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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Discussion Guide:      1st Advent Yr. A – Advent Witness

 

A New Year: The First Sunday in Advent | St. Michael Catholic Church

Reflection Questions:

• The 1st Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new ‘season’ – and a new Year (the Gospel of Matthew). Advent prepares and challenges us to be ready to welcome the second coming of Jesus while also turning us to celebrate and remember with joy the first coming of Jesus. How will you celebrate both Advent and Christmas? What do you do to prepare to welcome someone special? How could you apply those ideas to the 4 Advent weeks of preparing & waiting?

• Isaiah was written during war and injustice. It reveals that the relationship with God impacts all humanity and the environment, not simply our hearts. Swords & spears becoming farming implements suggests the in-breaking of radical peace and love itself; our true hope of transformation. Isaiah reminds us that God makes the movement toward us as the Lord’s house is established and raised up for us. What connections can you see with the hope we have in Jesus birth? What does it mean to walk in the paths and the light of the Lord?

• What does it mean for you to ‘awake from sleep’, ‘put on the armour of light’ and ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ’?

• Jesus uses 3 short parables to wake his hearers. To survive a sudden flood needs preparation. Society encourages overeating, drinking, and spending on stuff at Christmas. What impact does this have on families and the environment? How does it feel to be a Noah when the world doesn’t appreciate your faith perspective?

• Imagine discovering that someone you see everyday is different than you believed. Parables shock to provoke change. Do you want to deepen your relationship with God or go with the crowd and be left alone. God sees us differently. What deep longings and hopes would divine perception see in you?

• To stop a thief entering your house you have put in place certain practices or habits (locking doors and windows, turning lights on, having mail collected by a friend…) so that you are ‘always ready’ ‘awake’. What spiritual practices could you commit to, to help you constantly keep ‘spiritually awake’? Have you ever been ‘broken into’? What did you change after the theft? What is the wisdom Jesus wants us to apply to daily Christian life?

• A famous retreat leader had hundreds of excited people waiting for very wise words and deep insights into their problems. He arrived at the microphone and asked: ‘Hands up who wants to go to Heaven?’ Everyone put their hand up. ‘Hands up those who are ready to go now’? No- one put their hand up. He said: you may consider asking yourself why you are not ready… Are you ready?

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

Discussion Guide:      32nd Sunday Yr. C – Walk worthy – Glorify Him

 

1 Thessalonians 2:12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Reflection Questions:    • The stories of the Mother and 7 Brothers in the book of Maccabees aims to share Jewish Hero stories. While under persecution from Roman Emperors it was helpful to look to examples of great courage and faithfulness to Jewish teaching and tradition. It is best understood not primarily as exact history, but faith lessons taught via story. It was the Macaabean family that stirred up a revolt against Syrian authorities and drove them out of Israel. These young brothers along with their Mum defiantly proclaim their belief in the resurrection. If in the midst of a violent persecution, where would your heart and thoughts turn to?

• St Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they are not to sit idle, waiting for the end of time. They are to do all they can so that the Word of the Lord may speed forward… and keep on ʻdoingʼ what they have been instructed to do by Paul. This requires the ʻendurance of christʼ. How would you rate your discipleship journey at present. Idle? Speeding forward? What do you require endurance in?

• Sadducees were the elite priestly class that served in the Temple. They only believed in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and did not consider other writings or oral traditions as binding. Consequently they did not believe in the Resurrection. They sought to involve Jesus in a conversation that would cause others to ridicule him. Their view of marriage was a Levirite view. Marriage continued the family line and stopped a family dying out. Jesus challenges the Sadducees not to think so narrowly. In death we are changed, not ʻdeadʼ. And there is more to marriage than maintaining children. Have you ever considered that Marriage is to symbolise the union we will have with God in heaven?Marriage is a sign pointing to a heavenly reality. When you are in the ʻrealityʼ of the restaurant you no longer need the ʻsignʼ for the restaurant. What does this teach you about Christian Marriage?

• Celibacy and Chastity are connected with Marriage as they seek to live the ʻrealityʼ of union with God in heaven instead of living the ʻsignʼ of God in marriage. Can you see how priests, sisters, brothers, consecrated lay people, married people are all ʻpointingʼ to the same reality? Have you ever had difficulty understand the vow of ʻchastityʼ that religious people make? Do you understand a little more now?

• In celebrating the recent All Souls Day (November 2nd) did it stir up within you thoughts of resurrection and your belief in the after-life. How would you say the Resurrection affects your life ʻnowʼ?

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

Discussion Guide:    28th Sunday Yr. C – Living the Hospitality and Mercy of God

 

My Paisley World — faithful-in-christ: Luke 17:11-19 (NLT) As Jesus...

Reflection Questions:  • Our readings today have 2 characters who suffer from Leprosy. Lepers were excluded from living in the community. People didnʼt want to catch the disease. It was also commonly believed that leprosy was a sign of being punished by God and that the leper was both morally and ritually unclean. The forced isolated shunned life living outside the community (Lev 13,46) caused incredible loneliness and constant rejection. How do we shun, isolate and cause chronic loneliness and rejection for people today? What are some modern forms of social ʻleprosyʼ?

• Naaman was a general in the Syrian Army, both a foreigner and an enemy, and he had leprosy so was excluded and to be feared. Israel and Syria were not friendly. Possibly from a previous conquest Naaman had even taken a Jewish slave girl for his household. Everyone would have been against him! Consider the courage he had in going to a holy man in Israel;ʻElishaʼ. How welcoming are we toward strangers, or those we fear?

• What obstacles has Naaman had to overcome for healing? He tries to offer wealth as payment but Elisha refuses. How freely do we share the Lord’s goodness? He asks for soil from Israel to take home to build an Altar to the Lord. His full acceptance of God is symbolized in that action. What is your symbol of thanksgiving and acceptance of God and what could you ʻbuildʼ to offer worship to God for healing and forgiveness?

• Scholars suggest that St Paulʼs letter to Timothy was written while he was in prison. St Paul was ʻin chainsʼ, treated as a criminal for his preaching the gospel of inclusion by God in Christ to the gentiles. He invites young Timothy to also be willing to persevere and suffer for this mission. What would you be willing to endure ʻchainsʼ for? What do you understand Paul means by; “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.” What effort do you put into changing the patterns of exclusion in your community and society?

• Gospel stories are like ʻice-bergsʼ. 90% of the story is beneath the surface. Underneath the story of the lepers are further stories of exclusion, hurt, isolation. The Samaritan is like Naaman in the first reading; a hated foreigner. Past events meant Samaritans no longer acknowledge Jerusalem and the Temple as the place of true worship. Healing from leprosy required a ʻcertificate of healthʼ by the Priest before a ʻleperʼ could be accepted back in community. The 9 lepers are obviously so keen to see the priest that they lost sight of who did the healing – Jesus. Only the foreigner stopped and showed gratitude. When do you take your life and health for granted? Have you had some ʻhighʼ moments and forgotten to ʻgive thanksʼ to God. Write, share or pray a ʻthank-youʼ list to God about things in life you forget to say ʻthanksʼ to God for.

• God wishes to include and bring to faith the most unlikely of characters. Naaman and the Samaritan leper show God’s desire to include, not exclude. What does this teach us about God? Does it adjust your ʻimage of Godʼ? Which unlikely character in your community might God be inviting you toʻbring to faithʼ? What misconceptions do you and they need to let go of so that Godʼs welcome and inclusion can be realized?

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

Discussion Guide:    19th Sunday Yr. C: Will You Be Found Ready?

 

Giving

 

Reflection Questions:

• The Book of Wisdom was written to help Jews life faithfully in the midst of the big and unbelieving city of Alexandria. The strong Greek culture, pagan worship, and completely different view on life caused many Alexandrian Jews to have a crisis of faith. The writer encourages them to have courage in the ʻoaths in which they put their faithʼ and to live according to the divine commands given by God. What is your biggest struggle in living in a secular society? What particular belief, knowledge or practice is at the source of your courage to keep ʻfaithfulʼ?

• The Letter to the Hebrews is the 2nd reading for the next 4 weeks. It is a letter written to ʻHebrewsʼ to help them understand how First Testament worship is completed and overtaken by the Cross of Christ. Abraham and Sarah are both inspirational models of ʻfaithʼ. They left home not knowing where they were going, actively stepped out and searched for land, conceived a child because they believed in the promise of God rather than their human understanding. It would have been easy to sit on the couch waiting for God’s promises. Abraham and Sarah remind us to be active in faith. Are their areas in life where you need to participate more with God ? What is your next step?

• Luke continues to develop a theme of Jesusʼ teachings on wealth and greed. Building a bigger barn to house more grain was considered foolish – it signalled a decision to move from having ʻenoughʼ to having ʻluxuryʼ, total sensual satisfaction combined with a blindness to those who do not have ʻenoughʼ to eat and drink. Have you considered moving from ʻhoping to be generousʼ to a decision ʻto be generousʼ? Opening up a ʻGod bank accountʼ? Asking your priest or friends who is in need in your local area?

• The invitation to sell your belongings and give alms is for Luke a decision to live a very different lifestyle. To throw away all plans of greed and self centeredness and live simply so others may simply ʻliveʼ. How you ever considered voluntary poverty and simplicity of life so that resources may be shared for others? Is there a life-style choice that you could make this week to live this invitation?

• The Christian community is recognising Jesusʼ return is not coming immediately. The parable shares an image. Disciples are to understand themselves as ʻcaretakersʼ charged with the task of ʻfood distributionʼ. Attending to this task determines where believers will spend eternity! Did you know 1 billion people are hungry every day? Ever thought of dropping off food to a ʻfood bankʼ or starting a collection in your parish?

• If entry into heaven was based on a quiz, and you knew the answers before-hand, would you practise the answers? If we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and lost – and we know this is the ʻmasters willʼ – would we be found ʻreadyʼ? Do we fear not being found ready…. are we in for a ʻsevere beatingʼ?

• 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:        14th Sunday Yr. C – Disciples are Missionaries of Peace

 

 

Seek, Knock, Follow – St. James – St. Leo Catholic Community

Reflection Questions:

• Isaiah provides a very intimate feminine image of a baby being comforted at a Motherʼs breast to symbolise the return of exiles back to Jerusalem. It is one of the most cherished images of Godʼs love for sinful humanity. Some commentators share this as a feminine image in the Old Testament to the Compassionate Father in the Prodigal Son Gospel story. Try replacing ʻJerusalemʼ with your own name. What feelings are stirred within you? If the Old Testament ʻJerusalemʼ is now the ʻChurchʼ, which sacraments provide us with this tender grace of love?

• St Paul leads us into a deeper discovery of the meaning of the cross. The cross does not only give us Jesusʼ forgiveness of sins but reveals a rule and ʻlife-styleʼ. Christian disciples are now drawn into a way of living that reveals they are ʻcrucified to the worldʼ. Many worldly attractions are no longer top priorities. My life direction and purpose is now in Jesus and for others. Consider what your deepest desires are and what you are really living for? If 1000 people lived your ʻlife-styleʼ what sort of world would be emerging?

• Jesus sent out 72 people – the number of known nations in the world. He urgently seeks to bring people to God – and to dethrone Satanʼs power in the world. Have you ever thought of a ʻmissionʼ project that is bigger than yourself and requires others to help? What would you need to do to start the project? Have you been attracted to a project? Whathappened?

• Take no money, no bag, no extra shoes, donʼt be distracted by talking to anyone on the way to your job, and donʼt jump from house to house to seek comfort. A serious challenge! Disciples are to be detached from any security other than their relationship with Jesus. They only resource they bring is ʻpeaceʼ, and working and praying in Jesusʼ name to ʻcure the sickʼ. Can you identify anyone who lives this ʻabsolute trust in God lifestyleʼ as an example for you? Has their inspiration changed anything in you?

• Jesus warns disciples to be ready for rejection. Peace not anger and argument are trademark signs of christian disciples. Have you had the courage to witness to Christ? Have you shared ideas and projects that were not ʻreceivedʼ? Shaking of the dust was not done individually but by a ʻpairʼ. Why do you think it was important for Jesus to send out disciples in ʻpairsʼ? Who could you have as a ʻpairʼ to journey and share with – especially in the rejection moments?

• Jesus did not delay sending people out on mission until the disciples were complete and perfect. I need more formation. Iʼm not good enough. Iʼm not confident enough. Iʼm too broken and sinful are easy responses to not engage in mission and ministry. Sometimes we need prayer-filled focus. What is God asking of me and what is the next step in ʻdoing itʼ? ʻBehold, I have given you the power…..

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

Discussion Guide:    Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ Yr. C

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST | Don Bosco Salesian Portal

 

Reflection Questions:    • When the Church celebrates a special ʻFeastʼ or ʻSolemnityʼ it is frequently the result of controversy. The origin of this feast dates to the 12th Century responding to debate about the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. When was the first time you can remember debating and seeking to understand Jesus truly present with the gift of his body and blood in the Mass? How would you describe and share this eucharistic faith with a friend today?

• Melchizedek, King of Salem is a very mysterious figure without a genealogy. By his actions he is both King and Priest. And Salem is known as the future city of Jerusalem – the dwelling place of God the Most High for Israel. Abraham has just returned from overcoming 4 kings and rescuing Lot and all his possessions. A King was normally wary of such a visitor as Abraham. They would show welcome by tending to the wounded – hoping that their ʻkingdomʼ would not be pillaged by the visiting army. Strikingly Abraham who represents Godʼs people, offers this  Priest / King a tenth of all his possessions! Many writers comment Melchizedek is a sign of an altogether new and divine priesthood able to confer a special blessing from God. How do you understand the Priesthood today?

• Paulʼs letter to the Corinthians is the earliest writing we have of the celebration of the Eucharist (15-20 years before the first gospel). Paul shares this ʻtraditionʼ (which means ʻhanding onʼ) comes from Jesus himself. We are told to ʻDo thisʼ. For Jewish people, to do a ritual liturgical action in ʻremembranceʼ was to actually enter and receive the event celebrated. Paul shares the Eucharist proclaims and makes present the cross and victory of Jesus. We receive Godʼs forgiveness but also intimate communion. What does receiving ʻholy communionʼ mean for you?

• King Herod has just asked a question ʻwho is this man of whom I hear such wondersʼ? (Luke 9:9). The Gospel of Luke shares this miracle story of the loaves. Old Testament background stories add texture to this passage where Elisha showed himself working by Godʼs power to feed 100 people with a few loaves. God fed his hungry people in the journey in the desert through Moses. Jesus now feeds the hungry, sick, and poor of Israel. Godʼs hospitality and Jesusʼ mission is shown. Jesus gets the 12 Apostles to serve the banquet. What might this teach us about the mission of the church in the world to the hungry? The Eucharist?

• The disciples’ attitude was one of ionfward focus and concern, ʻturn them awayʼ we donʼt have enough resources. As you receive Jesusʼ body and blood will your attitude be one of simply ʻlookingʼ? selfishly ʻgettingʼ? generously self offering?

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

Discussion Guide:      6th Sunday Easter Yr. C – At Home and At Peace

 

John 14: 23 – 29 – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:      • Circumcision was physical and symbolic – an outward sign of an inner consecration and being a nation ʻset apartʼ. It was a physical part of oneself offered to God like a sacrifice. Jewish Christians wanted gentile christians to follow their Mosaic practice (given by Moses) and be circumcised. This question caused the first Council of Jerusalem meeting. How do we know what is important to keep practicing? Are external markings important? Do you show / wear a sign of belonging to God? Why? Why not?

• Jewish / Gentile conflict happened in the very early days of the Christian community. Reducing numbers of Jewish christians were faced with increasing numbers of Gentile christians. The loss of culture and influence caused tension. How was the tension resolved? What are the lessons for us today?

• Pagan temples often used animals for sacrifices. This meat was cut up and sometimes sold in the ʻmarketʼ. What are modern idols, practices, institutions, that could affect true worship of God today?

• The Book of Revelation is written during a time of great persecution. A vision is painted of the future being secure in the ultimate victory of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. We all need a vision and story to lead and call us forward in our current pain and struggle. It is the essence of hope. In your difficult times, what keeps you going? What is the story and vision of the future that gives you hope?

• The gates of Godʼs City have three gates open in all directions. If you were to picture your church community, how could it be seen to have its doors ʻopenʼ and welcoming to all? What is something you would be willing to try to make your parish more ʻwelcomingʼ?

• Jesus teaches his disciples there is a link between loving Him and keeping his Word. Reflect on an experience of listening to His Word. What is the difference between listening and keeping? Have you had an experience of feeling ʻat homeʼ with the Word? What is it like?

• In John the Holy Spirit is called the Advocate (a translation of the Greek Paraclete – literally the one who stand by the side of a defendant in the courtroom). It is also translated as counsellor, comforter, encourager. What image do you have for the Holy Spirit in your life?

• Peace is the ʻtrademarkʼ and presence of the Holy Spirit in the tradition of Christian spirituality. ʻNot as the world gives do I give it to youʼ. What sort of ʻpeaceʼ does the world seek to give? Where is peace ʻfoundʼ?

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

Discussion Guide:    5th Sunday Easter Yr. C – New Heaven and New Earth

 

See the source image

 

Reflection Questions:      • Paul and Barnabas travelled great distances, endured resistance and persecution and spent years away from their ʻhome baseʼ of Antioch. On finishing their ʻjourneyʼ they returned back through the various towns – even those that persecuted them! What does this teach you about Paul and Barnabas? What would ʻtheirʼ missionary journey look like in ʻyourʼ world, office or workplace?

• Paul and Barnabas broke centuries old prejudices of considering God only loved ʻthe Jewsʼ. His ʻchosenʼ. Going to the Gentiles was an enormous change. To put this into context, if a Jew married a Gentile in Jesusʼ time the Jewish family would conduct a public funeral to say to everyone that you were now ʻdeadʼ to the family. Gentiles were considered ʻintrinsically uncleanʼ. Strict Jews believed they were ʻdefiledʼ by being with Gentiles. Which group of people today are considered ʻoutcastsʼ, ʻsinnersʼ, beyond Godʼs love? Could you be a missionary to them? What might need to change in you? In the Church?

• The Book of Revelation gives us the final seventh vision. Although Jerusalem had been destroyed and Christians were being severely persecuted a vision is seen of what will come true. Can you look at the Church today – in its current struggles – and see the bride (church) adorned for her husband (Christ) and Godʼs presence everdwelling in the Church in the Eucharist and the Word?

• In Johnʼs gospel the moment of Jesus dying on the cross is not simply a place of suffering. The word Glory is used 5 times in todays gospel. It is Jesus being ʻlifted upʼ like a winning coach on the shoulders of the winning sports team. It is a moment of victory. Glorious! When you look at the cross, do you see only suffering? Can you see why it is also ʻgloriousʼ?

• Jesus gives a commandment to his disciples which is ʻnewʼ. While the Old Testament encouraged Jews to ʻloveʼ their neighbour, it was interpreted within the boundaries of your ʻinner circleʼ of family. Jesus tells his disciples the love his followers are to show is to be qualitatively different. A self-sacrificing love to all like his own ʻoutsidersʼ not simply ʻinsidersʼ. Would people see in your lifestyle and ʻloveʼstyle something different? Can you identify a lived action where you lived and showed Christ recently?

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

Discussion Guide:    4th Sunday Easter Yr. C – Jesus, Our Good Shepherd

 

The Living... — faithful-in-christ: John 10:27-30 (NKJV) My...

 

Reflection Questions:

• In the 50 days after Easter the Church listens continuously to the Acts of the Apostles (the ʻgospelʼ of the Church as it is sometimes called). Paulʼs first missionary journey lasted some 13 years! He encountered violent abuse and persecution. But he could not stop sharing the message of Godʼs love, forgiveness and the truth revealed in Jesus. Do you know a missionary in the Church and the challenges they face? What do you think the ʻmissionʼ is in your own country, parish?

• Shaking dust off oneʼs feet was a ritual action Jews performed when returning from Gentile (non- believing) lands. When Paul and Barnabas did this action to the Jews and went to the Gentiles it would have been interpreted as a great insult. Sometimes it requires great courage to move ʻoutsideʼ traditional boundaries. Have you experienced a missionary ʻzealʼ to go further than what is normal and acceptable to live and bring Christ to others? What happened?

• The Book of Revelation ‘unveils’ the future and provides a heavenly image of those who have endured great persecution and sacrificed their life for peace, justice, freedom. Their white robes symbolise these inner virtues. It is a picture of all the faithful – saints in Heaven. Have you recognised the freedom (and religious freedom) of your country and your life has been won at great ʻcostʼ by those who have gone before you. What do you think this great multitude would say to you ʻtodayʼ? What religious truths would you be willing to enter ‘great distress’ to defend?

• The context of John 10 is the great Jewish ʻFeast of Dedicationʼ. It was a celebration of military victory of Judas Maccabeaus who led an army (164BCE ) against the occupying Greeks who had desecrated the Jewish Temple by putting the Greek god Zeus on the altar making it ʻuncleanʼ. (See Dan 8:13)They killed and chased out their oppressors, destroyed false idols, built a new altar and rededicated the Temple. In Jn 10 they ask Jesus if he is the promised Messiah – and will he raise up arms and inspire an Army to overcome the occupying Roman forces!? He responds: he is the Good Shepherd. Salvation and healing of the world will come through listening to his voice not the taking up of arms. A soldier or shepherd. What are the similarities and differences of these two ʻimagesʼ?

• A striking image in contemporary Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem is young and old ‘shepherds’ daily walking their small flock of 15 sheep to grass or water. Tender and watchful care is given to the sheep. So familiar are the sheep with their shepherd they know their particular voice. In what ways do you listen to ‘God’? Have you experienced a desire to love and care so deeply for God’s family that you are willing to lay down your life and become a ‘shepherd’?

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