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Gospel Reflection for April 22, 2018, 4th Sunday of Easter

19 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.8-12, 1 John 3.1-2, John 10.11-18

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10.14-15

The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is beloved among Christians, one we return to each year in the Sunday gospel of Easter. Shepherds know their sheep and sheep recognize their shepherds’ voices. Shepherds lead their flocks in and out of sheepfolds by calling them. Sheep will not follow another shepherd’s voice.

For early Christians and for us, the shepherd images expresses closeness and intimacy with Jesus. The verses in Sunday’s gospel emphasize the wholehearted love Jesus demonstrates in loving us unto death. Three times the short gospel passage repeats what makes a shepherd good–willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep.

Who knows your voice? Whose voice do you know and hear? Who do you shepherd? For whom are you laying down your life?

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?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or request a free sample. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Lent is coming!

12 Jan

The world needs us to live our gospel values today.

 

The Lent issues of Sunday by Sunday are ideal for faith sharing, RCIA candidates and sponsors, home-based programs, and scripture study groups.

Our Lent/Easter unit takes you from the 1st Sunday of Lent (February 18) through the 2nd Sunday after Easter for only $3.25 per person (on orders of 10 or more).

 

Our 4-page Lenten resource for all-parish distribution is also available. Click here to read it. Families love creating the Lenten cross which becomes an Easter symbol.

 

Place your order for one or both of these products online or call us at 800-232-5533.

 

Cycle A readings for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent (Scrutiny Sundays) are available to download for free here. You have permission to print as many of these as you need.

Future posts will feature other Lent resources for both parish and families. Keep an eye out!

Celebrate Easter!

10 Apr

Visit goodgroundpress.com to print these pages of Easter prayers and reflections. Treat yourself and those you love to all seven weeks of Easter. Carry the prayer mantra in your pocket or purse to keep your heart happy and at peace.

We pray for each of you this Easter. May you be blessed with hope in God’s promise of new life. ~ Sister Joan

The Sacred Ordinary Now

1 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Marco Giumelli

Photo via Flickr user Marco Giumelli

A few months ago, when the rocks were covered with snow, my family took a plane flight south to chase the sun. During our layover, we found a big open rotunda. My son, just over a year, ran around squealing with happiness. He pointed and pointed urgently out the big windows watching the planes and trucks. He could have stayed for hours.

I realized he had a different sense of time than I did. For me, this was just a necessary stop on the journey. Our destination was another time and place. We were just passing time. For him, the airport was the destination. He had no sense of where we were going or how long we’d be away from home. He was not pacing himself. He was fully present, fully open and joyfully accepting what that time had to offer. In his enthusiasm, I become more present, too. We were not waiting to live, waiting to arrive, we were living. We had arrived. The layover was the destination. I think of the airport rotunda often in my daily life as I try to live in the present.

On the first nice day of the season about a month ago, my little boy stopped along the side of the house to pick up a rock. He seemed to choose one very carefully and proceeded to hold onto it for the entirety of the walk. I thought it a fluke until he chose a different rock the next day on the way to the park. He handed it to me when we got to the playground to keep in my pocket, and held it again on the stroller ride home. It has become a ritual that I find so endearing– taking a piece of home with us on the journey until we return. The rock seems to ground him in home as we venture out. It has become a part of our routine that I find comfort in. He takes something as ordinary as a rock and gives it meaning. It becomes his companion in his little hand, something tangible to take hold of. As we explore farther and farther from home, home still awaits us. I muse about heaven as a home that awaits us and what we will hold in our hearts from this place as we travel there.

He, like so many children, seems to have a knack for presence and ritual. He invites me to my higher self, making sure I don’t miss out on what today has to offer me, hidden in the rocks. Children apply meaning to the ordinary and find awe in things adults can take for granted. In this way, being a mom has re-centered me in the present and reminded me of the importance of ritual.

Easter is a great ending to Jesus’ story in the Gospels. For us, the ones here and now, Easter is just the beginning of our story. Children seem to know that and want to remind us. There is something for us here and now, in this life, in this time and place. Mindfulness and ritual can help us to celebrate that this Easter season.

 

 

Easter in This Life

24 Mar
Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

“Hang on,” I wrote to my friend yesterday, “Easter is coming.”

A lot of people close to me are suffering. A friend’s transplant match fell through. A high school sophomore is having dark thoughts of hurting himself. My dad got a cancer diagnosis and is waiting to hear more about the implications. A friend was sexually harassed at work. My friend’s baby is in the hospital with pneumonia, not able to breathe on his own. Another friend’s dad died suddenly. We are sitting in Good Friday, waiting for Easter.

We know Easter is coming, but Jesus’ friends didn’t. Jesus, the friend they thought was the Messiah, died. He was gone. Can you imagine the grief and confusion filling those days between? Did their minds go to anger? Resentment? Betrayal? Hopelessness? They weren’t days of waiting because they didn’t know Easter was coming. I have to imagine some of them thought is was just over. Jesus was just really gone for good. To this day, we are always surprised at the permanence of death. Death from this place really is forever. It’s jarring. So I assume Jesus’ friends were dealing with this reality. In shock. Jarred.

In that way, I feel lucky to know the whole story, to know that Good Friday is not the end. Yet unlike Jesus’ friends, we don’t get to see Jesus risen. Not yet. Easter will come after Good Friday, and then our lives here continue. I do hope Easter gives the people I care for a moment of relief, but our pain here and now continues. We trudge on, looking for ways to claim mini resurrections in this life, our messy, broken lives. I asked the young people I work with how they know it is spring:

you hear birds singing

you see green breaking through the dirt

you can walk outside without a heavy coat, scarf, hat and mittens

Spring is coming. The days are getting longer. There is relief and renewal if we just hang on. With my son more stable these days, no longer a baby, I have felt a mini resurrection in my own life. I see friends, go for a run, find myself more emotionally available to other people. I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. I choose to claim the beauty and new life in my days, in the midst of all the suffering. It is a daily decision to acknowledge the Easter and now.

Bukowski reminds us of the mini resurrections that happen in this life while we wait for the next:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.

(experts from “The Laughing Heart”)

Happy Easter to you. May you beat death in life, sometimes. May you find your Alleluia.

Gospel Reflection for March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday

21 Mar

Sunday Readings: Acts 10.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5.6-8; John 20.1-9 (10-18)

Mary Magdelene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

(John 20.18)

The act of raising Jesus from the dead reveals who God is — the one who gives life. By accepting death, Jesus reveals that God’s power lies not in magic or military might but in love. Love is the power that gives life, especially its concrete forms such as forgiving, serving others, sharing. These are the powers death cannot defeat. These are the human actions that reveal God as people go out and beyond themselves.

Jesus’ resurrection calls us to trust ourselves to God at our own deaths as Jesus trusted God on the cross. Our Easter faith calls us to trust the life-giving Creator whose presence shows forth in all that is and the sustaining Spirit who holds us in being.

What affirms your faith in Jesus’ self-giving way of life?

If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection,
please visit the Sunday By Sunday page
to order a subscription or request a free sample.
Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

 

Ascension

12 May
Photo via Flickr user Katharina Friederike

Photo via Flickr user Katharina Friederike

“To them I have revealed your name, so that your love for me may live in them.” – John 17.26

Whose kindnesses and love bring this text alive in your life? How can you, too, have Christ’s love live on in your daily tasks?

Put a photo of someone you admire or love in a place where you see it daily. Give thanks to God for this person in your life.

Prayer for the week

Come, Holy Spirit.

6th Week of Easter

5 May
Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

“Peace is my gift to you.” – John 14.27

Jesus promises his disciples peace. He sends them on Easter evening to be instruments of his peace and forgiveness as God has sent him. Be an instrument of peace in your family and office.

Look over the day each evening to see how what the Spirit of Christ risen is teaching you.

Prayer of the week: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

5th Week of Easter

28 Apr
Love-Large

Photo via Flickr user Farrukh

“I give you a new commandment: Love one another.”

John 13.34

The risen Jesus makes “Love one another” the simple command he leaves with his friends. Love is not only a feeling but a verb, actions we do. Serve. Include. Forgive. Share. Reach out. Listen. Comfort.

Pay attention to local and world news events about people of other cultures and religions, or those suffering neglect or hate. Pray for them. Live your prayer and the new commandment at home and in the office. Find a way to step beyond your usual circle to help someone in need of food, education, shelter, presence.

Prayer of the Week: God is good to all and compassionate toward all God has made.

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