God has actually spoken

The scripture readings for Sunday are a great starting point to start listening

more

It's more enjoyable with others

There are some simple and effective ways to share scripture in homes, cafes, parishes

more

Let's walk the talk

Prayer becomes lived out when we make decisions and lifestyle commitments

more

Sign up for email notifications

Or follow us via Twitter, facebook, RSS and more

more

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Young Adult Scripture Study’

Reflection Guide is here

Mustard Seed Clip Art | Parable of the Mustard Seed

Discussion Questions

  1. Ezekiel is different because he was both a Priest and a Prophet. He was with God’s people when they were deported to Babylon enduring suffering and slavery. They were without a Temple, their Land, a King. In a time of great distress, he is humbled to realise that very few people listen to him (and God) and even less respond with obedient living to God’s ways. He shares an image of a ‘snip’ of a great tree, a ‘faithful small remnant’ of people will be planted by God in Jerusalem. So deeply does he believe in God’s guidance of history he repeats ‘the Lord will do this’ 86 times. Would you consider yourself part of God’s ‘tender shoot’, faithful and obedient? The tree (Church) of God will include all types of birds and winged creatures and the ‘lowly’. How inclusive are you toward others?
  2. It is important to understand St Paul. Our bodies are good but there is a ‘desire’ in our flesh that is deeply selfish. A Christian disciple lives and walks by ‘faith’ not by ‘flesh’. Jesus guides our life and choices not the selfish desires many in the ‘world’ chase. Is your ‘home’ in Jesus or the ways of the world. Paul encourages disciples to face this tension and question head-on. Imagine an examination of your life at the end of time: What did you live for? What was your heart attached to?
  3. Jesus very early on in the Gospel of Mark meets great resistance. His family think he is ʻout of his mindʼ and religious leaders from Jerusalem suggest he is possessed by a demonʼ (Mark 3,20). It
    does not look like Jesus is having much success. Have you met resistance from family and people in leadership? How did you cope? What did you hold on to so as to continue your call and purpose?
  4. Jesus shares a story of the mysterious and silent working of God in bringing theʻKingdomʼ. Just as farmers presume something is happening to a seed under the ground, we also need to trust not
    always by sight but what we know. In truth, the mustard seed only grows to a 4 foot ʻbushʼ! Are you expecting Church to be a magnificent Cedar tree and struggle with the reality of a stumpy ʻbushʼ? Is Jesus suggesting a change from strong and powerful to humble and ʻmedicinalʼ? The mustard-seed was considered to be a medication for many ills.
  5. The topic most frequently talked about by Jesus was the ʻKingdom of Godʼ (Kingdom of Heaven). He chose to use parables to describe ʻGodʼs waysʼ. Parables trap us. We agree with some parts of the story but resist or donʼt want to agree with other parts. We reject it, or open ourselves to an opportunity of a new way of understanding (conversion). Why did Jesus choose to describe the
    Kingdom as a mustard seed? We like the idea of many birds finding shelter and the
    church ʻwelcoming and includingʼ all people. But a ʻmustardʼ seed and bush was a backyard weed, very stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Is the way of God really requiring a revolution? Who gets
    threatened by that? Do you prefer the status quo or an inclusive change welcoming the poor and marginalized?
  6. 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 Trinity Sunday

Reflection Questions

  • Easter concludes with 50 days and the celebration of Pentecost. The Feast of the Trinity and the Feast of Corpus Christi are the Sunday experiences before us. Yet what we celebrate and believe is far from ʻordinaryʼ. Moses speaks to the people and us: can your imagination comprehend how great it is that God has personally ʻspokenʼ to us in the fire on the mountain of Sinai. God personally fought for us and rescued us out of Egypt where we were mistreated. Can you recognize and see with ʻyour very eyesʼ things God has done for you? What experience do you need to treasure more deeply?
    • This Trinity was first of all an experience of disciples before it became a theological teaching. ʻGod does not prove himself, he shows himselfʼ. Jesus is the Messiah sent by the Father. His life and words reveals the Fathers love and Mercy. The Spirit is the first gift into our hearts. Imagine the whole experience of being ʻadoptedʼ. The parents doing it and the child receiving it. The child will need help to cry out ʻAbbaʼ – Daddy. Do you experience this relationship? ʻYou did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fearʼ. What do these words mean for you?
  • The most significant events in the Gospel of Matthew happen on Mountains. It symbolises being very close to God and consequently the events taking place have the full authority and power of God. It is almost humourous that the disciples bow down in worship but are also doubting. Some texts have ʻbut some doubtedʼ. Jesusʼ response is to approach them! And even in the midst of doubt he sends them into the world with a job / mission. Imagine yourself in this scene. Do you bow, kneel, stand, doubt, hunger, question, fear, run, watch….? What do you wish to say to Jesus as he ʻsends you outʼ?
    • Knowing and using a personʼs name symbolises a relationship and knowledge of the person. Using a persons name attracts and turns the persons attention toward you. Reflect on using the name of someone who loves you. What is the experience of calling their ʻnameʼ? Imaginatively enter this experience speaking to each person of the Trinity. Abba – Father. Jesus – Son. Holy Spirit. Can you glimpse a personal relationship and knowledge of each?
    • Within the mystery of Godʼs nature we enter a mystery that love is not alone – but a relationship of 3. Consider the ancient icon of the Trinity above. There is an empty space at the table for you to ʻpull up your chairʼ at prayer and at the Eucharistic table. What do you notice as you spend time in prayer with this icon?
    • Jesus gives clear – and challenging – instructions. There is no privileged people, his message is for ʻall nationsʼ. A new rite of Baptism in the name of Father Son and Holy Spirit will mark an acceptance and adoption into the family of God. People need to be taught how to ʻobserveʼ and live Jesusʼ teachings. ʻGoʼ! Do you have a consciousness of being involved in this ʻgreat commissionʼ? If people were to be with you, would they glimpse a love-relationship alive and nurtured by a church community? If anyone asked you about your relationship with God what would you share?
    • What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

 

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

Discussion Guide is here

Image result for Praying Fasting Giving

Exodus 20:1-3,7-8,12-17, 1 Cor. 1:22-25, Gospel Jn 2:13-25

Reflection Questions

• Jewish Rabbiʼs would dance with the books of the Law. The 10 commandments was like a treasure
and a link to the marriage covenant and relationship that God had promised with his chosen people.
What strikes you about this image of ʻdancingʼ with the law? Are these ʻlawsʼ a burden? Or are they guidance directly from God that will lead to a full and joyful life? What ʻlawʼ grabs your attention the most. Why? Talk with God about that.
• The word ʻcommandʼ literally means something ʻplaced in oneʼs handʼ. Like a letter from a close friend or special advice from a wise grandparent. Which bit of advice from the 10 commandments may I need to listen to and respect more in my life at the moment?
• St Paul invites christians to be clear, it is not wisdom, special knowledge or worldly power that saves – it is the saving event of Jesus on the cross. Jews considered this full of ʻshameʼ. Greeks couldnʼt believe that God who is so powerful could actually ʻdoʼ this. What is your response to Jesus on the cross?

• Jesusʼ first public action in the Gospel of John is to cleanse and purify the temple. It is a most dramatic action. Jesus replaces the temple and its sacrifices, its legalistic ritual, with his Body, his intimate presence. The Fathers house, a house of prayer, a place of communion and becoming one with God is now replaced by Jesus with his own body. Instead oflooking at a photo album of God, Jesus insists that God, He, is in front of their very eyes. Can you see what Jesus is doing in his first public act in the gospel of John?
• The Gospel of John always has many layers of meaning and interpretation. Many began to believe as they ʻsaw the signsʼ he was doing. The cleansing of the temple takes place at the Feast of Passover. The next passover takes place in John 6 where Jesus replaces Mosesʼ bread (Manna) with his own body (Jn 6,35). The last passover takes places in John 19,31 where Jesus replaces the passover lamb with his body on the cross. Can you see the ʻsigns he was doingʼ and believe?
• Has my image and experience of the Church changed over time? A Marketplace with all of its conflict?
Legalistic ritual and laws? Intimate presence and communion with God in the celebration of the Eucharist?
• Lent is an opportunity to practice three deep transforming experiences: Praying, Fasting, Giving. They can be re-framed as Listening (to God), Stopping (negative habits), Seeing (those in need and responding). Which Lenten practice could you intensely focus upon this week?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

Discussion Guide Year A 20th Sunday is here

Reflection Questions for individuals or groups.

Gospel Mt 15:21-28

1)God’s chosen people, who were marched away from home into exile in Babylon, are now given permission to return home and rebuild their temple. King Cyrus even gives them back their sacred vessels stolen from the Temple 60 years earlier. The Hebrew people could hardly believe what was happening. God could even work through a Gentile King to rescue and restore his people. Isaiah shares a vision of all peoples being able to worship together in the Temple. This vision was never truly fulfilled. Non Jews were only allowed into an ‘outer courtyard’ of the Temple. What vision of welcome do you have for your Church? What limits your vision from becoming a reality?

2) Paul continues to grieve over his own Jewish people. He hopes that disobedience will eventually meet mercy! People labelled and feeling distant from God (Gentiles) will experience union with God. Paul reminds the Church of God’s passionate desire for all the ‘unclean’ / gentiles to be made welcome in the Church. Who do you judge unclean?

3) Some geography helps to understand the context of the Gospel reading today. Jesus has just finished arguing with the Pharisees (Mt 15:1-20) about what is ‘clean and unclean’. He now travels into unclean ‘gentile’ territory. He moves out of the ‘Holy Land’ and into Canaanite territory. Is he trying to get rid of the Pharisees who keep following and arguing with him? Or is he trying to teach his disciples a lesson going beyond mere words of teaching? The disciples would have been hesitant to go themselves into ‘unclean’ territory. What do you think Jesus could be teaching the disciples? The Church?

4) Without napkins at the dinner table, it was a practice that bread was broken and ones hands were cleaned with bread. Bread and food was left after dinner on the floor. House dogs were frequently able to mop up the crumbs and foodscraps after the guests had finished. This is an image used in the reading today. Is Jesus derogatory toward the woman or just revealing his first concern was ‘lost sheep of Israel’?

5) The disciples wanted the canaanite woman sent away. She was unsettling. Was Jesus waiting for the disciples reaction to her as a way of teaching them about clean / unclean?

6) The Gentile woman kneels before Jesus and prays ‘Lord help me’. Jesus praises and rewards her persistence and faith. To the Jewish community of the Gospel of Matthew this event would have come as a shock. Jesus entered into and found faith among the unclean gentiles. Imagine feeling or being labelled as ‘unclean’ by ‘the church’. What obstacles need to be overcome for people to meet Jesus? Are you helping or hindering?

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

Download Discussion Guide for 4th Sunday of Easter.

 

Image result for Sheepfold

Reflection Questions:

  • Jesus identifies himself as a Shepherd but also a ‘gate’. In the middle east, shepherds would gather their sheep together at night sometimes creating a shelter or collection of wooden sticks to build a fence. Sometimes they may have built with blocks a square with a narrow gap for the sheep to enter in and out. One shepherd would take the role of ‘gate’, lying down in the ‘gap’ as an expression of caring for the sheep and not letting them out, and protecting the sheep from danger coming in. What does this image reveal to you about Jesus? Can you identify anyone’s vocation who follows this ‘laying down of their life’? Can you see the similarities between a Mum, Dad, Priest, Sister, Brother?
  • God writes his hopes and plans for you into your desires” (says St Ignatius). Persistent thoughts, attractions, ideas that don’t go away are symbolic of the nudges of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire at work in us. In what ways or experiences have you noticed God’s call for your life? Do you get a sense of good pasture and ‘abundant life’ from following God or does fear dominate?
  • Today is Vocation Sunday. It is also called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’ as the readings will often focus upon Jesus identifying with the role of being a ‘Shepherd’ for us his sheep. Have you ever thought that Jesus does call some sheep to become ‘Shepherds’?
  • In the Church and on behalf of the Church, priests are a sacramental representation of Jesus Christ – the head and shepherd – authoritatively proclaiming his word, repeating his acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation – particularly in baptism, penance and the Eucharist, showing his loving concern to the point of a total gift of self for the flock, which they gather into unity and lead to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit.In a word, priests exist and act in order to proclaim the Gospel to the world and to build up the Church in the name and person of Christ the head and shepherd (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no 15). What does this statement teach you about the role of the Priest?  Have you ever been ‘thankful’ for the gift and ministry of a priest?
  • Today we can have an image of sheep being ‘driven’ by a shepherd on a horse using dogs to control the sheep in large nameless mobs or herds, but that is not an image of how the Holy Spirit works with us. A Christian disciple is never ‘driven’ but is ‘drawn’ to look upon the love of Christ on the cross, and then, in co-operation with grace, is drawn to ‘be’ Christ on the cross with arms outstretched in love of the world. Those called to the ‘consecrated life’ seek to conform their whole existence to Christ (Vita Consecrata 16). Have you ever considered what it would be like to be a ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ to everyone? Or even to join a Spiritual movement as a Lay person so you can grow in the ability to listen deeply to the voice of the Good Shepherd?
  • 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.

 

Download Holy Thursday Discussion Document

Reflection Questions

  • Holy Thursday is a celebration of the Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood and a reminder of the last command of Jesus for disciples to love and serve each other. There are some dramatic images of blood being painted on doorways and a humble servant washing dirty feet. Both are heavy with meaning as we enter the celebration of the sacred 3 days of Easter.
  • A lamb being sacrificed and the blood placed on the doorways of the house caused the angel of death to ʻpass-overʼ the house. All the houses not marked with blood were affected by death (see Ex 12,23). Symbolically blood represented life. It also had the power to overcome sin and death. It cleansed. It forgave sin. Can you make the link between the Passover lamb and Jesus being the ʻlamb of God that takes away the sins of the worldʼ? What is the significance of Christʼs blood?
  • In a typical Jewish celebration of the Passover meal the Father would take some unleavened bread and remind the family of having to leave Egypt in great haste. Imagine the surprise of the disciples when Jesus speaks not of the Exodus or unleavened bread but states his own body will bring about a new Exodus / Passover. Jesus is replacing the Jewish Passover with new sacramental words and signs. Can you see the link between unleavened bread and the gift of Jesusʼ body?
  • To understand the Eucharist we need first to understand the Passover (which the Eucharist fulfills and replaces). In the Jewish Passover there were four cups of wine. The second cup was the most important. It remembered the blood of the lambs sprinkled on the doorposts. Jesus in the words of institution at the last supper did not make reference to the blood of the lamb, but instead states he is beginning a new and everlasting covenant with his own blood. Can you see how Jesus is fulfilling and replacing the Jewish Passover?
  • St Paulʼs letter to the Corinthians is one of the earliest passages of scripture in the New Testament. Paul states very clearly that what was handed on to him about the celebration of the Eucharist was connected with Jesusʼ own words and command at the last supper. If the Eucharist is ʻproclaimingʼ the death of the Lord what does this mean for you? For the world? •
  • St John does not have the last supper scene like the other gospels. Instead John teaches christian disciples that to celebrate the Eucharist is by implication to participate in the life of Jesus who emptied himself, washed, served. Foot washing was considered such a lowly task that even Jewish slaves were not expected or asked to perform it! John teaches us not to disconnect the Eucharist with service to repair and heal the world. How does Jesusʼ last example and the ʻtools of the tradeʼ of a basin and towel challenge you today? What is self emptying work washing the dirty parts of humanity look like in our society today?
  • What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Download Reflection Document: 5th Sunday Lent

Reflection Questions

  1. Ezekiel is an interesting person. He was both a prophet and a priest. He was also taken away with the first group of Israelites into exile. He shares a positive and hopeful message to his people. God will turn this situation around. Name a difficult struggle you experience in your life. Can you see a slow transformation and wisdom in the midst of your suffering? What does the deep voice of the spirit invite you to do so you can ‘rise from your grave’?
  2. St Paul uses the word ‘flesh’ (sarx) to mean people who have a selfcentred orientation towards the world. Frequently those who live this way make themselves, their senses and pleasure, their ‘idol’ / god. Those who live directed by the spirit of Christ are turned outward in love and ‘self-lessness’. Ponder the powerful bodily image of arms wrapped around yourself tightly, or arms open and outstretched in embrace of the world. How do you live your life? How is your almsgiving this lent?
  3. In the Gospel of John Jesus performs 7 signs. Each sign is a fulfillment of a Messianic hope from the Old Testament. Each sign reveals the presence of God in Jesus. Today is the 7th and most important sign. Jesus overcomes death. And only God can overcome death! Place yourself in this gospel story. If you were really there in this scene what questions would you ask? What would you believe from this experience?
  4. Martha’s questions reveal a growing knowledge of who Jesus really is. She begins with Jesus as someone close to God – “whatever you ask, God will give to you.” Jesus responds to Mary’s belief in the resurrection on the last day with a powerful statement: Mary, the one who is in charge of the resurrection is looking at you! I AM the resurrection and the life. And to prove it, Jesus raises Lazarus. What does Jesus wish to reveal to Mary? Do you see the ‘sign’ and believe what it is pointing to?
  5. The Rabbi’s believed and taught that the spirit and breath of life hovered around a dead body for three days. Waiting for 4 days can be understood as Jesus ensuring everyone knew Lazarus had truly died. Twice Jesus is ‘perturbed’ or angry that someone he loves has been tied hand and foot and buried. (A symbol of what sin and death can do to us.) Untie him and let him go becomes a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s promise (1st reading) and an image of what Jesus can do personally for each disciple. What tomb am I in? What cloths bind me up? Who might God be using to ‘take away the stone’ blocking me from joy and life?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document 32nd Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. Behind the scenes of the first reading is a show of strength by God (Yahweh) over the worshippers of Baal (the god of fertility, rain, nature). Ahaz, the King of Israel, married Jezebel, allowed her to import her Baal priests and eventually she attempted to convert everyone to Baal worship. Elijah showed Gods strength by killing the priests of Baal and then proclaiming a drought as punishment on the land and teaching them that Yahweh is more powerful than Baal. Elijah himself has become hungry and thirsty. God tells him to go to Zarephath. This town was ‘enemy’ territory as it was the home of Jezebel’s Father! He would be met by a woman who would help him. A widow is on her last meal and desperate for survival. Open to God and showing hospitality she responds to Elijah. Her response is blessed by God…. ‘she was able to eat for a year…..’ Imagine this scene. Reflect on the obedience and trust of both Elijah and the Widow. Do you trust God? How could you show it?
  2. The Letter to the Hebrews paints a picture of the special Feast of Atonement described in Lev 16. The Priest would take blood into the Tent (Holy of Holies) and cover the mercy seat with blood to represent forgiveness of sins. The Priest would then appear at the entrance to the tent and announce forgiveness. Jesus has entered not a ʻtentʼ but ʻheavenʼ and his own blood has been offered as a ʻsacrifice to take away sinʼ. He will return – not to take away sin – but to welcome all those who eagerly await him. Do you look forward to Jesusʼ second coming? Does Sunday Mass give you an experience of ʻsalvationʼ ʻat-one- mentʼ where the Priest is holding up the gift of our reconciliation and communion with God?
  3. Scribes were experts at knowing and interpreting the religious laws of the Jewish People. When a Husband died, a widow was vulnerable and often without support if a ʻbrother in lawʼ did not choose to marry her. With few legal rights, scribes at times became care-takers of widows property. They were supposed to protect the vulnerable but often ʻdevouredʼ the house and property of widows charging a commission for their services. At the same time they pretended to be ʻholyʼ and continued to wear their temple garb into the streets to attract attention. Jesus does not condemn the role of someone interpreting the laws but invites authenticity. Who today is a modern ʻwidowʼ – vulnerable and in need of care? In what ways would Jesusʼ words challenge the Church, Priests, Theologians, Lawyers, Politicians?
  4. The ʻtreasuryʼ was 13 trumpet shaped containers that collected the coins, tithes and contributions of people at the Temple. A poor widow places all she has, in contrast to rich people giving to God something of their surplus. Love of God and Love of Neighbour will actually look like something. Is God honored by laws, lengthy prayers, long robes, large sums…. or the complete total trust and surrender of the poor widow with her 2 cents?
  5. Jesus now leaves the Temple and walks toward the event of his total and complete self-giving to the Father for the salvation of the world. Like the widows in the readings today he will ʻhold nothing backʼ from God. How could you make a further step to give all that you are and have to God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ 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?