Tag Archives: Keeping Faith Today

Gospel Reflection for April 22, 2018, 4th Sunday of Easter

19 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.8-12, 1 John 3.1-2, John 10.11-18

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10.14-15

The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is beloved among Christians, one we return to each year in the Sunday gospel of Easter. Shepherds know their sheep and sheep recognize their shepherds’ voices. Shepherds lead their flocks in and out of sheepfolds by calling them. Sheep will not follow another shepherd’s voice.

For early Christians and for us, the shepherd images expresses closeness and intimacy with Jesus. The verses in Sunday’s gospel emphasize the wholehearted love Jesus demonstrates in loving us unto death. Three times the short gospel passage repeats what makes a shepherd good–willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep.

Who knows your voice? Whose voice do you know and hear? Who do you shepherd? For whom are you laying down your life?

Celebrate Earth Day: April 22

17 Apr

This coming Sunday is a world-wide day to honor and support Earth. We suggest three websites to help you and your family think about your responsibility for our common home. May Earth Day be a blessing to you and may you be a blessing to Earth.

Catholic Climate Covenant: http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org
Earth Day 2018: https://www.earthday.org/
Laudato Si, exhortation of Pope Francis. Especially chapter one.

 

Gospel Reflection for April 15, 2018, 3rd Sunday of Easter

9 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 3.13-15,  17-19; 1 John 2.1-5; Luke 24.35-48

“Thus it was written and so it happened that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. In his name repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be preached to the nations.” – Luke 24.46

Jesus’ crucifixion ends the story his disciples thought they were living by following him. His resurrection begins a new story. It adds a day to the story creation, an eighth day. Sunday’s gospel climaxes Luke 24, the gospel writer’s chapter on Jesus’ resurrection.

The disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus have returned to the assembled disciples. Their report affirms the women’s account of encountering Jesus risen at the empty tomb. Then suddenly Jesus is in their midst, extending peace, which startles and terrifies them. Jesus invites his followers to touch him,  eat with him, and opens their minds to interpret the scriptures (the Old Testament) in the light of his resurrection.

Christian still keep Sunday by gathering, remembering Jesus, interpreting events in our world in the light of scripture, and breaking bread together as he asked. At least that is the long practice of Christians. Now in our time abuse scandals, rules and doctrines irrelevant to new generations, and the challenge to faith to keep up with science leads many to walk away from affiliation with churches.

Some people start over as the original disciples did in small communities that re-interpret the scriptures for today.

When have you found Jesus breaking into presence anew in a community of seekers?


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Gospel Reflection for April 8, 2018, 2nd Sunday of Easter

5 Apr

Scripture Readings: Acts 4.32-35, 1 John 5.1-6, John 20.19-31

“Peace be with you. Thomas, take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe.” – John 20.26-27

The testimony of those who saw Jesus leaves Thomas unimpressed. He doubts as many people do today. He wants hands-on proof. When Jesus appears again, he invites Thomas to go ahead, “Poke away. If this is what it takes for you to believe, I’m at your disposal.” Thomas responds with a confession that soars above all others, “My Lord and my God.” How do we later generations come to faith, we who are unable to touch the nail holes in Jesus’ hands or the wound in his side?

God is available in the Word. The Word has become flesh not only in the person of Jesus but in the story about him and the words spoken in his name. Sunday’s gospel concludes by expressing the reason for the writing of the gospel stories. “These have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name” (John 20.31).

The God who creates is the God who comes among us in Jesus to save, heal, forgive, and make whole. Jesus continues to live among us in the gospel story, which calls us to hear and believe what we can no longer see and believe.

When have you questioned as Thomas did? Where did your questioning lead?


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.

Only Light Can Put Out Darkness

4 Apr

A year before he was assassinated, fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 
May they bless your day.

I’m concerned about a better world.

I’m concerned about justice.

I’m concerned about brotherhood.

I’m concerned about truth.

When you are concerned about these things, 

you can never advocate violence.

Through violence you may murder a hater,

but you can’t murder hate through violence.

Darkness cannot put out darkness;
only light can do that.


And so, I have decided to stick with love.

I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go.

I have decided to love.
 

What have you decided to stick with?

Gospel Reflection for April 1, 2018, Easter Sunday

26 Mar

Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 10.34,37-42; Colossians 3.1-3; (Vigil Mark 16.1-7) John 20.1-18

“This disciple who had arrived first at the tomb went in. He saw and believed.”  – John 20.8

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.'” – John 20.18

Mary Magdalene brings the whole community of Jesus’ followers the good news, “I have seen the Lord.” Easter testifies to the power of God’s love. Jesus’ resurrection testifies to the impossible coming to be. Every dawn testifies to the giver of our lives, the Holy Spirit, calling us into song like the birds, calling us into deeper roots like the bulbs, calling us with poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to recognize Easter is a verb.

We Christians welcome Jesus to easter in us. What Jesus has done for us in giving himself wholeheartedly we must do for one another. We weave with our love each day a community of love in our world.

How are Jesus and his Spirit eastering in you?


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 March 25, 2018, Passion/Palm Sunday

22 Mar

Scripture Readings: Mark 11.1-10, Isaiah 50.4-7, Philippians 2.6-11, Mark 14.1-15.47

Again the high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am.”  – Mark 14.61-62

A woman breaks open an alabaster jar of costly ointment and pours it on Jesus’ head.  Israel anointed its kings for office by pouring oil on their heads. The woman’s gesture is a prophetic act that, like the words of blessing that welcome Jesus to Jerusalem, identifies him as the messiah.

Jesus affirms that “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Her action anticipates the reason the high priest condemns Jesus. It contrasts sharply with Judas Iscariot’s act of betrayal that happens next.

Artfully the narrative creates an inside and outside scene during Jesus’ trial. Outside in the courtyard of the high priest’s house Peter denies he knows Jesus.  Inside the house Jesus acknowledges he is the messiah. The high priest asks, “Are you the messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus says, “I am.”

Jesus is not alone as he dies on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and other women disciples stand with him at a distance. The passion narrative leaves us in desolation.

Who are we like—the woman who has faith in Jesus; the betrayer; the disciples who flee when Jesus is arrested; Peter, who denies Jesus; the women who stand with him but cannot ease his suffering and anguish; Joseph of Arimathea, who shows up to bury him?


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.

Joseph of Dreams, Be With Us

19 Mar

Art by Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

When Joseph didn’t know what to do with his pregnant fiancée, he slept on it. In his dreams, an angel eased his doubt and gave him courage to act. Pray to Joseph today to fill your heart with hope and with the willingness to see God at work where you never imagined. Joseph is patron of the Universal Church. Ask him to bless Pope Francis’s efforts to dream a more merciful church into being. The Sisters of St. Joseph share one of their favorite prayers below:

Joseph, most ordinary, on this your feast,
 help us listen to our dreams with compassion and openness as you did.
 Help us stretch, hold, and deepen our relationships.
 Open our embrace of the future as you opened
 your arms to a child not your own. 
In these hard times may we, like you, dream compassionately,
 provide wisely, and build community that can hold us together.
 We ask this through Jesus, whom you claimed and named. Amen.

Jesus and Evolution

13 Mar

This is the last of our Lenten video series, a look at creation and our place in it. Jesus, true man as well as true God, takes his place with us in the unfolding of life and of our ability to know and love God.

 

Gospel Reflection for March 18, 2018, 5th Sunday of Lent

12 Mar

Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34, Hebrews 5.7-9, John 12.20-33

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.”  – John 12.24

The grain of wheat metaphor in John’s gospel uses the transforming process we call growth to help us understand all Jesus’ death and resurrection promises us. In the growth process, warmth and moisture swell a seed poked down in the soil until the life secreted within it bursts its hull. Actually, the seeds doesn’t fall into the earth and die but rather germinates. It swells with more life than the seed can hold. A new sprout pushes above ground into sunlight at the same time roots spread out underground in search of nourishment. With rain and sun, a grain of wheat grows a stalk that heads out with a hundredfold new seeds. The short life cycle of seeds dramatizes all that happens in the human life cycle, but the planting that we do in loving our children, teaching our students, being faithful in our relationships takes years to flourish.

The hour of Jesus’ death is a dynamic process, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit hundredfold like the wheat. At the heart of Christian faith is Jesus’ life-giving resurrection from his self-giving death. Jesus challenges us to follow his self-giving way, to love and serve one another and in doing so lifting others up.

What seeds of hope are you planting with your life?


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.

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