God Put Love into Action

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 14, 2021 – Fourth Sunday of Lent - John 3:14-21

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

This Sunday’s gospel, while brief, is one of the most important passages in the Bible. And it is known and valued by most Christians. You might even see it referred to on bumper stickers or on large signs at major sporting events (when fans were once allowed). It begins with the words: God so loved the world …” We instinctively know the rest. And with the Catholic Church having us reread this passage each Lent, we are reminded of its importance.

One way to understand the depth of this passage is to describe some of what the passage rejects. Allow me to suggest a few of them. What first comes to minds is the idea that God is indifferent to what happens in our world. That God does not care about us or our daily lives.

 

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Standing Up for the Powerless

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 7, 2021 – Third Sunday of Lent - John 2:13-25

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

Some scenes in the gospels create vivid images in us. Partly because they are quite dramatic. Sometimes, because they are so unique. This Sunday’s gospel about Jesus visiting the temple does both.

I remember my reaction to this gospel when I was a child. Children often remember times when their parents were angry and seemed to act out of character. That’s what we see in Jesus when he went to the holy temple in Jerusalem, likely to pray. But that’s not what happened. In a sense, we might say that he lost it. Others conclude just the opposite. He did what he rightfully had to do.

We all know that organized religion can be a source of great good. But we also are aware that it can be misused and cause harm, even great personal harm. Those with religiously sanctioned power over others can use that power to dominate and take advantage of the vulnerable.

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God So Loves the World

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

February 28, 2021 – Second Sunday of Lent - Mark 9:2-10

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

Today’s gospel reminds us of two things. First of all, in the end, all will be well. Not only will Jesus be “transfigured” as he once was, but so will we. To know and experience the details of that we will have to wait until after we die and go to that next wonderful place.

Second, before we can fully enjoy life after death, we must accept the challenges of living life here on earth. Although we may desire full happiness and bliss with God right now, we first have to live here on earth with all its joys and sufferings. Minute by minute, day by day.

The disciples who witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus were quite amazed. I like the word, “dazzled.” Like those ‘better than average” moments of our life right now, we want the feelings of excitement and full satisfaction to last. We want permanent residence atop that mountain of bliss.

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Jesus Boldly Heals Us

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

February 14, 2021 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 1:40-45

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

One of the more dramatic miracles done by Jesus was his curing of lepers. One thing worth knowing is that references to “leprosy” in the gospels likely referred to a variety of skin diseases that were common in the time of Jesus. They were feared because first, they were usually visible and were also thought to be contagious. Healing did happen and there was a Jewish religious ritual to indicate that the person could safely rejoin the community. Additionally, some thought these skin diseases had not only natural causes, but were also a symptom of moral failure.

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Let's Get to Work

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

February 7, 2021 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 1:29-39

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

Many years ago, I was enrolled in doctoral courses dealing with Holy Scripture. In a course on the Gospel of Mark, we were discussing its first chapter and the learned professor was commenting on today’s gospel. He loved to add thoughts about aspects of the text many failed to notice. So, he did. That’s what scripture scholars do.

His insight had to do with Peter’s mother-in-law. Some scholars like to point out that this indicated that Peter (the first pope) was married. That’s the only way to acquire in-laws.

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Jesus' Inclusive Invitation

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 31, 2021 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 1:21-28

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

Religions define and describe the world for their membership. Some acts are judged good and some evil. Some places are thought of a holy and some profane. Some ideas are labelled true and others false. The Jewish religion in the time of Jesus had rules about what was good and pure and what was not. Impurity was to be avoided. And if someone was judged to possess an impure spirit, that person was to be avoided no matter what. It was thought that impurity was contagious. (A little like contagious diseases like Covid-19).

So, we find Jesus in today’s gospel in a holy place (a synagogue) on a holy day (the Sabbath). And who should appear there but someone the community judges as having an unclean (or impure) spirit. Without elaboration here, we should mention that belief in spirits all over the place was common at that time.

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Follow That Impulse

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 24, 2021 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark1:14-20

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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I live in Montana where many of my friends, acquaintances and neighbors love to do two things: hunt and fish. Winters are for hunting. Summers are for fishing. Many homes are decorated with stuffed trophies gained on trips into the wild. But I grew up in a midwestern city where very few hunted and fished. My dad was a golfer and hunting and fishing meant hunting for lost golf balls hidden in the weeds or fishing for them submerged in the water. But I digress.

Today’s gospel is about four fishermen who fished not for sport but for their livelihood. Theirs was a family operation. A business. Dads taught their sons how to fish. It was serious schooling. Their survival, along with those who bought part of their catch, depended on this rich supply of protein and nourishment. And it was honorable work, something one could be proud of especially after a good day’s catch.

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In the Game

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 17, 2021 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 1:35-42

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

I grew up near a neighborhood park. Most days the boys living close by would gather in the park for games of baseball, football and the like. This was before sports for kids were organized. But there were still rules for play. Two kids, usually older ones, were designated as captains and they would choose their team from those standing around. Being chosen first was everyone’s hope. Being the last one picked – well, not so good. Still, being chosen was of value. It meant you were going to play.

Today’s gospel described how Jesus began what was called his public ministry. Certainly one option might be that he would strike out on his own, preach about God and capture the attention of people by his good actions, especially on behalf of those in need. But that wasn’t how he wanted it to be. He wanted others to help in spreading the Good News about God’s reign on earth that was then beginning. And to show what it was like by their lives.

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Living Water

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 10, 2021 – The Baptism of the Lord - Mark 1: 7-11

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

Jesus is standing in the river Jordan. John is doing his thing. No one might be impressed except for one addition to the gospel account. As this baptismal event was winding down, the heavens opened. That changes everything!

Here we might have to modify some of the images of “heaven” that we learned in our earlier years. I am referring to a three-story world where heaven is above, where God and the angels live. We are in the middle on earth. And you know who is below. This is called mythological imaging. It’s totally appropriate for children but we are adults. If we don’t reimagine “heaven,” we’ll miss the incredible message embedded in this gospel narrative.

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Seeing God

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 3, 2021- The Epiphany of the Lord - Matthew 2:1-12

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

He came to be seen. But not as one hoping to hear the cheers of the crowds. Not to receive the wealth of a head of state. Not to gain the attention given to a great king. But rather as one of us. An ordinary person. A remarkable person to be sure. But never wanting the spotlight to shine on him and him alone.

Today we are reminded of some of the first humans to see the Word of God made flesh. To see the appearance (that’s what the word, epiphany means) of God in human form. Yet what they saw was simply a newborn child, who looked quite like all the babies born at that time. But in reality, he was so different. For they were seeing God, the creator of the entire universe, as an infant.

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