Tag Archives: reflection

Gospel Reflection for September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Sep

Photo via Flickr user Mat79

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 55.6-9; Philippians 1.20-24,27; Matthew 20.1-16

“So the last will be first and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20.16

The vineyard owner in Sunday’s gospel has a unique pay scale. The owner pays the full-day wage to those who find work only at the last hour. Some will perhaps count these workers as the laziest and resent that they receive the day’s wage the need to feed their families. In effect, this owner shows a preferential option for the least, for the people most in need. This is a basic principle of liberation theology.

The householder’s largesse invites us to ponder who this employer really is. As an image of God, the householder is not transcendent and distant but repeatedly seeks out workers in the market place and cares enough about their well-being to pay the living wage. We workers all stand in the same relationship to God, who owns the vineyard of all creation, resources for all to live.

When have you received more than you deserve? How like the vineyard owner is your God?  


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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?


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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?

Gospel Reflection for August 13, 2017, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Aug

Scripture readings: 1 Kings 19.9,11-13; Romans 9.1-5; Matthew 14.22-33

“Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened. Beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his had and caught him.” – Matthew 14.29-30

This gospel reflects Christians struggles in the A.D. 80s between the experience of having Jesus among them in the flesh and the promise of his risen presence. How does Jesus continue with the community?

Peter puts Jesus to a test. He requests a miracle. “If this is really you, command me to come to you on the water.”  This if statement repeats the bystanders’ taunts to Jesus on the cross–“If you are the messiah, save yourself.”

Jesus quickly says, “Come.” The scene invites faith. It suggests the journeys of early Christians to baptism. An early Christian baptistry at Dura-Europa in Syria has this scene painted on its wall above a baptismal pool (A.D. 250).

Stepping into the water and the future requires faith for Peter and for all of us who follow. Boldly Peter steps our of the boat, outside the comfortable circle of disciples and friends in the boat. Immediately strong head winds and great waves take his attention off Jesus and fill him with fear and terror. As he falters, Peter cries out to Jesus, who saves him.

Where are you in over your head and faltering?  What do you cry out for?


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Gospel Reflection for August 6, 2017 Feast of the Transfiguration

31 Jul

Scripture Readings: Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1.16-19; Mathew 17.1-9

“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them u on a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before their very eyes. His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes bright as light.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” – Matthew 17.1-3

In the transfiguration Peter, James, and John glimpse Jesus in glory, his divinity shining through his humanity. The three fall on the ground overcome with fear and awe. Words fail Peter. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary respond much the same way when Jesus appears to them after they find the tomb empty. The women hold his feet and worship him (Matthew 28.9).

Both the transfiguration and the resurrection are numinous experiences that take the witnesses beyond words. The creative love that lies at the heart of the evolving life of the universe touches the disciples on the mount of transfiguration and at the empty tomb.  The transfiguration embeds in the heart of the gospel narrative a post-Easter theological vision. The vision expresses who Jesus is and who we disciples are to be. We live in the future this scene envisions–Easter time.

How has a numinous, holy moment affected you? What have you carried with you from it?


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Poem of the Week

28 Jul

Plums, berries, apples, cherries, sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes. Write your own poem about them. Enjoy the colors and flavors of summer.

Write a poem on the refrigerator about something in your fridge.

 

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

 

 

 


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Gospel Reflection for July 30, 2017, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jul

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 3.5, 7-12; Romans 8.28-30; Matthew 13.44-52

“The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid, and then in joy goes and sells every belonging and buys the field.”  – Matthew 13.44

Sunday’s gospel begins with a parable about buying and selling. The treasure in the field requires all one has to possess it. The choice to buy totally realigns the buyer’s life and resources. What treasure is worth selling all one has to find joy? What was the buyer looking and what did the buyer find?

Jesus lets us reveal ourselves in imagining what the treasure is. Is it family, spouse, purpose? Is it Jesus? Do I find a person who becomes an abiding source of joy in marriage. Do I find in Jesus and his mission a friendship and purpose worthy my life, love, and energy?

What treasure do you seek?  What does it reveal about you?


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Poem of the Week

21 Jul

The Stems of Flowers are the Pillars of the World
by Ellen Murphy, CSJ

Tempered by weather
welded by sun rays and metallic rain
the stems of flowers rise, poised,
erect as pillars they hold the world up.

Light-power, stronger than stone or steel
channels through leaf-scrolls
along each live green column
direct to its capital flower
joining the sky.

Each inevitable design
is a tenuous reminder
of the pillar of inner worlds: fidelity.
How it grows erect from a heart’s rectitude,
the seed selecting elements for growing
true to its form
draws cell  by cell to its quality,
color, texture,
reaches its height.

Indispensable for the holding up of the world
as stems of flowers, the heart’s fidelity.
The delicate stems of bluebells, true to themselves
are pillars of the universe, as you are,
as the rose and the gladiola,
lilac-bole, apple tree, oak and sequoia,
their protein strength gently holding
the world to its height, to its life-sheltering.


 

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Gospel Reflection for July 23, 2017, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Jul

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 12.13,16-19; Romans 8.26-27; Matthew 13.24-43

“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are children of the evil one.” – Matthew 13.37-38

The gospel last Sunday took us to the parable section of Matthew’s well-organized narrative, chapter 13. We heard the parable of the sower. This Sunday we hear the next three parables: the risk of weeding wheat, the promise of growth in tiny seeds, and the effect of leaven in bread dough.

When Jesus interprets the weeds and wheat parable for his disciples, he recommends letting them grow together until the harvest. This means separating sinners from righteous folks bis not our work. Similarly Pope Francis insists, “Time is greater than space,” and gives priority to processes that build and develop communities over time rather than pass judgment. The mustard seed suggests how an insight, a moment of grace can grow with time. Another of Pope Francis’s pastoral principles is  “unity is greater than conflict.” Most of us recognize how easily we magnify differences rather when in fact we have more in common than divides us. “The Spirit can harmonize every diversity,” says Pope Francis.

Life and growth take time. God’s reign takes time to grow in each of us just as leaven takes time to transform bread dough. In light of our daily breaking news, it’s comforting to imagine all the daily loving actions Jesus’ disciples do invisibly in our world.

What leaven do you hope you are in your neighborhood? What small effort do you hope grows much bigger?


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Poem of the Week

13 Jul

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


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