God has actually spoken

The scripture readings for Sunday are a great starting point to start listening

more

It's more enjoyable with others

There are some simple and effective ways to share scripture in homes, cafes, parishes

more

Let's walk the talk

Prayer becomes lived out when we make decisions and lifestyle commitments

more

Sign up for email notifications

Or follow us via Twitter, facebook, RSS and more

more

Archive for the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ Category

The easy-print reflection and discussion sheet can be found HERE

Discussion Guide:      4th Sunday Advent Yr. C – Leap for joy!

 

Luke 1:39-45: The Visitation | The Jesus Question

Reflection Questions:

• As Christmas arrives, special passages of scripture are used to guide our understanding of Christmas. This Sunday is the only time that the Prophet Micah is used for our Sunday Readings. A prophecy 700 years before Jesus points to the little town of Bethlehem, famous as it was the home of Jesse, King David’s Father. It was from this royal line the Messiah would arrive. Ephrathah was a little and insignificant ‘clan / tribe’. Consider for a moment just how extraordinary is God’s power to guide history and prophecy to fulfillment. How might this help you ‘trust’ in God?

• The Letter to the Hebrews teaches about the significance of Jesus. Holocausts, sin offerings and sacrifices were experiences of Jewish worship in the Temple that were to bring people into union with God ‘according to the law’. Jesus is shown as following the will of God and bringing forgiveness and union with God ‘through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ on the cross. Why Jesus has come among us is pointed out. Do you keep Christmas separated from Easter? Have you noticed cards and decorations easily identify with the joy of a new-born child and the hope of ‘peace’ but prefer to leave out the next step of the sacrifices involved in ‘I come to do your will, O God?’ What is the will of God inviting you to do?’

•This gospel scene of Mary ʻvisitingʼ Elizabeth aims to show us more than the greeting of two expectant mothers or that Mary is a caring young woman to her older cousin. Behind this scene are layers of stories. Mary, a ʻnew motherʼ (New testament) stands before Elizabeth an ʻold motherʼ (Old Testament). Behind Elizabeth is her husband, Zechariah the High Priest of the (old) Temple. Within the Temple rests the ʻArk of the Covenantʼ where the 10 commandments were kept housed in a special box (Ark) called the ʻMercy Seatʼ. Mary bears within her the Saviour child ʻGod-is-with-usʼ and is now the New Ark of the New Covenant. The little boy John the Baptist leaps for joy within the womb of Elizabeth like King David leapt for joy and danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6,14). The deepest and true response to God being ʻenfleshedʼ among us is to ʻleap for joyʼ.When was the last time you ʻleapt for joyʼ? Why is little baby John ʻleaping for joyʼ? How could you show the experience of joy more this Christmas?

• The gospel of Luke focusses upon Mary who always acts on what she hears. Her ʻvisitʼ to Elizabeth is a ʻresponseʼ to hearing Godʼs voice (through the angel). Mary is ʻblessedʼ but firstly it is because she ʻbelieved what was spoken to herʼ. Christmas becomes no longer simply an historical story for us when we recognise we too are called to allow the ʻWordʼ to become ʻFleshʼ. Today. Now. In the world. What words have you heard from God, in prayer, through others. How could you act on them so that they become ʻfleshʼ? Real? Acted out? Bring Godʼs presence? What words or promises have you made that have not been fulfilled?

• Advent is a time of joyful preparation. In the final days before Christmas how could you achieve a balance: writing Christmas Cards and the Call to Conversion. Christmas Parties and Prayerful Preparation. Christmas Presents and Christmas Presence?

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

Discussion Guide:   20th Sunday Year B – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Assumption of Mary in Art : Icons, Modern, Classical | Assumption of mary, Spiritual art, Blessed mother mary

Reflection  Questions:  • The Assumption of Mary. This doctrine doesn’t simply mean ‘there’s something special about Mary’. Profoundly it affirms something special about humanity. Pope Pius XII asked all Bishops in 1950 if their congregations believed that Mary was assumed into heaven; 98 percent answered ‘Yes’. God spoke through the sense of the ʻfaithfulʼ to affirm Maryʼs assumption. It does not mean she never died but after her ʻsleepingʼ or ‘dormition’ she was taken body and soul into heaven. This was celebrated in the East since ca. A.D.600, and in the West by that centuries end.

• Early Church fathers called Mary the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ seen in the first reading in heaven, even as she once held the fullness of God in her womb and in her arms on earth. The reading also depicts the figure of ʻIsraelʼ – Godʼs People – His Bride – His Church and Mary as a ‘type’ or figure for the church and each Christian who births Christ in their life. The Church births disciples in conflict with the dragon who has many faces. The Roman Empire sought to crush Christianity, Jewish leaders persecuted the new Christian sect. Reading the passage with this background what strikes you? What face of the dragon tries to ʻdevourʼ your discipleship? How has salvation and the power of the Kingdom of God impacted your life?

• On Special Solemnities the selection of readings seeks to teach deep truths of faith. St Paul writes of the first-fruits, the first offering back to God. Jesus rises first… and then each one in proper order those who belong to Christ. Just as Jesus saves us and cleanses us from original sin through Baptism, He saved Mary and cleansed her from sin from the moment of her conception. As an all-holy vessel she could bear Christ and give him the fullness of humanity. As she knew no corruption of sin in her earthly life, her body was not subject to corruption in the grave and Christ was able to bear her up to be with Him in Heaven. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”. What is your response to Mary being ʻtaken upʼ as a first-fruit of Christ’s salvation? What hope does it enliven in you? What does the Assumption of Mary mean personally?

• The historical site of the Visitation is in the small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem called ʻEin Karemʼ. In the Church of the Visitation there are large bronze figures of Mary and Elizabeth, their pregnancy bumps almost touching as they greet each other. A conversation happens between them, but also between John and Jesus. The First Testament meets the New Testament. Zechariah, the high priestly family, the Jewish priesthood, meets the new Priesthood of Christ. Godʼs promises are fulfilled. The long waiting of the Old Testament is now turned to ʻleaping for joyʼ. The Ark of the Covenant which King David ʻleaped for joyʼ before (2 Sam 6,5) is now fulfilled with John leaping for Joy before Mary, bearing Christ and the new covenantʼ. In the baby, and the disciple John, we see our own encounter with Christ ‘hidden’ in the Eucharist, and in our encounters with others? What image strikes you the most? What could it teach you for your life?

• Mary’s Magnificat is a radical prophetic victory cry, a promise of the reversal of fortunes for all who are saved. Mary is from a humble rural town, yet sings of ‘great things done for meʼ. In Christ the world is irrevocably transformed. In this prophetic prayer we hear the mission that Jesus is to accomplish. What does lifting the lowly, casting down the mighty and the ‘promise’ mean for you?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?