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’

Discussion Guide:  27th Sunday Yr. C – Fan God’s Gifts into a Flame

 

Stirring Up the Gift Within You – Inspire Christian Writers

Reflection Questions:    • Today is the only time this year we hear from the prophet Habakkuk. Disheartened by the violence and the harm done to the innocent he receives a vision and instruction from God. Literally, he is told to ʻwrite a sign so that those who run by may be able to read itʼ. The first Billboard! God will save the just. He is asked to trust that the Babylonian army entering Israel will ultimately serve Godʼs purpose of a renewal of faith in Israel. What disheartens you? What words of comfort have you heard from God or friends? What ʻbillboardʼ sign would you create to help and comfort people to trust in God?

• Timothy is a young man Paul appointed to lead his community in Ephesus. He is discouraged and thinking about giving up that mission. Paul encourages him to ʻstir into a flameʼ the gifts that God has given him. When we ‘stir’ a fire we poke it to break it open and expose more oxygen and fuel so the flame burns hotter. What will help you fan the flame of your faith? What fuel and oxygen do you need? Timothy is not to be timid or ashamed of his youth and is to see his strength in God not his own abilities. Is your faith precious to guard and fan for the service of others? What gifts do you recognize and celebrate in yourself? Talk to God about how fear, shame, timidity or tired faith limits you?

• When a text is confusing it can be helpful to place the ʻtext in contextʼ. Luke 17 has a number of small teachings given by Jesus to his disciples on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus guides them on their leadership responsibilities in their future communities. They are not to cause the downfall of a ʻsingle little oneʼ (17,2). They are to forgive people in their community seven times a day (17,4)! This challenge makes the disciples ask ʻincrease our faithʼ (17,5). The word ʻfaithʼ can also be understood as ʻloyaltyʼ in following the instructions of a teacher. Is there a ʻlittle oneʼ you may be bringing down by a poor example? Is there anyone you find difficult to forgive seven times?

• The disciples do not ask for more teaching. They ask for help in surrendering more fully to God. Write a one line prayer asking for deeper trust in and surrender to God.

• A servant was normally working in the fields or in domestic house work. Strikingly this servant is doing ʻdouble dutiesʼ and is expected to do so without complaining. Society today expects individuals to be accoladed for their service. Yet Jesus calls disciples to servant leadership; the ʻdouble dutyʼ of gentle, faithful servant leadership and extravagant forgiveness is a minimum for discipleship in Christ. What are your struggles with servant leadership ?

• The idea of obedience is very unpopular today. The image of Master and Servant can stir up feelings and resentments. Expectations are often the source of those feelings. “I should (should not) have been treated…” What are your expectations about ʻservingʼ God? How comfortable are with the identity of being an obedient servant? A joyful servant sees the gift in work and delights in serving. They know their housing, responsibilities, food and needs will be provided for. Can you trust God to provide? Am I able to say truthfully ʻI am simply a servantʼ? What are your frequent feelings about your expectations and identity?

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

Discussion Guide:    26th Sunday Yr. C – Complacency has Eternal Consequences

 

Sermo Veritas — Gospel Luke 16:19-31 Jesus said to the Pharisees:...

Reflection Questions:    • Amos continues his public speech in Jerusalem against the incredibly wealthy who are so ʻsatisfiedʼ with beautiful beds, couches, food, wine, concerts and cosmetics. ʻThey are not made ill by the collapse of their fellow people (Joseph)ʼ. How can wealth create a ʻblindnessʼ to the poor? Can you remember any experience where you had your eyes opened to the cry of the poor? What happened?

• Godʼs covenant relationship in Dt. 15:4 stated that ʻthere should be no poor among you because the Lord will richly bless youʼ. Implied in this is that the richly blessed share with others to ensure all are provided for. How aware are you that our Christian commitment /covenant involves a social obligation / covenant toward the ʻpoorʼ? What are you doing to make that commitment practical ?

• Some scholars consider this passage from Timothy could come from an ordination ceremony. Who might be your Pontius Pilate? Do you have ʻcourageunder fireʼ to give your testimony and confess your faith in difficult situations? Where and when have you found it hard?

• Purple clothing was the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth because its source was a rare shellfish and insect being crushed. It showed status in the way ʻbrandedʼ clothing and luxury merchandise distinguish a person of wealth today. What symbols today mean great wealth to you? What part of the economic ʻsystemʼ are you in? How does wealth and status impact you?

• The Great Reversal of fortunes is a theme of the Gospel of Luke. The Rich will be brought low, the poor will be lifted up. However it is not riches themselves that are the problem (Abraham himself was a very rich man!). It is allowing wealth to so preoccupy and claim ones attention and energy that the needs of others go unnoticed. The rich man clearly knew Lazarus because he uses his name. However he refused to share his wealth and his conscience is dulled to conversion or compassion. The Rich Man claims he had no warning about the reversal. If this parable describes what will happen in the after-life, what does it demand of us today? How are you wealthy and what would it take for you to share it? We are charged to give to the poor not just because they need it, but because it is essential to our own salvation. Have you considered the difference between charity and true justice which recognizes that we are intrinsically in solidarity with every member of the human family who have equal rights to the goods of the earth? The gulf between rich and poor is immense. What can I change around me?

• How might the Parable of Lazarus challenge our Eucharistic Communities? The parish is charged with the care of every soul within its geographic boundary? Are we wealthy in Godʼs great blessing and Eucharistic Banquet? Who do we share with? Do we drive vehicles yet fail to arrange transport for those in need? Are we wearing fashion clothes, and enjoying coffees, while nearby, people struggle to feed, clothe or house their family? In Luke, Jesus refuses to allow his disciples to be satisfied with the worlds default settings. Every 6th line of Luke’s Gospel is a challenge to reach out to the poor in either charity or justice. What are your obstacles to deeper conversion to solidarity and justice for the poor?

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

Discussion Guide:      25th Sunday Yr. C – Mercy and Money Matters

 

Luke 16:1-13 « Gospel Reflection

Reflection Questions:    • 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• The rich man has a dishonest steward, but Jesus concludes by praising some of the dishonest steward’s 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?

• 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?

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

Discussion Guide:      22nd Sunday Yr C: Remain Humble and You Will be Noticed

 

Prayer, Bible Study Sirach 3:1-31 20200111

Reflection Questions:    • Sirach is a book of instructions on the day-to-day living of a good life. Top on the list of advice is to be ʻhumbleʼ. Someone who is ʻa giver of giftsʼ often expects something in return, whereas a humble person is not deceitful or cunning. A humble person does not try and pretend to be stronger or better than he / she is. A humble person has an ʻattentive earʼ. Why do you think Sirach considers Humility to be so important? What sort of world is created by its opposite?

• Today is the last time we have the letter to the Hebrews read to us. The differences between the ʻold lawʼ with its blazing fires of Mt Sinai, its trumpet blasts and fearsome prophecyʼs of Daniel is contrasted with the ʻnew gospelʼ of God dwelling joyfully amongst us, ʻfirstbornʼ christians belonging to the family of God, the joy of Jesus bringing the intimacy and forgiveness of God with the new covenant of the blood of the cross. In the Old Testament, the presence of God was a ʻfearsomeʼ thing. Has your image of God moved from the Old to the New? Reflect on the images used in the Hebrews scripture passage. What image(s) is meaningful for you?

• Luke 14 – 15 has many examples of Jesus at meals. He uses these moments to teach about ʻfellowshipʼ, critique structures in society, and teach the Church about how true eucharistic gatherings should function. It is helpful to see the warmth Jesus wants to extend to those who are excluded and his challenging words to social structures which exclude people. Some say Jesus was a disturbing guest who may not have received many second invitations! What would your impression be of Jesus if you were sitting at this meal ʻobserving him carefullyʼ?

• In the time of Jesus, and generally with people who do not have ʻwealthʼ, status in the community was based on ʻreputationʼ. To have your reputation held high was a growth in ʻhonourʼ. To have your reputation lowered was considered a source of great ʻshameʼ. This system can create a game where you take a humble position but wait desperately to be ʻhonouredʼ and ʻmoved upʼ! Generosity is secretly only self-centred reciprocity. Jesus shares a subversive challenge which would change the whole social structure. What is his challenge?

• Jesus reverses everything that was considered socially and religiously ʻcorrectʼ. The poor, crippled, lame, blind were excluded from the priesthood and some claimed they were not eligible to participate in the heavenly banquet. The Kingdom of God revealed by Jesus, is that there is a great reversal about to take place. Notice the extreme nature of Jesusʼ challenge. He doesnʼt say give money to the poor, give some volunteer service hours to the poor, but ʻinvite them into your home, to sit at table and eat togetherʼ! To enter into a relationship that goes beyond ʻcharityʼ. Examine your life-style and ʻtimestyle ʼ. Who do you include? Exclude? Why? How could you bring about the ʻgreat reversalʼ of the Kingdom of God in your family, workplace, church community?

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

Discussion Guide:    21st Sunday Yr. C: I do not know you – ‘but we ate and drank in your company’?

 

Are you In or Out? - Faithlife Sermons

 

Reflection Questions:

• The final chapters of the Book of Isaiah are filled with apocalyptic images of how the ʻend of timesʼ will be. Every nation, language (Tarshish = Spain, Put and Lud = North Africa, Tubal and Javan = AsiaMinor) will be gathered to Jerusalem. But this will first require God to ʻset a sign among themʼ. God requires missionaries to witness to Godʼs ways and take responsibility for being ʻliving signsʼ of Godʼs love. What does being a ʻsignʼ mean for you? Do you feel responsible for being Godʼs representative among your peers? What would be your biggest challenge? Fear? Who is a good rolemodel (sign) of faith for you and how could you imitate them?

• The Letter to the Hebrews was to Jewish Christians. Many were struggling with persecution and trials from Jewish Religious Leaders for their belief in Jesus. They were frustrated that Jesus had not ʻreturnedʼ quickly as they had hoped. They are downcast with drooping hands and weak knees! They are invited to see struggles and trials as ʻdisciplineʼ which comes from the word ʻdiscipleʼ which comes from the word to learn and be educated. What is one struggle you are having currently. What is it teaching you?

• Jesus is on his way to his final days in Jerusalem and he challenges all who have a conversation with him about getting ready for the ʻend of timeʼ. This sparks a question – ʻwill only a few people be savedʼ? Jewish people assumed they were the ʻfewʼ and sinners, unclean people, unbelievers were the ʻmanyʼ who would not be saved. How would you respond to a friend if they asked ʻwill only a few be saved and go to heavenʼ? Where did you get your image of God to back up your belief and answer?

• Jesus does not answer the question but gives an image – a crowd is trying to get into a house but all must go through a narrow ʻdoorʼ. There will come a time when the door will be closed and people left outside. If this scene was really going to happen how could you be prepared? What does it mean to be ʻinside the houseʼ?

• Jewish people understood they had a special status of ʻchosenʼ by God. They presumed this also meant they had a special entry permit ʻthrough the doorʼ. ʻWe ate and drank with you, you taught us!ʼ They are absolutely surprised with the possibility that other people, ʻsinnersʼ, could get into heaven before them. ʻBut I have listened to the Gospel stories on Sunday and have shared in the Eucharistʼ could be a modern Catholic response. It is not enough to ʻbe thereʼ on Sunday, we are called to ʻdo somethingʼ on Monday… to be a ʻsignʼ of Godʼs forgiveness, welcome, shaping the world into becoming one family. What would you consider the Church needs to ʻdo more ofʼ? How could you be involved?

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

 

Discussion Guide:    19th Sunday Yr. C: Will You Be Found Ready?

 

Giving

 

Reflection Questions:

• The Book of Wisdom was written to help Jews life faithfully in the midst of the big and unbelieving city of Alexandria. The strong Greek culture, pagan worship, and completely different view on life caused many Alexandrian Jews to have a crisis of faith. The writer encourages them to have courage in the ʻoaths in which they put their faithʼ and to live according to the divine commands given by God. What is your biggest struggle in living in a secular society? What particular belief, knowledge or practice is at the source of your courage to keep ʻfaithfulʼ?

• The Letter to the Hebrews is the 2nd reading for the next 4 weeks. It is a letter written to ʻHebrewsʼ to help them understand how First Testament worship is completed and overtaken by the Cross of Christ. Abraham and Sarah are both inspirational models of ʻfaithʼ. They left home not knowing where they were going, actively stepped out and searched for land, conceived a child because they believed in the promise of God rather than their human understanding. It would have been easy to sit on the couch waiting for God’s promises. Abraham and Sarah remind us to be active in faith. Are their areas in life where you need to participate more with God ? What is your next step?

• Luke continues to develop a theme of Jesusʼ teachings on wealth and greed. Building a bigger barn to house more grain was considered foolish – it signalled a decision to move from having ʻenoughʼ to having ʻluxuryʼ, total sensual satisfaction combined with a blindness to those who do not have ʻenoughʼ to eat and drink. Have you considered moving from ʻhoping to be generousʼ to a decision ʻto be generousʼ? Opening up a ʻGod bank accountʼ? Asking your priest or friends who is in need in your local area?

• The invitation to sell your belongings and give alms is for Luke a decision to live a very different lifestyle. To throw away all plans of greed and self centeredness and live simply so others may simply ʻliveʼ. How you ever considered voluntary poverty and simplicity of life so that resources may be shared for others? Is there a life-style choice that you could make this week to live this invitation?

• The Christian community is recognising Jesusʼ return is not coming immediately. The parable shares an image. Disciples are to understand themselves as ʻcaretakersʼ charged with the task of ʻfood distributionʼ. Attending to this task determines where believers will spend eternity! Did you know 1 billion people are hungry every day? Ever thought of dropping off food to a ʻfood bankʼ or starting a collection in your parish?

• If entry into heaven was based on a quiz, and you knew the answers before-hand, would you practise the answers? If we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and lost – and we know this is the ʻmasters willʼ – would we be found ʻreadyʼ? Do we fear not being found ready…. are we in for a ʻsevere beatingʼ?

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

Discussion Guide:    17th Sunday Yr. C – You Live not for the World, but for God

 

Lord, teach us to pray – St Mary Magdalene

 

Reflection Questions:    • Confidence before God in prayer is a theme of our readings this week. Abraham is bold and has a very real and honest conversation with God about the sinful town of Sodom (See Gen 19). What strikes you in this conversation, what do you learn about Abraham? What do you learn about God?

• Consider having an extremely honest conversation with God. What would you talk about? Would you push God to side with the righteous and what would your specific request be today?

• In Middle Eastern Cultures ʻhonourʼ is extremely important. Abraham uses Godʼs honour and leans on Godʼs name and reputation being ʻheld highʼ. In your own family / culture or school / workplace, have you experienced a request to keep the ʻfamily nameʼ upheld, the ʻschool reputationʼ in good standing in the community or to represent your culture ʻwellʼ? Why was this considered important? What happened? Do you consider yourself bearing the name / honour / reputation / image of God? The Church? Does this affect your behaviour in any way?

• Circumcision was the removal of the foreskin from a manʼs body. It was considered a ʻbadgeʼ of honor marking a chosen people as belonging to God (and all in his family too!). Jews in the Colossian community were trying to force Gentiles to undergo circumcision and be obedient to the many Jewish laws that would ʻsaveʼ them. St Paul again teaches that Baptism replaces circumcision and something far more radical than a flesh mark has happened. All sin and ʻtransgressionsʼ against the law have been nailed to the cross. Have you ever thought of yourself as having been buried during your baptism? And your rising is Christʼs rising. You live now not for the world but for God. What does the badge of baptism mean for you?

• The disciples request for a ʻprayerʼ was common practice between a Master and disciples. Followers of a particular religious leader would ask for a prayer that gave them a special identity. Read the short Lukan ʻOur Fatherʼ prayer slowly. It is a programme for life and discipleship.  Consider:

* ‘Our Father’ in Hebrew is ʻAbbaʼ which is very close to our word ʻDaddy’. In the Middle East you will hear children calling out ‘Abba, Abba’ to their father – what sort of relationship is Jesus revealing that God wants with us. What attitude of mind or feeling in your heart does this generate?
* Holy Be Your Name is an honour request so important in middle eastern cultures. A Fathers / Family name is honoured in the community through the children, their lives, acts of justice, hospitality. Is your Christian life and witness bringing honour to Godʼs name? Are you lowering Godʼs reputation? Is the Church giving honour to Godʼs name in the world today?
*Your Kingdom Come. The prophets cried out in public of Godʼs desire to see Mercy and Justice come. Honestly examine your life-style. Are you chasing possessions, power and prestige OR people, justice and mercy? Our prayer is not to be merely words but a battle cry.

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

Discussion Guide:          Pentecost Sunday Yr. C – Receive the Holy Spirit

 

New Testament 5: The Holy Spirit Leads the Apostles Archives - Seeds of Faith Podcast

 

Reflection Questions:      • Pentecost was a Jewish harvest feast which also involved a liturgical celebration of bringing water into the temple and pouring water from the side of the altar. Life-giving water would symbolically flow from Jerusalem and give life to the whole world! Jesus fulfills and replaces this Jewish feast saying that out of him will flow life-giving water (Jn 7:37-39). What does this image of Pentecost teach you?

• Pentecost is the reversal of the Old Testament Tower of Babel story (see Gen 11). Human-kindʼs sin and self-importance building the tower to reach and equal God eventuated in the scattering of people and the confusion caused by different languages. The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost unites people and leads people to understand each other and the Christian message ʻin his native languageʼ. What does this suggest is the true function of the Holy Spirit in the world? In the Church?

• Paul wrote to the Community at Corinth because some people who didnʼt have the gift of tongues were considered inferior. It was causing division in the community. One gift was not to be stressed over another. Everyone is gifted What gift do you find easy to share and benefit others with? What gift do you feel you would like to develop more and use for God and the community?

• The Spirit and ʻgiftsʼ are connected to the ʻbodyʼ. Which part of the ʻbodyʼ do you identify with your gifts – eyes, head, heart, hands, mouth, ears. How do you show this in your daily life?

• Jesus is able to pass through locked doors to offer peace and forgiveness. What ʻlocked doorsʼ are present in your life? Use your imagination in a time of prayer and allow Jesus to meet you on the other side of these locked doors….. what happened?

• The Spirit sends the Disciples / the Church ʻon missionʼ. The Church is as it were ʻplugged inʼ to a living power moulding all into the image and consciousness of Christ. Pentecost fills the Church and allows the Church to be the extension of Jesusʼ ministry in the world. What feelings and thoughts arise in a person when they are ʻsentʼ? Are you conscious of being sent out by the Father to ʻrepair the worldʼ?

• In the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles the Holy Spirit had a difficult time in getting the disciples out from hiding behind locked doors and praying in the temple and in peoples’ homes. It was only persecution in Jerusalem that eventually caused the light of the good news of Jesus to be given ʻto all the nationsʼ. Welcoming gentiles into the Christian community was a huge obstacle and struggle for Jews who were the first Christians. What are the big obstacles to unity and inclusion in the Church today? How could the Church be more reconciling in the marketplace and with those the world ʻexcludes’?

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

Discussion Guide:    Ascension Sunday Yr. C – Be My Witnesses

 

What Does Acts 1:8 Mean?

Reflection Questions:    • 40 days have passed since Easter. What is a significant memory, learning, faith experience you have had since Holy Week? Has the Easter mystery become clearer in any way? Have you learnt something new about what Christ has done for our salvation?

• Restoring the ʻKingdom to Israelʼ is still a theme and question of the Apostles. They may still be holding onto a military hope of salvation with a clear and convincing victory of God by power. What is your understanding of the idea of ʻkingdom of God? What does it look like? How is it achieved?

• The Feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesusʼ place now in Heaven, promising the Holy Spirit (1st Reading), acting as the Heavenly Priest (2nd Reading) and sending his disciples to witness to all nations (Gospel). The Angels challenge the disciples (and Us): ʻwhy are you standing there looking at the sky?ʼ Where is the focus of your energy and attention as a disciple: looking upward to heaven, or looking sideways to mission?

• Ascension Sunday has 2 options for the second reading. The letter to the Hebrews teaches how Jesus replaces all the sacrifices, offerings and prayers of the Temple Priests. A picture is created of the High Priest acting on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16) with blood (symbol of life) to rub on the mercy seat (Godʼs resting place) in the holy of holies – the sanctuary / tabernacle). Jesusʼ sacrifice of himself is the one eternal sacrifice to fulfill and replace all sacrifice offerings for the forgiveness of sin. This great act is complete. Jesus now gives us confidence that our relationship with God is made ʻcleanʼ. Jesus acts now and intercedes for us as our ʻheavenly priestʼ. What strikes you from this image in the Hebrews reading?

• Jesus sends his disciples as ʻwitnessesʼ to all the world. This is our job description. The early Christian community so heavily persecuted linked witness with martyrdom. In what ways do you consider yourself a ʻwitnessʼ to Jesus? If people were to watch your life what would they ‘see’?

• The Holy Spirit is ʻthe promise of the Father upon youʼ giving disciples a ʻpower from on highʼ. What is your image and experience of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever earnestly prayed for the Spirit? Awaiting Pentecost this coming week, create a simple phrase that you could pray frequently (eg. ʻpromise of the Father, come.ʼ ʻpower from on high, fill me.ʼ)

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

Discussion Guide:      6th Sunday Easter Yr. C – At Home and At Peace

 

John 14: 23 – 29 – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:      • Circumcision was physical and symbolic – an outward sign of an inner consecration and being a nation ʻset apartʼ. It was a physical part of oneself offered to God like a sacrifice. Jewish Christians wanted gentile christians to follow their Mosaic practice (given by Moses) and be circumcised. This question caused the first Council of Jerusalem meeting. How do we know what is important to keep practicing? Are external markings important? Do you show / wear a sign of belonging to God? Why? Why not?

• Jewish / Gentile conflict happened in the very early days of the Christian community. Reducing numbers of Jewish christians were faced with increasing numbers of Gentile christians. The loss of culture and influence caused tension. How was the tension resolved? What are the lessons for us today?

• Pagan temples often used animals for sacrifices. This meat was cut up and sometimes sold in the ʻmarketʼ. What are modern idols, practices, institutions, that could affect true worship of God today?

• The Book of Revelation is written during a time of great persecution. A vision is painted of the future being secure in the ultimate victory of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. We all need a vision and story to lead and call us forward in our current pain and struggle. It is the essence of hope. In your difficult times, what keeps you going? What is the story and vision of the future that gives you hope?

• The gates of Godʼs City have three gates open in all directions. If you were to picture your church community, how could it be seen to have its doors ʻopenʼ and welcoming to all? What is something you would be willing to try to make your parish more ʻwelcomingʼ?

• Jesus teaches his disciples there is a link between loving Him and keeping his Word. Reflect on an experience of listening to His Word. What is the difference between listening and keeping? Have you had an experience of feeling ʻat homeʼ with the Word? What is it like?

• In John the Holy Spirit is called the Advocate (a translation of the Greek Paraclete – literally the one who stand by the side of a defendant in the courtroom). It is also translated as counsellor, comforter, encourager. What image do you have for the Holy Spirit in your life?

• Peace is the ʻtrademarkʼ and presence of the Holy Spirit in the tradition of Christian spirituality. ʻNot as the world gives do I give it to youʼ. What sort of ʻpeaceʼ does the world seek to give? Where is peace ʻfoundʼ?

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