesus? Who believes on the strength of your witness?

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Gospel Reflection for January 15, 2017, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

11 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 49.3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1.1-3; John 1.29-34

“The one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘When you see the Spirit descend and rest on someone, it is he who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen for myself and have testified, ‘This is God’s chosen one.’” – John 1.33-34

What is the story in which we live? Who tells it? What motivates the characters and moves the plot—greed, lust, power? Do the perils for Earth and Earth’s people from climate change testify to human self-absorption? Is profit our only moral compass? Is the human story ultimately tragic?

Pope Francis insists that we Christians are resurrection people. New action and attitudes can arise. What is the story we personally live? To what values do we give witness day in and day out?

A woman I know recently took light rail home from the airport. A homeless man came walking slowly down the aisle. He was missing a shoe. While she watched, a woman wearing nursing scrubs sat down beside the homeless man. “I think my shoes will fit you,” she said and put the shoes on his feet.”

The man thanked her but she was in a hurry. “This is my stop,” she said and stepped off the train in her stocking feet at the Veterans Administration hospital, a stunning witness.

Who have you witnessed living Jesus’ story? What is the story you live?

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Gospel Reflection for May 22, 2016, Trinity Sunday

17 May

creationmandala-blue

Sunday Readings: Proverbs 8.22-31; Romans 5.1-5; John 16.12-15

“The Spirit will glorify me because the Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

(John 16.14)

Most Christians grasp as Creator and God as incarnate Son more easily than an image of God as Spirit and guide. We see the creator in parents and grandparents and as one who gives birth to all that is. We see in Jesus God become human, revealing as one of us what God is like.

The Spirit in whom we live, move, and have our being may elude us, until perhaps we lose a parent, grandparent, or friends and experience his or her spirit and voice arising within us. The Spirit is the love or relatedness between Creator, Son, and all that lives.

Jesus shows us God is triune, a community of loving interrelationships that is both one and many. In our human experience three is the beginning of the social threshold. Two people in I-Thous relationship make room for one more and one more to form families and communities. God’s love is always opening out to hold more in communion.

God is not only the Creator of old or the Savior of 2,000 years ago but the Spirit of our daily breath and the deepest present desires, conflicts, and challenges. The Spirit breathes in us today.

How do you experience the Spirit guiding you in your present life?

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