Tag Archives: compassion

Gospel Reflection for November 3, 2019, 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

1 Nov

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 11.22-12.2; 2 Thessalonians 1.11-2.2; Luke 19.1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through the city. There was a man there named Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector and a wealthy man. He was trying to see who Jesus was but he could not see on account of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. I must stay at your house today.” – Luke 19.1-5

Zacchaeus is so curious about Jesus that he climbs a tree to get a look. His curiosity leads in the end to faith in Jesus and willingness to repay fourfold all those he has defrauded in his tax collecting for the Romans. By climbing the tree, Zacchaeus opens himself to meeting Jesus, who invites himself as a guest into Zacchaeus’s life, reversing roles with the chief tax collector, who as the homeowner ought to invite the itinerant preacher to his house. In befriending an outsider and a sinner, Jesus draws this less than upright tax collector into the mystery of God’s unconditional love. This is Jesus’ mission—to seek out and save the lost; to reach out and enter our lives.

When have you felt lost? Who found you? Who has brought you into a community of acceptance and love?  


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Weekly Prayer

23 Oct

 

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Gospel Reflection for October 13, 2019, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

10 Oct

Sunday Readings: 2 Kings 5.14-17; 2 Timothy 2.8-13; Luke 17.11-19

“On their way the ten lepers found they were cleansed. One of them seeing that he had been healed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice. He fell at Jesus’ feet, thanking him. This man was a Samaritan.”  – Luke 17.14-16

A wise counselor challenged me to start finding ten things every day that I was thankful for. Ten seemed a lot at first, but practicing gratitude changed me. I began to notice more and remember bits of beauty and acts of kindness. Plus, others began to appreciate me in return. Being alive calls us to appreciate the Creator. Evolution deepens the story of God’s creative love in which we live. We see with eyes that have evolved over millions of years in creatures that sought the light. Our DNA holds the memory of God’s love unfolding.

Jesus has compassion on ten lepers in Sunday’s gospel. Jesus sends them on their way to the priests who can certify they have been cleansed of this illness. The ten set out on the strength of Jesus’ word and on the way discover the leprosy is gone.

What really happens in a miracle? How does physical healing affect people spiritually within themselves? What is the power of faith to transform us into whole people? Does a miracle require faith or lead to faith? Their healing doesn’t make nine of the lepers grateful people. Today doctors can cure Hanson’s disease in weeks. We still define and profile other humans beings by appearances and make them outsiders.

Who do we banish from our circles and society today? Who do we regard as too dangerously contagious to be in our company? What miracles have you experienced? 


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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?


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Gospel Reflection for July 14, 2019, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Jul

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 30.10-136)?4; Colossians 1.15-20; Luke 10.25-37

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers?”  – Luke 10.25-37

Compassion may be understood as the capacity to be attracted to and moved by the vulnerability of someone else. It requires the willingness to risk, to stop and share one’s strengths and vulnerability, rather than rushing on with our own preoccupations or stereotypes. As Jesus’ story shows, compassion is the opposite of a priest’s self-righteousness and a Levite’s apathy.

Compassion is a movement of the heart. It includes sensitivity to what is weak and wounded as well as the courage to allow oneself to be affected by another’s pain. Who can take away suffering without entering into it? How can we help to heal someone else’s wounds if we have not begun to accept our own. Compassion also demands action — the type that takes time or even makes time — to help change persons and structures that sometimes blindly exclude or marginalize.

What experiences in your life make it difficult to feel compassionate? What experiences have taught you compassion and the need to be less judgmental? 


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Gospel Reflection for July 22, 2018, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

18 Jul

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34

“As he went ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd. His heart is moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6.34

In Sunday’s gospel the twelve return from the mission to preach and heal which Jesus sent them out to do in last Sunday’s gospel. They come back woofed. Jesus’ growing popularity surrounds them with crowds and keeps them from eating let alone resting. Mark often creates literary sandwiches, a story within a story. Last Sunday’s gospel served us the first slice of story–Jesus sending the twelve out in pairs; this Sunday we hear the second slice of story–the return of the twelve. We don’t hear the 17 verses that form the meat in the middle of the sandwich. These verses tell the story of John the Baptist’s senseless and gruesome beheading. They do more than supply time for the twelve to be out on mission. The story of John the Baptist’s tells us the twelve have embarked on the same mission that cost the Baptist and Jesus their lives. It foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry.

Jesus cannot shut off his compassion to the people to come to him in droves. The gospel call us to preach the good news with our lives, to turn on our compassion, not turn it off.

When has pity or compassion moved you to action?


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Gospel Reflection for May 27, 2018, Trinity Sunday

23 May

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 432-34, 39-40; Romans 8.14-17; Matthew 28.16-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.”  – Matthew 28.19-20

Our God is no smug solitary being enclosed in eccentric self-regard but the living God, three person in free communion,always going forth in love and receiving love. Our Judeo-Christian traditions testify that our God is irrepressibly friendly, steadfast, faithful, and compassionate toward us.

Three is one more than two, the starting  point for social life, notes Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebera. A pregnancy calls married couples to make room in their relationship for another. As human persons we live in relationships that like molecules with a positive valence stay dynamically open to other bonds. In the social interaction at the heart of our thriving, we experience the dynamic at the generative, life-giving, love-outpouring heart of God.

“Being in communion constitutes God’s very essence–mutual love, love from love, unoriginate love,” writes contemporary theologian Elizabeth Johnson in her book She Who Is. The Spirit is mutual love, the Son is love from love, and the father is unoriginate love.

What is at stake in trying to understand god as a communion of equals?


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Gospel Reflection for March 11, 2018, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Mar

Sunday Readings: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21

“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 like wise. Like Nicodemus to whom Jesus is talking in Sunday’s gospel, 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, ethnic cleansing. We take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow humans with disinterest and bad-news fatigue. Like Nicodemus, who later helps take Jesus down from the cross, we by the grace of God can come to the foot of the cross to stand in the light of the one like us who is lifted up. We can begin to see God’s kingdom in our midst and live the new life Jesus brings. We can do our part to take broken and suffering human begins off their crosses.


How do you respond to others pain and suffering? Whom does God send us to love?


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Gospel Reflection for February 11, 2018, 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

5 Feb

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 choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘I do choose. Be made clean.'”  – Mark 1.40-41
 
In Jesus’ time leprosy made its sufferers outsiders, obligated to stay away from others. Leprosy lumped together various skin conditions that like race, gender, age, and other realities show visibly on the body. Poverty can show in missing teeth and listless faces.

On the basis of appearance, we human beings start setting up boundaries between people like us and people like them, insiders and outsiders. We tend to stereotype and even demonize groups we don’t know. The voices of outsiders call for belonging among us, for equality and inclusion. The voices of those left out call us to widen our tents and lengthen our tables. In claiming justice and equality, people express their dignity as human begins made in God’s image and likeness. In healing the leper, Jesus gives voice to God’s intent for us all–wholeness and the communities love forms.

With who might you build a bridge from isolation to participation in economic life, parish life, neighborhood life, or family life?


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