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Spiritual Reflections

God's word is never easy

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To understand why Jeremiah is so despondent in today's first reading, it's essential to appreciate the role of biblical prophets in the history of salvation.

Contrary to popular opinion, they normally don't predict the future, certainly not the coming of Jesus. Unfortunately this false notion of their ministry is often reinforced in our liturgies. The Second Advent Preface, in the old translation, stated, "(Jesus') future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets." In the revised translation, it still says, "For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him."

Our testimony of Jesus

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Scripture is never simple. Even before we begin to read, we must know who is speaking, and why, and to whom, and with what agenda. To make matters even harder, the events and teachings we read about took place millennia ago in a language, culture and context different from our own. Despite this, we return to the Scriptures again and again to understand what God wants of us. We need to know what God's love is asking of us here and now in our own culture, language and circumstances.

Three o'clock and all is well

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While it may not be completely evident at first glance, there is a remarkable similarity between the situation in which Elijah found himself (first reading) and the disciples' predicament in today's Gospel. Elijah had incurred the wrath of Jezebel, wife of Ahab, king of Israel, and as a result, the prophet had to flee into the desert. There, he began to despair. He sat under a broom tree and prayed for God to take his life.

Feeding every hunger

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In a sermon on the feeding of the vast crowd in a deserted place, Peter Gomes insisted that the message of this miracle is clear: It is not the will of God that people should go hungry (Sermons: Biblical Wisdom For Daily Living, William Morrow and Co., 1998). Repeated six times in the four Gospels, the feeding of the multitude attests to the fact that Jesus met people's real needs.

He fed the hungry, said Gomes, not with metaphors but with food, not with resolutions and presidential commissions but with so much bread and fish that there was an abundance left over.

Field of vision

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The fact that Jesus of Nazareth frequently employed parables while he was teaching tells us a lot about what he was trying to accomplish during his earthly ministry.

Teachers don't use parables when they're just adding to their students' store of knowledge. Parables only come into play when someone is striving to change a person's whole frame of mind, when they're attempting to alter the way people process all the knowledge they receive. Parables are a means of retooling one's brain.

A missiology to make our own

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In today's first reading and Gospel, the sacred authors give us a glimpse into the missiology God has used to bring about the redemption and salvation of sinful humankind. Deutero-Isaiah describes the missionary efforts of God's powerful and creative word, spoken into time and space to accomplish the end for which God sent it: to gather in all the peoples of the earth.

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