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Gospel Reflection for July 22, 2018, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

18 Jul

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34

“As he went ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd. His heart is moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6.34

In Sunday’s gospel the twelve return from the mission to preach and heal which Jesus sent them out to do in last Sunday’s gospel. They come back woofed. Jesus’ growing popularity surrounds them with crowds and keeps them from eating let alone resting. Mark often creates literary sandwiches, a story within a story. Last Sunday’s gospel served us the first slice of story–Jesus sending the twelve out in pairs; this Sunday we hear the second slice of story–the return of the twelve. We don’t hear the 17 verses that form the meat in the middle of the sandwich. These verses tell the story of John the Baptist’s senseless and gruesome beheading. They do more than supply time for the twelve to be out on mission. The story of John the Baptist’s tells us the twelve have embarked on the same mission that cost the Baptist and Jesus their lives. It foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry.

Jesus cannot shut off his compassion to the people to come to him in droves. The gospel call us to preach the good news with our lives, to turn on our compassion, not turn it off.

When has pity or compassion moved you to action?


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Gospel Reflection for July 15, 2018, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Jul

Sunday Readings: Amos 7.12-15; Ephesians 1.2-14; Mark 6.7-13

“So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” – Mark 6.12-13

Jesus sends the twelve men disciples out to become one with the people in villages near Nazareth, to stay with them, and depend on their hospitality. Their actions  cultivate community in three ways. First, they preach repentance, turning toward God, opening one’s heart to the Spirit’s stirrings in us, opening our eyes to the holy in which we live. Second, the twelve cast out demons. Today we might call demons destructive drives and addictions that keep us from possessing ourselves and that erode our capacity to love others. Third, the twelve anoint and heal the sick as Jesus did.

We continue Jesus’ mission in our time just as the twelve do in Sunday’s gospel. We an testify to God’s presence in our lives. We can listen to and support friends and family members change their lives from too much work or drink, or too little voice or purpose. We can accompany the sick and elderly.

How do you continue Jesus’ mission?


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.

Gospel Reflection for July 8, 2018, 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

3 Jul

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 2.2-5; 2 Corinthians 12.7-10; Mark 6.1-6

“Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.” – Mark 6.6

When Jesus preaches in his hometown synagogue, his neighbors experience his astonishing wisdom but quickly dismiss his gifts. Their certainty and cynicism quickly tame their amazement at his preaching and healing. Jesus is a carpenter and no prophet. They cannot recognize God present in one of their own. Theologian Bernard Lonergan says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty.” Many of us shun controversy and debate, especially in our polarized times. We have to ask ourselves what we are too certain about to question and rethink.

What phrases do you use in conversations to let people know you are open to listening and conversing? 


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Gospel Reflection for July 1, 2018, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jun

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 1.13-15; 2.23-34; 2 Corinthians 8.7,9,13-15; Mark 5.21-43

“The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before Jesus, and told him the whole truth.”  – Mark 5.33

Jesus took the girl by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means,”Little girl, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was 12 years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. – Mark 5.41-42

In Sunday’s gospel, the gospel writer Mark deliberately tells the stories of two daughters as a story within a story. Both stories involve generations–the stories of Jairus and his blood daughter and Jesus and a faith daughter.  Jairus falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Jesus to heal his 12-year-old daughter who lingers near death. On his way a woman desperate to stop a 12-year flow of blood makes a last ditch effort for healing. She touches Jesus’ clothes, is healed, and gives witness in the midst of the crowd to all that has happened to her. Jesus recognizes her faith and call her daughter. Jairus and his wife fear for their daughter’s life. Jesus raises her up. Both stories end in amazement, the threshold where faith in Jesus begins.

What witness do you give to Jesus’ importance in your 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.

Gospel Reflection for June 24, 2018, Birth of John the Baptist

18 Jun

Gospel Reflection for June 24, 2018, Birth of John the Baptist

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 49.1-6; Acts 13.22-26; Luke 1.57-66, 80

On the eighth day Elizabeth and Zachariah came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after Zachariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name. Then they began to motion to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed and he began to speak, praising God.  – Luke 1.59-64

John is not unique in having God at work in his early life to prepare him for his vocation. John is not to follow his father into service as a priest of the temple. He lives apart from his culture and family and walks with God in the desert. He cultivates an awareness of God at work in him. In fewer than 30 words, Sunday’s gospel characterizes John’s 30 years of life prior to his public ministry as becoming “strong in spirit.” He needs strength for his prophetic vocation of preparing Jesus way. John offers us a model for activating the prophetic vocation that comes with our baptisms.

What strength of spirit do you have? Who challenges you to live gospel values?


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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?


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.

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?


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.

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? 


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.

Gospel Reflection for May 27, 2018, Trinity Sunday

23 May

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 432-34, 39-40; Romans 8.14-17; Matthew 28.16-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.”  – Matthew 28.19-20

Our God is no smug solitary being enclosed in eccentric self-regard but the living God, three person in free communion,always going forth in love and receiving love. Our Judeo-Christian traditions testify that our God is irrepressibly friendly, steadfast, faithful, and compassionate toward us.

Three is one more than two, the starting  point for social life, notes Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebera. A pregnancy calls married couples to make room in their relationship for another. As human persons we live in relationships that like molecules with a positive valence stay dynamically open to other bonds. In the social interaction at the heart of our thriving, we experience the dynamic at the generative, life-giving, love-outpouring heart of God.

“Being in communion constitutes God’s very essence–mutual love, love from love, unoriginate love,” writes contemporary theologian Elizabeth Johnson in her book She Who Is. The Spirit is mutual love, the Son is love from love, and the father is unoriginate love.

What is at stake in trying to understand god as a communion of equals?


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.

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