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Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category

Discussion Guide: Rise Up-Make Christ Known.

Reflection Questions

• Epiphany is the Greek word meaning to ‘show’ or ‘make manifest’. The Magi from the East (coming from the Greek word for people of special knowledge) pay homage to Jesus. This symbolises all nations recognising Jesus as King and Lord. If you had to write a story to teach the truth about Jesus what truths would you seek to include? How could the Church make Christ known more creatively today? What is the most creative Christian evangelisation message you have seen lately?

• Isaiah makes a beautiful prophecy which is fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew story and the Magi today. God’s chosen people have just returned from exile and their country and beautiful city of Jerusalem and its Temple are in ruins. Isaiah begins with the image of Jerusalem as a woman lying down in defeat. ‘Rise up Jerusalem! Your light has come.’ As we enter the beginning of the New Year how could you experience ‘rising up’ to your most beautiful self? How could you help the Church ‘rise up’ and make Christ known? What would it take for you to be radiant and your heart throb with joy and pride in the Church
community? What will you do?• Epiphany is the Greek word meaning to ‘show’ or ‘make manifest’. The Magi from the East (coming from the Greek word for people of special knowledge) pay homage to Jesus. This symbolises all nations recognising Jesus as King and Lord. If you had to write a story to teach the truth about Jesus, what truths would you seek to include? How could the Church make Christ known more creatively today? What is the most creative Christian evangelisation message you have seen lately?

• Isaiah makes a beautiful prophecy which is fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew story and the Magi today. God’s chosen people have just returned from exile and their country and beautiful city of Jerusalem and its Temple are in ruins. Isaiah begins with the image of Jerusalem as a woman lying down in defeat. ‘Rise up Jerusalem! Your light has come.’ As we enter the beginning of the New Year how could you experience ‘rising up’ to your most beautiful self? How could
you help the Church ‘rise up’ and make Christ known? What would it take for you to be radiant and your heart throb with joy and pride in the Church community? What will you do?

• Paul states very clearly a mind-shattering truth: ‘the gentiles are coheirs’. Jewish people thought of and treated ‘gentiles’ as ‘unclean’. Paul says they are ‘clean’ and ‘co-partners’ in the inheritance of God’s promises and family. What adjustments in mind, heart, and action, would take place if God revealed to you that everyone was clean and equal and a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to you and you were all part of the same family? Imagine what life- style change this would
involve. Are you willing to try? Can you glimpse this is the central gospel message of Jesus?

• In ancient times a new star was thought to indicate a new leader being born. The Magi are on a journey of seeking God. They have knowledge. Resources. Time. All that the world declares is necessary for fulfilment. Yet they are hungry for something more. What is currently guiding your life? Would you say you are thirsty, hungry, searching? How and where do you find Jesus today?

• The three gifts presented reveal the identity of Jesus. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest whose role is to pray and send prayers to God in heaven. Myrrh pointing toward Jesus’ sacrifice and death and future burial. As the new year begins what personal ‘gifts’, ‘talents’, are you willing to ‘give’ in service to God? Consider the deeper meaning of homage and surrender. How could you express a deeper commitment to following Jesus? What change of direction would you like to make to imitate the Magi?

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz Livingtheword weekly download and
resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity
Auckland, NZ.www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide: Feast of the Holy Family

Reflection Questions

• Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Each of the readings provides a reflection on how family life is lived so as to lead us into ‘holiness’.
• The Book of Wisdom – or Sirach – arrives at a reflection on the commandment to Honor one’s Parents. Implied is a respectful relationship between Parents
and children. The covenant relationship with God is mirrored in relationship to Parents. This relationship is indicated by prayer and obedience, forgiveness and justice. Consider the ups and downs Mum and Dad have been through in raising your family. How do you currently show and practice ‘thankfulness’? As Parents grow old, ‘the mind fails’ what do you do that may ‘grieve them’? How do you show ‘kindness’?
• Family life has struggles and difficulties. The Community of Colossae that Paul is writing to is struggling greatly with Jewish Christians being open to welcoming ‘Gentiles – Greeks’ into the community ‘family’. ‘Put on’ is referring to the white garment of baptism and the new life of Jesus that we live. Who is included or excluded in your family? Which attitude do you recognise could be practiced more by you in your ‘family’. How could you allow ‘peace’ to control your heart?

• Subordinate – “under” – reflects the customs of the early Roman times. Christians were keen to live by the ‘family code’ to show Roman authorities that they were not dangerous to government. What ‘order’ do you have in the family? Home? How is ‘bitterness’ resolved? What arguments arise over children’s
behaviour and obedience? What attitudes or behaviours ‘provoke’ and ‘discourage’ your children? Does the Word of God dwell richly in your home? Is there any singing and praying and showing gratitude to God?
• Around the age of 12 a young boy would leave the company of Mum and the woman and mix and be led by the Men. Perhaps this transition is reflected in the scene of Jesus getting ‘lost’. Joseph may have thought the boy had gone back to Mum. Mum had pondered the boy was now more the responsibility of Joseph  and he had things under control! Strikingly Jesus is shown as obedient to the will of the Father and sits in the midst of teachers of the law in the Temple to
discover what this ‘will’ involves. Holiness is marked by doing the will of God. What desire or call of love, justice, truth, integrity, self gift is in your heart? What commitment are you called to be faithful to as an expression of the will of God?
• Consider how challenging it was for Mary to say Yes. What challenges did Joseph face in saying Yes? How do Mary and Joseph (Parents) cope with
Jesus identifying his own individual call in choosing ‘the Father’s house’? Do you see the ‘Holy Family’ as exceptional and perfect or can you glimpse the normal family struggles of your own family life in them?
• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide: Casual or Committed?

Wisdom,7:7-11, Hebrews 4:12-13, Mark 10:17-30
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Reflection Questions:

• The Book of Wisdom is thought to have been written by King Solomon. Today’s text links to the story of young King Solomon, newly married to a princess of
Egypt, heavily aware of leadership responsibilities and following the example of his Father, King David. In 1 Kings 3:6-9 Solomon prays for wisdom – a heart to
understand what is good and what is evil. Today is Solomon’s reflection on just what a precious gift wisdom is. Have you ever needed to search for and find a wise person to offer direction and guidance? How would you describe your need? What happened?

• ‘I chose to have her rather than the light’. Wisdom is not a ‘possession’ or equal to worldly wealth of Gold of Silver. It is the spiritual gift of knowing the truth and the very will of God. ‘Discernment’ of God’s will is a discipleship skill. It literally means ‘to cut away’. Consider a choice that you need to make. List the choices. Pray for wisdom. ‘Cut away’ options that are shallow, or not spiritually motivated. Pay attention to the desire beneath the choice. Ask a wise person for advice.

• Hebrews is written for Jewish Christians struggling with persecution and the difficulties and fragility of the early Christian church. They remembered with
joy the clear Jewish laws and customs and the sacrificial practices of the Temple. The author of Hebrews points them to the penetrating power of the Word.
Have you every experienced the powerful and personal way the scriptures can reach deeply inside you and speak to you deepest pain and questions? Reveal you to yourself? Challenge you? Inspire you? What scripture passage has done this for you? What happened?

• The theme of wisdom is contrasted with wealth in the Gospel. A rich young man faithful to the ʻlawsʼ still finds himself unsatisfied in life. His question: ʻWhat must I do?ʼ is still focussed on external actions of obedience. Jesus wishes to lead him from ʻobservance of lawsʼ to ʻliving in loveʼ. The invitation to change the base of his security from possessions to ʻtreasure in heavenʼ causes his face to fall. What possessions would you be terrified of letting go? Why? Do you trust that God will supply everything you need?

• The invitation to a deeper discipleship does not necessarily require letting go of ʻwealthʼ but letting go of its ʻattachmentʼ. Jesus uses an image. To get a camel loaded with items for trade through a ʻnarrow gateʼ in Jerusalem required unloading items, the camel sometimes having to kneel down and crawl through a small space (eye of a needle). Some scholars also suggest a misspelling of a word means it is a ʻcableʼ that is trying to be threaded through the eye of a needle. How would you describe your ʻuse of wealthʼ. Is it available for building the Kingdom of God? The needs of the poor? How much ʻsecurityʼ and ʻlifeʼ does your bank balance or possessions bring you? What does this story reveal to youpersonally?

• Peter implies a disciples question about reward and security. 100% is an incredibly fruitful return. Normally a return would be 10%. It will be mixed up ʻwith
persecutionsʼ however. Consider asking a Priest, Brother, Sister, Christian friend how they have experienced Godʼs faithfulness in relying on God for their security.

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ.www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide for Breaking Barriers

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Reflection Questions

• The book of Wisdom was a book of Jewish wisdom teachings for Jews living
in the midst of Greek culture and philosophy. The question of death is pondered. Physical death does not cause an end to God’s relationship with those who belong to him. This reading links to the Gospel with Jairus’ daughter raised to life. Have you reflected the beauty of creation lately? Considered what it means that each person is made ‘in the image of God’? If all of creation belongs to God, how does this affect your relationship to creation and respect-full ‘life-style’?

• St Paul, in writing to the Corinthians was raising money for the poor church in Jerusalem. Paul’s fund-raising starting point is ‘the gracious act’ of Jesus who in his divinity was ‘rich’, yet for our sake ‘became poor’. Paul calls this Kenosis – self-emptying. Christians are to live this self-emptying. Our surplus should help relieve those who have little so that their needs are met. Christians need to practice a basic human equality. Can you glimpse how much Jesus has ‘let go’ by taking on our human condition and then suffering death? Some Christians have been so deeply called to imitate this they have chosen voluntary poverty. Have you made a decision how much you need to live on? And what to do with your
‘surplus’? Have you responded to the needs of the ‘poor’? How?

•The Gospel has two stories of great faith. Jairus was a leader of Liturgy at the Jewish Synagogue. It required great courage for him to approach Jesus as he could lose his job seeking the help of anʻoutsiderʼ to the Synagogue. He humbles himself and pleads for his sick daughter. Have you ever wanted to ask for help but were too embarrassed? What is it that really holds you back? What healing do you seek? Can you notice in the reading that healing often requires faith and action – and not just prayer alone? What does this inspire you to do?

• In ancient times many women would endure bleeding after childbirth. The unnamed women endured this condition for 12 years. In Jewish law, a flow of blood held her in a state of ritual uncleanliness. She was not to touch others as that would make them also ʻuncleanʼ. Can you glimpse her courage in seeking help? Walking secretly through the crowd? Her intense prayer and action in ʻtouching his clothesʼ? Her
embarrassment when asked to identify herself in public? Why do you think Jesus wanted to make this ʻpublicʼ?

• Jesus breaks two very significant social and religious barriers. Touching a dead person and being touched by an ʻuncleanʼ woman. He has made himself ʻuncleanʼ so as to make the ʻuncleanʼ ʻcleanʼ. Have you ever gone out of your way to the extent of being rejected so as to include and welcome those the group has ʻexcludedʼ? How does it feel? What is the cost to society of not doing this? How do
you experience the personal ʻcostʼ of creating the Kingdom of God?

• ʻAnd they ridiculed himʼ….. The people attached to the Synagogue, (12 tribes) are symbolically represented by the 12-year-old dead Jewish girl but are now invited to rise and believe in Jesus. So too the woman, excluded by the Jewish code of holiness for 12 years, is now made whole and welcomed by Jesus. A new people is born by faith. What does this teach us about Jesus? The Church?

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail:contact@livingtheword.org.nz. Livingtheword weekly resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and are distributed by Marist Laity NZ, www.maristlaitynz.org based in the Diocese of Auckland, NZ

Discussion Guide is here     Jer 31:31-34, Heb 5:7-9, Jn 12:20-33

During Lent, parishes with people preparing for the sacraments at Easter have special readings helping them understand the identity of Jesus and the meaning of their baptism. These readings and reflection are available for download here:Yr B RCIA

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Reflection Questions. 

• To enter into a covenant is like entering into a ‘marriage commitment and relationship’. A special bond is created. Have you ever had an experience of feeling God is ‘taking you by the hand and leading you’?   Break the relationship with God – Suffering. God seeking you out and speaking to your ‘heart’? Life does not necessarily become easier but perspectives are transformed and whatever happens there is a sense of God with us; nothing can separate us from Gods love. What has been your covenant journey with God?
• The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews is like a personal inside view of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as he struggles to accept the consequence of obedience and
doing God’s will. What do you pray, cry, shout to God about? Have you tried it?
• Jesus’ journey involved obedience and suffering, but it also became a vehicle for him being ‘made perfect’. What suffering is hard for you at the moment? What is the wisdom you are learning from it? Because of your journey have you been able to be a source of comfort and hope for others?                        • In the Gospel of John, the ʻhourʼ that Jesus talks about is the moment where everything will be revealed on the cross. In all of history, it will be the ʻhourʼ when God is revealed as doing something to ʻforgiveʼ and ʻsaveʼ humanity. Love triumphs over violence. The drama of evil and goodness is played out. In the greek text, the phrase being ʻlifted upʼ is a word to describe a coach being ʻliftedʼ up onto peopleʼs shoulders to signify victory. Do you see the ʻhourʼ of Jesus on the cross as Ugly? Glorious?
Victorious? All three?
• Greeks (outsiders from Judaism) arrive wanting to ʻsee Jesusʼ. This causes Jesus to say the ʻhourʼ has
come for him to be revealed to the whole world. Would people who are not Christian see enough evidence in your life to know you are Christian? Would they experience you as friendly and welcoming enough to ask for help to ʻfind and see Jesusʼ?
• Three times in the Gospel of John the voice of God speaks clearly to Jesus and those near-by. It gives Jesus courage and confidence in his identity and purpose to walk a very difficult path. Have you asked for, received a clear sense of your calling and purpose from God? Will you enter the sacrificial and obedient lifestyle of ʻthe hourʼ? What ʻdeathʼ is God inviting you to live so as to bear fruit for the world?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz.  Livingtheword weekly download and resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and are made available by Bev McDonald, Facilitator, Marist Laity NZ www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide for The Feast of the Holy Family.

Sagrada familia 2

Reflection Questions:

  • Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Each of the readings provide a reflection on how family life is lived so as to lead us into ‘holiness’.
  • The Book of Ecclesiasticus gives us a reflection on the commandment to Honor one’s Parents. It implies a respectful relationship between Parents and children. The covenant relationship with God is mirrored in relationship to Parents. This relationship is lived through prayer, obedience, forgiveness and justice. Consider the ups and downs your parents have been through in raising your family. How do you currently show and practice ‘thankfulness’?
  • As Parents grow old, sometimes ‘the mind fails’ which can result in big challenges for adult children. How might reflecting on what your parents did for you as a young child help? What do you do that may ‘grieve’ your parents? How do you show ‘kindness’? If your family relationship was difficult what does God promise you when you honour your parents? We sometimes treat God like our parents. What impact might that be having on your image and relationship with God?
  • Paul writes to the Colossians who are struggling to welcome ‘Gentiles’ – (Greeks) into what had been a Jewish Christian community. He writes about the ‘Family Code’ also called the ‘Holiness Code’. We are all called to ‘put on’ the white garment of baptism and live in the new life of Christ. In the Church (or your Family), who gets included or excluded? What are the points of tension? What attitudes could you practice more in your ‘family’ to develop ‘peace’ as the controlling virtue of your life?
  • Christmas celebrates the fruit of Mary and Joseph’s trust in God. They sacrificed greatly to raise Jesus. As Pope Francis says, “Ambiguity, uncertainty, and brokenness touched the Holy Family. Their lives teach us that we cannot understand God’s designs. This wonderful lesson urges parents to put their families in God’s hands and trust that their efforts will bear fruit.” How did your family respond to struggles? How has that impacted your life? Faithful parents are examples for us, single or married. How can you put yourself more fully in God’s hands? Jesus and Mary offered the sacrifice of the poor; two doves. What simple sacrifices do you offer God? Are there older members of your community who contribute wisdom and spiritual support? How did Simeon and Anna live this out? How might you honour these elders?
  • Christians were keen to live by the ‘family code’ to show Roman authorities that they were not dangerous to government. How is order in family life healthy? How can married couples live in equality and unity with deep respect and honour for each other? How might that level of respect and practical love impact family life? How is ‘bitterness’ resolved? What arguments arise over children? What might ‘provoke’ or ‘discourage’ your children? What support do you think a family needs today? Does the Word of God dwell richly in your home? How do you build singing, joy and thanksgiving into the way you pray and show gratitude to God in daily life
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Reflection Guide is here: Creative risk or Fear: who is God for you?

Image result for let it hurt let it bleed

Discussion Questions:

  • The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings for daily living. Today a woman (not necessarily exceptional or beautiful as modern media might portray), does routine daily chores filled with wisdom and purpose. Her love extends beyond her family to the poor and needy. Her life and good works is spoken of ‘at the city gates’. Have you experienced ‘charm’ as deceptive and ‘beauty’ fleeting? Two
    quite different life-styles are presented as a ‘mirror’ to expose the reader. Where do you ‘see’ yourself?
  • Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest New Testament Letter. They were concerned that ‘the Day of the Lord’ (Jesus’ return) had not happened. St Paul shares with them and us that the exact date of the ‘day of the Lord’ is not known. But we are all to be ‘living in the light’ following the way of Jesus. What image speaks more to you: not sleeping, staying alert, being sober? How could you apply this ‘image’ to an application in your life?
  • The end of the Church’s Year is coming! Next week is the end: Christ the King. The Judgement Parable of the Talents is given to us today as a way of helping us to reflect seriouslyon the end of the world and the Lord’s second coming. A careful reading of the Parable reveals some disturbingrealities.
  • One ‘talent’ is a large weight of metal equivalent to 15 years of an average wage ($750,000!). Is the Master generous or mean? What image of God do you ‘read into thetext’?
  • Two different ‘images’ and perceptions of the Master are found. Servants 1 and 2 are spurred into creativity, Servant 3 is filled with fear. He will take no risks, avoid any wrongoing, and will give back to God in ‘strict justice’ what was given. Is Servant 3 ‘self-ish’? His fear of judgement tends to paralyse him. He is not filled with a freedom and love for creative risk taking in works of mercy. Could this be an image of the Jewish community for Matthew? The Christian Community today?
  • Very large amounts of money are being traded. Is this supporting capitalist greed and risk taking or is it reduced to a ‘small matter’ in comparison to the new ‘great responsibilities’ of the Kingdom of God?
  • Reflect personally and name your ‘talents’. From this parable what do you think God asks of you? If you were to be judged on your current use of your talents what might be the conclusion?
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Reflection Guide is here.

Image result for Wisdom Virgins Bible

Discussion Questions

.The month of November begins by celebrating All Saints (Nov 1st) and All Souls (Nov 2nd). Be invited to visit a Church to pray in thanks for all those who have brightened our journey with their lives.
• The Book of Wisdom was written to share the beauty of Jewish ‘wisdom’ different from Greek ‘wisdom’. For Greeks, wisdom was the result of hard human study and work. Jewish people understood wisdom as a feminine aspect of God and a gift ‘received’. At dawn was the favoured time for prayer. During the day ‘the gate’ was a place of gathering for elders making legal decisions and where city trade
took place. Do you love, seek, watch, pray into the night for… wisdom? v17 continues: wisdom begins with the sincere desire for instruction. What would you like ‘instruction’ in? Who could you ask for help?
• Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters in the New Testament. In contrast to the belief that death was the very end, our christian faith rests on a certain hope. Use your imagination to enter Paul’s picture of the final day. Why do you think scripture refers to this as a ‘great and terrible’ day?
• In the ancient Middle – East, the complete wedding celebration would take up several days. The first stage involved the fathers of the couple discussing and arranging the contract and legal matters between the two families. The Groom would then arriveto the Brides house to take her home. It was not known how long the various discussions would take. Guests at the Groom’s house were frequently ‘waiting’ as a  result of delays. You can imagine the surprise with the Groom and Bride arriving at midnight! Jesus
uses this image for his ‘return’. The Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King (November 20) as if it was the ‘return’. What would you do if Jesus returned in 2 weeks?
• The Bridesmaids and ‘oil for their lamps’ is symbolic of being ‘ready’. ‘Oil’ equals readiness. It cannot be ‘shared’. Spiritual preparation cannot be done by someone else. There is the striking image of a ‘locked door’. Cries to ‘open the door’. A negative response. The parable draws us in. We are left with self accusation: will I be ‘ready’? In what way does this parable challenge you?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary NZ