In the readings for this Sunday, March 18, God fleshes out for us what he intended his covenant with us to be. To be God’s people is to live God’s law, and to live God’s law is to put love above all other things. Jesus did this for us, even when he was afraid and stressed out, and we’re called to do it for one another. Throughout our history, all of God’s actions on earth were meant to draw us closer to him. Even now, God is calling to us, dreaming of a time when we will respond to that call together and bring peace to this broken world.
Category archive: PB&Grace Blogs
In the readings for this Sunday, March 11, the theme of God’s mercy continues. The Israelites were in exile in Babylon when God used King Cyrus of Persia to send them home to rebuild God’s nation. They had been victims of war with a superpower, but now were experiencing a peace they couldn’t have seen coming. The second reading shows us God’s boundless mercy — that he didn’t wait for us to be worthy of saving, or make us have to earn salvation, but offered it as a free gift to anyone who wanted to believe in it. The Gospel today is a famous one — God so loved the world that he sent his only Son. If that’s not a mercy, I don’t know what is. Jesus tells Nicodemus that, even when the light is right in front of them (Jesus is that light), they still turn away and prefer the darkness. But, that didn’t stop Jesus from keeping his light shining. Even when we continue to choose the darkness of sin, Jesus shines his light to guide us back to him when we’re ready.
The latest installment of Marvel Comic movies, “Black Panther,” is timely, beautiful and an important commentary on our responsibility toward one another — particularly those who aren’t directly related to us. Go see it. Bring your teens. Bring your youth group.
The question of “what is my responsibility to my brother?” is a constant companion in this movie, each main character struggling with it in their own way. It challenges our use of the resources that we control, and how protecting our own freedom and stability to the exclusion and detriment of others is faulty policy; both morally and practically. Women and people of color are depicted in relationships of equality, respect and dignity that could serve as a model for us any day. If you’re looking for a way to introduce Catholic social teaching to young people, I strongly recommend using this movie as a catalyst for conversation.
In the readings for this Sunday, March 4, we see God’s unbalanced mercy (unbalanced in our favor) as we’re given the Ten Commandments. Only people who care about you will give instruction and boundaries for relationship; and the Ten Commandments are just that. Three are how to relate to God, seven are how to relate to one another. All of them together are how we live out our gratitude to God for all that we’ve been given, and to show respect to God and all the things God loves.
When we step out of those boundaries, we step into sin — sin that makes us forget who we are. Jesus, when he visited the temple, came face to face with people who forgot they were in service to God and God’s people, and forgot the purpose of the temple. They forgot to put their relationship with God first, and made a mockery of God’s invitation to relationship. Jesus, rightly angry, made a point to correct them so that they could change their ways and return to God. Jesus also foreshadowed that an event was coming that would make the Jerusalem Temple obsolete — that Jesus would become the place of sacrifice once and for all.
In the readings for this Sunday, Feb. 25, we move from the desert to high places. The ancient people would always go up to the mountains to find God. Today we travel with Abraham, when his relationship with God was still pretty new, up to the mountain to sacrifice his son. This is where God reveals that human sacrifice isn’t cool. Then we go with Jesus who is revealed to Peter, James and John, by the Father as having God’s authority. Naturally, they don’t understand what they see and hear, but that’s okay — it wasn’t time yet. It was enough that Peter realized that what he was witnessing was important and that it was an honor to be there. Paul reminds us that we have God on our side — a loving father who is willing to do anything for us, even give us his only Son.
In the readings for this Sunday, Feb. 18, God gives us a preview of baptism via Noah, and invites us into the desert with Jesus — both for 40 days. There were many “40’s” in the Bible; all of them were times of preparation for something big. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that this is the time of fulfillment, but to be fulfilled we first have to recognize what’s not working in our lives, let go of it, and live the Gospel values more completely. We’re offered this 40 days to really pray, remove distractions, and give of ourselves to make those things more clear.
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day—a major conflict of interest for kids and couples alike. You could put off your celebration of Valentine’s Day until the weekend…or you could celebrate the two days together. Here are ten ideas for how to do it.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 28, from Moses to Jesus, we find out what happens when a person accepts the vocation of prophet for God. Moses was a member of the Hebrew community chosen by God to bring his fellow people God’s message. Paul warns us to not get caught up in the normalcy of life: the distractions, the busyness, and anything else that makes us forget to listen to and speak for God. When Jesus began to teach people who longed to know God better, they experienced teaching from someone who knew God firsthand, and therefore, spoke with true authority. His teaching was so effective that the devil wanted to stop him, because if people knew the truth about God’s love and what God knows we can do, we would live such radical lives of love that we would change the world.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 21, we get a small preview of Lent. “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed,” says God. Jonah is charged to bring that message to his enemies helping them (reluctantly) to come to God, all the while moving away from God himself in his unwillingness to forgive. He’s not keen on extending the forgiveness that he had received from God to others. Paul urges us to stop whatever we’re doing and check our relationship with God. It’s also a call to make sure that we have given everyone in our lives an opportunity to hear the Gospel — that’s our mission. To live an authentic relationship with God means to extend that relationship to others — especially our enemies. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that this is the time of fulfillment. It’s the time for God’s purpose to be fulfilled in the world and in each of us.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 14, God continues the theme of invitation that was begun in the readings from last week’s Epiphany readings. Our first reading shows how God calls even the young, like Samuel, and how important it is to have good mentors like Eli to help discern what is being asked of us. Our second reading is a wonderful reminder that our bodies are good and holy, and made for God’s glory. God chooses to live in us, making us temples of God’s Holy Spirit. This means that we have a great responsibility to care for ourselves and to use our lives in God’s service. The Gospel recalls the falling back of John the Baptist, and the coming forward of Jesus’ ministry. Andrew recognized Jesus’ specialness right away, and responded immediately to his invitation to “come and see.” After spending just a little time with Jesus, Andrew began to gather others to share in what he had found — the Messiah — the hope of Israel. Every time we hear God’s invitation and answer it, we are drawn deeper into greatness and become more fully human, and more fully alive.