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Archive for the ‘Humility’ Category

Discussion Guide:          4th Sunday Lent Yr. C – The Father’s Outrageous Love

 

 

Luke 15:11-32 GOD'S LOVE FOR THE LOST — Tell the Lord Thank You

Reflection Questions: 

• While Moses was a great leader and teacher, the courage of Joshua was needed to face the challenge of entering the ʻpromised landʼ. The manna ceased. They were now to work for their food. What change has God been trying to work in you and teach you this Lent?

• St Paul wanted to teach the Corinthian community that faith in Jesus was more than believing oneʼs sins forgiven. God has also given us the ministry of reconciliation in the world. Reconciliation between peoples and with God is a christian’s top priority. What relationships need ʻreconcilingʼ in your life? Who could you start with?

• In the middle of Lent the Church encourages us to look at our understanding of God with the parable of the prodigal son. It is Jesus teaching us what the Fathers love is really like. The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus did not obey the laws of keeping separate from sinners. Surely God does not want to get ʻcontaminatedʼ with sinners? What do you honestly think is Godʼs response to your sinfulness? What ʻimageʼ do you have of God?

• The young son commits the biggest sin possible for a young Jewish person. Asking for the inheritance was like wishing Dad was ‘dead’! Yet the father’s love does not change. Do you feel distant from God because of something you have done …. will you accept the love that the Father shows to his child is the same love that is shown to you? Will you accept this love in the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent? What might hold you back?

• The Father does a number of humiliating actions which show the depth of his love. The Father runs in public. It was unbecoming for a Jewish elder to show one’s ankles in public. It is the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention is now drawn away from the son and the possibility of hurting him. The father accepts the humiliation, in front of the whole community, of the older son angry and argumentative. Does the older son wish the father was dead too? Does anyone appreciate the Fathers love? If this is what God is like toward you what is your response?

• The Son reaches a very low point in his life. Literally, the phrase ‘coming to his senses’ can be translated ‘he entered into himself’. He makes the most profound decision of his life to ‘return’. What places, practices and people could help you journey ‘into yourself’ this Lent? What decisions have you resisted in the past that would most transform your life?

• The parable of the Prodigal (Reckless) Son is also called the Parable of the Prodigal Father. So unconditional is the Father’s love that neither the youngest son or eldest son fully accept it. The parable ends without a resolution. Will God’s children accept his unconditional love and enjoy the ‘fattened calf’ and banquet? Can you glimpse this invitation in the celebration of the Eucharist?

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

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Advent Yr. C – Rejoice! The Lord is Near

 

Waiting in expectancy – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:

• Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday when the Pink candle of the Advent Wreath is lit. The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon – ‘Rejoice’. This theme is found in the first two readings. We are reminded that the joyful coming of Christ is drawing nearer. Christmas celebrates presence with presents.

• Today is the only time every 3 years we hear this beautiful passage from the Prophet Zephaniah. Zion is the name for Jerusalem, and Christians understand Jerusalem signifies God’s people. Replace ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ prayerfully with your own name. How does this prophecy make you feel? What line strikes you the most? Why?

• St Paul is writing to the Philippians trying to resolve an argument between two women which is destroying the unity of the Christian community. He puts their argument into the ‘big picture’. Rejoicing, kindness and no anxiety are trademarks of a christian. Paul reminds the community that each member is to reflect Christ. In the hostile town of Philippi, they are to be attractive and lead people to Christ – not turn them off. Is ʻyour kindness known to allʼ? Do you have anxieties that you refuse to ‘make known’ and truly hand over to him?

• A practice of Advent preparation is celebrating forgiveness. Crowds gathered to be with John the Baptist, not in the Temple, but by the Jordan River. Hungry for God and for the world to experience ‘change’ they claimed their own need for conversion: ʻwhat should we do?ʼ John directs their attention toward care of the poor – sharing clothing and food. What do you have plenty of? Who has none? Have you ever desired to simplify your life and be more generous? What happened?

• Tax collectors were present, along with soldiers who protected them. John does not deny their ʻjobʼ but reminds them all jobs are to serve the unity of the community. Look deeply into your ordinary tasks of life. Are you doing them well? Enter the gospel scene in prayer and ask John the question: What should I do? What happened?

• John baptises and cleanses with water. Jesus baptises and cleanses with the Holy Spirit and fire. Water and Fire. What would you choose? Fire purifies through hot temperatures. What have been ʻhotʼ ʻpurifyingʼ moments for you this year? What wisdom have you been led into? What parts of your life would you like to bring to God for reconciliation at the end of the year?

• A ʻwinnowing fanʼ was used in the barn to throw the grain up into the air, the dust and ʻchaffʼ – seed casings and bits of stalk – drifted away. This stage separated the wheat. How do you relate to the image of judgement and ʻfireʼ at the end of time? • A common practice in the time of Jesus was for disciples to carry the sandals of their teacher. John shares he is not even worthy to undo the straps of Jesusʼ sandals let alone carry them! Whose sandals do you carry? Who do you listen to as your ʻteacherʼ? What life lessons or teaching would you like to ask about at this point in your life journey?

• 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:    25th Sunday Year B – The greatest is the least

 

 

Mark 9:30-37: The Greatest is the Least — Shepherd of the Hills

Reflection Questions: • The Book of Wisdom continues the suffering servant theme of Isaiah last week and points to the suffering that Jesus will experience. Many Jewish people were searching for meaning and guidance outside Judaism while living in Alexandria (a large Greek city). Have you experienced a time when you went searching for other belief systems because the society you lived in made fun of your religious beliefs? Where did you turn? What happened?

• The Book of Wisdom reveals worldly people oppose Godly people. They pretend righteous motivations…. ‘let us see whether his words be true’…. ‘let him prove his gentleness and patience’. Has this experience of persecution and trial been part of your Christian witness? Have you been able to live in trust that ‘God will take care of you’? Can you see and believe evil actions ultimately get found out and goodness is vindicated?

• Living in peace with each other in Christian community is our calling. A desire for glory and power and possessions needs to be brought out into the open. What peace-full virtue from James could you practice more of: be pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant? What object or honor are you wanting to possess? Name a ‘selfish ambition’…

• Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark has 3 predictions of the passion. Each time Jesus talks about his suffering the disciples completely misunderstand what he is talking about. Today is the second prediction. Jesus talks about Death. Disciples talk about Glory. Jesus’s teaching about accepting suffering is contrasted with his disciples argument about seniority. 2 lifestyles are revealed. What style of living describes you: living upward (glory and honor and violence) or living downward (service and humility and nonviolence)?

• Jesus chooses to expose the disciples lust for power in a quieter moment ʻinside the houseʼ. He challenges them. They were really just concerned about ʻpower and gloryʼ… ʻwho was the greatestʼ. Jesus does a very revealing action. While they wanted to know who was ʻat the topʼ, Jesus takes a child representing someone ʻat the bottomʼ. He collapses the social and power structure. Receive and welcome and show hospitality and inclusion to the ʻbottomʼ in society. Can you see how living this invitation will inevitably enter a disciple into upsetting the status quo. Upsetting the power structure of society. Jesus calls this a disciple ʻpicking up the crossʼ. In your world, community family, workplace, who is ʻat the bottomʼ (equivalent of a child in Jesusʼ time). How could you ʻreceiveʼ them? Jesus identifies with them. Will you stand up for them?

• In Jesusʼ time, a child was ʻat the bottomʼ of society because in a shame / honor culture, it would be highly unlikely that a good act toward a child would be ʻrewardedʼ by the child talking to the community about the hospitality received. As a result, a kind action does not get rewarded with ʻhonorʼ in the eyes of the community. Therefore it is not worth doing. Can you recognise how subversive Jesusʼ placing the child ʻin their midstʼ is to the culture of the disciples. Who is the equivalent of a ʻchildʼ today?

• 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

Ash Wednesday – Starting the Lenten Journey

HOW DO I START?

Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by without really placing oneself on the ‘starting line’. Taking part in the reception of ashes symbolizes our decision to start the journey.

If you cannot be part of a service due to health or Covid issues, pray at home or find an on-line service. You can read the Scripture of the day and make the sign of the cross in some way.

It is possible to be at the starting line but not enter the race!

What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? How
can you make this more meaningful? Share a decision/plan with a
faith-friend & ask them to encourage you over the next 40 days.

IT TAKES TIME
The image from the prophet Joel 2:12-18 (1st Reading Ash Wednesday) is an invitation
for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies.
Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. STOP!

Covid may have required an enforced STOP for you. How could make an intentional ‘stop’ at
a personal, spiritual or social level? Where? When?

The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Take some quiet
time to tell yourself you have started the journey and write a decision or plan for Lent.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions (see Gospel for Ash Wed, Matthew
6:1-6,16-18). When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast….
These are the three traditional and powerful Lenten practices that help us focus on what is
important: Our relationship with God, our discipline and discipleship, our interrelationships, witness and community.

Practice of Prayer: What voices do I listen to? How much of my time do I set aside to hear God?

Practice of Fasting: What things fill my life? What is unhealthy? What do I have trouble letting go of? What needs change? Balance? How do my choices care for the environment and the poor?

Practice of Almsgiving: How do I spend my money and resources? Do I hear the cries of those in need and respond? Could I live more simply and be more generous? Do I seek Gods guidance about my financial and resource decisions?

Whether you have access to an Ash Wednesday service this year or not, try to gather with at least one other person face to face or online and give to God your commitment to begin the journey of Lent with a plan and a desire to grow as His disciple.

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.

Discussion Guide: 26th Sunday – Walk the Talk

 

 

matthew 21 28-32 two sons - Google Search | Bible time, Children's  ministry, Fathers sReflection Questions: • Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet with his people in exile in Babylon. Jewish people had a deep sense that sins of their ancestors had caused their current situation (in exile away from Home and their sacred Temple in Jerusalem). It was easy for them to ‘blame’ others for their current situation. They ‘blamed’ God that this exile was ‘unfair’. Ezekiel invites them to take personal responsibility for ‘sin’. Turn to virtue, do what is right and just. This is the way forward. God will teach us and lead us home. Is there an attitude in your life of ‘blame’ rather than taking ‘responsibility’? Blame leads to death. Responsibility leads to life. What change do you need to make?

• St Paul invites disciples to have the one essential attitude that will maintain unity: humility. Giving up an attitude of having special rights. Power. Influence. Can you think of a situation in which being ‘humble’ would have saved a meeting, argument, relationship. How could you become more ‘humble’?

•Jesus has now arrived in Jerusalem. Angry at his emptying of the Temple, the religious leaders challenge his actions and authority to teach. Jesus responds. Pious words and lip-service is easy. To be true children of God requires actions of doing the will of the Father. In your own self assessment, how large is the gap between your profession of faith and the practice of your faith? In what area of your life is more ‘action’ required? What would motivate you to action?

• Anyone can talk holiness, but it is quite another thing to live it. Consider someone in your life who ‘talks the talk and walks the walk’ of their christian belief. How do they inspire your journey?How could you follow their example?

• Both sons responses hurt the Father. No-one here is perfect. Jesus understands a priority for Jewish people is to show ‘honor’. The son who said ‘Yes, sir’ was honorable in front of the Father but it was soon revealed as empty and meaningless. Honor is shown ultimately in real obedience. What will it mean for you to ‘walk the talk’ in obedience this week? Consider writing it down.

• A requirement for ‘tax collectors’ to be truly repentant and ‘right with God’ was to repay money to those who had been ‘over-taxed’. However it was impossible for them to know and remember all the people they had wrongly taxed. Tax collectors felt helpless and stuck in a situation of never feeling they could be forgiven by God. Jesus reveals this is not the case. God welcomes those who turn to him. Do you know someone who needs help to hope and believe in God’s forgiveness? Consider praying a special prayer for them.

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