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Posts Tagged ‘Baptism’

Download Baptism of the Lord Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?
  2. Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’?
  3. What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?
  4. It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why?
  5. Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’?
  6. You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your annointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a
  • Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
  • Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
  • King – to lead the world not follow the world.
  • How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?
  • What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

quotescover-JPG-78Download 4th Sunday Reflection Document Year B

Download 4th Sunday Reflection Year B (RCIA READINGS)

Reflection Questions

  1. Godʼs people suffered the destruction of their Temple in Jerusalem and were exiled into another country for 70 years. Something had gone horribly wrong. Wasnʼt God supposed to provide them with unconditional protection? Have you had an experience of feeling abandoned or being forgotten by God? What caused that experience? The first reading shares the idea of false worship. What do you think ʻretrieved its lost sabbathsʼ could mean? For you?
  2. Godʼs guidance of history stirs a secular leader, Cyrus King of Persia, to release Godʼs chosen people and also to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It is beyond anyones imagination that such an event could happen. What does this show about God? History? Your life?
  3. The Ephesians reading is a beautiful text for the Lenten journey. The generosity of Gods love to die while we were still sinful. We glimpse ʻhow infinitely rich he is in graceʼ towards us. Do you consider yourself forgiven, cleansed, called to be ʻGodʼs work of artʼ and live the ʻgood lifeʼ? What steps toward greater holiness of life could you take into Week 4 of Lent?
  4. The discussion with Nicodemus in the darkness of night is symbolic. Nicodemus wants to protect his reputation and not be exposed. Found out. He is scared of making his belief ʻpublicʼ. It could involve him losing friends. Is there something I feel called to bring to the light of reconciliation during this time of Lent?
  5. John 3:16 is a popular line in the scriptures to summarise Godʼs love for us “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” It is linked with the Gospel image of Jesus being ʻlifted up”. Locate a crucifix to pray with or go into a church and ponder Jesus on the Cross. Consider the depth of what the cross teaches us personally: I am forgiven. I am so loved – and therefore loveable! How does that make you feel? What is your response?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document

 Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Todayʼs prophecy foretells Jesusʼ coming. Celebrating Jesusʼ Baptism we learn also of our own ʻjob descriptionʼ to live following Jesusʼ lifestyle and example in the world. What does it mean for you to be: ʻchosenʼ, ʻupon whom I have put my spiritʼ, ʻbring forth justiceʼ. Called personally for the ʻvictory of justiceʼ. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?
  2. Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ʻcleanʼ and ʻuncleanʼ. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ʻuncleanʼ. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ʻuncleanʼ. Peter is told by God to go into Corneliusʼ home (He was a gentile!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ʻpeople of every nation are acceptable to Godʼ. Who do you consider to be ʻcleanʼ ʻuncleanʼ? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome? What obstacles do you have to overcome?
  3. The Psalm for each Sunday expresses the cry of the human heart. Joyfulness in drawing water which brings life. What does the symbol of water mean for you? Being in touch with the central idea, now pray intently each word of the psalm. Do not go on from each sentence until each word is prayed and experienced fully.
  4. What is one line that speaks deeply to your life today? Write it on your hand and take it with you today. Repeat it often so that it is prayed in your heart.
  5. It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. Only a servant / slave would be asked to wash someone’s feet. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why?
  6. Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’?
  7. You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. Repeat again and again in your heart ‘You are my beloved Son / Daughter; with you I am well pleased’. Allow this to heal, encourage and strengthen you. What response do you make to God after hearing this?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 4th Sunday Lent Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. Anointing with oil and ‘eyes being opened’ are part of the special journey in Lent for candidates asking for baptism at Easter. For those already baptized, these readings teach us about the deep meaning of our own baptism.
  2. Samuel was the young boy who sat in the temple and was taught how to listen to God’s voice. He became one of the greatest prophets because ‘he never let a word spoken to him by God fall to the ground’. Today he is told by God to do a very dangerous action – high treason! While King Saul was still alive, Samuel was to go to Bethlehem and anoint another King. Are you open to being shocked by what God plans for you? Samuel was told to fill his horn with oil and go… what do you think God is asking of you?
  3.  Samuel had previously anointed King Saul who was tall and handsome ‘head and shoulder above the rest’. He may have been tempted, or had truly learnt a lesson not to judge a person by their ‘appearance’. God sees beyond appearance into a persons heart. Identify someone you are judging by ‘appearance’ and practice noticing their ‘heart’.
  4. St Paul writes about the difference in a persons life before knowing Jesus. Imagine you are in an unfamiliar house and need to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Not knowing where the light switch is you knock into chairs and hard edged furniture. You walk slowly and carefully. Now, turn the light switch on and you walk differently. Peacefully. Confidently. ‘Arise…from death and darkness, Christ will give you light’. Imagine the experience of being blind and then being able to see. This was the experience the early church said happened through Baptism preparation for each adult.
  5. Around the year 85-90 Jewish Christians were excluded from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The man born blind became a very special story and symbol of life being changed by Jesus. The blind man considers Jesus a ‘man’. Then recognizes him as a ‘prophet’. Finally he believes Jesus to be truly the Son of Man – the promised Messiah (anointed one). He calls him Lord (the name of God) and worships him. As a result the blind man becomes rejected by the Pharisees, his family and the community’. They threw him out…. How has your faith journey grown in understanding of Jesus? Would you be willing to endure rejection or persecution for your belief? What do you think happened to the blind man? Can you identify with any of his Christian experience?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Reflections Questions

  1. The Feast of the Presentation is an ancient festival of the early Christian community in Jerusalem that can be traced back to writings in the years 300AD. A special part of the celebration was the lighting of candles to celebrate Jesus being ‘presented in the Temple’ as the ‘light to enlighten the Gentiles’ (Luke 2:32). Today many parishes have a special ceremony of blessing prayer candles, baptismal candles. Religious renew their vows and consecration. Some countries also have the custom of blessing new mothers re-enacting the blessing of Mary presenting her child in the Temple.
  2. The Prophet Malachi (meaning My Messenger) is an interesting prophet as he speaks to a community that has a beautiful and newly re-built Temple in Jerusalem, but the Priests and the People are ‘lax’ and not celebrating and worshipping with much effort. What does the image of a ‘refiners fire’ and a special ingredient to cleanse and make ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ pure mean for you?
  3. ‘Free from the fear of death’ is a special phrase. Fearful of death, so many people worship the body and the world and live as if this is all that there is. As a consequence they are subject to ‘slavery all their life’. The ‘flesh’ (sensual pleasure) and the spirit of the ‘world’ (greed) trap people. How might the ‘fear of death’ trap you? Knowing of eternal life, what is there really to fear? What is your response?
  4.  According to Jewish custom, mothers were required to be ritually purified 40 days after birth. As part of the ceremony of cleansing and new life two offerings were made. A Lamb and a dove / pigeon. If the family were poor they could offer two doves / pigeons. It is recognised that Mary and Joseph offered two birds which is evidence that they were ‘poor’. It is also recognised that a further sacrifice could be offered to ‘buy back’ the first born from God. Mary and Joseph did not do this. As a parent do you offer your children to God and help them seek God, or do you ‘buy them back’ and direct them only in the ways of the world?
  5.  The great moment foretold by the Prophet Malachi of God coming into the Temple (his home) is only acknowledged by a faithful few. The repetition of the ‘Holy Spirit’ reminds us that it is really the ‘Spirit’ that helps us see and understand God. If you were to say to someone ‘my favour rests on you’ what would that mean for you? Do you recognise at baptism that the spirit ‘rests on you’ and God ‘favours’ you?
  6.  What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 18th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Ecclesiasticus comes from the Greek word for the ʻperson who gathers the assembly togetherʼ. The word ʻvanityʼ could more accurately be translated as ʻbreathʼ or ʻvapourʼ. Feel the words and the profound questioning going on in the text. Respond in one sentence what motivates and gives your life direction and purpose. What are you really living for?
  2. Paul continues to teach the Colossians about Baptism. The baptism ceremony involved taking off their old clothes, being plunged into water as if being plunged into the earth like Christ to ʻdieʼ. They would rise and be annointed with oil, and be clothed with the white garment of the ʻnew selfʼ. These external signs were symbolising a change within the person. A baptised christian is now dead to the world and alive with Christ. Consider a phrase such as ʻSport is his lifeʼ, or ʻMusic is her lifeʼ. What does it involve do have an all encompassing pursuit or hobby? What is Paul suggesting by a favourite phrase he develops in this letter ʻChrist your lifeʼ?
  3. Rabbiʼs were expected to make decisions on religious and civil matters. Yet Jesus chooses not to be the ʻjudgeʼ of this inheritance dispute. He is not interested in property but he is interested in talking about ʻgreedʼ. St Paul in the second reading referred to greed as ʻidolatryʼ – replacing God. Have you ever considered your answer to the question: ʻWhat is enough?ʼ (money, car, savings, food allowance, clothing). What is a benchmark that when you have reached it you now have a duty to ʻshareʼ? On a spectrum of ʻgetting and ʻgivingʼ where would you mark your lifestyle?
  4. Building up supplies, having enough to ʻrest, eat, drink, be merry!ʼ. Isnʼt this what we all hope for? Isnʼt this a nice picture of retirement? Satisfaction? And yet this text is one of the few times in the Gospels when God actually ʻspeaksʼ in a parable: “fool”. Why is personal comfort and material care of our families not enough?
  5. ʻI work to pay billsʼ is a humorous phrase. Yet it indicates a trap we can so easily walk into. What debts, hire purchases, possessions are you ʻworking forʼ? Are you investing your self and your fortune on projects and items that have no lasting significance?
  6. Being rich ʻin what matters to Godʼ is obviously not a property portfolio or a large amount of wealth. Find a way this week to open up a discussion with a friend what you think matters most to God.
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

 

KBg8C2Download 12th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. The Old Testament readings are often fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament Gospel Reading. Hadadrimmon is the special mourning place for King Josiah who called his people to change and repentance but was killed in battle in the plain of Megiddo. Have you experienced a special place where you ʻturnedʼ to God?
  2. Paul writes to the community in Galatia and is upset with Jewish Christians misleading newly baptised people. He writes to them teaching them that obeying all the Jewish Laws does not ʻsaveʼ us. We need to get the right starting point of our relationship with God. Do you think more about what you could do for God (obedience to the law), or what God has done for you in Christ (unmerited and unconditional love for sinners through his saving death on the cross)? What is the correct starting point for Paul and why?
  3. Paul writes in this letter using a very early baptismal prayer. All barriers of culture and race (Jews / Greeks), gender (male / female), social standing (slave or free) have been dissolved by baptism and following Christ. What barriers and walls between people upset you? What barriers are present in your own life / attitudes?
  4. It is strange that Jesus rebukes Peter for his answer. Jesus wants them to be silent before they truly understand what type of messiah / Christ Jesus is. It will not be the military glory of public expectation but a suffering messiah who is rejected and killed before rising again. This requires a completely new mind-set. For Jewish people and Jesusʼ followers it was shameful to suffer and die. It is the obstacle that Jews cannot overcome. Jesus therefore cannot be the Messiah. What do you think?
  5. Jesus speaks now to ʻallʼ followers to take up oneʼs cross. The wooden ʻcrossʼ in Jesusʼ time was an instrument of death used to kill revolutionaries. It is shocking for Jesus to tell his followers they must ʻtake it upʼ. Have you ever thought of Jesusʼ requiring his disciples to be radical revolutionaries and being willing to ʻdieʼ for his values? What does ʻtake up your cross mean to you?
  6. The context of Jesusʼ words are not of a one time martyrdom or death, but a ʻdailyʼ sacrificial living. And it is not ʻdaily burdensʼ but something far deeper. Jesus invites disciples into the posture of a condemned person awaiting a death sentence. No worldly attachments are present now. Everything is stripped away by the ʻdeathʼ sentence to ʻselfʼ. There is to be no holding back. Have you ever considered religious or priestly life as a deeply freeing experience of letting go to give ʻall to Christʼ? What excites or scares you about such a call?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Baptism of the Lord Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?
  2. Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?
  3. It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why?
  4. Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’?
  5. ou may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your annointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a
  • Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
  • Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
  • King – to lead the world not follow the world.
  • How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?
  1. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 20th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Proverbs shares many short wisdom sayings. Wisdom and Foolishness are two pathways we can walk. Two ‘women’, are presented as preparing a home and a banquet. A prostitute (foolishness) chapters 5-7. A Lady (wisdom) chapters 8-9. Stolen bread and water are contrasted with fine food. Which voice and house will you enter? Where do you go for ‘wisdom’ and ‘guidance’? What recent wisdom have you learnt from walking down wrong paths?
  2. Paul continues to explain the life-style of a baptised person in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘watch carefully how you live’. When was the last opportunity you took to  have some time of reflection and review of your life….. asking for a clear vision and trying to understand ‘what is the will of the Lord’. Consider planning a few hours in the week to reflect on how you could live the life-style of Christ more deeply.
  3. We are at week 4 of 5 weeks sitting with the Gospel of John chapter 6. Jesus has challenged the Jewish understanding of Passover ‘bread from Heaven’ and insists he is the one sent from Heaven. He is ‘living bread’ and he goes even further to claim he will give his ‘flesh’ for the life of the world. Ponder what the symbol and experience of ‘bread’ means for you. How is Jesus’ life like ‘bread’ for you?
  4. The gospel of John invites us to make a significant transition from ‘bread’ [the Jewish Passover meal] to ‘flesh-and-blood’ – the whole person [Jesus’ replacement of the passover with the offering of his life on the cross]. The special Jewish celebration of God’s love and forgiveness is now replaced with the Cross – the sign of God’s love and forgiveness for the whole world. Unleavened Bread and Passover Lamb has now become a sacrificial meal transformed. Wine and Bread is now transformed to Blood and Flesh because Jesus has said it, promised it, given it. Enlightened or confused?
  5. The deep language and expression of love helps our heart seeking understanding. Love desires to ‘give’ and gift one’s ‘presence’ to the beloved. To resolve the human difficulty of not knowing how to come to God, we find God comes to us through the gift of the true presence of Jesus in the body and blood at Mass. We are seated at a God-given (wisdom) banquet. For John, it is not enough to ‘believe’ in Jesus, we are also called to ‘receive’ the physical gift and life-presence of Jesus into our physical bodies. Do you receive in ‘ignorance’ or with ‘knowledge’?
  6. True life, ‘eternal life’ is given and received. The life and spirit of Jesus is now present within the receiver of the Eucharist (good -gift). It is because of this truth we call the experience ‘Holy – Communion (many becoming one with the one who is Holy – God). After receiving communion how could you develop a greater appreciation of this physical intimacy with Jesus? Consider making up a personal prayer to pray at this time of silence after communion.
  7. St Thomas Aquinas offers two simple sentences for reflection. Where do these sentences lead you in reflection…..
  • “What food is our bodies, the eucharist if for our souls”.
  • “The proper effect of the Eucharist is to transform us into God”
  1. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection – 19th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The continuing theme of being ‘fed by God’ is developed in the readings this week. Elijah sits exhausted under a tree in the desert. He is being hunted down by Princess Jezebel who was married to the King of Israel. She tried to replace all prophets and temples of Yahweh by importing 450 prophets and followers of B’aal from her homeland in Sidon. Elijah has just killed them all and is now on the run! (see 1Kings 18, 19-46). Have you ever got into difficulty as a result of obedience to God? Have you ever said to God: ‘this is enough’? Is there any painful purifying of the Church that you find particularly difficult to participate in and endure?
  2. God encourages Elijah not to focus upon his own pain and fear. God wants to offer food and strength for the “40 day” journey ahead. Do you tend to focus on your own pain and mumble and groan? How could you develop a habit of being open to help and ‘being fed’? God wishes us to move from simply ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’. If you were to ask God or someone for help, what would be your question in one sentence? How could you grow your hunger so you experience being ‘fed’ with scripture and the eucharist?
  3. St Paul teaches that we were ‘sealed’ at our Baptism. A ‘seal’ was a special jewel or stone or metal cylinder marked with a ‘sign’ and pressed upon clay or wax or object. The ‘mark – seal’ indicated the owners signature, ownership, authority on a legal document or object. The link between the person and / or object was now displayed to the world. As ‘sealed’ people we are to witness to whom we belong. Paul inserts attributes displaying God; kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Are you conscious of being ‘sealed’? Is there any anger or bitterness the spirit would like you to let go of so as not to ‘grieve the spirit’ dwelling in you?
  4. Jewish people often referred to their ‘laws’ as ‘bread from heaven’. Their laws and teachings from Moses gave them life and revealed God to them. They grumble and ‘murmur’ at Jesus’ claim: I am the bread that comes down from Heaven. Hidden within this phrase Jesus is claiming the Divine Name ‘I AM’ and to replace the ‘law’. He teaches further that he is true life-giving ‘bread’ but that ‘bread’ will now be replaced with ‘flesh’. John presents clearly the levels of meaning: Bread. Jesus. Flesh. Can you see in this text of John 6 the threads of our belief that in the Eucharist / Mass it is truly the ‘flesh’ of Jesus we receive? Do you recognise the invitation following reception of Jesus to now become ‘life-for-the-world’?
  5. The only way God can be truly revealed is someone must come from God and live among us. This is indeed the great religious hope of the Jewish people. However they become satisfied with the laws of God and were not ready to accept the ‘person’ of God. Jesus claims he is this person truly ‘from’ God, has ‘seen’ God. This is the claim of Christianity that sets us apart from other world religions. Because Jesus is divine – God – among – us what he promises to give us – his flesh and blood – he can and will do. As we approach the end of 5 weeks of teaching on the Eucharist consider prayerfully reading John 6. How would you explain the Eucharist now in your own words?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?