Tag Archives: faith

Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2019, 3rd Sunday of Lent

21 Mar

Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2019, 3rd Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: Exodus 3.1-8, 13-15; 1 Corinthians 10.1-6,10-12; Luke 13.1-9

Jesus spoke a parable. A man had a fig tree, came looking for figs, but found none. He said to the gardener, “For three years I have come looking for figs and found none. Cut it down. . .” The gardener said, “Sir, leave it one more year while I hoe around it and manure it.  Perhaps then it will bear figs.” – Luke 13.7-8

How do we see ourselves in Jesus’ parable? What to do with a tree that bears no fruit? Who likes to cut down a tree? If we think of the gardener as God, then God is nurturing, caring more about another chance to bear fruit than cutting it down. If we think of the tree as ourselves or our children, who doesn’t need or won’t give another chance to grow? A fourth, a fifth?

In the Old Testament steadfast, generative love is God’s signature characteristic. Sunday’s responsorial psalm provides one of the most famous descriptions of God: “Merciful and gracious is the Holy One, slow to anger and abounding in kindness” (103.8).

Our daily interactions cultivate conversion. Like the gardener we nourish and encourage one another. Listening to others can cultivate the fruit of compassion or courage or insight. Other believers can freshen our commitments.

In what ways are you like the owner of the fig tree? In what ways like the gardener? What or whom will you give one more chance to bear fruit? What special care with this require?


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2019: The Year of Luke’s Gospel

7 Jan

We read from Luke’s Gospel at 41 of the Sunday and feast day liturgies in 2019. This year is a great time to become a student of Luke. His themes of justice for the poor, a voice for women, and second chances for everyone resonate with our own experiences.

Sister Joan’s new book—Luke’s Gospel: Written for Us—is ideal for the ordinary reader, for Bible study and faith-sharing groups, and for homilists. Its nine chapters and reflection questions invite readers to reflect on how we can answer Luke’s call to be witnesses to Jesus in our world.

Click here for the Table of Contents and sample chapters. Order at goodgroundpress.com or call 800-232-5533. 1-9 copies, $10.00 each; 10-99, $8.00; 100 or more, $7.00.

Gospel Reflection for December 23, 2018, 4th Sunday of Advent

20 Dec

Sunday Readings: Micah 5.1-4; Hebrews 10.5-10; Luke 1.39-45

“Blessed is she who trusts God’s words to her will be fulfilled.” – Luke 1.45

The Advent gospels lead us toward Christmas with thoughts of Jesus’ coming in glory and with John the Baptist’s urgent preaching to repent. Those of us who have not yet agreed to let God’s word transform us have a few days yet to share our extra coats and food, to challenge ourselves to consume less, and to let the rejoicing of all creation at Jesus’ birth inspire our care for Earth.

In Mary and Elizabeth the gospel focuses on two model believers who welcome God’s word into themselves, into their bodies. Their faith and trust in God’s Spirit is bearing fruit in their wombs. In their visit together these two women share their faith in what God is doing in them for the world.

Each woman has responded to God separately. As they meet, the Spirit arcs between them like sparks. At Mary’s greeting Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb. This happens in faith-sharing groups. Sharing insights and commitments magnifies and expands our faith as we experience the Spirit at work in each other.

Who supports and affirms the Spirit’s stirring in you? How do faith-sharing conversations affirm and deepen your faith?


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Gospel Reflection for November 18, 2018, 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time

15 Nov

Sunday Readings: Daniel 12.1-3; Hebrews 10.11-14,18; Mark 13.24-32

“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will not.” – Mark 13.31

Sunday’s gospel contains two answers to the question of when Jesus will come again. One answer is very soon, in this generation, and the second is no one knows. We live during the no-one-knows time. Mark writes just after the Romans destroy the temple and end Jewish temple-centered religion with its prayers and sacrifices. That world ends. But Christian faith and the Judaism we know today are just emerging.

The destructive effects of our lifestyle surround us–global warming, droughts, terrible storms, oceans that teems with plastic, species going extinct. The news reports the power of trees and winter crop cover to absorb carbon and lessen the greenhouse effect that is warming the atmosphere. Jesus directs to watch the fig trees green and recognize God is always here.

What has come to birth for you out of change and seeming chaos?


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Gospel Reflection for October 28, 2018, 30th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Oct

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 31.7-9; Hebrews 5.1-6; Mark 10.46-52

Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to Jesus, “Teacher, let me see again.” “Go, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said to him. At once Bartimaeus was able to see and followed Jesus up the road  – Mark 10.51-52

In Sunday’s gospel a blind beggar named Bartimaeus models the unabashed faith in Jesus that Mark’s gospel hopes from every hearer of the gospel. As he sat at the Jericho city gates, Bartimaeus must have heard others talk about Jesus. As soon as he hears that Jesus is near, he shouts out a greeting, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” In this greeting Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus is the long-expected king from David’s royal line—the messiah. The crowd cannot silence his shouting out. As soon as Jesus calls to him, Bartimaeus throws off the cloak in which he probably collected the money passersby threw his way. The blind beggar sees with eyes of faith.

What do you persist in asking Jesus?


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

Gospel Reflection for October 21, 2018, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 53.10-11; Hebrews 4.14-16; Mark 10.35-44

Jesus says to James and John, who ask to sit at his right and left hand in his kingdom, “You do not know what your are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup I will drink?”  – Mark 10.38

It’s ironic that James and John answer Jesus’ question, “We can.” They do the opposite. They forsake Jesus when he gets arrested and flee with all of Jesus’ men disciples except Peter. Peter follows Jesus until he denies even knowing him in the high priest’s courtyard. When following becomes life-threatening, neither James and John nor the others who are indignant at their ambition stay the course. Their commitment evaporates. They shrink from drinking the cup Jesus is about to drink. Who wouldn’t shrink? Mark want us to recognize that Jesus’ disciples have to grow into their commitment as we can.

At every eucharist we drink the cup that Jesus drank. We brashly say amen, this is the lifeblood of Christ poured out for us. It become part of us, a commitment to live into each day.

To what do you commit when at Mass you drink the cup that Jesus drank?


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Gospel Reflection for September 16, 2018, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

13 Sep

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 50.5-9; James 2.14-18; Mark 8.27-35

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”  – Mark 8.29

Jesus finally calls the question in chapter 8, the midpoint of Mark’s gospel. In a miracle just before Jesus asks this question, he has to try twice to open the eyes of a blind man. At first the man can see only blurry shapes that look like trees. This two-stage miracle anticipates the disciples response when he asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers forthrightly, “You are the Messiah.”

Back to back with Peter’s declaration of faith in Jesus, Jesus teaches for the first time that the Son of Man will suffer, be put to death, and rise after three days. To this, Peter objects and takes Jesus aside to rebuke him. Instead Jesus rebukes Peter for setting his mind on human things. Peter’s vision is blurry at this point. Only Jesus’ death destroys Peter’s received ideas of a warrior messiah. Only Jesus’ resurrection transforms his disciples’ understanding. Mark’s gospel explores how faith in Jesus develops in his disciples and calls us to the same threshold of faith at the empty tomb.

What popular ideas of Jesus have you outgrown?


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

Gospel Reflection for September 9, 2018, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

5 Sep

Gospel Reflection for September 9, 2018, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 35.4-7, James 2.1-5, Mark 7.31-37

“Ephphatha, Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus order them to tell no one, but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.”  – Mark 7.34-36

Jesus pays profound attention to the man who is deaf in Sunday’s gospel. Jesus uses his senses. He listens to the man’s friends with his ears and hears the man’s story. Jesus sees the mans with his eyes and takes him aside. Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears and touches them. From his own mouth Jesus spits and touches the deaf man’s tongue. From his mother he speaks words of healing, “Be opened.”

This miracle story not only shows Jesus healing the man with divine power but attending to his with human hands and using human gifts in healing the man. Our ears like his can listen to human needs. Our eyes like his can see people on the margins. Our minds can imagine ways to draw people fully into the human family. What Jesus does with human hands reveals the love we can give with our hands.

When have words failed you? When have others silenced you? Who have you listened into speech?


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Gospel Reflection for August 26, 2018, 21st Sunday Ordinary Time

23 Aug

Sunday Readings: Joshua 24.1-2, 15-17, 18; Ephesians 5.21-32; john 6.60-69

“The words I have spoken are spirit and life. But there are some among you who do not believe,” Jesus says. Many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said the the twelve: “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

In John’s gospel the multiplication of the loaves and fish sets off a long reflection on bread and wine as the signs of Jesus’ presence with us. Those who believe Jesus comes from God and is the living bread from heaven participate in this sacrament of his love. The reflection draws an increasingly sharp line between believers and unbelievers over the course of the 71 verses in the chapter. John wrote in the midst of contentious relationships between Jews who follow Jesus and those who follow others rabbis and eventually split into two great world religions.

Jesus does not offer ordinary bread and wine, but rather the transforming experience of entering into new life with him. Can we imagine ourselves standing in the company of the disciples trying to comprehend the mystery of this bread and wine and Jesus’ continuing presence in these signs of eating and drinking. “Do you want to leave?” Jesus asks. We live in the dynamic tension between that question and our new lives. We know how Peter answers. How do we answer?

How does participating in eucharist help transform your life?


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Gospel Reflection for August 18, 2018, 20th Sunday Ordinary Time

16 Aug

Scripture Readings: Proverbs 9.1-6; Ephesians 5.15-20; John 6.56-57

“Those who eat this bread and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6.58

Sometimes people speak of food and drinks as if they have a relationship. I just love peanuts. Or, I like pizza but it doesn’t like me. What if there really is a food that is a sign of a real relationship? Jesus makes bread a sign of himself and his self-giving actions, so eating the bread means having faith in him. Sharing the bread summons all who eat it  into relationship with all who believe, the whole body of Christ. It calls us into holy communion with one another. Eucharist is never solitary, me and Jesus. The bread is broken and shared; it is about solidarity.

How does joining in Eucharist give you life?


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