Tag Archives: our world today

Gospel Reflection for April 14, 2019, Passion/Palm Sunday

11 Apr

Sunday Readings: Luke 19.28-40; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Luke 22.14-23.56

Second criminal: “We are only paying this price for what we have done. This man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you enter into your reign.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23.41-44

The liturgies of Holy Week give worshipers parts to act out: processing with palms, footwashing on Holy Thursday, venerating the cross on Good Friday, following the newly lit Easter candle into the dark church on Holy Saturday. We walk with Jesus to his cross and follow the women to the empty tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. This is the week to go to church and rediscover who Jesus is, stir our dead roots, and revive our commitment to mission in the world.

Luke’s passion account emphasizes Jesus’ innocence. Pilate finds no evidence of a crime. The criminal to whom Jesus talks on the cross testifies to Jesus’ innocence. “This man has done nothing wrong.” At his death the centurion at the foot of the cross expresses Luke’s view, “Surely this man was innocent.”

Innocence is a powerful agent of change. The cries of children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexican border has awakened citizens to the immigration issues more than the plight of adults. Turning the fire hoses on children in Montgomery had the same power during the struggle for Civil Rights for African Americans. The violence we so readily justify toward one another we cannot justify doing to children.

How does violence against the innocent affect you? Imagine yourself as one of Jesus’ acquaintances or one of the women disciples who accompanied Jesus from Galilee and stands at a distance watching him crucified. What do you feel and think?


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International Women’s Day

8 Mar

It’s International Women’s Day! Check out www.internationalwomensday.com to find ways that you can take part in to create a more equal world and to celebrate the progress and achievements that women continue to make every day. #internationalwomensday #balanceforbetter

 

Gospel Reflection for March 10, 2019, 1st Sunday of Lent

8 Mar

Sunday Readings: Deuteronomy 26.4-10; Romans 10.8-13; Luke 4.1-13

“Not by bread alone shall a person live.” – Luke 4.4

Turning stones to bread does not tempt Jesus. He recognizes that our relationships with others and with others nourish us as surely as food does. We humans are social beings who cannot grow out of infancy without care and who flourish in the bonds of family, friendship, and collaborative work.

In fact, Jesus always eating with people in Luke’s gospel. These meals with the messiah often turn the expectations of the righteous upside down, for Jesus welcomes and reconciles sinners at these meals. Jesus nourishes us, ultimately, by pouring out his love and life for us in meals, miracles, and the cross.

Today in North America we exercise our freedom endlessly in malls and groceries. Choices abound. What bottled water do we prefer? What flavoring do we like best in our double latte? Our choices determine personal style, but they may not nourish Christian identity. Jesus challenges us not to live by consuming alone but by choosing to lift up those who have little chance to thrive without our help.

By which of God’s words do you live? With whom do you need a renewing meal? Who might you welcome to your family table?


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Gospel Reflection for February 24, 2019, 7th Sunday Ordinary Time

21 Feb

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel 26.2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 16.45-49; Luke 6.27-38

“Love your enemy and do good to those that hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who insult you. When people slap you on one cheek, turn and give them your other cheek. When people want you coat, give them your shirt, too. When someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do to others what you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6.27-32

Jesus’ teachings don’t get harder than the challenge to love our enemies. Much in our culture reinforces a win or lose, destroy your enemies point of view. We mark our history by our wars. Video games develop skills to blast, shoot, shatter, and kill rather than negotiate conflicts. What if we practiced making friends of enemies? What if games challenged players to find the mutual interest opponents did not recognize they have or to get out all the facts so the game can move on to the negotiation level? What if players scored points for creative and cooperative solutions to real-life problems?

To love our enemies is the heart of Jesus’ teaching. It is the challenge to which Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave their lives in our times. Ultimately our identity and self-worth are at stake in our conflicts.

When and how have you successfully negotiated a conflict or difference or made a friend of a seeming enemy?


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Gospel Reflection for February 17, 2019, 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

16 Feb

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 17.5-8; 1 Corinthians 15.12, 16-20; Luke 6.17, 20-26

“Blessed are you poor because yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungering now because you will be filled. Blessed are you who are weeping now because you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, exclude you, insult you, and throw out your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for your reward will be great in heaven. This is how people treat the prophets.” – Luke 6.20-23

The gospel writer Luke confronts us repeatedly with questions of Jesus’ identity. Who is this person who breaks rules and seeks out those whom others wish to avoid? What kind of world will people inherit if others follow his path and break the rules of tradition and culture? The beatitudes show us the world Jesus envisions in which the poor are blessed, the hungering full, those in mourning filled with laughter, and the persecuted rewarded in heaven.

Jesus’ beatitudes in Luke are a strident warning about the danger inherent in prosperity and abundance. That abundance is not blessedness is a shocking idea then and now. Jesus overturns the popular and comfortable idea that poor people somehow bring on their own circumstances and that rich people deserve their abundance. In Luke, Jesus supplies four woes paralleling the four beatitudes and challenging us to become participants in his vision for the world and shape our priorities accordingly.

When have people who are poor, hungering, weeping, or persecuted blessed you? What concrete actions can you do this week to share what you have with those who have little?


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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 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 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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Gospel Reflection for September 2, 2018, 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time

30 Aug

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 4.1-2,6-8; James 1.17-18,21-22,27; Mark 7.1-8,14-15, 21-23

“You forsake the commandment of God and hold to human tradition…It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.” – Mark 7.8, 21

Rules tend to multiply, and traditions accumulate. The Pharisees in Sunday’s gospel question why Jesus’ disciples do not follow Jewish traditions about washing their hands. In response Jesus raises a vital question: Are these rules human made or God-given? Do these rules lead people to God? Or, do these rules create unnecessary burdens? Jesus defends as more essential the moral law that declares greed, arrogance, deceit, murder, and adultery unholy. Declaring that the dietary laws have outlived their usefulness sets Jesus apart from all the authorities in the temple and synagogue. Laws like those of the Pharisees and many of the customs of the pre-Vatican II Church create a fence that was meant to keep people from even thinking about real hurtful, evil, destructive sins. Sunday’s gospel asks us to evaluate whether our rules help us become holy, open our hearts, and keep us from arrogance and obtuse spirits.

What rule do you practice that keeps your heart open to God and neighbor?


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Gospel Reflection for August 5, 2018, 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Aug

Scripture Readings: Exodus 16.2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4.17,20-24; John 6.24-35

“What must we do to perform the works of God?” – John 6.28

Jesus interests the crowd that he fed the day before in working for the food that endures for eternal life. Eternal life is the lure. That is why they ask, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Believe in the one whom God has sent is Jesus’ answer. The abundant bread proved no sacrament to them. They fail to catch on that it points to who Jesus is. They fail to see that Jesus’ teaching, healing, loving presence is the sign of God among them. The crowd wants another sign if they are to believe Jesus is from God. They are hungry for more than food?

For what do I hunger? Of what do I want more of? In a budding friendship each person wants to discover who the other is, what he or she is about, what and who is important in the other’s life? We yearn to know one another more deeply. A new book entices us to join a book club. An encounter with a neighbor leads to a joint gardening project. You try volunteering and find a whole new purpose. Faith may become a hunger that leads to a prayer group or to bible study. A hunger for justice may lead us to work for legislative action.

Who do you feed in your daily life and work? For what do you hunger?


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