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Archive for the ‘Goodness’ Category

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:      22nd Sunday Yr C: Remain Humble and You Will be Noticed

 

Prayer, Bible Study Sirach 3:1-31 20200111

Reflection Questions:    • Sirach is a book of instructions on the day-to-day living of a good life. Top on the list of advice is to be ʻhumbleʼ. Someone who is ʻa giver of giftsʼ often expects something in return, whereas a humble person is not deceitful or cunning. A humble person does not try and pretend to be stronger or better than he / she is. A humble person has an ʻattentive earʼ. Why do you think Sirach considers Humility to be so important? What sort of world is created by its opposite?

• Today is the last time we have the letter to the Hebrews read to us. The differences between the ʻold lawʼ with its blazing fires of Mt Sinai, its trumpet blasts and fearsome prophecyʼs of Daniel is contrasted with the ʻnew gospelʼ of God dwelling joyfully amongst us, ʻfirstbornʼ christians belonging to the family of God, the joy of Jesus bringing the intimacy and forgiveness of God with the new covenant of the blood of the cross. In the Old Testament, the presence of God was a ʻfearsomeʼ thing. Has your image of God moved from the Old to the New? Reflect on the images used in the Hebrews scripture passage. What image(s) is meaningful for you?

• Luke 14 – 15 has many examples of Jesus at meals. He uses these moments to teach about ʻfellowshipʼ, critique structures in society, and teach the Church about how true eucharistic gatherings should function. It is helpful to see the warmth Jesus wants to extend to those who are excluded and his challenging words to social structures which exclude people. Some say Jesus was a disturbing guest who may not have received many second invitations! What would your impression be of Jesus if you were sitting at this meal ʻobserving him carefullyʼ?

• In the time of Jesus, and generally with people who do not have ʻwealthʼ, status in the community was based on ʻreputationʼ. To have your reputation held high was a growth in ʻhonourʼ. To have your reputation lowered was considered a source of great ʻshameʼ. This system can create a game where you take a humble position but wait desperately to be ʻhonouredʼ and ʻmoved upʼ! Generosity is secretly only self-centred reciprocity. Jesus shares a subversive challenge which would change the whole social structure. What is his challenge?

• Jesus reverses everything that was considered socially and religiously ʻcorrectʼ. The poor, crippled, lame, blind were excluded from the priesthood and some claimed they were not eligible to participate in the heavenly banquet. The Kingdom of God revealed by Jesus, is that there is a great reversal about to take place. Notice the extreme nature of Jesusʼ challenge. He doesnʼt say give money to the poor, give some volunteer service hours to the poor, but ʻinvite them into your home, to sit at table and eat togetherʼ! To enter into a relationship that goes beyond ʻcharityʼ. Examine your life-style and ʻtimestyle ʼ. Who do you include? Exclude? Why? How could you bring about the ʻgreat reversalʼ of the Kingdom of God in your family, workplace, church community?

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

Discussion Guide:    15th Sunday Yr. C: Loving Beyond Barriers

 

Luke 10:37 | Jesus quotes, Gospel of luke, Luke

Reflection Questions   • Moses is giving his final words of farewell in the book of Deuteronomy today. The ʻLawʼ which Moses gave to Israel from God is not simply written in decrees but is written into our very nature…. ʻvery near to youʼ. Jewish people kept this ʻshemaʼ close to them by posting it on their doorways and wrapping it around their foreheads in times of prayer. How could you keep Godʼs ways and guidelines close to you? Is there any practice or habit you could adopt to express a love for Godʼs teachings?

• We hear from St Paulʼs letter to the Colossians in the next 3 Sundays. Paul is writing a letter to correct errors of a heresy. Gnosticism taught that God was only spirit and did not mix with the material world of ʻmatterʼ. Jesus therefore was thought of as an ʻintermediaryʼ between God and Man, like an Angel. God couldnʼt become ʻfleshʼ because this would involve God getting ʻdirtyʼ and mixing with humanity! Paul responds Jesus Christ is truly the image and exact representative of the invisible God, the fulness of God dwelt in him. God has truly come among us and reconciled us. What was the obstacle of Gnosticism? Is this obstacle in your own thinking?

• The Parable of the Good Samaritan is intended to ʻshake usʼ toward loving as God loves. Parables are meant to ʻshockʼ us out of the status quo. Stay with the parable until something ʻshocksʼ you.

• Jesus responds to an expert in the law of Moses. Jesus includes in the ʻshemaʼ an addition to ʻlove your neighbour as yourselfʼ (Lev 19,18). Jewish people practically limited this ʻadditionʼ to extending care only toward fellow Jewish citizens. Why do cultures limit and enforce cultural and social divisions of who is ʻincludedʼ and ʻexcludedʼ? In your social and religious circle, who do you ʻinclude / excludeʼ? Why?

• The ʻlawʼ stated that Priests and Levites were to be kept ʻcleanʼ for religious service. Getting close to a dead body or touching ʻbloodʼ would make them ʻuncleanʼ. They ʻseeʼ someone in great need – but decide to ʻpass byʼ. Jesus critiques this socially and religiously ʻacceptable behaviourʼ. Religious sacrifices and duties are no substitute for lack of compassion and injustice. In your week who have you ʻseenʼ, ʻpassed byʼ?

• A Samaritan was the cultural equivalent of a terrorist or drug dealer. It was the greatest shock for Jewish listeners to have a Samaritan as a hero surpassing a religiously observant Priest and Levite. The Samaritan put his money where his mouth was. His love for God showed itself in deep compassion not simply pious thoughts or words. Oil and Wine were gifts offered at the altar, used now to soften and disinfect wounds. 2 days wages and a promise of more if needed reveal not just first aid but ongoing care. What inspires you in the Samaritanʼs actions? What would it look like for you to ʻgo and do likewiseʼ?

• Jesus challenges the lawyer – and us – to a new approach to life. The question is not ʻwho is my neighbourʼ but will I be a ʻneighbourʼ ?

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

Discussion Guide:    8th Sunday Yr. C – Walking the Talk

 

Thoughts on Today's Gospel and Readings Luke 6:39-45 St Swithun's

Reflection Questions:

1] The Book of Sirach is also known as “Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach.” It teaches ethical and theological topics and ideas. It talks a lot about the tongue and speech and the author indicates here that a person’s thoughts and words are a mirror of what lies in the soul. People can be ‘smooth talkers’ until they are shaken or put through tribulation and the ‘husks’ they try to hide are revealed. How true do you think it is that a person’s talk reveals who they really are? How attentive are you to your own speech?

2] The revolutionary hope of Christianity is in these words of Paul. Corinth was a major cosmopolitan sea-trading city. Idolatry and immorality were rife. Paul insists we can overcome sin through Christ. (15:57). What do you think Paul means when he says God gives us the ‘victory’ through Jesus? How have you experienced this ‘victory’ or a degree of mastery over sin? What area of your life do you most need ‘victory’?

3] Paul acknowledges our ‘corruptible’ bodies but states we will be clothed in Christ’s ‘incorruptibility’ and ‘immortality’. How does that make you feel?

4] Most of us know someone with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Many times, the vulnerable are gifted with a differently abled way of seeing, hearing or sensitivity which is both gift and challenge to us all. Pope Benedict stated; “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” … “Man is worth so much to God that he himself became human in order to suffer with us in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed in … Jesus’s Passion.” (Spe Salvi, 37, 39) How do you reconcile suffering with the promises of Christ? What encourages you most about Paul’s words?

5] Paul says that the Resurrection means nothing we do is wasted. We often don’t see the results of our efforts but if we truly believe Christ has won the victory then as the saying goes; we may lose the battle but win the war. In God’s case the war is already won. Paul’s perspective calls us not to idly ‘hope’ for some future heaven, but to live right now in God’s reign. We are called to do all the good we can today, knowing everything we do matters to God. How do I let that truth impact my daily life?

6] The Gospel links strongly with the first reading. What are the connections for you? Jesus challenges us to not talk the talk but to walk the talk. St Augustine asked, “Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [a symbol of God’s tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?” When did you last seriously review your own talk, habits & reactions for ‘vinegar’? How hard is it for you to trust others? How is testing others different from criticizing? What help do you need from God to fill your heart with honey and ‘a store of goodness’? “…Every tree is known by its own fruit’. God has equipped us to bear good fruit. How are you tending the fruit tree of your life? How do others experience you as a person and a Christian? Is there a difference?

7] How will you be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?