God has actually spoken

The scripture readings for Sunday are a great starting point to start listening

more

It's more enjoyable with others

There are some simple and effective ways to share scripture in homes, cafes, parishes

more

Let's walk the talk

Prayer becomes lived out when we make decisions and lifestyle commitments

more

Sign up for email notifications

Or follow us via Twitter, facebook, RSS and more

more

Archive for the ‘Humility’ Category

Printable Discussion Guide is HERE

Reflection and Questions

Whoever Has Ears, Let Them Hear... Part 1 - Real Life Fellowship• The Book of Wisdom was written for Jewish people living in cities heavily influenced by Greek culture and philosophy. Wisdom teaching was to remind them of their history and relationship with God. People are to learn from the patience and gentleness and forgiving nature of God and show this in their own lives. How can you be both ‘just’ and ‘kind’? Does your use of power show itself in being ‘lenient’ and gentle to all?

• Last week the Spirit dwelling within us was referred to as a ‘first-fruits’. A first installment. An engagement ring looking forward to the promise of the wedding day! St Paul today provides a beautiful image of the presence and power of the Spirit at work in us. The Spirit prays within us in a unique way
to God. Have you experienced a time of wanting to pray to God but not having words to describe how you
feel. What prayer intention does your body and spirit ‘groan’ with to God? Do you recognise that this experience can be a powerful prayer? Offer this groaning today to God in prayer.

•Weeds. Seeds. Yeast. Each image expresses something of the way that God and God’s project (growing the Kingdom of heaven) is present and alive in the world. Allowing wheat and weeds to grow together is risky farming. What is your emotional reaction to the presence of good and evil existing alongside each other? Within you? Can you glimpse the patience of God?

• The mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet within a year it can turn into a shrub large enough to be mistaken for a tree. From very small beginnings it becomes something extraordinarily large. Can you identify a small action of love and service that made a profound impact on you? Can you recognise that your daily ‘sowing’ mustard seeds of justice and forgiveness and gentleness, builds the kingdom of heaven? What ‘seed’ needs to be sown most in your workplace / home today?

• The humble presence of a small amount of yeast in a large quantity of flour dramatically transforms a flour mixture into bread (three measures would feed 100 people). Jesus challenges disciples to be this type of ‘presence’ in the world. Yet the kingdom requires a person to be completely possessed by a small
seed: love your neighbour as yourself.

• Parables often hide a challenging message. The apparent power of evil. The littleness of the ‘seeds’ of our loving. The small amount of our ‘yeast’ in the vastness of the world and its problems. Yet the mustard
seed is tremendously fruitful. The yeast succeeds in transforming flour. Hope is at the centre of kingdom
living. The ‘righteous will shine’. Can you live full of hope – refusing to be beaten by the reality you see?

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

Printable Discussion Guide HERE

Reflection and Questions:

Image result for bullock yoke• Zechariah makes a prophesy that the Saviour will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Horse and Chariot were symbols of power and war. A donkey was a symbol of humble work and peace. Horse and Donkey. Power and Humility. Violence and Service. Why does the world favour a horse, God a donkey?

• “Meek” is a word mentioned twice in todays readings. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘not easily provoked’. It can also be translated as ‘teachable’. Think of a person feeling anger yet staying in control, open to listen and learn and respond with justice not violence. Meek people lead the way in reconciliation, healing. They are open to learn rather than being locked into a closed thinking pattern. Who could you identify as ‘Meek’? What practice could you adopt to develop a meek (teachable) character?

• ‘Flesh’ is Paul’s expression for a life lived without God, like an animal just following its senses. A ‘Spirit’ led life is open to God and turned outward in love. How do you experience the disciple’s tension of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’? Which life do you feed and nourish?

• In chapters 11-12 Matthew is teaching about Jesus’ identity as Messiah. Matthew has Jesus replace Moses as the great teacher. Jesus is the Wisdom of God; greater than the Torah (Law given by Moses) and all the Prophets. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son wishes to reveal him’ is a knowledge claim by Jesus. He challenges the idea of Jesus as a comfortable teacher or earthly King. What is Jesus claiming? How does his claim challenge me today?

• Jesus says learned religious figures struggle to accept him, yet ‘little ones’ (the poor, unlearned, simple folk, manual workers) accept him. Jesus was shaking up all the accepted patterns of religion and society. Why do you think learned people found his claims so difficult? How does pride and position impact our ability to be meek (teachable) and humble? When we are heavily invested in our understanding of life we can become ‘comfortable’ and ‘satisfied’. How does that block our ability to be ‘open’? Are you satisfied with the answers about your life? How have you made Jesus comfortable? What challenge of Jesus is
hardest to be ‘open’ to?

• The Torah (OT Law) handed down by Moses required knowing and being obedient to 613 laws. This was a ‘heavy burden’. People felt oppressed by the rules and those enforcing them (Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees). Jewish people referred to this as the ‘yoke of the law’. Jesus invites a radical change. ‘Come to me’ all who are feeling heavily burdened. I will give you rest. Put on my yoke. Learn from me’. The Torah is being replaced by relationship with the person of Jesus who is choosing to be yoked with us. A wooden ‘yoke’ put around the bullocks neck was tailor made, avoiding painful imbalance or abrasions and it
evenly distributed the load. An experienced bullock was paired with a young one to teach it how to work in tandem to bear far more than it could do on its own. What does this image convey to you? How are you experiencing the ‘yoke’ of Jesus? Are you trying to go it alone or are you working with Jesus?

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

 

The Printable Guide is  HERE

His Word in Pictures: Matthew 10:40

Reflection Questions

  1. The Shunamite woman is not identified but described as a woman of influence. Sheltering a prophet involved considerable risk in the political situation of her time. She chose to offer radical hospitality and make a difference. This story from Elisha’s miracles highlights the truth of the Gospel where Jesus says,
    “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward… ”. What are the parallels you see between the Gospel and the Shunamite woman’s story?
  2. Her risk ended up being life-giving and fruitful with the birth of child. Offering radical hospitality is a risky business. The migrant crisis comes to mind. In parts of the world it can involve great risk to profess Christianity and in others it’s seen as irrelevant or held up for derision. What are the pressures around you? What help do you need from God?
  3. St Paul uses the analogy that choosing Jesus is to be ‘baptized’ not only into new life in and with Christ, but also into death with him. What are some of the things that you may need to let go of or in a sense die to, in order to truly live for Christ in our world today? Do you ever think about your Baptism in those terms? You could intentionally renew those promises as an adult choice next time you pray the Creed.
  4. There is a prevailing sense that to choose something means to lose freedom. To choose does mean to let go of the many possibilities for the one and so much works against us making that choice so we strive to keep our options open. How do you respond to that idea?
  5. Do you know the saying that ‘to be a jack of all trades is to be master of none?’ What is Jesus asking us to master? How does making a choice for the one thing Jesus offers, involve a sense of dying to other possibilities?
  6. Love in the Bible differs radically from the notion of “love” today, which is used primarily to convey heartfelt emotion. The love Jesus refers to could be expressed as like the deep attachment family members have for one another. It conveys the meaning of being permanently attached, staying connected with one another no matter what. As disciples we are called into a profound attachment to Christ akin to a revolutionary realignment of every facet of our life. The choice is presented starkly here to help us appreciate the depth of the call and commitment Jesus asks us to choose, but also the depth of
    the reward that is faithfully assured.
  7. Think about people who support your faith journey. How do they offer you a ‘cup of water’? Water is essential and sustains life. How are you life-giving for others?
  8. Do you know someone who struggles to accept Christ or the Church? What is the promise for you and for them in this Gospel? What do Christians need to do for them to receive their reward?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:      1st Sunday of Lent Yr. A – Turn Away from Sin

 

Will your sorrow over sin will move you to repent of sin, turning away from and giving up your sinful actions (2 Corinthians 7:10)?

 

Reflection Questions:  • The journey of Lent began on Ash Wednesday. Have you recognised the significance of wearing a cross of ‘ashes’. Ashes symbolise a connection with the earth and being ‘humble’. The cross points to a life of sacrificial love with wide open arms embracing the world. What does living humbly mean for you? Is your life lived closed up tight, or with arms wide open?

• A goal without a plan is still a dream. Many people line up at the beginning of the lent ‘race’ but do not make much progress from the start line. What is your plan for Lent? Will this lead you into a ‘deep transformation’ or a mere ‘shallow show’?

• Genesis shares a truth about sin using a story. Have you ever noticed that the best the serpent can do is talk and try to make people doubt God? “Did God really tell you…..” The serpent actually has no power other than suggestion. What voices and fears do you need to turn off this
Lent? How will you listen to God?

• For St Paul Life and Death represent two different directions. Toward God (righteousness) and away from God (sin). Jesus has actually destroyed death by becoming human and offering his life in forgiveness. There is no more distance. Jesus rising from the dead reveals death actually has no power at all. Lent is an opportunity for intensive spiritual living towards what is life-giving. What relationships in your life are not right? Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you know what to bring to the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent.

• In the original Greek, the word is ‘tested’ rather than ‘tempted’. A ‘test’ or trial can reveal what decisions and choices are made. We become aware if we are ‘ready’ for a challenge or responsibility to be given to us. Is being ‘led by the spirit into the desert’ of your heart positive or negative for you? Have you tried a daily practice of silence to listen to the voices of your heart?

• ‘command these stones become loaves’. Fasting is a remedy for being controlled by food and satisfying our ‘body’. Our bodies are good but we are not to become slaves to every sensual pleasure. Rather than a focus on diet or weight loss, how could you ‘stop’ some activities to ‘start’ some more positive activities?

• ‘throw yourself down’ is pretending that everything is ok and God will look after me no matter what I do. Am I responsible? You are where you are because you have chosen it. What do you need to take responsibility for this Lent?

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