Posts Tagged ‘Service’
Download 15th Sunday Reflection Document
- Moses is giving his final words of farewell in the book of Deuteronomy today. The ʻLawʼ which Moses gave to Israel from God is not simply written in decrees but is written into our very nature…. ʻvery near to youʼ. Jewish people kept this ʻshemaʼ close to them by posting it on their doorways and wrapping it around their foreheads in times of prayer. How could you keep Godʼs ways and guidelines close to you? Is there any practice or habit you could adopt to express a love for Godʼs teachings?
- We hear from St Paulʼs letter to the Colossians in the next 3 Sundays. Paul is writing a letter to correct errors of a heresy. Gnosticism taught that God was only spirit and did not mix with the material world of ʻmatterʼ. Jesus therefore was thought of as an ʻintermediaryʼ between God and Man, like an Angel. God couldnʼt become ʻfleshʼ because this would involve God getting ʻdirtyʼ and mixing with humanity! Paul responds Jesus Christ is truly the image and exact representative of the invisible God, the fulness of God dwelt in him. God has truly come among us and reconciled us. What was the obstacle of Gnosticism? Is this obstacle in your own thinking?
- The Parable of the Good Samaritan is intended to ʻshake usʼ toward loving as God loves. Parables are meant to ʻshockʼ us out of the status quo. Stay with the parable until something ʻshocksʼ you.
- Jesus responds to an expert in the law of Moses. Jesus includes in the ʻshemaʼ an addition to ʻlove your neighbour as yourselfʼ (Lev 19,18). Jewish people practically limited this ʻadditionʼ to extending care only toward fellow Jewish citizens. Why do cultures limit and enforce cultural and social divisions of who is ʻincludedʼ and ʻexcludedʼ? In your social and religious circle, who do you ʻinclude / excludeʼ? Why?
- The ʻlawʼ stated that Priests and Levites were to be kept ʻcleanʼ for religious service. Getting close to a dead body or touching ʻbloodʼ would make them ʻuncleanʼ. They ʻseeʼ someone in great need – but decide to ʻpass byʼ. Jesus
- critiques this socially and religiously ʻacceptable behaviourʼ. Religious sacrifices and duties are no substitute for lack of compassion and injustice. In your week who have you ʻseenʼ, ʻpassed byʼ?
- A Samaritan was the cultural equivalent of a terrorist or drug dealer. It was the greatest shock for Jewish listeners to have a Samaritan as a hero surpassing a religiously observant Priest and Levite. The Samaritan put his money where his mouth was. His love for God showed itself in deep compassion not simply pious thoughts or words. Oil and Wine were gifts offered at the altar, used now to soften and disinfect wounds. 2 days wages and a promise of more if needed reveal not just first aid but ongoing care.
- What inspires you in the Samaritanʼs actions? What would it look like for you to ʻgo and do likewiseʼ?
- Jesus challenges the lawyer – and us – to a new approach to life. The question is not ʻwho is my neighbourʼ but will I be a ʻneighbourʼ ?
- What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?
- The Prophet Isaiah is with God’s people in Exile in Babylon. He makes a prophecy of a great leader who will not be like any leader ever known: God will allow his life to be crushed which will ‘ransom’ and ‘justify’ (make right) all people. Verses like this in Isaiah form the ‘4 songs of the suffering servant’. Christians understand these texts as teaching us about Jesus’ suffering. Have you experienced anyone willing to ‘suffer’ for you? Can you think of any story where someone restored friendship with another at great ‘cost’? What happened? How does this help you make sense of Jesus’ suffering for you?
- The Letter to the Hebrews continues to explain how Jesus’ death and resurrection has replaced the Jewish High Priest in the Temple. Instead of ‘walking through the curtain’ which separated people in the Temple from the sacred place of the ‘Holy of Holies’ – God’s presence – Jesus’ death allows him to ‘pass into heaven’. Instead of the High Priest sprinkling blood on the ‘Mercy Seat’ inside the Holy of Holies to bring forgiveness, Jesus on the cross has become the ‘throne of grace’ – the new revelation of God’s Mercy. Where do you go to, look at, feel, the mercy and forgiveness of God? Consider praying this week with a crucifix or at church in front of the tabernacle – to ‘find grace’.
- Jesus has just finished his third prediction of his suffering and death (Mk 10,32). The immediate request of James and John for ʻpositions of powerʼ reveal they do not understand what Jesusʼ death means. The ʻindignationʼ of the others reveals they were all secretly seeking power and glory. The Kingdom of God and the Messiah to make it happen is still thought of as a strong political and military figure, and a triumphant banquet and honors given when the victory is won. And like other ʻrulersʼ, power will then be exercised as ʻauthority overʼ them. Such a mindset will breed continual violence. How do you view violence and war. Do you secretly wish leaders would use ʻpower overʼ others? Do you think the way of ʻnon-violenceʼ works?
- ʻDrink the cupʼ and ʻbaptismʼ are phrases full of meaning. The Father of the house would fill the cup of each member of the home. It was descriptive of God the Father giving out the plan / lot which was assigned for each person. It symbolised ʻGodʼs willʼ. Baptism was not so much a water baptism as an immersion into the will of God – often involving some struggle and pain. Jesus is sharing with disciples the cup (job) is to set people free from the grip of sin and bondage and satan. This is a task which will involve hardship and suffering. What does ʻdrink the cupʼ and ʻbaptismʼ mean for your life? Now? Does it ʻcostʼ you anything?
- Jesus teaches about leadership. He uses some colorful images. Servant / Slave – humble service at a meal rather than a position of glory and being ʻwaited on hand and footʼ. Ransom – in Jewish culture a person in debt or enslaved could be ʻransomedʼ back. Like a special family object in a pawn shop that is to be recovered and returned to the family. In religious worship it was also understood as an ʻatonementʼ (at-one-ment) offering to bring forgiveness and a re-union with God. How do you understand and exercise leadership? Have you ever actively said NO to Power. Pride. Greed?
- What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
- The Book of Wisdom continues the suffering servant theme of Isaiah last week and points to the suffering that Jesus will experience. Many Jewish people were searching for meaning and guidance outside Judaism while living in Alexandria (a large Greek city). Have you experienced a time when you went searching for other belief systems because the society you lived in made fun of your religious beliefs? Where did you turn? What happened?
- The Book of Wisdom reveals worldly people oppose Godly people. They pretend righteous motivations…. ‘let us see whether his words be true’…. ‘let him prove his gentleness and patience’. Has this experience of persecution and trial been part of your christian witness? Have you been able to live in trust that ‘God will take care of you’? Can you see and believe evil actions ultimately get found out and goodness is vindicated?
- Living in peace with each other in christian community is our calling. A desire for glory and power and possessions needs to be brought out into the open. What peace-full virtue from James could you practice more of: be pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant? What object or honor are you wanting to possess? Name a ‘selfish ambition’…
- Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark has 3 predictions of the passion. Each time Jesus talks about his suffering the disciples completely misunderstand what he is talking about. Today is the second prediction. Jesus talks about Death. Disciples talk about Glory. Jesusʼ teaching about accepting suffering is contrasted with his disciples argument about seniority. 2 lifestyles are revealed. What style of living describes you: living upward (glory and honor and violence) or living downward (service and humility and nonviolence)?
- Jesus chooses to expose the disciples lust for power in a quieter moment ʻinside the houseʼ. He challenges them. They were really just concerned about ʻpower and gloryʼ ʻwho was the greatestʼ. Jesus does a very revealing action. While they wanted to know who was ʻat the topʼ, Jesus takes a child representing someone ʻat the bottomʼ. He collapses the social and power structure. Receive and welcome and show hospitality and inclusion to the ʻbottomʼ in society. Can you see how living this invitation will inevitably enter a disciple into upsetting the status quo. Upsetting the power structure of society. Jesus calls this a disciple ʻpicking up the crossʼ. In your world, community family, workplace, who is ʻat the bottomʼ (equivalent of a child in Jesusʼ time). How could you ʻreceiveʼ them? Jesus identifies with them. Will you stand up for them?
- In Jesusʼ time, a child was ʻat the bottomʼ of society because in a shame / honor culture, it would be highly unlikely that a good act toward a child would be ʻrewardedʼ by the child talking to the community about the hospitality received. As a result, a kind action does not get rewarded with ʻhonorʼ in the eyes of the community. Therefore it is not worth doing. Can you recognise how subversive Jesusʼ placing the child ʻin their midstʼ is to the culture of the disciples. Who is the equivalent of a ʻchildʼ today?
- What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?
Take some time to get into the week of holy celebrations. Each ceremony has much to teach us.
Holy Thursday remembers Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. In this ceremony we remember how Jesus established a new covenant where the Jewish Passover is replaced with a new sacred ritual of the Eucharist, and the final instruction to live in humble service – wash feet – is to be the trademark of christians. In receiving the true presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus into our lives we are called to make a gift of our own bodies, lives, humble service for the cleansing and repair of the world.
Download: Holy Thursday Readings – In this ceremony we celebrate how Jesus replaced the Jewish Passover with a new covenant – the Eucharist – and we wash each others feet as a reminder of the last symbolic action Jesus left for his disciples to live in humble service.
Reflect on the video and scripture readings and move this from the historical to the person.
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Download 31st Sunday Yr A
- The prophet Malachi was writing to his community. They had been allowed to return home from exile. They had even received financial help to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. And yet religious practice and faithfulness was at an ‘all-time-low’. He turns his attention to the Priests. They were responsible for the spiritual leadership of the community and were not ‘listening’ or keeping the laws ‘in their heart’, ‘not instructing people properly in ‘the way’. In the final verse Malachi also turns to those who ‘intermarried’. He interpreted this as weakening God’s family and introducing other God’s into the family – a breaking of the ‘covenant’. What would you suggest today is the source of decline in ‘religious practice’?
- St Paul, while traveling far and wide as a missionary, continued his trade as a ‘Tent maker’. He worked ‘night and day’ so as not to burden anyone. While they missed him, Paul pointed to the true source of their growth ‘the word of God at work in you’. How could you spend more time with the ‘Word of God’. Who could help you?
- The word ‘Pharisee’ means ‘set apart’ or ‘separate’. They were lay men (not priests who worked in the Temple or scribes who were ‘scripture scholars’ and experts in the law). In Jesus’ time the Pharisees believed the ‘laws’ were not being lived perfectly and the temple priests and Religious Leaders were too comfortable with Roman authorities. When Matthew’s Gospel was written, the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed. Pharisees were now more public in their leadership – even being referred to as ‘Rabbi’ – teacher. Jesus continues his critique of religious leaders being ‘hypocritical’. Literally ‘two faces – actor’. Preaching and practice must go together. Is there any areas of your life where you are ‘acting’? Wearing ‘two faces’?
- Jesus reminds his disciples and the Church today to not follow the Pharisees or scribes. Be an example to follow. Interpret laws sensitively so as not to load heavy burdens. Be alongside to shoulder the weight of discipleship. Do not seek glory or status. Point toward God (not self) as the true teacher. What aspect of Jesus’ leadership challenge speaks personally to you?
- ‘Father’ was a term of special respect given to ‘elders’ and special deceased persons. To call no one on earth your ‘Father’ or ‘Master’ is Jesus telling the community – and its leaders – not to ‘chase’ titles and public recognition. Service and humility are to be the trademarks of the Christian community. Is there an attitude of ‘seeking’ rather than ‘service’ in your ministry? How could you show respect to leaders and also develop a culture of equality and expectation of ‘leading by example’ in your community? Is a humble word of correction to a leader friend needed?
- What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?