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Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

Discussion Guide:    4th Sunday OT Yr. A – ‘Be’ like Jesus

 

The Way Forward – A Sermon on the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12 – Interrupting the Silence

Reflection Questions:    • The prophecies of Zephaniah are thought to have been for a very short period of time – possibly only weeks or months. In the midst of the possibility that Assyria were going to destroy Israel, Zephaniah quietly reminds us that a people who are humble and seek justice will always find shelter and protection by God. Do you sometimes feel part of a very small ʻremnantʼ of people trying to be faithful to God? What encourages you to remain faithful? What is attractive to you about ʻhumbleʼ people and those who ʻseek justiceʼ? How could you show these virtues in your weekly life-style?

• St Paulʼs letters to the people living in Corinth reveal a number of arguments were occurring. One of the causes of division was gnosticism. Some believers thought they had special spiritual wisdom and knowledge which others did not have. This made them ʻsuperiorʼ to others. They knew more, had been taught better, had more spiritual wisdom and gifts. Paul writes it is inconceivable that a true christian could look down on ʻothersʼ. How does pride and ʻboastingʼ find its way into your life? What is an opposite virtue you could practice?

• In Matthew Jesus goes up the Mountain and gives a new law in contrast to Moses going up Mt Sinai and giving the Law of the Old Testament contained in the 10 commandments. Jesus is the New Moses. The Beatitudes are understood as a profound insight into the core teachings of Christianity and what it will mean to follow Jesus. Some people have called the Beatitudes the ʻBeʼ – Attitudes. Jesus wants disciples to ʻbeʼ like him.

• Consider the Beatitudes as 4 qualities and 3 practices of a disciple:

• Blessed are the Poor in spirit. Be a person focussed on the poor (not status or riches). • Am I willing to be ʻpoorerʼ so that through my giving others may have enough of the basics to live in dignity?

• Blessed are those who Mourn. Be a person who grieves over the injustice in the world. • Am I aware and shocked at the injustices taking place in my community?

• Blessed are the Meek. Be a person who gets angry but not aggressive. • Am I able to show self restraint in moments of conflict and possible violence?

• Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Be a person who seeks justice (not vengeance). • Am I able to live as if doing the ʻrightʼ think was as important for me as having daily ʻbread and waterʼ?

• Blessed are the Merciful. • Do I consciously practice and show in all my relationships the love and compassion found in Jesus?

• Blessed are the clean of heart. • Do I practice integrity and wholeheartedness in doing right?

• Blessed are the peacemakers. • Do I practice making peace, saying sorry, healing conflict with my friends / family / relationships?

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

Discussion Guide:    28th Sunday Yr. C – Living the Hospitality and Mercy of God

 

My Paisley World — faithful-in-christ: Luke 17:11-19 (NLT) As Jesus...

Reflection Questions:  • Our readings today have 2 characters who suffer from Leprosy. Lepers were excluded from living in the community. People didnʼt want to catch the disease. It was also commonly believed that leprosy was a sign of being punished by God and that the leper was both morally and ritually unclean. The forced isolated shunned life living outside the community (Lev 13,46) caused incredible loneliness and constant rejection. How do we shun, isolate and cause chronic loneliness and rejection for people today? What are some modern forms of social ʻleprosyʼ?

• Naaman was a general in the Syrian Army, both a foreigner and an enemy, and he had leprosy so was excluded and to be feared. Israel and Syria were not friendly. Possibly from a previous conquest Naaman had even taken a Jewish slave girl for his household. Everyone would have been against him! Consider the courage he had in going to a holy man in Israel;ʻElishaʼ. How welcoming are we toward strangers, or those we fear?

• What obstacles has Naaman had to overcome for healing? He tries to offer wealth as payment but Elisha refuses. How freely do we share the Lord’s goodness? He asks for soil from Israel to take home to build an Altar to the Lord. His full acceptance of God is symbolized in that action. What is your symbol of thanksgiving and acceptance of God and what could you ʻbuildʼ to offer worship to God for healing and forgiveness?

• Scholars suggest that St Paulʼs letter to Timothy was written while he was in prison. St Paul was ʻin chainsʼ, treated as a criminal for his preaching the gospel of inclusion by God in Christ to the gentiles. He invites young Timothy to also be willing to persevere and suffer for this mission. What would you be willing to endure ʻchainsʼ for? What do you understand Paul means by; “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.” What effort do you put into changing the patterns of exclusion in your community and society?

• Gospel stories are like ʻice-bergsʼ. 90% of the story is beneath the surface. Underneath the story of the lepers are further stories of exclusion, hurt, isolation. The Samaritan is like Naaman in the first reading; a hated foreigner. Past events meant Samaritans no longer acknowledge Jerusalem and the Temple as the place of true worship. Healing from leprosy required a ʻcertificate of healthʼ by the Priest before a ʻleperʼ could be accepted back in community. The 9 lepers are obviously so keen to see the priest that they lost sight of who did the healing – Jesus. Only the foreigner stopped and showed gratitude. When do you take your life and health for granted? Have you had some ʻhighʼ moments and forgotten to ʻgive thanksʼ to God. Write, share or pray a ʻthank-youʼ list to God about things in life you forget to say ʻthanksʼ to God for.

• God wishes to include and bring to faith the most unlikely of characters. Naaman and the Samaritan leper show God’s desire to include, not exclude. What does this teach us about God? Does it adjust your ʻimage of Godʼ? Which unlikely character in your community might God be inviting you toʻbring to faithʼ? What misconceptions do you and they need to let go of so that Godʼs welcome and inclusion can be realized?

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

Discussion Guide:    26th Sunday Yr. C – Complacency has Eternal Consequences

 

Sermo Veritas — Gospel Luke 16:19-31 Jesus said to the Pharisees:...

Reflection Questions:    • Amos continues his public speech in Jerusalem against the incredibly wealthy who are so ʻsatisfiedʼ with beautiful beds, couches, food, wine, concerts and cosmetics. ʻThey are not made ill by the collapse of their fellow people (Joseph)ʼ. How can wealth create a ʻblindnessʼ to the poor? Can you remember any experience where you had your eyes opened to the cry of the poor? What happened?

• Godʼs covenant relationship in Dt. 15:4 stated that ʻthere should be no poor among you because the Lord will richly bless youʼ. Implied in this is that the richly blessed share with others to ensure all are provided for. How aware are you that our Christian commitment /covenant involves a social obligation / covenant toward the ʻpoorʼ? What are you doing to make that commitment practical ?

• Some scholars consider this passage from Timothy could come from an ordination ceremony. Who might be your Pontius Pilate? Do you have ʻcourageunder fireʼ to give your testimony and confess your faith in difficult situations? Where and when have you found it hard?

• Purple clothing was the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth because its source was a rare shellfish and insect being crushed. It showed status in the way ʻbrandedʼ clothing and luxury merchandise distinguish a person of wealth today. What symbols today mean great wealth to you? What part of the economic ʻsystemʼ are you in? How does wealth and status impact you?

• The Great Reversal of fortunes is a theme of the Gospel of Luke. The Rich will be brought low, the poor will be lifted up. However it is not riches themselves that are the problem (Abraham himself was a very rich man!). It is allowing wealth to so preoccupy and claim ones attention and energy that the needs of others go unnoticed. The rich man clearly knew Lazarus because he uses his name. However he refused to share his wealth and his conscience is dulled to conversion or compassion. The Rich Man claims he had no warning about the reversal. If this parable describes what will happen in the after-life, what does it demand of us today? How are you wealthy and what would it take for you to share it? We are charged to give to the poor not just because they need it, but because it is essential to our own salvation. Have you considered the difference between charity and true justice which recognizes that we are intrinsically in solidarity with every member of the human family who have equal rights to the goods of the earth? The gulf between rich and poor is immense. What can I change around me?

• How might the Parable of Lazarus challenge our Eucharistic Communities? The parish is charged with the care of every soul within its geographic boundary? Are we wealthy in Godʼs great blessing and Eucharistic Banquet? Who do we share with? Do we drive vehicles yet fail to arrange transport for those in need? Are we wearing fashion clothes, and enjoying coffees, while nearby, people struggle to feed, clothe or house their family? In Luke, Jesus refuses to allow his disciples to be satisfied with the worlds default settings. Every 6th line of Luke’s Gospel is a challenge to reach out to the poor in either charity or justice. What are your obstacles to deeper conversion to solidarity and justice for the poor?

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

Discussion Guide:    The Transforming power of Mercy and Compassion…

 

Come Home" A Modern Version of the Prodigal Son

Reflection Questions:    • God’s inexhaustible patience and mercy are the key to todays’ readings. In Exodus God revealed his ʻnameʼ and ʻfaceʼ to Moses and gave the 10 Commandments. But the people lose patience and give up waiting for Moses to return to them. In their eyes God and Moses has disappointed and abandoned them. They resolve their own solution to their issues making an ʻidolʼ of a golden calf – an ancient symbol of fertility, life and fruitfulness. Moses pleads for his stiff-necked people and God responds with mercy. Have you had an experience of ʻwaitingʼ for an answer or being disappointed by God? Have you ever lost patience with God, or felt abandoned and decided to take things into your own hands? What were the results for you and for those around you?

• Is there anything today you are ʻwaitingʼ for God to show you? Are you listening to his ʻwordʼ? Can you share your disappointment with God? Or perhaps there is a Moses figure God has placed in your life to help and guide you? Are you seeking their wise counsel and prayer for your needs? Who do you know that may be far from God, off on their own track or even blaspheming God? How often do you respond like Moses and plead for them in prayer?

• In the 2nd reading Paul writes as a mentor to his ‘child in faith’, Timothy. He shares his wisdom born of personal experience about God’s ‘inexhaustible patience’ and mercy. Who has shared their experience of the mercy of God with you? How have you experienced God’s compassion and patience? With whom, and how are you called to share that message?

• In these Parables of Mercy – Jesus shatters our misconceptions about the image of God. In striving for efficiency and profit, who would go after 1 lost sheep? It would be ‘written off’ as a predictable percentage loss. Who would ‘waste’ productivity to hunt for 1 coin? Who would welcome without question a son or daughter who wished their parents dead and disgraced the family in public?! Jesus reveals the true image of who God is – inexhaustibly patient filled with compassion and longing to find whoever is lost, embracing with tender mercy all who have sinned. What is your ʻimageʼ of God? How did that image form? What attracts you in how Jesus presents His Father in Luke 15?

• In teaching on this Gospel Pope Francis said,“the Jews treated the Samaritans with contempt, considering them strangers to the chosen people” In choosing a Samaritan in the parable Jesus shocks us into recognizing our own call to overcome prejudice and that “even a foreigner; one who does not know the true God and does not attend his temple, is able to behave according to God’s will, feeling compassion for a ‘brother’ in need and helping with all the means at his disposal”. “The Pope said. “If you come across a homeless person, and pass by without looking, do not ask yourself whether that person has had too much to drink, but whether your own heart has stiffened and turned to ice,” How does that challenge you?

• Notice each character, the younger son, the older brother, the Father. Which do you identify with and why? Asking for the inheritance was like the youngest son wishing Dad ‘dead’. He makes his father appear a fool. Yet the father’s unwavering love watches longingly for the son’s return, then he runs in public which was the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention moves from condemnation of the son toward the foolish father. His humiliation before the whole community, including the outrage of his older son are for the sake of compassion and mercy. How could the community and older son become part of that relationship of mercy?

• Jesus wants us to know that the compassion the father has in this parable is the same love God wants to show each of us? How do you respond? In the sacrament of reconciliation God longingly waits to pour mercy & transformation into your life? What holds you back?

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