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Gospel Reflection for February 24, 2019, 7th Sunday Ordinary Time

21 Feb

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 26.2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 16.45-49; Luke 6.27-38

“Love your enemy and do good to those that hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who insult you. When people slap you on one cheek, turn and give them your other cheek. When people want you coat, give them your shirt, too. When someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do to others what you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6.27-32

Jesus’ teachings don’t get harder than the challenge to love our enemies. Much in our culture reinforces a win or lose, destroy your enemies point of view. We mark our history by our wars. Video games develop skills to blast, shoot, shatter, and kill rather than negotiate conflicts. What if we practiced making friends of enemies? What if games challenged players to find the mutual interest opponents did not recognize they have or to get out all the facts so the game can move on to the negotiation level? What if players scored points for creative and cooperative solutions to real-life problems?

To love our enemies is the heart of Jesus’ teaching. It is the challenge to which Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave their lives in our times. Ultimately our identity and self-worth are at stake in our conflicts.

When and how have you successfully negotiated a conflict or difference or made a friend of a seeming enemy?


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Gospel Reflection for February 17, 2019, 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

16 Feb

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 17.5-8; 1 Corinthians 15.12, 16-20; Luke 6.17, 20-26

“Blessed are you poor because yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungering now because you will be filled. Blessed are you who are weeping now because you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, exclude you, insult you, and throw out your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for your reward will be great in heaven. This is how people treat the prophets.” – Luke 6.20-23

The gospel writer Luke confronts us repeatedly with questions of Jesus’ identity. Who is this person who breaks rules and seeks out those whom others wish to avoid? What kind of world will people inherit if others follow his path and break the rules of tradition and culture? The beatitudes show us the world Jesus envisions in which the poor are blessed, the hungering full, those in mourning filled with laughter, and the persecuted rewarded in heaven.

Jesus’ beatitudes in Luke are a strident warning about the danger inherent in prosperity and abundance. That abundance is not blessedness is a shocking idea then and now. Jesus overturns the popular and comfortable idea that poor people somehow bring on their own circumstances and that rich people deserve their abundance. In Luke, Jesus supplies four woes paralleling the four beatitudes and challenging us to become participants in his vision for the world and shape our priorities accordingly.

When have people who are poor, hungering, weeping, or persecuted blessed you? What concrete actions can you do this week to share what you have with those who have little?


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Gospel Reflection for February 10, 2017, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Feb

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 6.1-8;  1 Corinthians 15.1-11; Luke 5.1-11

“Simon put out his nets and caught so many fish that the nets began to break…Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people instead of fish.'” – Luke 5.10

In the A.D 80s when Luke writes, communities of faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus have spread throughout the Mediterranean world. The response of the Gentiles has surprised Jesus’ apostles in the same way the great catch surprises Peter. In Jesus, Peter, James, and John encounter God at work in the world calling them off the lake and into a future as missionaries and leaders. God’s inbreaking presence in Jesus makes profound claims on their hearts and the hearts of Gentile believers. God’s word baits the human heart for liberation. In Sunday’s gospel, Peter, James, and John leave their own nets behind to teach the empowering and liberating word of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

For what liberation is the Spirit baiting your heart today?


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Gospel Reflection for February 3, 2019, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Jan

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 13.4-13; Luke 4.21-30

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4.21

In this statement Jesus identifies himself as the prophet the Spirit anoints to bring good news to the poor. He will fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah. He will lives these words and gather a community that lives God’s love and mercy into the future. It is on the Sabbath in the midst of his own people in Nazareth that Jesus proclaims the Spirit, the giver of life, will work through him to heal, forgive, set free, and lift people up. Jesus will inaugurate a jubilee era in which the poor and oppressed have a new chance to thrive.

What is the sermon you try to live? Who gave it?


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Gospel Reflection for January 27, 2019, 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

25 Jan

Sunday Readings: Nehemiah 8.2-4, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12.12-20; Luke 1.1-4; 4.14-21

“The Spirit of the Holy One is upon me, for God has anointed me and sent me to proclaim liberty for captives, sight to the blind, release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Holy One.” – Luke 4.18-19

In the first four verses of his gospel Luke tells us why he wrote the third gospel. He has investigated the events fulfilled among us and handed on by the eyewitnesses and ministers of the word from the beginning. Luke claims he has written an orderly account. The order that interests Luke is not a time line but the order of fulfillment.

The earliest Christians continue to worship in the temple, hear the words of the prophets, and pray the psalms. In these they find words that help articulate who Jesus is. In Sunday’s gospel, he pinpoint words that he will fulfill in his mission. He reads from the scroll of Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Holy One is upon me,
for God has anointed me and sent me
to proclaim liberty for captives,
sight to the blind,
release to prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Holy One.”

Jesus rolls up and scroll, sits down, and begins to speak. His first words express his purpose and mission: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Spirit anoints Jesus to announce “a year of favor,” a jubilee year when debts are forgiven, field lies fallow, and creditors return land to peasants. This is a mission not only Jesus but we his followers are called to fulfill.

How can you help fulfill Jesus’ mission where you live today?


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.

Holy Women of Luke’s Gospel

24 Jan

Sister Joan and Sister Ansgar have collaborated for a second time on Gospel women. In both his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells women’s stories — Mary and Martha, the widow of Nain, Mary Magdalene, Phoebe and Priscilla. You will meet them and more in word and illustration and prayer.

Book available in April, 2019. Click here to pre-order your copy of Holy Women of Luke’s Gospel today. 

Softcover, 88 pages. 1-9 copies, $8; 10-99, $7; 100+, $5.50.

 

Gospel Reflection for January 20, 2019, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

18 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 62.1-5; 1 Corinthians 12.4-11; John 2.1-11

“You have kept the choice wine until now.” – John 2.10

In John’s gospel Jesus works his first sign at a wedding. Jesus, his new disciples, and his mother are there. The feast hints at a marriage other than the one the guests are celebrating. Turning six big water jars (20 gallons each) into wine provides 120 gallons of wine at a wedding feast that must be nearly over if the guests have drunk up the available wine. Jesus provides wine enough for celebrating the messiah’s relationship with his new community that continues in every Eucharist. The marriage feast that most concerns John is the lasting and intimate relationship of faith between the risen Jesus and his disciples down the centuries. The abundant wine is for the community that continues to gather in his name.

What do you appreciate about a wedding feast as an image of Christian community?


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Gospel Reflection for January 13, 2019, Baptism of the Lord

10 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 42.1-4,6-7; Titus 2.11-14,3.4-7; Luke 3.15-16,21-22

“As the people were filled with expectation and all were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the messiah, John answered ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'” – Luke 3.16

No one works with greater zeal and tirelessness than John the Baptist to ready people for the messiah’s coming, so hard that many think he is the messiah. The baptism John offers people marks their repentance and turning toward God. The washing expresses their change of heart. Jesus discerns his own mission among these people seeking God and goodness.

When Jesus is baptized, the Holy Spirit comes upon him. A voice from heaven declares who he is: “My Son, my Beloved.” Our baptisms call us to join in Jesus’ mission. The Spirit comes upon us to inspired us to love and forgive one another as Jesus did, to share and make peace, to welcome all. It is a call to holiness.

What is holiness to you? How do you respond to this baptismal call?


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 January 6, 2019, Epiphany

3 Jan

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 60.1-6, Ephesians 3.2-3, 5-6, Matthew 2.1-12

Magi from the East arrive in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” – Matthew 2.1-2

Only Matthew tells the story of the wise visitors from the East. They are students of the stars, interpreters of dreams, and seekers of the new messiah. The story introduces a major theme of Matthew’s gospel: The inclusion of the Gentiles in the promises of Jesus. In the 50 years between Jesus’ death and resurrection and the Matthew writing the gospel, Gentile believers had come to outnumber Jewish Christians in the community for which he wrote. Jews and Gentiles had to tolerate and, where possible, integrate their different traditions, forms of worship, and ways of understanding Jesus. To sustain the unity of their diverse community, they had to recognize that the good news and saving grace Jesus brought was for all of them.

Life is easier with people who are like us, who think the way we think, and do things the way we do. There is no mistaking the message of the Epiphany readings: God is inclusive. Every nation on earth will adore the new child, proclaims Sunday’s responsorial psalm. Jesus is born for all of us. Peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation are our work.

Who are the people from whom you descend? What do you know about how your people first journeyed to faith in Jesus?


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Gospel Reflection for December 30, 2018, Holy Family

27 Dec

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 1.20-22, 24-28; 1 John 3.1-2, 21-24, Luke 2.41-52

Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. – Luke 2.51-52

Only Luke tells a story about Jesus during the years between his infancy and public ministry. Sunday’s gospel takes place during his family’s yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem to join with friends and family in the Passover celebration. This detail tells us Jesus’ parents practice Jewish religious traditions. They make the four-day walk from Nazareth to Jerusalem.

The gospel suggests the journey is fun, with friends and family members walking together, visiting with different ones as they walk along all day, perhaps singing the psalms of ascent. Participating in the feast, stories, and traditions of his people is one way Jesus receives his religious education. He grows in wisdom in his family.

What importance has participating in parish worship and parish life as a child had on your adult faith? Who has most influenced how you lives your adult Christian life?


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