Tag Archives: gospel

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 November 11, 2018, 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Nov

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 17.10-16; Hebrews 9.24-28; Mark 12.38-44

In the course of his teaching, Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” – Mark 12.38-44

Mark deliberately juxtaposes the shallow, opportunistic actions of some scribes and a widow’s gift of the little she has to the temple treasury. The two parts of Sunday’s gospel contrast people who act for show and profit with a woman who gives from the heart all she has. Jesus criticizes those who like long robes and the best seats and prey on widows. “Devour their houses” are the words Jesus uses.

Typically widows were poor in Jesus’ time. A woman lost social standing and financial support when her husband died. This common plight of widows made care for them the usual measure of goodness for Jews. God hears their cries. The widow in this gospel gives to the temple. She can’t give much but she belongs to this people who worship there. She is the model donor because she gives all she has; it’s a gift of the heart and of faith. Her story anticipates Jesus’ passion, in which he gives all he has.

The widow who takes in the prophet Elijah during a famine gives us a Gentile model of generosity. She has only enough flour and oil in her jars for one more meal for her son and herself; nonetheless she shares their last meal with the prophet and neither jar ever run empty.

Who challenges your authenticity as a follower of Jesus?


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Holy Women, Full of Grace

7 Nov

Women were always there with Jesus. Holy Women, Full of Grace invites you to pray with Jesus’ mother, the generous widow, Jairus’s daughter, and many other gospel women, names and unnamed. An ideal gift. Only $8!

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Gospel Reflection for November 4, 2018, 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

1 Nov

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 6.2-6; Hebrews 7.23-28; Mark 12.28-34

A scribe ask Jesus, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?” Jesus answers, “The greatest of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, love the Holy One your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ That is the greatest and the second is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Mark 12.29-30

For Jesus as for all good Jews, there was no religious obligation more sacred than to keep the Law of Moses, the commands of the Torah, all 613 of them as spelled out in the first five books of the Old Testament. Which is most important? A group of Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees set Jesus up with this question.

Jesus chooses wisely. His answer is what his life and teachings are all about. These are the words Jews nail on their doorways and bind to their wrists and foreheads. They are the words Jews pray every day much as Christians do the Our Father. Love is a a verb, a word we live among our neighbors and kin, especially this week of before the election with its bitter, too-often hateful debates. Jesus is debates and disagrees but without hate and demonizing.

What actions do the two great commandments inspire in your this week?


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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 October 14, 2018, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Oct

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 7.7-11; Hebrews 4.12-13; Mark 10.17-27

“You need do only one thing more.”  – Mark 10.21

The young man in Sunday’s gospel wants to know what he can do to receive eternal life. Jesus names six of the ten commandments–no to killing, adultery, stealing, giving false witness, and cheating, and yes to honoring one’s parents. The young man claims he has kept the commandments since he was a child. This is when Jesus tells him, “You need do only one thing more.” So, what is it, the one thing more?

Jesus’ answers, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor.” This is the way to build treasure in heaven. What could be more opposite American wisdom, which tells us to invest in Wall Street expertise and let wealth managers build us a happy retirement? Wouldn’t doing as Jesus’ says literally make us one of the poor? In a moneyed society like ours, it is irresponsible not to take care of one’s self and family. Repeated advertisements say so.

What if Jesus is pointing out that we are all human beings together here on Earth? We are separate individuals but from day one we can’t live without care from others. We can’t thrive without solidarity with one another, without bonds among us. Not all of us get face cards in the hands life deals us.

Jesus is suggesting that our possessions may possess us rather than the well-being of family, neighbors, friends, employees, coworkers. As committed Christians we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and one another and of those who need a living wage, who don’t speak English, who need food for their kids on the weekend, who need medication for chronic diseases, whose skin color scares us? The Second Vatican Council said a startling thing. We are not saved as individuals but through the bonds among us that form us into a people (Constitution on the Church 9). Jesus challenges us to build a community that love holds together.

What is “one thing more” you want to commit to do?


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Gospel Reflection for October 7, 2018, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

4 Oct

Sunday Readings: Genesis 2.18-24; Hebrews 2.9-11; Mark 10.2-12

“God made humans male and female, and for this reason men and woman leave their fathers and mothers and the two become one.”  – Mark 10.6-8

Some Pharisees ask Jesus in Sunday’s gospel, “Does the law permit divorce?” This question is still controversial today. The law of Moses does permit men to divorce their wives. To repudiate a wife puts her outside the family social structure, in effect impoverishing her.

Jesus endorses marriage by quoting Genesis 1 that the Creator makes humankind in the divine image and gifts them with sex, “male and female God created them” (1.26.27). The creation story in Genesis 2 describes men and women made of the same bone or essence, equally human and made for becoming one. Jesus insists that in the case of adultery wives should be able divorce their husbands just as men can divorce their wives, a move toward equality.

This Church teaches marriage is indissoluble. Marriage is the most common way Christians live out their discipleship. Marriage builds bond of blood and networks of love and friendship–the social weave that holds us together. In countless daily ways spouses build their union and at the same time their individual wholeness.

Today Pope Francis recognizes the general rules in regard to marriage don’t fit every situation. He wants to make room for conscience and for grace. For him, mercy is the beating heart of the gospel. He cautions in his exhortation Love in the Family, “At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete significance. It’s the worst way of watering down the gospel” (#311).

What do you value about marriage? What is hardest?


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Gospel Reflection for September 30, 2018, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time

29 Sep

Sunday Readings: Numbers 11.25-29; James 5.1-6; Mark 9.38-48

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”  – Mark 9.40

Often in our disgustingly polarized times, activists, liberal and conservative, reverse Jesus’ saying and eliminate the middle ground. They insist whoever is not for us is against us. Middle ground is liminal space, valuable to preserve for exploring what we have in common with others, what they have experienced, why they think the way they do. Middle ground is where real people replace stereotypes and liberate each other from the demons of prejudice and unexamined certainty. In the news the future of our democracy depends on finding common ground and common good, cups of water in Jesus’ name all around for all in need.

To what and to whom does the name Christian obligate us?


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Open Your Heart to the Gospels!

28 Sep

The Sunday gospels this fall have wonderful stories of encounters with Jesus. A rich young man who wants to be good. James and John who want to be first. Blind Bartimaeus who wants to see. A widow who gives her pennies to God.

Sunday by Sunday can help you pray these gospels, alone or with others. Our reflections and questions put you in the story, too. Sunday by Sunday will make an encounter with Jesus a part of your daily life.

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Gospel Reflection for September 23, 2018, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

21 Sep

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 2.12,17-20; James 3.16–4.3; Mark 9.30-37

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and the servant of all.”  – Mark 9.32

Jesus’ disciples aren’t catching on to his words about the Son of Man being betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him and three days after being killed, he will rise again. We Christians 2,000 years later know how Jesus’ story turns out so count Jesus as having divine foreknowledge and the disciples missing the trending conflicts with other teachers. But Jesus doesn’t need divine foreknowledge to anticipate growing opposition as his reputation for care and healing spreads. Israel’s scriptures contain numerous examples of what happens to prophets who speak out for people who are poor and need care. The disciples have more banal topics to engage them; in this care, who is greatest? Whoever wants to be top must be the servant of all.  Perhaps this is a cure for clericalism.

So a servant leader must listen to all, must seek to understand where others come from, work for the good of all, their education and health, praise all specifically for the gifts they contribute to the enterprise, respect all, even his or her opponents or slackers, refuse special privileges.

What qualities make servant leader in your experience?


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