Greatness in Small Acts

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 25, 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:1-15

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Imagine the look on the disciples’ faces when Jesus pointed to the little boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish and then declared that this would be enough to feed the 5000 (give or take a few) who were out in the middle of nowhere – and were hungry. Yes, five loaves of bread and a couple of fish could feed a medium sized family. But a crowd like this? To use an over-used word these days, that was crazy!

We know the rest. They were all fed and departed for their homes that evening after having eaten that amazing feast of plenty. And I must add too that event also invented one of my favorite foods, leftovers!

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Reclaim Sunday Rest

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 18, 2021 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 6:30-34

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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A recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel is that of the growing popularity of Jesus during his public life. Small gatherings turned into large crowds. The task of caring for the many needs of these larger groups must have fell on those who accompanied Jesus as he went from place to place. This was trying work and Jesus noticed that his disciples needed a break. Thus, Mark quotes Jesus in today’s gospel saying that they should “come away and rest awhile.”

I am a student of culture, past and contemporary, which includes noticing how societal patterns develop in daily life, especially those that might be related to religious practice. For instance, the Jewish practices associated with “keeping the Sabbath” or the Christian practice of Sunday worship and rest.

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Better Together

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 11, 2021 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 6:7-13

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Today’s gospel recalls the time when Jesus sent out his first followers to communicate to others his message and report on his deeds. Yet he was not a soloist but a communal one who sought the help of others. So, he nurtured disciples not just for their own good, but for them to reach out to others, to spread the Word of God to the ends of the earth, a project by the way that continues to this day.

What’s especially notable to me is that he sent them out in twos. Would it not have been more efficient to send them out individually? Then they could cover more ground. Make more contacts. Be more efficient.

But he didn’t, and I think for good reason. The message and the ministry of Jesus is not intended as a private reality. It was to be shared. It was to be lived communally.

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Change for the Better

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 4, 2021 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 6:1-6

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

He left as the son of Joseph. He returned as the son of God. He had changed in their eyes. And his former neighbors didn’t like this. But that’s not so surprising. Many of us are uncomfortable with change, especially when it’s with people we thought we knew.

That is the reaction which is at the heart of today’s gospel. Jesus grew up in the relatively small village called Nazareth. It was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone who lived there. They had formed opinions of each other. Jesus had left those familiar surroundings to begin his public life. We are not given exact ages, but he was gone long enough to have had new experiences, and – as was noted – he had changed.

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Reach Out to Jesus

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 27, 2021 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 5:21-43

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

We live during a time of deep social change. Old beliefs and behaviors are being challenged. Outdated laws and customs are debated. And our awareness of others is especially under examination. Are we a society of fairness and justice? Do we believe that all humans are created and loved by God in equal measure? These are questions for church and society, and for each of us as well.

Although today’s questions and discussions are many, today’s gospel alerts us to two specific social groups that we might consider with new eyes. They are featured in Mark’s gospel, which often focuses on the healing ministry of Jesus.

More specifically, we are invited to attend to the situation of women and children, from both a societal and religious perspective. And personally.

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When Storms Come

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 20, 2021 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 4:35-41

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

A favorite subject of artists depicting scenes from the life of Christ is the storm at sea. Waves lashed against the fragile boat. The disciples of Jesus had the look of terror. And there at the bow of the boat was Jesus, sound asleep. A vivid scene of contrasts.

We know how the narrative ends. They wake Jesus. He looks around in a relaxed manner, says something and the storm departs. Then he says to his friends something like, “Relax.
Enjoy the boat ride and have greater trust. And finally, expect an occasional storm.”

When I read the gospel for today, it dawned on me that there is more than one kind of storm in our lives. Yes, there are storms caused by nature and sadly they seem on the rise. But there are also storms in society, in governments and even in our church.

 

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Nurturing Moments

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 13, 2021 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 4:26-34

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Scientists these days are carefully rewinding the clock concerning the history of our home, planet Earth. The story begins with its initial formation over four billion years ago. Hidden in that long passage of time is a major breakthrough when non-living matter transformed itself into matter that was alive. It could reproduce itself and grow through complex processes of nourishment that turns something inert and lifeless into something that starts from a small seed and develop into something magnificent. Because we arrived here well after life began on Earth, we might assume it was always that way. Of course, we now know that it wasn’t.

And we also know that life is not necessarily permanent. It can cease to be, or be compromised by various disasters, some of which we humans create. As Pope Francis never tires of reminding us, life is fragile and requires our attention and care. In all its forms.

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Christ Remains with Us

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 6, 2021 - Body and Blood of Christ - Mark 14:12-16

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Both my parents died a few years back. But occasionally, I dream of them, but once my dream ends, they are gone. I also retain a few mementos of them in the form of old letters and pictures. One of my valued treasures of my dad is a small trophy he won at a local golf tournament. I have a letter my mom wrote me in college. But for the most part they have departed from my life. Hopefully, they are now enjoying eternal life with God.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This feast was created by the Church to remind us that Jesus remains with us, especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist. As Catholic churches reopen after the pandemic, it is a good time to recall the meaning of this sacramental gift to us, a gift that goes back to the Last Supper when Jesus said his presence (not just his memory) would remain with us in “the breaking of the bread,” a reference to the Eucharist that was created in the earliest days of the life of the church.

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Called to Community

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 30, 2021 – The Most Holy Trinity - Matthew 28:16-20

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

One of the reasons many of us have difficulty understanding that there is in God a community of persons, is this: Contemporary life values the individual person more than the community in which we live. That communal dimension of life takes on many forms like family, neighborhood, town, country, and even being part of the global community.

Valuing our individual identity is not wrong. After all, God is both one and a community. There are not three gods, but one. But that one God exists as three individuals. This is a great mystery of our faith, something we celebrate this Sunday.

Christian scholars have called this belief “a both/and” tenet of our faith. God is both one and three. In a similar way we are both individuals and communal. We are called to take care of ourselves and others – not one or the other. This command is captured in the biblical command: love your neighbor as yourself.

 

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Come Holy Spirit

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 23, 2021 Pentecost Sunday - John 20:19-23

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

We are used to dividing up the year into four seasons. Football fans in a similar way divide their favorite game into four quarters. Baseball is well known as a nine-inning game. When it comes to dividing time as Christians, we think of ancient time as connected with the Father, the life of Jesus as tied to the life of the Son, and after his death and resurrection as a time connected with God’s Holy Spirit. This Sunday marks the celebration of beginning of that third period of time, the time you and I now live in.

It is important to keep in mind that during all three of these historical periods, God was immediately present here on Earth. Further, God is present before, during and after the existence of the universe. But the divine presence is understood in different ways during history, typically centered around the lifetime of Jesus.

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