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Posts Tagged ‘catholic’

Printable Study Guide and Resource is HERE

Reflection Questions • In this key reading from Exodus, we enter that special moment in the growing covenantal relationship with God when the LORD tells Moses on Mt Sinai, that he has chosen Israel to be his own possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation formed of the twelve tribes. This covenant is an outgrowth and extension of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham 600 years earlier. (Gen.15:9- 21, 17). God remains true to His covenant no matter how people may fail. What does that tell you about God’s character?

• The imagery calls the people to remember God’s faithfulness in freeing them from slavery and raising them up on Eagles wings. They would have been familiar with Eagles nests on craggy peaks where chicks were tenderly kept safe and cared for. They would have also seen Eagles teach their young to fly by bearing them on their wings, releasing them and then swooping underneath them to gather them onto their wings if they floundered. Living in God’s love involves ongoing growth, failure, and return. When have you sensed God keeping you safe or challenging you to stretch and grow?

• The authority of God, (… all the earth is mine), is clear, yet God views Israel as precious and holy treasures even when they fail to uphold the covenantal relationship. God’s mercy is always underneath our failures, calling us to trust and try again. Share or talk with God about your fears and failures, and your desire to fly high. How are you being encouraged to holy living and freedom in your life?

• St Paul uses the terms ‘reconciled’, ‘justified’, and ‘saved’. What do these mean to you? To reconcile is to end separation and hostility. God is not hostile to us, but humanity is often hostile to God. Because of that hostility and sin, we fail the human side of the covenant. We are not ‘right with God’ (righteous). God’s faithfulness to the covenant results in Jesus becoming one with us. Jesus enters our human condition and reconciles us to God and one another within himself. Jesus overcomes our sin and its consequences through his love and obedience as both God and man.  Only in Jesus, can we be ‘right with God’. In his absolute self-giving love for both God the Father and sinful humanity, we can be made holy and justified. Sharing in the Resurrection life of Christ will lead us to share in his glory. We are saved with Christ; we are being saved day by day through Christ and we shall be saved in Christ at the
final judgement. Where do you hear those three words ?

• God was always the shepherd of Israel. When Jesus called the twelve, he formed the new Israel, a new ‘twelve tribes’ to make God’s Kingdom of mercy, healing, peace, love and care available to all. This is the mission of every Christian. God calls each of us by name. How open am I to responding to God’s call to serve those around me with care and courage in Jesus’ name?

• How does knowing God’s tenderness toward you help you share the Kingdom?

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

Pope St John XXIII said, “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

This resource prepared by Bev McDonald, Lay Marist in the Auckland Diocese; ACSD.

Discussion Guide:    Divine Mercy Sunday – The Love and Mercy of God

 

Doubt, Faith, Scars, Life - New Ways Ministry

Reflection Questions:      • Over the next 8 weeks the Readings reflect on the mystery of Easter. Take a moment to reflect on your experience of Easter. What do you remember? What did you hear? See? Feel? What personal message do you think God wishes you to store and treasure in your spirit? On this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, can you see God’s love and forgiveness at Easter?

• Luke, in writing the Acts of the Apostles is trying to teach the early Christian community how to live and grow. It is the ideal that the Christian Community strives to live and witness to. It is the lived expression of conversion. Consider personally (and for your community) what lifestyle change is invited for you to    • pray daily at home and in the temple       • share property, possessions, food and resources with those in need          • celebrate the liturgy (breaking of bread) and learn the teachings of the apostles.

• For Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity the break with family and social bonds caused them to be rejected and persecuted. Jewish converts to Christianity saw their own family conduct a funeral for them considering them lost and dead! Gentiles faced suspicion of subverting the social order. Peter encourages them not to be surprised. Your inheritance is waiting in heaven. Be certain that the genuineness of your faith will eventually prove to give praise to God. Do you experience being ‘tested’ by friends, family, society for your faith? Do you need to let go of some relationships and influences to remain ‘faith-full’? Does your faith ‘cost’ you anything?

• The resurrection greeting Jesus gives his disciples is important. The Jewish belief was that the reign of the Messiah would bring a time of peace and people living in reciprocal covenant relationship with God and one another. Peace is given by the forgiveness of sins, won on the cross, given to the Church through the activity of the Holy Spirit. While this text points to the sacrament of reconciliation, it also has within it a charge for all disciples to actively live the forgiveness they have received from Christ. Do you recognise your call to be a living witness to the peace and forgiveness -covenant – of God?

• Thomas is present within each of us and in our communities. Sometimes with disciples. Sometimes not. Struggling with questions and doubts. Do you know a ‘Thomas’? How could you support them?

• The Roman Emperor of the time, ‘Domitian’ demanded people address him with the title ‘Our Lord and God’. What might John be trying to teach us in Thomas’ profession of faith?

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

For those who may want access to the Easter Mass readings and reflections early for pastoral reasons, they are listed below in pdf format for download:

Holy Thursday

Good Friday

Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday

Every blessing for Lent and Easter.

Discussion Guide:       3rd Sunday of Lent Yr. A – Thirsting for God?

 

The Writer's Pen: The Woman at the Well

 

Reflection Questions:      • ‘A goal without a plan is still a dream’. Reflect on your experience of Lent so far. How would you evaluate your Lenten journey and commitment? What has worked well and could be practised more?

• People ‘grumbled’. Moses, heavy with the experience of leading God’s people is frightened he will get stones thrown at him! Wisdom is shared with Moses. Go ahead of the people with some wise people. Get away from the grumbling voices. Do grumbling or criticizing voices pull you down and make you feel sad? How could you walk away from complaining voices this Lent, select some ‘wisdom voices’ (elders), and get on with the job of providing water for people to drink and survive?

• St Paul paints a picture for our imagination. Have you ever had someone love you and show continued kindness even when you were rebelling against them? Imagine if this person was willing to ‘die’ to ‘win you over’? Have you ever considered just how precious and ‘loveable’ you are that God would be willing to die for you? This historical event is located at the cross. Consider visiting a catholic church and spending time with the ‘stations of the cross’.

• Samaritans were considered unclean and unworthy because they were historically Jewish people that had inter-married with non believers in the area of Samaria. Jews would normally avoid close contact and speech with Samaritans and refused to allow them into the temple in Jerusalem. A conversation begins around ‘water’ a symbol of the life-giving relationship with God. In the  ‘heat of the day’ where do you go to find rest and water? What is your ‘Jacobs well’?

• It is possible that the Samaritan woman has chosen to collect water at the most inconvenient time under the midday sun to avoid the company of other women. Has she had experiences of rejection or gossip? Life has been hard for her. She wants to ‘never be thirsty or have to keep coming here’. This Lent ask yourself the two deep questions of spiritual direction: What do you want? Where do you hurt? Consider writing in a special journal your answers to these two special questions.

• Some scripture scholars suggest that the 5 husbands the woman has already had, is actually the 5 different ‘gods’ which have influenced the Samaritans by their inter-marriage with ‘outsiders’ and their ‘gods’. Jesus says He is ‘I AM’ which is the Divine Name given by God to Moses. What do you think this means?

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

Discussion Guide:      1st Sunday of Lent Yr. A – Turn Away from Sin

 

Will your sorrow over sin will move you to repent of sin, turning away from and giving up your sinful actions (2 Corinthians 7:10)?

 

Reflection Questions:  • The journey of Lent began on Ash Wednesday. Have you recognised the significance of wearing a cross of ‘ashes’. Ashes symbolise a connection with the earth and being ‘humble’. The cross points to a life of sacrificial love with wide open arms embracing the world. What does living humbly mean for you? Is your life lived closed up tight, or with arms wide open?

• A goal without a plan is still a dream. Many people line up at the beginning of the lent ‘race’ but do not make much progress from the start line. What is your plan for Lent? Will this lead you into a ‘deep transformation’ or a mere ‘shallow show’?

• Genesis shares a truth about sin using a story. Have you ever noticed that the best the serpent can do is talk and try to make people doubt God? “Did God really tell you…..” The serpent actually has no power other than suggestion. What voices and fears do you need to turn off this
Lent? How will you listen to God?

• For St Paul Life and Death represent two different directions. Toward God (righteousness) and away from God (sin). Jesus has actually destroyed death by becoming human and offering his life in forgiveness. There is no more distance. Jesus rising from the dead reveals death actually has no power at all. Lent is an opportunity for intensive spiritual living towards what is life-giving. What relationships in your life are not right? Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you know what to bring to the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent.

• In the original Greek, the word is ‘tested’ rather than ‘tempted’. A ‘test’ or trial can reveal what decisions and choices are made. We become aware if we are ‘ready’ for a challenge or responsibility to be given to us. Is being ‘led by the spirit into the desert’ of your heart positive or negative for you? Have you tried a daily practice of silence to listen to the voices of your heart?

• ‘command these stones become loaves’. Fasting is a remedy for being controlled by food and satisfying our ‘body’. Our bodies are good but we are not to become slaves to every sensual pleasure. Rather than a focus on diet or weight loss, how could you ‘stop’ some activities to ‘start’ some more positive activities?

• ‘throw yourself down’ is pretending that everything is ok and God will look after me no matter what I do. Am I responsible? You are where you are because you have chosen it. What do you need to take responsibility for this Lent?

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

Discussion Guide:   5th Sunday Yr. A : Go, Savour and Light Your World

 

 

Be salt and light.... (Matthew 5:13-16) www.facebook.com/TheGoodNewsCartoon | Salt and light, Light of the world, Knowing god

Reflection Questions:      • Isaiah chapter 58 is a very significant chapter for the church community. Isaiah is writing to the Jewish community that has returned to Jerusalem after exile, built the new temple, but forgotten what real worship and honouring of God involves. The prophet invites us to ‘share’ our bread with the hungry not ‘give’ bread to the hungry. There is a big difference. One sits down and enters a relationship. Another gives ‘charity’, closes the door and remains at a distance from the ‘poor’ ‘homeless’ ‘naked’ ‘person in need’. Have you experienced the difference between ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’? Have you seen or do you know someone in real need at the moment? Is there a member of your family, close friend whom you are ‘turning your back on’?

• In the time of St Paul, great travelling preachers and philosophers would delight the crowd with grand speeches and words of wisdom. Paul tried only to speak of Jesus and the great and humble love of God revealed in Jesus crucified. Putting aside arguments, personalities, theologies, can you say you have discovered the person of Jesus and the beautiful forgiving love of the cross? What happened? Who (could) help(ed) you?

• Salt has a very different meaning in the time of Jesus than it does today. Salt was so valuable it was used in Roman times instead of ‘money’ to purchase goods. It acted as a preservative stopping food ‘turning rotten’. Significantly it was also mixed with camel and donkey ‘dung’ because it has catalytic properties which helped the ‘dung’ burn as fuel for cooking ovens. Part of the process involved dung being thrown onto a salt block. Eventually the block lost its ‘saltiness’ and was thrown out onto the road and was trampled upon. What image of salt inspires you and helps you understand your Christian calling: being a presence that stops the world turning rotten? Mixing with dung to produce a fire?

• Jerusalem, the special city on the hill-top, the place of the Temple and ‘dwelling place’ of God is often pictured in the Old Testament as a ‘light’ for the world. It is ridiculous to light a lamp and then ‘hide it’ under your bed. A light guides. Welcomes. Protects. Shows a pathway. Stops us knocking into sharp objects in the dark! ‘Jerusalem’ is the ‘church’ but also the ‘individual Christian disciple’. How can your ‘light’ be uncovered? What ‘good deeds’ have you always wanted to do? What would you like to do so that others may give praise and thanks to God for
your life?

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

Discussion Guide:    4th Sunday OT Yr. A – ‘Be’ like Jesus

 

The Way Forward – A Sermon on the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12 – Interrupting the Silence

Reflection Questions:    • The prophecies of Zephaniah are thought to have been for a very short period of time – possibly only weeks or months. In the midst of the possibility that Assyria were going to destroy Israel, Zephaniah quietly reminds us that a people who are humble and seek justice will always find shelter and protection by God. Do you sometimes feel part of a very small ʻremnantʼ of people trying to be faithful to God? What encourages you to remain faithful? What is attractive to you about ʻhumbleʼ people and those who ʻseek justiceʼ? How could you show these virtues in your weekly life-style?

• St Paulʼs letters to the people living in Corinth reveal a number of arguments were occurring. One of the causes of division was gnosticism. Some believers thought they had special spiritual wisdom and knowledge which others did not have. This made them ʻsuperiorʼ to others. They knew more, had been taught better, had more spiritual wisdom and gifts. Paul writes it is inconceivable that a true christian could look down on ʻothersʼ. How does pride and ʻboastingʼ find its way into your life? What is an opposite virtue you could practice?

• In Matthew Jesus goes up the Mountain and gives a new law in contrast to Moses going up Mt Sinai and giving the Law of the Old Testament contained in the 10 commandments. Jesus is the New Moses. The Beatitudes are understood as a profound insight into the core teachings of Christianity and what it will mean to follow Jesus. Some people have called the Beatitudes the ʻBeʼ – Attitudes. Jesus wants disciples to ʻbeʼ like him.

• Consider the Beatitudes as 4 qualities and 3 practices of a disciple:

• Blessed are the Poor in spirit. Be a person focussed on the poor (not status or riches). • Am I willing to be ʻpoorerʼ so that through my giving others may have enough of the basics to live in dignity?

• Blessed are those who Mourn. Be a person who grieves over the injustice in the world. • Am I aware and shocked at the injustices taking place in my community?

• Blessed are the Meek. Be a person who gets angry but not aggressive. • Am I able to show self restraint in moments of conflict and possible violence?

• Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Be a person who seeks justice (not vengeance). • Am I able to live as if doing the ʻrightʼ think was as important for me as having daily ʻbread and waterʼ?

• Blessed are the Merciful. • Do I consciously practice and show in all my relationships the love and compassion found in Jesus?

• Blessed are the clean of heart. • Do I practice integrity and wholeheartedness in doing right?

• Blessed are the peacemakers. • Do I practice making peace, saying sorry, healing conflict with my friends / family / relationships?

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

Discussion Guide:      January 1st Yr. A : Mary the Holy Mother of God

 

Amazon.com: Virgin Mary and Angels Playing Jesus POSTER A3 Print Madonna and Child picture Bouguereau Blessed Mother image Holy Mary painting Catholic Christian Religious Wall Art Decor for Home : Handmade Products

Reflection Questions:    • This Feast day is the Oldest Marian Feast in our liturgical calendar. The Solemnity of Mary Holy Mother of God is celebrated a week after Christmas Day. It is a ‘Christological’ Feast in which the focus is on Jesus Christ and his identity. We recognise the special role that Mary had in accepting the call to be ‘Mother of God’. This title of Mary – Theotokos – Mother of God points to Jesus’ Divine identity as truly God.

• The Blessing referred to in the Book of Numbers is still practiced by the Jewish ancestors of the Priestly line of Aaron today and in our Catholic prayer as we pray ‘Lord Hear Us’. Calling upon the Name of God brought his presence. And God himself taught Moses how to bring this blessing upon God’s family. LORD is an English translation of the Greek KYRIOS, which is a translation of the Hebrew YAHWEH – which is the Divine Name of God given to Moses on the Mountain of Sinai meaning ‘I AM THE ONE WHO IS’ (Ex 3:14). Can you see the Old Testament – Gospel link in the readings: God’s face and looking upon you and Jesus born among us. Think of close friends and pray this blessing upon them for the New Year ahead.

• Paul’s letter to the Galations is written by Paul upset at the travellers who would journey behind him and tell his communities that his message about Jesus was wrong. In the community of Galatia new converts who were not Jewish were being told they must obey all the Jewish requirements of the Law regarding food, cleanliness, circumcision, ritual practices. Paul uses a dramatic image to dismiss their arguments. Jews are slaves to a ‘law’. Christians are adopted as ‘sons’ and are now ‘heirs’ to the inheritance of freedom and unconditional acceptance by God. Do you understand and experience your relationship with God as a slave and legal observance, or as a son /daughter and a ‘family member’? What is the difference?

• The Lukan reading continues on from Christmas Day. God is very surprisingly born in an unclean place (stable) and seen first by unclean people (shepherds, who were often not able to meet ritual cleanliness requirements due to the care of their animals). Which places and people do you consider today to be ‘unclean’ and ‘unfit’ for God? How might Luke’s theme of God’s hospitality and inclusion to all challenge you this year? Who do you exclude?

• Mary is the model for all disciples. Her life was open to God’s call and plan. Her whole-hearted Yes called her to walk forward within a plan she did not fully understand. She reflected on each days events ‘in her heart’. She lived a pregnancy with the Word and let it come to birth. As the New Year begins what challenges may you say Yes to? How could you create a regular pattern of ‘prayer and reflection’ to ensure plans and resolutions move from pregnancy to physical birth?

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

Discussion Guide:  Christ the King Yr. C: What Does Christ’s Kingship Mean for Me?

January | 2012 | God's Promises Are Real

Reflection Questions:    • The Feast of Christ the King was initially assigned to the last Sunday in October. In 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the Year to highlight the eschatological (end times) importance of Christʼs ʻKingshipʼ. Would you consider yourself ʻreadyʼ today to meet Christ the King?

• David was anointed and made ʻKingʼ of Israel. But many people in Israel did not want to be like other nations and have a ʻKingʼ. They wanted to have only ʻGodʼ as their ʻrulerʼ. They were cautious of taxes, abuse of power, wealth and excess that often went with earthly ʻkingdomsʼ. David is invited by God to be first a ʻshepherdʼ of people before being a ʻcommander of Israelʼ. What does this show us about God and leadership?

• Paulʼs letter to the Colossians today is an ancient baptismal prayer. Imagine the baptismal scene. Thankful. Being given an inheritance. Transferred from living in darkness to light. Redeemed (returning back to your true family, purchased back from slavery). Forgiven. All of this has happened through Jesus – who makes the ʻinvisible Godʼ visible – the ʻikonʼ / image of God. What word in this baptismal prayer teaches you about your baptism?

• The mystery of Christianity is revealed as it worships its Lord and King today. Instead of a scene of a throne indicating power and authority and judgment, we have Jesus crucified on a cross giving forgiveness. The way Jesus reveals Godʼs ʻkingshipʼ is radically different from the worldʼs power, wealth and honor. Imagine being in the crowd contemplating Jesus (or pray in front of a crucifix!). What questions are stirred up within you? What answers does God reveal to you about leadership. Salvation. Sin. Your life?

• Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! The promised ʻChristʼ (Messiah / Saviour) was supposed to be a strong military leader. Instead Jesus is tortured and dies at the hands of Roman soldiers. Yet mysteriously the soldiers refer to him as ʻthe chosen oneʼ, the ʻChrist of Godʼ, the ʻKing of the Jewsʼ. The scene is gruesome, but with the eyes of faith the reality taking place is ʻgloriousʼ. How would you explain Christʼs death as ʻgloriousʼ?

• Our human nature demands visible signs. We want to know with our own eyes that God has ʻsavedʼ us, forgives us, loves us. How does this crucifixion scene reveal the powerfully hidden way that God is able to work out (y)our redemption? Is God afraid of the mess of our ʻhumanityʼ? Are you?

• The Church places before us the paradox of Christ the KING. Instead of a royal procession, Jesus rode a donkey. Instead of a scepter of power, Jesus held a towel. Instead of a throne, Jesus was lifted up on a cross. Disciples replaced an army. Thorns replaced a golden crown. Mercy was his judgment. Humble homes his palace. Meals with sinners his preference. Humble sacrifice of life instead of the military sword. We, the Church, are called to exercise this style of ʻleadershipʼ and reflect his ʻimageʼ in the world today? How does this challenge you in your lifestyle? Leadership?

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

Discussion Guide:  30th Sunday Yr. C – Smug Self-Righteousness or Humble Authenticity?

 

Luke 18:9-14 - The Pharisee, the Publican, and the Proverb | Bible images, Bible pictures, Gospel of luke

Reflection Questions:  • The writer of Ecclesiasticus is a writer by the name Ben Sirach. He was the ʻheadmasterʼ of an Academy in Jerusalem that mentored Jewish students in the art of living well. His writings are a collection of the best of Jewish thought and philosophy. It contrasts with Greek culture and thought which accepted a huge gap between the rich and poor, those who were ʻfreeʼ and those who were ʻslavesʼ. Why do you think ʻthe prayer of the lowly pierces the cloudsʼ?

• Paul is writing from Prison in Rome. In his pre-trial hearing Paul shares that there was no-one who came to support him in court. Imagine his loneliness and sense of betrayal! And yet he does not choose to blame or get angry. Scholars suggest Christians in Rome were afraid of persecution if they came to support Paul. Have you had an experience of hurt from those you thought would support and protect you? Can you say like Paul ʻmay it not be held against them!ʼ Paulʼs attention continued to focus on imitating the life of Jesus, ʻbeing poured out like a libation (offering)ʼ. In your struggles, is your attention on your ʻenemyʼ or ʻJesusʼ? Do you think Paul is being self-righteous or humbly trusting in God?

• Jesus teaches about prayer and righteousness in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. hat do the words of the Pharisee’s prayer reveal about his attitude toward God and sinners? What does it mean to be self-righteous?

• A Pharisee was a strict observer of the law. Going beyond what was required they fasted 2 days per week (Jews were only required to fast on 1 day a year) and tithed on everything they received (even the goods that had already been ‘tithed’). They were extremely observant. They enjoyed their ʻholyʼ and ʻrighteousʼ reputation. Deuteronomy 26 taught Jews to bring a tenth of their produce to the temple, thanking God and asking for God’s blessing, and giving to the Levites,(preists) foreigners, orphans and widows. What has the Pharisee failed to understand about the Law and about God? Is the Pharisee ‘righteous’? Listen around you; who is talked about in disparaging ways, excluded, despised, looked down on? How do you react? Humility is recognizing the truth about yourself, God and others. What are some ways we are tempted to self-righteousness in our culture?

• Tax Collectors (often Jewish) worked with the Roman authorities to collect road charges, goods and sales tax. They made significant profits above their contracted price. They were despised by Jews for being in partnership with the occupying forces. For a tax collector to make amends, they had to pay-back overcharged taxes plus an additional 1/5th. They could never know everyone they’d cheated so could never repair their ‘wrongʼ They often felt their religious situation was hopeless. They could never be forgiven! Name some of the feelings experienced by the ʻtax collectorʼ. What is it about the tax collector that you can relate to? How would the Sacrament of Reconciliation help?

• The Pharisee only encountered himself in prayer. He was extremely self-satisfied. Is this prayer? The Tax collector humbly needs God’s mercy. Why does God listens to the Tax Collector?

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