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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?

Download Reflection Document 4th Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. In the 50 days after Easter the Church listens continuously to the Acts of the Apostles (the ʻgospelʼ of the Church as it is sometimes called). Paulʼs first missionary journey lasted some 13 years! He encountered violent abuse and persecution. But he could not stop sharing the message of Godʼs love,
  2. forgiveness and the truth revealed in Jesus. Do you know a missionary in the Church and the challenges they face? What do you think the ʻmissionʼ is in your own country, parish?
  3. Shaking dust off oneʼs feet was a ritual action Jews performed when returning from Gentile (non- believing) lands. When Paul and Barnabas did this action to the Jews and went to the Gentiles it would have been interpreted as a great insult. Sometimes it requires great courage to move ʻoutsideʼ traditional boundaries. Have you experienced a missionary ʻzealʼ to go further than what is normal and acceptable to live and bring Christ to others? What happened?
  4. The Book of Revelation ‘unveils’ the future and provides a heavenly image of those who have endured great persecution and sacrificed their life for peace, justice, freedom. Their white robes symbolise these inner virtues. It is a picture of all the faithful – saints in Heaven. Have you recognised the freedom (and religious freedom) of your country and your life has been won at great ʻcostʼ by those who have gone before you. What do you think this great multitude would say to you ʻtodayʼ? What religious truths would you be willing to enter ‘great distress’ to defend?
  5. The context of John 10 is the great Jewish ʻFeast of Dedicationʼ. It was a celebration of military victory of Judas Maccabeaus who led an army (164BCE ) against the occupying Greeks who had desecrated the Jewish Temple by putting the Greek god Zeus on the altar making it ʻuncleanʼ. (See Dan 8:13) They killed and chased out their oppressors, destroyed false idols, built a new altar and rededicated the Temple. In Jn 10 they ask Jesus if he is the promised Messiah – and will he raise up arms and inspire an Army to overcome the occupying Roman forces!? He responds: he is the Good Shepherd. Salvation and healing of the world will come through listening to his voice not the taking up of arms. A soldier or shepherd. What are the similarities and differences of these two ʻimagesʼ?
  6. A striking image in contemporary Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem is young and old ‘shepherds’ daily walking their small flock of 15 sheep to grass or water. Tender and watchful care is given to the sheep. So familiar are the sheep with their shepherd they know their particular voice. In what ways do you listen to ‘God’? Have you experienced a desire to love and care so deeply for God’s family that you are willing to lay down your life and become a ‘shepherd’?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 3rd Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. The Sanhedrin involved 71 members of the High Priests, former High Priests and ruling families ofJerusalem. It was the highest Jewish civil and religious court. Peter and the apostles show impressive courage in witnessing to Christ. Peter focuses the argument to obedience to God rather than ʻto menʼ. What does obedience to God actually mean for you and your life-style? How could you show you live more ʻfor Godʼ than ‘the world’?
  2. The Book of Revelation was written to comfort christians suffering persecution. It is ‘resistance literature’. Using symbols and code language it reveals that the Empire of Rome is only temporary, the final scene will be eternal life for those faithful to the ‘lamb’ / Jesus.
  3. John provides a picture of the ʻheavenly liturgyʼ. The Old Testament expectation awaited a ʻLionʼ but instead Jesus comes as a ʻLamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength…. What is the difference between a Lion and a Lamb? How does Easter reveal God conquers through Love not Power?
  4. Jesus appears to his disciples as they seek to return to their previous lives. Some walk away from Jerusalem and others go fishing. Jesus turns them around and sends them on mission. The large catch of fish shows that the disciples working on their own can catch nothing, but in obedience to Christ – everything is possible. 153 is said to be the number of nations known in the world, and the total number of fish types known at that time. The missionary outreach is to all nations and all peoples! Is there a particular mission field that you feel attracted to work in? What next little step might obedience to Christ involve for you in being part of the Churchʼs ʻmissionʼ?
  5. Jn 21 is regarded as an ʻadditionʼ to the conclusion of the Gospel of John showing the ʻrehabilitation of Peterʼ. Peter is chastened by his failures and publicly, in front of the others, is invited to profess his love for the Lord. Each request ʻdo you love meʼ is a painful reminder to Peter of his betrayal. Do you think a rehabilitated shepherd is a better shepherd? What does Jesusʼ re-appointment of Peter as leader show us about Jesus? About God?
  6. The ultimate and final invitation of Jesus is framed by the request to lay down your life: ʻfollow meʼ. What reaction takes place in your head and heart to the invitation to ʻlay down your lifeʼ for the Lord?
  7. Frequently people comment that there are so many ‘lapsed Catholics’ no longer practising their faith or coming to Church. Perhaps another perspective is seeing them as ‘collapsed – Catholics’. The Sheep were not being ‘fed’. How could you respond to the invitation Jesus gave to Peter to ‘feed and tend’ his sheep so that they are well nourished. What has fed you that you could creatively share?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 2nd Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Early followers of Jesus were fearful that authorities would persecute them and their families. Consequently ʻmany dared not join the Apostles in the Temple porchʼ. Is there something you would like to join in your Church family but are scared for some reason? What would help you get over your ʻfearʼ? Do you fear your Priest? Public leadership in the Church?
  2. Easter changed the disciples. A presence and power of Christ comes out of Peter that heals the sick and disturbed. It is primarily actions and ʻsignsʼ that helped people ʻbelieveʼ. What signs and wonders could be done by your hands to bring Christ to the sick and disturbed?
  3. John, the Beloved Disciple, the writer of the Book of Revelation, was exiled on the island of Patmos because he ʻgave testimony to Jesusʼ. Yet in the midst of imprisonment he has deep and enlightening ʻrevelationsʼ from Christ – dressed in white walking among the lampstands (symbols of Christian communities). John shares he experiences the distress of trials, a kingdom vision which sustains him the endurance and comforting presence of being in Jesus. Imagine Jesus walking amongst the lampstands of Christian communities. Is your community ‘shining’? Is there any experience of the disciple John that you can identify with in your life at present?
  4. Fear was very real for the disciples of Jesus. If they hunted and killed Jesus they could do the same to his followers. Violent persecution eventually changed toward another type of persecution. Converts from Judaism to Christianity would be disowned by family. A ‘funeral service’ would even be held to cut a convert off from their family and community. Do you recognise as a Christian the calling to be living an ‘alternative society’ to witness to God’s ways whatever the challenges? How does your life-style ‘challenge the world’?
  5. While other disciples had believed in Peter and John and Mary, Thomas refused and placed certain conditions on his belief. He needed Jesus to be very ʻrealʼ for him. Jesus responded to Thomasʼ probing and questioning. Do you identify with Thomas or know someone who is like Thomas? What is a question or source of ʻunbeliefʼ? How could you be like Jesus for unbelievers and make faith ‘real’?
  6. Peace is a special gift Jesus promises to his disciples. The disciples are afraid of the Jews and meeting behind ʻlocked doorsʼ. Jesus repeats his words of peace twice. Peacefulness, as a gift of the spirits forgiveness and presence is to be characteristic of a disciples encounter with the world and the world with us. Can you say you are ʻat peaceʼ?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection documents

Holy Thursday – The Eucharist is for the soul what food is for the body

Good Friday – God’s judgement on the world is forgiveness

Easter Vigil – Don’t be afraid Jesus has overcome all evil

Download Palm Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. On Palm Sunday we wave ʻpalmsʼ in remembrance of Jesusʼ procession into Jerusalem. We cry ʻHosannaʼ (in Hebrew meaning ʻSave Us Now). What is your expectation of God ʻsaving usʼ? Are you willing to let go of a strong powerful military figure and allow a ʻsuffering servantʼ? What do you think happened in the minds and hearts of the crowd gathered to eventually cry ʻcrucify him!ʼ?
  2. Palm Sunday is also called ʻPassionʼ Sunday as we listen to the whole story of Jesusʼ personal betrayal by his disciples, his court appearance before religious and political rulers, his rejection by previously welcoming crowds, his cruel whipping and torture by soldiers. Watch, listen, feel the violence. Where does such cruelty originate from in the world? Why does the world seek a ʻvictimʼ?
  3. Jesusʼ sufferings ʻunmasksʼ and reveals the worldʼs violence and cruelty. Jesus responds peacefully in interrogation. Heals a soldier’s ear. Asks the Father to forgive. Welcomes criminals to heaven. Commits his spirit into the hands of the Father. Is Jesus a ʻdoor-matʼ or a ʻsaviourʼ? How?
  4. It may be a surprise to learn that Jesus and his disciples were regarded as a bunch of revolutionaries from Galilee, hanging out in parks, carrying swords, wanted and hunted by police. How would such a group be considered today? In the Church?
  5. Where would you place yourself in this drama of the passion: With Peter? With the pious religious authorities concerned about the ʻunrestʼ and political problems caused by revolutionary activity?
  6. The crowd is pictured watching and beating their breasts in sadness as they returned home. But ʻhis acquaintances stood at a distanceʼ. How could you stay present to this ʻHolyWeekʼ experience? You may wish to find out the Holy Week timetable and reflect on the readings before each of the ceremonies.
  7. What is something you can do this week to be ‘livingtheword’?

Download 5th Sunday Lent Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. Chapters 40-55 are a special part of the Book of Isaiah. While still away from their homeland struggling with life in exile in Babylon, Isaiah invites people to understand God ‘is doing something new’. Have you ever wanted things to ‘return to the way they were’ when chariots and horseman of
  2. Egypt were beaten up by God? If you had to ‘see’ new ‘rivers’, current experiences that are forming you, what would you identify? Do you allow yourself to see difficult times as experiences that can grow you eventually into ‘praise’?
  3. In his previous life as a Pharisee, Paul would have treasured living all 613 Jewish laws taught by Moses. He would have had honor and status in the community. This is now colourfully referred to as ‘rubbish’. (Literally the word means scraps thrown to dogs). Paul’s life is now aimed toward ‘being taken possession of by Jesus’. Have you ever desired to be ‘fully taken over by God’? How could you pursue this as a ‘goal’? Paul reflects this reality of possession is not ‘taken’ but received as a gift. What part of your life would you like to ask the Spirit into this Lent?
  4. In the season of Lent special readings are chosen to hopefully puncture our lives so that we let in God’s mercy. The Prodigal Son is now followed this week with the Woman caught in Adultery. Both readings reveal an unexpected forgiveness.
  5. Early in the morning people starting coming to Jesus in the temple area and listened to his teaching. In this last week of Lent how could you bring yourself into the presence of Jesus to ‘listen’ and ask for guidance. Is there a church in your neighbourhood, on your way to work which can help you achieve this?
  6. Scribes and Pharisees believed following Laws strictly would bring a person into ‘holiness’. They were upset Jesus spent time with those doing the opposite (sinners). They test him publicly if he keeps the Laws Moses commanded. They wish to maintain a way of relating to God that puts people into ‘holy’ – right -and ‘sinners’ – wrong. Love and mercy is abandoned in favour of judgment and punishment. Jesus beautifully takes away all ‘holy’ pretending as he knows we all sin. Faced with this deep truth we meet God’s response. Consider praying vulnerably in the context of your own life: neither do I condemn you. What is your response to someone when you realise they do not judge you but love you?
  7. Can you remember a time when your relationship with God changed away from a focus on sin toward a deeper knowing of forgiveness? What has been the deepest experience you have had of the Mercy of God? Do you allow the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help you move beyond guilt into wisdom and forgiveness?
  8. Please note in communities that are welcoming candidates for Baptism at Easter different readings are used for the ‘Rite of Scrutinies’ this Sunday.
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 4th Week Lent Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. While Moses was a great leader and teacher, the courage of Joshua was needed to face the challenge of entering the ʻpromised landʼ. The manna ceased. They were now to work for their food. What change has God been trying to work in you and teach you this Lent?
  2. St Paul wanted to teach the Corinthian community that faith in Jesus was more than believing oneʼs sins forgiven. God has also given us the ministry of reconciliation in the world. Reconciliation between peoples and with God is a christians top priority. What relationships need ʻreconcilingʼ in your life? Who could you start with?
  3. In the middle of Lent the Church encourages us to look at our understanding of God with the parable of the prodigal son. It is Jesus teaching us what the Fathers love is really like. The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus did not obey the laws of keeping separate from sinners. Surely God does not want to get ʻcontaminatedʼ with sinners? What do you honestly think is Godʼs response to your sinfulness? What ʻimageʼ do you have of God?
  4. The young son commits the biggest sin possible for a young Jewish person. Asking for the inheritance was like wishing Dad was ‘dead’! Yet the father’s love does not change. Do you feel distant from God because of something you have done …. will you accept the love that the Father shows to his child is the same love that is shown to you? Will you accept this love in the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent? What might hold you back?
  5. The Father does a number of humiliating actions which show the depth of his love. The Father runs in public. It was unbecoming for a Jewish elder to show one’s ankles in public. It is the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention is now drawn away from the son and the possibility of hurting him. The father accepts the humiliation, in front of the whole community, of the older son angry and argumentative. Does the older son wish the father was dead too? Does anyone appreciate the Fathers love? If this is what God is like toward you what is your response?
  6. The Son reaches a very low point in his life. Literally, the phrase ‘coming to his senses’ can be translated ‘he entered into himself’. He makes the most profound decision of his life to ‘return’. What places, practices and people could help you journey ‘into yourself’ this Lent? What decisions have you resisted in the past that would most transform your life?
  7. The parable of the Prodigal (Reckless) Son is also called the Parable of the Prodigal Father. So unconditional is the Father’s love that neither the youngest son or eldest son fully accept it. The parable ends without a resolution. Will God’s children accept his unconditional love and enjoy the ‘fattened calf’ and banquet? Can you glimpse this invitation in the celebration of the Eucharist?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download 3rd Sunday Lent Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. In the Lenten journey, God offers Moses a sacred meeting in the desert. God attracts Moses with the burning bush and gives Moses the Divine Name – I AM WHO I AM (translated in Hebrew Yaweh). When someone shares their name with you what does this mean? How have you encountered God so far during Lent?
  2.  When we listen to God we face a similar choice to Moses: take on the role of passive spectator OR assume the role of a history making change agent. Moses shared with God that he felt too weak and unable to talk properly. God told Moses to get Aaron to help him. What challenging invitation has God shared with you lately? Who might you ask to help you be obedient to fulfilling Godʼs will?
  3. The Corinthian community was becoming comfortable. They assumed that receiving Baptism and celebrating Eucharist was all one needed to be ʻsavedʼ. St Paul reminds them of the dangers of ʻpresuming salvationʼ. Our Hebrew ancestors did this and theyʻwere struck down in the desertʼ. This is a warning we need to continually try to cooperate with God. Are you feeling ʻcomfortableʼ in your faith? What lifestyle choice or action could you make to show a radical following of Jesus?
  4. The theme of Godʼs judgment enters the Luke Gospel passage for Lent. Pilate had killed religious revolutionaries from Galilee while they were offering sacrifices to God in the temple and this event was compared to a tower falling over near the Temple (pool of Siloam) killing 18 people. They asked Jesus if these people were sinners and God was punishing them. Jesus provides a shocking answer. We are all going to die and receive judgment before God. It is urgent and your first concern to be found ʻreadyʼ. Are you ready to die? Why not?
  5. The fig tree is a symbol of the promised Land and is the only tree mentioned in the garden of Eden. It was symbolic of the blessings of God. The fig and olive trees were also symbols of God’s people. In this parable Jesus invites the listener to be ʻthe fig treeʼ. Interestingly, it normally took about 3 years for a fig tree to bear fruit. The first year of fruit was then given to God at the Temple. Can you sense the urgency on waiting for the fig tree ‘to bear fruit’? After waiting 3 years a logical and good farmer would cut it down. It is wasting soil. And it would be another 3 years ‘waiting’ for fruit. By Godʼs mercy it is allowed 1 more year – but the fig tree is still ʻunder judgmentʼ. Consider if you were given the ʻgift of another yearʼ before meeting God and being ‘fruitful’.
  6. In ancient times people thought natural disaster was God punishing people for ‘sin’ and wrong doing. Jesus says God does not operate this way. Jesus shares the importance of people moving away from sin and unhelpful patterns of guilt and blame. Repent means literally ‘to turn your life around’. What would you like to turn ‘from’ and ‘to’?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?