Save Me

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

August 9, 2020 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 14:22-33

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

We humans sometimes think we can do almost anything. “Illusions of grandeur” is how this tendency can be described. No task is too difficult for us. No goal is unachievable. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having high ideals. Humans can do amazing things. But we can’t do everything. That’s what Peter learned when he tries to do the impossible.

Today’s gospel offers the delightful account of Jesus walking on the water. And Peter’s reaction, which suggests a human response that many of us might have.

Let’s first think about what Peter might have been thinking when he stepped out of the boat into the choppy waters. He saw Jesus calmly walking on the water. For a fisherman, which was Peter’s trade, this skill of water-walking would be quite useful. One could fish anywhere on the lake and wouldn’t even need a boat. So, Peter asked Jesus if he should give it a try. Jesus said, “Why not?”

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Give What You Have

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

August 2, 2020 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 14:13-21

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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Reading today’s gospel might bring on a smile or two. It describes a large number of people, five-thousand men, plus women and children, all gathering in one place to hear Jesus. My initial question was that this could not happen today. Too much closeness, too dangerous given our need to deal with Covid-19.

Yet there is also a dimension of the narrative that is timeless, and totally appropriate for today, or any day. Focus on the initial reaction of the disciples of Jesus upon realizing that the gathered crowd must be hungry. In their practical view of things, this crowd should be told to disperse and find food for themselves in neighboring towns. Perhaps they should return to their homes. It was dinner time.

How surprised they must have been when Jesus said the crowd should stay and simply be given what the disciples had available. So, a quick inventory was taken. Five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus said to give to the crowd what they had. It would be enough. And it was.

Here’s what I think Jesus wants us to know. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, whatever you judge its needs, share what you have at that moment and it will be enough.

To some this will sound impractical. Or unrealistic. I suspect the disciples of Jesus, after hearing his instructions about feeding the crowd, thought he was totally off his rocker. He was losing touch with reality. They likely told him that they needed more than five of this and two of that. Much more.

How often do we think along similar lines as parents or grandparents, as spouses, as friends, as neighbors? We see the needs of others, but we judge that we don’t have sufficient resources to really help. To solve the problems of the moment. To make it all better.

But Jesus, I believe, would say to us that we do. Give what you have. It will be enough. That’s all God expects.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

 


Claim the Treasure

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 26, 2020 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 13:44-52

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

I begin this reflection by quoting the first lines of today’s gospel where Jesus gives one of his many images of what the Kingdom of God is like. It is a passage many will be familiar with. It’s one of those “images” that can stick in one’s memory. Not so much because it’s meaning is clear. In fact, the opposite. It’s like a puzzle that defies an easy explanation.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Mt. 13:44)

The passage starts with the “treasure” that’s buried in a field. Someone discovers it, reburies it and then buys the whole field. Then leaves the treasure buried. On one level this does not make sense. If one acquires a treasure, doesn’t it make sense to use it and enjoy it? That’s what most of us would do. I would.

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Everything Counts

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 19, 2020 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 10:26-33

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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Most of what most of us do each day is small. Our daily deeds are usually unnoticed. Our accomplishments never get into the pages of a newspaper, nor are they posted online. We pick up a discarded sock on the floor that was dropped by one of our children. We add a special touch to a salad for dinner. We empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage. We say “thanks you” to the check-out person as we leave the store. We always wear a mask in public to protect others and ourselves from Covid-19. Little things. Hardly anything. Easily overlooked.

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Keep On Planting Seeds

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 12, 2020 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 13:1-23

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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I have never been a farmer, but in my two primary jobs, that of being a parent and a teacher, I tried to do what farmers did. Be a good sower. Plant seeds, and hope that something results that is alive and grows to maturity. Today’s gospel is for anyone who tries to accomplish this goal.

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Respite with God

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 5, 2020 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 11:25-30

I really needed to hear the words from this Sunday’s gospel. I felt they were written just for me. Maybe you will think the same. Here are those words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

These are not only timely words that connect with what we learn from the daily news, but even more to our personal lives. It’s fairly easy these days to list burdensome items from the world around us. Like the pandemic that we are now suffering through, which leaves us with so much uncertainty and worries about what’s ahead. We cannot forget the suffering of families around the globe. Or the fears faced by minorities, not only in the United States, but in so many countries. There are the challenges related to improving police protection, which have no easy answers. And we ought not ignore increasing climate change and global warming that affect us in many ways.

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We Are Neighbors

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 28, 2020 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 10:37-42

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

Today’s gospel is complicated and one that I think is easily misunderstood. Some might think it is anti-family because it seems to say that our love for God (and Jesus) is in competition with our love of family. Or even that love of family is not important. I write these gospel reflections to help readers appreciate the importance of interpersonal life, especially as it exists in marriage, family life and friendship. I want to place those important relationships in the context of a vital Christian life. I try to show the importance of connecting our love of God with our love of neighbor.

 

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Divine Attention to Detail

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 21, 2020 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 10:26-33

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

In my early twenties I noticed that my forehead seemed to be growing. Friends might comment that I should do something. I was unconcerned about this, mostly because I didn’t think I could fight the forces of nature. I had uncles who were mostly bald, so I figured I likely shared some of their genes. And sure enough, as I approached middle age, I became part of those very good-looking bald men in the world. I would smile whenever I heard this Sunday’s gospel when it mentioned that God knew the number of hairs on our heads. I thought that in my case this was no great accomplishment. It was my private joke with God.

 

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We Are Christ's Body

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 14, 2020 – Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) - John 6:51-58

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

Much of the bread I ate as a youngster was store-bought. It was white and soft and tasteless. Mostly it was used to hold a slice or two of American cheese or baloney. It was not considered unhealthy, although it wasn’t sold as a health food either. To call bread “the staff of life” would raise eyebrows. Such a designation would be considered inaccurate to say the least.

Yet historians often note that civilization was partly based on the invention of bread. That’s because humans needed the nourishment of grains and one of the best ways to preserve grain was to bake it into bread. In that sense, for many cultures bread was not only nutritious, it also kept people healthy and alive.

And that’s how it was at the time when Jesus lived. So, when he talked about how he would use bread to connect believers with him, they easily understood his point. They knew that the eating of bread was directly related to their personal survival.

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When Faith Is Tested

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

June 7, 2020 The Most Holy Trinity - John 3:116-18

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

Our faith and trust in God are tested in difficult times – like what we are living through these days. We are all growing restless and tired as we continue to live during the limitations placed on us during the Covid-19 pandemic. We mourn for those who have been taken from our midst. We worry about our own health and that of others, particularly those we know who are frail. Many of us are also struggling because of lost jobs or reduced employment. We are not accustomed to the many limits imposed on us these days. Still, we try to do our best.

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