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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 April 9, 2017, Palm/Passion Sunday

3 Apr

Photo via Flickr user Thomas Hawk

Scripture Readings: Matthew 21.1-11; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Matthew 26.14-27.66 or 27.11-54

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27.46

Jesus’ passion is the reverse of the kingly life to which the devil tempted him and which the Church read on the 1st Sunday of Lent. Jesus does not rule the world, rather he is subject to the representative of Caesar, the Roman governor who knows he is innocent of the charges against him but allow Jesus to be put to death.

The events of Jesus’ passion test and manifest his love for God, for the world, for his friends, and for the community that gathers to this day in his name. Jesus endures not only the pain and shame of crucifixion but one friend’s betrayal, another’s denial, and God’s seeming abandonment.

What in your life has demanded more than you thought you had to give?

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Gospel Reflection for March 12, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Lent

9 Mar

Photo via Flickr user Carsten Tolkmit

Scripture Readings: Genesis 2.1-4; 2 Timothy 1.8-10; Matthew 17.1-9

 “This is my beloved Son, on whom my favor rests. Listen to him.” – Matthew 17.5

Matthew’s account of the Jesus’ transfiguration is the preeminent story of transformation, a crossroads event. Just a few verses earlier Jesus tells his followers for the first time that he will suffer, die, and rise on the third day. This summary distills Jesus’ whole story as the early Christians told it and the evangelists later wrote it down. In Sunday’s gospel Peter, James, and John are in the midst of living the story. In the transfiguration Jesus lets them glimpse the path through death to resurrection. The vision disturbs their lives. Jesus tells them not to fear.  We who read this account see Jesus in his place in history behind the prophets Moses and Elijah, and we anticipate with Peter, James, and John their future as Jesus’ disciples.

 Identify a crossroads experience in your life—a peak or valley.

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Lent Retreat – Week 2

8 Mar

This Lent artist Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, and Sister Joan are praying the Gospels in words and images. You can join them by going to our homepage, goodgroundpress.com, and clicking on the Sunday Gospel images there. This coming Sunday is the story of Jesus’ transfiguration. Share this retreat with your parish by printing goodgroundpress.com in your church bulletin.

Gospel Reflection for March 5, 2017, 1st Sunday of Lent

27 Feb
Photo via Flickr user Adam Hinett

Photo via Flickr user Adam Hinett

Scripture Readings: Genesis 2.7-9; 3.1-7; Romans 5.12-19; Matthew 4.1-11

“Away with you, Satan. Scripture says, ‘You shall worship the Holy One your God; only God shall you adore.'” – Matthew 4.10

Each year the temptation story from one of the synoptic gospels is the gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent. The devil in the story calls out Jesus for a show of divine power, something to prove he is God. But Jesus shuns divine stunts and recommits to the first commandment — to worship God alone. The story invites us to examine the God in whom we believe. Is our God one who inspires success and personal gain more than service and mercy? Perhaps we find God useless, a God who lets bad things happen to good people. Or perhaps God seems too old-fashioned, pre-scientific, and irrelevant to claim much attention. Jesus makes worshiping God alone the key to his life. The temptation gospel calls us to refresh our image of God, which we can do by taking observant walks outside in creation and by taking time for solitude and reflection on God’s word.

What is currently putting you to the test in your life?

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Gospel Reflection for February 26, 2017, 8th Sunday Ordinary Time

22 Feb
Photo via Flickr user alamosbasement

Photo via Flickr user alamosbasement

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 49.1-5; 1 Corinthians 4.1-5; Matthew 6.24-24

“Which of you by worrying can add a moment to his or her lifespan? As for clothes, why  be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They don’t work; they don’t spin. Yet I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these.”  – Matthew 6.27-29

Our childhoods live within us for better and worse. Mine has given me a lifelong, sustaining intimacy with God in creation. When Jesus challenges those listening to his sermon on the mount to learn a lesson from how the wild flowers grow, I’m with him. This is my spirituality, learning from Earth. We have existence as a gift.

We see in the cosmos God’s irrepressibly creative love everywhere expanding, growing more diverse, and coming to consciousness in us. We humans know that we know, which sometimes makes us anxious but also makes us the chanticleers of the universe, the ones able to live in praise and care for one another.

The gospel insists that we can’t give ourselves to God and money. If we give our hearts to God in faith, we appreciate all that is. We see beauty around us, in us, and in one another. We value ourselves as God does all creation. We judge one another by God’s standards. We live the golden rule and provide for one another out of God’s abundance rather than creating the scarcities that worry the poor.

What lessons do the wild flowers teach you? What conflicts do you experience between God and money?

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Gospel Reflection for February 19, 2017, 7th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Feb

Scripture Readings: Leviticus 19.1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3.16-23; Matthew 5.38-48

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for God makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5.43-45

In the gospel this week Jesus asks us to take God as our standard in how we treat others. In this Jesus goes beyond the golden rule –“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule makes us ourselves the standard of how to treat others. To respond to enemies and evil with conscious, gracious, undeserved compassion goes farther. This is how a life-giving, merciful God acts.

Jesus exhorts us to be perfect as God is perfect. One translator of the word perfect suggests the meaning fully alive. Perfect can imply finished, completed, perfected, done. When one is fully alive, one is whole and wholly operational. We are able to use all our human capacities to know and love others, to live the values and strengthen the bonds that hold us together as families, neighborhoods, and today more than ever as a nation.

When have you made a friend of a seeming enemy? Who is at risk in your neighborhood? How can you help?

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Gospel Reflection for February 12, 2017, 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Feb
Photo via Flickr user Fredrykrynde

Photo via Flickr user Fredrykrynde

Sunday Readings: Sirach 15.15-20; 1 Corinthians 2.6-10; Matthew 5.17-37

“So when you offer your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5.23-24

Jesus challenges his hearers not only to keep the commandments but to deal with the daily actions that have killing effects, the false promises that betray trust, the desires that misdirect our lives. Jesus wants his followers to build communities that show forth the power Jesus reveals as God’s own–love and reconciliation.

Anger can be a harmful habit. To break a habit one needs tools for small daily reconciliations. Some newly married couples met with Pope Francis on Valentine’s Day to ask his blessing and advice. “What do I know?” he said laughingly but then offered three daily habits that can help make a marriage work: “I’m sorry.” “Thank you.” “May I, please?”

Anger can seem dangerous and unmanageable but it is also user friendly, alerting us that we have choices to make.

What helps you deal with anger?

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

2 Feb
Photo via Flickr user SidewaysSarah

Photo via Flickr user SidewaysSarah

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 58.7-10; 1 Corinthians 2.1-5; Matthew 5.13-16

“You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5.13-14

Salt became a precious commodity because it allowed fish and meat to be dried and cured to last a long time. By comparing his disciples to salt, Jesus encourages them to recognize their value and encourages them to preserve their community from moral decay during the Roman occupation of their land. Jesus’ disciples 2,000 years ago and we today have a vital role in preserving justice and charity in our society.

Roman rule kept Jewish people subjugated with little hope of being free and respected. Nonetheless Jesus challenges them to be like lamps in the darkness, to stand tall and share their light with others. Kind, gracious, generous, respectful actions toward others invite the same in return. Christians are to illumine our society in its darkness.

What light shines in your actions? What values do you preserve?

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Gospel Reflection for January 29, 2017, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Jan

Scripture Readings: Zephaniah 2.3;3.12-13; 1 Corinthians 1.26-31; Matthew 5.1-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5.3

Who does God bless? The obvious answer is people with a security guard at their gates and a home for every season. Jesus has a different take. He insists God blesses people who are poor, sorrowing, lowly. Those who work that everyone have health care and enough to eat will have their fill. Those who work for peace will find themselves among the children of God, the one family. The beatitudes open our eyes

In Jesus’ time all wealth flowed toward Rome. In our time all wealth has flowed toward the wealthiest 1%. But God blesses 100% of us, not only the rich and powerful. The beatitudes challenge us to find God’s blessings in our own experiences of losing status, of mourning loved ones, of hungering for fairness. The beatitudes call us to solidarity with those who live in poverty or oppression, to be God’s blessing to those in need.

What signs of being blessed do you see people in our culture valuing today?   

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