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Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

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

Printable Reflection Guide is HERE.

 


• God’s chosen people, who were marched away from home into exile in Babylon, are now given permission to return home and rebuild their temple. King Cyrus even gives them back their sacred vessels stolen from the Temple 60 years earlier. The Hebrew people could hardly believe what was happening. God could even work through a Gentile King to rescue and restore his people. Isaiah shares a vision of all peoples being able to worship together in the Temple. This vision was never truly fulfilled. Non Jews were only allowed into an ‘outer courtyard’ of the Temple. What vision of welcome do you have for your Church? What limits your vision from becoming a reality?

• Paul continues to grieve over his own Jewish people. He hopes that disobedience will eventually meet mercy! People labelled and feeling distant from God (Gentiles) will experience union with God. Paul reminds the Church of God’s passionate desire for all the ‘unclean’ / gentiles to be made welcome in the Church. Who do you judge unclean?

•Some geography helps to understand the context of the Gospel reading today. Jesus has just finished arguing with the Pharisees (Mt 15:1-20) about what is ‘clean and unclean’. He now travels into unclean ‘gentile’ territory. He moves out of the ‘Holy Land’ and into Canaanite territory. Is he trying to get rid of the Pharisees who keep following and arguing with him? Or is he trying to teach his disciples a lesson going beyond mere words of teaching? The disciples would have been hesitant to go themselves into ‘unclean’ territory. What do you think Jesus could be teaching the disciples? The Church?

• Without napkins at the dinner table, it was a practice that bread was broken and ones hands were cleaned with bread. Bread and food was left after dinner on the floor. House dogs were frequently able to mop up the crumbs and foodscraps after the guests had finished. This is an image used in the reading today. Is Jesus derogatory toward the woman or just revealing his first concern was ‘lost sheep of Israel’?

• The disciples wanted the Canaanite woman sent away. She was unsettling. Was Jesus waiting for the disciples reaction to her as a way of teaching them about clean / unclean?

• The Gentile woman kneels before Jesus and prays ‘Lord help me’. Jesus praises and rewards her persistence and faith. To the Jewish community of the Gospel of Matthew this event would have come as a shock. Jesus entered into and found faith among the unclean gentiles. Imagine feeling or being labelled as ‘unclean’ by ‘the church’. What obstacles need to be overcome for people to meet Jesus? Are you helping or hindering?

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

 

The Easy Print Guide is HERE

Discussion Questions

Crucified and Risen

1. Fr Anthony De Mello, a famous preacher and teacher once began a retreat by asking: “Hands up if you want to go to heaven.” All eagerly put their hands up. He responded, “Hands up if you want to go to heaven now.” No hands went up. He suggested they think about why they were ‘not ready’ and he walked out of the room! What would be your answer and why?

2. The Book of Daniel is written to encourage Jewish people during a time of great persecution. Mighty armies, Kings, powerful empires would cease and be silenced by the ‘Son of Man’. This is an enthronement vision of Jesus before God the Father. In the midst of super-powers and battles for resources and status do you view the world and history with ‘hope’ that the way of Jesus will be victorious? Ask God for what you need to help you grow in this mindset.

3. The second reading is a testimony of what Peter, James and John experience when they are given the revelation of who Jesus truly is as the glorified beloved son of the Father. The three apostles did not share the experience at the request of Jesus, but they also did not fully comprehend its meaning until
after the Resurrection. Describe a time you experienced something significant which took a long time to fully understand. What personal experience of God has helped you grow deeper in your faith or knowledge of God in your life over time? How much weight do we place on eyewitness testimony today?
How does Peter’s eyewitness testimony impact your faith?

4. A ‘mountain’ or ‘high place’ was symbolic of a place where one can ‘be in touch with God’. Where is a ‘place’ where you feel close to God and which helps you ‘listen’ to yourself and God?

5. Jewish people remembered living in tents in the 40 years of wandering in the desert. They believed God would come among them and look after them again with the coming of the Messiah. They thought Moses or Elijah would come again. Peter acknowledges Jesus’ true identity. White symbolizes divinity and Jesus being truly God among us. What are you waiting for God to ‘do’ for you? Can you identify ways God is showing himself present and active now in your life?

6. The disciples were ‘afraid’. Have you ever been ‘afraid’ of damaging a love relationship with someone close to you? This is called ‘holy fear’. How could you live a ‘holy fear’ this week?

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

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?

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?

Printable Guide and Questions are HERE

Reflection Questions

Image result for MatthewJesus acknowledges us before God

  1. Jeremiah expresses total confidence that the Lord will protect him even though he is in a volatile situation where even one-time friends are out to trip him up. Have you ever felt trapped and surrounded by difficulties out of your control? How did you relate with God through that time?
  2. How hard is it for you to ‘trust your cause’ to God like Jeremiah? What do you need to be able to move from knowledge about faith to faith in a warm honest deep relationship in which you experience of love, power, mercy and justice of God at ‘gut’ level in your life? Try praying the prayer of Jeremiah and keep a record of how God works in your situation.
  3. In Romans 5 Paul explains why the revelation of Jesus means God can be utterly trusted. Because he put his love on the line by sending Jesus to rescue us when we were trapped in sin and separated from God. Sin entered the world and because of sin we struggle with trials, difficulties, addictions and disordered desires and relationships with people and creation in a myriad of ways.
    But just as one person caused the problem, Jesus – true God and true Man- overcame sin not simply for himself but for many. That is the essence of the Good News. While we were trapped in sin, Jesus came to set us free. It is a gift to be accepted and opened. What aspect of your life do you struggle most with? Ask Jesus to give you the grace for what you need to be set free in that area today.
  4. Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid of them.” It takes enormous freedom to live without fear of others. Only by trusting in the absoluteness of Gods power and care is it truly possible. Jesus asks us to recognize our worth – we are so precious to God that every hair on our head has been counted and even a sparrow is known to God. What does the imagery tell you about how attentive God is to you? Do you truly know how much God values you? Look at yourself in a mirror and sense God saying, every hair on your head is counted. Pray to embrace the worth God sees in you.
  5. Who is the only “One” who can destroy both soul and body? To fear God can be misconstrued. What do you think Jesus means when he says to ‘fear’ God rather than anyone else? Gehenna is a Greek word for hell. It was the name given to a burning dump outside Jerusalem which came to represent final punishment. The Gospel tells us that anyone who acknowledges Jesus before others will be acknowledged by Jesus before the Father. How do you feel knowing that Jesus is speaking up for you and your needs and will do so at the final judgment?
  6. Scripture repeats, ‘Do not be afraid’, many times. God understands our human tendency to fear and wants us to surrender our whole life in trust to God.
  7. What at is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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:        6th Sunday Yr A – Fulfilling the Law

 

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time – St. Matthias Catholic Parish

Reflection Questions:    • The book of Sirach was a collection of wisdom sayings, attempting to show the beauty and depth of Jewish wisdom. Personally imagine the scene of water and fire before you. What do these symbols represent in your personal life? In what ways do you stretch out your hand toward water? Toward fire? What joy have you found in reaching toward water? What wisdom have you found in being ‘burnt’ by fire?

• ‘If you choose’ you can keep the commandments is pointing to human free will and capacity of each of us to follow the ways of God. The meaning of the word ‘commandment’ actually means something placed into your hand. Do you see the guidance of ‘laws’ and teachings of Jesus and the Church as a ‘stick’ or a ‘message of love placed into your hands’ by someone who loves you? What is the consequence of viewing ‘laws’ as ‘a stick’?

• St Paul had many people in the Corinthian community turn against him. A particular group in the Corinthian community claimed to be more spiritual and knowledgeable. St Paul humbly points out that academic and worldly debate is not the sign of true wisdom from God. Knowledge and wisdom are different. Wisdom is found in love and often through suffering. And the spirit is present especially in those who love God. Who is a wisdom figure for you? ,How do you see love present in their life?

• The Gospel of Matthew is unique in that the community began with Jewish Christians, and then was increasingly joined by Greek converts to Christianity. Jewish Christians had grown up keeping all 613 laws of the Old Testament. Scribes (scripture scholars) and Pharisees (lay men determined to keep all the Jewish laws exactly) prided themselves on being ‘righteous’ and yet Jesus says their living is ‘shallow’. Jesus invites followers to live far more deeply. Murder is healed when people resolve their ‘anger’. Adultery is healed when people can live and look upon each other without ‘lust’. Easy divorce is not a positive option. Let your word be always true in Yes and No. Anger. Lust. Relationships. Lies. What area do you need to work to transform so your life is living in right relationship with God and others?

• Recall if any brother or sister has anything against you. What would the invitation ‘go first and be reconciled’ before coming to Sunday Mass personally mean for you?

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