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Reflections on the Sunday Gospels. Year A: November 2017

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. Her most recent publication is 'The Blessing of Mercy: Bible Perspectives and Ecological Challenges'.

Sr Veronica was interviewed for the Mercy International Reflection Process Stage Three project VOICES where she spoke of an approach to biblical texts. You can watch that interview here

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 website in reverse chronological order so that the most current reflection is always at the top of the list.

Scroll down to find the one you wish to read.

Messages to: Veronica Lawson rsm

You are welcome to circulate these reflections. Please acknowledge the author, Sr Veronica Lawson rsm



26 November 2017 Feast of Christ the King Year A (Matthew 25:31-46)

'“It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of King.” These are the words of Pope Pius XI who established this feast between two world wars in the hope of counteracting the growing secularism “in public affairs and politics” and finding a way towards global peace....'

                                        Download the print ready reflection here (PDF)


19 November 2017 Ordinary Time 33A (Matthew 25:1-13)

'As the end of the church year approaches, the liturgy presents us with texts that invite us all to consider the big questions of life and death, including the day of reckoning that will inevitably confront each one of us...'

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12 November 2017 Ordinary Time 32A (Matthew 25:1-13)

'Sometimes it matters little whether we are ready or not. Sometimes it really matters and today’s gospel parable depicts one of those situations when it is of crucial importance to be prepared....'

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5 November 2017 Ordinary Time 31A (Matthew 23:1-12)

'Today’s gospel has particular relevance for all in positions of authority, whether as teachers or leaders of organisations or communities.Appointment or election to such positions is not for the sake of status or self-aggrandizement...'

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29 October 2017 Ordinary Time 30 A (Matthew 22:34-40)

'Until fairly recently, the Jewishness of Jesus was often downplayed, even ignored. Today’s gospel passage has Jesus affirming the most central of Jewish traditions, namely the command of Deuteronomy 6 known as the Shema (so called from the first word in the statement meaning “hear”)...'

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22 October Ordinary Time 29 A (Matthew 22:15-21)

'The emergence of a common enemy is often the catalyst for sworn enemies to unite. In first century Palestine, Pharisees who were the respected religious teachers of the law and Herodians who represented secular Jewish power and wealth despised each other on both religious and political grounds...'

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15 October 2017 Ordinary Time 28 A (Matthew 22: 1-14)

'The increasing wealth of the mega rich and the growing divide between rich and poor, particularly in the developing world, are challenging us all to consider our attitudes to the planet’s resources. Today’s gospel brings a warning....'

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8 October 2017 Ordinary Time 27 A (Matthew 21: 33-43)

'While the international community has long-since outlawed slavery, we have become increasingly aware of the persistence of a lucrative global industry structured around the sexual and labour enslavement of vulnerable people. Groups such as MGA (Mercy Global Action) and ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking of Humans) are taking action on behalf of those enslaved...'

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1 October 2017 Ordinary Time 26 A (Matthew 21:28-32)

'What does one do with passive-resistant behaviour? This is a question that many of us have to confront at some time because there are people in every walk of life who make an art form of saying yes and failing to follow through with action. Such people can seriously undermine the most worthy of projects or plans. We meet them in today’s gospel...'

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24 September 2017 Ordinary Time 25 Year A (Matthew 20:1-16a)

'From 1973 to 1975, I was a student in East Jerusalem. Early each morning, I crossed the road from my home at the Chaldean Patriarchate to the grounds of the Ecole Biblique. I would see the Palestinian day labourers lined up beside their vehicles, waiting for employment....'

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17 September 2017 Ordinary Time 24 Year A (Matthew 18:21-35)

'While the opening verses of this Sunday’s gospel reading have Jesus advocating endless forgiveness (not seven but seventy-seven times), the parable that follows is anything but consistent with this teaching and the teaching of Jesus in the gospel as a whole...'

                                        Download the print ready reflection here (PDF)


10 September 2017  Ordinary Time 23 Year A (Matthew 18:15-20)

'What does a just society or community do with its persistent offenders, with those whose behaviour continually disrupts or even destroys the unity of a group? This is an age old question that has no easy answer...'

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3 September 2017 Ordinary Time 22 Year A (Matthew 16:21-27)

'We all know people in leadership who take themselves a bit too seriously. Some confuse their role or title with their significance in the scheme of things. Some look for privilege and an easy life, forgetting that leadership of anything worthwhile involves hard work, misunderstanding, and invariably brings opposition...'

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 AUGUST 2017

27 August 2017 Sunday in Ordinary Time 21 Year A
(Matthew 16:13-19)

'“Be yourself. Everybody else is taken”, sings Melinda Schneider. The lyrics of this lovely song, composed for Melinda’s dying father, affirm some fairly obvious truths. Even though we know that “everybody else is taken”, most of us spend much of our lives trying to measure up to other peoples’ expectations and fail to be truly ourselves...'

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 20 August 2017 Ordinary Time 20 Year A (Matthew 14:22-33)

'The gospels are written in Greek and much of the language of the gospels has to be understood against a Greek philosophical background...'

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13 August 2017 Ordinary Time 19 Year A (Matthew 14:22-33)

'The church knows what it means to be “battered by the waves”. Over its two millennia history, there have been periods of discrimination and persecution against its members...'

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6 August 2017 Feast of the Transfiguration Year A (Matthew 17:1-9)

'The Feast of the Transfiguration takes precedence over the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time and features its own particular readings. Today we are invited to reflect on a transformative moment in the life of Jesus as experienced by his closest followers...'

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JULY 2017

30 July 2017 Ordinary Time 17 Year A (Matthew 13:44-52 or Matthew 13:44-46)

'Today’s gospel passage begins and ends with reference to treasure. It invites us to pause and name what constitutes the real “treasure” in our lives, to know our own hearts. What do we really want?...'

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23 July 2017 Ordinary Time 16 Year A (Matthew 13:24-43)

'Some time back, my great-nephew met with an unwelcome refusal from his father. His response: “Dad, I am not impressed with what I’m hearing!” ...'

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16 July 2017 Ordinary Time 15 Year A (Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9)

'One of the privileges of my life has been an ongoing involvement in Catholic education, especially in religious and theological education of staff...'

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9 July 2017 Ordinary Time 14 Year A (Matthew 11:25-30)

'Some people have little appreciation of the depth of their own wisdom. Others seem to think they have the monopoly on wisdom. Jesus contrasts the latter, those who consider themselves wise and intelligent, with the truly wise ones, the “little ones” to whom the secrets of God’s empire have been revealed...'

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2 July 2017 Ordinary Time 13 Year A (Matthew 10:37-42)

'Until last week I had never heard of Dr Douglas Owsley, forensic scientist, physical anthropologist and former curator of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. His story, as told by Jeff Benedict in No Bone Unturned (2003), is one of utter dedication and commitment to truth....'

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JUNE 2017

25 June 2017 Ordinary Time 12 Year A (Matthew 10:26-33)

'Many of those who once looked through the barbed-wire fences of Australia’s detention centres carry personal stories of fear of persecution. One such story, the story of Najaf Mazari, is beautifully narrated by Najaf and Robert Hillman in their joint work, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif...'

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18 June 2017 The Body and Blood of Christ Year A (John 6:51-58)

'Bread is staple food for much of the world’s population. It is also a metaphor for the food that sustains the life of the human community...'

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11 June 2017 Trinity Sunday Year A (John 3:16-18)

"She has gone to God and God is very near". These are the words that some dear friends of mine chose for the cover of their mother’s funeral booklet. Their choice of words demonstrates their faith in God of whom John writes in today’s gospel...'

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4 June 2017 Pentecost Sunday Year A (Acts 2:1-11; John 20:19-23)

'Pentecost Sunday is often called the birthday of the Church. The earth itself features powerfully in the imagery associated with this feast: harvest, mountain, earthquake, thunder, fire...'

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MAY 2017

28 May 2017 Feast of the Ascension Year A (Acts 1:1-11; Matthew 28:16-20)

'Loss is an integral part of the human experience, and death is generally the most painful experience of loss. Today’s Feast of the Ascension invites us to face the experience of loss in a transformative way...'

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21 May 2017 Easter 6A (John 14:15-21)

'Those who defend themselves in court run the risk of being outsmarted by clever and sometimes unscrupulous adversaries...'

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14 May 2017 Easter 5A (John 14: 1-14)

Take from my heart all painful anxiety” is a gospel inspired prayer. It is the prayer of Catherine McAuley, the first Sister of Mercy...'

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7 May 2017 Easter 4A (John 10:1-10)

'My brother and sister-in-law were farmers who woke up one morning to find that all their sheep had disappeared. It seems that some enterprising thief or thieves had managed to load their sheep on to transports and move them interstate in the few hours between dusk and dawn...'

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APRIL 2017

30 April 2017. Easter 3A (Luke 24:13-35)

'Extraordinary things can happen if we open ourselves to the presence of a stranger or “foreigner” on the road of life. That seems to be a key element in today’s gospel passage from the well-known and well-loved Emmaus story...'

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23 April 2017. Easter 2A (John 20:19-31)

'Not so long ago we used to speak of the Sundays ‘after’ Easter. The terminology has changed and we now speak of the Sundays ‘of’ Easter...'

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16 April 2017. Easter Sunday Year A (Matthew 28:1-10)

 'After death, Jesus is cared for by a faith-filled man in the presence of two faith-filled women. These three people are fearless in the face of possible reprisals for their support of a “political criminal”...'

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9 April 2017. Passion Sunday Year A (Matthew 26:14-27:66)

'Capital punishment is abhorrent to most of us, particularly when a just person dies for specious reasons or to political ends...'

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2 April 2017. 5th Sunday of Lent Year A (John 11:1-45)

'Today’s readings touch into the most profound of human mysteries, the mysteries of life and death. To hold a new born child or to see a sick person restored to health is to experience the wonder of life. On the other hand, the unexpected death of a loved one can bring unimagined grief and pain...'

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MARCH 2017

26 March 2017. 4th Sunday of Lent Year A (John 9:1-41)

'This week, we are invited on a faith journey with a man born blind and with the different groups of participants in the drama. All have the opportunity of coming to faith...'

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19 March 2017. Third Sunday of Lent Year A (John 4:5-42)

'Those privileged to act as catechists in the RCIA program over the Lenten period will be introducing the candidates to some of our most treasured gospel stories...'

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12 March 2017. Second Sunday of Lent Year A (Matthew 17:1-9)

'Last week’s gospel invited us into a confronting habitat, namely the wilderness. This week, we follow Jesus and three of his companions to a mountain and eventually a cloud-covered mountain...'

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5 March 2017. First Sunday of Lent Year A (Matthew 4:1-11)

'Lent comes around each year and presents us with its usual challenge to take stock of our lives, to see more clearly what is in our hearts, and to discover what might be calling us out of our comfort zones...'

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26 February 2017. 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 6:24-34)

' “Today’s trouble is enough for today!” These are the concluding words of the gospel for this Sunday. We are “not to be anxious”. Rather, we are invited to be single-minded in our commitment...'

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 19 February 2017. 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 5:38-48)

'Today’s gospel is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching on the sort of righteousness, the right relationship and justice, to which his followers are called in their living of the Law...'

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12 February 2017. 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 5:17-37)

'We sometimes forget that Jesus was a faithful Jew who observed the Law handed down within Israel from generation to generation.

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5 February 2017. 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 5:13-16)

'In today’s gospel, Jesus addresses two short parables to his disciples in the presence of the crowds. The crowds as well as the disciples hear what he has to say...'

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 29 January 2017. 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 5:1-12)

'We have become so familiar with the beatitudes that there is a danger of our listening only to the mellifluous flow of language and of failing to attend to the extraordinary present and future reversal that they offer to all that suffer injustice, including the earth itself, and to those who choose non-violent ways of addressing the pain of the Earth community...'

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22 January 2017. 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (Matthew 4:12-23)

'Most of the gospel readings this year will be from the gospel of Matthew. As with any story, it is probably best to read it from beginning to end over a few days, attending to all the elements in the story...'

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 15 January 2017. 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (John 1:29-34)

'To provide a reference for someone is a serious responsibility as well as a privilege because, more often than not, a good deal depends on the testimony one provides. John the Baptist took it upon himself to be a referee for Jesus...'

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8 January 2017. Feast of the Epiphany Year A (Matthew 2:1-12)

'God’s presence is revealed to us in many different ways: we can read the “book” of God’s creation; we can search out the meaning of our dreams; we can learn from our own and others’ experience; and we can be attentive to the wisdom of our sacred scriptures...'

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1 January 2017. Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Luke 2:16-21)

'The celebration of Mary as Mother of God has very ancient roots. Mary was venerated in the East from the early third Christian century as theotokos, a Greek term that means God-Bearer. ...'

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25 December 2016. 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...'

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18 December 2016. 4th Sunday in Advent Year A (Matthew 1:18-24)

'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 friends and family”...'

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 11 December 2016. 3rd Sunday in Advent Year A (Matthew 11:2-11)

'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...'

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4 December 2016. 2nd Sunday of Advent Year A (Matthew 3:1-12)

'The 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...'

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27 November 2016. 1st Sunday of Advent Year A (Matthew 24:37-44)

'“Where is the Life we have lost in living?” asks the Chorus in T. S. Eliot's The Rock. The Jesus of Matthew's gospel is implicitly asking much the same question as Eliot’s Chorus...'

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