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Gospel Reflection for June 17, 2018, 11th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Jun

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 17.22-24; 2 Corinthians 5.6-10; Mark 4.26-34

“This is how it is with the reign of God. A farmer scatters seed on the ground, goes to bed, and gets up day after day. Through it all the seeds sprouts and grows without the farmer knowing how it happens.” – Mark 4.26-37

A farmer in Jesus’ time and all of us who grow plants today inherit the leap from ocean to land that early cellular life made. We can ready the field, sow the seed, and sleep awhile. It’s organic. Seeds have it in their DNA how to grow and mature with rain and sun. We live in a dynamic, evolving world in which all that is has the capacity to become more, to self-organize into new wholes. We humans live and thrive in relationship with others–in mutual, reciprocal love for family, friends, neighbors. Who do we count as neighbors, we Christians who embrace the moral challenge to do unto others what we do for ourselves–to act like one human family?

I am feeling shame these days that the law of our land requires splitting up parents and children at the Mexican border. Kids are crying there and all over the country where deportation is happening. Who has a stomach for cruelty to little kids? One can go bed and let the consequences play out while we sleep. Yet who of us like these children’s parents does not want safety, education, and a good life for their children? That’s what I want for my family. That’s what the kin*dom of God is like.

What’s in our Christian DNA? What can each of us do today to make caring the hallmark of our civil society?


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The Gospel of Mark At Your Fingertips

7 Jun

If you are a Sunday by Sunday subscriber, you will notice we start reading from Mark’s Gospel again this coming Sunday. You can enhance your understanding of how the weekly excerpts we hear at Sunday Eucharist fit into the overall themes of Mark with Sister Joan’s easy-to-read book.

The 11 short chapters of Sister Joan’s book make it ideal for Bible study groups or for individuals. The emphasis on Mark’s uniqueness among the four Gospel writers are helpful for homilists.

And the price is right — only $10.00. Click here to read the Table of Contents and a sample chapter. Order at goodgroundpress.com or call 800-232-5533.

Gospel Reflection for June 10, 2018, 10th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Jun

Sunday Readings: Genesis 3.9-15; 2 Corinthians 4.13-5.1; Mark 3.20-35

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, and mother.”  – Mark 3.35

Jesus is the talk of Galilee in the early chapters of Mark’s gospel. Only Mark tells this story in which enthusiastic crowds make neighbors his family question Jesus’ sanity. What makes neighbors think Jesus is out of his mind? He is saying the kingdom of God is near, casting out demons, healing the sick, and eating with sinners and tax collectors who don’t keep the religious laws.

Scribes from Jerusalem question by whose power Jesus preaches and heals? Jesus argues that it can’t be Satan freeing people from their demons, their destructive drives. The freedom and healing Jesus bring among the people manifest the Spirit of God drives him. To not see the Spirit in Jesus nor find the Spirit at work in ourselves is to refuse God’s love and God’s gift of our very selves and our lives. It’s a dead end beyond forgiveness. Whereas whoever has faith in God is family to Jesus.

What do Jesus’ words and actions reveal about who God is?


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Gospel Reflection for June 3, 2018, Body and Blood of Christ

1 Jun

Scripture Readings: Exodus 24.3-8; Hebrews 9.11-15; Mark 14.12-16, 22-26

While Jesus and his disciples were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “Take this; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be poured out for many.” – Mark 14.22-23

At his last supper with his company of disciples, Jesus makes  bread, broken and given, a sign of his body–of himself. Through this sign his life nourishes ours. This sign call us to turn into bread for others, to become what the sign signifies. Jesus makes wine poured out in a common cup a sign of his life blood and of a new covenant between God and humankind. The cup of wine he blesses anticipates the cup of suffering he drinks in his passion. When we eat this bread and drink this cup we pledge to nourish others with our love and pour out ourselves in love for one another.

How do you keep the pledge that sharing Jesus’ cup expresses? 


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Gospel Reflection for May 13, 2018, Ascension

7 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11;Ephesians 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”  – John 16.15

“Why do you stand looking into the heaven?”  – Acts 1.11

Up is where God is in the ancient world. Up still represents the top rung. The ladder of success goes up. The view of Earth from space, however, has forced us to revise our images of the heavens as God’s home and throne.

When I visited the site of Jesus’ ascension in Israel, the guide pointed out a rock with two side-by-side swirls that looked a little like footprints. When I saw the rock, I remembered reading about it as a child and accepting as real that Jesus would leave his footprints in a rock when he returned to God.  Did I think Jesus blasted off with foot rockets to leave such molten footprints? Until the early teen years,all of us have only concrete brain operations. We can only take stories literally as I did.

The gospel writer Luke draws on how people saw the world in Jesus’ time. In ancient Mesopotamia people imagined God lived in the heavens, commanding storms and hosts of heavenly beings, a divine army. Luke pictures Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returning to reign with God. In his final words Jesus calls his disciples to await the Spirit and then become his witnesses to the ends of the earth. As the account in the Acts of the Apostles ends, two men ask, “Why do you stand looking into the heavens?” Their question brings us back to the Earth we know where Jesus calls us to be his witnesses.  Get busy.

What are you looking to heaven for that you can be doing here on Earth?

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Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story

4 May

Gospel Reflection for April 1, 2018, Easter Sunday

26 Mar

Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 10.34,37-42; Colossians 3.1-3; (Vigil Mark 16.1-7) John 20.1-18

“This disciple who had arrived first at the tomb went in. He saw and believed.”  – John 20.8

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.'” – John 20.18

Mary Magdalene brings the whole community of Jesus’ followers the good news, “I have seen the Lord.” Easter testifies to the power of God’s love. Jesus’ resurrection testifies to the impossible coming to be. Every dawn testifies to the giver of our lives, the Holy Spirit, calling us into song like the birds, calling us into deeper roots like the bulbs, calling us with poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to recognize Easter is a verb.

We Christians welcome Jesus to easter in us. What Jesus has done for us in giving himself wholeheartedly we must do for one another. We weave with our love each day a community of love in our world.

How are Jesus and his Spirit eastering in you?


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Gospel Reflection for March 25, 2018, Passion/Palm Sunday

22 Mar

Scripture Readings: Mark 11.1-10, Isaiah 50.4-7, Philippians 2.6-11, Mark 14.1-15.47

Again the high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am.”  – Mark 14.61-62

A woman breaks open an alabaster jar of costly ointment and pours it on Jesus’ head.  Israel anointed its kings for office by pouring oil on their heads. The woman’s gesture is a prophetic act that, like the words of blessing that welcome Jesus to Jerusalem, identifies him as the messiah.

Jesus affirms that “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Her action anticipates the reason the high priest condemns Jesus. It contrasts sharply with Judas Iscariot’s act of betrayal that happens next.

Artfully the narrative creates an inside and outside scene during Jesus’ trial. Outside in the courtyard of the high priest’s house Peter denies he knows Jesus.  Inside the house Jesus acknowledges he is the messiah. The high priest asks, “Are you the messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus says, “I am.”

Jesus is not alone as he dies on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and other women disciples stand with him at a distance. The passion narrative leaves us in desolation.

Who are we like—the woman who has faith in Jesus; the betrayer; the disciples who flee when Jesus is arrested; Peter, who denies Jesus; the women who stand with him but cannot ease his suffering and anguish; Joseph of Arimathea, who shows up to bury him?


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Gospel Reflection for February 25, 2018, 2nd Sunday of Lent

23 Feb

Scripture Readings: Genesis 22.1-2, 8, 10-13, 15-18; Romans 8.31-34; Mark 9.2-10

“This is my son, my beloved. Listen to him.” – Mark 9.7

Each year the Church reflects on Jesus’ transfiguration on the 2nd Sunday of Lent. The vision challenges us to look toward Easter, to envision our hopes and prayers for transformation and renewal this Lent.

Today we face polarized times when neighbors and family members aren’t always talking. Fake news thrives. Violence is so frequent that fatigue sets in unless the violence touches us. What can transform us?

One answer is conversation, learning where others come from. Conversation followed Father Bryan Massingale’s talk on racism this fall at St. Catherine University. He used a ruler as a time line, explaining slavery lasted for 7.5 inches; reconstruction, 1 inch; Jim Crow, 2.25 inches; legal equality, 1.25 inches (1968). He made the point racism isn’t over. Indeed, an African American woman in her late 20s in my group of three remembered that her grandparents had to sit in a back section in the Catholic church where they worshiped.

A month later our religious community spent a Saturday morning on racism and white privilege. We talked in fives. One question asked, “When do you pretend?” Not much, I thought, but the gay man in our group said, “I have to decide all the time who I will be in groups and at work.”

Conversations also happened at a Come Together gathering of prayer and song. A student from Zimbabwe described worries for her family’s safety as she followed news that the only president she has known was forced to step down. A mom with a biracial child shared her fears for the child. The woman who helped start the Come Together movement described the police chase and shooting that threatened her children and led her family to move.

What conversations have opened your eyes to where others come from? 


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Gospel Reflection for February 18, 2018, 1st Sunday of Lent

15 Feb

Sunday Readings: Genesis 9.8-15; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.12-15

“Immediately after the baptism the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.” – Mark 1.15

The whole of Mark’s gospel unfolds what awakens in Jesus after living in harmony with God and all creation in the desert. “God’s reign has come near,” Jesus announces. God is near, within, and around us–the reality in which Jesus lived in the desert.

Jesus’ relationship with God mirrors the relationship to which he calls us. We are God’s beloved. The Spirit drives us, too.

What if Jesus’ time in the desert evokes in us the value of time alone and the heightening of our senses that comes from slowing down?

What if it is our affections that pull us more strongly to accomplish our commitments than the ascetic disciplines we undoubtedly consider each Lent?

What if our senses are not the problems, leading us into temptation at every side, but are doorways to community?

What if we need to fall in love again with those closest to us, giving them time and ear to re-engage? What if we make a point this Lent to do with family and friends what unfailingly brings us joy and recharges our batteries?

What if we need to fall in love again with Earth, its beauty, diversity, and unfailing burst each spring into new life?

With whom or what might you fall in love again this Lent?


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