Tag Archives: Jesus

Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story

8 Nov

Mark’s Gospel is the first to be written and the shortest of the four Gospels. Sister Joan’s introduction to Mark is ideal for Bible study groups. The 11 short chapters and the questions in each chapter make this book ideal for small groups, RCIA candidates and sponsors, and parish staff involved in Sunday worship preparation.

We began reading from Mark’s Gospel at Sunday Eucharist during Advent and continue in all of 2018. You will enjoy seeing Jesus’ journey to the cross and resurrection through Mark’s eyes. Check out the table of contents, introduction, and a sample chapter.

All this for only $10.00 per copy. Order online or call 800-232-5533 today and get your group going with Mark.

Visit goodgroundpress.com for daily prayers, free online retreats, and Advent resources.

Gospel Reflection for November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

31 Oct

Sunday Readings: Malachi 1.14; 2.2, 8-10; Thessalonians 2.7-9.3; Matthew 23.1-12

“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.” – Matthew 23.11

Perhaps some people in the early Christian communities claim more importance than others. When Matthew writes more than 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians may be living the early ideals of sharing goods and extending hospitality in mutual love with less fervor. Perhaps roles are creating rank in the household of Christ. The message in Sunday’s gospel strongly warns against being self-inflated rather than humble. It challenges us to learn from Jesus’ example and serve one another.

Today the Church has evolved as an institution with roles, robes, and ranks. Our model remains Jesus Christ, who identifies with the least and washes his friends’ feet before the last suppers as a servant. Jesus calls us to service, not station and status.

What has sustained you in the practice of serving others? What has deterred you?


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Gospel Reflection for October 22, 2017, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 45.1,4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1.1-5; Matthew 22.15-21
 
“Whose image is on the coin and whose inscription?” – Matthew 22.20

In Sunday’s gospel Jesus confronts a worldview about who images God. Jesus insists that we cannot keep separate our obligations to God and those to government. God blesses and calls us to integrate the spheres of our lives and image the One who made us. Being made in God’s image and likeness calls the Christian to act as God acts with compassion and forgiveness for everyone.

Christians image God by helping people who are poor, caring for the abused and sick, visiting the imprisoned, grieving with those who mourn, listening to those in pain. We give to God our very selves through our goodness to

How do you participate in work for the common good?


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 15, 2017, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 25.6-10; Philippians 4.12-14,19-20; Matthew 22.1-10


“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.  Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” – Matthew 22.2-4


The meal Jesus describes in Sunday’s parable is no ordinary dinner but the messiah’s wedding feast. The royal wedding setting is unique to Matthew’s way of telling the parable. Matthew adds other details to the parable that give the story double meaning. In this way he creates an allegory in which characters and action in the parable parallel events his own time in the A.D. 80s. The king’s fury at guests who refuse his invitation seems overkill until a reader realizes Matthew is connecting the parable with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the event that effectively ends Israel’s ancient temple-centered religion.  Matthew’s interpretation shows the danger of allegory; it fixes the meaning and  perpetuates an ancient conflict that led to genocide in the Holocaust.

The parable speaks more to us today without the allegory; it asks what we do with our excess and who we invite to our tables. Abundant food is one of the most fundamental blessings in our lives. The parable is very different in Luke’s telling (Luke 14.15-24). When people refuse to come to a great dinner in Luke’s version, the host invites in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.

How do you think the kingdom of heaven will be like a lavish dinner?


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 8, 2017, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 5.1-7; Philippians 4.6-9; Matthew 21.33-43
 
“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will yield a rich harvest.” – Matthew 21.43

Economically in Jesus’ time, 95% of the people were poor peasants who worked hard to survive. Roman soldiers from the occupying army often received land as payment for their military service and kept peasants as tenants to cultivate and tend their vineyards. Poor overtaxed peasants might have reason to resent and resist giving a Roman owner a share in the harvest. But the parable has no hint of this political motive.

The tenants simply want the whole harvest and the vineyard for themselves. Toward this end they kill the tenants and the owner’s son. The parable has an allegory that closely parallels Jesus’ life. In the allegory or double meaning God is the owner of the vineyard and Jesus the son.

In this parable Jesus is trying to reform his own religion. Jesus wants temple leaders to take responsibility for the poor, blind, and lame people who flocked into the temple after he cleansed it. Similarly Pope Francis connects repairing Earth with sustaining people who live in poverty.

With whom in the parable do you sympathize?


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 1, 2017, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time

28 Sep

Scripture readings: Ezekiel 18.25-28; Philippians 2.1-11; Matthew 21.28-32

Jesus told this parable. A man had two sons. He said to the first, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” “No, I will not,” the first son said. But afterwards the son regretted it and went. The father asked the second son to do the same. “Yes, sir,” the second son said but did not go. “Which of the two did the father’s will?” asks Jesus.

Only Matthew’s gospel tells us that after Jesus cleanses the temple, the blind and lame come to him there, and he heals them.  Those he heals proclaim, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” hailing Jesus as messiah just as the people who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem did.  The welcome, the temple cleansing, the healing, and acclaim anger the officials, the chief priests, scribes, and elders who witness these things.  In this volatile situation Jesus tells the parable of the father with two sons, Sunday’s gospel.

Jesus wants the temple leaders to change and do God’s work among the people as he does. Jesus invites disciples of every time and place to work in God’s world for compassionate relationships among people and with our planet home. Share bread with the hungry. If a neighbor asks for your coat, give your shirt as well. Do not put off until tomorrow the good you can do today.  Provide health care; it’s a human right. Help those who have become suddenly last and least through hurricanes and earthquakes.

What gospel duty do you carry out most? Avoid most?


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 17, 2017, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Sep

Sunday Readings: Sirach 27.30-28.7; Romans 14.7-9; Matthew 18.21-35

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?” – Matthew 18.21

We know Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question. Seventy times seven times. That’s always. In the Our Father we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others every time we pray it–scary. Forgiveness may not be our first impulse when someone hurts us. We may want to strike back or perhaps just nurse festering resentment, or perhaps like Peter we want to count. This is not God’s way or Jesus’ way.

The parable that follows Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer is about the servant who owes his master a big debt that a generous master forgives. Then the forgiven servant insists a fellow servant pay a debt of 100 denarii, refuses pleas for patience, and puts the fellow servant in prison. The master finds out and hands the unforgiving servant over to be tortured. The parable challenges us to recognize God’s expansive love and mercy and make room for growth and grace in our relationships.

How has making room for grace and growth helped you forgive others or yourself?


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Gospel Reflection for September 10, 2017, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Sep

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 33.7-9; Romans 13.8-10; Matthew 18.15-20

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  – Matthew 13.20

“Talk it through” is the nub of Jesus’ advice on what to do when one disciple wrongs another. Step one is one-on-one dialogue. If that fails, step two advises us to bring witnesses for another face-to-face talk. The aim is to win over an offending member of the community. If that fails, the person gets treated as a Gentile or tax-collector, an outsider. However, Jesus is famous for reaching out to just such people.

How much festering resentment and ill will can we avoid if we speak directly with people or organizations that wrong us–not to chide or scold but to let them know how we feel and how what they are doing affects us. The binding and loosing Jesus empowers his followers to do is not for punishing but for healing.

What value do you put on face-to-face conversation for clearing up a wrong or supposed wrong? What works to stop the spread of accusations on social media?


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 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?


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 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?

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