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 Outdated laws and customs are debated.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.

Read more

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.

 

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

 

Read more

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.

Read more

Pursue Joy

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 16, 2021 – Seventh Sunday of Easter - John 17:11-19

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

Today’s gospel reads like a formal prayer – which it actually is. A special feature of this prayer is that it offers us a peek into the mind and heart of Jesus. Two things stick out for special attention.

First, Jesus wants us to be “one.” He wants all of us to be more united than divided, more connected with each other than separated. We are to actively be more supportive of each other than restricting each other’s pursuit of the good. Obviously, this is quite an idealistic goal but is not Jesus the world’s greatest idealist? Thank God for that!

This desire to achieve the good of all would bother some people today because their interests are mostly their own. They also assume that resources of the world are limited. They live in what’s called “a zero-sum world.” That means if someone else get what they want, I won’t get what I want. The guiding judgment underlying this narrowness assumes that there are limits on everything.

Read more

Run the Good Race

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 12 or 16, 2021 – The Ascension of the Lord - Mark 16:15-20

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

I have a grandson who is a high school athlete, a runner. One of his specialties is the relay races where four young speedsters encircle the track in sequence, passing what’s called a baton to the one whose turn it is to next run for the team.

Two special skills are needed for success. Speed afoot and facility is passing the baton from one runner to the next. Good teams practice both aspects of the race. Failure in either area inevitably results in losing the race.

In a sense, today’s gospel for the feast celebrating the Ascension of Jesus from earth to heaven, can be thought of as like a relay race. Jesus has completed his part of the race (figuratively speaking) and he is passing a “baton” to us to do the next part. As we do, we are told both the direction to take, and what to do while running. Recall what Mark’s gospel for today states: “Go into the whole world (the direction to run) and proclaim the gospel to every creature (the task).”

Read more

To Love Is to Serve

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 9, 2021 – Sixth Sunday of Easter - John 15:9-17

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

In recent times a new phrase has entered many conversations, especially those that take place via the phone. Just before the traditional “bye” is voiced, there’s often a hurried “love ya” said. I certainly wouldn’t be one to criticise an increase of “love” in the world, but when an expression of love become so common, so habitual and so customary, well, I’m not sure exactly what it means anymore. Maybe we need more than one word to say “love.”
And certainly, we should not be guilty of cheapening the importance of genuine love.

When Jesus reclined at table with his closest friends – for the last time – he decided to use this opportunity to clarify how he understood the meaning of love, especially between us. Not to leave it as a vague feeling between people (or as a quick phrase before saying bye on the phone) he said that we should love each other as he loved them. This was right before he gave his life for them.

Read more

Stay Connected to Jesus

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 2, 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Easter - John 15:1-8

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

Hardly any image is more familiar to Christians than Jesus’s use of the vine and the branches. Unfortunately, most of us are not caretakers of a vineyard, so the full impact of that image may be lost on us. So, let’s reflect a little on the art of growing good grapes, especially those used in the production of wine. We begin with recalling the importance of wine in the cultures of the Middle East during the time of Jesus.

Most of us pay little attention to what we drink throughout the day. There’s ample safe water in our taps, various prepared drinks in our refrigerators and abundant choices of coffees or teas in our cupboards. Rarely do we worry about thirst, unless we simply forget to drink adequate fluids throughout the day.

Read more