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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?


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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 May 6, 2018, 6th Sunday of Easter

2 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 10.25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4.7-10; John 15.9-17

“The command I give you is this: that you love one another.” – John 15.17

“You are my friends if you do what I command you,” Jesus says. Do is an active verb. Jesus isn’t talking about having friends, but about being a friend.”  Being a friend means laying down one’s life for each other. Liberation theologians have a term for laying down one’s life–acompañar. It means accompanying each other, entering into the life circumstances of one’s community. It recognizes we all share a common human condition. Friendship is the most inclusive way we love. It stretches us beyond our intimate relationships into wider circles.

Minimally, love challenges us to tolerate one another. More fully, love challenges us to talk to one another and learn from each other’s experience. Most fully, love challenges us to encounter one another and open our minds and hearts to experience and faith beyond our own.

The good thing is that we have a life time to learn this love and lots of chances a day to choose it. Conversation lies in wait in every human encounter.

Whose friendship is life-giving for 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.

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?


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.

Celebrate Earth Day: April 22

17 Apr

This coming Sunday is a world-wide day to honor and support Earth. We suggest three websites to help you and your family think about your responsibility for our common home. May Earth Day be a blessing to you and may you be a blessing to Earth.

Catholic Climate Covenant: http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org
Earth Day 2018: https://www.earthday.org/
Laudato Si, exhortation of Pope Francis. Especially chapter one.

 

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?


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.

Only Light Can Put Out Darkness

4 Apr

A year before he was assassinated, fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 
May they bless your day.

I’m concerned about a better world.

I’m concerned about justice.

I’m concerned about brotherhood.

I’m concerned about truth.

When you are concerned about these things, 

you can never advocate violence.

Through violence you may murder a hater,

but you can’t murder hate through violence.

Darkness cannot put out darkness;
only light can do that.


And so, I have decided to stick with love.

I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go.

I have decided to love.
 

What have you decided to stick with?

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.

 

Gospel Reflection for March 18, 2018, 5th Sunday of Lent

12 Mar

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34, Hebrews 5.7-9, John 12.20-33

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.”  – John 12.24

The grain of wheat metaphor in John’s gospel uses the transforming process we call growth to help us understand all Jesus’ death and resurrection promises us. In the growth process, warmth and moisture swell a seed poked down in the soil until the life secreted within it bursts its hull. Actually, the seeds doesn’t fall into the earth and die but rather germinates. It swells with more life than the seed can hold. A new sprout pushes above ground into sunlight at the same time roots spread out underground in search of nourishment. With rain and sun, a grain of wheat grows a stalk that heads out with a hundredfold new seeds. The short life cycle of seeds dramatizes all that happens in the human life cycle, but the planting that we do in loving our children, teaching our students, being faithful in our relationships takes years to flourish.

The hour of Jesus’ death is a dynamic process, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit hundredfold like the wheat. At the heart of Christian faith is Jesus’ life-giving resurrection from his self-giving death. Jesus challenges us to follow his self-giving way, to love and serve one another and in doing so lifting others up.

What seeds of hope are you planting with 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 March 11, 2018, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Mar

Sunday Readings: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21

“God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but so the world might be saved through him.” – John 3.17

Jesus’ mission is not to condemn the world but to save it. He calls us who believe in him to do like wise. Like Nicodemus to whom Jesus is talking in Sunday’s gospel, we find this hard to understand. We are accustomed to the harsh realities of our world, such as terrorism, war, collateral damage, market forces, corporate downsizing, torture, ethnic cleansing. We take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow humans with disinterest and bad-news fatigue. Like Nicodemus, who later helps take Jesus down from the cross, we by the grace of God can come to the foot of the cross to stand in the light of the one like us who is lifted up. We can begin to see God’s kingdom in our midst and live the new life Jesus brings. We can do our part to take broken and suffering human begins off their crosses.


How do you respond to others pain and suffering? Whom does God send us to love?


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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