Tag Archives: Jesus

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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Gospel Reflection for May 28, 2017, Ascension

22 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.17-23; Matthew 28.16-20


“I am with you always, to the end of the ages.” – Matthew 28.20

In our cyber age it’s easy to find reason to dismiss a dream before we try. Online forecasts show too many lawyers. Or, studies show the capacity to learn a language plummets after 40. Perhaps that is why the film Hidden Figures is so inspiring. It celebrates three African American women who achieve their dreams in the face of racism, Jim Cross laws, and stereotypes of women.

The three women, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaugh, and Mary Jackson, each a gifted mathematician, meet as they work as human “computers” for the forerunner of NASA. They are part of a staff of black women who compute by hand the flight trajectories white male engineers’ request. The women join in the push to get someone into space and catch up with Russia.

The eleven disciples in the gospel go to Galilee because two women disciples fulfill their commission from Jesus to tell them they will see Jesus there.  The women themselves encounter Jesus risen on the way. The women disciples animate these men who fled at Jesus’ arrest rather than stand with him at the cross as they did (Matthew 27.57-61). Some of the eleven doubt even as the risen Jesus commissions them to go forth and make disciples of all the nations.

What is women’s importance in expanding and energizing Jesus’ mission today?

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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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Gospel Reflection for May 14, 2017, 5th Sunday of Easter

10 May

Scripture Readings: Acts 6.1-7; 1 Peter 2.4-9; John 14.1-12

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If this were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” – John 14.2

Jesus fills his long leave taking after the last supper with advice for his friends and the promise of abiding with them. The word that we translate dwelling places comes from the verb meno in Greek, which means to abide, remain, stay, last. This verb has dynamic theological meaning. To be in Jesus is also to be in relationship to the Father, to abide in God, to dwell in God. To believe in Jesus is to let his words and promises take up residence in us. In faith we do Jesus’ works and embrace the people of our globe with his compassion. We are dwellers not just in God’s house but in God’s love. We are in relationship with God as Jesus is. The befriending Spirit is our advocate. That’s the post-resurrection state of things.

What difference does it make to think of heaven as a relationship, as abiding in God?

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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 April 16, 2017, Easter Sunday

13 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4; John 20.1-9 (and John 20.10-18 to read Mary Magdalene’s part in the Easter story)

“Then the disciple who arrived first at the tomb went in, saw, and believed.” – John 20.9
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the lord.” – John 20.18

The Easter Sunday gospel ends with the beloved disciple’s model faith. He sees the empty tomb and believes. Neither on Easter Sunday nor the Second Sunday of Easter does the Church proclaim Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus risen. Without Mary Magdalene staying and grieving at the empty tomb, the Easter gospel presents only the mystery of the empty tomb but not the full revelation that Jesus is risen.

Significantly, Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in a garden, a setting that echoes the Genesis garden and suggests Easter is a new day of creation. First two angels and then a man she supposes to be the gardener ask Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping?” When the supposed gardener speaks her name, Mary Magdalene recognizes her teacher, risen and present. Jesus commissions her to tell the other disciples, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene becomes the apostle to the apostles as she returns to Jesus’ followers and announces, “I have seen the Lord.” She is the first preacher of the good news that Jesus is risen. She shares with them that we share Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus entrusts us as his brothers and sisters to his mission in the world.

Which disciple who goes to the empty tomb on Easter morning are you most like? Who responds as you would? The beloved disciple who sees the empty tomb and believes? Peter who goes back to the community of Jesus’ followers without saying anything? Mary Magdalene who stays at the tomb and grieves Jesus’ death, encounters Jesus risen, and then becomes the apostle of his good news to the others?

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