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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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Gospel Reflection for May 15, 2016, Pentecost

10 May
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

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

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

(John 20.21)

Pentecost is an event not only about the miracle of fiery tongues for Jesus’ disciples. It is also the miracle of the ear for all those from around the Mediterranean hearing the new message about Jesus, messiah and Lord. We may feel insignificant and powerless like the disciples, a minority among their people. We may be new immigrants trying to learn English, expecting not to understand or be understood. Or, we may be powerful leaders and authoritative persons in our community and church.

Today Christ breathes on each one of us in baptism, powerful and powerless, and sends us forth into the world. If we stand among the powerful, today is a day to listen to those too little heard. If we are among those who have little power, today is a day to speak out and act. The miracle of the ear for the powerful works together with the miracle of the tongue for the powerless. Both miracles are essential to make the Pentecost experience complete. The Pentecost interaction is one we badly need in our polarized nation.

What difference does it make to think of the coming of the Holy Spirit as a miracle of both tongue and ear?

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Gospel Reflection for May 1, 2016, 6th Sunday of Easter

26 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 15.1-2,22-29; Revelation 21.10-14; John 14.23-29

 “Those who love me will keep my word and my Father will love them. To them we will come and make our home.”

(John 14.23)

Sunday’s gospel tell us that when people live like Jesus, they discover Jesus and his Father within them. We learn and relearn Jesus’ message from living it. Jesus comes as a friend, an equal who does not exempt himself from the conditions of human life but lives them to the end, facing death on the cross at the hands of empire.

Where does Jesus live after his death and resurrection? Wherever his friends lay down their lives for one another as he did on the cross. Wherever they serve one another humbly as he did rather than lord or lady over other like earthly leaders. Where his friends love one another, they reveal God as Jesus does. They continue his work in the world.

When have you learned Jesus’ message from living it?

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Gospel Reflection for April 24, 2016, 5th Sunday of Easter

19 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 14.21-27; Revelation 21.1-5; John 13.31-32, 34-35

Jesus speaks to his disciples at the last supper after Judas leaves. “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you should love one another. In this way all will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.”

(John 1.34-35)

Love lived faithfully and sustained over time translates into actions. Love is a verb. Cook, clean, wash clothes, plan, shop, pay bills, fix. Like the bass drum in a marching band these actions set the pace and rhythm of our days. Hard won achievements become cymbal crashes. Acts of kindness and gratitude lift our hearts like babbling flutes.

As in Jesus’ life, our lives sometimes ask more, even everything we can give. A sick child, a sick parent, mental illness, trips to the doctor, worry, fatigue. Our lives lived long also ask in the end all we have to give.

Jesus stakes his claim with us in our capacity to love one another. In each act we transcend our individual selves and free the power that heals and gives life, that holds families and friends together, that inspires service of country and church, that draws neighbors into communities.

Whose love inspires your own?

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Gospel Reflection for April 17, 2016, 4th Sunday of Easter

13 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 13.14, 43-52; Revelation 7.9, 14-17; John 10.27-30

“The Father and I are one.”

(John 10.30)

In chapter 10, John gospel makes an extended comparison between Jesus and shepherds who pasture, protect, and water their flocks and by night sleep in the opening of the sheepfold and become its gate. Sunday’s short gospel passage comes about three quarters of the way through this good shepherd chapter. The words speak promise and comfort as a Sunday reading or a funeral reading. Jesus knows us, his followers; we know him. No one can snatch us from Jesus’ hand or his Father’s hand. In the context of the whole chapter, Jesus’ statement, “The Father and I are one,” causes his listeners to reach for rocks to stone Jesus for blasphemy, for making himself one with and equal to God. In John’s gospel Jesus is from above; he preexists with the father. In chapter 10 near the end Jesus counters, “If I do the works of God, put faith in them (10.38).” Faith in Jesus and his works is faith in God.

What insights into our relationship with God as believers do you find in the imagery of the good shepherd?

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Gospel Reflection for April 10, 2016, 3rd Sunday of Easter

7 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Sunday Readings: Acts 5.27-32, 40-41; Revelation 5.11-14; John 21.1-19

“Peter felt hurt because Jesus said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'”

(John 21.19)

Peter and several of Jesus’ disciples make a big catch of fish by following Jesus’ directions to cast their nets to the starboard side. After the catch and breakfast together, the risen Jesus takes Peter aside to untangle their relationship. Jesus begins the conversation by asking if Peter loves him more than the other disciples. As a response to Peter’s threefold protestations of his love, Jesus gives him three commands: Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. This pastoral work will season Peter. He will show his love by nourishing and caring for Jesus’ followers, by taking responsibility for the well-being of the community. His duty is to keep sheep in the love that Jesus taught them, the love Jesus demonstrated in laying down his life for the flock. He is to feed, tend, and love the community, not lord it over the flock.

With whom do you need to have a reconciling, untangling conversation?

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