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Gospel Reflection for November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

31 Oct

Sunday Readings: Malachi 1.14; 2.2, 8-10; Thessalonians 2.7-9.3; Matthew 23.1-12

“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.” – Matthew 23.11

Perhaps some people in the early Christian communities claim more importance than others. When Matthew writes more than 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians may be living the early ideals of sharing goods and extending hospitality in mutual love with less fervor. Perhaps roles are creating rank in the household of Christ. The message in Sunday’s gospel strongly warns against being self-inflated rather than humble. It challenges us to learn from Jesus’ example and serve one another.

Today the Church has evolved as an institution with roles, robes, and ranks. Our model remains Jesus Christ, who identifies with the least and washes his friends’ feet before the last suppers as a servant. Jesus calls us to service, not station and status.

What has sustained you in the practice of serving others? What has deterred you?


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Gospel Reflection for October 29, 2017, 30th Sunday Ordinary time

25 Oct

Scripture Readings: Exodus 22.20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1.5-10; Matthew 22.34-40

“Teacher, which commandment of the law is greatest?”  – Matthew 22.36

Love God and neighbor without distinction. This is the distilled version of the mission of the  Sisters of St. Joseph, the religious community to which I belong. The mission calls us to act—to love and form relationships. It makes love of God inseparable from loving people in our lives—indistinguishable. The words “without distinction” also call us to reach out to people without sorting who we like best or who is worthy but with openness. All are welcome: immigrants, GBLTQ, people in poverty and in wealth, in sickness and in vigor.

Our mission originated in 17th-century France, where 90% of the people lived in poverty and famine and plague devastated the country. A Jesuit priest, Jean Pierre Medaille, worked with a small group of women who experienced God “seizing” them to respond to their neighbors’ needs. They divided the city and began doing all of which they were capable for and with their neighbors.

Actually our mission originates far earlier.  It is Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s question in Sunday’s gospel, “What is the greatest commandment?” What is basic is the verb love, a call into relationships and community. In answer, Jesus quotes two commandments long on Israel’s books: Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18. Seldom have people in our country and our world needed to live these commandments more than now, to make love of neighbor our firm foundation across all that divides us.

Who have you seen exploited? For whom are you feeling compassion? To what work of justice do these experiences call you?


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Gospel Reflection for October 22, 2017, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 45.1,4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1.1-5; Matthew 22.15-21
 
“Whose image is on the coin and whose inscription?” – Matthew 22.20

In Sunday’s gospel Jesus confronts a worldview about who images God. Jesus insists that we cannot keep separate our obligations to God and those to government. God blesses and calls us to integrate the spheres of our lives and image the One who made us. Being made in God’s image and likeness calls the Christian to act as God acts with compassion and forgiveness for everyone.

Christians image God by helping people who are poor, caring for the abused and sick, visiting the imprisoned, grieving with those who mourn, listening to those in pain. We give to God our very selves through our goodness to

How do you participate in work for the common good?


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Gospel Reflection for August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Aug

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 56.1, 6-7; Romans 11.13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15.21-28

“It is not faith to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus said, but the Canaanite women said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” – Matthew 15.26-27

In both Matthew’s and Mark’s version of this gospel, Jesus refuses to help a Gentile mother who asks him to free her daughter from a demon. Both gospels preserve Jesus’ refusal, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” This saying insists Jesus’ mission is only to the Jewish people. In using the saying, Jesus not only refuses the woman’s request, his only refusal to help in the gospels, but he insults her. He uses an ethic slur. The saying makes her a dog.

How can Jesus, who everywhere else in the four gospels reaches out to sinners, lepers and crazy people, express such close-minded prejudice to this woman? This story reflects conflicts in Christian communities after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some Christian must claim Jesus taught the saying, “Don’t throw the children’s food to the dogs.” In both Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels, the woman counters with the truth of her own experience. “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” At her house both messy children and hungry dogs eat. Her comeback makes space for children and dogs at the same table, for Jews and Gentiles. Her quick wit challenges the meaning of the saying and shows exclusion is not Jesus’ teaching.

What practices today exclude you or fail to nourish you? What experiences have broadened whom you accept into your house or parish community?

Gospel Reflection for July 30, 2017, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jul

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 3.5, 7-12; Romans 8.28-30; Matthew 13.44-52

“The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid, and then in joy goes and sells every belonging and buys the field.”  – Matthew 13.44

Sunday’s gospel begins with a parable about buying and selling. The treasure in the field requires all one has to possess it. The choice to buy totally realigns the buyer’s life and resources. What treasure is worth selling all one has to find joy? What was the buyer looking and what did the buyer find?

Jesus lets us reveal ourselves in imagining what the treasure is. Is it family, spouse, purpose? Is it Jesus? Do I find a person who becomes an abiding source of joy in marriage. Do I find in Jesus and his mission a friendship and purpose worthy my life, love, and energy?

What treasure do you seek?  What does it reveal about you?


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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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Do Something

27 Jun

Gospel Reflection for May 21, 2017, 6th Sunday of Easter

16 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 8.5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 315-18; John 14.15-21

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” – John 14.18

Thanks to the pervasive power of God’s love, there is no where Jesus’ friends can go where God is not, and nowhere they can go where the Spirit is not, or where Christ is not. Through their relationship, Jesus’ friends will participate in his relationships with God–“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Jesus assures his disciples they have everything they need for their lives and mission after he is gone. The intangible bond of love, friendship, and discipleship last. The small and large gestures that make love visible last. Tenderness lasts and gets passed down generations in parents’ care for their kids, in friends’ presence in difficult times.

Jesus entrusts his first disciples and us with his mission to invest our hearts and hands in families and friends and extend our love beyond. Building community and welcoming diversity in our world are missions for us who are Jesus’ disciples today.

What is a relationship in your life that has lasted? In whom are your investing your love?

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Gospel Reflection for Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4th Sunday of Easter

1 May

Sunday Readings: Acts. 2.14, 36-41; 1 Peter 2.20-25; John 10.1-10

“I came that my sheep might have life and have it more abundantly.” – John 10.10

Walking together is what tracts Pope Francis to the good shepherd image. In speaking to parish priests, Pope Francis reflects, “What could be more beautiful than this: walking with our people, sometimes in front, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes behind: in front in order to guide the community, in the middle in order to encourage and support; and at the back in order to keep it united and so that no one lags too far behind.”

Pope Francis sees another reason for walking together. It is “because the people have a ‘nose’! The people scent out, discover, new ways to talk; it has a sensus fidei as theologians call it.” Sensus fidei means sense of the faithful. In the countless ways Christians live the gospels in our time, we the people teach and lead.

Where does your nose sense the gospel leads us today?

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