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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Scripture Readings’

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent (RCIA Readings)

Reflection Questions

  1. Rising from the dead is an image in the First and Gospel readings. Ezekiel was not referring to the resurrection of individuals but returning from exile in ‘slavery’ as God’s people were trapped in a ‘foreign land’. As the journey of Lent nears completion we are encouraged to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We invite the spirit to ‘open our graves’ and ‘rise from them’. Where do you experience ‘lifelessness’? Sadness? Dryness? Death?
  2. Suffering is well known to the prophet Ezekiel. He writes of suffering as tough meat being boiled to tenderness in a pot and the heat of fire burning off the rust on the pot (Ez 24). In the midst of suffering Ezekiel writes 86 times ‘I am the LORD’ reminding us that God is guiding our personal lives and history. Can you trust God can work through your suffering? What is your suffering / salvation story?
  3. While we all live as ‘flesh and blood’ St Paul recognises it is possible for our ‘body / flesh’ to steer our life seeking only to satisfy itself with food and pleasure. Selfish and sensual living (flesh living) alone does not ‘please God’. Our baptism welcomed into our lives the Spirit of Christ which inspires and nudges us to become more like Christ. Consider the great power of the spirit to raise Christ from the dead. What would you like to pray for?
  4. Chapter 11 of John is very special. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the seventh ‘sign’ of Jesus. It is important to recognise a sign points to a reality. Jesus, on hearing of his friends death strangely talks immediately of ‘glory’. He even waits for four days as the Jewish belief was that the spirit of the body hovered over the body for 3 days. It is clear Lazarus is truly dead. Only God can bring someone back from the dead. This will be Jesus’ greatest sign to prove his identity as God. If you were present to this scene what would your questions be?
  5. Martha and Mary ask questions and respond to Jesus like true Jewish disciples and faith seekers. Jesus is considered an intermediary – someone ‘close to God’ ‘whatever you ask of God God will give you’. Jesus is unhappy with this response. Martha responds with a Jewish belief in the final resurrection from the dead and a hope in the Messiah. Jesus boldly proclaims ‘Martha, I AM the resurrection and the life’. In effect Jesus is teaching Martha (and us) I am God and I am in charge of and responsible for the resurrection and all life! Let me prove this to you ‘where have you laid him’? Can you trace your faith journey about Jesus’ identity in the questions of Martha? What does this 7th sign now teach you about Jesus? Do you believe?
  6. The Gospel of John was written in Greek. Greek thinking did not allow God to ‘change’ as this would suggest God was weak and not all-powerful. In the midst of his loved friends we have the profound short sentence. ‘And Jesus wept.’ God weeps and is deeply moved by our pain and sadness. Jesus is also perturbed and troubled. John stirs questions up for us about God. If God weeps what does that mean? Is Jesus upset and angry that people do not recognise who he is? What is your response personally to Jesus in this Gospel story?
  7. Jesus strangely says a prayer of thanksgiving before the tomb. Can you allow yourself to hear this prayer to you in the tomb of your wounds and bandages from your life journey. What do you request this Easter to be untied from?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

talentsDownload 33rd Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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 seriously on the end of the world and the Lord’s second coming. A careful reading of the Parable reveals some disturbing realities
  4. • 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 the text’?
  5. • 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 25th Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. When Amos preached, Israel was prosperous and at peace with its neighbours. Amos, whose ʻday-jobʼ was to look after orchard trees, was upset at the growing gap between the rich and poor. He decided to go the city of Jerusalem to shout out his concerns. False weights in scales, selling the poor as slaves because they could not pay their debt, selling to the poor the food scraps off the floor of the wheat barns of the Rich. Banks trading money, mortgagee sales of those unable to pay interest on their home loans, the rich forcing the poor further into slavery who are only able to buy 2 minute noodles for their families. Do you ʻseeʼ what is happening in society? What is your response to God who says ʻI will never forget a thing they have done!ʼ How does God feel? How do you feel?
  2. Timothy is a young man left by St Paul to lead and guide the community at Ephesus. He is trying to keep the Christian community together. Some believed they had special knowledge and should have more importance in the community. Others were promoting civil disobedience, not wanting to go along with Roman authorities and governmental structures. On Sunday do you lift up holy hands without anger or argument?
  3. Jesusʼ Parable of the Crafty Steward provides Luke with an opportunity to combine the themes of Mercy and Money. Godʼs mercy and care for Godʼs people is to be mirrored by the material care and support of the poor by Godʼs people. This is the ʻcovenantʼ or ʻarrangementʼ Godʼs people are to live by (the reason for Prophet Amos going to Jerusalem in the first reading). Are you in relationship with anyone who is ʻpoorʼ and in need? What might living this covenant mean for you?
  4. The rich man has a dishonest steward, but Jesus concludes by praising some of the dishonest stewards actions. The steward has just lost his job. Before everyone finds out, he has a crafty but risky plan. He will not charge the full interest and commission on the debt. He will win friends and those in debt will also praise the honour of the rich land owner believing that the master is truly honorable in not charging them interest on their ʻloanʼ. Jesus comments that worldly people are often more creative and faithful to their goals and use of money to build ʻtheir kingdomʼ than are spiritual people. How could you creatively use money to build the ʻKingdom of Godʼ. Have you considered any creative fund raising project which could serve the poor? Have you shared your wealth and shown a preferential option for the poor recently?
  5. In the Gospel of Luke, the best use of money is to use it in the service of lifting up the poor. In doing this you will also be ʻrich in the sight of Godʼ – and you will be truly welcomed into your ʻeternal dwellingʼ in heaven. Do you connect Mercy and Money? Have you considered what standard of living is ʻenoughʼ so that you may have something to share with the poor and those in need? How could you be a ʻcrafty stewardʼ of your resources and lifestyle so that you please God and the poor?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

On Thursday 15th August the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption. This is the Patronal Feast Day for New Zealand. To acknowledge this a special livingtheword reflection is posted for this celebration.

Download Feast of the Assumption

Reflection Questions

  1. The Assumption of Mary. Pope Pius XII asked all Bishops in 1950 if their congregations believed that Mary was assumed into heaven. 98 percent answered Yes. The Pope recognised that God was speaking through the Church and the sense of faith of the ʻfaithfulʼ. Maryʼs assumption – being taken up – does not mean she did not die but after her ʻsleepingʼ she was taken body and soul into heaven. We as Christian disciples hope to follow after her.
  2. Christian interpretation has often seen in this first reading the figure of Mary. However the early writer was not writing of Mary but the figure of ʻIsraelʼ – Godʼs People – The Bride – The ʻChurchʼ. The Church giving painful birth to disciples is in tension with the dragon who has worn a variety of faces. The Roman Empire seeking to crush Christianity. Persecution of Jewish leaders on the growing sect of disciples in Jerusalem. Reading the passage with this background what strikes you? What face of the dragon have you experienced trying to ʻdevourʼ your discipleship?
  3. On Special Solemnities the selection of readings seeks to teach deep truths of faith. St Paul writes of the first-fruits the first offering back to God. Jesus rises first… and then each one in proper order those who belong to Christ. Do you consider it fitting and right that Mary is ʻtaken upʼ first to enjoy the resurrection with her son? What is your response to the feast of the Assumption of Mary? What does it teach you? Mean for you?
  4. The historical site of the Visitation is in the small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem called ʻEin Karemʼ. In the Church of the Visitation there are large bronze figures of Mary and Elizabeth, their two pregnant tummies almost touching as they greet each other. A conversation happens between Elizabeth and Mary, but also between John and Jesus. The Old Testament is meeting the New Testament. Zechariah, the High Priestly family, the Jewish Priesthood, is meeting the New Priesthood of Christ. Godʼs promises of old, now fulfilled. The long waiting of the Old Testament is now turned to ʻleaping for joyʼ. The Ark of the Covenant which King David ʻleaped for joyʼ before (2 Sam 6,5) is now fulfilled with John leaping for Joy before Mary, bearing Christ and the new covenantʼ. In the baby and disciple John we see our own leaping for joy in the Church before the Eucharist. What image strikes you the most? What could it teach you for your life?
  5. The Magnificat of Mary rejoices in her Savior, but it is not in a timid tone of a young virgin. Luke places on Maryʼs lips a battle cry. A great reversal of life and fortunes is happening. She who is lowly, from a humble rural town, has had great things done ʻfor meʼ. The world has been tipped-up-side-down with everyone falling from their positions and posessions. In Maryʼs religious and prophetic prayer we glimpse the great reversal that Jesus will accomplish in his mission. What does casting down the mighty and lifting up the lowly mean to you?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 13th Sunday Yr C 

Reflective Questions

  1. Elijah is one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. But even he gets tired. God tells him to find his successor to continue the prophetʼs work. In your ministry and service of God are you ʻfinding a successorʼ to share the load and replace you? Have a conversation with God about this.
  2. Elijah is very wealthy. Most families would own only 1 Oxen. He kills the 12 Oxen and uses the farming tools to create a fire. He destroys everything so as to not be attracted back to his old life. He makes a decision that Godʼs work has primacy of place and is the first calling upon his life. Imagine living these actions within your own life and circumstances. What attracts you? In what areas of your life are you not ʻfreeʼ?
  3. St Paul continues to teach the Galatian community about the true nature of freedom. Freedom is really being ʻfree for othersʼ. To not be attached or enslaved to material possessions and self indulging desires (flesh) requires discipline and effort. In what area of your life could you make a daily prayer this week for God to help you? Is there an action you could do to enter this particular journey of ʻfreedomʼ this week
  4. From Luke 9,51 we meet a tougher Jesus. Some texts have Jesus ʻset his face like flintʼ toward Jerusalem. He is determined and makes large demands of his disciples. Going to Jerusalem represents Jesusʼ obedience to God to do ʻhis willʼ. Is there anything you have heard God ask you to do? What will it involve for you to ʻset your faceʼ resolutely toward doing it?
  5. Three unknown people have questions about discipleship in the Gospel. We are invited to hear their questions echo in our own hearts, enter the conversation, respond to Jesusʼ challenge. Jesus has nowhere to lay his head. Are you free enough to leave home, security, comfort?
  6. Care for and burial of oneʼs parents was a top social and cultural priority for Jewish people. Allegiance to parents and duties as a child is replaced by Jesus with ʻproclaiming the kingdom of Godʼ. What pressures or expectations does society or your family place upon you? Do these ʻlimitʼ your freedom to respond to God by living the values and lifestyle of Jesus? How? What will you now do?
  7. Jesus takes disciples on a special journey toward Jerusalem from this point in the Gospel. There is no turning back. The joy and success of ministry in Galilee changes to resistance by religious people and civil authorities. Jesus urgently teaches his disciples about mission and the Kingdom of God. Imagine a fire is burning and many peopleʼs lives are in danger. Would you let go of your ʻworkʼ to ʻsaveʼ these people? Such is the call of the Kingdom of God. How will you respond?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download Reflection – 1st Sunday Advent Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Advent begins today. The color purple has an interesting background for us to ponder. Purple dye historically originated from a tiny shell-fish. It took 12,000 shell fish to make 1.5 grams of pure dye. The expense meant it was used only by the wealthy and became a symbol of royalty. Advent purple indicates we are waiting for the coming of the King of Kings. We are ‘preparing’ for the birth of Jesus but also spiritually for the second ‘coming’. Ponder for a few minutes what you would do if in 4 weeks time you were truly going to stand before Jesus Christ the King.
  2. Jeremiah was a prophet in a very difficult time. Jewish King after Jewish King had failed to bring peace. God’s people were now in exile in Babylon. In the midst of foreign people and their gods Jewish people began to lose hope. Jeremiah reminds them of a promise made by God to believe in: I will raise up a ‘just shoot’ from the line of David. So beautiful will this event be, the great city of Jerusalem will be renamed – Justice! In the midst of life’s difficulties what brings you hope? Frequently we think of God’s love, but do we recognise what God really wants is ‘justice’. Do you hope for this as a future event or do you give your life to its fulfillment ‘today’?
  3. Thessalonica was one of the earliest christian communities. A port city bringing trade and culture, hot springs bringing tourists. It was prime real estate in a Roman provincial town. With many cultures came many gods, Greek, Egyptian, Roman Emperor worship. Paul had been chased out of this town quickly but had established a small group of christian followers. He writes to encourage them to be blameless in holiness, living lives pleasing to God. Ready ‘for the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones’. Picture your own town instead of Thessalonica. What is the purpose of ‘conducting yourselves to please God’? Is it only for heaven or a sign for people ‘today’ of heaven?
  4. Year C begins with our move from the Gospel of Mark to the Gospel of Luke. Luke’s community is tired of waiting on a promise of Christ’s return. Luke gives instruction on how christians are to live while ‘waiting’. What does the image: ‘stand erect and raise your head’ mean to you. What would make you do this? What does living in readiness ‘now’ actually look like for you?
  5. Luke contrasts people of the ‘world’ with hearts drowsy or hardened with excessive sensual pleasure, drunkenness, worries, with christian disciples watchful and vigilant, praying and ready to stand before the Son of Man. Where are you in this picture? What advent practices could you begin to be ‘vigilant’ ‘prayerful’ ‘ready’? What would you like to bring to God in the Advent practice of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation?
  6. We all know what December will involve: shopping, christmas cards, cooking, end of year celebrations. Will you be satisfied? How could you ‘slow down’ and set aside time to soak up the christian focus of Christmas – is there a church near or on the journey from work  you could visit for 5 minutes daily?
  7. Christians view the end of the world differently: ‘What the caterpillar calls end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly’
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 22nd Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. Deuteronomy literally means ‘second book of law’. The 10 commandments given to Moses when applied to daily life became a large set of 613 guidelines to live a holy life. These are explored in the Book of Deuteronomy and added to by the ‘teaching of the elders’. Jewish people treasured their ‘laws’ as a national treasure. Truth. Wisdom. Justice. Is a relationship helped or hindered by ‘laws’? What religious guidelines do you ‘observe carefully’? What practices have you found help you feel ‘close’ to God?
  2. The Letter of James is regarded as a ‘Catholic’ or ‘general’ letter as it was not written for a particular community. James insists liturgy and life-style are linked together. He paints a beautiful picture: a disciple is like a new birth, a new creation of ‘truth’ made from the WORD. Like the first-fruit of a plant, the seed of the word is planted in us and should show itself outwardly. Eventually the aim of the plant is to ‘look like something’ – actions of caring for orphans and widows (the lowest in society) and an ‘unworldly’ character. Planting takes some preparation and nurturing. How could you allow the word to be more fully ‘planted in you’? It is easy for religion to be ‘skin deep’. Who are ‘orphans’ and ‘widows’ in your life? What would it look like for you to be ‘unstained by the world’ – less worldly?
  3. Returning back to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is in Galilee but ‘spies’ from Jerusalem come to watch him. Pharisees and scribes seek to shame him in public telling Jesus and his disciples they are not keeping the ‘traditions of the elders’ (613 laws) and obeying the ‘purity codes’. Eating food is an intimate practice as it involves what goes into our bodies. Washing and cleansing rules were to apply. These rules gradually developed into such a complex list that poor and working people of the land could not satisfy all the conditions. This experience turned religion into oppression and made people feel distant from God. Jesus challenged this dynamic of oppression and exclusion under the guise of holiness.  How might Jesus challenge us today?
  4. Pharisees saw themselves as lay people stirring up the faithful toward a ‘super-piety’. Israel was called to Holiness Lets be holy! Two characteristics mark the pharisee spirituality. (1) religion becomes a set of rules to be lived rather than a relationship of love to be lived. (2) Judgement is made of others who do not follow ‘rules’ consequently separating those who are ‘in – clean’ and ‘out – unclean’. How can you see this dynamic within yourself? In others? What does authentic holiness look like for you?
  5. Jesus over-turns the entire Jewish system of ritual purity which focussed on set external actions making one acceptable before God. It is revolutionary as these purity laws were proud identity markers for Jews of their ‘holiness’. He points deeply into the heart adding three ideas not normally listed
  • blasphemy – literally ‘saying what is wrong is actually right’
  • arrogance – literally ‘trying to make a thing shiny’
  • folly – foolish – literally ‘without a deeper perspective’
  • Do you consider these inner characteristics harmful? What virtues could you practice as their ‘antidote’?

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

Download 5th Sunday Easter Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. God is a God of surprises but the disciples were afraid of Saul. They could not imagine the greatest source of persecution could ‘turn-around’. The situation required someone courageous like Barnabas. He had the knickname ‘son of encouragement’. He had witnessed Saul in Damascus and stepped up to being a mentor. A link. Introduced Paul to the Apostles. Imagine the loss for the Church if Barnabas hadn’t ‘taken charge of him’? Who is on the ‘outside’ of your group, community, workplace whom you could include?
  2. Barnabas and Paul show us the cost of the committed christian life. They are ‘radicals’. They go a bit further. Without people like Barnabas and Paul the Church is stagnant. Paul’s first preaching experiences to the Hellenists (Greeks) in Damascus and Jerusalem ended with attempts to ‘kill him’. And yet both Paul and Barnabas did not stop. Have you met resistance in preaching the message of life and peace of Jesus? Do you have a safe place like Paul’s home in Tarsus to retreat to when necessary?
  3. LOVE is lived. It looks like something. Too easily love can stay in ‘word or speech’ and not make it to ‘deed and truth’. What love action could you commit to this week that you have struggled with for a while? What words or promises have you made but you have failed to back up with action?
  4. The image of the Gospel this Sunday is of life flowing through the vine into the branches.  ‘Remain in me’ repeats itself 6 times! Remain in me is different from remain close to me or read my book. How could you go 1 step further in praying with scripture, celebrating the sacraments, living christian community?
  5. The intimacy of the ‘vine’ image for John’s gospel is a description of the church and the individual disciple. In baptism we were truly joined to Jesus’ mystical body the Church. In the eucharistic union of our lives with the body and blood of Jesus in ‘holy communion’ we are called to bear the ‘fruit’ of replicating the life of Jesus in the world. Pray with the idea of being ‘fruitful’ and bringing ‘glory’ to the Father. What do you begin to think about?
  6. Jesus shares that the experience of praying with his Word is like being ‘pruned’. Have you experienced the scriptures ‘cutting’ and bringing you pain? Yet also directing you to what is life-giving?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

 

 

Download readings and reflection questions: 5th Sunday Lent Yr B (RCIA)

Download readings and reflection questions:  5th Sunday Lent Yr B

The RCIA readings and reflection questions this week raise the issues of rising from our sadness, trusting God can deliver wisdom through our suffering, and the great and final ‘sign’ of Jesus in the Gospel of John: Raising Lazarus from the tomb.

If you parish does not have candidates for Baptism at Easter, the readings raise the issues of the covenant relationship with God, suffering and the significant moment of Jesus saying the saving ‘hour’ has arrived.

Donations: If you have used and enjoyed livingtheword and are able to make a donation click here for details. $380 received with thanks seeking a total of $800. This will be the final request shared for donations. If you have been considering it, let this request be your opportunity to give. Many students, young adult groups, parishes and faith sharing groups use this resource. As someone shared with me recently, a 50 cent per week for each download would be a donation of $25 so here it is! Every donation helps. Cheers. Enjoy and Share. Fr Frank