A Gospel Reflection for April 15th, 2nd Sunday of Easter

Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven them, if you hold them bound, they are held bound.”

John 20.21-23

Jesus breathes the new life of the Spirit upon his disciples, just as in the beginning God breathed the spirit of life into the first creature in Genesis 2.7.  Easter is a new day of creation.  The life Jesus’ Spirit inspires is forgiveness.

The peace and forgiveness the risen Jesus and his Spirit bring the community become their commission.  Jesus sends the community to make the lives of others whole as he has made their lives new and whole.  The grain of wheat has germinated and Jesus’ spirit will multiply a hundredfold as the men and women of this small company continue his mission.

When have you found new life in forgiving or being forgiven?
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Our Suffering God

Our Suffering God by ELLIE ROSCHER

Christians claim that Jesus is simultaneously fully human and fully divine. This is a difficult concept to think about, a confusing notion to believe in. Many heresies in our Church’s history center around leaning away from the human/divine balance that Jesus carried in his being, some losing sight of his humanity and focusing too much on his divinity, some the opposite. Declaring that we believe that Jesus is fully human and fully divine is bold.

In the passion story, Jesus cries out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a deeply human moment, where Jesus articulates that he is experiencing complete abandonment by God. Jesus is feeling totally fragmented from God even while he is divine. Yet it is in this very moment that he is God. God is a dying human, put on trial and crucified. This human plea of Jesus, this vulnerable pain of abandonment by his Father is so essential to our faith. We all, at times, feel that God has abandoned us. Yet maybe those are the moments when God is most near. If Jesus Christ himself felt utterly alone on the cross as a human, then God knows what that abandonment feels like. Jesus dies a painful, humiliating death as a full human being, as fully divine. God feels abandoned, God suffers, God dies, God resurrects.

It fills me with wonder and awe. Seeing Jesus cry out and die, knowing that he is God, these are challenging things to hold in our heads and hearts. It is hard to talk about, hard to know what to believe. No wonder Judas betrays Jesus, Peter denies Jesus, and Mary, Mary and Salome are too afraid to tell anyone that Jesus has risen. I know there are times in my life I have betrayed and denied Jesus. There have been times that I am too afraid to talk about what I believe. It is comforting to know that Jesus’ friends experienced the same thing.

When was a time you felt abandoned by God?

When was a time that God may have felt abandoned by you?

What are your favorite Gospel stories that you think highlight Jesus’ divinity?

What are your favorite Gospel stories that you think highlight Jesus’ humanity?

Today, who do you identify most with in the passion story: Judas, Peter, Mary, Simon, Pilate? Why?

 

 

Gospel Reflection for April 1st, Palm/Passion Sunday

Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Mark 11.9

Holy Week begins by celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with palms and songs that express honor and praise.  In the Palm Sunday gospel and in the “Holy, Holy, Holy” at every Eucharist, Christians identify Jesus as the one who comes in the name of God and inherits God’s promises to David.  Mark’s gospel fills the narrative with clues that Jesus is the messiah.

What in the Holy Week liturgies expresses who Jesus is for you?

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A Gospel Reflection for March 25, 5th Sunday of Lent

Jesus said, “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. Those who love their lives will lose them.  Those who hate their lives in this world will keep them to life eternal.” 

John 12.24-25
John’s gospel couples the grain of wheat metaphor with sayings about discipleship, about hating our lives in this world to keep them to life eternal.  These sayings call us to plant ourselves in the Christian community and follow Jesus by serving others.  “Where I am, there my servants must be,” Jesus says.

What seeds of hope are you planting with your life?
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Response to #KONY2012 from a Sister in Uganda

Marion Weinzapel is one of four Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet working in the Diocese of Gulu, Uganda, with Archbishop John Baptist Odama.  She describes how the Kony 2012 video gone viral complicates the peace process many have long worked on in her own informal interview with him. 

INFORMAL CONVERSATION WITH ARCHBISHOP JOHN BAPTIST ODAMA ON “KONY2012”

Mar. 9, 2012: Sr. Marion Weinzapfel, Gulu

Archbishop Odama: “This is a complex issue. It can’t be handled so simply. It will not be easy to have Kony caught. In the process there many be many loses of life. But for us in general, [Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative], we always advocated a process of dialogue.” [Archbishop Odama was not speaking on behalf of the ARLPI but out of the spirit of this group which he chaired from 2000-2010. The ARLPI may be forthcoming with their own statement.]

When the ARLPI wanted to talk with the LRA, we managed to meet LRA leader, Sam Kolo, in Paluda in Palabek on the 29 December, 2004. That was possible because we had first gone to the military and asked them to withdraw all mobile forces in the area. [Kolo himself later came out and has since attended Gulu University.] All were thinking that 2005 would be the year of peace. But in 2005, the government forces attacked the LRA and shattered the trust that had been built up.”

The ARLPI worked together with religious, cultural and political leaders. The Rwot David Archana representing cultural leaders and Mrs. Betty Bigombe was present for this historic 2004 meeting with Kolo along with Jacob Olanya.”

In November, 2008, another meeting with the LRA took place. The meeting lasted for 6 hours and I spoke directly to Kony: ‘Kony, your life and the lives of those in your hands, and the lives of all those in Uganda—civilians, military, government and those of Sudan are very precious and should not be lost.’ I could see that Kony listened intently and that statement made an impact on him. I wanted to arouse a sense of humanity in Kony and touch his heart. But two weeks later, ‘Operation Lightening Thunder’ happened. The LRA then responded with vicious attacks on civilians.”

In September of 2010, I visited the United States with the now retired Bishop Ochola of the Anglican Church to converse with the State Department, Office of African Affairs, to address the issue of military intervention in the bill: ‘Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.’ We asked to keep the application of the new law focused on non-violent actions.

It is clear that Archbishop Odama feels that the world-wide effort to stop Kony through the video KONY2012 by Invisible Children hinders rather than helps the situation. “Kony will only hide deeper and the trust needed for dialogue become more elusive. The Archbishop explained that you can’t do both—have a military option and a peace process going. You either do one or the other and leave enough time for success.“

Finally, Archbishop Odama says that current efforts for dialogue are moving slowly. Leaders are now trying to work in low-key ways with their counterparts in Sudan and Central African Republic. Yet, they have not given up hope that dialogue can still happen.

Related information can be found at the Africa Faith and Justice Network.

Gospel Reflection for March 18th, 4th Sunday in Lent

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “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 likewise.  Like Nicodemus, 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, and ethnic cleansing.  We take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow human being for granted.

What crucifixions can I or we in our church community help end?

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Invisible Children and #KONY2012

“Where you live should not determine if you live.”

Two days ago, Invisible Children started a campaign of awareness called “Kony 2012.” Since then, over 7 million people have watched this video and started spreading the word.

Joseph Kony has been committing war crimes in Africa for 26 years, yet many people in the world have never heard of him.  Invisible Children and #Kony2012 aim to change that and to bring Joseph Kony to justice.

Help make Joseph Kony famous.  Sign the petition, contact policymakers and culture makers, and spread the word.

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

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