Gospel Reflection for March 21, 2021 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.6-7; John 12.20-33
 
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit….If people want to serve me, let them follow me. Where I am, there also my servants will be. Those who serve me the Father will honor. Now, my soul is troubled, yet what should I say — Father, save me from this hour? I have come for this hour: Father, glorify your name. – John 12. 23-26
 
The gospel writer John deliberately places the grain of wheat saying between two events — the raising of Lazarus and Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. For John the hour of Jesus’ death is the moment when God will glorify his name. A dynamic process begins, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit a hundredfold. In being lifted up — first on the cross and ultimately from the tomb — Jesus will draw all people to himself. In death Jesus entrusts his life to God, the same life-giving Creator that hides the promise of new life in seeds and promises new life for us.

John’s gospel couples the grain of wheat saying with sayings about discipleship that 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. At the last supper in this gospel, Jesus does the work of a household slave when he washes his disciples’ feet. His footwashing gives his followers an example of how to treat one another.
 
What promise does God hold for you? How do you respond to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at his last supper?

Gospel Reflection for March 14, 2021 – 4th Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21
 
“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have life forever. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but so the world might be saved through him” – John 3.16
 
Jesus’ mission is not to condemn the world but to save it. He calls us who believe in him to live in the light, to act for all to see. Jesus calls us not to become accustomed to the harsh realities of our world like racial injustice, militarized police, ethnic cleansing, refugees, workers without jobs and health coverage. We cannot take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow humans for granted.

But we can leave our destructive deeds and surly attitudes behind and see in the light of Jesus’ self-giving love. We can begin to see God’s kin*dom in our midst and live the new life Jesus brings. We can do our part to take broken and suffering human beings down from the cross.
 
Who can I or we take down from their crosses? Whose sorrow and pain can we help nurse? Who can you help recover from the losses of Covid-19?

New! Cards for All Occassions

Take a look at our beautiful and inexpensive cards for all occasions. Our newest additions are sympathy cards and a gorgeous array of flower cards. Shop now at goodgroundpress.com. Call Good Ground Press at 800-232-5533 if you have any questions. We look forward to getting these cards to you so their beauty can heal and inspire others.

Gospel Reflection for March 7, 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20.1-17; 1 Corinthians 1.22-25; John 2.13-25

In the temple Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the moneychangers seated at their tables. Making a whip out of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. – John 2.14-15

Jesus zeal seeks to restore his Father’s house as a place of prayer rather than commerce. His explanation makes a great Tweet: “Stop making my Fathers house a marketplace.” His disruptive actions of dumping out money and overturning tables might become breaking news today. Jesus has made his point.

In John’s gospel Jesus’ cleansing of the temple becomes a revealing sign. Jesus is the new temple in whom God dwells among us.

Jesus’ example calls us to clean house during Lent, to examine our hearts. Our lives even in the pandemic zoom along. The more we stay at home to work and learn, the more we distance ourselves from the virus but also from interacting with others. Interacting is how we exchange ideas and show love for one another. Our lives easily fall into routines and ruts.

Walks in the emerging spring can awaken us to Earth’s capacity to repair itself and us. Lent calls us to assess what we consume and what consumes us. It calls us to revive our faith in resurrection as a continuing process in our lives as well as the promise of new and eternal life with the risen Jesus.

What effects of climate change anger you enough to act and advocate for change? What housecleaning do you need to do in your life?

Online Retreats for Lent

An online retreat may be a source of growth and peace for you during this Lent time. They are very easy to do. Just click here and you will go right to our online retreat page. You can browse through the retreats by clicking on a title. Read a little of the retreat to see if it is the one for you.

When you choose a retreat set aside 20-30 minutes in your day. Come back to this email and click through to the retreat you selected. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and begin. God is waiting for your attention.
 
If you wish, let us know which retreats have been helpful to you this Lent. You can reply to this email or call Lacy at 800-232-5533. We always like to hear from our customers and friends.

Gospel Reflection for February 21, 2021 – 1st Sunday fo Lent

Sunday Readings: Genesis 9.8-15; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.12-15

“Immediately after his baptism the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. There for 40 days Satan tested him. He was with wild beasts, and angels ministered to him. After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled. God’s reign has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.’” – Mark 1.12-15

When Jesus comes out of the water at his baptism, the heavens split open, and the Spirit descends upon him. A voice affirms that Jesus is “my beloved Son.” These images — the open heavens, the descending dove, the affirming voice — create a theological picture of Jesus in relationship with God, Father and Spirit.

Then the Spirit drives Jesus into solitude in the wilderness. Jesus doesn’t fast in Mark’s gospel but stays in the wilderness for the 40 days, a time echoing the Hebrew slaves 40 years in the desert becoming a people. Solitude gives us time to feel our drives and desires, the arcs of energy within us, the images that call us beyond where we are. In this testing, discerning time, Jesus keeps company with beasts and angels. God is near, within, and around him as God is near, within, and around us, with or without our attention.

Something happened in Jesus’ solitude. Shortly after, Jesus begins preaching in Galilee, announcing the good news of God. “Repent and believe in the good news.” His whole life, his death and resurrection, form the good news we believe, the faith we deepen and renew each Lent. 

After his desert time Jesus lives the rest of his life as an itinerant. He carries on ministries of healing, teaching, preaching, associating with outcasts, standing in opposition to unjust structures, forming a community of equals, celebrating meals with friends, and praying alone and with others.

What solitude can you find this Lent to feel new life stirring in yourself?

Gospel Reflection for February 14, 2021 – 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Leviticus 13.1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10.31-11.1; Mark 1.40-45           
 
“A leper came to Jesus, imploring him urgently and kneeling as he spoke, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man. “I will. Be made clean.” – Mark 1.40-41
 
The leper in Sunday’s gospel brings to his encounter with Jesus an attitude of profound need and expectant hope. Lepers in Jesus’ time and until our century lived their lives apart from other people.

Like so many other grounds for making people outsiders, leprosy shows visibly on the body. Race, gender, and age also show in our bodies. Poverty usually shows, too, in missing teeth and listless faces. On the basis of body appearance, communities establish boundaries between inside and outside.

Now the pandemic fills our news with heart-breaking obituaries of janitors and celebrities, doctors and grocery workers. To prevent COVID from spreading, we wear masks and keep distances. We experience firsthand fear of contagion and the necessity of distance. The pandemic has hit the black community hardest, making redlining and health disparities visible in our midst.

The voices of the poor and powerless, like the leper’s voice, call for inclusion in society. In Israel’s earliest traditions, it is the voices of slaves crying out against their masters that God hears and sends Moses to free. It is the voices of those left out who call us to widen our tents and tables.

In asking for justice and equality, people express their dignity as human beings made in God’s image and likeness. They give voice to God’s purpose for us all — wholeness, a community of love on earth that mirrors the divine community of love that is God.

What boundaries among people exist in your neighborhood or parish? With whom might you build a bridge from isolation to participation in economic life, parish life, or family life?

Ash Wednesday Prayer

Ash Wednesday is next week, February 17. We have prepared an Ash Wednesday prayer service for those of you who cannot make it to church or who would like to celebrate with those in nursing homes, or with family and friends online.

If you have a little bit of palm from last Palm Sunday, burn it to make the ashes. Or write down a way you wish to grow during Lent and then burn that paper to create ashes.

Visit goodgroundpress.com for more resources to make Lent a blessed time for yourself and for those you love and serve.

We have Lent resources!

Check out our Lent Resources page at goodgroundpress.com for free downloads, prayers, retreats, and other Lenten activities that you, your family, and your parish can participate in.

Gospel Reflection for February 7, 2021 – 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Job 7.1-4,6-7; 1 Corinthians 9.1619,22-23; Mark 1.291.29-39

“Immediately after leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. They told him about her at once. Jesus came, took her by the hand, and lifted her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.” – Mark 1.29-31

On the first Sabbath of Jesus’ public ministry, he goes to the Capernaum synagogue with Peter, Andrew, James, and John; he preaches and frees a disruptive man of an unclean spirit. Then Jesus and these new disciples go to Peter’s house, where he heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Sick and possessed people crowd Jesus’ door that evening; he heals and frees them. Early the next morning Jesus goes out to pray. When the disciples search him out, Jesus announces they will go to other villages and do the same healing and freeing work — this is why he has come.

As women have studied scripture, we see in Peter’s mother-in-law Jesus’ first woman disciples. She has no name but Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell her story. Two verbs lift and serve make this two-verse miracle story also her call to discipleship and response.

The translation Catholics hear at worship translates her story: “Jesus approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her, and she waited on them” (Mark 1.31). The word the New American Bible translates helped is the Greek word egeiro, which means to raise up. This is the same word that Mark uses to describe Jesus’ own resurrection. Before his arrest, Jesus promises, “After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (14.28). The young man in the empty tomb tells the three women who come to anoint Jesus’ body, “He has been raised; he is not here” (16.6).

The word the New American Bible translates waited on them is diakonie, which means serve. The word deacon comes from the same word. In Mark’s gospel Jesus identifies the word serve with giving one’s life. He says of himself, “For the Son of Man also came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10.45).
 
Peter’s mother-in-law responds to Jesus’ act of raising her up by serving him. She becomes a disciple who gives herself to his mission. The women who witness Jesus’ crucifixion have three credentials that mark them as disciples; they have followed and served Jesus and come with him from Galilee (15.40-41).
 
What do you see at stake in recognizing women among Jesus’ disciples? Who models a discipleship of service that you try to follow in your life?

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