Tag Archives: forgiveness

Gospel Reflection for April 23, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Easter

18 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 2.42-47; 1 Peter 1.3-9; John 20.19-31

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20.21-22

On the evening of the first Easter, Jesus’ followers lock themselves safely in their own company within their own walls. Most of us know a safe circle like this in which we all share the same values and express bewilderment at those different from us — the people who cook smelly food or accept same-sex marriage or love incense and Latin Mass. Many today have become the non-affiliated who stay in their own big chairs far from the rigidity and scandals of institutional religion.

The risen Jesus surprises the community of his friends who have gathered in fear and teeter between the fact Jesus is dead and the unsubstantiated news that he is risen. Jesus comes among them, breathes Spirit into them, and forgives them. He hands over to the community the work that God has sent him to do — to bring God’s love, forgiveness, and healing to people int he world. In John’s gospel, to believe is not only to share in the life Jesus receives from God but to be sent from God as Jesus was, to live in the world in the power if the same Spirit. The gift of love and forgiveness which Jesus gives his followers on the first Easter becomes their mission to others.

How do you continue the first disciples’ mission to love and forgive?

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Gospel Reflection for September 11, 2016, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Sep
Photo via Flickr user Marcia

Photo via Flickr user Marcia

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

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep…..Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”

(Luke 15.6, 9)

Losing, finding, rejoicing — that is the pattern in each of the three parables Jesus tells in chapter 15. Who doesn’t bother to look for the sheep that has wandered apart from the hundred and has not just strayed but is lost? Who forgets a lost coin and doesn’t bother to retrieve 10% of current assets? The lost sheep and lost coin invite us to hear the story of the man with two sons with the questions, “Who is lost?” Is it the party son who wastes his inheritance and comes home to his welcoming father or is it the responsible son who resents his father’s mercy? Which son am I? Let us rejoice in Pope Francis’ reclaiming in this year of mercy the deepest mystery of who God is.

Which son are you? How are you benefiting from this year emphasizing God’s mercy?

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Restoring Peace

5 Aug
Photo via Flickr user Carolina Ponce

Photo via Flickr user Carolina Ponce

The disciples were fishing, and a man on the shore told them to throw their net to the other side of the boat.”It is the Lord,” one said to Peter. It was the third time Jesus appeared to his friends after the resurrection in John. Although Peter had not initially recognized Jesus, he jumped into the water to swim to shore. While the others stayed in the boat, Peter’s love for Jesus could not be contained.

The time between Jesus’ death and ascension is blessed, heavy with holiness and wonder. In these interactions, Jesus is teaching us a great deal about peace and reconciliation, which seems to be his focus in that middle time. “Peace. Peace be with you. My peace I give you,” he says as a greeting. It is done. In his death and resurrection, peace is possible. Now the disciples have to take that peace and make it real in the world.

In his life, death and resurrection, Jesus is a master healer. His healing brings restoration and transformation. It leaves the broken not only whole, but stronger. It is a ministry of true reconciliation. The scene that follows Peter’s endearing swim to meet Jesus is another example of the heart of Jesus’ ministry.

First, they eat. This is no small gesture. Imagine if we really took the time to sit down and share a meal with people we are working with, living among, and loving before launching into the business at hand. Then, after connecting to his friend, listening and laughing, he asks,”Peter, do you love me?”

“You know that I love you.”

“Peter, do you love me?”

“Lord, you know that I love you.”

A third time, “Peter, do you love me?”

It would have been easy for Jesus to assume Peter understood what the resurrection meant– that he was forgiven, that he was filled with Christ’s peace. Jesus creates an intimate moment between friends so that Peter will claim his freedom. Jesus asks not once, but three times. Peter is reminded of his own brokenness and thrice betrayal in the same moment he is released from it. He is free to take on the peace of Christ and spread it to the world.

This “Do you love me?/Lord, you know that I love you” refrain has been echoing in my head for a few days. It is Jesus intimately and tenderly taking my hand, helping me face my brokenness and claim Christ’s forgiveness and peace so that I too may engage in the ever-important work of reconciliation in our broken world. The peace of restoration– that same peace Jesus showed lepers and adulterers and his good friend Peter– is being given to us to claim and share.

Gospel Reflection for April 3, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Easter

31 Mar

Sunday Readings: Acts 5.12-16; Revelation 1.9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20.19-31

Jesus breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

(John 20.22-23)

Bible scholar Sandra Schneiders observes that the Greek word translated as retained above or sometimes bound more commonly means to hold fast, to embrace. She argues that Jesus is charging the community to hold fast the people they forgive. As a reconciling community, they are to embrace and support those they forgive, not to hold them bound to their sins.

“Jesus is the human face of God’s mercy,” Pope Francis writes in proclaiming the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This is our call in continuing Jesus’ mission — to be the human face of forgiveness and mercy among those in our lives.

Who holds you fast? How do you use your power to make peace?

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Feed Your Spirit

10 Mar

What’s more Catholic than fish dinners?

Did you know the fish is an ancient Christian symbol? The word for fish in Greek is ichtus, pronounced ick-toose. The word fish in Greek letters look like:

IXOYS-FishThe first Christians, who were sometimes persecuted for their faith in Jesus, made an acrostic out of this word. In an acrostic, each letter is the first letter of a word.

I        Jesus

CH   Christ

TH   God’s (the Greek word is Theos)

U      Son

S      Savior

When Christians wanted to show someone else they followed Jesus, they might draw a fish symbol on paper or on the ground. The fish meant the person drawing it believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.

So patronize your local fish dinner this Friday. Bring a neighbor or carry fish back to a shut-in person. Do it in the name of Jesus.


 

Click on the image to dowload your Lent cross.

Click on the image to download your Lent cross.

Choose an activity each day to keep Lent alive. Add color your your cross.

PLANT

  • Work in your yard. Meet and visit with neighbors.
  • Plant a tomato in a large pot. Put it in a sunny spot and wait for your first BLT.

SIMPLIFY

  • Organize a storage area.
  • Turn off the TV for the whole evening.

PRAY

  • Thank God for spring. Make a litany of life, using each letter of the alphabet.
  • Pray for Pope Francis and the future of the Church.

READ

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

  • Tell a family member five lovable things about him or her.
  • Let go of a grudge you have held on to long enough.

PARTICIPATE

  • Go to a fish dinner.
  • Contribute to a food shelf at church or in your neighborhood.

Gospel Reflection for March 13, 2016, 5th Sunday of Lent

8 Mar

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 43.16-21; Philippians 3.8-14; John 8.1-11

“Woman, where are they all? Has no one condemned you?”

(John 8.10)

Only John’s gospel tells the story of the hypocrites who use a woman they catch in adultery to trap Jesus. He can reject the law of Moses that requires stoning or break the Roman law against carrying out capital punishment. No real evidence exists that shows first-century Jews enforced the law against men and women who committed adultery. Jesus silences them when he directs, “Let the sinless one among you cast the first stone.”

The story is not about the woman dragged and humiliated before this impromptu tribunal — not until the end when the accusers slink away. Jesus empathizes with her, caught and shamed in a trap set for him. By standing with her, Jesus counters those who make her a spectacle. But what about the crowd? What can she do to find belonging again in the community? Can she go back to her husband? Her children? What wil the neighbors say who probably know her guilt?

How do you treat those you must forgive?

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Gospel Reflection for March 6, 2016, 4th Sunday of Lent

1 Mar
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Sunday Readings: Joshua 5.9,10-12; 2 Corinthians 5.17-21; Luke 15.1-3,11-32

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me the share of your property that will fall to me.’  So the father divided up the property.  After a few days the younger son, having gathered together all of his things, went away to a far off country.

(Luke 15.11)

Most of us know Jesus’  parable of the prodigal son.  Indeed the focus commonly falls on the prodigal, the problem child.  Jesus focuses first on the father; it’s a parable about a man with two sons and his relationships with both.  It’s also a parable about the relationship of the brothers to each other.  For me, the parable brings up my younger sister, severely hard of hearing, to whom our teacher mother devoted constant phonics lessons.  My sister liked to hold her ears and claim I was shouting or worse whistling to hurt her ears.  I got a reprimand.  Is Jesus about the younger son who absorbs more attention that the other son?  Or is the parable about me, the dutiful oldest child, dependable and responsible, who ran errands the fastest?  Or is the parable about the older brother who resents his father welcoming back his brother and feels under appreciated.  Who is lost?  Or is the parable about the father who knows each son and reaches out to each?  Then there is the feminist question.  Where is the mother?  Is her absence the reason a favorite younger son grows apart and a dutiful older son fails to please his father no matter how hard he tries?  The story gives us no clue, but these questions introduce familiar family dynamics.

Who are you like in the parable–the wild lost son?  The dutiful son?  The challenged father?  The absent mother?

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Gospel Reflection for January 31, 2016, 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jan

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 13.4-13; Luke 4.21-30

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

(Luke 4.21)

These words begin Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Luke’s gospel. In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus read a passage from Isaiah that describes a prophet whom the Spirit anoints and appoints to bring good news to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind, to proclaim a jubilee in which those who have lost out in society get a new chance to thrive. Jesus invites the congregation in the synagogue to hear Isaiah’s word not as an ancient, someday promise but as a present claim. Jesus is the Spirit-filled prophet called to make the human race a whole, flourishing community. Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy, when we remember Jesus is the human face of God’s love, love we don’t deserve and doesn’t run out.

For whom are you good news? Who is good news for you?

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Repentance Preached

10 Jul
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. –Mark 6:7-13
     I’ve read the Gospel for this Sunday numerous times, and each time something different comes to light. This week, it is the last three lines that are replaying in my mind and turning over and over again in my heart. It struck me that they went off to preach repentance. Often we hear that the disciples preached the good news, which I think of as an announcement, a truth, a reality. Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Life wins. God loves us. We are promised eternal life with God. It is too good to be true, so the disciples must preach it over and over again so we remember to live out of that radical joy.
     Repentance I think of as an active verb. It is something we do that leads to deep transformation in our hearts and in the world. It is part of our faith practice, part of what Jesus calls us to do, but the wording here in Mark puts it at the utter center of what it means to follow Jesus. The disciples went out to preach repentance. How interesting to think of our preachers now focusing week in and week on repentance. How curious to think how repentance and the good news may be connected and at times interchangeable.
     And then we learn in the following lines that demons were driven out and people were cured in this preaching of repentance. It is easy to hang onto anger without realizing it, or shutting out the hurt we have caused others. Not tending to these times when we have fallen short, the hurt can fester and grow methodically. We can think too highly of ourselves. We can live without letting God in to refine our being. Repentance is difficult, messy, time-consuming, and often scary. There are real consequences in the work of repentance. We can find healing and rest. We can know peace. We can retrieve joyful quiet in our minds and hearts and bodies. There is real physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation in the act of repentance. God offers us freedom.
     The Gospel of Mark is calling me to focus on repentance this week. What demons am I clinging to? What healing can I know and claim if I am brave enough to ask for forgiveness and be open to the change of heart that will flow from God’s unconditional love?

6th Week of Easter

5 May
Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

“Peace is my gift to you.” – John 14.27

Jesus promises his disciples peace. He sends them on Easter evening to be instruments of his peace and forgiveness as God has sent him. Be an instrument of peace in your family and office.

Look over the day each evening to see how what the Spirit of Christ risen is teaching you.

Prayer of the week: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

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