Tag Archives: Gospel of John

Gospel Reflection for April 22, 2018, 4th Sunday of Easter

19 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.8-12, 1 John 3.1-2, John 10.11-18

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10.14-15

The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is beloved among Christians, one we return to each year in the Sunday gospel of Easter. Shepherds know their sheep and sheep recognize their shepherds’ voices. Shepherds lead their flocks in and out of sheepfolds by calling them. Sheep will not follow another shepherd’s voice.

For early Christians and for us, the shepherd images expresses closeness and intimacy with Jesus. The verses in Sunday’s gospel emphasize the wholehearted love Jesus demonstrates in loving us unto death. Three times the short gospel passage repeats what makes a shepherd good–willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep.

Who knows your voice? Whose voice do you know and hear? Who do you shepherd? For whom are you laying down your life?

Gospel Reflection for April 8, 2018, 2nd Sunday of Easter

5 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 4.32-35, 1 John 5.1-6, John 20.19-31

“Peace be with you. Thomas, take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe.” – John 20.26-27

The testimony of those who saw Jesus leaves Thomas unimpressed. He doubts as many people do today. He wants hands-on proof. When Jesus appears again, he invites Thomas to go ahead, “Poke away. If this is what it takes for you to believe, I’m at your disposal.” Thomas responds with a confession that soars above all others, “My Lord and my God.” How do we later generations come to faith, we who are unable to touch the nail holes in Jesus’ hands or the wound in his side?

God is available in the Word. The Word has become flesh not only in the person of Jesus but in the story about him and the words spoken in his name. Sunday’s gospel concludes by expressing the reason for the writing of the gospel stories. “These have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name” (John 20.31).

The God who creates is the God who comes among us in Jesus to save, heal, forgive, and make whole. Jesus continues to live among us in the gospel story, which calls us to hear and believe what we can no longer see and believe.

When have you questioned as Thomas did? Where did your questioning lead?


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Gospel Reflection for March 18, 2018, 5th Sunday of Lent

12 Mar

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34, Hebrews 5.7-9, John 12.20-33

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.”  – John 12.24

The grain of wheat metaphor in John’s gospel uses the transforming process we call growth to help us understand all Jesus’ death and resurrection promises us. In the growth process, warmth and moisture swell a seed poked down in the soil until the life secreted within it bursts its hull. Actually, the seeds doesn’t fall into the earth and die but rather germinates. It swells with more life than the seed can hold. A new sprout pushes above ground into sunlight at the same time roots spread out underground in search of nourishment. With rain and sun, a grain of wheat grows a stalk that heads out with a hundredfold new seeds. The short life cycle of seeds dramatizes all that happens in the human life cycle, but the planting that we do in loving our children, teaching our students, being faithful in our relationships takes years to flourish.

The hour of Jesus’ death is a dynamic process, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit hundredfold like the wheat. At the heart of Christian faith is Jesus’ life-giving resurrection from his self-giving death. Jesus challenges us to follow his self-giving way, to love and serve one another and in doing so lifting others up.

What seeds of hope are you planting with your life?


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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 March 4, 2018, 3rd Sunday for Lent

28 Feb

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

“Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” – John 2.6

Jesus seeks to reclaim the temple as a place of prayer rather than commerce. His short explanation is a great Tweet: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disruptive actions of dumping out money and overturning tables would become breaking news online today.

Similarly Pope Francis has made direct, quotable statements about repairing Earth, which he reverences as God’s creation and our sacred home. He urges us to stop pollution and our wasteful ways. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he says (#21). “Earth is a shared inheritance. God created the world for everybody” (#93).

Jesus’ actions to cleanse the temple calls us to clean our houses this Lent and to examine our hearts. Our fast-paced, productive lives can erode our relationships with God and make us feel like cogs in the wheels of commerce rather than friends of God and one another. Lent calls us to assess what we consume and what consumes us.

What housecleaning do you need to do in your life? How can you change to help clean up our common home, the Earth?


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Gospel Reflection for January 14, 2018, 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

10 Jan

Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 3.3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6.13-15, 17-20; John 1.35-42

“Come and see.” – John 1.29

“Come and see,” Jesus says when Andrew wants to learn about him in Sunday’s gospel. “Come and see” is a call to encounter. Come, talk, stay, meet face to face, interact, discover who I am and what our relationship might be. The invitation opens the door to more than a quick look. With our five senses and conscious minds, we humans can probe who someone really is and what life means.

Our experiences matter, our daily sights, sounds, handshakes, conversations. We can probe what and who gives us life and ask where God is in the events that we live. We can also take the world for granted and consider it ours, not God’s gift

Can I find God at the intersection where I live? The traffic starts at five. A symphony of sounds begins–the swish of buses and delivery trucks, the clang of empty side loaders banging like cymbals on very bump. People are up for the day, interconnecting, using their life energies to do their part in a whole. I want to join in.

Where am I finding God in the ups and downs of being alive?


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Gospel Reflection for December 17, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Advent

12 Dec

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 61.1-2,10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24; John 1.6-8, 19-28

“A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” – John 1.6-7

John’s gospel begins with 18 verses about the preexistent Word who becomes flesh in Jesus. These verses include the three about John the Baptist that begins Sunday’s gospel. The Baptist is a man sent from God to witness to the light. His witness has the same purpose as the whole gospel—that all might believe in Jesus through him.

The Baptist is first of all a witness to the existence we may take for granted, the light that rises with the sun each morning, the air we breathe. To testify to the light is to raise people’s consciousness that the life and light in which we live reveals God and is God’s gift.

Like the people of Israel during their sojourn in the wilderness, the Baptist must have learned God’s nearness in the silence and solitude of the wilderness where he lives. His preaching opens people’s hearts to God’s presence in Jesus, in whom Wisdom, the Word, has come into the world and become one of us.

How do you witness to the gift in your existence in this Advent season?


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Gospel Reflection for June 18, 2017, Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

13 Jun

Photo via Flickr user wplynn

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 8.2-3, 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10.16-17; John 6.51-58

“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” – John 6.56

We misunderstand Jesus if we think the eating bread and drinking wine that Christians do is cannibalism. However, Jesus did choose eating and drinking as the signs through which his followers can identify with him and his wholehearted giving of himself in his death. In this sacrament of faith Jesus becomes part of us. His self-giving act of love becomes our real, nourishing, and transforming food.

For John, those who do not eat and drink the signs of Jesus’ self-giving love are not in relationship with him. They do not abide in him nor he in them.

Jesus made bread broken the sign of giving his life of the world. To share the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is to commit to give one’s self for the life of the world as Jesus did. In making a cup of wine the pledge of pouring out his lifeblood for us, Jesus makes the sign our means of pledging commitment and faith. To eat this bread and drink this wine makes faith in Jesus our sustenance. It takes the whole Christian community to remember Jesus’ gift of himself and to make him present today. We are the Body of Christ.

How has participating in Eucharist nourished and transformed you?

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Gospel Reflection for June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday

7 Jun

Photo via Flickr user MucklerPhoto.com

Scripture Readings: Exodus 34.4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13.11-13; John 3.16-18

“God so loved the world that God sent the only Son that whoever believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” – John 3.16

During Jesus’ lifetime his disciples recognize he is an exceptional man who has come in God’s name and calls God Father and source of all. After his resurrection, Jesus’ disciples experience the risen Jesus with them, and as Jesus promised, they also experience the Spirit of God working in their hearts and animating their lives. Out of these experiences of God beyond them, with them, and within them come the first understandings of God as three in one love.

The early Greek theologians use the word perichoresis to describe three persons in communion. Peri means all around, near as in the word perimeter. Chor means to dance around, to circle. A chorus intertwines voices in harmony and may dance, circling, intertwining. A chore is a regular task that requires getting out and about, such as feeding animals or taking out trash. Doctors make rounds to see their patients.

The word Perichoresis helps us imagine three persons interacting dynamically, making the rounds of each other as in a dance, reciprocally and mutually exchanging beauty and delight. The word perichoresis helps us resist seeing the three persons in God in order of chronology and importance. It eliminates the hierarchical order we assume in the Sign of the Cross—Father first, then the Son, and Spirit subordinate. Our God is not a single monarch but instead three persons in one, their shared love at the heart of the universe.

What difference does now we image the Trinity make in our lives?

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Gospel Reflection for May 21, 2017, 6th Sunday of Easter

16 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 8.5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 315-18; John 14.15-21

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” – John 14.18

Thanks to the pervasive power of God’s love, there is no where Jesus’ friends can go where God is not, and nowhere they can go where the Spirit is not, or where Christ is not. Through their relationship, Jesus’ friends will participate in his relationships with God–“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Jesus assures his disciples they have everything they need for their lives and mission after he is gone. The intangible bond of love, friendship, and discipleship last. The small and large gestures that make love visible last. Tenderness lasts and gets passed down generations in parents’ care for their kids, in friends’ presence in difficult times.

Jesus entrusts his first disciples and us with his mission to invest our hearts and hands in families and friends and extend our love beyond. Building community and welcoming diversity in our world are missions for us who are Jesus’ disciples today.

What is a relationship in your life that has lasted? In whom are your investing your love?

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