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Download Reflection Document Feast of Pentecost

Reflection Questions

  1. Pentecost was a Jewish harvest feast 50 days after Easter when fruit had ripened and wheat was harvested. Along with bringing produce to the temple, it was also an anniversary of the giving of the law (torah)- 10 commandments to Moses on Mt Sinai. There are fulfilment and replacement hints in the text following the interpretive principle the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. Israel together at Mt Sinai. The earthquake and storm and eruption – fire. Moses speaking personally to God and being gifted with ʻlawsʼ to teach and guide. Disciples gathered together in upper-room. Tongues of fire communicating Godʼs spirit and power to teach and guide and unify all people. How would you write what Pentecost ʻmeansʼ?
  2. Pentecost is also understood as the reversal of the Old Testament Tower of Babel story (see Gen 11). Humankindʼs sin and self importance building the tower to reach and equal God eventuated in the scattering of people and the confusion caused by different languages. The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost unites people to understand each other and the christian message. Does the world today need to hear about Jesus in a fresh and creative way? Where would you start? Be inspired!
  3. Paul wrote to the Community at Corinth because some people who didnʼt have the gift of tongues were considered inferior. It was causing division in the community. One gift was not to be stressed over another. Everyone is gifted. Name and claim at least 3 gifts you have. What gift do you feel you would like to develop more and use for God and the community?
  4. The Spirit and ʻgiftsʼ are connected to and give life to the ʻbodyʼ. Which part of the ʻbodyʼ do you identify more with: eyes – seeing, head – thinking, heart – feeling, hands – serving, mouth – speaking, ears – praying. How do you show this in your daily life? How could you be more involved in serving God with this?
  5. Jesus passes through ʻfear -locked doorsʼ to bring peace and forgiveness. What ʻlocked doorsʼ are present in your life? Use your imagination in a time of prayer and allow Jesus to meet you on the other side of these locked doors….. what happened?
  6. The Spirit sends the Disciples / the Church ʻon missionʼ. The Church is ʻplugged inʼ to a living power-source moulding everyone into the image and consciousness of Christ. Because of the Spirit the Church has the calling and capacity to be the extension of Jesusʼ ministry in the world. Forgiveness of sins and the healing of wounded hearts, families, communities is what each disciple is ʻsentʼ to do. Consider what feelings and thoughts arise in a person when they are ʻsentʼ with authority to do something? Are you conscious of being sent out by the Father to ʻrepair the worldʼ?
  7. ‘Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour thy dew; Wash the stains of guilt away. Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray….. Sequence prayer of Pentecost Which prayer ‘image’ to the Spirit speaks personally to you? Why?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?
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Download Feast of the Ascension.

Reflection Questions

 

  1. The writer of the Gospel of Luke is also understood to have written the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts, we learn of the unfolding events after Easter. The Feast of the Ascension is not trying to claim historically after 40 days Jesus ‘ascended’ but simply reflect on his ‘Ascension’ and new presence now in Heaven. Jesus states a promise has been made by the ‘Father’ to send the Holy Spirit. Have you ever asked someone to make a ‘promise’? Why? What does this reveal about Jesus and ‘us’?
  2. The disciples are almost ‘told off’ by the Angels. ‘Why are you looking up at the sky?’ Instead of looking up, look around and get to work. The text also encourages a waiting for the spirit and its power so that each disciple can ‘witness’. Have you ‘waited in prayer’ calling for the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit? Consider how you could enter deeply into this prayer request leading to the celebration of Pentecost next week? Consider a place and time. The Spirit is often given through other people’s prayer. Who could you ask?
  3. Paul teaches beautifully about the deeper reality of ‘Church’. Rather than a mere ‘building’ Paul reminds us our identity and mission is to be the ‘body of Christ’. It will take plenty of work to present to the world a community ‘fully mature’ and with the ‘full stature’ of Christ. What virtue do you think you could live more intentionally at home / work / Church? Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Bearing with one another. Preserving unity?
  4. The Gospel of Mark is the earliest gospel and was written in a time when the early disciples still thought the return of Christ would be soon. The urgency to share the gospel with every creature before the return of Jesus can almost be felt in the text. This mission is still an active job description to us by Jesus. Imagine having such a wonderful message that you know will bring people joy and life. As you prepare to share it, would you consider just how the message would be received, what obstacles may be in the way, so that they truly ‘get it’ when you speak. St Francis of Assisi told his followers ‘Preach the gospel to the whole world, and you words when necessary’. Do you witness more by words or example? How could you try the other option?
  5. Mark uses dramatic language to highlight the truth that the power of the Holy Spirit is truly at work in the lives of disciples and in ‘signs’ that accompany the ‘words’. The image is of an intimate connection between Jesus in heaven and his disciples preaching. What signs would you like to pray for on your journey at the moment.
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

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Download 6th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Peter entering the home of Cornelius (A Roman Centurion / Soldier) is an incredibly important moment in the early Church. It sets in motion the whole christian mission to non-jews – to the untouchables, the pagans, the ‘greeks’. God wants to include everyone. Who do I consider an ‘outsider’ to the Church? Why? How could I be more inclusive? In my family? My church?
  2. Acts 10 reveals the early struggle to be open and welcoming. The Holy Spirit spoke in dreams and visions to inspire and move the Church and disciples. Consider the words of St Peter: ‘Get up, I myself am a human being’ and ‘God shows no partiality’. What has happened within Peter? What invitation and challenge do you notice for your own journey?
  3. Both Peter and Cornelius are spoken to in prayer. Thankfully they responded obediently. What have you heard in prayer and life lately? Have you been obedient in livingtheword? What are some obstacles you have encountered?
  4. John repeats the word love 9 times in his letter and 9 times in the Gospel. In John’s community they were fighting with gnostics who didn’t think christian behaviour was important. John reinforces the idea that love actually ‘looks like something’. Christian love is to love all others as God has loved us in Christ. Consider how God has initiated the relationship of love with us . Dying as an expiation (offering) to show us the forgiveness of our sins and the extent of God’s love. Do you initiate love or merely respond to love? Does your love change depending on a response? How does your love-style witness to christian love?
  5. God wants disciples to ‘bear fruit’. Yet fruitfulness requires attachment to the vine / trunk. The fruitfulness of joy and peace and love develops from ‘friendship with’ the Father. Friendships grow and develop in responding to needs and requests. Hence Jesus invites us to ask so the Father can give and be glorified. Would you describe your relationship with God as a ‘friend’? What is your attitude toward intercessory prayer? Ask or text your friends what they need and pray specifically for them. Don’t be afraid to ask God for signs so that God may receive ‘glory’. He gives plenty in the Acts of the Apostles!
  6. When asked to describe the love to which believers are called, St Augustine replied: “It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It hs the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the signs and sorrow of others. That is what love looks like.”
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?
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Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. God is a God of surprises but the disciples were afraid of Saul. They could not imagine the greatest source of persecution could ʻturn-aroundʼ. The situation required someone courageous like Barnabas. He had the knickname ʻson of encouragementʼ. He had witnessed Saul in Damascus and stepped up to being a mentor. A link. Introduced Paul to the Apostles. Imagine the loss for the Church if Barnabas hadnʼt ʻtaken charge of himʼ? Who is on the ʻoutsideʼ of your group, community, workplace whom you could include?
  2. Barnabas and Paul show us the cost of the committed christian life. They are ʻradicalsʼ. They go a bit further. Without people like Barnabas and Paul the Church is stagnant. Paulʼs first preaching experiences to the Hellenists (Greeks) in Damascus and Jerusalem ended with attempts to ʻkill himʼ. And yet both Paul and Barnabas did not stop. Have you met resistance in preaching the message of life and peace of Jesus? Do you have a safe place like Paulʼs home in Tarsus to retreat to when necessary?
  3. LOVE is lived. It looks like something. Too easily love can stay in ʻword or speechʼ and not make it to ʻdeed and truthʼ. What love action could you commit to this week that you have struggled with for a while? What words or promises have you made but you have failed to back up with action?
  4. The image of the Gospel this Sunday is of life flowing through the vine into the branches. ʻRemain in meʼ repeats itself 6 times! Remain in me is different from remain close to me or read my book. How could you go 1 step further in praying with scripture, celebrating the sacraments, living christian community?
  5. The intimacy of the ʻvineʼ image for Johnʼs gospel is a description of the church and the individual disciple. In baptism we were truly joined to Jesusʼ mystical body the Church. In the eucharistic union of our lives with the body and blood of Jesus in ʻholy communionʼ we are called to bear the ʻfruitʼ of replicating the life of Jesus in the world. Pray with the idea of being ʻfruitfulʼ and bringing ʻgloryʼ to the Father. What do you begin to think about?
  6. Jesus shares that the experience of praying with his Word is like being ʻprunedʼ. Have you experienced the scriptures ʻcuttingʼ and bringing you pain? Yet also directing you to what is life-giving?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
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Download Reflection Document 4th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. The Church celebrates ʻGood Shepherd Sundayʼ today. It is an opportunity to consider service of Christ in the Church for the World through a vocation in single life, married life, priesthood, religious life. Can you think of people who are good examples for you of each vocation? Spend time in prayer praying for each one.
  2. Vocation means ʻcallʼ. St Ignatius teaches us that: “God writes his hopes into our deepest desires”. What does that mean God may be calling you to? Imagine the highs and lows of each vocation – what attracts you? What desire is strongest? Are you willing to follow it?
  3. ʻLaying down oneʼs life for the sheepʼ is contrasted with being a ʻhired manʼ who works for pay and has no ʻconcernʼ for the sheep. What do you think is the difference between Vocation and Career? Does one lead down and the other attempt climbing up?
  4. St Peter shares a building image. Very large stones were measured and cut to ʻfitʼ and be suitable for building upon. Is your life truly ʻbuiltʼ upon Jesus or is it merely ʻlookingʼ at Jesus? Does your lifestyle ʻshowʼ you are ʻGodʼs child…ʼ?
  5. One of the actions done by a good shepherd is to ʻlie downʼ in the ʻgatewayʼ of a small low fenced circle of stones to care for the sheep and protect them from harm. The good shepherd was willing to fight to the death any wolf seeking to harm the sheep. It was an expectation that a child who was looking after the sheep, if attacked, was to show evidence of scratches or wolf fur to the family. Are you willing to fight and protect Godʼs family? Seek out the lost who have strayed? Stand attentive to warn of dangerous influences?
  6. ʻLaying down ones lifeʼ is another scriptural picture of the way Jesus lay down his life on the cross – as the good shepherd. Laying down and enduring a sleep-shortened night is something parents do for love of their children. Knowing sheep by name, sharing each day and providing nourishment and shelter. Can you see similarities between parenthood and priesthood? Does ʻlaying down your lifeʼ appeal to you or frighten you? Does love lead you – or does fear fill you?
  7. ʻNo-one takes it from me, I lay it down on my ownʼ. A vocation is something freely chosen. We ʻhearʼ the call of God through desire and attraction, we give ourselves to walk the journey of discovery and we ʻtake upʼ what is involved in faithfulness to our personal calling. Fear. Iʼm not good enough. I feel stuck. I donʼt know are all human responses. Consider reflecting on the document ʻDiscerning your vocationʼ to show your willingness to take a further step into Godʼs call. Click here or go to http://livingtheword.org.nz/resources/
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
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Download Reflection Document 3rd Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Easter lasts for 7 weeks in the Catholic experience. It is called Eastertide and marks the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. What practice or ritual could you live for 50 days to celebrate Easter and let its message get ʻunder your skinʼ and change you?
  2. Peter has gone through a remarkable experience of change and has the confidence to preach the core christian message to unbelievers. However, his preaching is connected with his ʻlivingʼ and the ʻsignsʼ that he works (he just cured someone!). ʻPreachingʼ comes after ʻlivingʼ. What sign / action / witness can I ʻliveʼ this week to let people experience Jesus through me?
  3. ʻRepent and be convertedʼ is an invitation to a complete change of oneʼs value system. The worldview of the early disciples had been tipped upside down with the Resurrection. Consider what change took place for the early disciples to sell land and give to those in need? Is your value system those of the ʻworldʼ or ʻChristʼ? Prove it.
  4. Some people in the Johannine community believed that knowledge of salvation was salvation. Knowing Jesus and his forgiveness was all that was important. Moral behaviour and changing ones lifestyle didnʼt matter. Yet the Easter Acts of the Apostles and Gospel readings teach the disciples of Jesus witnessed to the resurrection with power and signs and wonders. The Easter Sunday Victory of the Resurrection is supposed to overturn the evil of good Friday. Christians are not just baptised and waiting for the idea of the resurrection to turn true with eternal life. We have a job to do. How could you ʻkeep the wordʼ more and let the ʻlove of God come to perfection within youʼ more?
  5. Jesus was ʻmade known to them in the breaking of breadʼ. This new action and new words with it was so new at the last supper that it had to be Jesus who did this. And yet the resurrected Jesus must have appeared different to the disciples. How do you understand what happens at the celebration of the Mass / Eucharist? How does it help you to experience the continued presence of Jesus? Do you have questions of the scriptures that require some help to understand them. What are they? Who could you ask for help?
  6. “Why are you troubled and what are the questions rising in your heart” What are the things you need to look at, discuss with someone, write about, research, pray about, so as to reach the peace Jesus offers?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
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Download Reflection Document 2nd Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Easter lasts for 7 weeks in the Catholic experience. It is called Eastertide and marks the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. What practice or ritual could you live for the next 50 days to celebrate Easter and let its message get ʻunder your skinʼ and change you?
  2. The followers of Christ became a “community”. A love in their hearts was expressed in love to others – especially those ʻin needʼ. What change happened in the lives of the disciples to enable them to share everything in ʻcommonʼ so that there was ʻno-one in needʼ? What change am I invited to make in my own life with regard to possessions? How could I show a deeper commitment to my parish community?
  3. The victory that conquers the world is our faith. Victory and conquer are both ʻbattleʼ laden words. There is a ʻfightʼ to be victorious over the ʻworldʼ. It is not by ʻwaterʼ (baptism) alone but also by
  4. ʻbloodʼ (sacrifice – martyrdom!). The real lived consequences of Easter challenge us: am I willing to fight the same fight Jesus endured to overcome injustice, discrimination? Only with this level of commitment will Easter Sunday Victory swallow up the evil of Friday.
  5. It is significant that immediately after Jesusʼ resurrection the disciples are afraid. Locked in a room. Sacred. They are followers of a ʻrebelʼ who has been crucified for seeking to over-turn the religious and political status-quo. Consider rebel fighters in Syria as a possible contemporary image. Yet the rebellion is one of bringing true peace and forgiveness. Can you experience the fear. Imagine the scene and pray with it.
  6. The final gift of Christ to his disciples as they huddled in a locked room in fear is peace and the guaranteed forgiveness of their sins through the gifting of the Holy Spirit in the Church. What is the source of your ʻun-peaceʼ and fear that Jesus wishes to heal?
  7. Thomas struggles to believe. He was not with the group as they saw Jesus for the first time. He wants to ʻsee with his own eyes and physically ʻtouchʼ Jesus. He asks for some ʻsignsʼ to help him. What do you need in your life to help you believe and grow stronger in your faith journey? Spend time in prayer asking Jesus.
  8. The famous South African civil rights proponent Allan Boesak once stated that Jesus, at the pearly gates, wonʼt question us about how well we carried out our religious obligations. Heʼll only ask us to show our wounds, the wounds that are the outward sign weʼve spent our lives imitating him. What if the only question Jesus asked on entry to heaven was: ʻshow me your woundsʼ?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
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palmsundayDownload Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

Palm Sunday:

  1. The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy. Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak?
  2. The Passion Reading from Mark has many details. There is betrayal by close friends, the violence of crowds, political and religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion attracts your attention this year, in the circumstances of our world? Your life?
  3. Raymond Brown a Catholic Scripture scholar warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that will ultimately change the world. We are there and it is now. The Gospel is convicting. Today. Can you see how the same issues are present today. Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
  • Judas – selling out on God for money?
  • Fleeing disciples – worrying so much about one’s own safety?
  • Peter – professing and denying Jesus within the hour?
  • Soldiers – carrying out unjust instructions from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
  • Pilate – pretending to be powerless, washing hands of justice and choosing to ignore evil?
  • Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring the rules are kept and people are ‘safe’?
  1. Barabbas can be literally translated as Bar – Son. Abbas – Father. Who is the true Son of the Father? Jesus or Barabbas? Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt against military powers using military means that will bring ʻsalvationʼ? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?
  2. The veil of the sanctuary separated into a special area of the Temple the Holy of Holies. In this place only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. The Gospel of Mark writes interpretively that this ‘private and exclusive’ meeting place with God has now been revealed as ‘on the cross’ for everyone. Here is the Son of God crucified out of passionate love and the desire to create a new covenant of forgiveness. The cross becomes the ‘new mercy seat’ (hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies) for all to see, believe in, and receive. Spend some time in prayer and looking upon Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teach you?
  3. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?
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Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent (RCIA Readings)

Reflection Questions

  1. Rising from the dead is an image in the First and Gospel readings. Ezekiel was not referring to the resurrection of individuals but returning from exile in ‘slavery’ as God’s people were trapped in a ‘foreign land’. As the journey of Lent nears completion we are encouraged to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We invite the spirit to ‘open our graves’ and ‘rise from them’. Where do you experience ‘lifelessness’? Sadness? Dryness? Death?
  2. Suffering is well known to the prophet Ezekiel. He writes of suffering as tough meat being boiled to tenderness in a pot and the heat of fire burning off the rust on the pot (Ez 24). In the midst of suffering Ezekiel writes 86 times ‘I am the LORD’ reminding us that God is guiding our personal lives and history. Can you trust God can work through your suffering? What is your suffering / salvation story?
  3. While we all live as ‘flesh and blood’ St Paul recognises it is possible for our ‘body / flesh’ to steer our life seeking only to satisfy itself with food and pleasure. Selfish and sensual living (flesh living) alone does not ‘please God’. Our baptism welcomed into our lives the Spirit of Christ which inspires and nudges us to become more like Christ. Consider the great power of the spirit to raise Christ from the dead. What would you like to pray for?
  4. Chapter 11 of John is very special. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the seventh ‘sign’ of Jesus. It is important to recognise a sign points to a reality. Jesus, on hearing of his friends death strangely talks immediately of ‘glory’. He even waits for four days as the Jewish belief was that the spirit of the body hovered over the body for 3 days. It is clear Lazarus is truly dead. Only God can bring someone back from the dead. This will be Jesus’ greatest sign to prove his identity as God. If you were present to this scene what would your questions be?
  5. Martha and Mary ask questions and respond to Jesus like true Jewish disciples and faith seekers. Jesus is considered an intermediary – someone ‘close to God’ ‘whatever you ask of God God will give you’. Jesus is unhappy with this response. Martha responds with a Jewish belief in the final resurrection from the dead and a hope in the Messiah. Jesus boldly proclaims ‘Martha, I AM the resurrection and the life’. In effect Jesus is teaching Martha (and us) I am God and I am in charge of and responsible for the resurrection and all life! Let me prove this to you ‘where have you laid him’? Can you trace your faith journey about Jesus’ identity in the questions of Martha? What does this 7th sign now teach you about Jesus? Do you believe?
  6. The Gospel of John was written in Greek. Greek thinking did not allow God to ‘change’ as this would suggest God was weak and not all-powerful. In the midst of his loved friends we have the profound short sentence. ‘And Jesus wept.’ God weeps and is deeply moved by our pain and sadness. Jesus is also perturbed and troubled. John stirs questions up for us about God. If God weeps what does that mean? Is Jesus upset and angry that people do not recognise who he is? What is your response personally to Jesus in this Gospel story?
  7. Jesus strangely says a prayer of thanksgiving before the tomb. Can you allow yourself to hear this prayer to you in the tomb of your wounds and bandages from your life journey. What do you request this Easter to be untied from?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?
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