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Archive for the ‘Baptism’ Category

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

 

 

Discussion Guide:    20th Sunday Yr. C: ‘Costly Discipleship’ – do You want Fire?

 

Baptism with Fire:- How to know if you're baptized with fire

Reflection Questions:

• Jeremiah did not have an enjoyable experience as a prophet. He lived in a time when he saw the ‘gap’ between God’s way and the way the King and Religious Leaders were leading the people. For many years he spoke challenging words of change but without success. In the end he reached the conclusion that it would be ok if the ‘Court’ and ‘Temple’ were demolished so that God would have an opportunity to ‘start again’! People became upset and today Jeremiah ends up ‘in the mud’ of a large empty water tank. Have you recently heard an invitation or idea that deeply challenged you to change? What was your response? Why do prophets often experience rejection?

• Imagine the experience of Jeremiah standing ‘in the mud’. Waiting. Crying. Faithful. Confused. And then Ebedmelech from the court arrives. Can you apply this image to your life journey now? Who could be ‘Ebed-melech’ reaching out to help you? What do we learn about God from this experience?

• The Letter to the Hebrews teaches Jewish people the meaning of Jesus life and sacrifice. Jesus followers are called to live in close imitation to him. Is there anything you are doing in your life that Jesus would not do? How could you ‘run the race….’?

• Jesus continues to teach his disciples about the deep changes required to become a ‘follower’. Fire ‘purifies’ objects, melts away any impurities. Cleanses and reduces metals back to an original state. To set the earth on fire seems to be a more painful experience than ‘giving the earth a wash’. A fire is more severe and deep. Have you ever asked Jesus for this ‘baptism’ of fire – the Spirit – to come upon you? Do you desire this baptism? Bring this desire into a time of prayer.

• Jesus is often portrayed as someone bringing peace and reconciliation. But the cost of transforming the world is great. Archbishop Oscar Romero said: the world is established in disorder which makes the mere proclamation of the good news a subversive act’. What do you think this quote means?

• Jewish people considered the relationship of care and respect between parents and children to be the greatest value to uphold. Nothing else should topple this value. Jesus inserts a seed of fire into the social structure of his time. Disciples will eventually be confronted with a choice: will you choose the relationship with Jesus to be the most important relationship of your life no matter what? This experience has often been called ‘costly discipleship’. Do you have a costly discipleship story? Could you inspire someone by sharing it or write it in a journal to claim it more deeply as a life lesson for yourself?

• In early christianity, Jewish people who became christian were ‘kicked out’ of the family home and not allowed to worship in the temple. They began to experience a new family of care and community, living together, sharing everything in common feeding the hungry. They truly began to live a ‘different life’. The first christians in Antioch were called the people of ‘the way’. Does your ‘way’ reflect the life of Jesus?

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

Discussion Guide:    17th Sunday Yr. C – You Live not for the World, but for God

 

Lord, teach us to pray – St Mary Magdalene

 

Reflection Questions:    • Confidence before God in prayer is a theme of our readings this week. Abraham is bold and has a very real and honest conversation with God about the sinful town of Sodom (See Gen 19). What strikes you in this conversation, what do you learn about Abraham? What do you learn about God?

• Consider having an extremely honest conversation with God. What would you talk about? Would you push God to side with the righteous and what would your specific request be today?

• In Middle Eastern Cultures ʻhonourʼ is extremely important. Abraham uses Godʼs honour and leans on Godʼs name and reputation being ʻheld highʼ. In your own family / culture or school / workplace, have you experienced a request to keep the ʻfamily nameʼ upheld, the ʻschool reputationʼ in good standing in the community or to represent your culture ʻwellʼ? Why was this considered important? What happened? Do you consider yourself bearing the name / honour / reputation / image of God? The Church? Does this affect your behaviour in any way?

• Circumcision was the removal of the foreskin from a manʼs body. It was considered a ʻbadgeʼ of honor marking a chosen people as belonging to God (and all in his family too!). Jews in the Colossian community were trying to force Gentiles to undergo circumcision and be obedient to the many Jewish laws that would ʻsaveʼ them. St Paul again teaches that Baptism replaces circumcision and something far more radical than a flesh mark has happened. All sin and ʻtransgressionsʼ against the law have been nailed to the cross. Have you ever thought of yourself as having been buried during your baptism? And your rising is Christʼs rising. You live now not for the world but for God. What does the badge of baptism mean for you?

• The disciples request for a ʻprayerʼ was common practice between a Master and disciples. Followers of a particular religious leader would ask for a prayer that gave them a special identity. Read the short Lukan ʻOur Fatherʼ prayer slowly. It is a programme for life and discipleship.  Consider:

* ‘Our Father’ in Hebrew is ʻAbbaʼ which is very close to our word ʻDaddy’. In the Middle East you will hear children calling out ‘Abba, Abba’ to their father – what sort of relationship is Jesus revealing that God wants with us. What attitude of mind or feeling in your heart does this generate?
* Holy Be Your Name is an honour request so important in middle eastern cultures. A Fathers / Family name is honoured in the community through the children, their lives, acts of justice, hospitality. Is your Christian life and witness bringing honour to Godʼs name? Are you lowering Godʼs reputation? Is the Church giving honour to Godʼs name in the world today?
*Your Kingdom Come. The prophets cried out in public of Godʼs desire to see Mercy and Justice come. Honestly examine your life-style. Are you chasing possessions, power and prestige OR people, justice and mercy? Our prayer is not to be merely words but a battle cry.

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

Discussion Guide:  Baptism of the Lord Yr. C – Are We the Light of God for Others?

 

Why I Don't Want to Die Yet - Nadine Brandes

Reflection Questions:  • The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?

• Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?

• It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why? • Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’? • You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your anointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a

• Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
• Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
• King – to lead the world not follow the world.

• How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?

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

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Advent Yr. C – Rejoice! The Lord is Near

 

Waiting in expectancy – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:

• Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday when the Pink candle of the Advent Wreath is lit. The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon – ‘Rejoice’. This theme is found in the first two readings. We are reminded that the joyful coming of Christ is drawing nearer. Christmas celebrates presence with presents.

• Today is the only time every 3 years we hear this beautiful passage from the Prophet Zephaniah. Zion is the name for Jerusalem, and Christians understand Jerusalem signifies God’s people. Replace ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ prayerfully with your own name. How does this prophecy make you feel? What line strikes you the most? Why?

• St Paul is writing to the Philippians trying to resolve an argument between two women which is destroying the unity of the Christian community. He puts their argument into the ‘big picture’. Rejoicing, kindness and no anxiety are trademarks of a christian. Paul reminds the community that each member is to reflect Christ. In the hostile town of Philippi, they are to be attractive and lead people to Christ – not turn them off. Is ʻyour kindness known to allʼ? Do you have anxieties that you refuse to ‘make known’ and truly hand over to him?

• A practice of Advent preparation is celebrating forgiveness. Crowds gathered to be with John the Baptist, not in the Temple, but by the Jordan River. Hungry for God and for the world to experience ‘change’ they claimed their own need for conversion: ʻwhat should we do?ʼ John directs their attention toward care of the poor – sharing clothing and food. What do you have plenty of? Who has none? Have you ever desired to simplify your life and be more generous? What happened?

• Tax collectors were present, along with soldiers who protected them. John does not deny their ʻjobʼ but reminds them all jobs are to serve the unity of the community. Look deeply into your ordinary tasks of life. Are you doing them well? Enter the gospel scene in prayer and ask John the question: What should I do? What happened?

• John baptises and cleanses with water. Jesus baptises and cleanses with the Holy Spirit and fire. Water and Fire. What would you choose? Fire purifies through hot temperatures. What have been ʻhotʼ ʻpurifyingʼ moments for you this year? What wisdom have you been led into? What parts of your life would you like to bring to God for reconciliation at the end of the year?

• A ʻwinnowing fanʼ was used in the barn to throw the grain up into the air, the dust and ʻchaffʼ – seed casings and bits of stalk – drifted away. This stage separated the wheat. How do you relate to the image of judgement and ʻfireʼ at the end of time? • A common practice in the time of Jesus was for disciples to carry the sandals of their teacher. John shares he is not even worthy to undo the straps of Jesusʼ sandals let alone carry them! Whose sandals do you carry? Who do you listen to as your ʻteacherʼ? What life lessons or teaching would you like to ask about at this point in your life journey?

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

 

Discussion Guide:    29th Sunday Yr. B : Servant leadership .. saying NO to power, pride, greed.

 

Epiphany Esources: October 2018

Reflection Questions:    • 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 his 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?

Discussion Guide:    6th Sunday Easter Yr. B – Love one another as Jesus loves you!

 

Love One Another as I Have Loved You | Revlisad.com

Reflection Questions:    • Peter entering the home of Cornelius(A Roman Centurion / Soldier) is an incredibly important moment in the early Church. It sets in motion the whole christian  mission to non-jews – to the untouchables, the pagans, the ‘greeks’. God wants to include everyone. Who do I consider an ‘outsider’ to the Church? Why? How could I be more inclusive? In my family? My church?

• Acts 10 reveals the early struggle to be open and welcoming. The Holy Spirit spoke in dreams and visions to inspire and move the Church and disciples. Consider the words of St Peter: ‘Get up, I myself am a human being’ and ‘God shows no partiality’. What has happened within Peter? What invitation and challenge do you notice for your own journey?

• Both Peter and Cornelius are spoken to in prayer. Thankfully they responded obediently. What have you heard in prayer and life lately? Have you been obedient in livingtheword? What are some obstacles you have encountered?

•John repeats the word love 9 times in his letter and 9 times in the Gospel. In John’s community they were fighting with gnostics who didn’t think christian behaviour was important. John reinforces the idea that love actually ‘looks like something’. Christian love is to love all others as God has loved us in Christ. Consider how God has initiated the relationship of love with us. Dying as an expiation (offering) to show us the forgiveness of our sins and the extent of God’s love. Do you initiate love or merely respond to love? Does your love change depending on a response? How does your love-style witness to christian love?

• God wants disciples to ‘bear fruit’. Yet fruitfulness requires attachment to the vine / trunk. The fruitfulness of joy and peace and love develops from ‘friendship with’ the Father. Friendships grow and develop in responding to needs and requests. Hence Jesus invites us to ask so the Father can give and be glorified. Would you describe your relationship with God as a ‘friend’? What is your attitude toward intercessory prayer? Ask or text your friends what they need and pray specifically for them. Don’t be afraid to ask God for signs so that God may receive ‘glory’. He gives plenty in the Acts of the Apostles!

• When asked to describe the love to which believers are called, St Augustine replied: “It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the signs and sorrow of others. That is what love looks like.”

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

Divine Mercy Sunday: Jesus I Trust in You. The Reflection Guide is HERE

Discussion Questions:

See the source image

The Easter season known as Eastertide lasts 7 weeks marking the 50 days from Easter to Pentecost. How can you live the next 50 days intentionally aware of Easter and let its message get ʻunder your skinʼ and
change you?

• Since 2000, the 2nd Sunday of Easter became Divine Mercy Sunday after the witness of St Faustina Kowalska. The readings reveal a path of mercy. Christ taught that humanity not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called to practice mercy toward others. The message is about the value of every human being. Each person is precious: Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives the Spirit and offers family intimacy and compassion. We are all beloved children of God given the grace and power to live in God’s love.

• The followers of Christ became a “community”. A love in their hearts was expressed in love to others – especially those ʻin needʼ. What change happened in the lives of the disciples to enable them to
share everything in common so that there was no-one in need? What change am I invited to make in my own life with regard to possessions? How could I show a deeper commitment to my parish community?

• The victory that conquers the world is our faith. Victory and conquer are ʻbattleʼ words. There is a ʻfightʼ to be victorious over the ʻworldʼ. It is not by ʻwaterʼ (baptism) alone but also by ʻbloodʼ(sacrifice – martyrdom, which means witness). How does true Easter faith challenge us? Will I walk the path Jesus
endured to overcome injustice, discrimination, hatred and fear? Only full commitment to Christ brings Resurrection victory and we need to receive the Holy Spirit to live the radical mercy of God. Ask Jesus to empower you with His Holy Spirit? How are you being invited to live God’s mercy?

• Significantly, after Jesusʼ resurrection the disciples are locked in a room – scared for their lives. They followed a convicted ʻrebelʼ crucified for seeking to overturn religious and political status quos. Consider ‘rebels’ in Myanmar as a possible contemporary image. Yet Christ’s ‘rebellion’ is to bring peace, freedom, and forgiveness. Can you connect with the fear. Imagine the scene and pray with it.

• The final gift of Jesus to his terrified disciples is peace and guaranteed forgiveness of their sins through the gift of the Holy Spirit. What causes your ʻun-peaceʼ and fear? This Eastertide try praying the Divine Mercy prayer daily; “Jesus I trust in You” & whenever you feel anxiety or fear.

• Thomas struggles to believe. He was not with the group who saw Jesus the first time. He wants to ʻsee with his own eyes and ʻtouchʼ Jesus. He asks for ʻsignsʼ to help him. What do you need to help you believe and grow stronger in your faith? Spend time asking Jesus to meet you at your point of need. Let Him love you there.

• The South African civil rights proponent Allan Boesak once stated that, at the pearly gates, Jesus wonʼt question us about how well we carried out our religious obligations. Heʼll only ask us to show our wounds, those outward signs that weʼve spent our lives imitating Him. Mercy and compassion costs us. Are you ready to hear Jesus ask ʻshow me your woundsʼ?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

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

Discussion Guide:   4th Sunday Lent (RCIA readings) – Now I can see

 

4th Sunday in Lent (A) - The Catholic News

Reflection Questions:  • Remember Samuel as a young boy, woken in the middle of the night by the voice of God (1Sam 3:4). Now trained in the discipline of listening and doing what God asks Samuel now faces an incredible challenge: God is asking  him to find and anoint a new King (while King Saul is currently still alive!) This would be treason. Consider the emotions and struggles of Samuel? What struggle can you identify with? How is God inviting you to ‘fill your horn with oil, and be on your way’?

• Some translations emphasize that David was a young boy, with a fresh and clear appearance. He is not big, has no military training or obvious talent for battle. To the human ‘eye’ and ‘outward appearance’ this is not a wise choice for a King and future military leader. But this public calling and anointing, this ‘baptism’ of David changes everything. No longer did David suffer psychologically from his fathers view of being the ‘smallest’ or ‘weakest’. When the Lord looks into your heart what desire, passion, gifts does he ‘see’? What do you see?

• This text from St Paul to the Ephesians is thought to be part of an ancient baptismal liturgy: baptism calls us to bring our lives into the ‘light’. As Easter approaches, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one practice that leads us to bring our struggles into the light of Jesus for help and guidance. Awake from sleep and death! Ponder for a few minutes what you would like to bring to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent?

• Gospel stories from John are used to encourage baptism candidates on the final journey to Easter. Today’s story is a man born blind receiving his sight. The full story immediately has him involved in an argument with the Pharisees, and then with his parents. The story ends with him being rejected – to believe in Jesus meant being thrown out of the synagogue (and community)! Do you experience some people in conflict with you because you hold on to the values of Jesus? Do you walk away from Jesus or ‘worship him’ by faithfulness? What do you think happened to the ‘blind’ man?

• The early Christian Church used this story and reality of being ‘blind’ and receiving ‘sight’ as an image of the journey to Baptism. Baptism was even called a ceremony of ‘enlightenment’. Consider how blind ‘darkness’ to seeing ‘light’ is possibly the greatest transformation that can take place for a person. Seeing is symbolic of knowing ‘truth’. Truth is gradually clearer for the blind man (baptismal candidate) regarding Jesus’ identity. His daily life is now completely changed. How would you say your knowledge and life in Jesus affects your daily life?

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