Gospel Reflection for September 29, 2019, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Sep

Sunday Readings: Amos 6.1, 4-7; 1 Timothy 6.11-16; Luke 16.19-31

“Remember how well you lived when you were alive and how miserable Lazarus was. Now he has found comfort but you have found torment. He cannot help you. Between you and us is a great abyss that no one can cross.” – Luke 16.25-26

The great abyss that yawns between the poor man and the rich man in the abode of the dead exists already in the distance between them when they are alive. The rich man never notices the poor man Lazarus begging at his gate, never responds to his need. The rich man doesn’t know Lazarus exists, nor does the rich man have any idea that his riches are not well-deserved blessings from God. He has no other ethic than spending his money on himself. He has no connection with the poor man at this gate.

The two characters represent extremes. The poor man is sick, hungry, and poor–about as down and out as he can be. The well-clothed, well-fed rich man is oblivious as he can be. The story invites us to place ourselves on a continuum between the two.

The many people panhandling in our cities puts Sunday’s gospel squarely at our doorsteps. Like the rich man in the gospel, most of us have people who are poor at our subways stops, our ATMs, the doorways of our churches, our stop signs. Some have burned out every relationship in their lives for booze or drugs. Others struggle with mental illness and a lifestyle too unstable to stay on their medications. Prophets like Amos in Sunday’s first reading condemn comfort and complacency without regard for people in need.

What value do you find in distancing yourself from people who are poor? What value have you found in connecting and learning from them?


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Gospel Reflection for September 22, 2019, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Sep

Sunday Readings: Amos 8.4-7; 1 Timothy 2.1-8; Luke 16.1-13

A rich man summoned his manager and said, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager anymore.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what I will do so that when I am dismissed as manager, people will take me into their homes.” – Luke 16.2-4

The dishonest manage forgives his boss’s debtors–50 of the 100 gallons of oil for one debtor and for another 20 of the 100 bushels of wheat owed. When the rich boss praises the dishonest manager, Jesus’ parable upends our usual way of looking at things. The self-serving manager does reduce the debts of the poor, carrying out what Catholic social teaching calls a preferential option for the poor.

The owner makes little of having his profits plundered for the sake of the powerless but instead admires the manager’s skillful exploitation of his accounts to create a future for himself. Luke’s gospel does not let the self-serving manager go without criticizing. Luke attaches a series of Jesus’ sayings to the parable, which pass judgment on dishonest people. The sayings insist that whoever is dishonest with a little cannot be trusted with a lot. No one can trust a cheater. No one can serve two masters.

The safest investment, according to the parable, is to throw in our lot with the poor–to serve God rather than pursue wealth. Jesus’ parables calls us to apply as much ingenuity for the sake of the poor as we do to exploit the poor for the sake of the economy.

How do you benefit from the labor of the poor? How do you invest in people in need?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or to view sample issues. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

“Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.”

19 Sep

The feast day for St. Francis is October 4th. Francis lived a life of peace, joy, and simplicity. He loved and served the poor and throwaway people. He has made his way down the centuries into our hearts. Explore Francis’s practice of generosity, prayer, and more in Living Like Francis Today. Only $5.50. You can view a sample chapter and order online at goodgroundpress.com or give us a call at 800-232-5533.

Gospel Reflection for September 15, 2019, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Sep

Sunday Readings: Exodus 32.7-11,13-14; 1 Timothy 1.12-17; Luke 15.1-32

The tax-collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus, at which the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” – Luke 15.1

The parables that lure sinners and prostitutes to seek out Jesus feature a shepherd’s lost sheep, a homemaker’s lost coin, and a father’s two sons. The parables inspire compassion by singling out a shepherd’s care for one lost sheep out of a hundred, the woman’s value on one coin of ten, and a father’s enduring relationships with both his prodigal son and his righteous one.

A single, straying sheep is probably in danger, tangled in briars, caught in a crevasse, or young and not paying attention. Left alone the sheep may died. Still it seems risky to leave the 99 for the one but the parable is a story with a point. One sheep matters. The shepherd carrying the lost sheep on his shoulders is iconic of God’s compassion for each of us. The shepherd cannot help sharing with friends and neighbors the joy he feels in find the one sheep.

The woman’s search for one lost coin demonstrates how close to subsistence she lives that finding one coin matters. Her house must be small and dark. She lights a lamp to sweep. The two parables are a parallel pair, one a man’s example, one a woman’s. Many statues and medals illustrate Jesus as the compassionate sheep, including Pope Francis’s pectoral cross  Seldom do Christians see images of God as the homemaker trimming her lamp and sweeping her house until she finds the coin. Both the compassionate shepherd and the determined homemaker image God. Both parables end with joy in finding the lost.

In the parable of the father with two sons, the prodigal takes his inheritance and squanders it on fair weather friends. He repents at a pig trough when we realizes the hogs are eating better than he is, so he returns to his father to great rejoicing. The righteous son is working in the fields when he hears the music welcoming his brother home. The hard-working son thinks his father should not celebrates his brother’s return when he has never celebrated his diligence. He refuses to join in the welcome even when his father comes out to urge him. The parable ends with the righteous son lost.

Who is your God more like — the shepherd, the homemaker, or the father? Who has insisted on finding you when you were lost? Whose compassion has helped you find yourself?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or to view sample issues. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Welcome to Hedgerow!

10 Sep

While the British occupied Ireland, children were not taught in buildings, but in the prickly hedgerows that kept alive the Irish language, faith, culture, and community. The CSJ hedgerow initiative keeps feminist theological education alive and available to you. Learn more about this autumn’s class and the focus of each session. You do not need to sign up for all the sessions. You may just come to the ones you like and pay each time. Register for some or all of these classes at Wisdom Ways.

This hedgerow course begins Monday, September 23, 6:30 pm, at Carondelet Center, right next to St. Catherine University. We hope you can come.

Bible Study. Faith Sharing. Small Christian Communities.

9 Sep

We have a special offer for you. If you are looking for a program to fit and maybe enliven your group, try Sunday by Sunday.

Sunday by Sunday is a four-page weekly based on the Sunday scripture readings. Up-to-date commentary and pertinent reflection questions make Sunday by Sunday ideal for small groups. No leader training needed!

Don’t take our word for it. Call us and ask for FREE samples of our issues for the October Sundays. See for yourself if Sunday by Sunday is right for you.


Call now — 800-232-5533. We will put your FREE samples in the mail as soon as we receive your request. You will have them in days — ready to use.

We hope to hear from you soon. You may also read Sunday by Sunday issues online at goodgroundpress.com.

Call 800-232-5533 or visit goodgroundpress.com to learn more about our other products for adult and teen Gospel study.

Gospel Reflection for September 8, 2019, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Sep

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 9.13-18; Philomen 9-10,12-17; Luke 14.25-33

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters, yes even life itself, cannot be my follower. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14.26-27

Our relationship with God comes first. It’s God’s gift that we have life. Faith in Jesus, God’s Son, makes the same demand. Jesus’ saying calls us to follow him wholeheartedly. Real faith in him is not a sideline in our lives; it shapes our lives, our willingness to serve as he served, our willingness to love our neighbors and our enemies. Hating family members seems like an exaggeration to make a point. Giving ourselves in love to our families can demand everything we have. For most of us loving God wholeheartedly and our neighbors as ourselves lays claim to our love energies slowly over the course of our lifetimes. Following Jesus can also take us away from home, into the world, even away from ourselves, and into relationships with people not like us. The saying gets our attention: discipleship expects wholeheartedness.

The second saying equates following Jesus as a disciple with carrying the cross as he did. The cross is Jesus’ brand. The cross symbolizes Jesus’ wholehearted self-giving. We use crosses to decorate our walls, homes, vestments, church towers. We tame the symbol and forget crucifixion was an excruciating painful and shameful form of execution, reserved for those Rome regarded as the vilest criminals and insurrectionists. Crucifixion aimed to deter imitators and keep control in the Empire much as lynching aimed to control African Americans after their emancipation from slavery. Both crucifixion and lynching drew crowds of ghoulish hecklers. As a symbol of discipleship, the cross calls us to end violence and join in the work of building communities of love and justice in our world.

In what ways do you carry Jesus’ cross?


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or to view sample issues. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Gospel Reflection for September 1, 2019, 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time

30 Aug

Sunday Readings: Sirach 3.17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12.18-19, 22-24; Luke 14.87-14

“Then Jesus spoke to the one who had invited him to the meal: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or relatives or rich neighbors. They may invite you in return. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” – Luke 14.12-14

Jesus is at the house of a leading Pharisee in Sunday’s gospel. Jesus notices the guests taking places of honor for the meal and cautions against taking the first places at tables lest one have to give up the seat. He recommends taking the lowest place. In his advice for making guest list, Jesus prefers those who cannot repay their hosts with a return invitation and place of honor at their tables. Jesus wants to broaden the circle of those who eat at the tables of the elite rather than tighten the social circle. He wants our guest lists to help distribute food justly rather than cut people off as chronically inferior, deserving only distance rather than place among us.

What places of honor might you give up? What would you lose or gain? 


If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection, please visit the Sunday By Sunday page to order a subscription or to view sample issues. Start a small bible study. Be a leader.

Discover the Gospel this fall

28 Aug

When two or three gather in Jesus’ name, what happens?

They find Jesus in their midst. That’s his promise. Sunday by Sunday can help gather those two or three and more. Each four-page issue helps faith-sharing groups discover how the gospel relates to their own lives.

Read some Sunday by Sunday issues and imagine sharing them with people in your parish or with friends and family. Then contact us online or at 800-232-5533 to order.

We have several free printable guides to help groups get started.

• How to Use Each Issue

• How to Form Faith-Sharing Groups
• What Groups Do When They Gather

Please let us know if there is any way we can help you. Call us at 800-232-5533. Thank you.

Visit goodgroundpress.com for daily prayers, retreats, and to see our other resources.

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