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Discussion Guide: Getting the Balance Right as a Disciple

Readings: Gen 18:1-10, Col.1:24-28, Luke 10:38-42

See the source imageReflection Questions

• ʻThe New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is only fully revealed in the New Testamentʼ. Here forms a special link between the First Reading and the Gospel Reading each Sunday. The common theme in the readings is Hospitality.

• Abraham has just won a significant battle, is a wealthy leader and herdsman. Yet he runs from his tent in the heat of the day, gets the equivalent of 20 pounds of flour, kills a steer, which would be an extraordinary feast for a small village, and then he ʻwaited on themʼ. Abraham shows middle eastern hospitality in providing safe passage for travelers. Strangers become guests. How do you show hospitality in your life, family, friends, work colleagues, strangers … ?

• Sarah and Abraham are surprised in receiving news that they will have a child. What surprises have you enjoyed and received recently in showing hospitality?

• Paul rejoices in sufferings and sees them as part of the work of Christ. Any suffering that is part of growth and extending the work of the Church is Christʼs work continuing and making up or completing what was unfinished in Christ. Enduring difficulties became a privilege and an honour for Paul. What sufferings do you find hard to carry? Can you see a different way of looking at them as gradually transforming the world and the Church starting with your own ʻfleshʼ?

• Paul goes where no-one else would go – to the gentiles – to warn, teach and present them to Christ. Is there someone you know who has drifted away from God and the Church. How might you ʻwarnʼ them, ʻteachʼ them, ʻpresentʼ them to God?

• Martha and Mary have Jesus – and his hungry disciples – arrive at their home. Cultural expectations of women would have weighed heavily on both Martha and Mary to give hospitality and serve food. Mary chose to do what was not socially acceptable, and sit at the masters feet, the traditional expression of being a ‘disciple’ – and one normally reserved for ‘males’. Consider what obstacles Mary overcame to ‘sit and listen’. What obstacles do you need to overcome to listen in prayer?

• Martha’s serving is another crucial aspect of discipleship. So Jesus is challenging the status quo here also. He recognizes both Martha and Mary as disciples, challenging Martha to step outside her cultural role and understand who Jesus is calling her to be as his follower. Martha tries to reinforce the norms by getting Mary to help. Mary courageously resists her sister. What is going on? If Welcome and Serving feel overly burdensome or a ʻcomplainingʼ spirit is developing in your life, work, relationships, ministry, take time to figure out where the ʻworryʼ is coming from and talk to God about it?

• This passage comes straight after the parable of the Good Samaritan and offers a great picture of balanced Christian discipleship. Hearing and Doing are not opposites but inter-twined. What is Jesus saying to you about the choice that Mary made to sit and listen to him and our need to carefully discern the roles we adopt and review them from time to time in prayer?

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

 Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist, distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. web: www.livingtheword.org.nz.     E-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com    www.maristlaitynz.org

 

Discussion Guide: 15th Sunday – Loving Beyond Barriers

Image result for Modern Day Good Samaritan StoryReadings: Deut. 30:10-14, Col. 1:15-20, Luke 10:25-37

Reflection Questions

• 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. two 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 livetheword this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

See the source imageDiscussion Guide: Disciples are Missionaries of Peace 

Readings: Is.66:10-14, Gal. 6:14-18, Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Reflection Questions

• Isaiah provides a very intimate feminine image of a baby being comforted at a Mother’s breast to symbolise the return of exiles back to Jerusalem. It is one of the most cherished images of Godʼs love for sinful humanity. Some commentators share this as a feminine image in the Old Testament to the Compassionate Father in the Prodigal Son Gospel story. Try replacing ʻJerusalemʼ with your own name. What feelings are stirred within you? If the Old Testament ʻJerusalemʼ is now the ʻChurchʼ, which sacraments provide us with this tender grace of love?

• St Paul leads us into a deeper discovery of the meaning of the cross. The cross does not only give us Jesusʼ forgiveness of sins but reveals a rule and ʻlife-styleʼ. Christian disciples are now drawn into away of living that reveals they are ʻcrucified to the worldʼ. Many worldly attractions are no longer top priorities. My life direction and purpose is now in Jesus and for others. Consider what your deepest desires are and what you are really living for? If 1000 people lived your ʻlife-styleʼ what sort of world would be emerging?

• Jesus sent out 72 people – the number of known nations in the world. He urgently seeks to bring people to God – and to dethrone Satanʼs power in the world. Have you ever thought of a ʻmissionʼ project that is bigger than yourself and requires others to help? What would you need to do to start the project? Have you been attracted to a project? What happened?

• Take no money, no bag, no extra shoes, donʼt be distracted by talking to anyone on the way to your job, and donʼt jump from house to house to seek comfort. A serious challenge! Disciples are to be detached from any security other than their relationship with Jesus. They only
resource they bring is ʻpeaceʼ, and working and praying in Jesusʼ name to ʻcure the sickʼ. Can you identify anyone who lives this ʻabsolute  trust in God  lifestyleʼ as an example for you? Has their inspiration changed anything in you?

• Jesus warns disciples to be ready for rejection. Peace not anger and argument are trademark signs of Christian disciples. Have you had the courage to witness to Christ? Have you shared ideas and projects that were not ʻreceivedʼ? Shaking of the dust was not done individually but
by a ʻpairʼ. Why do you think it was important for Jesus to send out disciples in ʻpairsʼ? Who could you have as a ʻpairʼ to journey and share with – especially in the rejection moments?

• Jesus did not delay sending people out on mission until the disciples were complete and perfect. I need more formation. Iʼm not good enough. Iʼm not confident enough. Iʼm too broken and sinful are easy responses to NOT engage in mission and ministry. Sometimes we need prayer-filled focus. What is God asking of me and what is the next step in ʻdoing itʼ? ʻBehold, I have given you the power…..
• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Reflection Guide: Freed and Called to Serve

1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21, Gal 5:1, 13-18, Gospel Lk 9:51-62

Image result for galatians 5:1, 13-18

Discussion Questions

  1. 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. 2. Elijah is very wealthy. Most families would own only 1 Oxen. He kills 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 Gods 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?

 

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Reflection Guide: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Reading 1 Gn 14:18-20, 1 Cor 11:23-26, Lk 9:11b-17

Image result for body and blood of christDiscussion Questions

• 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?

• 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?

• Paul’s 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  his ‘tradition’ (which means ‘handing on’) comes from Jesus himself. We are told to ‘Do this’. 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?

• 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 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?

• 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?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Reflection Guide for Trinity Sunday is here

Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31, Rm. 5:1-5, Gospel JN 16:12-15

Discussion QuestionsFather, Son and Holy Spirit - spirit, christ, jesus, god

• 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.
• 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 pre-existent life before being ‘born of Mary’? What does this mean for Jesus’ relationship with the Father?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide: Pentecost – Lord Send Out Your Spirit

Readings: Acts 2:1-11;  1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Rom 8:8-17 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; Gospel Jn 20:19-23 or Jn 14:15-16, 23b-26
Jn 20:19-23

Pentecost Sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home                                       Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor! Come, source of all our store!                                      Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best; You, the soul’s most welcome guest;                        Sweet refreshment here below; In our labor, rest most sweet;                             Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe.
 O most blessed Light divine, Shine within these hearts of yours,                          And our inmost being fill! Where you are not, we have naught,                       Nothing good in deed or thought, Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your 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.                                  On the faithful, who adore And confess you evermore, In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtue’s sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord;          Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

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 First Testament Tower of Babel story (see Genesis 11). Humankind’s 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 ‘in his native language’. 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 didn’t 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 body. 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 Jesus’ 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 excludes?

8]• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide for Sunday Year C: Ascension of the Lord – Be My Witnesses

Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Eph. 1:17-23 or Heb. 9:24-28; 10:19-23 Gospel Lk 24:46-53

salvador dal237 the ascension of christ 2139x2022 wallpaper Art HD Wallpaper

Reflection Questions

• 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?

• Restoring the kingdom to Israel 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 kingdom of God? What does it look like? How is it achieved?

• The Feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesus’ 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): why are you standing there looking at the sky? Where is the focus of your energy and attention as a disciple: looking upward to a future hope of heaven, or looking sideways to mission?

• Ascension Sunday has two 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 (God’s resting place) in the holy of holies – the sanctuary / tabernacle). Jesus’ 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 clean. Jesus acts now and intercedes for us as our heavenly priest. What strikes you from this image in the Hebrews reading?

• 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 witness to Jesus? If people were to watch your life what would they ‘see’?

• The Holy Spirit is the ‘promise’ of the Father upon you 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. Promise of the Father; Come  or  Power from on high, fill me, or the simple Come Holy Spirit)

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com  Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide for 6th Sunday of Easter Year C: At Home and At Peace

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Gospel Jn 14:23-29

See the source imageReflection Questions

• Circumcision was physical and symbolic – an outward sign of an inner consecration and being a nation set-apart. 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?

• 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?

• Pagan temples often used animals for sacrifices. This meat was cut up and sometimes sold in the market. What are modern idols, practices, institutions, that could affect true worship of God today?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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 at home with the Word? What is it like?

• 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?

• Peace is the trademark 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 peace does the world seek to give? Where is peace found?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide: New Heaven and New Earth 

Acts 14:21-27; Rev 21:1-5a; Gospel Jn13:31-33a, 34-35

See the source image

Reflection Questions

• Paul and Barnabas traveled great distances, endured resistance and persecution and spent years away from their home base of Antioch.
On finishing their journey they returned back through the various towns – even those that persecuted them! What does this teach you
about Paul and Barnabas?  What would their missionary journey look like in your world, office or workplace?

• Paul and Barnabas broke centuries old prejudices of considering God only loved the Jews. His chosen. Going to the Gentiles was an
enormous change.  To put this into  context, if a Jew married a Gentile in Jesus’ time the Jewish family would conduct a public funeral to
say to everyone that you were now dead to the family. Gentiles were considered intrinsically unclean. Strict Jews believed they were defiled by being with Gentiles. Which group of people today are considered outcasts, sinners, beyond God’s love? Could you be a missionary to them? What might need to change in you? In the Church?

• 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 God’s presence ever- dwelling in the Church in the Eucharist and the Word?

• In John’s 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 lifted up 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 glorious?

• Jesus gives a commandment to his disciples which is new. While the Old Testament encouraged Jews to love their neighbour, it was
interpreted within the boundaries of your inner circle 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 outsiders not simply insiders. Would people see in your lifestyle and love style something different? Can you identify a lived action where you lived and showed Christ recently?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?