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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

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?

Discussion Guide:      5th Sunday Easter Yr. B – Bear much fruit with love in action!

 

Bear Much Fruit Scripture (Page 1) - Line.17QQ.com

Reflection Questions:    • God is a God of surprises but the disciples were afraid of Saul. They could not imagine the greatest source of persecution could ʻturn-aroundʼ. The situation required someone courageous like Barnabas. He had the nickname ʻson of encouragementʼ.  He had witnessed Saul in Damascus and stepped up to being a mentor. A link. Introduced Paul to the Apostles. Imagine the loss for the Church if Barnabas hadnʼt ʻtaken charge of himʼ? Who is on the ʻoutsideʼ of your group, community, workplace whom you could include?

• Barnabas and Paul show us the cost of the committed christian life. They are ʻradicalsʼ. They go a bit further. Without people like Barnabas and Paul the Church is stagnant. Paulʼs first preaching experiences to the Hellenists (Greeks) in Damascus and Jerusalem ended with attempts to ʻkill himʼ. And yet both Paul and Barnabas did not stop. Have you met resistance in preaching the message of life and peace of Jesus? Do you have a safe place like Paulʼs home in Tarsus to retreat to when necessary?

• LOVE is lived. It looks like something. Too easily love can stay in ʻword or speechʼ and not make it to ʻdeed and truthʼ. What love action could you commit to this week that you have struggled with for a while? What words or promises have you made but you have failed to back-up with action?

• The image of the Gospel this Sunday is of life flowing through the vine into the branches. ʻRemain in meʼ repeats itself 6 times! Remain in me is different from remain close to me or read my book. How could you go 1 step further in praying with scripture, celebrating the sacraments, living christian community?

• The intimacy of the ʻvineʼ image for Johnʼs gospel is a description of the church and the individual disciple. In baptism we were truly joined to Jesusʼ mystical body the Church. In the eucharistic union of our lives with the body and blood of Jesus in ʻholy communionʼ we are called to bear the ʻfruitʼ of replicating the life of Jesus in the world. Pray with the idea of being ʻfruitfulʼ and bringing ʻgloryʼ to the Father. What do you begin to think about?

• Jesus shares that the experience of praying with his Word is like being ʻprunedʼ. Have you experienced the scriptures ʻcuttingʼ and bringing you pain? Yet also directing you to what is life-giving?

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

Discussion Guide:  4th Sunday Easter Yr. B – My sheep will hear my voice.

 

I have found my sheep that was lost- Christian Art

 

Reflection Questions:  • The Church celebrates ʻGood Shepherd Sundayʼ today. It is an opportunity to consider service of Christ in the Church for the World through a vocation in single life, married life, priesthood, religious life. Can you think of people who are good examples for you of each vocation?  Spend time in prayer praying for each one.

• Vocation means ʻcallʼ. St Ignatius teaches us that: “God writes his hopes into our deepest desires”. What does that mean God may be calling you to? Imagine the highs and lows of each vocation -what attracts you? What desire is strongest? Are you willing to follow it? • ʻLaying down oneʼs life for the sheepʼ is contrasted with being a ʻhired manʼ who works for pay and has no ʻconcernʼ for the sheep. What do you think is the difference between Vocation and Career? Does one lead down and the other attempt climbing up?

• St Peter shares a building image. Very large stones were measured and cut to ʻfitʼ and be suitable for building upon. Is your life truly ʻbuiltʼ upon Jesus or is it merely ʻlookingʼ at Jesus? Does your lifestyle ʻshowʼ you are ʻGodʼs child…ʼ?

• One of the actions done by a good shepherd is to ʻlie downʼ in the ʻgatewayʼ of a small low fenced circle of stones to care for the sheep and protect them from harm. The good shepherd was willing to fight to the death any wolf seeking to harm the sheep. It was an expectation that a child who was looking after the sheep, if attacked, was to show evidence of scratches or wolf fur to the family. Are you willing to fight and protect Godʼs family? Seek out the lost who have strayed? Stand attentive to warn of dangerous influences?

• ʻLaying down ones lifeʼ is another scriptural picture of the way Jesus lay down his life on the cross – as the good shepherd. Laying down and enduring a sleep-shortened night is something parents do for love of their children. Knowing sheep by name, sharing each day and providing nourishment and shelter. Can you see similarities between parenthood and priesthood? Does ʻlaying
down your lifeʼ appeal to you or frighten you? Does love lead you – or does fear fill you?

• ʻNo-one takes it from me, I lay it down on my ownʼ. A vocation is something freely chosen. We ʻhearʼ the call of God through desire and attraction, we give ourselves to walk the journey of discovery and weʻtake upʼ what is involved in faithfulness to our personal calling. Fear. Iʼm not good enough. I feel stuck. I donʼt know are all human responses. Consider reflecting on the document ʻDiscerning your vocationʼ to show your willingness to take a further step into Godʼs call. Go to http://livingtheword.org.nz/resources/

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

 

Discussion Guide: 3rd Sunday Easter Yr. B – Live in and for Christ

 

To Live Is Christ, to Die Is Gain'? Meaning of Paul's Words Explained

Reflection Questions:  • Peter has gone through a remarkable experience of change since his denial of Christ and now has the confidence to preach the core Christian message to unbelievers. He now knows what it is to be forgiven and to turn back to relationship with Jesus. Notice then how his preaching flows from his living and the signs that he works (he just cured someone!). ʻPreachingʼ comes after ʻlivingʼ. What sign / action / witness can I ʻliveʼ this week to let people experience Jesus through me?

• Holiness is a universal call to everyone. “Repent and be converted  is an invitation to a complete change of one’s value system. The worldview of the early disciples had been tipped upside down with the Resurrection. Consider what change took place for the early disciples to sell land and give to those in need? Is your value system that of the ʻworldʼ or ʻChristʼ? Ask God what areas of your life need more of the Holy Spirit, so you can change and grow as a disciple. Then take the next most obvious steps to cooperate with God and bring that change about.

• Some people in the Johannine community believed that ‘knowledge’ of salvation was salvation. ‘Knowing’ Jesus and his forgiveness was all that was important. Moral behaviour and changing one’s lifestyle seemed irrelevant. Yet the Easter Acts of the Apostles and Gospel readings teach that the disciples of Jesus witnessed to the resurrection with power and signs and wonders. Their lives were transformed. The Easter Sunday Victory of the Resurrection is supposed to overturn the evil of good Friday. Christians are not just baptised and waiting for the idea of the resurrection to become true when they die and enter eternal life. We have a job to do. Holiness is for now. As disciples we are each called to live in and for Christ in everyday life whatever that entails for us. How could you ʻkeep the wordʼ more and let the ʻlove of God come to perfection within youʼ more?

• Jesus was ʻmade known to them in the breaking of breadʼ. This new action and new words with it, was so new at the last supper that it transformed the traditional Passover meal. Only the Son of God could do this. Yet the resurrected Jesus must have appeared different to the disciples as it was only ‘in the breaking of the bread’ that they recognised him. How do you understand what happens at the celebration of the Mass / Eucharist? How does it help you experience the ongoing presence of Jesus? Do you have questions of the Scriptures that require some help to understand them? What are they? Who could you ask for help?

• “Why are you troubled and what are the questions rising in your heart” What are the things you need to look at, discuss with someone, write about, research, pray about, so you too can reach the peace and transformation Jesus offers today?

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ 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

The Easter Triduum:

Reflection Guides are available for

Holy Thursday HERE,

Good Friday Readings are HERE,

A Guide to help reflect on Good Friday from Creighton University is here

Easter Saturday VIGIL is HERE

 

Easter Blessings from the Team at Living the Word.

 

 

 

Discussion Guide: 6th Sunday of Easter – I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

 

He and She: the Spirit of Truth and the Holy Spirit

Reflection Questions:

• Persecution in Jerusalem saw many Christians go out to other towns and cities. Samaria was the Northern part of Israel, the home of the ‘Samaritans’. Because of history and religious differences – they waited for the Messiah to come to Mt Gerazim instead of Jerusalem – Samaritans and Jews did not associate together. It is a newly appointed Greek speaking Philip (see last weeks readings) who enters into this area. Looking back on your life, has sufferings, trials, persecution helped you expand the horizons of your life? In your workplace or parish do some barriers need to be broken down? Who could be a ‘Philip’ without the baggage of the past to work in this area?

• Philip’s whole life won people over to his message. It was not only his words but ‘the signs’ he was doing. Does your lifestyle help or hinder people to hear and accept the gospel?

• Peter’s letter acknowledges suffering. Keep your conscience clear and show good conduct. How could this apply to your life?

• The Easter-tide readings are still dwelling upon the farewell speech of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel of John (Jn 14-17). He promises to send to them ‘another advocate’. Advocate comes from a greek legal word meaning someone who will give ‘good advice’ and stand alongside to speak for you. Like a lawyer in a courtroom. In trials and troubles the Holy Spirit will lead into ‘truth’. John will also use the words ‘Paraclete’ (one standing alongside) and comforter as words to explain the role and experience the Holy Spirit will bring. Ponder the words ‘Advocate’ and ‘Paraclete’ and ‘Comforter’. Does this expand your appreciation of the Holy Spirit? • Many consider the Holy Spirit difficult to know and experience. A guide from the scripture texts may be we need to be more courageous in mission – to ‘be taken to court’ – to experience the Holy Spirit at work? Can you identify an experience of the spirit at work in your life? How could this experience be grown and deepened?

• There is a long prayer tradition of repeating and deeply feeling the words of a scripture phrase. Our mind focuses upon the words and our heart feels its truth. John shares some beautiful phrases today. Pray for 5 minutes with a phrase… take one with you for your car journey, lunchtime prayer, personal quiet time….

• ‘I am in the Father and you are in me and I in you’.
• ‘Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father’
• ‘I will love you and reveal myself to you’.

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

Discussion Guide: 5th Sunday of Easter – We are Called to Show the ‘WAY’ to others

 

like living stones - All Souls Parish

Reflection Questions:

• The early Christian community described in Acts endures many challenging experiences. Today marks an incredible ‘break-through’. Greek speaking (Hellenists) Christians complained their widows were not being fed in the daily distribution of food to the poor. Jewish Christians may have been favouring their own kind. The Church was transitioning from a Jewish Christian community to a more Greek speaking and Greek cultured community. Imagine the tensions and arguments! Yet the Apostles creatively responded with wisdom and preserved unity. A new service structure was implemented into the community. Who is getting all the attention in your community? Who is not? What creative response is needed to meet the needs of ‘the poor’?

• The passage of scripture from Peter is regarded as part of an Easter Baptismal Homily. The image is of a Temple built with stones aligned with the ‘cornerstone – Jesus’ which holds the whole ‘house’ together. Who is a ‘living stone’ you look to in your local community for ‘alignment’ with Jesus? How do you ‘measure up’?

• Priesthood, a Holy People set apart, a people bringing the world to God and God to the world, is not to be understood as confined to the ‘Temple’. Peter reminds all the baptised they are no longer limited to bringing animal and grain offerings to the Temple. Their lives are to announce God’s love and care. Feeding the poor, clothing and care of the sick, prayers for the community are all part of the great ‘spiritual sacrifices’ offered to God to bring God to the people and the people to God. Do you glimpse your ‘royal’ and ‘priestly’ job description of Baptism into the family of Christ? Can you glimpse the connection between the Sunday altar and the Monday office desk?

• John 14-17 is Jesus’ departing words to his disciples. His words are filled with the language of intimate love. Have you ever had someone beautifully prepare a guest room for you? Say they want you to be always with them? How did it feel? How does it feel to know Jesus wants this relationship with you?

• Without Jesus and no longer welcome in the Jewish Temple, the Johannine community felt they were lost. ‘How can we know the ‘way’? ‘I AM the way’ is a theological punch. Jesus uses the
‘divine name (I AM) and challenges his followers to live ‘his way – the way of God’. Our life-style, our time-style, our ‘way’, is to be in exact replication of Christ. How does this challenge you?

• “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” What ‘works’ are we called to do?

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

Discussion Guide:   4th Sunday of Easter – Jesus, the Good Shepherd

 

THE FINAL CHAPTERS: FOLLOW THE LEADER

Reflection Questions:

• Today is Vocation Sunday. It is also called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’ as the readings will often focus upon Jesus identifying with the role of being a ‘Shepherd’ for us, his sheep. Have you ever thought that Jesus does call some sheep to become ‘Shepherds’?

• In the Church and on behalf of the Church, priests are a sacramental representation of Jesus Christ – the head and shepherd – authoritatively proclaiming his word, repeating his acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation – particularly in baptism, penance and the Eucharist, showing his loving concern to the point of a total gift of self for the flock, which they gather into unity and lead to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit. In a word, priests exist and act in order to proclaim the Gospel to the world and to build up the Church in the name and person of Christ the head and shepherd (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no 15). What does this statement teach you about the role of the Priest? Have you ever been ‘thankful’ for the gift and ministry of a priest?

• Jesus identifies himself as a Shepherd but also a ‘gate’. In the middle east, shepherds would gather their sheep together at night sometimes creating a shelter or collection of wooden sticks to build a fence. Sometimes they may have built with blocks a square with a narrow gap for the sheep to enter in and out. One shepherd would take the role of ‘gate’, lying down in the ‘gap’ as an expression of caring for the sheep and not letting them out, and protecting the sheep from danger coming in. What does this image reveal to you about Jesus? Can you identify anyone’s vocation who follows this ‘laying down of their life’? Can you see the similarities between a Mum, Dad, Priest, Sister, Brother?

• God writes his hopes and plans for you into your desires” (says St Ignatius). Persistent thoughts, attractions, ideas that don’t go away are symbolic of the nudges of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire at work in us. In what ways or experiences have you noticed God’s call for your life? Do you get a sense of good pasture and ‘abundant life’ from following God or does fear dominate?

• A Christian disciple is drawn to look upon the love of Christ on the cross, and then, in co-operation with grace, is drawn to ‘be’ Christ on the cross with arms outstretched in love of the world. Those called to the ‘consecrated life’ seek to conform their whole existence to Christ (Vita Consecrata 16). Have you ever considered what it would be like to be a ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ to everyone?

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

Discussion Guide: 3rd Sunday of Easter – Their hearts burned within them!

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Reflection Questions:

• The church continues for 8 weeks soaking us with the message and stories of Easter. Consider the story of the newly married Catholic German couple. The wife welcomed fleeing Jews into their house for safety. The husband on returning challenges his wife on their own safety and possible death. She replies: but we believe in the resurrection. Is your heart glad?Tongue exulting? Flesh hopeful?death. She replies: but we believe in the resurrection. Is your heart glad?Tongue exulting? Flesh hopeful?

• Peter with the ‘Eleven’ standing in the midst of many ‘Jews’ is a picture of the early Church in Jerusalem. Considering the tone of their words and the audience, fear of persecution is heavily present behind the scenes. Picture yourself today, in the Church, one of the ‘eleven’. What are the challenges and obstacles of the christian community today? The Holy Spirit moved the disciples from fear behind closed doors to courage and preaching in public places. Do you sense the Holy Spirit moving and inspiring you toward a certain action, attitude, mission task?

• The word ‘ransom’ has a special history in the Old Testament. If a member of your family was sold as a slave, imprisoned, or family land was in-debt, the eldest member of the family had a special duty to ‘ransom’ (buy-back) the family member or land. This image is used by Peter. We have not been won back to God by gold but ‘with the precious blood of Christ’. Do you glimpse the cost of God wanting us to know we are ‘reconciled’ with him? Do you glimpse how loved and loveable you are? What is your life-style response?

• The Road to Emmaus features disciples so upset and downcast. They had such high hopes in Jesus. They now ‘walk away’ from Jerusalem. They could not understand why the death of Jesus was necessary. Their saviour had become a failure. To understand they need to be shocked and humbled at how God’s power is able to work through human weakness. Are you ‘walking away’ from Easter /Jerusalem disappointed? Do you ‘see’?

• In the Church’s liturgy what was present in Christ has now passed over into the mysteries / sacraments. Past events are truly made present now. The Emmaus story reflects this truth. Jesus is truly present when his words are shared and his actions at table are repeated. When he ‘blessed, broke, gave’ bread were very very important to the community. These particular actions and words were unique to him and were commanded to be repeated. How could your heart burn more with scripture? What do you need so that you may ‘recognise him’ in the celebration of the Eucharist?

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