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Gospel Reflection for July 23, 2017, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Jul

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 12.13,16-19; Romans 8.26-27; Matthew 13.24-43

“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are children of the evil one.” – Matthew 13.37-38

The gospel last Sunday took us to the parable section of Matthew’s well-organized narrative, chapter 13. We heard the parable of the sower. This Sunday we hear the next three parables: the risk of weeding wheat, the promise of growth in tiny seeds, and the effect of leaven in bread dough.

When Jesus interprets the weeds and wheat parable for his disciples, he recommends letting them grow together until the harvest. This means separating sinners from righteous folks bis not our work. Similarly Pope Francis insists, “Time is greater than space,” and gives priority to processes that build and develop communities over time rather than pass judgment. The mustard seed suggests how an insight, a moment of grace can grow with time. Another of Pope Francis’s pastoral principles is  “unity is greater than conflict.” Most of us recognize how easily we magnify differences rather when in fact we have more in common than divides us. “The Spirit can harmonize every diversity,” says Pope Francis.

Life and growth take time. God’s reign takes time to grow in each of us just as leaven takes time to transform bread dough. In light of our daily breaking news, it’s comforting to imagine all the daily loving actions Jesus’ disciples do invisibly in our world.

What leaven do you hope you are in your neighborhood? What small effort do you hope grows much bigger?


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Gospel Reflection for July 9, 2017, 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Jul

Scripture Readings: Zechariah 9.9-10; Romans 8.9,11-13; Matthew 11.25-30

“No one knows the Father except the Son.” – Matthew 11.27

For Israel, wisdom begins in awe at God’s gracious work in creation and envisions human harmony shaped out of wise, God-centered, Spirit-animated relationships among people. The book of Proverbs personifies wisdom as a woman who is with God from the beginning. Lady Wisdom is God’s delight. She delights in the human race and seeks to instruct us as her children. Creation is Wisdom’s house. She sets her table of bread and wine for the simple and the foolish, inviting us to the way of insight (Proverbs 9.1-5).

Sunday’s gospel draws on the intimate relationship between Creator and Wisdom to describe the relationship between Father and Son. No one knows the Father but the Son. Like Wisdom the Son seeks to reveal God and the goodness of creation to all. This is the way of insight.

Just as Wisdom invites the simple and those without sense to her table, Jesus invites the weary and burdened to come to him. As Wisdom’s messenger, Jesus welcomes the least to his table and his community. He brings among the people God’s dream of shalom for humankind.

How has creation helped you come to know God?

Gospel Reflection for July 2, 2017, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Jun

Scripture Readings: 2 Kings 4.8-11,14-16; Romans 6.3-4,8-11; Matthew 10.37-42

Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” – Matthew 10.40

Faith refers to more than the beliefs that set believers apart. Faith is relationship, a whole-hearted entrusting of one’s life to whom or what one considers ultimate. In faith we entrust our hearts beyond the confines of our individuals selves.

We risk our lives and gifts. Faith in Jesus is a relationship so basic that it changes every other relationship. We choose self-giving as our way of life as it was for Jesus. In friendships we find ourselves when we risk faith, trust, and love for another. We often experience the truth of Jesus’ way of life when we serve others but wind up benefiting more ourselves.

We find God in bridging the space between us. The cross expresses Jesus’ total self-giving and calls us into the paradox of Christian life. In giving ourselves, we find ourselves. Hospitality extends love to people who come into our lives.

What have you found through giving of yourself?

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Gospel Reflection for May 28, 2017, Ascension

22 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.17-23; Matthew 28.16-20


“I am with you always, to the end of the ages.” – Matthew 28.20

In our cyber age it’s easy to find reason to dismiss a dream before we try. Online forecasts show too many lawyers. Or, studies show the capacity to learn a language plummets after 40. Perhaps that is why the film Hidden Figures is so inspiring. It celebrates three African American women who achieve their dreams in the face of racism, Jim Cross laws, and stereotypes of women.

The three women, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaugh, and Mary Jackson, each a gifted mathematician, meet as they work as human “computers” for the forerunner of NASA. They are part of a staff of black women who compute by hand the flight trajectories white male engineers’ request. The women join in the push to get someone into space and catch up with Russia.

The eleven disciples in the gospel go to Galilee because two women disciples fulfill their commission from Jesus to tell them they will see Jesus there.  The women themselves encounter Jesus risen on the way. The women disciples animate these men who fled at Jesus’ arrest rather than stand with him at the cross as they did (Matthew 27.57-61). Some of the eleven doubt even as the risen Jesus commissions them to go forth and make disciples of all the nations.

What is women’s importance in expanding and energizing Jesus’ mission today?

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Gospel Reflection for April 9, 2017, Palm/Passion Sunday

3 Apr

Photo via Flickr user Thomas Hawk

Scripture Readings: Matthew 21.1-11; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Matthew 26.14-27.66 or 27.11-54

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27.46

Jesus’ passion is the reverse of the kingly life to which the devil tempted him and which the Church read on the 1st Sunday of Lent. Jesus does not rule the world, rather he is subject to the representative of Caesar, the Roman governor who knows he is innocent of the charges against him but allow Jesus to be put to death.

The events of Jesus’ passion test and manifest his love for God, for the world, for his friends, and for the community that gathers to this day in his name. Jesus endures not only the pain and shame of crucifixion but one friend’s betrayal, another’s denial, and God’s seeming abandonment.

What in your life has demanded more than you thought you had to give?

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Gospel Reflection for March 12, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Lent

9 Mar

Photo via Flickr user Carsten Tolkmit

Scripture Readings: Genesis 2.1-4; 2 Timothy 1.8-10; Matthew 17.1-9

 “This is my beloved Son, on whom my favor rests. Listen to him.” – Matthew 17.5

Matthew’s account of the Jesus’ transfiguration is the preeminent story of transformation, a crossroads event. Just a few verses earlier Jesus tells his followers for the first time that he will suffer, die, and rise on the third day. This summary distills Jesus’ whole story as the early Christians told it and the evangelists later wrote it down. In Sunday’s gospel Peter, James, and John are in the midst of living the story. In the transfiguration Jesus lets them glimpse the path through death to resurrection. The vision disturbs their lives. Jesus tells them not to fear.  We who read this account see Jesus in his place in history behind the prophets Moses and Elijah, and we anticipate with Peter, James, and John their future as Jesus’ disciples.

 Identify a crossroads experience in your life—a peak or valley.

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Lent Retreat – Week 2

8 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’ transfiguration. Share this retreat with your parish by printing goodgroundpress.com in your church bulletin.

Gospel Reflection for March 5, 2017, 1st Sunday of Lent

27 Feb
Photo via Flickr user Adam Hinett

Photo via Flickr user Adam Hinett

Scripture Readings: Genesis 2.7-9; 3.1-7; Romans 5.12-19; Matthew 4.1-11

“Away with you, Satan. Scripture says, ‘You shall worship the Holy One your God; only God shall you adore.'” – Matthew 4.10

Each year the temptation story from one of the synoptic gospels is the gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent. The devil in the story calls out Jesus for a show of divine power, something to prove he is God. But Jesus shuns divine stunts and recommits to the first commandment — to worship God alone. The story invites us to examine the God in whom we believe. Is our God one who inspires success and personal gain more than service and mercy? Perhaps we find God useless, a God who lets bad things happen to good people. Or perhaps God seems too old-fashioned, pre-scientific, and irrelevant to claim much attention. Jesus makes worshiping God alone the key to his life. The temptation gospel calls us to refresh our image of God, which we can do by taking observant walks outside in creation and by taking time for solitude and reflection on God’s word.

What is currently putting you to the test in your life?

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Gospel Reflection for February 26, 2017, 8th Sunday Ordinary Time

22 Feb
Photo via Flickr user alamosbasement

Photo via Flickr user alamosbasement

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 49.1-5; 1 Corinthians 4.1-5; Matthew 6.24-24

“Which of you by worrying can add a moment to his or her lifespan? As for clothes, why  be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They don’t work; they don’t spin. Yet I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these.”  – Matthew 6.27-29

Our childhoods live within us for better and worse. Mine has given me a lifelong, sustaining intimacy with God in creation. When Jesus challenges those listening to his sermon on the mount to learn a lesson from how the wild flowers grow, I’m with him. This is my spirituality, learning from Earth. We have existence as a gift.

We see in the cosmos God’s irrepressibly creative love everywhere expanding, growing more diverse, and coming to consciousness in us. We humans know that we know, which sometimes makes us anxious but also makes us the chanticleers of the universe, the ones able to live in praise and care for one another.

The gospel insists that we can’t give ourselves to God and money. If we give our hearts to God in faith, we appreciate all that is. We see beauty around us, in us, and in one another. We value ourselves as God does all creation. We judge one another by God’s standards. We live the golden rule and provide for one another out of God’s abundance rather than creating the scarcities that worry the poor.

What lessons do the wild flowers teach you? What conflicts do you experience between God and money?

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