Tag Archives: the bible

Gospel Reflection for August 12, 2018, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Aug

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 19. 4-8; Ephesians 4.30-5.2, John 6.41-51

“The Jews began to murmur about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”  – John 6.41

Within the crowd following Jesus is a group whom the gospel writer calls “the Jews.” They murmur. They question how Jesus can be from heaven when they know his origins on earth. The conversation between Jesus and “the Jews” reflects the sharpening difference between the community of Christian Jews for whom John writes in the A.D. 90s and the Jews who follow other rabbis, faith to the law God gave Moses. Jesus and his followers are all Jews. The differences between between Jesus’ followers and other Jews develops after the temple is destroyed. Without temple worship to hold them together, the two groups grow into two separate world religions, Judaism and Christianity.

Jesus’ claims raise a question. Is God’s revelation only in the law of Moses and the God who supplied Israel quail and manna in the wilderness, or is God’s revelation in their midst in Jesus, the living bread?

None of the subgroups in the crowd respond well in John’s account of the loaves and fishes and what it points to about Jesus. Jesus’ disciples doubt their resources to feed 5,000. The crowd wants to make Jesus king like a pork-barrel hero but wants another sign of who he is the next day. Jesus’ claim to be the real bread of life from God is unbelievable to “the Jews.”

Where do you best fit — among the doubting disciples, the fair-weather crowd, or the Jews faithful to Moses’ law and the past?


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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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Gospel Reflection for July 29, 2018, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

24 Jul

Gospel Reflection for July 29, 2018, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: 2 Kings 4.42-44; Ephesians 4.1-6; John 6.1-15

Jesus saw a large crowd coming toward him and said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat? He said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here with five barley loaves and three fish. But what are they among so many?”  – John 6.5-9

In John’s gospel healing and feeding are called signs rather than miracles. A sign points to more than is visible. For the next several Sundays the Church reads from John gospel, chapter 6, which points to Jesus as the living bread and invites us to reflect on our eucharistic faith.

John’s theology riffs off the story of Jesus feeding a multitude with five barley loaves and two fish and having 12 baskets full of leftovers for those of us down the centuries and around the world who didn’t make the original feeding. To begin, Jesus’ disciples hit the wall about providing for such a crowd. The real crisis is about more than food. The real crisis lies in the disciples’ own resources and lack of imagination. Philip prices out the cost. Today he might be saying, “There aren’t enough priests, so we can no longer have the bread of life for everyone who is hungry.” Andrew finds resources but they’re meager. He reports a count, too. The boy who isn’t in a box gives what he has and it proves enough. Quite amazing.

To what does the sign point? What resources do the people of God have to nourish us today?


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Gospel Reflection for July 22, 2018, 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

18 Jul

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34

“As he went ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd. His heart is moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6.34

In Sunday’s gospel the twelve return from the mission to preach and heal which Jesus sent them out to do in last Sunday’s gospel. They come back woofed. Jesus’ growing popularity surrounds them with crowds and keeps them from eating let alone resting. Mark often creates literary sandwiches, a story within a story. Last Sunday’s gospel served us the first slice of story–Jesus sending the twelve out in pairs; this Sunday we hear the second slice of story–the return of the twelve. We don’t hear the 17 verses that form the meat in the middle of the sandwich. These verses tell the story of John the Baptist’s senseless and gruesome beheading. They do more than supply time for the twelve to be out on mission. The story of John the Baptist’s tells us the twelve have embarked on the same mission that cost the Baptist and Jesus their lives. It foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry.

Jesus cannot shut off his compassion to the people to come to him in droves. The gospel call us to preach the good news with our lives, to turn on our compassion, not turn it off.

When has pity or compassion moved you to action?


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Gospel Reflection for July 15, 2018, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Jul

Sunday Readings: Amos 7.12-15; Ephesians 1.2-14; Mark 6.7-13

“So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” – Mark 6.12-13

Jesus sends the twelve men disciples out to become one with the people in villages near Nazareth, to stay with them, and depend on their hospitality. Their actions  cultivate community in three ways. First, they preach repentance, turning toward God, opening one’s heart to the Spirit’s stirrings in us, opening our eyes to the holy in which we live. Second, the twelve cast out demons. Today we might call demons destructive drives and addictions that keep us from possessing ourselves and that erode our capacity to love others. Third, the twelve anoint and heal the sick as Jesus did.

We continue Jesus’ mission in our time just as the twelve do in Sunday’s gospel. We an testify to God’s presence in our lives. We can listen to and support friends and family members change their lives from too much work or drink, or too little voice or purpose. We can accompany the sick and elderly.

How do you continue Jesus’ mission?


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Gospel Reflection for July 8, 2018, 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

3 Jul

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 2.2-5; 2 Corinthians 12.7-10; Mark 6.1-6

“Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.” – Mark 6.6

When Jesus preaches in his hometown synagogue, his neighbors experience his astonishing wisdom but quickly dismiss his gifts. Their certainty and cynicism quickly tame their amazement at his preaching and healing. Jesus is a carpenter and no prophet. They cannot recognize God present in one of their own. Theologian Bernard Lonergan says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty.” Many of us shun controversy and debate, especially in our polarized times. We have to ask ourselves what we are too certain about to question and rethink.

What phrases do you use in conversations to let people know you are open to listening and conversing? 


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Gospel Reflection for July 1, 2018, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jun

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 1.13-15; 2.23-34; 2 Corinthians 8.7,9,13-15; Mark 5.21-43

“The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before Jesus, and told him the whole truth.”  – Mark 5.33

Jesus took the girl by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means,”Little girl, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was 12 years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. – Mark 5.41-42

In Sunday’s gospel, the gospel writer Mark deliberately tells the stories of two daughters as a story within a story. Both stories involve generations–the stories of Jairus and his blood daughter and Jesus and a faith daughter.  Jairus falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Jesus to heal his 12-year-old daughter who lingers near death. On his way a woman desperate to stop a 12-year flow of blood makes a last ditch effort for healing. She touches Jesus’ clothes, is healed, and gives witness in the midst of the crowd to all that has happened to her. Jesus recognizes her faith and call her daughter. Jairus and his wife fear for their daughter’s life. Jesus raises her up. Both stories end in amazement, the threshold where faith in Jesus begins.

What witness do you give to Jesus’ importance in your life?


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Gospel Reflection for June 24, 2018, Birth of John the Baptist

18 Jun

Gospel Reflection for June 24, 2018, Birth of John the Baptist

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 49.1-6; Acts 13.22-26; Luke 1.57-66, 80

On the eighth day Elizabeth and Zachariah came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after Zachariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name. Then they began to motion to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed and he began to speak, praising God.  – Luke 1.59-64

John is not unique in having God at work in his early life to prepare him for his vocation. John is not to follow his father into service as a priest of the temple. He lives apart from his culture and family and walks with God in the desert. He cultivates an awareness of God at work in him. In fewer than 30 words, Sunday’s gospel characterizes John’s 30 years of life prior to his public ministry as becoming “strong in spirit.” He needs strength for his prophetic vocation of preparing Jesus way. John offers us a model for activating the prophetic vocation that comes with our baptisms.

What strength of spirit do you have? Who challenges you to live gospel values?


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Gospel Reflection for June 17, 2018, 11th Sunday Ordinary Time

12 Jun

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 17.22-24; 2 Corinthians 5.6-10; Mark 4.26-34

“This is how it is with the reign of God. A farmer scatters seed on the ground, goes to bed, and gets up day after day. Through it all the seeds sprouts and grows without the farmer knowing how it happens.” – Mark 4.26-37

A farmer in Jesus’ time and all of us who grow plants today inherit the leap from ocean to land that early cellular life made. We can ready the field, sow the seed, and sleep awhile. It’s organic. Seeds have it in their DNA how to grow and mature with rain and sun. We live in a dynamic, evolving world in which all that is has the capacity to become more, to self-organize into new wholes. We humans live and thrive in relationship with others–in mutual, reciprocal love for family, friends, neighbors. Who do we count as neighbors, we Christians who embrace the moral challenge to do unto others what we do for ourselves–to act like one human family?

I am feeling shame these days that the law of our land requires splitting up parents and children at the Mexican border. Kids are crying there and all over the country where deportation is happening. Who has a stomach for cruelty to little kids? One can go bed and let the consequences play out while we sleep. Yet who of us like these children’s parents does not want safety, education, and a good life for their children? That’s what I want for my family. That’s what the kin*dom of God is like.

What’s in our Christian DNA? What can each of us do today to make caring the hallmark of our civil society?


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Gospel Reflection for June 10, 2018, 10th Sunday Ordinary Time

6 Jun

Sunday Readings: Genesis 3.9-15; 2 Corinthians 4.13-5.1; Mark 3.20-35

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, and mother.”  – Mark 3.35

Jesus is the talk of Galilee in the early chapters of Mark’s gospel. Only Mark tells this story in which enthusiastic crowds make neighbors his family question Jesus’ sanity. What makes neighbors think Jesus is out of his mind? He is saying the kingdom of God is near, casting out demons, healing the sick, and eating with sinners and tax collectors who don’t keep the religious laws.

Scribes from Jerusalem question by whose power Jesus preaches and heals? Jesus argues that it can’t be Satan freeing people from their demons, their destructive drives. The freedom and healing Jesus bring among the people manifest the Spirit of God drives him. To not see the Spirit in Jesus nor find the Spirit at work in ourselves is to refuse God’s love and God’s gift of our very selves and our lives. It’s a dead end beyond forgiveness. Whereas whoever has faith in God is family to Jesus.

What do Jesus’ words and actions reveal about who God is?


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