Tag Archives: the bible

Gospel Reflection for December 16, 2018, 3rd Sunday of Advent

14 Dec

Sunday Readings: Zephaniah 3.14-18; Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.10-18

The crowd asks John the Baptist, “What should we do?” Let people with two coats give to people who have none. People who have lots of food should do the same.” – Luke 3.10-11

Crowds are listening to John the Baptist scold his hearers because they come seeking baptism, a sign of a new and changed life, but have made no changes. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance,” he says. The crowds wants specifics. The Baptist tells them to share their belongings and food with those who are without clothes and food. He tells the tax collectors to collect only the money taxes require. John calls them to do justice in their everyday life and work. When people wash in the Jordan, they commit to just living. Baptism expresses this commitment. John teaches that uncleanness is a spiritual rather than a physical condition.

What is your experience of water cleansing and reviving you? What is a way you  have marked a turning toward God in your life?


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Gospel Reflection for December 9, 2018, 2nd Sunday of Advent

7 Dec

Sunday Readings: Baruch 5.1-9; Philippians 1.4-6, 8-11; Luke 3.1-6

“A herald’s voice in the desert cries out: ‘Make ready a road for God. Clear a straight path for God. Every valley shall be filled; every mountain and hill shall be leveled.’” – Luke 3.4-5

John the Baptist heralds the turning point in history by which much of the world marks its calendar. His preaching echoes the prophet Second Isaiah, who called the exiled Israelites to come home  to Jerusalem and be a people, to rebuild their ruined city and temple. God will lead them. Second Isaiah’s imagines God straightening hairpins turns, filling impassable crevasses, and smoothing exhausting terrain to lead the people home through the wilderness. The message invites us to ask what road we are traveling. Is it full of traffic? Is it fast? Or scenic? Where does it lead?

Where is home? What relationships are you building to call home? 


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Gospel Reflection for December 2, 2018, 1st Sunday of Advent

29 Nov

Gospel Reflection for December 2, 2018, 1st Sunday of Advent

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 33.14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3.12-4.2; Luke 21.25-28, 34-36

“Stay watchful, praying for strength to escape what will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21.36

Advent begins the Church year with a gospel that fairly froths with frightful images. The gospel reminds us that no matter how threatening personal or world events, we live from beginning to end in the embrace of God. In our experience of being alive, we find God within us. In turning to one another and bridging our separate selves, we find God among us. In experiencing our human limits, we find we have heart and hope for mystery—God beyond us. The God of our beginning is the God of all we will become.

Whether we see Jesus’ coming again as a threat or a fulfillment, the gospel challenges us to stay watchful and pray for strength. In living consciously, attentive to people and life within and around us, we will find God already with us.

What gives you hope this Advent? 


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Gospel Reflection for November 25, 2018, Feast of Christ the King

20 Nov

Sunday Readings: Daniel 7.13-14, Revelation 1.5-8, John 18.33-37

Pilate said to Jesus, “So then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “It is you what say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth.” – John 18.36-37

In his exchange with Pilate, Jesus asks the procurator to make a judgment. Their dialogue about whether Jesus is a king invites Pilate to see and understand who Jesus is. But Pilate cannot step outside the values of the Roman Empire any more easily than we can recognize the ways our culture obscures the truth. It is not truth that governs his decision but political calculations. Similarly we live in a society that hammers us with media sound bytes that may not be true in context and often promote fear to sell advertising.

To follow Jesus we must testify to the truth within us, in the gospels, and in our Catholic social justice tradition that recognizes the sacredness of every person. As Christians we can’t help but see Jesus in the least and can’t dodge the work of including the least in our care.

How are you like Pilate? What truths do you hold self-evident? 


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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 October 21, 2018, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 53.10-11; Hebrews 4.14-16; Mark 10.35-44

Jesus says to James and John, who ask to sit at his right and left hand in his kingdom, “You do not know what your are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup I will drink?”  – Mark 10.38

It’s ironic that James and John answer Jesus’ question, “We can.” They do the opposite. They forsake Jesus when he gets arrested and flee with all of Jesus’ men disciples except Peter. Peter follows Jesus until he denies even knowing him in the high priest’s courtyard. When following becomes life-threatening, neither James and John nor the others who are indignant at their ambition stay the course. Their commitment evaporates. They shrink from drinking the cup Jesus is about to drink. Who wouldn’t shrink? Mark want us to recognize that Jesus’ disciples have to grow into their commitment as we can.

At every eucharist we drink the cup that Jesus drank. We brashly say amen, this is the lifeblood of Christ poured out for us. It become part of us, a commitment to live into each day.

To what do you commit when at Mass you drink the cup that Jesus drank?


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Gospel Reflection for October 14, 2018, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Oct

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 7.7-11; Hebrews 4.12-13; Mark 10.17-27

“You need do only one thing more.”  – Mark 10.21

The young man in Sunday’s gospel wants to know what he can do to receive eternal life. Jesus names six of the ten commandments–no to killing, adultery, stealing, giving false witness, and cheating, and yes to honoring one’s parents. The young man claims he has kept the commandments since he was a child. This is when Jesus tells him, “You need do only one thing more.” So, what is it, the one thing more?

Jesus’ answers, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor.” This is the way to build treasure in heaven. What could be more opposite American wisdom, which tells us to invest in Wall Street expertise and let wealth managers build us a happy retirement? Wouldn’t doing as Jesus’ says literally make us one of the poor? In a moneyed society like ours, it is irresponsible not to take care of one’s self and family. Repeated advertisements say so.

What if Jesus is pointing out that we are all human beings together here on Earth? We are separate individuals but from day one we can’t live without care from others. We can’t thrive without solidarity with one another, without bonds among us. Not all of us get face cards in the hands life deals us.

Jesus is suggesting that our possessions may possess us rather than the well-being of family, neighbors, friends, employees, coworkers. As committed Christians we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and one another and of those who need a living wage, who don’t speak English, who need food for their kids on the weekend, who need medication for chronic diseases, whose skin color scares us? The Second Vatican Council said a startling thing. We are not saved as individuals but through the bonds among us that form us into a people (Constitution on the Church 9). Jesus challenges us to build a community that love holds together.

What is “one thing more” you want to commit to do?


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Gospel Reflection for October 7, 2018, 27th Sunday Ordinary Time

4 Oct

Sunday Readings: Genesis 2.18-24; Hebrews 2.9-11; Mark 10.2-12

“God made humans male and female, and for this reason men and woman leave their fathers and mothers and the two become one.”  – Mark 10.6-8

Some Pharisees ask Jesus in Sunday’s gospel, “Does the law permit divorce?” This question is still controversial today. The law of Moses does permit men to divorce their wives. To repudiate a wife puts her outside the family social structure, in effect impoverishing her.

Jesus endorses marriage by quoting Genesis 1 that the Creator makes humankind in the divine image and gifts them with sex, “male and female God created them” (1.26.27). The creation story in Genesis 2 describes men and women made of the same bone or essence, equally human and made for becoming one. Jesus insists that in the case of adultery wives should be able divorce their husbands just as men can divorce their wives, a move toward equality.

This Church teaches marriage is indissoluble. Marriage is the most common way Christians live out their discipleship. Marriage builds bond of blood and networks of love and friendship–the social weave that holds us together. In countless daily ways spouses build their union and at the same time their individual wholeness.

Today Pope Francis recognizes the general rules in regard to marriage don’t fit every situation. He wants to make room for conscience and for grace. For him, mercy is the beating heart of the gospel. He cautions in his exhortation Love in the Family, “At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete significance. It’s the worst way of watering down the gospel” (#311).

What do you value about marriage? What is hardest?


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Gospel Reflection for September 23, 2018, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

21 Sep

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 2.12,17-20; James 3.16–4.3; Mark 9.30-37

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and the servant of all.”  – Mark 9.32

Jesus’ disciples aren’t catching on to his words about the Son of Man being betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him and three days after being killed, he will rise again. We Christians 2,000 years later know how Jesus’ story turns out so count Jesus as having divine foreknowledge and the disciples missing the trending conflicts with other teachers. But Jesus doesn’t need divine foreknowledge to anticipate growing opposition as his reputation for care and healing spreads. Israel’s scriptures contain numerous examples of what happens to prophets who speak out for people who are poor and need care. The disciples have more banal topics to engage them; in this care, who is greatest? Whoever wants to be top must be the servant of all.  Perhaps this is a cure for clericalism.

So a servant leader must listen to all, must seek to understand where others come from, work for the good of all, their education and health, praise all specifically for the gifts they contribute to the enterprise, respect all, even his or her opponents or slackers, refuse special privileges.

What qualities make servant leader in your experience?


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