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Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category

Easy print reflection, for 28th Sunday Readings and discussion guide is HERE

A Printable Reflection and Discussion Guide is HERE

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Discussion Guide:    7th Sunday Yr. A – Love Your Neighbour

 

Matthew 5:38-48 “You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the

Reflection Questions:      • The Book of Leviticus is a special collection of ‘laws’. This book was special for the ‘Levites – Priests’. Amazingly, Jewish people developed the 10 commandments of Exodus into 613 laws to guide their life. Today we receive the essential teaching: be holy and love your neighbour as yourself. Have you ever re-imagined the invitation ‘love your neighbour as your own flesh’? What would it actually look like for you to live this invitation this week? This year?

• ‘Do you not know that you are…..?’ is a question about identity. Knowing your identity shapes your behaviour and life-style. Imagine if you were actually a Prince or Princess? Paul invites us into a profound reflection: ‘Do you not know that you are a temple of God’? If God’s spirit is in you what does this do to your ‘identity’? Use your imagination to ponder the consequences.

• Gandhi famously quoted this saying of Jesus when he concluded: ‘an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.’ Jesus today is taking some basic and well known ‘laws’ and challenging his followers to be very different – revolutionaries of a radical love! Examine your upbringing and cultural expectations about life: ‘you have heard it said…..’ Are there any attitudes and values that you accept as normal from your parents and upbringing but in fact they are opposite to values you see lived by Jesus? Is there anything you are doing in your life that Jesus wouldn’t do?

• In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is teaching the heart of a Christian life-style. Some people have called Matthew Chapters 5-8 the ‘Be- ttitudes’. Why offer no resistance to the one who is evil? Hand over your tunic and cloak? Give to anyone who asks? Love your enemy? Pray for your persecutors? Is this silliness or a wisdom that can change the world? Does Jesus ‘uncover’ the violence of society and invite his followers to not be part of it?

• Many people feel distressed that they are not ‘perfect’. We all know our failings. However, Saints are not perfect, they are people who have sinned but keep on getting up! Christian spirituality encourages us to know that love practiced, grows, and overcomes darkness. Do you only love those who love you? Why? Can you glimpse God’s unconditional loving watering the earth… on good and bad alike. Would you like to abandon your life to this type of loving?

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

Discussion Guide:      23rd Sunday Yr. C – What Does it mean to Count the Cost?

 

Luke 14:25-33 Reflection: The Cost of Following Jesus -

Reflection Questions:    • The Book of Wisdom was a Jewish response to the wisdom writers and Greek Philosophers seeking to understand the meaning of life. Written for Jews in Alexandria, the international and cultural centre of the time, many Jews were giving up their faith and adopting a Greek philosophy. Greek Philosophy taught that human nature was ʻagainst Godʼ and we could not ʻknow Godʼ. The Wisdom writer teaches we can be in tune with the Holy Spirit of God so our paths can become ʻstraightʼ. What do you think? Have you experienced the guidance of the Holy Spirit at any point in your life?

• Philemon was a convert of Paul and he was obviously wealthy enough to have slaves. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon who had escaped, found Paul in Rome, and had become very helpful to him. But Paul found out Onesimus was a ʻslaveʼ. He sent him back – with this letter – to his master Philemon. He does not try to change the slavery system, but seeks to change the heart of Philemon to treat Onesimus as a ʻbrotherʼ and to give him the status of being ʻfreeʼ. It was a dangerous move. Onesimus could have been killed, or at least be branded with ʻfʼ (fugitiveʼ) on his forehead. Why would Paul take such a risk for freedom?

• Today Luke shares the most radical challenge of following Jesus. Great crowds are following Jesus and he turns to them because they may not truly understand what following him will involve. The disturbing ʻcostʼ of discipleship is that they must ʻhateʼ their family! This is a Jewish teaching method to prove a point. Jesus challenges every disciple he must come first. Above all family relationships. For Jewish people this is upsetting. Jesus is to be preferred before Mum and Dad… Jesus is to be the top social priority of their lives. What does this discipleship challenge mean for you personally?

• Jesus often provides instruction, then offers an image into what living his teaching will look like. Building a house or marching into battle are two of the biggest challenges one might undertake in life. Instead of finances and military supplies, discipleship preparation is the task of being free of attachments to family and possessions. What would this large discipleship preparation task look like for you? Do you want to ʻfollow? What are your biggest obstacles?

• Freedom in relationships and possessions is a sign of a closer journey with Jesus. Imagine taking a modern person away from family and friends, cell phone and internet. Why is it difficult and why might it be ʻnecessaryʼ? Is there a relationship you are in which requires more freedom, possessions you may need to give away or your lifestyle simplified so that you may not be so ʻentangledʼ in following Christ?

• 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:    18th Sunday Yr. C – What Are You Really Living For?

 

Why Saving for Retirement Doesn't Mean You're 'Storing Up Treasure' on Earth

Reflection Questions:    • Ecclesiasticus comes from the Greek word for the ʻperson who gathers the assembly togetherʼ. The word ʻvanityʼ could more accurately be translated as ʻbreathʼ or ʻvapourʼ. Feel the words and the profound questioning going on in the text. Respond in one sentence what motivates and gives your life direction and purpose. What are you really living for?

• Paul continues to teach the Colossians about Baptism. The baptism ceremony involved taking off their old clothes, being plunged into water as if being plunged into the earth like Christ to ʻdieʼ. They would rise and be anointed with oil, and be clothed with the white garment of the ʻnew selfʼ. These external signs were symbolising a change within the person. A baptised christian is now dead to the world and alive with Christ. Consider a phrase such as ʻSport is his lifeʼ, or ʻMusic is her lifeʼ. What does it involve to have an all encompassing pursuit or hobby? What is Paul suggesting by a favourite phrase he develops in this letter ʻChrist your lifeʼ?

• Rabbis were expected to make decisions on religious and civil matters. Yet Jesus chooses not to be the ʻjudgeʼ of this inheritance dispute. He is not interested in property but he is interested in talking about ʻgreedʼ. St Paul in the second reading referred to greed as ʻidolatryʼ – replacing God. Have you ever considered your answer to the question: ʻWhat is enough?ʼ (money, car, savings, food allowance, clothing). What is a benchmark that when you have reached it you now have a duty to ʻshareʼ? On a spectrum of ʻgetting and ʻgivingʼ where would you mark your lifestyle?

• Building up supplies, having enough to ʻrest, eat, drink, be merry!ʼ. Isnʼt this what we all hope for? Isnʼt this a nice picture of retirement? Satisfaction? And yet this text is one of the few times in the Gospels when God actually ʻspeaksʼ in a parable: “fool”. Why is personal comfort and material care of our families not enough?

• ʻI work to pay billsʼ is a humorous phrase. Yet it indicates a trap we can so easily walk into. What debts, hire purchases, possessions are you ʻworking forʼ? Are you investing your self and your fortune on projects and items that have no lasting significance?

• Being rich ʻin what matters to Godʼ is obviously not a property portfolio or a large amount of wealth. Find a way this week to open up a discussion with a friend what you think matters most to God.

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ 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:    6th Sunday Yr. C – Trust in God and Live the Beatitudes

 

Matthew 5:1-12 - Holy Textures

Reflection Questions:

1]Jeremiah shares a blessing and curse prophecy which is frequent in the Old Testament. It is designed to wake us up and help us think. He warns against trusting in mere mortals. Even powerful personalities can lead us astray. Only the Lord is worthy of our trust and when we invite God to guide our lives, even disaster won’t destroy us. Allow your imagination to ponder the two images – a barren bush in the dry salty desert versus a tree always bearing fruit beside a stream. What strikes you as you see yourself in these images?

2]Trust and fear are often linked. What do you most fear losing in life? Talk to God about how that impacts your trust.

3] St Paul speaks to some in Corinth who do not believe in the Resurrection. They struggle to believe that our bodies could be glorified in heaven. St Paul makes it clear that Jesus’ Resurrection is central to our Faith which becomes ‘most pitiable’ unless we believe Jesus is Lord. His birth, life and teaching, death, resurrection and ascension are one continuous salvation event. God reveals his eternal love and desire that we be with Him forever and then provides the way where we become one with Christ through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. As you reflect on your Baptism  what links can you see between Baptism and Resurrection? N.T. Wright says, “Jesus’ Resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth the life of heaven.” How do you react to that statement?

4]We never say Jesus ‘has’ risen. We proclaim, ‘Jesus IS Risen’. “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.” Our belief in the resurrection of our bodies(Creed) is established through the Resurrection of Christ. How deep is your conviction that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and how does that impact your daily choices and decisions? Who do you really put your trust in? Talk with God about your belief or struggles. Try praying, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

5]Jesus has just spent the night in prayer, chosen the twelve (his team!) and he sits them down. The stage is set for his most important teaching: The Beatitudes. Nowhere in Luke does the Gospel challenge us so severely. What are my ultimate pursuits? What world order am I living for? What measurement system of success am I committed to? Am I on the side of the poor and hungry or the rich and the full? What does your lifestyle and actions show? Are you good news to the poor? (note Luke means primarily economically poor not the tamer ‘poor in spirit’ of Matthew). We sometimes speak of these teachings as “BE-Attitudes”. It seems that the choices we make ‘now’ will impact us for eternity. What do you think Jesus means?

6]The Beatitudes bring together a clashing of two ideas and worldviews. It causes a conflict within us. All things being equal, to have riches and to be full is a good. But the of our world is inequality. The status quo is unacceptable for God and Jesus’ disciples. Luke’s version of the Beatitudes does not let Christians off the hook. There will be a radical reversal of fortune in God’s judgement. Woe to you who are rich, filled, who can laugh now. How can I proclaim, ‘Jesus is Lord’ with integrity and not take this teaching seriously? What is your reaction?

7]How will you be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:  Baptism of the Lord Yr. C – Are We the Light of God for Others?

 

Why I Don't Want to Die Yet - Nadine Brandes

Reflection Questions:  • The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?

• Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?

• It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why? • Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’? • You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your anointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a

• Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
• Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
• King – to lead the world not follow the world.

• How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?

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

Discussion Guide:    Feast of Holy Family Yr. C

 

Holy Family Modern 2 - Gallery - Gail Wilson | The Art Sherpa

Reflection Questions:    • Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Each of the readings provides a reflection on how family life is lived so as to lead us into ‘holiness’.

• The Book of Wisdom – or Sirach – arrives at a reflection on the commandment to Honor one’s Parents. Implied is a respectful relationship between Parents and children. The covenant relationship with God is mirrored in relationship to Parents. This relationship is indicated by prayer and obedience, forgiveness and justice. Consider the ups and downs Mum and Dad have been through in raising your family. How do you currently show and practice ‘thankfulness’? As Parents grow old, ‘the mind fails’ what do you do that may ‘grieve them’? How do you show ‘kindness’?

• Family life has struggles and difficulties. The Community of Colossae that Paul is writing to is struggling greatly with Jewish christians being open to welcoming ‘Gentiles – Greeks’ into the community ‘family’. ‘Put on’ is referring to the white garment of baptism and the new life of Jesus that we live. Who is included or excluded in your family? Which attitude do you recognise could be practiced more by you in your ‘family’. How could you allow ‘peace’ to control your heart?

• Subordinate – “under” – reflects the customs of the early Roman times. Christians were keen to live by the ‘ family code’ to show Roman authorities that they were not dangerous to government. What ‘order’ do you have in the family? Home? How is ‘bitterness’ resolved? What arguments arise over children’s behaviour and obedience? What attitudes or behaviours ‘provoke’ and ‘discourage’ your children? Does the Word of God dwell richly in your home? Is there any singing and praying and showing gratitude to God?

• Around the age of 12 a young boy would leave the company of Mum and the woman and mix and be led by the Men. Perhaps this transition is reflected in the scene of Jesus getting ‘lost’. Joseph may have thought the boy had gone back to Mum. Mum had pondered the boy was now more the responsibility of Joseph and he had things under control! Strikingly Jesus is shown as obedient to the will of the Father and sits in the midst of teachers of the law in the Temple to discover what this ‘will’ involves. Holiness is marked by doing the will of God. What desire or call of love, justice, truth, integrity, self gift is in your heart? What commitment are you called to be faithful to as an expression of the will of God?

• Consider how challenging it was for Mary to say Yes. What challenges did Joseph face in saying Yes? How do Mary and Joseph (Parents) cope with Jesus identifying his own individual call in choosing ‘the Father’s house’? Do you see the ‘Holy Family’ as exceptional and perfect or can you glimpse the normal family struggles of your own family life in them?

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