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Archive for the ‘Active Christianity’ Category

Discussion Guide: 3rd Sunday Easter Yr. B – Live in and for Christ

 

To Live Is Christ, to Die Is Gain'? Meaning of Paul's Words Explained

Reflection Questions:  • Peter has gone through a remarkable experience of change since his denial of Christ and now has the confidence to preach the core Christian message to unbelievers. He now knows what it is to be forgiven and to turn back to relationship with Jesus. Notice then how his preaching flows from his living and the signs that he works (he just cured someone!). ʻPreachingʼ comes after ʻlivingʼ. What sign / action / witness can I ʻliveʼ this week to let people experience Jesus through me?

• Holiness is a universal call to everyone. “Repent and be converted  is an invitation to a complete change of one’s value system. The worldview of the early disciples had been tipped upside down with the Resurrection. Consider what change took place for the early disciples to sell land and give to those in need? Is your value system that of the ʻworldʼ or ʻChristʼ? Ask God what areas of your life need more of the Holy Spirit, so you can change and grow as a disciple. Then take the next most obvious steps to cooperate with God and bring that change about.

• Some people in the Johannine community believed that ‘knowledge’ of salvation was salvation. ‘Knowing’ Jesus and his forgiveness was all that was important. Moral behaviour and changing one’s lifestyle seemed irrelevant. Yet the Easter Acts of the Apostles and Gospel readings teach that the disciples of Jesus witnessed to the resurrection with power and signs and wonders. Their lives were transformed. The Easter Sunday Victory of the Resurrection is supposed to overturn the evil of good Friday. Christians are not just baptised and waiting for the idea of the resurrection to become true when they die and enter eternal life. We have a job to do. Holiness is for now. As disciples we are each called to live in and for Christ in everyday life whatever that entails for us. How could you ʻkeep the wordʼ more and let the ʻlove of God come to perfection within youʼ more?

• Jesus was ʻmade known to them in the breaking of breadʼ. This new action and new words with it, was so new at the last supper that it transformed the traditional Passover meal. Only the Son of God could do this. Yet the resurrected Jesus must have appeared different to the disciples as it was only ‘in the breaking of the bread’ that they recognised him. How do you understand what happens at the celebration of the Mass / Eucharist? How does it help you experience the ongoing presence of Jesus? Do you have questions of the Scriptures that require some help to understand them? What are they? Who could you ask for help?

• “Why are you troubled and what are the questions rising in your heart” What are the things you need to look at, discuss with someone, write about, research, pray about, so you too can reach the peace and transformation Jesus offers today?

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

The Easter Triduum:

Reflection Guides are available for

Holy Thursday HERE,

Good Friday Readings are HERE,

A Guide to help reflect on Good Friday from Creighton University is here

Easter Saturday VIGIL is HERE

 

Easter Blessings from the Team at Living the Word.

 

 

 

Preparing With All Your Heart: The Passion of Christ: Discussion Guide is HERE

Reflection Questions

Image result for palm sunday year b

Palm Sunday: The Passion of the Lord
• The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on
a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent
of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’ – The anointed One. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy.
Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak? When have you been part of an ecstatic crowd of welcome and jubilation? How did you feel during, and after the event?

• The Passion Reading from Mark has many details.  There is betrayal by close friends, the mob violence, milling crowds, political and religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion strikes you most this year, in the particular circumstances of our world today? Your life? Talk to God about that and share with others about it as you are comfortable.

•Raymond Brown, a Catholic Scripture scholar, warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that changed the world. We are there and it is now. Every Mass makes it present today. The Gospel is the living word-
convicting us, converting us -Today! Can you see ways that the same issues are still present today?

Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
Judas – Putting money and his own ideas ahead of his commitment to Jesus.
Fleeing disciples – putting all the focus on personal safety?
Peter – professing and then denying Jesus within the hour?
Soldiers – carrying out unjust orders from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
Pilate – pretending he has no power, washing his hands of justice and ignoring evil?
Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring that rules be kept and ‘safety’  maintained?
Narrator – dispassionately observing and unmoved. Share your responses in prayer over this week.

Barabbas literally translated is Bar = Son, Abbas = (of the) Father. Who is the true ‘Son of the Father‘ – Jesus or Barabbas? What will bring ‘salvation’ : Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt against military powers using military means? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?

• The veil of the Temple sanctuary separated off the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. Mark writes interpretively that this ‘private and exclusive’ meeting place with God has now been revealed as ‘on the cross’ for everyone. Here is the Son of God crucified out of passionate love and the desire to create a new covenant of forgiveness. The cross becomes the ‘new mercy seat’ (hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies) for all to see, believe in, and receive. Spend some time in prayer with Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teach you?

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

These Resources by Living the Word, are prepared by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, ACSD, Marist Laity NZ. You are welcome to copy and share them for personal or group use but please ensure the website is credited. www.livingtheword.org.nz, Email: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide:    2nd Sunday Lent Yr. B – Listening to and Trusting in God

 

 

Image result for the transfiguration modern

Reflection Questions:  • At first glance, Abraham’s willingness to kill his son Isaac looks like murder. A deeper reflection leads us to recognise what is involved in offering a ‘sacrifice’. Abraham’s hope and future promise for many descendants is in Isaac. Abraham places his life and future in the hands of God. A ‘test’ for Abraham has found him ‘worthy’ and completely abandoned and obedient to whatever God willask. Has God called you to do  something? Have you delayed? Why does God invite followers to ‘give up’ things we hold so tightly?

• Some scholars suggest that this special ‘high place’ where Abraham was to offer Isaac was the actual site of the 1st Temple of Solomon. High places were often on ‘mountains’ and were ‘meeting places with God’. Where is your ‘high place’ and what ‘offering’ or ‘sacrifice’ could you offer to God showing you yield to God’s will for your life in total trust?

•St Paul encourages us to enter our imagination to feel how great God’s love must be. Have you ever had a friend or family show great generosity in buying or doing something for you? That ‘proof’ of their love allows you to deeply know they are ‘for’ you. If God did not spare his own Son, there is nothing more he could give to show the depth of his love. Does this give you confidence? To ask?Love?

• The Transfiguration is in the middle of Markʼs gospel. It is time to go deeper. Jesus has just challenged disciples to be willing to ʻgive up your lifeʼ(8,34-35) for his cause. They probably want ʻproofʼ that it will be ʻworth itʼ. Jesus shows disciples his divinity (dazzling white as a sign of Godʼs presence) and authority (Moses and Elijah both spoke to God face to face on special mountains). He is truly the Son of God! Persecution and even death will be moments of persecutors merely bringing judgement upon themselves as against God, and will be a doorway for a disciple into heaven and victory. Do you overly spiritualize the phrase ʻdeny oneselfʼ? Is Lent about punishing the body or a transformed lifestyle and society confronting injustice? How much ʻcostʼ are you willing to endure? How could you ʻgive almsʼ to lift up those in need this Lent?

• The presence of God – like a cloud covering the Mountain to speak face to face with Moses – speaks. We are not simply to gaze or adore, but LISTEN TO HIM. How could you more faithfully ʻlistenʼ to Jesus in prayer this Lent? What has worked? What has not worked?

• Fasting has often been a spiritual practice that intensifies within our bodies a focus, a need, a prayer, a request, a cause. What or Who could you fast From or For?

• How will you ‘livetheword’ this week?

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.

Ash Wednesday – Starting the Lenten Journey

HOW DO I START?

Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by without really placing oneself on the ‘starting line’. Taking part in the reception of ashes symbolizes our decision to start the journey.

If you cannot be part of a service due to health or Covid issues, pray at home or find an on-line service. You can read the Scripture of the day and make the sign of the cross in some way.

It is possible to be at the starting line but not enter the race!

What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? How
can you make this more meaningful? Share a decision/plan with a
faith-friend & ask them to encourage you over the next 40 days.

IT TAKES TIME
The image from the prophet Joel 2:12-18 (1st Reading Ash Wednesday) is an invitation
for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies.
Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. STOP!

Covid may have required an enforced STOP for you. How could make an intentional ‘stop’ at
a personal, spiritual or social level? Where? When?

The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Take some quiet
time to tell yourself you have started the journey and write a decision or plan for Lent.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions (see Gospel for Ash Wed, Matthew
6:1-6,16-18). When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast….
These are the three traditional and powerful Lenten practices that help us focus on what is
important: Our relationship with God, our discipline and discipleship, our interrelationships, witness and community.

Practice of Prayer: What voices do I listen to? How much of my time do I set aside to hear God?

Practice of Fasting: What things fill my life? What is unhealthy? What do I have trouble letting go of? What needs change? Balance? How do my choices care for the environment and the poor?

Practice of Almsgiving: How do I spend my money and resources? Do I hear the cries of those in need and respond? Could I live more simply and be more generous? Do I seek Gods guidance about my financial and resource decisions?

Whether you have access to an Ash Wednesday service this year or not, try to gather with at least one other person face to face or online and give to God your commitment to begin the journey of Lent with a plan and a desire to grow as His disciple.

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.

Discussion Guide:  4th Sunday Yr. B – Does Jesus have complete Authority in your Life?

 

Jesus: The Highest Authority.. The Story: | by Kehinde Ogunde | Medium

Reflection Questions:    • The Book of Deuteronomy is a book of long sermons and reflections. It is regarded as the second (deutero) law, an insightful reflection on the teachings of Moses. Although the great prophet, Moses did not lead God’s people into the promised land. Yet the community realised how necessary it was to have someone completely ‘in tune’ with God who could correct and guide them. Are you frightened to ‘hear the voice of God’? Do you resist being ‘still’? Listening to the deepest voice of God within your spirit? Is there a ‘prophet’ that God has placed in your life and you know it is important to ‘listen to the words of their mouth’?

• A true prophet speaks what God has spoken. It is not made up wisdom. Have you ‘presumed to speak in my name’?Consider praying to God for particular wisdom and insight for people whom you guide with your words and witness. Do any images or words or ideas come to mind? Write them down and continue to ask God for guidance. • St Paul’s writings teach of equality of men and women in marriage. Putting the letter to the Corinthians in context, Paul’s early writings presume Jesus’ return is to happen so soon, it is best to let nothing distract us from being ready. What makes you anxious? Distracted from God?

•The Gospel of Mark immediately shows Jesus overcoming the forces of evil. Check out a typical day of Jesus in Mark chapters 1-3! The battle between Good and Evil is striking. Unclean spirits are taunted and afraid and surprisingly acknowledge the identity of Jesus before anyone else. Jesus is experienced differently from the scribes who taught legal rules. Jesus in his words and action brought healing and liberation. Are you a person of ‘word’ and ‘action’? Is your word filled with commitment to bring about what you have said?

• Exorcisms done by Jesus symbolise and reveal the ultimate struggle between good and evil that Jesus is involved with. To bring the ‘Kingdom of God’ into reality involves ‘fighting against evil’. Is there anything that you are doing in your life that Jesus would not do? If Jesus were to be in your home, flat, workplace, what would he resist? Fight? Seek to change?

• Jesus is shown to be the true prophet, fulfilling the prophecy of Moses (first reading) whose word is the Word of God. Yet he breaks the ‘sabbath’ law by ‘working a healing’. He does this in the synagogue, in front of scribes (Church leaders who teach the ‘law’). He creates a disturbance with the man convulsing and shaking in front of a crowd as he is released from domination by an evil  spirit. Jesus as a prophet makes people uncomfortable. ‘Prophets make lovely additions to the Bible, but you certainly don’t want one in your neighbourhood. No Sir! Prophets wreak havoc on the status quo…’ Can you identify anyone who is prophetic? Whose presence brings God and causes havoc in the reestablishment of God’s order? What prophetic word or act could you do this week?

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

 

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Yr. B – Are You With God?

AT ONCE” | Grace for the Race

Reflection Questions:    • The Book of the Prophet Jonah is a book about his life. It is understood not to be an historical writing, but a reflection on the nationalism of the Hebrew people (represented by Jonah) who could not consider ‘Gentiles’ as worthy of receiving God’s Mercy and attention (represented by the Gentile city of Nineveh). Jonah was called by God to speak to the people of Nineveh but instead chose to run in the opposite direction. Only after trying to escape and spending 3 days in the belly of a whale did he show obedience to God’s call. Strikingly the people of Nineveh responded to God’s call to change and ‘turn from their evil way’. Have you heard a constant voice, noticed a constant desire, felt a passion stir within that does not go away? This is frequently the way people experience God’s ‘call’ upon their life. Are you ‘running in the opposite direction’? Arguing with God (like Jonah) with reasons ‘why you will not do it’. What is your best guess as God’s calling on your life today. What is your response?

• Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is an early letter when Paul still thought Jesus would be returning ‘very soon’. While we are conscious of Jesus’ delayed return his message still holds: all the things of the world will pass away and nothing is to become an obstacle between ourselves and God. List the relationships and objects / possessions that are important to you. Is anyone / anything damaging the time and relationship and obedience that God is asking of you? What could you do to restore a balance? What could you ‘let go of’ to be more available to God?

• The beginning of Mark’s Gospel quickly teaches about being a disciple of Jesus. In a dark way the cost of being a true disciple is suggested with John the Baptist being ‘handed over’. Jesus too will be handed over. Disciples too will be handed over. A battle scene is subtly painted with words. Satan’s rule is now going to be replaced by that of God: The Kingdom of God is at hand! While sometimes  slower at revealing itself, God’s ways to bring justice and overcome evil will triumph. Are you with God? Are you engaged in overcoming ‘evil’ or are you passively watching? What does ‘Repent’ (change) mean for you?

• Simon and Andrew, with their Father and hired men are considered to be at least ‘middle class’. Part of a family business, boats, employees. In following Jesus they are letting go of family expectations and financial security. They must be attracted to an even greater concern. What is it? Re-image the scene using your own ‘family’ and ‘work’. What is your response to Jesus?

• In the Gospel of Mark, immediately Jesus chooses disciples. Immediately he places himself with others in a community. He will teach but also receive companionship. Who are likeminded people who you need to support your discipleship? How could you ‘build community’ together to encourage faithfulness and obedience to Jesus?

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

Discussion Guide:    2nd Sunday Yr. B – What Are You Looking For?

 

The Gospel According to John Blog: Come and See (John 1:35-51)

Reflection Questions:  • Samuel is a young boy who eventually becomes one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. It is possible he was given the job of ensuring the ‘sacred flame’ in the Temple did not burn out and for that reason is ‘sleeping in the temple’. Today God calls him. He is confused, and even his mentor ‘Eli’ takes a while to recognise it is God speaking in prayer to Samuel. Is your lifestyle allowing for time in prayer and silence? Have you ever sincerely presented yourself before God and stated ‘Here I am…. Speak…. I am listening’?

• Samuel needed Eli to mentor him in the ways of listening to God and prayerful obedience. Who has been an ‘Eli’ figure for you in your journey with God? Has there been any word or inspiration from God or an Eli-Mentor that you have heard but not been obedient to? What happened?

• Samuel was blessed. The Lord helped him to not let any word spoken ‘fall to the ground’. He both caught the Lord’s word and Spoke the Lord’s word. How could you be more effective in ‘catching’ every word of the Lord spoken to you? Consider starting a spiritual journal of your prayer time and finding a spiritual director (Eli). Check out www.livingtheword.org.nz/resources and  click on spiritual director and keeping a journal.

• There was a problem among some of the community at Corinth. Some separated the body and the spirit believing that it did not matter what one did with their ‘bodies’. Paul teaches them about the dignity of their bodies. Joined with Christ, filled with the Spirit, our bodies are true ‘Temples’ of God. What we do in and with the dwelling place of God should bring God Glory. Do you respect and protect the dignity of your body? How could you give God greater glory? Whose ‘bodies’ are being broken or abused today in society. Do you care?

• John the Baptist points his disciples toward Jesus and they begin the journey of discipleship. The first question Jesus asks of a disciple points deeply to their heart: What are you looking for? Imaginatively enter the scene. What is your response to this very first question of Jesus?

• ‘Come and see’ is an invitation by Jesus to ‘abide’ and ‘stay’ with him. Like Samuel, could you find a frequent way of drawing close to Jesus, spending time beside the tabernacle in Church? It means leaving friends, normal routine, unknown conversation. Where does the adventure of ‘come and see’ ask of you?

• While Peter is well known, it was his brother Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus. The time spent with Jesus impacted Andrew so much he had to find someone to share this good news with. Have you experienced the joy of Jesus and the desire to lead others to share this faith experience? Is your lack of courage stopping a future Church leader? Saint?

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

Discussion Guide:   Christmas Yr. B – And the Word became flesh

 

 

Amazon.com: ConversationPrints Virgin Mary Baby Jesus Glossy Poster Picture  Photo Christianity Religion god: Prints: Posters & Prints

 

Reflection Questions:  • Christmas Story – The Master and the Puppy. C.S. Lewis is well known for  writing children’s stories. He was also a committed Christian and wanted to express deep theological truths simply. He explores Christmas – the Incarnation of Jesus with an illustration of a Master and his puppy.

• Imagine. You have a puppy. If you really loved your puppy how could you show your love to it? Wash. Cuddle. Feed. Brush. Exercise. Allow inside by the fire…..etc. As the Master of the puppy, how about while still holding onto your human condition you take on fully the condition of becoming like your dog? Sharing its life totally and fully? You have entered the world of your dog so that you can be with your puppy totally and reveal just how much you love your puppy. Would you do this? God has with us. What would you have to let go? What has God had to let go? What is your response to this truth at Christmas?

• ‘The Lord bares his holy arm’ is an image of God ‘rolling up his sleeves’ to get stuck into the work of salvation. Rolling up one’s sleeves recognises the work may get messy. The Incarnation is God entering our messy world. Is this good news for you? Why?

• Today’s reading from Isaiah brings us the original meaning of ‘Good News’. It was a messenger running back from battle with news of victory – good news! The messengers feet were ‘dirty’ but also beautiful as they brought a joyful message. Do you ‘carry’ a message of joy and peace in your heart because of Jesus?

• The Letter to the Hebrews is essentially a long sermon explaining to Jewish People and Jewish Temple Priests the significance of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus is the ‘Son’ of God, and ‘the very imprint of his being’. Some translations use the phrase ‘the perfect copy of his nature’. The Letter to the Hebrews also had to make clear that Jesus was above the angels and not an ‘intermediary’ or angelic ‘messenger’. What words or ideas best explain Jesus’ identity for you?

• In the Gospel of John, Jesus is given the title ‘Word’. Your ‘word’ expresses your deepest being. Is intimately ‘you’. It is self revelation. Jesus = Word is a creative way of teaching us about Jesus’ identity and one in being with God. ‘In the beginning’ is John’s way of referring back to Genesis 1,1 and the existence of Jesus prior to creation. The great climax is the ‘Word became flesh’. The image is one of God pitching his tent among us. It is this truth that writers call ‘the marvelous exchange’. It is this truth shown in the crib scene of Jesus and Mary and Joseph. We look on in wonder. How could you look at Christmas in a new and fresh way? How could you be surprised by Christmas again?

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

Merry Christmas from livingtheword

 

Discussion Guide: 2nd Sunday Advent Yr. B: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’

 

 

La Salle Academy–All About Community | La Salle Academy Ruminations

Reflection Questions: • Isaiah chapters 40-55 are known as the ‘Book of Comfort’. The prophet is speaking encouraging words to the exiles as they return home and seek to rebuild their lives and the Temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah is also known as the ‘carrier of the hope of the Messiah’. Foretelling a time when God will come among his people. Can you see the prediction of John the Baptist and Jesus in the reading from Isaiah? What image speaks personally to you on your advent journey?

• The preparation of a straight road or a royal highway was known to happen in ancient times when a very special person was to visit. Physically, valleys were filled and hills were lowered to make the way smooth and easy. At great expense! As Advent invites us to make a clear pathway for the Lord, what roadblocks, ditches, hills require the earthmoving equipment of prayer, spiritual direction, reconciliation?

• The 2nd Letter of Peter is regarded as possibly the latest of the New Testament Letters. Obviously they are concerned with the delay of Jesus. Peter teaches God’s final judgement is not based upon human calendars. While Peter uses the popular belief of the time of a final ‘fire’ at the end of time, he also emphasises the need for good behaviour and ‘righteousness’ (whereas gnostics did
not consider there would be a future judgment and therefore immorality was irrelevant). Would Christ’s coming find you ‘eager to be found without spot’? At peace? What is the source of your ‘dis-ease’?

• Today we hear the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel we will listen to for the rest of the Year. Mark immediately shares the ‘secret’ in the first line. We are about to hear ‘gospel’ (good news about a victory battle over evil) done by Jesus Christ. He is the one who reveals by words, actions of power, that he has all the attributes of God = Son of God. Is your interest raised? Consider spending a few hours to read Mark (the shortest gospel) for Advent.

• To announce a figure of such great importance requires a voice to ‘proclaim’ the imminent arrival. This is the role of John the Baptist. Significantly John does this at the Jordan river (at the same crossing point Israel left the desert and entered the Promised Land). A new rescuing by God is taking place. John is painted to be like the great prophet Elijah who was to return to prepare for the ‘great day of the Lord’. Who has been a holy witness and ‘prophet’ like John the Baptist for your journey? Who could you be a holy witness for this advent calling them back to God?

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