Gospel Reflections

GOSPEL REFLECTION : Matt. 15:21-28


A parent’s love is powerful. And the woman in this story clearly loves her daughter. It is that love that drives this mother to seek out Jesus in the hope that He will free her daughter from the demon who possessed her. Interestingly, this woman was not of the Jewish faith. She was a Gentile, a foreigner, but her faith was very real and very deep.


When Jesus first encountered this woman, she begged Him to free her daughter from the demon. Jesus’ response was at first surprising. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” In other words, Jesus was saying that His mission was first to the people of Israel, the chosen people of the Jewish faith. They were the “children” of whom Jesus was speaking, and the Gentiles, such as this woman, were the ones referred to as “the dogs.” Jesus spoke this way to this woman not out of rudeness but because He could see her deep faith, and He wanted to give her an opportunity to manifest that faith for all to see. And so she did.


The woman responded to Jesus, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Her words were not only exceptionally humble but were also based on deep faith and a deep love for her daughter. As a result, Jesus responds with generosity and immediately frees her daughter from the demon.


In our own lives, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we deserve the mercy of God. We can think that we have a right to God’s grace. And even though Jesus deeply desires to pour forth His grace and mercy in superabundance on our lives, it is essential that we fully understand our unworthiness before Him. The disposition of this woman’s heart sets for us a perfect example of how we must come to our Lord.


GOSPEL REFLECTION : Mark 8: 34 –  9:1

“If a man wishes to come after Me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in My steps.”  There is a very important word in this statement of Jesus.  It’s the word “must.”  Note that Jesus did not say that some of you may have to follow me by carrying your cross.  No, He said that whoever wishes to follow me must…

So the first question should be easy to answer.  Do you wish to follow Jesus?  In our heads that’s an easy question.  Yes, of course we do.  But this is not a question we can answer only with our heads.  It must be also answered by our choice to do what Jesus said was a necessity.  Namely, wishing to follow Jesus means denying yourself and taking up your cross.  Hmmm, so do you wish to follow Him?

Hopefully, the answer is “Yes.”  Hopefully, we resolved deeply to embrace all that is involved in following Jesus.  But that’s no small commitment.  Sometimes we fall into the foolish trap of thinking that we can “kinda” follow Him here and now and that all will be fine and we’ll certainly get into Heaven when we die.  Maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but if that’s our thinking then we’re missing out on what life is all about and all that God has in store for us.

Denying yourself and taking up your cross is actually a far more glorious life than we could ever come up with on our own.  It’s a blessed life of grace and the only path to ultimate fulfillment in life.  Nothing could be better than completely entering into a life of total self-sacrifice by dying to ourselves. 


 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  John 3:16

There are four basic truths that we can take from this Scripture. 

Let’s look at each of them in a brief way.

  • First, it’s made clear that the Father in Heaven loves us.  We know this but we will never fully comprehend the depth of this truth.  God the Father loves us with a profound and perfect love.  It’s a love that is deeper than anything else we could ever experience in life.  His love is perfect.
  • Second, the Father’s love was made manifest by the gift of His Son Jesus.  It is a profound act of love for the Father to give us His Son.  The Son meant everything to the Father, and the gift of the Son to us means that the Father gives us everything.  He gives His very life to us in the Person of Jesus.
  • Third, the only appropriate response we can make to such a gift is faith.  We must believe in the transforming power of accepting the Son into our lives.  We must see this gift as a gift that gives us all we need.  We must accept the Son into our lives by believing in His mission and giving our lives to Him in return.
  • Fourth, the result of receiving Him and giving our lives in return is that we are saved.  We will not perish in our sin; rather, we will be given eternal life.  There is no other way to salvation than through the Son.  We must know, believe, accept and embrace this truth.


“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Matt 19:21–22

This is the conclusion to the conversation that Jesus had with a rich young man who came to Him and asked, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus went on to tell him to keep the commandments. The young man said he has done so from his youth and wanted to know what else he could do. So Jesus answered his question. But the answer was more than the young man could accept.

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Do you want to be perfect? If so, then Jesus has set a high bar for such a goal. It seems that many followers of Christ are okay with simply being okay.   Many may have good intentions, but it seems that there are few who fully commit themselves to all it takes to truly obtain the perfection to which we are all called. 

The idea of perfection can appear to be beyond us. Too often we can think, “I’m only human.” But as a human who is called by God, we are invited to work toward the obtainable goal of greater holiness. Though we will always fall short, we must strive to become as holy as we can, holding nothing back.

 Everyone of us is called to be  detached from the things of this world in a complete way, even though we retain our possessions. We must have as our single possession the love of God and the service of His will. This depth of spiritual detachment means that God and His holy will is all we desire in life. And if He ever were to call us to literally give everything up, we would do it without hesitation.  And the end reward is not only the attainment of Heaven but an incomprehensible amount of glory in Heaven. 

Do not hesitate to do all you can to build up that treasure that will be with you forever.

GOSPEL REFLECTION:  Matt. 18– 23-35

The servant fell down, did him homage, and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.” Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.  Matt 18:26–27

This is a story about giving and receiving forgiveness.  Interestingly, it’s often easier to forgive than it is to ask forgiveness.  Sincerely asking for forgiveness requires that you honestly acknowledge your sin. It’s hard to take responsibility for what we have done wrong.

In this parable, the man asking patience with his debt appears to be sincere.  He “fell down” before his master asking for mercy and patience.  And the master responded with mercy by forgiving him the entire debt which was more than the servant had even requested.

But was the servant truly sincere or was he just a good actor?  It seems that he was a good actor because as soon as he was forgiven this debt, he ran into someone else who actually owed him money and instead of showing the same forgiveness he was shown, “He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’”  

Forgiveness must affect everything about us.  It is something that we must ask for, give, receive, and give again.  Here are a few points for you to consider:

  • Can you honestly see your sin, experience sorrow for that sin, and say, “I’m sorry” to another?
  • When you are forgiven, what does that do to you?  Does it have the effect of making you more merciful toward others?
  • Can you in turn offer the same level of forgiveness and mercy that you hope to receive from God and others?

These are hard questions to face but they are essential questions to face if we want to be freed of the burdens of anger and resentment.  Anger and resentment weigh heavily on us and God wants us freed of them.


“This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

Are you prepared to see God’s glory? God is eager to share His glory with us!    We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured in glory on the mountain.  Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain is celebrated in the Eastern and Western churches on August 6.  Mark’s account tells us that Jesus’ garments became glistening, intensely white.  When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29).  Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Cor. 3:7). In this incident Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles.

What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem — His betrayal, rejection and crucifixion.  Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah.  God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave His approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to Him. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and His apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple .  Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ.  We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of His glory.  We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).  

 The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His beloved disciples.  Do you seek His presence with faith and reverence?

GOSPEL REFLECTION:  Matt 14: 22-34

 “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”

Does the Lord seem distant when trials or adversity come your way? It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm.   Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. While Jesus was not with them in the boat, He, nonetheless watched for them in prayer.  When He perceived their trouble He came to them on the sea and startled them with His sudden appearance. Do you look for the Lord’s presence when you encounter difficulty or challenges?

This dramatic incident on the sea of Galilee revealed Peter’s character more fully than others.  Here we see Peter’s impulsivity — his tendency to act without thinking of what he was doing.   He often failed and came to grief as a result of his impulsiveness.  In contrast, Jesus always bade His disciples to see how difficult it was to follow Him before they set out on the way He taught them.   A great deal of failure in the Christian life is due to acting on impulse and emotional fervor without counting the cost.  Peter, fortunately in the moment of his failure clutched at Jesus and held Him firmly.  Every time Peter fell, he rose again.  His failures only made him love the Lord more deeply and trust Him more intently.   The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. 

Do you rely on the Lord for His strength and help?  Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in His great love for us.  When trials threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond?  With faith and hope in God’s love, care and presence with you?


Jesus never disappointed those who earnestly sought him out. We see a marvelous example of this when Jesus and his twelve disciples got into the boat to seek out a lonely place for some rest along the lake of Galilee, only to discover a crowd of a few thousand people had already gathered in anticipation of their arrival! Did Jesus’ disciples resent this intrusion on their plan to rest awhile? Jesus certainly didn’t – he welcomed them with open-arms. His compassion showed the depths of God’s love and care for his people. Jesus spoke the word of God to strengthen them in faith and he healed many who were sick.

As evening approached the disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away. Jesus, instead, commanded his disciples to feed the whole crowd. Why did Jesus expect his disciples to do what seemed impossible – to feed such a large and hungry crowd when there was no adequate provision in sight? Jesus very likely wanted to test their faith and to give them a sign of God’s divine intervention and favor for his people. Jesus took the little they had – five loaves and two fish – and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until were satisfied of their hunger. Twelves baskets full of fish and loaves that were leftover show the overflowing generosity of God’s gifts to us – gifts that bring blessing, healing, strength, and refreshment.

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.

Do you trust in God’s provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who lack?


In his Last Supper discourse Jesus speaks of his glory and the glory of his Father.  What is this glory?  It is the cross which Jesus speaks of here.      Jesus gave his Father the supreme honor and glory through his obedience and willingness to go to the cross.  Jesus also speaks of the Father bringing glory to the Son through the great mystery of the Incarnation and Cross of Christ.  God the Father gave us his only begotten Son for our redemption and deliverance from slavery to sin and death.  There is no greater proof of God’s love for each and every person on the face of the earth than the Cross of Jesus Christ.  In the cross we see a new way of love — a love that is unconditional, sacrificial and generous beyond comprehension.

Jesus also speaks of eternal life.  What is eternal life?  It is more than simply endless time.  Science today looks for ways to extend the duration of life; but that doesn’t necessarily make life better for us here.   To have eternal life is to have the life of God within us.  When we possess eternal life we experience here and now something of God’s majesty, his peace, joy and love and the holiness which characterizes the life of God.  Jesus also speaks of the knowledge of God. Jesus tells his disciples that they can know the only true God. Knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally.  The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father.  Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.  In Jesus we see the perfect love of God — a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross.   Jesus is the revelation of God — a God who loves us completely, unconditionally  and perfectly.

Do you seek unity of heart, mind and will with God and unity of love and peace with your neighbor?


Matt. 9:1– 8

After having crossed the Sea of Galilee, Our Lord came to His own headquarters at Capemaum. Immediately, some people arrived bringing a paralytic man lying flat on his bed. Jesus was extremely impressed by the behavior of the people who brought a crippled man to Him. Observing their strong faith, our Lord forgave the paralytic’s sins. After He had taken care of the man’s spiritual life by remitting his sins, Jesus then proceeded to cure his paralyzed body. When Jesus pronounced the paralytic free from his sins, some of the Jewish leaders at once accused Him of blasphemy, asserting that no one except God could possibly forgive sins. Our Lord knew their cynical thoughts and castigated them by asking which was it easier to say: “Your sins are forgiven!” or “Get up and walk!”?

In order to emphasize that He – Jesus – was the “Son of Man”  and that as such He had full authority on earth to forgive sins, He commanded the crippled man: “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!” The man was cured immediately, and he sprang to his feet. The crowds were absolutely astonished, and they praised God for having manifested such miraculous powers on earth.

Our behavior by the way we conduct ourselves – in the sight of God has a good deal to do with the way in which God responds to our petitions and to our requests for favors. Would our Lord be impressed by our faith? Would He be willing to perform a miracle for us because of the way He observed that we conduct ourselves?