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Gospel Reflection for August 5, 2018, 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Aug

Scripture Readings: Exodus 16.2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4.17,20-24; John 6.24-35

“What must we do to perform the works of God?” – John 6.28

Jesus interests the crowd that he fed the day before in working for the food that endures for eternal life. Eternal life is the lure. That is why they ask, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Believe in the one whom God has sent is Jesus’ answer. The abundant bread proved no sacrament to them. They fail to catch on that it points to who Jesus is. They fail to see that Jesus’ teaching, healing, loving presence is the sign of God among them. The crowd wants another sign if they are to believe Jesus is from God. They are hungry for more than food?

For what do I hunger? Of what do I want more of? In a budding friendship each person wants to discover who the other is, what he or she is about, what and who is important in the other’s life? We yearn to know one another more deeply. A new book entices us to join a book club. An encounter with a neighbor leads to a joint gardening project. You try volunteering and find a whole new purpose. Faith may become a hunger that leads to a prayer group or to bible study. A hunger for justice may lead us to work for legislative action.

Who do you feed in your daily life and work? For what do you hunger?


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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?


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 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?


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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.

Gospel Reflection for May 13, 2018, Ascension

7 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11;Ephesians 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”  – John 16.15

“Why do you stand looking into the heaven?”  – Acts 1.11

Up is where God is in the ancient world. Up still represents the top rung. The ladder of success goes up. The view of Earth from space, however, has forced us to revise our images of the heavens as God’s home and throne.

When I visited the site of Jesus’ ascension in Israel, the guide pointed out a rock with two side-by-side swirls that looked a little like footprints. When I saw the rock, I remembered reading about it as a child and accepting as real that Jesus would leave his footprints in a rock when he returned to God.  Did I think Jesus blasted off with foot rockets to leave such molten footprints? Until the early teen years,all of us have only concrete brain operations. We can only take stories literally as I did.

The gospel writer Luke draws on how people saw the world in Jesus’ time. In ancient Mesopotamia people imagined God lived in the heavens, commanding storms and hosts of heavenly beings, a divine army. Luke pictures Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returning to reign with God. In his final words Jesus calls his disciples to await the Spirit and then become his witnesses to the ends of the earth. As the account in the Acts of the Apostles ends, two men ask, “Why do you stand looking into the heavens?” Their question brings us back to the Earth we know where Jesus calls us to be his witnesses.  Get busy.

What are you looking to heaven for that you can be doing here on Earth?

Gospel Reflection for April 29, 2018, 5th Sunday of Easter

26 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 9.26-31, 1 John 3.18-24, John 15.1-8

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” – John 15.4

Jesus’ words live in us and keep working in us to transform us. They have a continuing cleansing and converting effect. Today these gospel words call us to bear fruit in a world that is global and cosmic. The Second Vatican Council challenges us to make our own the joys and anxieties, the grief and anguish, of the poor and afflicted. This is a call to solidarity, to respond to the people of Earth as a common family. It is also an abiding ethical challenge in our market-driven society that measures success in wealth, not relationships.

We are all artisans of the common good. How we drive helps set the tone of a neighborhood. Our welcoming attitudes help immigrants resettle. Our roots in Jesus’ life and love empower us to branch out and bear fruit where we live: to call others to faith in Jesus, to serve our families and communities, to make the small differences that build the common good.

What words of Jesus unsettle you and push at you to put them into action?


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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 15, 2018, 3rd Sunday of Easter

9 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 3.13-15,  17-19; 1 John 2.1-5; Luke 24.35-48

“Thus it was written and so it happened that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. In his name repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be preached to the nations.” – Luke 24.46

Jesus’ crucifixion ends the story his disciples thought they were living by following him. His resurrection begins a new story. It adds a day to the story creation, an eighth day. Sunday’s gospel climaxes Luke 24, the gospel writer’s chapter on Jesus’ resurrection.

The disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus have returned to the assembled disciples. Their report affirms the women’s account of encountering Jesus risen at the empty tomb. Then suddenly Jesus is in their midst, extending peace, which startles and terrifies them. Jesus invites his followers to touch him,  eat with him, and opens their minds to interpret the scriptures (the Old Testament) in the light of his resurrection.

Christian still keep Sunday by gathering, remembering Jesus, interpreting events in our world in the light of scripture, and breaking bread together as he asked. At least that is the long practice of Christians. Now in our time abuse scandals, rules and doctrines irrelevant to new generations, and the challenge to faith to keep up with science leads many to walk away from affiliation with churches.

Some people start over as the original disciples did in small communities that re-interpret the scriptures for today.

When have you found Jesus breaking into presence anew in a community of seekers?


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Jesus and Evolution

13 Mar

This is the last of our Lenten video series, a look at creation and our place in it. Jesus, true man as well as true God, takes his place with us in the unfolding of life and of our ability to know and love God.

 

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