Tag Archives: gospel

Gospel Reflection for August 27, 2017, 21st Sunday Ordinary Time

21 Aug

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 22.19-23, Romans 11.33-36, Matthew 16.13-20

“Who do people say that I am?”  – Matthew 16.14

Jesus asks his disciples this question, “Who do people say that I am?”, halfway through his public ministry. Is he the long-awaited leader that prophets dreamed would bring peace? His disciples think so. Is her God’s servant like the Israelites in exile who pours out his life to reveal God’s vision of justice for the nations? Hmmm. Jesus’ disciples haven’t made that connection. Jesus’ question is a brave one. What are people saying about me?

We are still asking who Jesus is. Is he a prophetic reformer who hopes to breathe life into the legalistic religion of his day and whose example challenges us to do the same today? Is he a revolutionary whose inflammatory preaching catches him in the gears of the Roman Empire? Is he the greatest party giver of all time who invites everyone to come to his banquets.

In the new context of evolution we ask, “Isn’t Jesus, who is the Christ, the omega point in whom all creation will converge? Isn’t he the firstborn of a new creation who testifies that love is the ultimate transforming power in the cosmos?”

Who do people say you are? Who notices you are a Christian?


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Gospel Reflection for August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Aug

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 56.1, 6-7; Romans 11.13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15.21-28

“It is not faith to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus said, but the Canaanite women said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” – Matthew 15.26-27

In both Matthew’s and Mark’s version of this gospel, Jesus refuses to help a Gentile mother who asks him to free her daughter from a demon. Both gospels preserve Jesus’ refusal, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” This saying insists Jesus’ mission is only to the Jewish people. In using the saying, Jesus not only refuses the woman’s request, his only refusal to help in the gospels, but he insults her. He uses an ethic slur. The saying makes her a dog.

How can Jesus, who everywhere else in the four gospels reaches out to sinners, lepers and crazy people, express such close-minded prejudice to this woman? This story reflects conflicts in Christian communities after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some Christian must claim Jesus taught the saying, “Don’t throw the children’s food to the dogs.” In both Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels, the woman counters with the truth of her own experience. “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” At her house both messy children and hungry dogs eat. Her comeback makes space for children and dogs at the same table, for Jews and Gentiles. Her quick wit challenges the meaning of the saying and shows exclusion is not Jesus’ teaching.

What practices today exclude you or fail to nourish you? What experiences have broadened whom you accept into your house or parish community?

Gospel Reflection for August 6, 2017 Feast of the Transfiguration

31 Jul

Scripture Readings: Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1.16-19; Mathew 17.1-9

“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them u on a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before their very eyes. His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes bright as light.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” – Matthew 17.1-3

In the transfiguration Peter, James, and John glimpse Jesus in glory, his divinity shining through his humanity. The three fall on the ground overcome with fear and awe. Words fail Peter. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary respond much the same way when Jesus appears to them after they find the tomb empty. The women hold his feet and worship him (Matthew 28.9).

Both the transfiguration and the resurrection are numinous experiences that take the witnesses beyond words. The creative love that lies at the heart of the evolving life of the universe touches the disciples on the mount of transfiguration and at the empty tomb.  The transfiguration embeds in the heart of the gospel narrative a post-Easter theological vision. The vision expresses who Jesus is and who we disciples are to be. We live in the future this scene envisions–Easter time.

How has a numinous, holy moment affected you? What have you carried with you from it?


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Gospel Reflection for July 30, 2017, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jul

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 3.5, 7-12; Romans 8.28-30; Matthew 13.44-52

“The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid, and then in joy goes and sells every belonging and buys the field.”  – Matthew 13.44

Sunday’s gospel begins with a parable about buying and selling. The treasure in the field requires all one has to possess it. The choice to buy totally realigns the buyer’s life and resources. What treasure is worth selling all one has to find joy? What was the buyer looking and what did the buyer find?

Jesus lets us reveal ourselves in imagining what the treasure is. Is it family, spouse, purpose? Is it Jesus? Do I find a person who becomes an abiding source of joy in marriage. Do I find in Jesus and his mission a friendship and purpose worthy my life, love, and energy?

What treasure do you seek?  What does it reveal about you?


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Gospel Reflection for July 23, 2017, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Jul

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 12.13,16-19; Romans 8.26-27; Matthew 13.24-43

“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are children of the evil one.” – Matthew 13.37-38

The gospel last Sunday took us to the parable section of Matthew’s well-organized narrative, chapter 13. We heard the parable of the sower. This Sunday we hear the next three parables: the risk of weeding wheat, the promise of growth in tiny seeds, and the effect of leaven in bread dough.

When Jesus interprets the weeds and wheat parable for his disciples, he recommends letting them grow together until the harvest. This means separating sinners from righteous folks bis not our work. Similarly Pope Francis insists, “Time is greater than space,” and gives priority to processes that build and develop communities over time rather than pass judgment. The mustard seed suggests how an insight, a moment of grace can grow with time. Another of Pope Francis’s pastoral principles is  “unity is greater than conflict.” Most of us recognize how easily we magnify differences rather when in fact we have more in common than divides us. “The Spirit can harmonize every diversity,” says Pope Francis.

Life and growth take time. God’s reign takes time to grow in each of us just as leaven takes time to transform bread dough. In light of our daily breaking news, it’s comforting to imagine all the daily loving actions Jesus’ disciples do invisibly in our world.

What leaven do you hope you are in your neighborhood? What small effort do you hope grows much bigger?


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Gospel Reflection for July 2, 2017, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Jun

Scripture Readings: 2 Kings 4.8-11,14-16; Romans 6.3-4,8-11; Matthew 10.37-42

Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” – Matthew 10.40

Faith refers to more than the beliefs that set believers apart. Faith is relationship, a whole-hearted entrusting of one’s life to whom or what one considers ultimate. In faith we entrust our hearts beyond the confines of our individuals selves.

We risk our lives and gifts. Faith in Jesus is a relationship so basic that it changes every other relationship. We choose self-giving as our way of life as it was for Jesus. In friendships we find ourselves when we risk faith, trust, and love for another. We often experience the truth of Jesus’ way of life when we serve others but wind up benefiting more ourselves.

We find God in bridging the space between us. The cross expresses Jesus’ total self-giving and calls us into the paradox of Christian life. In giving ourselves, we find ourselves. Hospitality extends love to people who come into our lives.

What have you found through giving of yourself?

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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 June 4, 2017, Pentecost

2 Jun

Photo via Flicker user Lawrence OP

Scripture Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13; John 20.19-23

This weekend the Church celebrates Pentecost, the climax of the Easter season and the birthday of the Christian community. In Acts, Luke describes 120 disciples awaiting the Holy Spirit. They have no cell phones for messaging, no practiced words for public speaking, no organizational flow chart. They have only their lived experience of Jesus out of which to weave a new community.  These disciples learned by accompanying Jesus, learned by his doing, found hope in his teaching, and awakened to the promise and purpose of his resurrection. At Pentecost the Spirit sets them on fire to live and spread the good news Jesus is. Crowds from around the Mediterranean hear Peter’s first fiery sermon in their own language.

Our world today challenges us to live the gospel globally as well as locally. We of the third millennium have seen Earth from space. We can phone home from almost anywhere on the planet. Evolution tells us we are part of one great cosmic whole. Our mission seems clear: love one another, heal, forgive. Feed the hungry, welcome the stranger. Weave common bonds.

Around what does your tongue catch fire in your daily conversations? Who do you hear speaking in your own language?

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