Sunday Gospels 2019: Readings & Reflections
Sr Veronica's weekly one page reflections on the Sunday Gospel Readings have a global circulation. Each month the next four reflections are published here on our mercyworld.org website in reverse chronological order so that the most current reflection is always at the top of the list.
Veronica Lawson is an Australian Sister of Mercy. She studied Scripture at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem and at Trinity College, Dublin. For many years, she lectured in Biblical Studies at the Australian Catholic University and its predecessor institutions before spending seven years as leader of her congregation. She regularly presents biblical workshops and lectures within Australia and throughout the world. Sr Veronica writes from an eco-feminist perspective.
You are welcome to circulate these reflections. Please acknowledge the author, Veronica Lawson rsm.
Fr Eamonn O'Connor presents the Sunday Gospel on the Irish radio show Side by Side, a Religious and Social Affairs programme with a difference. Broadcast every Sunday morning on Shannonside FM from 10.00 – 11.00, ‘Side by Side’ communicates the Christian message in the context of contemporary Irish society. It does so in a manner that is ecumenical and informative.
27 January 2019. 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
'The liturgy for today juxtaposes the introductory verses of Luke’s gospel and a passage from the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry that encapsulates and sets the tone for the whole gospel. If we had no other part of Luke’s gospel than these twelve verses, we would know a great deal about the gospel and its author’s intentions. ..'
20 January 2019. 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'Today’s liturgy invites us to take a detour into the Fourth Gospel and into a marriage scene that the evangelist John places at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Marriage imagery appears from time to time in Israel’s prophetic tradition, sometimes in quite confronting or alienating ways, especially in Hosea where God is imaged as male and Israel as God’s faithless female spouse...'
13 January 2019. The Baptism of Jesus Year C
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
'Today’s celebration of the baptism of Jesus marks the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. The liturgy of the Christmas season invited us to reflect on and to experience the various comings of Christ in our world. It invited us to open ourselves to the action of God’s grace at work in our encounters with the living Christ...'
6 January 2019. Feast of the Epiphany Year C
'God’s presence is revealed to us in many and diverse ways: we can read the “story” of God’s creation of the universe; we can search out the meaning of our dreams; we can learn from our experience and the experience of others; and we can listen to the word of God in our sacred scriptures....'
24 February 2019. 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
'This classic gospel message is addressed to those who listen. To hear and respond to the heart of the message that follows, namely to love your enemies and to do good to those who hate you, calls for an extraordinary expansiveness of spirit only possible for those who are totally open to the power of God’s Spirit working in their lives...'
17 February 2019. 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 6:17, 20-26
'We are unlikely to consider ourselves blessed or happy when we cannot pay our bills or put food on the table. We are likewise slow to count our blessings, much less dance for joy, when we find ourselves in tears or when we are excluded, rejected, and treated with contempt. We are more likely to consider ourselves blessed when we do not have to be constantly worried about money or food and when others treat us with respect...'
10 February 2019. 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'The gospel reading opens with Jesus by the lake shore looking for a little space from the people who are pressing around him to hear “the word of God”. For the gospel writer, the word of Jesus is the word of God...'
3 February 2019. 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'This week’s gospel reading continues the story of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth. At first he is universally accepted: the people of Nazareth marvel at the gracious words he utters. They identify him as Joseph’s son. By the end of the story, however, these same people actually try to kill him. So, what happens in between to cause such a dramatic change of heart?...'
31 March 2019. 4th Sunday of Lent Year C
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
'Unfailing forgiveness and arms open to welcome back wayward sons and daughters is a key motif in today’s gospel story. There is no room in the hearts of Jesus’ critics for such forgiveness: upright law-abiding people should exclude “sinners” from their company.
24 March 2019. 3rd Sunday of Lent Year C
'Today’s gospel begins with two warnings about the need for repentance. It ends with a parable about an unproductive fig tree and a faithful “gardener God”. The warnings include two examples of untimely deaths, one reported to Jesus and then used by him to illustrate the urgent need for repentance, the other reported by Jesus as a further illustration of his point...'
17 March 2019. 2nd Sunday of Lent Year C
'Last week, the wilderness was a character in the gospel reading. This week, we find a mountain and a cloud featuring in the narrative. These other-than-human characters and the prophets of old (Moses and Elijah) link Luke’s story of Jesus to the Israelites’ covenant relationship with God. ...'
10 March 2019. 1st Sunday of Lent Year C
'Lent is a time for personal as well as group reflection, a time for entering into the “wilderness” or “desert place” and grappling with the mysteries of life. While deserts are often depicted as uninhabited or desolate regions, anyone who has spent time in such places knows that the desert supports a rich diversity of other-than-human life...'
3 March 2019. 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'“Everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher,” says the Lukan Jesus. What might it mean to become “fully qualified” for discipleship? For Jesus, being fully qualified in the ways of discipleship is not so much a matter of acquiring book knowledge as it is a question of being like the teacher. This is not to discount the importance of acquiring a deep knowledge of the tradition...'
28 April 2019. 2nd Sunday in Easter Year C
' This weekend we celebrate the second of eight Sundays of the Easter Season which culminates in the Feast of Pentecost. In other words, we recognise that the liturgical readings and prayers for each Sunday between Easter and Pentecost invite us into different movements of the one great symphony of resurrection faith...'
21 April 2019. Easter Sunday Year C
Easter Vigil Luke 24:1-12; Easter Sunday John 20:1-9
'It does not always pay to discount someone’s story just because it sounds a bit fantastic. In Luke’s resurrection account, that’s what the “eleven and all the rest” do with the women’s stories of a rolled-back stone, no body, and heavenly interpreters...'
14 April 2019. Passion Sunday Year C
'Jesus of Nazareth is executed in Jerusalem when the city is filled with pilgrims who are there to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover. A year after his execution, when his friends and family gather once more for Passover, they find new meaning in the celebration of the feast...'
7 April 2019. 5th Sunday in Lent Year C
'Historian Gerda Lerner has demonstrated that patriarchy emerged some 3000 years ago with the emergence of weapons of war and the consequent gender division of labour. By the first century CE, when the gospels were written, every woman in the Roman world knew what that she was the possession of a man, initially of her father, and then of her husband or successive husbands...'
26 May 2019. 6th Sunday in Easter
'“Take from my heart all painful anxiety.” This is the prayer of the first Sister of Mercy, Catherine McAuley. It echoes the words of the Johannine Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” It is all a matter of love. Disciples of Jesus know that they need not be anxious or afraid “for perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Today’s gospel makes it clear that “love” finds expression in the keeping of God’s word...'
19 May 2019. 5th Sunday in Easter
John 13: 31-35
'The literary context for today’s gospel reading is Jesus’ final meal with his disciples. Jesus has washed the feet of his foot-weary table companions, and has thus provided an example of what it means to love. What he has done for them, they are to do for one another. In other words, no form of service is too menial for a Christian disciple...'
12 May 2019. 4th Sunday in Easter
John 10: 27-30
‘Today’s gospel is amazingly reassuring for those who truly hear the voice of Jesus. He “knows” them. These are the ones who “follow” him, those who live as he lived, caring for the “flock”.There is a sense of mutuality in hearing and in being known. The inheritanceof the “known” ones is“eternal” or never-ending life…’
5 May 2019. 3rd Sunday in Easter
John 21: 1-19
'March 25 this year saw the publication of Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation, Christus Vivit. The Pope addresses his words to “young people and to the entire people of God”. Quite early in the document, there is a call for the church to be a “living church”, a church that is “attentive to the legitimate claims of those women who seek greater justice and equality” (par. 42)...'
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'Gary Cohen’s film, Judah & Mohammad, depicts the separate lives of two teenage school boys, one a Jewish Israeli and the other a Palestinian Arab...Sandy Tolan’s heart-wrenching novel, The Lemon Tree, tells a similar story of women on either side of the same divide. Both film and novel reflect a contemporary story of hostility between Israelis and Palestinians that more or less replicates the relationship between Jews and Samaritans in the first century...'
The Body and Blood of Christ Year C
Luke 9: 11-17
'The gospel for today brings together elements that have traditionally formed part of Christian worship. In the first part of the story, Jesus welcomes those who follow him. He then speaks to them of God’s kin-dom and heals those in need of healing. In the second part, he takes the loaves, blesses them, breaks them and puts them before the disciples who distribute the bread to the assembled people. All eat and are satisfied...'
Trinity Sunday Year C
'The opening sentence of today’s gospel touches something very deep in human experience. Jesus tells his disciples: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” In John’s gospel, Jesus is depicted as sensitive to the anguish of his friends and to their limited capacity to absorb the enormity of what was happening to him and to them...'
Pentecost Sunday Year C
John 20: 19-23
'Pentecost Sunday is sometimes called the birthday of the Church. For the ancient Israelites, Pentecost (meaning ‘fiftieth’) was a harvest festival celebrated fifty days after the harvesting of the first sheaf. When the Jerusalem temple was built, this harvest festival was transformed into a pilgrimage feast to celebrate the covenant that Israel had made with God on Mt Sinai...'
Feast of the Ascension Year C
Luke 24: 46-53
'Loss is part of the human condition, and the physical death of a loved one is among the most painful experiences of loss. Today’s Feast of the Ascension invites us to face the experience of loss in a transformative way. ..'
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'This Sunday’s gospel offers three little cameos about praying and about God’s generous giving. There are two teachings on prayer forming a frame around an enigmatic parable...'
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'The story of Martha and Mary has been interpreted fairly consistently over the centuries. Mary’s silent contemplative pose at the feet of Jesus has been affirmed while Martha’s action-oriented focus has been seen as a less desirable Christian stance. To be a “Mary” is to “choose the better part”. To be a “Martha” is to be “anxious and distracted about many things”. In recent times, some interpreters have re-evaluated this reading of the Martha-Mary story...'
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'The present ecological crisis calls us to new ways of being neighbour. We used to speak in terms of thinking globally and acting locally. If we are to be neighbour in our times, we need to think cosmically as well as globally and to act globally as well as locally...'
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
'It is not unusual for a crisis to function as the catalyst for the development of new initiatives. In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is first and foremost the People of God and the Body of Christ and not primarily a hierarchical institution. While there is little doubt that we are living in the time of the laity in the Church, it has taken a drastic reduction in the numbers of clergy and religious for lay Catholic women and men to recognize that they are called, by virtue of their baptism, to much more prominent roles in the life and mission of the church...'
25 August 2019. 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time C
'Some people seem to have an ingrained sense of entitlement. They put themselves first without regard for the sensitivities or rights of others. Whether their behaviour derives from childhood experiences of over-indulgence or from some other source, it can be quite divisive and even destructive of family or workplace or community. Those who put themselves first will often find themselves last in that they are tolerated at best rather than welcomed into most circles...'
18 August 2019. 20th Sunday in ordinary Time Year C
Luke 12: 49-53
'There is a sense of urgency in today’s gospel. Jesus feels constrained or under stress until the “fire” he has come to cast on the earth is kindled and the baptism of fire that John the Baptist foreshadowed in 3:16 takes effect. Elsewhere in Luke’s writing, fire is associated with judgement (3:9, 17; 9:17; 17:29), and with the presence of the Holy Spirit (3:16), especially in the Lukan story of Pentecost (Acts 2:3) where “tongues as of fire” appear and rest on all those assembled in the upper room. Fire is a sign of the end times when the Spirit of prophecy descends on all God’s people (Acts 2:18-19)...'
11 August 2019. 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 12: 32-48; shorter form 12:35-40
'The longer form of today’s gospel brings together a number of loosely connected sayings of Jesus about trust and vigilance. Jesus addresses his disciples affectionately as a “little flock”. He tells them that there is no need for fear. God, their “father”, has delighted in giving them “the kin-dom” and they are to be generous in their turn. They are to sell their material possessions and give “alms” or, in a more accurate translation of the Greek original, they are to use their resources to engage in “works of mercy” (eleēmosunē)...'
4 August 2019. 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'Our tradition tells us that “the earth and all that is in it belongs to God” (Psalm 24). That does not stop people from arguing over possessions and even killing for them. It never has. The Iraq war should have been a lesson to the world. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was much coveted oil and that seems to have been the covert justification for an unconscionable invasion that cost countless lives. There seems to be something deep within the human psyche that continually seeks for more...'
29 September 2019. 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Luke 16: 19-31
'The theme of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 2019-2020 Social Justice Statement is “making it real: genuine human encounter in a digital world.” It calls us to ensure that the new digital technology facilitates rather than inhibits the spread of the gospel. The gospel reading invites us to look at the wealth we enjoy, to sharpen our awareness of the needs of those who seek to share the bounty we claim for ourselves, to notice the poor who wait for justice at our gates and seek a part in the life we enjoy. This inclusive embrace is the vision we espouse in this final week of the Season of Creation...'
22 September 2019. 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Luke 16: 1-13
'The fourth week in the Season of Creation confronts us with the issue of the strategies we may need to employ if we are to create more sustainable ways of inhabiting the planet. A measure of cunning may be helpful. In Dancing with Strangers, Melbourne-based historian Inga Clenninden offered a new perspective on the famous incident of the spearing of Governor Arthur Phillip at Manly Cove on September 7, 1790...'
15 September 2019. 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Luke 15: 1-32
'Diverse creatures of the earth as well as earth elements feature in the gospel for this third Sunday of the Season of Creation. These evoke, once more, the eighth work of mercy with its call to contemplate God’s creation with gratitude and to engage in simple daily gestures that have the power to transform our world. There is joy in living this way...'
8 September 2019. 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 14: 25-33
' On June 17 this year, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development issued a letter about the Season of Creation. It noted that during this season Christians across six continents work to put into practice Pope Francis’ encyclical on integral ecology, Laudato Si’, and “participate in community events to deepen their love for Creator, creation, and each other”. As we move into the second week of the Season of Creation, we might renew our commitment to the gospel call to reverence for all that constitutes our planetary home...'
1 September 2019: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Luke 14: 1, 7-14
'For the past four years, Catholics have accepted the invitation of Pope Francis to join with other Christians across the planet in celebrating the Season of Creation. This extended celebration of creation was launched in 1989 by the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and joined progressively by other Christian communities. It begins with the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1 and concludes on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Over this period, we might reflect on what is happening to our planet and pay particular attention to the eighth work of mercy, “care of our common home”. As a spiritual work, care of our common home calls us to “grateful contemplation of God’s world”. As a corporal work, it calls us to “simple daily gestures” that create a more sustainable and equitable world...'
27 October 2019. 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'The parable of the Pharisee and the toll collector follows that of the persistent widow and the unjust judge. Luke frames the parable with comments about being just or in right relationship (translated “virtuous”) and justified (translated “at rights with God”). It is addressed to “certain people” who will find a mirror image of themselves in the first of the characters, the Pharisee. Historically, the Pharisees were honorable people, well-versed in Jewish religious traditions and faithful in observing the Law...'
20 October 2019. 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 18: 1-8
'Today’s gospel begins with a reference to prayer, a favourite theme in Luke, and ends with a question about faith. If the parable were also about prayer, as the narrator suggests, then the unjust judge would image a God who has no respect for anyone and is slow to hear the cry of the poor! There are clearly problems with this, and scholars are divided on how to explain it. The most likely explanation is that, in the editorial process, the gospel writer has made three key additions to the story: ...'
13 October 2019. 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 17: 11-19
'Every day we hear news of race riots, ethnic violence and discrimination somewhere in our world, often quite close to us. Even those who do not resort to violence can tend to be suspicious of those who have different origins and different ways from them. The worst atrocities are frequently perpetrated between those who have differing understandings of the same faith. We have seen elements of this in the protracted Syrian conflict, even if religion is only one component of the conflict. We are seeing, there as elsewhere, the end product of a failure to recognize the shared humanity of all people. ..'
6 October 2019. 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'The strength to remain faithful in the face of adversity, the capacity to forgive, and the courage to do what we ought to do without seeking recognition or reward are perennial challenges for most people. According to the Lukan Jesus, it takes faith to meet such challenges. The devastating fires in the Amazon forests and in north-eastern Australia are testing the faith of those who have devoted much of their energy, even their whole lives, to speaking truth to power about the need for action to offset the effects of global warming. And yet these people remain faithful, finding the strength to forgive and the courage to do what must be done for the sake of our common home.'
24 November 2019. Feast of Christ the King Year C
'Sadly, there have always been those who scoff at others or make fun of them, generally because they themselves feel threatened in some way. Those who suffer such bullying behaviour often feel powerless and demeaned. There may be some comfort for such people in today’s gospel. We find here a serious case of bullying and two dignified responses that undermine the destructive power of those who taunt or deride...'
17 November 2019. 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 21: 5-19
'Fifty years ago there was no Sydney Opera House. A hundred years ago there was no Harbour Bridge. It is hard to imagine a time when they did not exist or a time when they will cease to be, such is the status these monuments have acquired over a very short span of history. They are a source of wonder for tourists and locals alike. ..'
10 November 2019. 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Luke 20: 27-38
'Is there life after death? If so, what does that mean? Will we be united in death with those whom we have loved in this life? Do the bonds of love experienced in this life continue beyond the grave? Are our loved ones far from us in death? How do they live on, if indeed they do? These are questions that have preoccupied human beings for millennia. ..'
3 November 20129: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
'In 2015, a little book came my way and proceeded to turn my world upside down. The author of that book was German forester Peter Wohlleben, its title The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World. I have long mourned the destruction of trees, local and global, including the threatened trees of the Amazon. I grew up loving, valuing and sometimes climbing the trees of the Macedon Ranges. I now live among the trees on the outskirts of Ballarat. Wohlleben’s book brought home to me how much I had still to learn about these precious gifts of life and love. ..'
Feast of the Holy Family Year A
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
'Dreaming is an important part of life, both the dreaming we do at night and the “day dreaming” we engage in as we look to the future. In today’s gospel story, Joseph is a dreamer who listens to his dreams and hears the voice of God directing him to go where he may not have chosen to go. The visit of the wise ones or astrologers from the east has left him with some questions. Now the pieces begin to fall into place. In his dream, he becomes aware of the danger that is threatening the family. The new born child is at risk. Steps must be taken to protect the child and his mother. ..'
Christmas Year A
Matthew 1:1-21; Luke 2:1-20; John 1:1-18
'The readings for the Christmas liturgies vary from celebration to celebration. The prologue to Matthew’s gospel provides the first part of the gospel for the Christmas Vigil Mass. The first two words of the gospel (biblos geneseōs) evoke the first words of the Book of Genesis and thus locate the child to be born within the broad sweep of the birth of the cosmos...'
4th Sunday of Advent Year A
'One of my friends asked me what I would like for Christmas. “Nothing”, was my immediate response. “I just want to spend time with community and family and friends, especially those who would otherwise be alone”. And that's what I'll be doing, simply “being with”. Being-with others in joy or sorrow or in the humdrum of life is probably the best gift we can offer and the best gift we can receive. ..'
3rd Sunday of Advent Year A
'The third Sunday of Advent used to be called Gaudete (be joyful) Sunday. It provided a mid-term break within a period of austerity or penance in preparation for Christmas. Advent is no longer celebrated as a penitential period, but rather as a reflective time of expectation and hope. The invitation to rejoice nonetheless remains part of the Advent liturgy: it is certainly present in the first reading: “the desert shall rejoice and bloom …” (Isaiah 35:1-6, 10).'
2nd Sunday of Advent Year A
'Desertification of earth is becoming the norm in these troubled times of ours and wilderness or desert features powerfully in today’s gospel reading. The desert is the biblical place of encounter with God, the place of beginnings and of testing. The voice of John the Baptizer is heard in the Judean desert. His food and clothing are desert-derived. John is identified as the one of whom Isaiah spoke, the voice crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way….”'
1st Sunday of Advent Year A
'As we begin a new liturgical year, Matthew's Jesus invites us to contemplate the ultimate realities even as we attend to the demands of the present. He tells us to be “awake”, to be “ready” all the time, not because death or the end of the world are around the corner, but because we need to recognise the multiple “advents” or arrivals of the Christ, the Human One, who calls us beyond self-absorption to Life...'