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Download 13th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. Elijah is one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. But even he gets tired. God tells him to find his successor to continue the prophetʼs work. In your ministry and service of God are you ʻfinding a successorʼ to share the load and replace you? Have a conversation with God about this.
  2. Elijah is very wealthy. Most families would own only 1 Oxen. He kills the 12 Oxen and uses the farming tools to create a fire. He destroys everything so as to not be attracted back to his old life. He makes a decision that Godʼs work has primacy of place and is the first calling upon his life. Imagine living these actions within your own life and circumstances. What attracts you? In what areas of your life are you not ʻfreeʼ?
  3. St Paul continues to teach the Galatian community about the true nature of freedom. Freedom is really being ʻfree for othersʼ. To not be attached or enslaved to material possessions and self indulging desires (flesh) requires discipline and effort. In what area of your life could you make a daily prayer this week for God to help you? Is there an action you could do to enter this particular journey of ʻfreedomʼ this week?
  4. From Luke 9,51 we meet a tougher Jesus. Some texts have Jesus ʻset his face like flintʼ toward Jerusalem. He is determined and makes large demands of his disciples. Going to Jerusalem represents Jesusʼ obedience to God to do ʻhis willʼ. Is there anything you have heard God ask you to do? What will it involve for you to ʻset your faceʼ resolutely toward doing it?
  5. Three unknown people have questions about discipleship in the Gospel. We are invited to hear their questions echo in our own hearts, enter the conversation, respond to Jesusʼ challenge. Jesus has nowhere to lay his head. Are you free enough to leave home, security, comfort?
  6. Care for and burial of oneʼs parents was a top social and cultural priority for Jewish people. Allegiance to parents and duties as a child is replaced by Jesus with ʻproclaiming the kingdom of Godʼ. What pressures or expectations does society or your family place upon you? Do these ʻlimitʼ your freedom to respond to God by living the values and lifestyle of Jesus? How? What will you now do?
  7. Jesus takes disciples on a special journey toward Jerusalem from this point in the Gospel. There is no turning back. The joy and success of ministry in Galilee changes to resistance by religious people and civil authorities. Jesus urgently teaches his disciples about mission and the Kingdom of God. Imagine a fire is burning and many peopleʼs lives are in danger. Would you let go of your ʻworkʼ to ʻsaveʼ these people? Such is the call of the Kingdom of God. How will you respond?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 12th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. The Old Testament readings are often fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament Gospel Reading. Hadadrimmon is the special mourning place for King Josiah who called his people to change and repentance but was killed in battle in the plain of Megiddo. Have you experienced a special place where you ʻturnedʼ to God?
  2. Paul writes to the community in Galatia and is upset with Jewish Christians misleading newly baptised people. He writes to them teaching them that obeying all the Jewish Laws does not ʻsaveʼ us. We need to get the right starting point of our relationship with God. Do you think more about what you could do for God (obedience to the law), or what God has done for you in Christ (unmerited and unconditional love for sinners through his saving death on the cross)? What is the correct starting point for Paul and why?
  3. Paul writes in this letter using a very early baptismal prayer. All barriers of culture and race (Jews / Greeks), gender (male / female), social standing (slave or free) have been dissolved by baptism and following Christ. What barriers and walls between people upset you? What barriers are present in your own life / attitudes?
  4. It is strange that Jesus rebukes Peter for his answer. Jesus wants them to be silent before they truly understand what type of messiah / Christ Jesus is. It will not be the military glory of public expectation but a suffering messiah who is rejected and killed before rising again. This requires a completely new mind-set. For Jewish people and Jesusʼ followers it was shameful to suffer and die. It is the obstacle that Jews cannot overcome. Jesus therefore cannot be the Messiah. What do you think?
  5. Jesus speaks now to ʻallʼ followers to take up oneʼs cross. The wooden ʻcrossʼ in Jesusʼ time was an instrument of death used to kill revolutionaries. It is shocking for Jesus to tell his followers they must ʻtake it upʼ. Have you ever thought of Jesusʼ requiring his disciples to be radical revolutionaries and being willing to ʻdieʼ for his values? What does ʻtake up your cross mean to you?
  6. The context of Jesusʼ words are not of a one time martyrdom or death, but a dailyʼ sacrificial living. And it is not ʻdaily burdensʼ but something far deeper. Jesus invites disciples into the posture of a condemned person awaiting a death sentence. No worldly attachments are present now. Everything is stripped away by the ʻdeathʼ sentence to ʻselfʼ. There is to be no holding back. Have you ever considered religious or priestly life as a deeply freeing experience of letting go to give ʻall to Christʼ? What excites or scares you about such a call?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 11th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. Imagine a great religious and political leader committing adultery and trying to cover up the pregnancy with the secret killing of the husband. This is actually what has happened with the great leader of Israel – King David (see 2 Sam 11). David moves from covering up to confession. God forgives David. What strikes you about Godʼ s forgiveness? The painful consequences of sin? What is your experience?
  2. King David is thought to have composed the famous Psalm 51 expressing heartfelt sorrow for sin. If you were to have a heartfelt conversation with God what words would you use? Use Psalm 51 to help you. Consider making use of the sacrament of confession this coming week. What obstacles do you need to overcome to experience Godʼ s waiting embrace?
  3. Paul is responding to a big question: Am I acceptable to God? Jewish people in the Galatian community were trying to convince new christian disciples they still had to observe all the Jewish laws to be ʻrightʼ  and acceptable to God. Paul, who was a very law-abiding Pharisee cries No! Human frailty eventually breaks the law and observing ʻ lawsʼ  pales in comparison to what has been given in Jesus! God has come among us, taught us, forgiven us, revealed the resurrection to us. Faith is entering into the embrace of Godʼ s acceptance for us in Jesus. What is your response? How could you accept the ʻacceptanceʼ of God?
  4. Paul paints a powerful picture. ‘I have been crucified with Christ’. Imagine each day climbing onto the cross – arms extended in an embrace of our broken world – like Christ giving of his body and blood on the cross to heal the world. Is your life lived with arms open generously or arms tightly closed in self preservation?
  5. Some cultural information behind this parable is helpful for reflection. Hospitality was always to be shown to guests. Water to wash feet, hands. Perfume / oil to annoint oneʼ s head. Simon shows no hospitality to Jesus. Women were also conditioned only to show and let down their hair for their husband. The woman is showing very intimate actions of love toward Jesus. What now strikes you in this parable?
  6. Simon the Pharisee and the Woman who was regarded as a ʻ sinnerʼ in the town are both struggling with who is ʻacceptable to Godʼ . The Pharisee thought only people keeping all the rules and laws were satisfying the ʻpurityʼ code of being ʻ cleanʼ and therefore ʻ rightʼ  with God. Simon is horrified that Jesus allows a sinful woman to ʻtouchʼ him and thereby make him ʻ uncleanʼ. What is Simonʼ s deep theological problem?
  7. Imagine someone releasing you of a debt of a year and a half of your wages. Or 3 months of your wages. What would your feelings be? Would this experience find expression in any action? What is the greatest ʻ releaseʼ  experience you have had. Did it change your lifestyle in any way?
  8. The quality and image of discipleship between the Woman and Simon is different. What attracts you? Why?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document 10th Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. Elijah is a very special Prophet in the Old Testament. He does such great works of power in God’s name he was expected to return again to prepare and welcome the Messiah. Yet he suffered deeply. Elijah is being chased by King Ahaz and his ‘foreign’ wife Jezebel who imported over 700 prophets from her own religion attempting to turn Israel away from Yahweh. He seeks refuge in a Widows house and the son stops breathing! Have you ever felt nothing is going your way and blamed God? How could you develop the confidence of Elijah to move beyond moaning and trust in the power of prayer?
  2. In ancient Jewish society if a Widow loses her son it would most likely mean losing her legal title to land and home as well. She loses all her social security! In society today, who is vulnerable, without family support? Do you know the story of anyone suffering from HIV Aids? Homelessness? Addiction? Unemployment? A Migrant, Refugee? What action could be shared so that they might say ‘Now indeed I know that you are a person of God’?
  3. Paul’s first missionary journey took him to Galatia. The community there were very special for him. Unfortunately, after he had left, ‘Judaisers’ visited the community and claimed that Paul had ‘watered down the gospel’. Paul was not a ‘true Apostle’. They (the gentiles in Galatia) were told they needed to live many of the Jewish laws to be truly ‘saved’. Have you ever suffered from claims you are ‘watering down the gospel’ by not focussing on laws and commandments? What happened? Why do you think Paul made a journey to Jerusalem to visit Peter and James? Do you seek to move from conflict to communion?
  4. Another Widow appears in the Readings. Jesus is moved with pity for a vulnerable Widow. Strikingly Jesus willingly makes himself ‘unclean’ by touching a coffin (dead body) and then raises the ‘dead’ to ‘life’. And the truth is shouted… ‘God has visited his people’! Jesus is more powerful than Elijah (1st Reading). He is truly the promised Messiah. Finally the Kingdom of God, the poor being comforted and ‘lifted up’ is happening! Luke seeks to share discipleship is also continuing these ‘Kingdom activities’. Are you willing to get your hands and reputation ‘dirty’?
  5. Both Elijah and Jesus create a response of people glorifying God. What would help you arrive at a place in your heart where you are ‘moved with pity’ for those suffering? What words could you speak from God into your friendships and workplace? What actions could you live to bring comfort to modern-day ‘widows’? Is a ‘report’ spreading through the whole region that God is visiting his people ‘through you’?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

 

Download Feast of Body and Blood of Christ

Reflection Questions

  1. When the Church celebrates a special ʻFeastʼ or ʻSolemnityʼ it is frequently the result of controversy. The origin of this feast dates to the 12th Century responding to debate about the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. When was the first time you can remember debating and seeking to understand Jesus truly present with the gift of his body and blood in the Mass? How would you describe and share this eucharistic faith with a friend today?
  2. Melchizedek, King of Salem is a very mysterious figure without a genealogy. By his actions he is both King and Priest. And Salem is known as the future city of Jerusalem – the dwelling place of God the Most High for Israel. Abraham has just returned from overcoming 4 kings and rescuing Lot and all his possessions. A King was normally wary of such a visitor as Abraham. They would show welcome by tending to the wounded – hoping that their ʻkingdomʼ would not be pillaged by the visiting army. Strikingly Abraham who represents Godʼs people, offers this Priest / King a tenth of all his possessions! Many writers comment Melchizedek is a sign of an altogether new and divine priesthood able to confer a special blessing from God. How do you understand the Priesthood today?
  3. Paulʼs letter to the Corinthians is the earliest writing we have of the celebration of the Eucharist (15-20 years before the first gospel). Paul shares this ʻtraditionʼ (which means ʻhanding onʼ) comes from Jesus himself. We are told to ʻDo thisʼ. For Jewish people, to do a ritual liturgical action in ʻremembranceʼ was to actually enter and receive the event celebrated. Paul shares the Eucharist proclaims and makes present the cross and victory of Jesus. We receive Godʼs forgiveness but also intimate communion. What does receiving ʻholy communionʼ mean for you?
  4. King Herod has just asked a question ʻwho is this man of whom I hear such wondersʼ? (Luke 9,9). The Gospel of Luke shares this miracle story of the loaves. Old Testament background stories add texture to this passage where Elisha showed himself working by Godʼs power to feed 100 people with a few loaves. God fed his hungry people in the journey in the desert
  5. through Moses. Jesus now feeds the hungry, sick, and poor of Israel. Godʼs hospitality and Jesusʼ mission is shown. Jesus gets the 12 Apostles to serve the banquet. What might this teach us about the mission of the church in the world to the hungry? The Eucharist?
  6. The disciples attitude was one of inward focus and concern, ʻturn them awayʼ we donʼt have enough resources. As you receive Jesusʼ body and blood will your attitude be one of simply ʻlookingʼ? selfishly ʻgettingʼ? generously self offering?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

 

Download Reflection Document: Trinity Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. Trinity Sunday has its origins in the Arian controversies of the 4-5th Century (denying the divinity and humanity of Jesus). These arguments resulted in the Nicene Creed being formulated and an increase in preaching and devotion to the Holy Trinity arose. By the year 1000 the Feast of the Trinity was celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost.
  2. The passage from Proverbs is a unique reference to the Wisdom of God personified, playing, creating ‘beside God’. At times it has been interpreted as reference of the Word of God (Jesus) or the Power of God (Holy Spirit). Have you ever considered Jesus having a preexistent life before being ‘born of Mary’? What does this mean for Jesus’ relationship with the Father?
  3. What strikes you about the image of God in the passage from Proverbs: Have you ever considered God ‘delighting day by day’, ‘playing….’ How might this help you relate to God? St Paul shares with his community in Rome that the experience of Christian faith brings peace and hope. Sometimes we can only know what we have by imagining what life is like without it. What would life be like for you without Jesus?
  4. Jesus knows that disciples are not ready to know the complete truth immediately. Have you experienced the gentle guidance of the spirit into a deeper truth and freedom? Is there any area of your life where you desire more freedom? Do you recognise the desire for a deeper freedom is the sign of the spirit? What is the ‘truth’ (desired in you by the Spirit) that you would like to live?
  5. Reflecting over the past week consider any ‘God moments’ where you have felt God speaking to you through experiences, people, books, prayer time, emotions… in a sentence what do you think God is trying to ‘speak’ to you?
  6. Consider entering a time of prayer with each person of the Trinity. What would you like to pray in thanks and praise to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit? What would you like to ask for?
  7. The work of the Holy Spirit is to ‘glorify’. Have you experienced your mind and heart being turned to wonder and awe at creation, salvation, the sacraments of the Church, the gift of heaven? When was the last time you experienced a deep sense of rejoicing and praise / glory to God?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Come Holy Spirit (1)Download Reflection Document: Pentecost Sunday Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. Pentecost was a Jewish harvest feast which also involved a liturgical celebration of bringing water into the temple and pouring water from the side of the altar. Life-giving water would symbolically flow from Jerusalem and give life to the whole world! Jesus fulfills and replaces this Jewish feast saying that out of him will flow life-giving water (Jn 7:37-39). What does this image of Pentecost teach you?
  2. Pentecost is 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 and leads people to understand each other and the christian message ʻin his native languageʼ. What does this suggest is the true function of the Holy Spirit in the world? In the Church?
  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 What gift do you find easy to share and benefit others with? 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 the ʻbodyʼ. Which part of the ʻbodyʼ do you identify with your gifts – eyes, head, heart, hands, mouth, ears. How do you show this in your daily life?
  5. Jesus is able to pass through locked doors to offer 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 as it were ʻplugged inʼ to a living power moulding all into the image and consciousness of Christ. Pentecost fills the Church and allows the Church to be the extension of Jesusʼ ministry in the world. What feelings and thoughts arise in a person when they are ʻsentʼ? Are you conscious of being sent out by the Father to ʻrepair the worldʼ?
  7. In the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles the Holy Spirit had a difficult time in getting the disciples out from hiding behind locked doors and praying in the temple and in peopleʼs homes. It was only persecution in Jerusalem that eventually caused the light of the good news of Jesus to be given ʻto all the nationsʼ. Welcoming gentiles into the christian community was a huge obstacle and struggle for Jews who were the first christians. What are the big obstacles to unity and inclusion in the Church today? How could the Church be more reconciling in the marketplace and with those the world ʻexcludesʼ?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. 40 days have passed since Easter. What is a significant memory, learning, faith experience you have had since Holy Week? Has the Easter mystery become clearer in any way? Have you learnt something new about what Christ has done for our salvation?
  2. Restoring the ʻKingdom to Israelʼ is still a theme and question of the Apostles. They may still be holding onto a military hope of salvation with a clear and convincing victory of God by power. What is your understanding of the idea of ʻkingdom of God? What does it look like? How is it achieved?
  3. The Feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesusʼ place now in Heaven, promising the Holy Spirit (1st Reading), acting as the Heavenly Priest (2nd Reading) and sending his disciples to witness to all nations (Gospel). The Angels challenge the disciples (and Us): ʻwhy are you standing there looking at the sky?ʼ Where is the focus of your energy and attention as a disciple: looking upward to heaven, or looking sideways to mission?
  4. Ascension Sunday has 2 options for the second reading. The letter to the Hebrews teaches how Jesus replaces all the sacrifices, offerings and prayers of the Temple Priests. A picture is created of the High Priest acting on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16) with blood (symbol of life) to rub on the mercy seat (Godʼs resting place) in the holy of holies – the sanctuary / tabernacle). Jesusʼ sacrifice of himself is the one eternal sacrifice to fulfill and replace all sacrifice offerings for the forgiveness of sin. This great act is complete. Jesus now gives us confidence that our relationship with God is made ʻcleanʼ. Jesus acts now and intercedes for us as our ʻheavenly priestʼ. What strikes you from this image in the Hebrews reading?
  5. Jesus sends his disciples as ʻwitnessesʼ to all the world. This is our job description. The early Christian community so heavily persecuted linked witness with martyrdom. In what ways do you consider yourself a ʻwitnessʼ to Jesus? If people were to watch your life what would they ‘see’?
  6. The Holy Spirit is ʻthe promise of the Father upon youʼ giving disciples a ʻpower from on highʼ. What is your image and experience of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever earnestly prayed for the Spirit? Awaiting Pentecost this coming week, create a simple phrase that you could pray frequently (eg. ʻpromise of the Father, come.ʼ ʻpower from on high, fill me.ʼ)
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 6th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Circumcision was physical and symbolic – an outward sign of an inner consecration and being a nation ʻset apartʼ. It was a physical part of oneself offered to God like a sacrifice. Jewish Christians wanted gentile christians to follow their Mosaic practice (given by Moses) and be circumcised. This question caused the first Council of Jerusalem meeting. How do we know what is important to keep practicing? Are external markings important? Do you show / wear a sign of belonging to God? Why? Why not?
  2. Jewish / Gentile conflict happened in the very early days of the Christian community. Reducing numbers of Jewish christians were faced with increasing numbers of Gentile christians. The loss of culture and influence caused tension. How was the tension resolved? What are the lessons for us today?
  3. Pagan temples often used animals for sacrifices. This meat was cut up and sometimes sold in the ʻmarketʼ. What are modern idols, practices, institutions, that could affect true worship of God today?
  4. The Book of Revelation is written during a time of great persecution. A vision is painted of the future being secure in the ultimate victory of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. We all need a vision and story to lead and call us forward in our current pain and struggle. It is the essence of hope. In your difficult times, what keeps you going? What is the story and vision of the future that gives you hope?
  5. The gates of Godʼs City have three gates open in all directions. If you were to picture your church community, how could it be seen to have its doors ʻopenʼ and welcoming to all? What is something you would be willing to try to make your parish more ʻwelcomingʼ?
  6. Jesus teaches his disciples there is a link between loving Him and keeping his Word. Reflect on an experience of listening to His Word. What is the difference between listening and keeping? Have you had an experience of feeling ʻat homeʼ with the Word? What is it like?
  7. In John the Holy Spirit is called the Advocate (a translation of the Greek Paraclete – literally the one who stands by the side of a defendant in the courtroom). It is also translated as counsellor, comforter, encourager. What image do you have for the Holy Spirit in your life?
  8. Peace is the ʻtrademarkʼ and presence of the Holy Spirit in the tradition of Christian spirituality. ʻNot as the world gives do I give it to youʼ. What sort of ʻpeaceʼ does the world seek to give? Where is peace ʻfoundʼ?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Paul and Barnabas traveled great distances, endured resistance and persecution and spent years away from their ʻhome baseʼ of Antioch. On finishing their ʻjourneyʼ they returned back through the various towns – even those that persecuted them! What does this teach you about Paul and Barnabas? What would ʻtheirʼ missionary journey look like in ʻyourʼ world, office or workplace?
  2. Paul and Barnabas broke centuries old prejudices of considering God only loved ʻthe Jewsʼ. His ʻchosenʼ. Going to the Gentiles was an enormous change. To put this into context, if a Jew married a Gentile in Jesusʼ time the Jewish family would conduct a public funeral to say to everyone that you were now ʻdeadʼ to the family. Gentiles were considered ʻintrinsically uncleanʼ. Strict Jews believed they were ʻdefiledʼ by being with Gentiles. Which group of people today are considered ʻoutcastsʼ, ʻsinnersʼ, beyond Godʼs love? Could you be a missionary to them? What might need to change in you? In the Church?
  3. The Book of Revelation gives us the final seventh vision. Although Jerusalem had been destroyed and Christians were being severely persecuted a vision is seen of what will come true. Can you look at the Church today – in its current struggles – and see the bride (church) adorned for her husband (Christ) and Godʼs presence ever dwelling in the Church in the Eucharist and the Word?
  4. In Johnʼs gospel the moment of Jesus dying on the cross is not simply a place of suffering. The word Glory is used 5 times in todays gospel. It is Jesus being ʻlifted upʼ like a winning coach on the shoulders of the winning sports team. It is a moment of victory. Glorious! When you look at the cross, do you see only suffering? Can you see why it is also ʻgloriousʼ?
  5. Jesus gives a commandment to his disciples which is ʻnewʼ. While the Old Testament encouraged Jews to ʻloveʼ their neighbour, it was interpreted within the boundaries of your ʻinner circleʼ of family. Jesus tells his disciples the love his followers are to show is to be qualitatively different. A self sacrificing love to all like his own love on the cross. A love to ʻoutsidersʼ not simply ʻinsidersʼ. Would people see in your lifestyle and ʻloveʼstyle something different? Can you identify a lived action where you lived and showed Christ recently?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?