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Archive for the ‘Conversion’ Category

Discussion Guide:    5th Sunday Easter Yr. C – New Heaven and New Earth

 

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Reflection Questions:      • Paul and Barnabas travelled great distances, endured resistance and persecution and spent years away from their ʻhome baseʼ of Antioch. On finishing their ʻjourneyʼ they returned back through the various towns – even those that persecuted them! What does this teach you about Paul and Barnabas? What would ʻtheirʼ missionary journey look like in ʻyourʼ world, office or workplace?

• Paul and Barnabas broke centuries old prejudices of considering God only loved ʻthe Jewsʼ. His ʻchosenʼ. Going to the Gentiles was an enormous change. To put this into context, if a Jew married a Gentile in Jesusʼ time the Jewish family would conduct a public funeral to say to everyone that you were now ʻdeadʼ to the family. Gentiles were considered ʻintrinsically uncleanʼ. Strict Jews believed they were ʻdefiledʼ by being with Gentiles. Which group of people today are considered ʻoutcastsʼ, ʻsinnersʼ, beyond Godʼs 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 Godʼs presence everdwelling in the Church in the Eucharist and the Word?

• In Johnʼs 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 ʻlifted upʼ 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 ʻgloriousʼ?

• Jesus gives a commandment to his disciples which is ʻnewʼ. While the Old Testament encouraged Jews to ʻloveʼ their neighbour, it was interpreted within the boundaries of your ʻinner circleʼ 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 ʻoutsidersʼ not simply ʻinsidersʼ. Would people see in your lifestyle and ʻloveʼstyle 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?

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Easter Yr. C – Do You Love Me?

 

 

John 21:16 He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said

Reflection Questions:    • The Sanhedrin involved 71 members of the High Priests, former High Priests and ruling families of Jerusalem. It was the highest Jewish civil and religious court. Peter and the apostles show impressive courage in witnessing to Christ. Peter focuses the argument to obedience to God rather than ʻto menʼ. What does obedience to God actually mean for you and your life-style? How could you show you live more ʻfor Godʼ than ‘the world’?

• The Book of Revelation was written to comfort christians suffering persecution. It is ‘resistance literature’. Using symbols and code language it reveals that the Empire of Rome is only temporary, the final scene will be eternal life for those faithful to the ‘lamb’ / Jesus.

• John provides a picture of the ʻheavenly liturgyʼ. The Old Testament expectation awaited a ʻLionʼ but instead Jesus comes as a ʻLamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength…ʼ What is the difference between a Lion and a Lamb? How does Easter reveal God conquers through Love not Power?

• Jesus appears to his disciples as they seek to return to their previous lives. Some walk away from Jerusalem and others go fishing. Jesus turns them around and sends them on mission. The large catch of fish shows that the disciples working on their own can catch nothing, but in obedience to Christ – everything is possible. 153 is said to be the number of nations known in the world, and the total number of fish types known at that time. The missionary outreach is to all nations and all peoples! Is there a particular mission field that you feel attracted to work in? What next little step might obedience to Christ involve for you in being part of the Churchʼs ʻmissionʼ?

• Jn 21 is regarded as an ʻadditionʼ to the conclusion of the Gospel of John showing the ʻrehabilitation of Peterʼ. Peter is chastened by his failures and publicly, in front of the others, is invited to profess his love for the Lord. Each request ʻdo you love meʼ is a painful reminder to Peter of his betrayal. Do you think a rehabilitated shepherd is a better shepherd? What does Jesusʼ re-appointment of Peter as leader show us about Jesus? About God?

• The ultimate and final invitation of Jesus is framed by the request to lay down your life: ʻfollow meʼ. What reaction takes place in your head and heart to the invitation to ʻlay down your lifeʼ for the Lord?

• Frequently people comment that there are so many ‘lapsed Catholics’ no longer practising their faith or coming to Church. Perhaps another perspective is seeing them as ‘collapsed – Catholics’. The Sheep were not being ‘fed’. How could you respond to the invitation Jesus gave to Peter to ‘feed and tend’ his sheep so that they are well nourished. What has fed you that you could creatively share?

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

Discussion Guide:    2nd Sunday Easter Yr. C – Divine Mercy for All

 

100 Reach for me ideas | jesus, jesus pictures, jesus art

Reflection Questions:    • Early followers of Jesus were fearful that authorities would persecute them and their families. Consequently ʻmany dared not join the Apostles in the Temple porchʼ. Is there something you would like to join in your Church family but are scared for some reason? What would help you get over your ʻfearʼ? Do you fear your Priest? Public leadership in the Church?

• Easter changed the disciples. A presence and power of Christ comes out of Peter that heals the sick and disturbed. It is primarily actions and ʻsignsʼ that helped people ʻbelieveʼ. What signs and wonders could be done by your hands to bring Christ to the sick and disturbed?

• John, the Beloved Disciple, the writer of the Book of Revelation, was exiled on the island of Patmos because he ʻgave testimony to Jesusʼ. Yet in the midst of imprisonment he has deep and enlightening ʻrevelationsʼ from Christ – dressed in white walking among the lampstands (symbols of  Christian communities). John shares he experiences the distress of trials, a kingdom vision which sustains him the endurance and comforting presence of being in Jesus. Imagine Jesus walking amongst the lampstands of Christian communities. Is your community ‘shining’? Is there any experience of the disciple John that you can identify with in your life at present?

• Fear was very real for the disciples of Jesus. If Jesus had been hunted and killed the same could be done with his followers. Violent persecution eventually changed toward another type of persecution. Converts from Judaism to Christianity would be disowned by family. A ‘funeral service’ would even be held to cut a convert off from their family and community. These kinds of oppressive and violent discrimination experiences are still all too real in our world today. Do you recognize as a Christian the calling to be living an ‘alternative society’ to witness to God’s ways whatever the challenges? How does your life-style ‘challenge the world’? We also recall St Peter Chanel today who experienced a violent death for being Christian. In what ways do you or your community stand in solidarity with victims of violence and oppression?

• While other disciples had believed in Peter and John and Mary, Thomas refused and placed certain conditions on his belief. He needed Jesus to be very ʻrealʼ for him. Jesus responded to Thomasʼ probing and questioning. Do you identify with Thomas or know someone who is like Thomas? What is their/your question or source of ʻunbeliefʼ? Ask Jesus for what you need from him. How could you be like Jesus for unbelievers and make faith ‘real’?

• Peace is a special gift Jesus promises to his disciples. The disciples are afraid of the Jews and meeting behind ʻlocked doorsʼ. Jesus repeats his words of peace twice. Peacefulness, as a gift of the spirits forgiveness and presence is to be characteristic of a disciples encounter with the world and the world with us. Can you say you are ʻat peaceʼ?

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

Discussion Guide:    5th Sunday Lent Yr. C – God’s Astonishing Mercy

 

Neither do I condemn you - Faithlife Sermons

Reflection Questions:

• Chapters 40-55 are a special part of the Book of Isaiah. While still away from their homeland struggling with life in exile in Babylon, Isaiah invites people to understand God ‘is doing something new’. Have you ever wanted things to ‘return to the way they were’ when chariots and horsemen of Egypt were beaten up by God? If you had to ‘see’ new ‘rivers’, current experiences that are forming you, what would you identify? Do you allow yourself to see difficult times as experiences that can grow you eventually into ‘praise’?

• In his previous life as a Pharisee, Paul would have treasured living all 613 Jewish laws taught by Moses. He would have had honour and status in the community. This is now colourfully referred to as ‘rubbish’. (Literally the word means scraps thrown to dogs). Paul’s life is now aimed toward ‘being taken possession of by Jesus’. Have you ever desired to be ‘fully taken over by God’? How could you pursue this as a ‘goal’? Paul reflects this reality of possession is not ‘taken’ but received as a gift. What part of your life would you like to ask the Spirit into this Lent?

• In the season of Lent special readings  are chosen to hopefully puncture our lives so that we let in God’s mercy. The Prodigal Son is now followed this week with the Woman caught in Adultery. Both readings reveal an unexpected forgiveness.

• Early in the morning people started coming to Jesus in the temple area and listened to his teaching. In this last week of Lent how could you bring yourself into the presence of Jesus to ‘listen’ and ask for guidance. Is there a church in your neighbourhood, on your way to work which can help you achieve this?

• Scribes and Pharisees believed following Laws strictly would bring a person into ‘holiness’. They were upset Jesus spent time with those doing the opposite (sinners). They test him publicly if he keeps the Laws Moses commanded. They wish to maintain a way of relating to God that puts people into ‘holy’ – right -and ‘sinners’ – wrong. Love and mercy is abandoned in favour of judgment and punishment. Jesus beautifully takes away all ‘holy’ pretending as he knows we all sin. Faced with this deep truth we meet God’s response. Consider praying vulnerably in the context of your own life: neither do I condemn you.  What is your response to someone when you realise they do not judge you but love you?

• Can you remember a time when your relationship with God changed away from a focus on sin toward a deeper knowing of forgiveness? What has been the deepest experience you have had of the Mercy of God? Do you allow the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help you move beyond guilt into wisdom and forgiveness?

• Please note in communities that are welcoming candidates for Baptism at Easter different readings are used for the ‘Rite of Scrutinies’ this Sunday.

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

Discussion Guide:       7th Sunday Yr. C – Allow Christ to Transform You

 

Luke 6:27-38 Archives – PottyPadre

Reflection Questions:

1] David and around 600 men are living incaves in the desert of Ziph. King Saul brings 3,000 elite troops to hunt and kill him(Consider reading 1 Samuel as a short story.) After David killed Goliath, Saul kept David close, made him chief commander and his son-in-law. But soon, filled with fear and jealous insecurity he plots to kill David. In this episode, David and Abishai have the chance to kill Saul but David refuses; “I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.” Contrast David’s wisdom, constraint and wit with Abishai, who though brave and faithful is quick to act rashly without thought. Have you ever felt condemned by someone you trusted? How does David deal with his desire for revenge? What qualities does David use that might help us in our relationships with people in authority?

2] Continuing his teaching on Resurrection St Paul says that when Jesus rose from the dead, he became ‘life-giving spirit’ releasing the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. Our human body grows throughout life. While not describing our resurrected bodies, Paul makes it clear that real transformation takes place. Remember Paul encountered the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus and was never the same again. When we enter relationship with God, a real encounter takes place and in some way the mystery of becoming part of the body of Christ transforms us, while also allowing for us to continue to grow more deeply into the perfect image of the ‘heavenly one’. As you reflect on that mystery what do you most want to ask God for? What area of your life needs transforming? How do you need to grow, in order to become more like Christ?

3] The sermon on the mount continues with very challenging teaching from Jesus. The Gospel is in some sense acted out in the story of David and Saul. What links do you see between the two readings?

4] When you reflect on the Gospel what teaching stands out most for you? Talk with God about why that strikes you and what area of your life, God is inviting you to open to His transforming life-giving Spirit?

5] The so called ‘golden rule’ says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Abuse in any form is an abomination. How can we adhere to these radical teachings of Christ and still stay safe, respecting our own bodies and needs in the face of violence or abuse? How can we be merciful to those enduring violence and ill treatment?

6] The Jews listening to Jesus despised the Romans because they were occupying their land and controlling their freedom. Soldiers routinely insulted Jews demanding they carry their loads, give up their cloaks and worse. So, the teaching to ‘love your enemies and do good to them’ was profoundly shocking. Jesus explains that our mercy needs to be abundant like God’s. A merchant who gives a ‘good measure’ pours grain into your container, presses it down, shakes it, presses, shakes and fills again. As a result, your contents are compressed. You continue receiving grain until your container is literally running over the sides ‘into your lap.’ You only pay for that one container but it gets filled with far more than seems possible. Use your imagination in prayer and see yourself receiving from God like that. How does it feel? Ask God for the grace to give and forgive like that?

7] How will you be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    5th Sunday Yr. C – Answering the Call

Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8;   1 Corinthians 15:1-11;   Luke 5:1-11

Answering The Call Luke 5:1-11 - Christian Women Living Magazine

Reflection Questions:

• Isaiah shares his vocation call from God. His response of feeling unworthy ‘I have unclean lips’, God’s healing response ‘your sin is purged’ and his response ‘Here I am, send me!’. Call, resistance, healing, acceptance, is the common pattern of vocation. What is your personal vocation story and what ‘stage’ are you at? What fear would have to be dissolved before you could genuinely say to God; Here I am…. Send me!?

• St Paul is writing to the Corinthian community which was beginning to practice a ‘selective christianity’. They discarded teaching which they did not like. Some could not accept the teaching of the resurrection because they thought matter was evil and spirit was good. They are reminded that christian teaching can be traced back to Jesus, from the scriptures, from the Apostles – and Paul himself is faithful to their teaching. Is there elements of the Church’s teaching which you want to be ‘selective’ about? Who could you talk to to find out more about the ‘why’ of the Church’s teaching?

• Paul says of himself that he was ‘abnormally born’. It took a while for Paul to be able to meet and share faith with the apostles. They were possibly afraid of  him (he did persecute christians!) and he was a little uneasy if he and his teachings would be accepted. Have you wanted to share your faith journey with a friend or spiritual director? Studies have shown people who share their faith grow more deeply in their discipleship journey. Who would you be willing to share with?

• Simon was using ‘reasonable thinking’ suggesting to Jesus that it was not a good idea to go fishing. He had plenty of evidence that it wasn’t going to work. But he moved beyond ‘reason’ to ‘risk’. ‘At your command I will lower the nets’. Is there a word, experience, invitation from God recently which you need to be obedient to? What is the fear that stops you from taking a ‘risk’?

• Isaiah, St Paul and Peter all share their human experience of frailty, guilt, unworthiness. Paul even refers to his feeling ‘abnormally born’! God uses this painful self- awareness positively and it is important to notice that God is not afraid of our human weakness. In God’s eyes, only those who have tasted personal frailty are ready for pastoral leadership. “Do not be afraid.” Consider what it would be like to live and make decisions not based in fear. What would you do, how would you live?

• In the greek, the text hints at ‘catching people alive’. The special use of words points to catching people to lead them into the fullest life. Do you consider leading people to Jesus as joyful and lifegiving? Do you presume people will come to you rather than having to go to them in the ‘deep water’? Where is the ‘deep water’ for you at the moment?

• Luke inserts a particular word more than the other gospel writers. ‘Everything’. He will repeat this phrase 8 times. What would it mean for you to let go of ‘everything’ so that you are free to ‘follow him’?

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

Discussion Guide:    4th Sunday Yr. C – Reputation or Conversion?

 

This is the Greatest" — PowerPoint Background of 1 Corinthians 13:13 Cross Love — Heartlight®

Reflection Questions:    • Jeremiah was known as the ‘weeping prophet’ because people did not listen to his message (King Jehoiakim even burned one of Jeremiah’s manuscripts). He experienced God’s word deeply and in the midst of false ‘prosperity prophets’ who declared God was looking favourably on his people and good times were coming, Jeremiah shares his personal call and his preparedness for rejection. What is the challenge of being a ‘prophet to the nations’ like Jeremiah today? Do you feel formed and called by God to stand up for (or against) something in society? What has been your response so far? What happened?

• St Paul continues discussing the ‘elitist’ problem in the Corinthian community. Some people were setting themselves apart as a ‘spiritual elite’ with boastful talk of their charisms and gifts. Gifts and charisms mean nothing if love is absent. Evaluate your life by the qualities of love in the second reading: Are you patient? Kind. Jealous? Proud? Resentful? Do you take offence easily? Gossip? Delight in truth? Forgiving, trusting, and hopeful? What aspect of your character could you invite the Holy Spirit to help you with?

• St Paul uses a special word (agape) for love. It is not a sexual love (eros) or a family love (philia). Agape is a quality of love that is given regardless of a response. Agape love is loving like God loves. In what ways and in what relationships do you show ‘agape’ love? Do you recognise people in need constitute God’s agape call to us?

• Jesus continues to speak to his hometown. In an ‘honour and shame’ culture of the ancient Middle East, an expectation is placed over Jesus to bring honour, glory, acclaim to Nazareth. Be our ‘local’ prophet, set up a healing station here in Nazareth like you have been doing at Capernaum. Bring in the tourists! Their attitude and concern is reputation rather than conversion. Jesus confronts them. In what ways does ‘reputation’ take priority over ‘conversion’ in your life? When was the last time you experienced the ‘cost’ of discipleship like Jeremiah and Jesus?

• Jesus identifies himself with the mission of the great prophets of Elijah and Elisha who were sent out to nearby gentile lands (Sidon) and people (Naaman the Syrian) which infuriates them. They react violently to the idea that God’s favour is also for the gentiles and not exclusively to Israel. Why do you think removing barriers and cultural walls meets resistance? What is beneath the categories of right / wrong,    clean / unclean?

• The ‘community’ at Nazareth limit Jesus by confining him to be ‘Joseph’s son’. Have you experienced the support of family, friends and community and then as time goes on, recognise the limitations people’s perception puts on you? Do you feel called to ‘break out’ of ‘reputation’ and move toward ‘doing the will of God’? What obstacles do you face? How will you respond to people ‘springing to their feet and trying to throw you off the cliff’?

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