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

John 2:1-11

'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

Matthew 2:1-12

'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

Luke 6:27-38

'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. 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Luke 4:21-30

'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?...'

3 February 2019. 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Luke 5:1-11

'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...'

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.

Reflection on the alternative Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent

24 March 2019. 3rd Sunday of Lent Year C

Luke 13:1-9

'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...'

Reflection on alternative Gospel for 3rd Sunday of Lent

17 March 2019. 2nd Sunday of Lent Year C

Luke 9:28-36

'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

Luke 4:1-11

'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

Luke 6:39-45

'“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

John 20:19-31

' 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

Luke 22:14-23:56

'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

John 8:1-11

'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...'

Download alternative Gospel reflection

26 May 2019. 6th Sunday in Easter

John 14:23-29

'“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

Luke 9:51-62

'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

John 16:12-15

'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

Luke 11:1-13

'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

Luke 10:38-42

'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

Luke 10:25-37

'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...'