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The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 3, 2020 Fourth Sunday of Easter - John 10:1-10

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

We are living at a time of closed gates. Think about the magnificent stadiums and other gathering places where we enjoy exciting sports events and musical concerts. These venues are symbols of our times, often dwarfing other buildings in our cities. That’s where our teams play. That’s where we find so much excitement and entertainment. And diversion. But today the gates are closed. Which allows us to more fully appreciate this Sunday’s gospel about open and closed gates.

 

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Remember and Believe

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 26, 2020 – Second Sunday of Easter - Luke 24:13-35

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

Many of us enjoy hearing or reading today’s gospel. There’s something both common and extraordinary about it. Two followers of Jesus are walking along a road just outside Jerusalem. (Some speculate that they might be a married couple.) A stranger approached and they begin to talk to him. The two are concerned and worried. They were in Jerusalem and had witnessed the terrible death of Jesus. They couldn’t get that out of their mind. Their new walking companion doesn’t seem to know about what happened to Jesus so the two filled him in on the details.

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Goodness Endures

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 19, 2020 – Second Sunday of Easter - John 20:19-31

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

I have a special appreciation of Thomas the Apostle. Not just because we share names but because he asked questions. If he had a doubt, he tried to find out more. Today we are given the wonderful account of his struggle with what the other disciples saw when he was somewhere else. Jesus appeared to his followers who were in hiding because they feared that they would be rounded up by the authorities who had recently crucified Jesus. They told Thomas what had happened in his absence. And true to form, Thomas was skeptical.

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Awaiting New Creation

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 12, 2020 – Easter Sunday - Luke 24:13-35

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

On two very unique days God created. On the first of those days, God created the Universe. Before, there was nothing but God. Then, in an instant, using the visionary analysis of Albert Einstein, there was energy and there was matter. All from a point, later called by scientists who know about such things, the singularity. It all instantly moved outward in a flash lasting one-billionth of a second, a nano second. That would have been something to see. And God did.

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Searching for Answers

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday - Matthew 26:14-27:66

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

It is impossible to listen to the gospel account of the death of Jesus without asking many questions. Here are a few that strike me. How did Jesus feel when his closest followers abandoned him? Why didn’t he defend himself before the authorities when given the opportunity? What was it like for him to be mocked, beaten and made fun of? Why did he accept a death that was so dreadful, so humiliating and so painful? Why didn’t he fight back? Or walk away?

All these questions (and many more) directly relate to the human response of Jesus to his passion and death. Given that Jesus was also fully divine, they also have a direct connection with his divine nature. We know God by observing Jesus as human.

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See and Believe

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 29, 2020 – Fifth Sunday of Lent - John 11:1-45

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

Although I live in a quiet corner of the Unites States, we enjoy regular train service. The Empire Builder is one of Amtrak’s remaining great passenger trains and each day it visits our town, once in the morning heading east and once each evening traveling west. It’s not always on time. In fact, when it is, locals notice.

In today’s gospel we are reminded of one of the greatest miracles of Jesus, his bringing his close friend Lazarus back to life after he had been entombed four days. Jesus was criticized because it was thought that if he had come earlier, he could have prevented the death of his friend. Maybe he could have, but he chose not to. Jesus was following his own timetable. In his view he was right “on time.”

Of course, the death of Lazarus saddened Jesus. He even wept as he approached the sealed tomb, a clear reminder of his humanness. But now it was time for Jesus to get to work. Later in John’s Gospel he will say that he is the way, the truth and the life. He is the Lord of life. He came to us on Earth so that we might have life in abundance. Thus, he would call Lazarus forth from the tomb. And in the presence of many, Lazarus came out. There is no record of the crowd’s response, or that of his sisters, Martha and Mary. Fittingly, the gospel today ends with the note than because of this miracle, many began to believe in Jesus. If we were there, we would likely do the same.

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See the Miracles

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 22, 2020 – Fourth Sunday of Lent - John 9:1-41

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

Today we hear again a familiar biblical story. A man was born blind. People wondered why this had happened. The narrowness of the time suggested that blindness, and other misfortunes, were caused by evil and sin. Bod things happened to bad people. At least, that was the general opinion.

In the gospels there are more than one cure of blindness, although the one read for this Sunday is the most striking because of its details. First, there’s the contrast. A man who never saw anything during his whole life suddenly can see. Next, there is the way Jesus performed it. He covered the man’s eyes with clay that he had moistened with his own spit. Then the man was directed to wash his eyes in a nearby pool. Suddenly he can see for the first time in his life. We are not told what he looked at, but that’s another interesting feature of the story. It makes us wonder what it would have been like for us if we had been blind and then we could see. What would be our reaction? More about that later.

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Love Ever-Flowing

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 15, 2020 – Third Sunday of Lent - John 4:5-42

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

What would you rather have? A thousand-dollar bill or a bank account that gave you money whenever you needed it? This is the kind of question that is suggested by today’s gospel, certainly one of the most unforgettable narratives in all of Holy Scripture. Commonly called “the woman at the well,” most know the main points of this part of John’s Gospel.

I want to focus on that part of the gospel where Jesus and the woman have a discussion about the need for water. They meet at a famous well -- it’s the same well where Jacob, an important Jewish figure in history hundreds of years previous, shared water from this well with Rachel, the daughter of his kinsmen. In that part of the world, with scarce rainfall, wells were needed for survival. They were also social gathering places, a bit like pubs in England and Ireland.

Without going into the wonderful details of this story, I will focus on the meaning of water as it was described by Jesus. It’s the way he will provide water to those who are thirsty. An important prop in the story is a bucket. She brought hers from her home and Jesus had none. He offers to supply her with water from the well, but she responds that he can’t do that because he happens to be without a bucket. This leads to his describing the water of life that he can offer her. He calls it “living water,” which will actually be “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

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Remember the Vision

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 8, 2020 – Second Sunday of Lent - Matthew 17:1-9

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

For hundreds of years faithful Jews prayed that God send to them a saviour, one who would come amid an impressive display of power and might. Perhaps God could arrange for major fireworks in the sky, or at least, a fully equipped army marching ahead that would destroy God’s enemies. But that’s not how it happened although there were a few moments that impressed those who were faithful to God. But many wanted more. They wanted to impress (and perhaps scare) God’s enemies. But that’s not how it all happened.

Today we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus, which took place before a small group of disciples, and far from the television cameras. Jesus gave his followers a brief glimpse of his identity and his closeness to God. He took on the appearance of a divine being and, of course, those present were suitably impressed. So much so, in fact, that they didn’t want to leave that mountaintop scene. They said that they wanted to build tents (like the one that once sheltered the Arc of the Covenant) for Jesus and for Moses and Elijah. Something a bit more permanent.

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The Tests of Lent

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 1, 2020 – First Sunday of Lent - Matthew 4:1-11

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

Lent is the Church’s season of testing. It begins with Jesus having to survive three tests – which also might be called temptations to do what was wrong. Years ago, I taught in three Catholic universities. During class time, I encouraged students to ask questions if they didn’t understand the mysterious topic I was discussing. I enjoyed this give and take between myself and the students.

But there was one question I never liked, and it came up all the time. “Doctor Thomas, is what you are talking about today going to be on the test?” I knew the attitude that was behind that question. If I said that it wasn’t, the students would put down their pens and fall asleep. If I said it would definitely be on the test, their attention peaked.

Today we hear about three “tests” that Jesus had to pass. We might call them the test about human need, the test about human trust and finally the test about human power.

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