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Posts Tagged ‘catholic bible study’

Discussion Guide:      28th Sunday Yr. B: Letting go…to commit

 

inherit | "Dan's Blunders & Wonders of Thought!"

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, unspiritually 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 ever experienced the powerful and personal way the scriptures can reach deeply inside you and speak to your 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 focused 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 you personally?

• 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?

Discussion Guide:    19th Sunday Year B: Sealed and fed to thrive!

 

Tom on Twitter: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the

Reflection Questions:

• 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?

• 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?

• St Paul teaches that we were ‘sealed’ at our Baptism. A ‘seal’ was a special jewel or stone or metal cylinder marked with a ʻsignʼ and pressed upon clay or wax orobject. The ʻmark – sealʼ 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 ʻsealedʼ people we are to witness to whom we belong. Paul inserts attributes displaying God; kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Are you conscious of being ʻsealedʼ? Is there any anger or bitterness the spirit would like you to let go of so as not to ʻgrieve the spiritʼ dwelling in you?

• Jewish people often referred to their ʻlawsʼ as ʻbread from heavenʼ. Their laws and teachings from Moses gave them life and revealed God to them. They grumble and ʻmurmurʼ at Jesusʼ claim: I am the bread that comes down from Heaven. Hidden within this phrase Jesus is claiming the Divine Name ʻI AMʼ and to replace the ʻlawʼ. He teaches further that he is true life-giving ʻbreadʼ but that ʻbreadʼ will now be replaced with ʻfleshʼ. 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 ʻfleshʼ of Jesus we receive? Do you recognise the invitation following reception of Jesus to now become ʻlife-for-the-worldʼ?

• 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 ʻpersonʼ of God. Jesus claims he is this person truly ʻfromʼ God, has ʻseenʼ 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?

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

Dear Living the Word subscribers,

Thank you for your commitment to Living the Word.

Sadly your weekly email email of our Scripture reflection for the following Sunday could be interrupted from 1 July because the provider is making changes.  They advised that it should not impact subscribers, but to be cautious we are letting you know just in case your weekly email notice and link is interrupted.

We do not keep your information. So if you stop getting the email, please contact us on nzlivingtheword@gmail.com and add ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line. Your comments about the Scripture reflections are always welcome also.

The other option would be to access the material and the website directly via our Facebook Page at livingtheword | Facebook. 

We apologize for this potential disruption and look forward to continuing to share the Word with you.

Blessings for July which is Bible Month.

Bev McDonald

Living the Word Administrator.

Arise: Desire Leads to Faith and Action. Discussion Guide is Here

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Reflection Questions.

• The book of Wisdom has Jewish wisdom teachings written when Jews were living amidst Greek culture and philosophy. Death is pondered. Physical death does not cause an end to God’s relationship with those who belong to him. What connections do you see with the Gospel where Jairus’ daughter is raised to life? Have you reflected on creation lately? Consider what it means to be made ‘in the image of God’? If all creation belongs to God, and is gifted to us as our home, how should we treat and care for it?

• St Paul, wrote to the Corinthian church asking for money for the poor church in Jerusalem. His fund-raising pitch was ‘the gracious act’ of Jesus who in his divinity was ‘rich’, yet for our sake ‘became poor’.
Paul calls this Kenosis -self emptying. As Christians we are called to live this model of generous self gift. Our surplus is not for us to store away but so that the needs of others are met. Disciples are called to live
generously and work for human equality. Ponder how much Jesus ‘let go’ by taking on our human condition and suffering death? Some Christians are so deeply called to imitate this, that they choose voluntary poverty. How much you need to live on? What do you do with ‘surplus’? How do you respond to the needs of others as an individual? As a church community? How might living this generosity for the poor, witness to the love and self-gift of Christ today?

•The Gospel has two stories of great faith. Jairus was a leader at the Synagogue. It took great courage for him to approach Jesus as he could lose his job for seeking help from an outsider. He humbles himself and pleads for his sick daughter. Have you ever wanted to ask for help but were too embarrassed? What really holds you back? Notice that in the scriptures healing often calls for faith and action – not just prayer alone? What healing do you seek? What action would help as a step toward your desired wholeness?

• The unnamed women had endured constant menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Jewish law this flow of blood meant she was ritually unclean. She was forbidden to touch others as that would also make them unclean. Even her husband could not touch her. Imagine her isolation and desperation. Consider also her courage in reaching out? That’s why she walks secretly through the crowd and joins intense desire with faith and action to touch Jesus’ cloak. Her embarrassment mixed with fear of condemnation when
asked to publicly identify herself. Restoration has both personal and communal aspects. Why do you think Jesus wanted to make this public?

• Jesus breaks two social and religious barriers. He touches a dead body and is touched by an unclean woman. He made himself unclean, to restore those labeled unclean to full life and community. Do you
listen for and notice those who are excluded or go out of your way to include and welcome them, even to the extent of being rejected or maligned for doing it? Why or why not? How does it feel? How does exclusion or restoration and inclusion impact society? You personally?

• Ponder the imagery. There are 12 tribes of Israel, the chosen people of God. The woman suffered for ’12’ years and the girl was ’12’. The crowds at Jairus’ house ridicule Jesus. He restores the woman to community while the little girl he restores to life, but only apostles are present and no one else is to know. Does anything feel dead in you? Ask God for what you or your loved ones need. Can you hear
Jesus say, ‘arise’ and ‘your faith has saved you’?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and Bev McDonald and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide: Corpus Christi – Living the Covenant More Deeply is Here

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Reflection Questions:

  • The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) began following increased devotion to the Real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the 12th Century. It is celebrated on either the Thursday or Sunday after Pentecost.
  • Deeper than a contract, a covenant is a blood bond to death. Moses conducts a sacrifice which seals the bond between God and Israel. Blood = life. Life = God. Everyone sprinkled is bound by the covenant: the Law of 10 commandments. God is willingly bound to the Covenant by the blood on the altar and the people of Israel are bound by being sprinkled with the same animals blood. The word Testament, also means Covenant, so we can say First Covenant for the First Testament. How do we make life-long bonds today? What connections do you see to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the Eucharist and the blood of the covenant?
  • The Letter to the Hebrews explores Numbers and Leviticus to help us understand Jesus both fulfilled and replaces the High Priest in the Temple. The Feast of the Atonement (at-one-ment Lev:16) involved God forgiving sins through the action of blood being rubbed on the Mercy Seat in the holy of holies, the tabernacle. Life represented by blood rubs out death represented by sin. Blood brings forgiveness and the ashes of the sacrifice were sprinkled onto water which became waters of purification for blessing and making people clean. What links can you see to Holy Water as we enter Church? Receiving the blood of Christ from the chalice? Any other connections? Reflect on the Cross and the blood of Jesus. What would help you experience this covenantal reality of Christ’s commitment to you more deeply?
  • The Jewish Passover involved a special meal with a lamb (sacrifice), bread
    (remembering unleavened bread, the quick escape from Egypt and the manna in the desert) and cups of wine (the 3rd cup remembered passing through the Red Sea from Egypt into the desert). Jesus changes the words and actions instituting a new sacred meal. His words over the bread and wine teach us this new meaning. He no longer only looks backward in history, but forward to the next day of his death on the cross. The unleavened (not risen) bread will become his body broken on the cross. The 3rd cup of wine becomes Jesus’ blood poured out. Jesus, fully God and fully Man unites in Himself within the Trinity, both parties to the covenant, ensuring it can never be broken again. Can you recognise the beauty and eternal significance of the Eucharist? Reflect that one name for it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Do more questions arise about the Eucharist? Who could you ask?
  • Holy Communion can become ordinary. The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus invites us to revisit the importance of the Mass in our lives. Do you accept Christ’s invitation to a covenantal relationship with God? How can you maintain balance in prayer and action? Will you participate in building God’s Kingdom of peace and justice? Are you willing to imitate Christ; to live for God and love people to the extent that your body is broken and your blood poured out? What invitation do you hear as you receive Jesus?
  • What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Divine Mercy Sunday: Jesus I Trust in You. The Reflection Guide is HERE

Discussion Questions:

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The Easter season known as Eastertide lasts 7 weeks marking the 50 days from Easter to Pentecost. How can you live the next 50 days intentionally aware of Easter and let its message get ʻunder your skinʼ and
change you?

• Since 2000, the 2nd Sunday of Easter became Divine Mercy Sunday after the witness of St Faustina Kowalska. The readings reveal a path of mercy. Christ taught that humanity not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called to practice mercy toward others. The message is about the value of every human being. Each person is precious: Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives the Spirit and offers family intimacy and compassion. We are all beloved children of God given the grace and power to live in God’s love.

• The followers of Christ became a “community”. A love in their hearts was expressed in love to others – especially those ʻin needʼ. What change happened in the lives of the disciples to enable them to
share everything in common so that there was no-one in need? What change am I invited to make in my own life with regard to possessions? How could I show a deeper commitment to my parish community?

• The victory that conquers the world is our faith. Victory and conquer are ʻbattleʼ words. There is a ʻfightʼ to be victorious over the ʻworldʼ. It is not by ʻwaterʼ (baptism) alone but also by ʻbloodʼ(sacrifice – martyrdom, which means witness). How does true Easter faith challenge us? Will I walk the path Jesus
endured to overcome injustice, discrimination, hatred and fear? Only full commitment to Christ brings Resurrection victory and we need to receive the Holy Spirit to live the radical mercy of God. Ask Jesus to empower you with His Holy Spirit? How are you being invited to live God’s mercy?

• Significantly, after Jesusʼ resurrection the disciples are locked in a room – scared for their lives. They followed a convicted ʻrebelʼ crucified for seeking to overturn religious and political status quos. Consider ‘rebels’ in Myanmar as a possible contemporary image. Yet Christ’s ‘rebellion’ is to bring peace, freedom, and forgiveness. Can you connect with the fear. Imagine the scene and pray with it.

• The final gift of Jesus to his terrified disciples is peace and guaranteed forgiveness of their sins through the gift of the Holy Spirit. What causes your ʻun-peaceʼ and fear? This Eastertide try praying the Divine Mercy prayer daily; “Jesus I trust in You” & whenever you feel anxiety or fear.

• Thomas struggles to believe. He was not with the group who saw Jesus the first time. He wants to ʻsee with his own eyes and ʻtouchʼ Jesus. He asks for ʻsignsʼ to help him. What do you need to help you believe and grow stronger in your faith? Spend time asking Jesus to meet you at your point of need. Let Him love you there.

• The South African civil rights proponent Allan Boesak once stated that, at the pearly gates, Jesus wonʼt question us about how well we carried out our religious obligations. Heʼll only ask us to show our wounds, those outward signs that weʼve spent our lives imitating Him. Mercy and compassion costs us. Are you ready to hear Jesus ask ʻshow me your woundsʼ?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

These Resources by Living the Word, are prepared by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, ACSD, Marist Laity NZ. You may copy and share them for personal or group use but please ensure the website is credited. www.livingtheword.org.nz

The Easter Triduum:

Reflection Guides are available for

Holy Thursday HERE,

Good Friday Readings are HERE,

A Guide to help reflect on Good Friday from Creighton University is here

Easter Saturday VIGIL is HERE

 

Easter Blessings from the Team at Living the Word.

 

 

 

Preparing With All Your Heart: The Passion of Christ: Discussion Guide is HERE

Reflection Questions

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Palm Sunday: The Passion of the Lord
• The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on
a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent
of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’ – The anointed One. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy.
Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak? When have you been part of an ecstatic crowd of welcome and jubilation? How did you feel during, and after the event?

• The Passion Reading from Mark has many details.  There is betrayal by close friends, the mob violence, milling crowds, political and religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion strikes you most this year, in the particular circumstances of our world today? Your life? Talk to God about that and share with others about it as you are comfortable.

•Raymond Brown, a Catholic Scripture scholar, warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that changed the world. We are there and it is now. Every Mass makes it present today. The Gospel is the living word-
convicting us, converting us -Today! Can you see ways that the same issues are still present today?

Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
Judas – Putting money and his own ideas ahead of his commitment to Jesus.
Fleeing disciples – putting all the focus on personal safety?
Peter – professing and then denying Jesus within the hour?
Soldiers – carrying out unjust orders from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
Pilate – pretending he has no power, washing his hands of justice and ignoring evil?
Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring that rules be kept and ‘safety’  maintained?
Narrator – dispassionately observing and unmoved. Share your responses in prayer over this week.

Barabbas literally translated is Bar = Son, Abbas = (of the) Father. Who is the true ‘Son of the Father‘ – Jesus or Barabbas? What will bring ‘salvation’ : Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt against military powers using military means? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?

• The veil of the Temple sanctuary separated off the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. Mark writes interpretively that this ‘private and exclusive’ meeting place with God has now been revealed as ‘on the cross’ for everyone. Here is the Son of God crucified out of passionate love and the desire to create a new covenant of forgiveness. The cross becomes the ‘new mercy seat’ (hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies) for all to see, believe in, and receive. Spend some time in prayer with Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teach you?

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

These Resources by Living the Word, are prepared by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, ACSD, Marist Laity NZ. You are welcome to copy and share them for personal or group use but please ensure the website is credited. www.livingtheword.org.nz, Email: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com. www.maristlaitynz.org

Ash Wednesday Readings Reflection

• Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent, a six-week period (excluding Sundays) dedicated to prayer, fasting, and reflection in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum. The late Henri Nouwen described Lent as a time to ‘re-focus and re-enter a place of truth’. It is a journey of love, toward love, in love.

• Taking part in the reception of the ashes symbolizes starting the journey. What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? Share a decision and plan with a faith-friend about how you intend to enter & journey through these 40 days & cheer each other on.

• The image from the prophet Joel is an invitation for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone; Old, Young, Babies, Newly married, Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. The world is being invited to STOP due to Covid. How could that enforced ‘stop’ become more personal and intentional for God? What could you Stop? When? How? The image is of a special people called to be ‘light’ rather than a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Pray for the whole Christian church throughout the world during the season of renewed faithfulness. As we turn from sin to become more faithful to the Gospel may our fresh witness resonate with the people of today with the hope that ‘now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day…’.

• Imagine being an ‘Ambassador’ with the responsibility of representing and delivering crucial communication. Your witness and life-style gets challenged to be in harmony with your message. Jesus gives us an ambassadors task of proclaiming ‘on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God’. Will you, as an ambassador, receive the sacrament of reconciliation during this season of Lent? How will your daily life witness to Jesus as a disciple of worship, compassion, and mercy for others?• Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions. When you give alms… When you pray… When you fast… These traditional Lenten practices are powerful tools that help us clearly focus on what is important.

• Prayer: What voices do you listen to?
• Fasting: What things fill your life?
• Almsgiving: Do you hear the cries of those in need and respond?

• Jesus emphasizes that doing these actions in ‘secret’ will be ‘repaid’ by God. ‘In secret’ guards us from seeking attention and personal ‘glory’ from others. Lent is not to be a shallow show. But do not be afraid to share your personal Lent journey with a friend – and also encourage your friend into the depths rather than the surface show.

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

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference given to the Living the Word website.

 

Ash Wednesday – Starting the Lenten Journey

HOW DO I START?

Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by without really placing oneself on the ‘starting line’. Taking part in the reception of ashes symbolizes our decision to start the journey.

If you cannot be part of a service due to health or Covid issues, pray at home or find an on-line service. You can read the Scripture of the day and make the sign of the cross in some way.

It is possible to be at the starting line but not enter the race!

What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? How
can you make this more meaningful? Share a decision/plan with a
faith-friend & ask them to encourage you over the next 40 days.

IT TAKES TIME
The image from the prophet Joel 2:12-18 (1st Reading Ash Wednesday) is an invitation
for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies.
Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. STOP!

Covid may have required an enforced STOP for you. How could make an intentional ‘stop’ at
a personal, spiritual or social level? Where? When?

The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Take some quiet
time to tell yourself you have started the journey and write a decision or plan for Lent.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions (see Gospel for Ash Wed, Matthew
6:1-6,16-18). When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast….
These are the three traditional and powerful Lenten practices that help us focus on what is
important: Our relationship with God, our discipline and discipleship, our interrelationships, witness and community.

Practice of Prayer: What voices do I listen to? How much of my time do I set aside to hear God?

Practice of Fasting: What things fill my life? What is unhealthy? What do I have trouble letting go of? What needs change? Balance? How do my choices care for the environment and the poor?

Practice of Almsgiving: How do I spend my money and resources? Do I hear the cries of those in need and respond? Could I live more simply and be more generous? Do I seek Gods guidance about my financial and resource decisions?

Whether you have access to an Ash Wednesday service this year or not, try to gather with at least one other person face to face or online and give to God your commitment to begin the journey of Lent with a plan and a desire to grow as His disciple.

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.