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Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category

Discussion Guide:    Feast of the Epiphany Yr. C – Rise up, make Christ Known

 

 

Imagine the Possibilities – United Presbyterian Church

Reflection Questions:      • Epiphany is the Greek word meaning to ‘show’ or ‘make manifest’. The Magi from the East (coming from the Greek word for people of special knowledge) pay homage to Jesus. This symbolises all nations recognising Jesus as King and Lord. If you had to write a story to teach the truth about Jesus what truths would you seek to include? How could the Church make Christ known more creatively today? What is the most creative christian evangelisation message you have seen lately?

• Isaiah makes a beautiful prophecy which is fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew story and the Magi today. God’s chosen people have just returned from exile and their country and beautiful city of Jerusalem and its Temple are in ruins. Isaiah begins with the image of Jerusalem as a woman lying down in defeat. ‘Rise up Jerusalem! Your light has come.’ As we enter the beginning of the New Year how could you experience ‘rising up’ to your most beautiful self? How could you help the Church ‘rise up’ and make Christ known? What would it take for you to be radiant and your heart throb with joy and pride in the Church community? What will you do?

• Paul states very clearly a mind-shattering truth: ‘the gentiles are coheirs’. Jewish people thought of and treated ‘gentiles’ as ‘unclean’. Paul says they are ‘clean’ and ‘co-partners’ in the inheritance of God’s promises and family. What adjustments in mind, heart, and action, would take place if God revealed to you that everyone was clean and equal and a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to you and you were all part of the same family? Imagine what lifestyle change this would involve. Are you willing to try? Can you glimpse this is the central gospel message of Jesus?

• In ancient times a new star was thought to indicate a new leader being born. The Magi are on a journey of seeking God. They have knowledge. Resources. Time. All that the world declares is necessary for fulfilment. Yet they are hungry for something more. What is currently guiding your life? Would you say you are thirsty, hungry, searching? How and where do you find Jesus today?

• The three gifts presented reveal the identity of Jesus. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest whose role is to pray and send prayers to God in heaven. Myrrh pointing toward Jesus’ sacrifice and death and future burial. As the new year begins what personal ‘gifts’, ‘talents’, are you willing to ‘give’ in service to God? Consider the deeper meaning of homage and surrender. How could you express a deeper commitment to following Jesus? What change of direction would you like to make to imitate the Magi?

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

 

Discussion Guide:    1st Sunday Advent Yr. C – Your Redemption is at Hand

 

luke 21: 34-36 – Page 2 – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:    • Advent begins today. The color purple has an interesting background for us to ponder. Purple dye historically originated from a tiny shell-fish. It took 12,000 shell-fish to make 1.5 grams of pure dye. The expense meant it was used only by the wealthy and became a symbol of royalty. Advent purple indicates we are waiting for the coming of the King of Kings. We are ‘preparing’ for the birth of Jesus but also spiritually for the second ‘coming’. Ponder for a few minutes what you would do if in 4 weeks time you were truly going to stand before Jesus Christ the King.

• Jeremiah was a prophet in a very difficult time. Jewish King after Jewish King had failed to bring peace. God’s people were now in exile in Babylon. In the midst of foreign people and their gods Jewish people began to lose hope. Jeremiah reminds them of a promise made by God to believe in: I will raise up a ‘just shoot’ from the line of David. So beautiful will this event be, the great city of Jerusalem will be renamed – Justice! In the midst of life’s difficulties what brings you hope? Frequently we think of God’s love, but do we recognise what God really wants is ‘justice’. Do you hope for this as a future event or do you give your life to its fulfillment ‘today’?

• Thessalonica was one of the earliest christian communities. A port city bringing trade and culture, hot springs bringing tourists. It was prime real estate in a Roman provincial town. With many cultures came many gods, Greek, Egyptian, Roman Emperor worship. Paul had been chased out of this town quickly but had established a small group of christian followers. He writes to encourage them to be blameless in holiness, living lives pleasing to God. Ready ʻfor the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy onesʼ. Picture your own town instead of Thessalonica. What is the purpose of ʻconducting yourselves to please Godʼ? Is it only for heaven or a sign for people ʻtodayʼ of heaven?

• Year C begins with our move from the Gospel of Mark to the Gospel of Luke. Lukeʼs community is tired of waiting on a promise of Christʼs return. Luke gives instruction on how christians are to live while ʻwaitingʼ. What does the image: ʻstand erect and raise your headʼ mean to you. What would make you do this? What does living in readiness ʻnowʼ actually look like for you?

• Luke contrasts people of the ʻworldʼ with hearts drowsy or hardened with excessive sensual pleasure, drunkenness, worries, with christian disciples watchful and vigilant, praying and ready to stand before the Son of Man. Where are you in this picture? What advent practices could you begin to be ʻvigilantʼ ʻprayerfulʼ ʻreadyʼ? What would you like to bring to God in the Advent practice of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation?

• We all know what December will involve: shopping, cooking, socialising, end of year celebrations. Will you be satisfied? How could you ʻslow downʼ and set aside time to soak up the christian focus of Christmas – is there a church near or on the journey from work you could visit for 5 minutes daily?

• Christians view the end of the world differently: ʻWhat the caterpillar calls end of the world, the Master calls a butterflyʼ

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

Discussion Guide:  30th Sunday Yr. B- Take courage; Jesus is calling you

May 27, 2021 - Proclaiming God's Merciful Love - Regnum Christi

Reflection Questions:

• Jeremiah is a prophet during one of the most difficult times. Reluctantly, God allows his chosen people to be led off to exile as a consequence of their unfaithfulness. Jeremiah makes a prophecy that God will always be truly a Father and will ensure a safe return for all – even the blind and lame. Have you ever had to let someone ‘learn a lesson’ the hard way? Does pain and suffering mean that God does not care? As a parent, what is special about a ‘first-born’?

• Although Jesus did not wear the special vestments and serve in the Temple as a Priest, the Letter to the Hebrews teaches that Jesus is qualified and actually fulfills the role of the High Priest in the Old Testament: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is understood as completing all sacrifices. How do you relate to your ‘priest’? Have you ever asked for help to draw closer to od? Has he been able to ‘deal patiently’  with his people? Has he been beset by weakness himself? Have you prayed for him lately?

• To teach Jewish people the identity of Jesus, the text links Jesus to the mysterious figure of Melchizedek – King of Peace, of unknown origin, who served Abraham as a Priest. Jewish scholars understood Melchizedek not to have died and to be eternally a priest of God. What would it mean that Jesus is eternally your personal priest standing in the presence of God the Father in Heaven for you?

• “Sight” is a special theme in today’s readings. It was a prophecy that the Messiah would ʻrestore sight to the blindʼ. As Jesus began his journey to Jersualem he gave sight to the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8,22) and now gives sight to Bartimaeus (Mark 10,46). Like two slices of bread between these two episodes the disciples are told three times about the Messiah who will suffer and they do not ʻseeʼ and understand. How has your understanding of Jesus grown lately? Is the deep root of your prayer requests ʻto sit at your right handʼ(glory) or ʻhave pity on meʼ (mercy) or ʻmaster I want to seeʼ (discipleship)?

• The name Bartimaeus means ʻson of the uncleanʼ. Sitting at the gate of the great city of Jericho he is labelled as unclean, unworthy. In his loneliness and need he cries out to Jesus. He gets rebuked from the crowd and told to be silent. He cries even louder. When called he throws away his begging cloak, the only source of his warmth and money collection. ʻI want to seeʼ – I want to truly live and enter life fully. The experience of living in darkness and then seeing is the most transforming experience a human person can receive. It became a symbol of baptism. Can you identify with Bartimaeus? What label do you wear? What is the security cloak that you may need to ʻthrow asideʼ? What is your response deep down when Jesus asks ʻwhat do you want me to do for you?ʼ

• Unlike the rich young man recently who walked away sad (Mark10,22), Bartimaeus is instructed ʻgo your wayʼ. He chooses to follow Jesus ʻon the wayʼ (to Jerusalem). In what ʻwayʼ am I walking the journey of my life. Going my own way? Walking with a sad heart unable to let go of experiences or false sources of security? Am I searching and responsive to Godʼs will and following that even if it means a great sacrifice? Will I join Jesus ʻon the wayʼ to Jerusalem?

• 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:      28th Sunday Yr. B: Letting go…to commit

 

inherit | "Dan's Blunders & Wonders of Thought!"

Reflection Questions:  • The Book of Wisdom is thought to have been written by King Solomon. Today’s text links to the story of young King Solomon, newly married to a princess of Egypt, heavily aware of leadership responsibilities and following the example of his Father, King David. In 1 Kings 3:6-9 Solomon prays for wisdom – a heart to understand what is good and what is evil. Today is Solomon’s reflection on just what a precious gift wisdom is. Have you ever needed to search for and find a wise person to offer direction and guidance? How would you describe your need? What happened?

• ‘I chose to have her rather than the light’. Wisdom is not a ‘possession’ or equal to worldly wealth of Gold of Silver. It is the spiritual gift of knowing the truth and the very will of God. ‘Discernment’ of God’s will is a discipleship skill. It literally means ‘to cut away’. Consider a choice that you need to make. List the choices. Pray for wisdom. ‘Cut away’ options that are shallow, unspiritually motivated. Pay attention to the desire beneath the choice. Ask a wise person for advice.

• Hebrews is written for Jewish Christians struggling with persecution and the difficulties and fragility of the early christian church. They remembered with joy the clear Jewish laws and customs and the sacrificial practices of the Temple. The author of Hebrews points them to the penetrating power of the Word. Have you ever experienced the powerful and personal way the scriptures can reach deeply inside you and speak to your deepest pain and questions? Reveal you to yourself? Challenge you? Inspire you? What scripture passage has done this for you? What happened?

• The theme of wisdom is contrasted with wealth in the Gospel. A rich young man faithful to the ʻlawsʼ still finds himself unsatisfied in life. His question: ʻWhat must I do?ʼ is still focused on external actions of obedience. Jesus wishes to lead him from ʻobservance of lawsʼ to ʻliving in loveʼ. The invitation to change the base of his security from possessions to ʻtreasure in heavenʼ causes his face to fall. What possessions would you be terrified of letting go? Why? Do you trust that God will supply everything you need?

• The invitation to a deeper discipleship does not necessarily require letting go of ʻwealthʼ but letting go of its ʻattachmentʼ. Jesus uses an image. To get a camel loaded with items for trade through a ʻnarrow gateʼ in Jerusalem required unloading items, the camel sometimes having to kneel down and crawl through a small space (eye of a needle). Some scholars also suggest a misspelling of a word means it is a ʻcableʼ that is trying to be threaded through the eye of a needle. How would you describe your ʻuse of wealthʼ. Is it available for building the Kingdom of God? The needs of the poor? How much ʻsecurityʼ and ʻlifeʼ does your bank balance or possessions bring you? What does this story reveal to you personally?

• Peter implies a disciples question about reward and security. 100% is an incredibly fruitful return. Normally a return would be 10%. It will be mixed up ʻwith persecutionsʼ however. Consider asking a Priest, Brother, Sister, Christian friend how they have experienced Godʼs faithfulness in relying on God for their security.

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

Discussion Guide:  24th Sunday Yr. B – Can we Deny ourselves to Take up the Cross of Jesus?

 

 

Harold Crow L.C.D.C., A.D.C.III,C.A.R.T.,S.A.P - Owner - Crow Consultation/Trendsetters 2000+ | LinkedIn

Reflection Questions:    • The 3rd Song of the Suffering Servant reading from Isaiah has been chosen today to ‘match’ with the Gospel reading and Jesus’ predication of suffering in Jerusalem. Isaiah gets battered and bruised as he shares a message of hope amongst his people in Exile in Babylon. So disheartened are God’s people they feel their ‘God’ has been over-powered by Babylon’s God by allowing them to be exiled. Each day Isaiah listens to God and seeks to comfort his people. Have you ‘heard’ anything from God recently…. and ‘not turned your back’ on it?

• Isaiah chooses above all to trust in God and ultimately he believes he will not be disgraced. Even though the experience of rejection is hard. Have you ever realised deeply your purpose and passion and calling. What would it involve to ‘set your face like flint’ in living and achieving this call from God? Do you know someone who is an example to you? Have you ever asked their advice?

• A beautiful part of Jewish tradition and piety was an emphasis on helping the poor. It was more than an obligation. In fact, lifting up the poor (through almsgiving) earned one the title ‘righteous’ before God. If faith is words only, it is ‘dead’. Can your faith be seen in any ‘works’ for lifting up the poor?

• Today we arrive half-way in the Gospel of Mark. It is a turning point. Jesusʼ secret identity only known and shouted by ʻevil spiritsʼ is now public and spoken by Peter. The healing ministry of Galilee turns toward the suffering and saving mystery of Jerusalem – the Cross. Peter correctly states Jesusʼ identity but misunderstands what this really means. Do you secretly wish God will ride triumphantly into the world and with power and might (violence!) ʻsave the worldʼ?

• Peterʼs – and Jewish- expectation was for a Messiah / Saviour to be a Royal leader, political figure, show military might and ʻboot outʼ the occupation Army of Rome. Bring a military victory. Restore Israelʼs national honor. Jesus gets ʻtold offʼ by Peter when he suggests there is another way God will ʻsaveʼ. Jesus ʻrebukesʼ Peter and told him to get behind him (the rightful place for a disciple to walk is behind the master). A major argument reveals a major disagreement. What do you think is going on here? Satan is the Hebrew word for ʻobstacleʼ. What is the obstacle that needs to be removed?

• As Jesus turns the disciples toward Jerusalem he gathered them together to teach them. To ʻtake up your crossʼ was a shocking idea for disciples of the time. We have sanitized it with the thought of privately enduring little hardships and spiritual difficulties. Essentially, the cross was the most shameful object to die upon. It was the means by which Rome tortured and crucified anyone who resisted them and the power ʻstatus quoʼ. It symbolised the powerful, crushing the poor. The fear of death (violence used by the powerful elite) reduced the poor to inaction and non revolution. Jesus points the pathway to over-turning this violence with non violent resistance and the willingness to even take up your cross, deny yourself, be willing to die. You will ransom (lead someone from slavery to freedom) society’s structures and interrupt the cycle of violence in the world. The disciples didnʼt get it. Do you?

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

Discussion Guide:    18th Sunday Yr. B – Are you hungry to ‘seek’ AND ‘follow’ Jesus?

 

John 6:24-35

Reflection Questions:    • The Exodus story teaches us of our covenant relationship with God. Each time the people grumbled, Moses prayed to God, and God responded faithfully to his covenant love commitment. Remembering the first reading is chosen to highlight the Gospel reading, John 6 and Exodus are both reflecting on the meaning of the Jewish ‘Passover’. The treasured memory of God feeding his people with ‘manna’ (literally from the word ‘man hu’ meaning ‘what is this?’) was an essential part of the passover celebration. Rather ungratefully, God’s people continually grumbled. Do I grumble frequently against ‘Moses and Aaron…..’ How could I speak words of ‘affirmation’? How could I practice gratefulness for the ‘daily feeding’ by God of every gift and blessing?

• Parts of the Letter to the Ephesians are prayers used at Baptism in the early church community. A colorful image is pointed to in the Baptism ceremony. In ancient times one’s clothing was considered part of oneself. In the ceremony you took off your old clothes and put on a new white garment. Your old self was put aside. Your new self is the life of Christ. Your new life-style is as a citizen of Heaven not a citizen of Rome. How could you show Righteousness, Holiness and Truth more in your life? Amongst your family? At work?

• Last week we began 5 weeks of hearing the Gospel of John chapter 6. It is important to notice the context of John 6. The famous ʻbread of lifeʼ passage is the second of three passover celebrations in the Gospel of John. At each passover, Jesus replaces the passover with his own ʻbodyʼ (see John 2, 6, 19). Last week the crowd tried to take Jesus away to make him ʻKingʼ because there was a Jewish expectation (2 Baruch 29:3,18) that there would be a miraculous feeding of bread from heaven which would reveal the promised Messiah. Jesus comments to the crowd, they are only looking and working for ʻfoodʼ to fill their bellies. He promises something greater. Can you understand what Jesus is doing when he claims he is the ʻSon of Manʼ, the one on whom the Father, God, has ʻset his sealʼ? What does it mean if you ʻset your sealʼ upon your letter, object…?

• The crowd asks for proof from Jesus that he is ʻbetterʼ than Moses who fed Israel with ʻmannaʼ in the desert. Jesus responds using a very important phrase: ʻI AM the bread of Lifeʼ. I AM is the divine name given by God to Moses in Ex 3,16. Jesus reminds the crowd that it was God not Moses who fed his people, and in fact, I AM is standing right in front of you.

• The Gospel of John often requires the reader to step down into deeper levels of meaning. Never hungry and never thirsty recognises a physical ʻhungerʼ and invites the reader to recognise a deeper spiritual hunger and thirst for life. Beyond feeding your body and satisfying your thirst, what do you really live for? What is ʻlifeʼ for?

• Many people came seeking Jesus but they did not want to follow him. Jesus will soon make the connection that He is and will become the ʻbread of Godʼ from Heaven which gives life. He will do this with the gift of his ʻBodyʼ and his ʻBloodʼ on the cross which will be received in the celebration of the Mass John 6, 55. Do you ʻseeʼ that you truly receive Jesus at Mass? Do you ʻseekʼ AND ʻfollowʼ Jesus?

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

Discussion Guide:  15th Sunday Yr. B – Jesus Empowers Us to Build His Kingdom

 

Morning Prayer: 04 February – Mark 6:7-13 ~ repent and believe – The Peanut Gallery

Reflection Questions:  • Amos was a curious character. His ‘job’ had been to cut and prune trees. But he decided to go to the Bethel ‘Shrine’ (think National Cathedral) and declare that while the country was not at war – and wealth was increasing – the poor were being oppressed. Because God’s will was often spoken through ‘prophet’s’, a King would carefully silence this prophetic voice by putting priests and prophets working in the national shrine ‘on the pay-roll’. Amos declares enough is enough! The Priest of Bethel, Amaziah, wants Amos to ‘go away’. Amos declares ‘I am not corrupt and ‘paid off’ like you. In the wealthy-and oppressed debate today, who is an ‘Amos’ you know? Who is an ‘Amaziah’ you know? What do you say about the issues affecting the poor when it is raised in conversation?

• Paul’s letter to the Ephesians can be understood as a collection of hymns and prayers used in the early liturgy of the Church. Consider the beauty of this prayer. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing.You are chosen to be holy and pure. You have been adopted into God’s family. You have been forgiven and washed clean from all sin by the blood of Jesus. You exist for the praise of God. You have heard the word of truth. You have been sealed and marked and indwelt by the holy spirit. Which idea in this prayer speaks deeply to you?

• At the beginning of the Gospel of Mark a very clear pattern of events takes place with Jesus. Everywhere. Everyday. Jesus casts out evil. The kingdom of God is more than an idea. It is to be an experience where good replaces evil. After his own townspeople of Nazareth refuse to believe in him, instead of sulking and being limited by their rejection, he calls ʻtwelveʼ to go out with power to cast out evil. Jesus empowers others to become ʻlikeʼ him. Have you experienced a moment of decision: Shall I react and let myself become ʻsmallʼ or be proactive and allow myself to become ʻbigʼ? How can you work toward becoming a kingdom person of ʻhealing and curingʼ?

• The lifestyle of the disciple is significant. We are to live as Jesus lived. Only wandering missionary items were to be taken – sandals and walking stick. An extra tunic was frequently used as a tent to keep one warm for the night. No extra signs of wealth or comfort. No ʻhousehopping ʼ when the food or bedroom may not be great. Disciples were to witness to a life-style that revealed the concerns of the kingdom, not concerns of comfort. Are you concerned or comfortable? Is life becoming cluttered with Items at the expense of Interest at taking ʻauthority over unclean spiritsʼ?

• A missionary disciple can become worried or saddened they are not welcomed or listened to. Jesus tells them they can adopt the Jewish practice of ʻdusting their shoesʼ. Jewish people on returning from a gentile land into the ʻholy landʼ dusted their feet at the border crossing. They symbolically ʻshook offʼ any rejection of God from unbelievers. Is there a rejection experience you are still trying to work through and ʻshake offʼ?

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

Discussion Guide:   14th Sunday Yr. B – Remain ‘open’ to Jesus

 

DailyDevo | Mark 6:1-6 | Envy is a powerful emotion. It prevented the people of Nazareth from embracing Jesus. We see someon… | Daily devotional, Humility, Blessed

Reflection Questions:

• Ezekiel worked as a Priest in the Temple before being exiled with Israelites into Babylon. It was here, in a distant land, he experienced the spirit enter him and raise him to his feet to ‘speak’. It was not a popular message; the cause of their exile and punishment was due to their unfaithfulness to God. Have you experienced being moved from a ‘comfortable’ to an ‘uncomfortable’ place? Have you felt the spirit strengthen you for a new and difficult challenge? How do you think Ezekiel felt knowing the outcome of his words was uncertain… will they heed or resist?

• Today we reflect on a deep and personal self revelation of St Paul. It is uncertain if the ‘thorn’ (translated also as stake’) was a physical ailment, disease, depression. Was it constant persecution? Lust? Upset with being ‘short’? It is probably helpful we do not know as we can now all symbolically identify with Paul in our own personal experience of ‘pain’. What would you humbly own as your ‘thorn’? Some spiritual writers suggest the first deep question of spiritual direction is: where are you hurting? Boast comes from the word meaning ‘having your head held high’, from a position of understanding. Have you shared this with anyone. Would you like to receive encouragement to move from pain to boasting, and being accepting of your weakness?

• Jesus returns home to Nazareth and experiences rejection. Mark, the earliest gospel writer clearly describes the lack of faith of Jewish people and the Synagogue toward Jesus. At home in Nazareth they are attracted to his teaching but take offense (skandalizmai – scandalised) and even make a negative remark calling him ʻSon of Maryʼ. It was normal to refer to someone only using the title of ʻSon of Joseph- Fatherʼ. They are objecting to the uncertain origin of Jesus. Can you glimpse the pain and rejection of Jesus at home, with his own family members? Have you had a personal experience of rejection. Lack of belief in you. ʻCutting you downʼ. ʻPutting you into a boxʼ? How did you react? How does Jesus react? Are you curious as to what Jesus does next?

• The three readings today highlight a theme of ʻif only …ʼ. If only people would listen (Ezekiel)… If only I didnʼt have this personal difficulty (St Paul)… If only my family and friends would believe in me (Jesus)…. Difficult circumstances can shut us down, take away our energy. We need another source of energy and identity. The spirit sustained Ezekiel, Paul, Jesus to respond positively not negatively. Consider naming your challenges and decide on positive solutions. How do you overcome the ʻNazareth syndromeʼ?

• It is mysterious how Jesus ʻwas not able to perform any mighty deed thereʼ. Have you ever decided about someone and your mind and heart becomes ʻclosedʼ and not ʻopenʼ to that person? The relationship now becomes ʻstuckʼ in possibility and expectation. We bring the closed door and negative view into each conversation and meeting. How open are you to Jesus? Pray for an open mind and heart to see signs and wonders and glimpses of the kingdom at work in daily events. How are you seeking to grow your faith and relationship with Jesus?

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

 

 

Arise: Desire Leads to Faith and Action. Discussion Guide is Here

See the source image

Reflection Questions.

• The book of Wisdom has Jewish wisdom teachings written when Jews were living amidst Greek culture and philosophy. Death is pondered. Physical death does not cause an end to God’s relationship with those who belong to him. What connections do you see with the Gospel where Jairus’ daughter is raised to life? Have you reflected on creation lately? Consider what it means to be made ‘in the image of God’? If all creation belongs to God, and is gifted to us as our home, how should we treat and care for it?

• St Paul, wrote to the Corinthian church asking for money for the poor church in Jerusalem. His fund-raising pitch was ‘the gracious act’ of Jesus who in his divinity was ‘rich’, yet for our sake ‘became poor’.
Paul calls this Kenosis -self emptying. As Christians we are called to live this model of generous self gift. Our surplus is not for us to store away but so that the needs of others are met. Disciples are called to live
generously and work for human equality. Ponder how much Jesus ‘let go’ by taking on our human condition and suffering death? Some Christians are so deeply called to imitate this, that they choose voluntary poverty. How much you need to live on? What do you do with ‘surplus’? How do you respond to the needs of others as an individual? As a church community? How might living this generosity for the poor, witness to the love and self-gift of Christ today?

•The Gospel has two stories of great faith. Jairus was a leader at the Synagogue. It took great courage for him to approach Jesus as he could lose his job for seeking help from an outsider. He humbles himself and pleads for his sick daughter. Have you ever wanted to ask for help but were too embarrassed? What really holds you back? Notice that in the scriptures healing often calls for faith and action – not just prayer alone? What healing do you seek? What action would help as a step toward your desired wholeness?

• The unnamed women had endured constant menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Jewish law this flow of blood meant she was ritually unclean. She was forbidden to touch others as that would also make them unclean. Even her husband could not touch her. Imagine her isolation and desperation. Consider also her courage in reaching out? That’s why she walks secretly through the crowd and joins intense desire with faith and action to touch Jesus’ cloak. Her embarrassment mixed with fear of condemnation when
asked to publicly identify herself. Restoration has both personal and communal aspects. Why do you think Jesus wanted to make this public?

• Jesus breaks two social and religious barriers. He touches a dead body and is touched by an unclean woman. He made himself unclean, to restore those labeled unclean to full life and community. Do you
listen for and notice those who are excluded or go out of your way to include and welcome them, even to the extent of being rejected or maligned for doing it? Why or why not? How does it feel? How does exclusion or restoration and inclusion impact society? You personally?

• Ponder the imagery. There are 12 tribes of Israel, the chosen people of God. The woman suffered for ’12’ years and the girl was ’12’. The crowds at Jairus’ house ridicule Jesus. He restores the woman to community while the little girl he restores to life, but only apostles are present and no one else is to know. Does anything feel dead in you? Ask God for what you or your loved ones need. Can you hear
Jesus say, ‘arise’ and ‘your faith has saved you’?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and Bev McDonald and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org