Tag Archives: Jesus

The Advent Season

22 Oct

Advent is right around the corner! Check out our Advent Resources page to download free resources for your parish, family, and friends, order Sunday by Sunday, or to participate in a free online Advent retreat focusing on the holy women of the Gospels.

Gospel Reflection for October 6, 2019, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

4 Oct

Sunday Readings: Habakkuk 1.2-32.2-4; 2 Timothy 1.6-8,13-14; Luke 17.5-10

“Increase our faith, Lord.” – Luke 17.5

Faith is a setting of our hearts on what or who is ultimate. Faith has power. It lives in us. Like a seed it holds life and generates new life. A smidge can move mountains. The message speaks to our time when many confess they hang on to faith by a thread. Scandals in the church have disheartened many, and so has treatment of those in our families who are gay, lesbian, trans, Q. But a thread is enough, according to Jesus.

A question is enough, even a doubt. Curiosity, engagement, disgust can take us to a threshold that invites growth.

Faith lives in the currents of our relationships. Faith ties our lives to those we trust and thank. Faith grounds us in existence and purpose. Faith is about to whom and to what we belong.

Faith is to our conscious lives what blood is to the body; it sustains and animates our whole selves. Faith is our heart for embracing life, its giver and sustainer, the incomprehensible mystery of it all.

Often we inherit faith. In the sentence before Sunday’s second reading begins, the apostle Paul recalls how his protege Timothy came to believe in Jesus. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now I’m sure lives in you” (2 Timothy 1.5). Had there been a woman on the committee deciding the passages to read, the extra verse might have made the cut.

Why does so little faith go so far? 


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Gospel Reflection for September 22, 2019, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Sep

Sunday Readings: Amos 8.4-7; 1 Timothy 2.1-8; Luke 16.1-13

A rich man summoned his manager and said, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager anymore.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what I will do so that when I am dismissed as manager, people will take me into their homes.” – Luke 16.2-4

The dishonest manage forgives his boss’s debtors–50 of the 100 gallons of oil for one debtor and for another 20 of the 100 bushels of wheat owed. When the rich boss praises the dishonest manager, Jesus’ parable upends our usual way of looking at things. The self-serving manager does reduce the debts of the poor, carrying out what Catholic social teaching calls a preferential option for the poor.

The owner makes little of having his profits plundered for the sake of the powerless but instead admires the manager’s skillful exploitation of his accounts to create a future for himself. Luke’s gospel does not let the self-serving manager go without criticizing. Luke attaches a series of Jesus’ sayings to the parable, which pass judgment on dishonest people. The sayings insist that whoever is dishonest with a little cannot be trusted with a lot. No one can trust a cheater. No one can serve two masters.

The safest investment, according to the parable, is to throw in our lot with the poor–to serve God rather than pursue wealth. Jesus’ parables calls us to apply as much ingenuity for the sake of the poor as we do to exploit the poor for the sake of the economy.

How do you benefit from the labor of the poor? How do you invest in people in need?


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Bible Study. Faith Sharing. Small Christian Communities.

9 Sep

We have a special offer for you. If you are looking for a program to fit and maybe enliven your group, try Sunday by Sunday.

Sunday by Sunday is a four-page weekly based on the Sunday scripture readings. Up-to-date commentary and pertinent reflection questions make Sunday by Sunday ideal for small groups. No leader training needed!

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Call 800-232-5533 or visit goodgroundpress.com to learn more about our other products for adult and teen Gospel study.

Gospel Reflection for September 8, 2019, 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Sep

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 9.13-18; Philomen 9-10,12-17; Luke 14.25-33

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters, yes even life itself, cannot be my follower. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14.26-27

Our relationship with God comes first. It’s God’s gift that we have life. Faith in Jesus, God’s Son, makes the same demand. Jesus’ saying calls us to follow him wholeheartedly. Real faith in him is not a sideline in our lives; it shapes our lives, our willingness to serve as he served, our willingness to love our neighbors and our enemies. Hating family members seems like an exaggeration to make a point. Giving ourselves in love to our families can demand everything we have. For most of us loving God wholeheartedly and our neighbors as ourselves lays claim to our love energies slowly over the course of our lifetimes. Following Jesus can also take us away from home, into the world, even away from ourselves, and into relationships with people not like us. The saying gets our attention: discipleship expects wholeheartedness.

The second saying equates following Jesus as a disciple with carrying the cross as he did. The cross is Jesus’ brand. The cross symbolizes Jesus’ wholehearted self-giving. We use crosses to decorate our walls, homes, vestments, church towers. We tame the symbol and forget crucifixion was an excruciating painful and shameful form of execution, reserved for those Rome regarded as the vilest criminals and insurrectionists. Crucifixion aimed to deter imitators and keep control in the Empire much as lynching aimed to control African Americans after their emancipation from slavery. Both crucifixion and lynching drew crowds of ghoulish hecklers. As a symbol of discipleship, the cross calls us to end violence and join in the work of building communities of love and justice in our world.

In what ways do you carry Jesus’ cross?


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Gospel Reflection for September 1, 2019, 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time

30 Aug

Sunday Readings: Sirach 3.17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12.18-19, 22-24; Luke 14.87-14

“Then Jesus spoke to the one who had invited him to the meal: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or relatives or rich neighbors. They may invite you in return. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” – Luke 14.12-14

Jesus is at the house of a leading Pharisee in Sunday’s gospel. Jesus notices the guests taking places of honor for the meal and cautions against taking the first places at tables lest one have to give up the seat. He recommends taking the lowest place. In his advice for making guest list, Jesus prefers those who cannot repay their hosts with a return invitation and place of honor at their tables. Jesus wants to broaden the circle of those who eat at the tables of the elite rather than tighten the social circle. He wants our guest lists to help distribute food justly rather than cut people off as chronically inferior, deserving only distance rather than place among us.

What places of honor might you give up? What would you lose or gain? 


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Gospel Reflection for August 25, 2019, 21st Sunday Ordinary Time

23 Aug

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 66.18-21; Hebrews 12.5-7, 11.13; Luke 13.22-30

Someone asked Jesus, “Teacher, will only a few be saved?” Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able” – Luke 13.34

A doorway or threshold is a liminal space. The word limen means threshold, literally, the timber or stone that lies under a door. This space between inside and outside is transitional space, the boundary where one crosses between worlds and where imagination plays with who we may become.

The empty Easter tomb is a liminal space, the threshold between life as we know it and life as Jesus promises it. The stone has been rolled back. The open tomb calls us to faith.

Jesus opens not only the narrow door of his own self-giving but also the wider challenge of loving our neighbors. In Luke’s narrative Jesus presses his followers to invest in the poor rather than build bigger granaries. Both Jesus’ narrow and wide doors teach demanding, other-centered ethics. His way calls us to alleviate our fears by giving alms, to handle conflict by turning the other cheek, to carry people’s burdens an extra mile, to love even our enemies.

Each of us lives in a now when the door to commitment is open.

What more is Jesus asking of you? What door do you want to open or shut? What door to a neighbor do you want to open this week? 


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Gospel Reflection for August 11, 2019, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Aug

Scripture Readings: Wisdom 18.6-9; Hebrews 11.1-2, 8-19; Luke 12.32-48

“Bear this in mind: If a householder could know just when the thief would break in, the householder would never leave the house to be broken into! You have to be ready the same way, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you don’t expect.” – Luke 12.39-40

Many early Christians expected Jesus’ second coming in glory in their lifetimes. Luke’s audience has grown weary of waiting and raised questions about what commitments are of ultimate worth. Jesus’ exhortations in Sunday’s gospel encourage his disciples and us.

An element of surprise pervades the sayings. Jesus counsels us to keep our lamps burning. The kingdom may startle us, erupting as suddenly as a thief breaking in. Luke refuses to calculate when Jesus will appear in glory. We Christians cannot set any end-time clock. No, Jesus admonishes. Stay alert! Establish inexhaustible accounts in the heavens. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, free the oppressed. We have Jesus’ promise that the householder who returns and finds these works going on will seat us at table and serve us.

What in the way you live each day indicates where your heart is?


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Gospel Reflection for July 28, 2019, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

22 Jul

Sunday Readings: Genesis 18.20-32; Colossians 2.12-14; Luke 11.1-13

“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” – Luke 11.9

To pray that God’s name be hallowed and that God’s kingdom come is to acknowledge that all barriers to love must be dissolved. Anything that separates race from race, rich from poor, gender from gender, age group from age group, Christian from non-Christian is a barrier to the holiness God wishes to share with believers. Biases have no place in the community that names God our Father.

Jesus calls us to preserve in prayer. God is more gracious that a friend who reluctantly gets up in the night to help us, but God’s graciousness does not guarantee that we get what we want. We may not receive what we ask for; we may instead discover more than we were looking for or be surprised at what’s behind the door on which we are knocking.

What are you seeking in prayer? What have you found? 


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Gospel Reflection for July 21, 2019, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

15 Jul

Sunday Readings: Genesis 18.1-10; Colossians 1.24-28; Luke 10.38-42

“Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him to her home. She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teachings”  – Luke 10.38-39

In Sunday’s gospel Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to listen to his teachings and Martha serves him. These two actions–listening to Jesus’ words and serving a meal–are the same actions that take place in the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the eucharist. Perhaps Martha and Mary represent two forms of ministry evolving in the Christian community. Many women today value this gospel because it is one of the few stories about women. However, Luke sets the two sisters strangely against each other in the short gospel scene. Rather than ask Mary directly to help, Martha asks Jesus to command Mary to help with the work of hospitality. The request backfire.  Martha get chided for overburdening herself and Mary gets praise for silent listening.

The conflicts in the Martha and Mary story suggest that official ministries are evolving in the house churches of the A.D. 80s. The ministries of women in Christian communities have become controversial. The scene effectively silences the ministries of both women. Jesus tells Martha to give up her ministry of hospitality and perhaps house church and join her sister in preferring the better part–silent listening to Jesus. Perhaps their ministries of word and table make Martha and Mary too memorable in the life of the early Christian community to forget. Perhaps they are so important that Luke uses the voice of Jesus’ authority to put them in their place, the same subordinate position women are transforming today.

How do you participate in the Church’s ministries of word and table? What would happen if all the women in your parish withheld their service and leadership? 


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