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Gospel Reflection for June 18, 2017, Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

13 Jun

Photo via Flickr user wplynn

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 8.2-3, 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10.16-17; John 6.51-58

“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” – John 6.56

We misunderstand Jesus if we think the eating bread and drinking wine that Christians do is cannibalism. However, Jesus did choose eating and drinking as the signs through which his followers can identify with him and his wholehearted giving of himself in his death. In this sacrament of faith Jesus becomes part of us. His self-giving act of love becomes our real, nourishing, and transforming food.

For John, those who do not eat and drink the signs of Jesus’ self-giving love are not in relationship with him. They do not abide in him nor he in them.

Jesus made bread broken the sign of giving his life of the world. To share the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is to commit to give one’s self for the life of the world as Jesus did. In making a cup of wine the pledge of pouring out his lifeblood for us, Jesus makes the sign our means of pledging commitment and faith. To eat this bread and drink this wine makes faith in Jesus our sustenance. It takes the whole Christian community to remember Jesus’ gift of himself and to make him present today. We are the Body of Christ.

How has participating in Eucharist nourished and transformed you?

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Gospel Reflection for June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday

7 Jun

Photo via Flickr user MucklerPhoto.com

Scripture Readings: Exodus 34.4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13.11-13; John 3.16-18

“God so loved the world that God sent the only Son that whoever believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” – John 3.16

During Jesus’ lifetime his disciples recognize he is an exceptional man who has come in God’s name and calls God Father and source of all. After his resurrection, Jesus’ disciples experience the risen Jesus with them, and as Jesus promised, they also experience the Spirit of God working in their hearts and animating their lives. Out of these experiences of God beyond them, with them, and within them come the first understandings of God as three in one love.

The early Greek theologians use the word perichoresis to describe three persons in communion. Peri means all around, near as in the word perimeter. Chor means to dance around, to circle. A chorus intertwines voices in harmony and may dance, circling, intertwining. A chore is a regular task that requires getting out and about, such as feeding animals or taking out trash. Doctors make rounds to see their patients.

The word Perichoresis helps us imagine three persons interacting dynamically, making the rounds of each other as in a dance, reciprocally and mutually exchanging beauty and delight. The word perichoresis helps us resist seeing the three persons in God in order of chronology and importance. It eliminates the hierarchical order we assume in the Sign of the Cross—Father first, then the Son, and Spirit subordinate. Our God is not a single monarch but instead three persons in one, their shared love at the heart of the universe.

What difference does now we image the Trinity make in our lives?

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Poem of the week

2 Jun

Visiting Iowa

Sister Therese is from a small Iowa town just east of Dubuque. When Therese and Joan visited there, they hiked out to the north branch of the Maquoketa River and looked for wildflowers along the way. Joan wrote this poem:
 

The Maquoketa wanders still
among bluffs it long ago
wore away
muddy veins
slipping now around a bend
over old branches
in soft bottom land
a still point in the churning world
where childhood
always blooms again
purple violets, hepatica,
and shooting stars upright
in compost centuries old
where memories flit
from here to there
on newborn wings
and roots awaken
who we still are.
– Joan Mitchell, CSJ

 


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Gospel Reflection for June 4, 2017, Pentecost

2 Jun

Photo via Flicker user Lawrence OP

Scripture Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13; John 20.19-23

This weekend the Church celebrates Pentecost, the climax of the Easter season and the birthday of the Christian community. In Acts, Luke describes 120 disciples awaiting the Holy Spirit. They have no cell phones for messaging, no practiced words for public speaking, no organizational flow chart. They have only their lived experience of Jesus out of which to weave a new community.  These disciples learned by accompanying Jesus, learned by his doing, found hope in his teaching, and awakened to the promise and purpose of his resurrection. At Pentecost the Spirit sets them on fire to live and spread the good news Jesus is. Crowds from around the Mediterranean hear Peter’s first fiery sermon in their own language.

Our world today challenges us to live the gospel globally as well as locally. We of the third millennium have seen Earth from space. We can phone home from almost anywhere on the planet. Evolution tells us we are part of one great cosmic whole. Our mission seems clear: love one another, heal, forgive. Feed the hungry, welcome the stranger. Weave common bonds.

Around what does your tongue catch fire in your daily conversations? Who do you hear speaking in your own language?

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Gospel Reflection for May 28, 2017, Ascension

22 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.17-23; Matthew 28.16-20


“I am with you always, to the end of the ages.” – Matthew 28.20

In our cyber age it’s easy to find reason to dismiss a dream before we try. Online forecasts show too many lawyers. Or, studies show the capacity to learn a language plummets after 40. Perhaps that is why the film Hidden Figures is so inspiring. It celebrates three African American women who achieve their dreams in the face of racism, Jim Cross laws, and stereotypes of women.

The three women, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaugh, and Mary Jackson, each a gifted mathematician, meet as they work as human “computers” for the forerunner of NASA. They are part of a staff of black women who compute by hand the flight trajectories white male engineers’ request. The women join in the push to get someone into space and catch up with Russia.

The eleven disciples in the gospel go to Galilee because two women disciples fulfill their commission from Jesus to tell them they will see Jesus there.  The women themselves encounter Jesus risen on the way. The women disciples animate these men who fled at Jesus’ arrest rather than stand with him at the cross as they did (Matthew 27.57-61). Some of the eleven doubt even as the risen Jesus commissions them to go forth and make disciples of all the nations.

What is women’s importance in expanding and energizing Jesus’ mission today?

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Gospel Reflection for May 21, 2017, 6th Sunday of Easter

16 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 8.5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 315-18; John 14.15-21

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” – John 14.18

Thanks to the pervasive power of God’s love, there is no where Jesus’ friends can go where God is not, and nowhere they can go where the Spirit is not, or where Christ is not. Through their relationship, Jesus’ friends will participate in his relationships with God–“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Jesus assures his disciples they have everything they need for their lives and mission after he is gone. The intangible bond of love, friendship, and discipleship last. The small and large gestures that make love visible last. Tenderness lasts and gets passed down generations in parents’ care for their kids, in friends’ presence in difficult times.

Jesus entrusts his first disciples and us with his mission to invest our hearts and hands in families and friends and extend our love beyond. Building community and welcoming diversity in our world are missions for us who are Jesus’ disciples today.

What is a relationship in your life that has lasted? In whom are your investing your love?

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Gospel Reflection for May 14, 2017, 5th Sunday of Easter

10 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 6.1-7; 1 Peter 2.4-9; John 14.1-12

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If this were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” – John 14.2

Jesus fills his long leave taking after the last supper with advice for his friends and the promise of abiding with them. The word that we translate dwelling places comes from the verb meno in Greek, which means to abide, remain, stay, last. This verb has dynamic theological meaning. To be in Jesus is also to be in relationship to the Father, to abide in God, to dwell in God. To believe in Jesus is to let his words and promises take up residence in us. In faith we do Jesus’ works and embrace the people of our globe with his compassion. We are dwellers not just in God’s house but in God’s love. We are in relationship with God as Jesus is. The befriending Spirit is our advocate. That’s the post-resurrection state of things.

What difference does it make to think of heaven as a relationship, as abiding in God?

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Gospel Reflection for Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4th Sunday of Easter

1 May

Sunday Readings: Acts. 2.14, 36-41; 1 Peter 2.20-25; John 10.1-10

“I came that my sheep might have life and have it more abundantly.” – John 10.10

Walking together is what tracts Pope Francis to the good shepherd image. In speaking to parish priests, Pope Francis reflects, “What could be more beautiful than this: walking with our people, sometimes in front, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes behind: in front in order to guide the community, in the middle in order to encourage and support; and at the back in order to keep it united and so that no one lags too far behind.”

Pope Francis sees another reason for walking together. It is “because the people have a ‘nose’! The people scent out, discover, new ways to talk; it has a sensus fidei as theologians call it.” Sensus fidei means sense of the faithful. In the countless ways Christians live the gospels in our time, we the people teach and lead.

Where does your nose sense the gospel leads us today?

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Gospel Reflection for April 30, 2017, 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 2.14,22-23; 1 Peter 1.17-21; Luke 24.13-35

“Stay with us.” – Luke 24.29

The walk to Emmaus in Sunday’s gospel becomes a liturgy on foot for two of Jesus’ disciples. They talk about the scriptures (liturgy of the word) and break bread together (liturgy of the Eucharist).

As they tell how Jesus took hold of their hearts and hopes, the two get excited all over again about who Jesus is. Conversation with the stranger stirs the embers of their faith into flame. Breaking bread together reveals the stranger is Jesus with them.

So many times conversation repeats this liturgy of friendship. Talking together stirs the embers of old understandings and burst new insights into flame. The shared meal sends us forth humming, feeling understood and understanding, in communion.

With whom have you talked and eaten lately?

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