Sunday Gospel Reflections

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Have you ever wondered what the Gospel means for your life today?  Sometimes it’s difficulty to hear the Lord speaking in a personal way.  Check out this resource for a brief reflection on some main aspects of each Sunday’s Gospel reading.  These discipleship-focused reflections will help you explore some of the central Gospel themes and ask provoking questions so you can experience the challenge of the Gospel and call of faith.  Remember – Faith is first and foremost a relationship with Jesus Christ who, as the Good Shepherd, speaks to us through the scriptures.  These reflections can help you become attune to the Lord’s presence in your life and help you respond to that presence by saying “Yes” to the invitation of faith.

 

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In the summer of 2011, I returned to parish ministry having completed a six-year assignment to the Pontifical North American College in Rome where I had served as Director of Admissions and Vice Rector. The experience of seminary formation had awakened within me a desire to introduce quality faith enrichment and discipleship ministries into a parish environment.

Shortly after arriving at the Parish of Christ the King, I was contacted by John O’Connor who encouraged me to meet regularly with a group of men to study the scriptures so as to grow in discipleship. We began our early morning Prayer Breakfast meetings in January 2012 and these men have become brothers in Christ over the years since we started. They are as follows: Brad Fussell, Jonnie Gendron, Ted Hinson, Stephen King, David Littlefield, Mark Maguire, Kevin Murray, John O’Connor, David Phillips, Steve Poleman, David Reinecke, Tom Ritchie, Bill Senger, Jeff Smith, and Kevin Veit.

The experience of these meetings changed my life as a priest. It has been an honor and privilege to see the movement of God and the work of the Holy Spirit active in the lives so many parishioners. Their discussions and questions have challenged me to speak openly and honestly about my own discipleship and faith.

In the three years after the establishment of this initial group, several more Prayer Breakfast groups have developed. The success of this ministry and the effect it has had in the lives of so many men and women is evidence of both the hunger people have for the Word of God in Scripture and for the power of the Word to evoke faith in those who study it.

This writing is a series of exegetical, in-depth, reflections based on the assigned Gospel reading for the Sundays of a given liturgical year. Each reflection contains a few insights that are explained and then applied to the lived experience of a Christian disciple.

I also wish to acknowledge the various excellent biblical commentaries from which the vast majority of insights were drawn that are presented in these reflections. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to become a student of scripture to consult these commentaries directly. In no way do I claim these biblical insights to be my own. I am utterly dependent upon the research of generations of scholars. These reflections do not so much represent an original work on my part as they do a composition of insights gained from studying three essential biblical commentary series and some online homily resources from a noted theologian.

The following biblical commentary series were used extensively and repeatedly in the compilation of these reflections. Each of these series has a separate volume for specific Gospels and other biblical writings. The reader is encouraged to consult these commentary series: 

The Anchor Bible (New York, Doubleday)

The New Interpreters Bible (Nashville, Abingdon Press)

Sacra Pagina (“A Michael Glazier Book.” Collegeville: The Liturgical Press)

In addition to these three essential commentaries, I also gained insights from the homilies given by the Most Rev. Robert Barron from the Word on Fire website. Bishop Barron is one of the most talented theologians and communicators in the Catholic Church today. He is also a man of great humility, authenticity, and fidelity. His homilies are an invaluable resource for all disciples and are readily available as part of the “Resources” section of the Word on Fire website (www.wordonfire.org). I researched the fifteen-year collection of his homilies in preparation for each of the weekly reflections contained in this book and used those insights, which especially pertained to the biblical text. The reader is encouraged to consult the Word on Fire website for further study of these resources and for the other excellent evangelization resources available from that ministry.

The primary purpose of this writing is to promote a personal discipleship-focused study of the Gospels and to facilitate small group discussions.

It is hoped that this book can be of benefit to parishioners, homilists, and parish ministry staff.

As you read through these reflections in preparation for the Sunday Mass, it will be important to use a Bible so as to consult the many scriptural references. The New American Bible Revised Edition is referenced throughout the reflections. The abbreviation “cf.” is used to indicate such opportunities to confer or compare other relevant biblical texts. The abbreviation “v.” is used to identify corresponding scriptural quotes and/or passages.

There is no substitute for the Word of God in Scripture. These reflections may shed light on the biblical texts but should never replace those sacred texts in personal prayer and study.

When using these reflections for small group discussion, the following recommended process is simple and effective:

  1. Start with an opening Prayer.
  2. Read the relevant Biblical text.
  3. Review one reflection at a time and focus the discussion on the application questions.
  4. Then proceed to review the next reflection and focus on those questions.
  5. Continue this process until all the reflections for a given Gospel passage have been reviewed.
  6. Conclude by praying for the members of the group and interceding for particular needs.