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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Young Adult Bible Study’

Discussion Guide for Discipleship=A Radical “No” to Power

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Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Wisdom continues the suffering servant theme of Isaiah last week and points to the suffering that Jesus will experience. Many Jewish
    people were searching for meaning and guidance outside Judaism while living in Alexandria (a large Greek city). Have you experienced a time when you went searching for other belief systems because the society you lived in made fun of your religious beliefs? Where did you turn? What happened?
  2. The Book of Wisdom reveals worldly people oppose Godly people. They pretend righteous motivations…. ‘let us see whether his words be true’…. ‘let him prove his gentleness and patience’. Has this experience of persecution and trial been part of your Christian witness? Have you been able to live in trust that ‘God will take care of you’? Can you see and believe evil actions ultimately get found out and goodness is vindicated?
  3. Living in peace with each other in Christian community is our calling. A desire for glory and power and possessions needs to be brought out into the open. What peace-full virtue from James could you practice more of: be pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant? What object or honour are you wanting to possess? Name a ‘selfish ambition’.
  4. Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark has 3 predictions of the passion. Each time Jesus talks about his suffering the disciples completely misunderstand what
    he is talking about. Today is the second prediction. Jesus talks about Death. Disciples talk about Glory. Jesus’ teaching about accepting suffering is contrasted with his disciples argument about seniority. 2 lifestyles are revealed. What style of living describes you: living upward (glory and honouSayingr and violence) or living downward (service and humility and nonviolence)?
  5. Jesus chooses to expose the disciples lust for power in a quieter moment inside the house. He challenges them. They were really just concerned about power and glory… who was the greatest? Jesus does a very revealing action. While they wanted to know who was at the top, Jesus takes a child representing someone at the bottom. He collapses the social and power structure. Receive and welcome and show hospitality and inclusion to the bottom in society. Can you see how living this invitation will inevitably enter a disciple into upsetting the status quo. Upsetting the power structure of society. Jesus calls this a disciple “picking up the cross”. In your world, community family, workplace, who is at the bottom (equivalent of a child in Jesus’ time). How could you receive them? Jesus identifies with them. Will you stand up for them?
  6. In Jesus’ time, a child was at the bottom of society because in a shame / honor culture, it would be highly unlikely that an act toward a child would be  rewarded by the child talking to the community about the hospitality received. As a result, a kind action does not get rewarded with honour in the eyes of the community. Therefore it is not worth doing. Can you recognise how subversive Jesus’ placing the child “in their midst” is to the culture of the disciples. Who is the equivalent of a “child” today?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

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.livingtheword.org.nz   www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus.

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Reflection Questions

  • The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) began as a response to increased devotion to the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the 12th Century. This led to a desire to ʻseeʼ, Jesus in the consecrated elements. In 1220 in Paris the practice of elevating the host began.
    • A Covenant was a binding agreement and promise between two parties. Moses conducts a ʻsacrificeʼ which seals the bond between God and Israel. Blood = life. Life = God. Everyone sprinkled now participates in a relationship and keeps the ʻagreementʼ: the 10 commandments. Being sprinkled with ʻbloodʼ was a very significant event. How would you make a life-long bond and commitment today? How well do you connect the sprinkling of blood, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the blood of the covenant with the Eucharist? What would help this connection for you?
    • The New Testament Letter to the Hebrews explores the Book of Numbers and Leviticus and helps us understand Jesus as fulfilling and replacing the role of the High Priest in the Temple. The Feast of the Atonement (at-one-ment described in Lev 16) involved God forgiving sins through the action of blood being rubbed on the Mercy Seat in the most holy of holies, the tabernacle. Life represented by Blood rubs out Death represented by Sin. As well as blood bringing forgiveness, the ashes of a sacrifice were sprinkled onto water and it became ʻwaters of purificationʼ for blessing and making people ʻcleanʼ. Can you see the links to Holy Water as we enter the Church? Our Bodies receiving the blood of Christ in the chalice? The Cross of Jesus is in the Cup? How could you prepare yourself to make this a deeply special experience?
    • The Jewish Passover involved a special meal with meat of a lamb (sacrifice), bread (remembering both unleavened bread and the quick escape from Egypt and the manna from heaven while in the desert) and cups of wine (the 3rd cup remembered passing through the red sea from Egypt into the desert). Jesus now changes the words and actions and institutes a new sacred meal. He speaks interpretative words upon the bread and wine to teach us his meaning. He longer looks backward in history, but forward to the next day of his death on the cross. The unrisen bread will now become his body broken on the cross. The 3rd cup of wine will become his blood poured out establishing a new covenant. Do you see the beauty and eternal significance of the celebration of Mass? Do you have any questions to ask that would help you growin faith and understanding? Who could you ask?
    • Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion can become ʻeasyʼ and ʻordinaryʼ. The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus highlights the importance of the Mass in our lives. Do you accept the invitation to be in a ʻcovenantʼ and intimate relationship with God? Will you seek to maintain union in prayer and action during the week? Will you agree to ʻparticipateʼ in the building of the Kingdom of God of peace and justice? Are you willing to imitate Christ; to live for God and love all people to the extent that your body is broken and your blood poured out? Can you see a deeper invitation as you receive Jesus?
    • 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 for Palm Sunday is here.   Is 50:4-7. Phil 2:6-11,  Mk 14:1-15:47 or Mk 15:1-39

Reflection Questions Palm Sunday

• 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’. 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?

• The Passion Reading from Mark has many details. There is betrayal by close friends, the violence of crowds, politicalnand religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion attracts your attention this year, in the circumstances of our world? your life?

•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 will ultimately change the world. We are there and it is now. The Gospel is convicting. Today. Can you see how the same issues are present today. Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
• Judas – selling out on God for money?
• Fleeing disciples – worrying so much about one’s own safety?
• Peter – professing and denying Jesus within the hour?
• Soldiers – carrying out unjust instructions from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
• Pilate – pretending to be powerless, washing hands of justice and choosing to ignore evil?
• Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and prefering the rules are kept and people are ‘safe’?
• Barabbas can be literally translated as Bar – Son. Abbas – Father. Who is the true Son of the Father? Jesus or Barabbas? Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt
against military powers using military means that will bring ʻsalvationʼ? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?

• The veil of the sanctuary separated into a special area of the Temple the Holy of Holies. In this place only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. The Gospel of 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 and looking upon Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teachyou?

• 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

Reflection Guide for Jesus’ Invitation

Discussion Questions

Jon 3:1-5, 10/1 Cor 7:29-31/Mk 1:14-20

  • The Book of the Prophet Jonah is a  book about his life. It is understood not to be an historical writing, but a reflection on the nationalism of the Hebrew people (represented by Jonah) who could not consider ‘Gentiles’ as worthy of recieving God’s Mercy and attention (represented by the Gentile city of Nineveh). Jonah was called by God to speak to the people of Nineveh but instead chose to run in the opposite direction. Only after trying to escape and spending 3 days in the belly of a whale did he show obedience to God’s call. Strikingly the people of Nineveh responded to God’s call to change and ‘turn from their evil way’. Have you heard a constant voice, noticed a constant desire, felt a passion stir withinthat does not go away? This is frequently the way people experience God’s ‘call’ upon their life. Are you ‘running in the opposite direction’? Arguing with God (like Jonah) with reasons ‘why you will not do it’. What is your best guess as God’s calling on your life today. What is your response?
  • Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is an early letter when Paul still thought Jesus would be returning ‘very soon’. While we are conscious of Jesus’ delayed return his message still holds: all the things of the world will pass away and nothing is to become an obstacle between ourselves and God. List the relationships and objects / possessions that are important to you. Is anyone / anything damaging the time and relationship and obedience that God is asking of you? What could you do to restore a balance? What could you ‘let go of’ to be more available to God?
  • The beginning of Mark’s Gospel quickly teaches about being a disciple of Jesus. In a dark way the cost of being a true disciple is suggested with John the Baptist being ‘handed over’. Jesus too will be handed over. Disciples too will be handed over. A battle scene is subtly painted with words. Satan’s rule is now going to be replaced by that of God: The Kingdom of God is at hand! While sometimes slower at revealing itself, God’s way, to bring justice and overcome evil, will triumph. Are you with God? Are you engaged in overcoming ‘evil’ or are you passively watching? What does ‘Repent’ (change) mean for you?
  • Simon and Andrew, with their Father and hired men are considered to be at least ‘middle class’. Part of a family business, boats, employees. In following Jesus they are letting go of family expectations and financial security. They must be attracted to an even greater concern. What is it? Re-image the scene using your own ‘family’ and ‘work’. What is your response to Jesus?
  • In the Gospel of Mark, immediately Jesus chooses disciples. Immediately he places himself with others in a community. He will teach but also receive companionship. Who are like-minded people who you need to support your discipleship? How could you ‘build community’ together to encourage faithfulness and obedience to Jesus?
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide for 3rd Sunday of Advent 2017 is here:

Advent: Presence not Presents

Reflection Questions

• Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday when the Pink candle of the Advent Wreath is lit. The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon – ‘Rejoice’. This theme is found in the first two readings. We are reminded that the joyful coming of Christ is drawing nearer. Christmas celebrates presence with presents.

• Isaiah gives us the prophetic text which Jesus himself uses as his mission and identity statement in Luke(4:16). It speaks of bringing people back home, releasing them from slavery and imprisonment in foreign lands. A ‘year of favour’ was the 50th ‘Jubilee Year’ practice of forgiving all debts and return of all land back to its original family. What a beautiful revolution! What aspect of Jesus’ mission could you practice this Christmas? With family?

• The marriage covenant image of God marrying his people is beautifully presented. In Christ – at Christmas – Heaven is now wedded to Earth. What does it mean? Do you truly rejoice?

•The call to holiness is repeated again as we journey toward the Second Coming (Advent continuously refuses to separate the first and second coming of Jesus). The Second Reading becomes like a spiritual ‘health – check’. Do you: Rejoice? Pray frequently? Give thanks in the ups and downs? Pursue the will of God? Stop the spirit? Avoid opportunities for God to speak? Filter good and evil influences upon your life? Hold fast to what is good? Turn from evil? Perhaps this ‘check list’ may help you in Advent preparation forthe sacrament of reconciliation.

• Week 2 and 3 of Advent present the figure of John the Baptist. He is theone announcing the public arrival of the Messiah – Jesus. Like a Herald announcing a King, the intention is to ensure readiness and welcome. Jewish custom expected Elijah and a prophet like Moses to return to make this announcement. Religious leadersare confused. What do you make of this ‘debate’? The Gospel writer John neatly plays on words with John saying ‘I am not’ which will later contrast with Jesus repeated
statements I AM (the divine name received by Moses on Mt Sinai). Does John the Baptist stir you to ‘get ready’. If not, what would it take? What are you waiting for?

• The image of sandals actually teach us about Jesus. It was a custom for disciples to carry the sandals of  their teacher. But only a slave would untie the sandals and wash feet. John proclaims that Jesus is so holy that he is not ‘fit’ to be even considered a slave in the presence of Jesus. It is a reference to the holiness of God. We touch the awesome reality of Christmas: God is birthed – enfleshed – among us in Jesus. Do you get it?

• 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. Administered by Bev McDonald, Marist Laity NZ Facilitator. web: www.livingtheword.org.nz        www.maristlaitynz.org     e-mail: contact@livingtheword.

Reflection Sheet. 17th Sunday Year A:What Are We Seeking?

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Discussion Questions:

  1. Solomon is not simply having a ‘dream’. The last person to possibly take his kingship (Shimei see 1Kings 2, 8) has now died so Solomon is now truly King. He has also just married the King of Egypt (Pharoah’s) daughter! Solomon’s power and political responsibilities are immense. He makes a special journey to Gibeon, a very special ‘high place’ and altar. With him he presents 1000 burnt offerings on the altar! (1Kings 3,4). The intensity of his prayer and yet his humility is striking. You have made me. I am your servant. I have the responsibilities of a King. Yet I am young. I don’t know what to do. Give me an ‘understanding heart’. What would your deepest and most heart-felt prayer be to God as God asks you: ‘Ask something of me’.
  2. The journey of life involves ‘ups and downs’. It takes great faith to trust that ‘all things work for good for those who love God’. Consider a difficult life experience. How has it ‘worked for your good’? Have you allowed it to mould you closer ‘to the image of his Son’?
  3. The phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ is the idea Jesus most talked about in the gospels. Having a heart for the poor. A desire and commitment to see that all are ‘included’. Fighting all systems that exclude and oppress. The compassion and forgiveness offered to us by God. These can be ‘ideas’ or ‘lived realities’. A treasure ‘thought about’ or a ‘treasure possessed’. Being possessed by ‘The Kingdom’ comes at a cost because it invites us into a complete transformation of our life. Compare your lifestyle with Jesus in the Gospels. What attracts you? What do you need to ‘let go’? What risk are you being invited to take?
  4. Filled with joy, the person in the parable sells all that he owns to buy it. The treasure (the kingdom) has now possessed him! Have you ever had an experience where something you valued is now considered ‘worthless’. How did your heart change ‘attachment’? What do you truly ‘love’ and would be willing to ‘sell all that you have’ for its possession? Are the top ‘values’ that steer your life Kingdom values or Worldly values?
  5. As in previous Ch 13 parables, Jesus includes a subversive challenge. There will be a judgment at the end of time based on how we have lived. Have we chosen and lived for the Kingdom and lived ‘rightly’ (righteously)? Or have we been ‘wicked’, consciously or unconsciously not contributing to justice and God’s plan for all? If the final judgement was to take place within a few months what would this cause you to do?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Year A 16th Sunday Small stories, powerful ideas Reflection here.

Reading 1 Wis 12:13, 16-19, Reading II Rom 8:26-27, Gospel Mt 13:24-33

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Discussion Guide and Questions

The Book of Wisdom was written for Jewish people living in cities heavily influenced by Greek culture and philosophy. Wisdom teaching was to remind them of their history and relationship with God. People are to learn from the patience and gentleness and forgiving nature of God and show this in their own lives. How can you be both ‘just’ and ‘kind’? Does your use of power show itself in being ‘lenient’ and gentle to all?

Last week the Spirit dwelling within us was referred to as a ‘first-fruits’. A first installment. An engagement ring looking forward to the promise of the wedding day! St Paul today provides a beautiful image of the presence and power of the Spirit at work in us. The Spirit prays within us in a unique way to God. Have you experienced a time of wanting to pray to God but not having words to describe how you feel. What prayer intention does your body and spirit ‘groan’ with to God? Do you recognise that this experience can be a powerful prayer? Offer this groaning today to God in prayer.

Weeds. Seeds. Yeast. Each image expresses something of the way that God and God’s project (growing the Kingdom of heaven) is present and alive in the world. Allowing wheat and weeds to grow together is risky farming. What is your emotional reaction to the presence of good and evil existing alongside each other? Within you? Can you glimpse the patience of God?

The mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet within a year it can turn into a shrub large enough to be mistaken for a tree. From very small beginnings it becomes something extraordinarily large. Can you identify a small action of love and service that made a profound impact on you? Can you recognise your daily ‘sowing’ mustard seeds of justice and forgiveness and gentleness builds the kingdom of heaven? What ‘seed’ needs to be sown most in your workplace / home today?

The humble presence of a small amount of yeast in a large quantity of flour dramatically transforms a flour mixture into bread (three measures would feed 100 people). Jesus challenges disciples to be this type of ‘presence’ in the world. Yet the kingdom requires a person to be completely possessed by a small seed: love your neighbour as yourself.

Parables often hide a challenging message. The apparent power of evil. The littleness of the ‘seeds’ of our loving. The small amount of our ‘yeast’ in the vastness of the world and its problems. Yet the mustard seed is tremendously fruitful. The yeast succeeds in transforming flour. Hope is at the centre of kingdom living. The ‘righteous will shine’. Can you live full of hope – refusing to be beaten by the reality you see?

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

The Reflection Sheet: “Choose Jesus; choose to make a difference”  is here

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Questions for Group or Individual Use

  1. The Shunemite woman is not identifiedbut described as a woman of influence. Sheltering a prophet involved considerable risk in the political situation of her time. She chose to offer radical hospitality and make a difference. This story from Elisha’s miracles highlights the truth of the Gospel where Jesus says, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophets reward… ”. What are the parallels you see between the Gospel and the Shunemite woman’s story?
  2. Her risk ended up being life-giving and fruitful with the birth of child. Offering radical hospitality is a risky business. In parts of the world it can involve considerable risk to profess Christianity and in others it’s seen as irrelevant or held up for derision. What are the pressures around you? What help do you need from God?
  3. St Paul uses the analogy that choosing Jesus is to be ‘baptized’ not only into new life in and with Christ, but also into death with him. What are some of the things that you may need to let go of or in a sense die to, in order to truly live for Christ in our world today? Do you ever think about your Baptism in those terms? You could intentionally renew those promises as an adult choice next time you pray the Creed?
  4. There is a prevailing feeling that to choose something means to lose freedom. To choose does mean to let go of the many possibilities for the one and so much works against us making that choice, so we can keep our options open. How do you respond to that idea?
  5. Do you know the saying that ‘to be a jack of all trades is to be master of none?’ What is Jesus asking us to master? How does making a choice for the one thing Jesus offers, involve a sense of dying to other possibilities?
  6. Love in the Bible differs radically from the notion of “love” today, which is used primarily to convey heartfelt emotion. The love Jesus refers to could be expressed as like the deep attachment family members have for one another. It conveys the meaning of being permanently attached, staying connected with one another no matter what. As disciples we are called into a profound attachment to Christ akin to a revolutionary realignment of every facet of our life. The choice is presented starkly here to help us appreciate the depth of the call and commitment Jesus asks us to choose, but also the depth of the reward that is faithfully assured.
  7. Think about people who support your faith journey. How do they offer you a ‘cup of water’? Water is essential and sustains life. How are you life-giving for others?
  8. Do you know someone who struggles to accept Christ or the Church? What is the promise for you and for them in this Gospel? What do Christians need to do for them to receive their reward?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

6th Sunday Easter. Love is a Verb Reflection is here.

Pope Francis quote:

Discussion questions.

  1. Persecution in Jerusalem saw many christians go out to other towns and cities. Samaria was the Northern part of Israel, the home of the ‘Samaritans’. Because of history and religious differences – they waited for the Messiah to come to Mt Gerazim instead of Jerusalem – Samaritans and Jews did not associate together. It is a newly appointed Greek speaking Philip (see last weeks readings) who enters into this area. Looking back on your life, has sufferings, trials, persecution helped you expand the horizons of your life? In your workplace or parish do some barriers need to be broken down? Who could be a ‘Philip’ without the baggage of the past to work in this area?
  2. Philip’s whole life won people over to his message. It was not only his words but ‘the signs’ he was doing. Does your lifestyle help or hinder people to hear and accept the gospel?
  3. Peter’s letter acknowledges suffering. Keep your conscience clear and show good conduct. How could this apply to your life?
  4. The Easter-tide readings are still dwelling upon the farewell speech of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel of John (Jn 14-17). He promises to send to them ‘another advocate’. Advocate comes from a greek legal word meaning someone who will give ‘good advice’ and stand alongside to speak for you. Like a lawyer in a courtroom. In trials and troubles the Holy Spirit will lead into ‘truth’. John will also use the words ‘Paraclete’ (one standing alongside) and comforter as words to explain the role and experience the Holy Spirit will bring. Ponder the words ‘Advocate’ and ‘Paraclete’ and ‘Comforter’. Does this expand your appreciation of the Holy Spirit?
  5. Many consider the Holy Spirit difficult to know and experience. A guide from the scripture texts – could it be that being more courageous in mission – being ‘taken to court’ – might help us experience the Holy Spirit at work in our lives? Can you identify an experience of the spirit in your life? How could this experience be grown and deepened?
  6. There is a long prayer tradition of repeating and deeply feeling the words of a scripture phrase. Our mind focusses upon the words and our heart feels its truth. John shares some beautiful phrases today. Pray for 5 minutes with a phrase… take one with you for your car journey, lunchtime prayer, personal quiet time….
  • ‘I am in the Father and you are in me and I in you’.
  • ‘Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father’
  • ‘I will love you and reveal myself to you’.

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

Download Good Friday Readings

Spend time today aware that you too are the beloved disciple standing with Mary at the foot of the cross.  Reflect on the depth of God’s love for you and every person.