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Spiritual Reflections

Going beyond

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Today's three readings bring up one of most vexing issues of biblical faith. Just what religious rules and regulations does God demand we keep, and which ones can we discard? Is it possible that some of our most fervently kept laws don't even come from God?

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It's all about communion

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Today's first reading sounds like a description of a feast of fools. Who would brag that they were singled out to receive a special invitation addressed to the ignorant or a reserved place at the supper for the simple? Yet when Lady Wisdom sets the table in her mansion, she is very particular about her guest list -- she invites only the unpretentious.

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Open to otherwise

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As the United States gears up for the next presidential election in 2016, would-be contenders are already coming forward to announce their candidacies. As soon as each makes his or her intentions public, the race begins -- not the presidential race, but a parallel race bent on smearing the opposition by digging into their personal lives for every true or unsubstantiated detail that might cast doubt on their abilities, ethics, principles and values.

Look beyond

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Bread of life is the theme that dominates four Sundays this month, and it actually began last month (July 26) with the sign of the multiplication of the loaves.

Signs is a particularly Johannine name for miracles. Each sign was intended to reveal something of the person and purpose of Jesus and to challenge and encourage those who witnessed the sign to believe -- or to deepen their faith.

God provides

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Today we remember the most famous picnic in religious history. How many people were there? Some say 5,000. Did that include women and children? We know for sure that there was at least one child -- girl or boy, nobody knows for sure -- who was vital to the story.

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Receive the people

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Today's Gospel opens after a period of great activity and ominous events. Jesus was rejected at home, so he went to other places and sent his disciples to preach in his name. They came back successful, but burdened and frightened by the martyrdom of John the Baptist. It was time for Jesus and his friends to regroup and discern God's will for them.

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Moving beyond presuppositions

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On the April 11, 2009, episode of "Britain's Got Talent," a middle-aged woman made her way to the stage and said she wanted to sing like one of Britain's most acclaimed stars of musical theater, Elaine Paige. At that, the judges for the contest barely concealed their amusement, and after a few minutes, the audience was whispering their doubts and criticisms. How could this frumpy and unattractive woman set herself forward like this? When asked why she'd waited so long to make her debut, Susan Boyle said she hadn't had the chance before.

Led beyond fear

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Mark sets a nearly breathless stage for this Gospel incident. Jesus and the disciples had weathered a great storm, then Jesus cured a demoniac, caused a pig-herd tragedy, and finally returned to Jewish territory from across the sea (Mark 4:35-5:21).

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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015

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