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Posts Tagged ‘catholic’

Discussion Guide: What Does Love Look Like?

I talk a lot of love, this is what I'm talking about. Romance is a lovely thing, but just one very small way of loving:

Reflection Questions

• Peter entering the home of Cornelius (A Roman Centurion / Soldier) is an incredibly important moment in the early Church. It sets in motion the whole Christian mission to non-jews – to the untouchables, the pagans, the ‘greeks’. God wants to include everyone. Who do I consider an ‘outsider’ to the Church? Why? How could I be more inclusive? In my family? My church?

• Acts 10 reveals the early struggle to be open and welcoming. The Holy Spirit spoke in dreams and visions to inspire and move the Church and disciples. Consider the words of St Peter: ‘Get up, I myself am a human being’ and ‘God shows no partiality’. What has happened within Peter? What invitation and challenge do you notice for your own journey?

• Both Peter and Cornelius are spoken to in prayer. Thankfully they responded obediently. What have you heard in prayer and life lately? Have you been obedient in living the word? What are some obstacles you have encountered?

•John repeats the word love 9 times in his letter and 9 times in the Gospel. In John’s community, they were fighting with gnostics who didn’t think Christian behaviour was important. John reinforces the idea that love actually ‘looks like something’. Christian love is to love all others as God has loved us
in Christ. Consider how God has initiated the relationship of love with us. Dying as an expiation (offering) to show us the forgiveness of our sins and the extent of God’s love. Do you initiate love or merely respond to love? Does your love change depending on a response? How does your love-style
witness to Christian love?

• God wants disciples to ‘bear fruit’. Yet fruitfulness requires attachment to the vine/trunk. The fruitfulness of joy and peace and love develops from ‘friendship with’ the Father. Friendships grow and develop in responding to needs and requests. Hence Jesus invites us to ask so the Father can give and be glorified. Would you describe your relationship with God as a ‘friend’? What is your attitude toward intercessory prayer? Ask or text your friends what they need and pray specifically for them. Don’t be afraid to ask God for signs so that God may receive ‘glory’. He gives plenty in the Acts of the Apostles!

• When asked to describe the love to which believers are called, St Augustine replied: “It has the feet to
hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the signs and sorrow of others. That is what love looks like.”

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ 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, Repent and Turn to God

Acts 3:13-15,17-19, 1 John 2:1-5, Luke 24:35-48

Image result for fish swimming upstream

Reflection Questions

  • Peter has gone through a remarkable experience of change since his denial of Christ and  now has the confidence to preach the core christian message to unbelievers.  He now knows what it is to be forgiven and to turn back to relationship with Jesus. Notice then how his preaching is connected with his ʻlivingʼ and the ʻsignsʼ that he works (he just cured someone!). ʻPreachingʼ comes after ʻlivingʼ.  What sign / action / witness can I ʻliveʼ this week to let people experience Jesus through me?
  • Holiness is a universal call to everyone. ʻRepent and be convertedʼ is an invitation to a complete change of oneʼs value system. The worldview of the early disciples had been tipped upside down with the Resurrection. Consider what change took place for the early disciples to sell land and give to those in need? Is your value system those of the ʻworldʼ or ʻChristʼ?  Ask God what areas of your life need more of the Holy Spirit so you can change and grow as a disciple. Then take the next most obvious steps to cooperate with God and bring that change about.
  • Some people in the Johannine community believed that ‘knowledge’ of salvation was salvation. ‘Knowing’ Jesus and his forgiveness was all that was important. Moral behaviour and changing one’s lifestyle were irrelevant. Yet the Easter Acts of the Apostles and Gospel readings, teach that the disciples of Jesus witnessed to the resurrection with power and signs and wonders. Their lives were transformed. The Easter Sunday Victory of the Resurrection is supposed to overturn the evil of good Friday. Christians are not just baptised and waiting for the idea of the resurrection to become true when they die and enter eternal life. We have a job to do. Holiness is for now. As disciples we are each called to live in and for Christ in our everyday life whatever that entails for us. How could you ʻkeep the wordʼ more and let the ʻlove of God come to perfection within youʼ more?
  • Jesus was ʻmade known to them in the breaking of breadʼ. This new action and new words with it, was so new at the last supper that it transformed the traditional Passover meal. Only the Son of God could do this. Yet the resurrected Jesus must have appeared different to the disciples as it was only ‘at the breaking of the bread’ that they recognised him. How do you understand what happens at the celebration of the Mass / Eucharist? How does it help you experience the ongoing presence of Jesus? Do you have questions of the Scriptures that require some help to understand them? What are they? Who could you ask for help?
  • “Why are you troubled and what are the questions rising in your heart” What are the things you need to look at, discuss with someone, write about, research, pray about, so you too can reach the peace and transformation Jesus offers today?
  • What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

 

 

Reflection Guide Holy Thursday

Image result for holy thursday 2018

Discussion 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 Easter?

Discussion Guide: Come and See 

Reflection Questions

• Samuel is a young boy who eventually becomes one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. It is possible he was given the job of ensuring the ‘sacred flame’ in the Temple did not burn out and for that
reason is ‘sleeping in the temple’. Today God calls him. He is confused, and even his mentor ‘Eli’ takes a while to recognise it is God speaking in prayer to Samuel. Isyour lifestyle allowing for time in prayer
and silence? Have you ever sincerely presented yourself before God and stated ‘Here I am…. Speak…. I am listening’?
• Samuel needed Eli to mentor him in the ways of listening to God and prayerful obedience. Who has been an ‘Eli’ figure for you in your journey with God? Has there been any word or inspiration from
God or an Eli-Mentor that you have heard but not been obedient to? What happened?
• Samuel was blessed. The Lord helped him to not let any word spoken ‘fall to the ground’. He both caught the Lord’s word and Spoke the Lord’s word. How could you be more effective in ‘catching’ every
word of the Lord spoken to you? Consider starting a spiritual journal of your prayer time and finding a spiritual director (Eli). Check out www.livingtheword.org.nz/resources and click on spiritual director
and keeping a journal.

• There was a problem among some of the community at Corinth. Some separated the body and the  spirit believing that it did not matter what one did with their ‘bodies’. Paul teaches them about the dignity of their bodies. Joined with Christ, filled with the Spirit, our bodies are true ‘Temples’ of God. What we do in and with the dwelling place of God should bring God Glory. Do you respect and protect the dignity of your body? How could you give God greater glory? Whose ‘bodies’ are being broken or
abused today in society. Do you care?
• John the Baptist points his disciples toward Jesus and they begin the journey of discipleship. The first
question Jesus asks of a disciple points deeply to their heart: What are you looking for? Imaginatively  enter the scene. What is your response to this very first question of Jesus?
• ‘Come and see’ is an invitation by Jesus to ‘abide’ and ‘stay’ with him. Like Samuel, could you find a frequent way of drawing close to Jesus, spending time beside the tabernacle in Church? It means leaving friends, normal routine, unknown conversation. Where does the adventure of ‘come and see’ ask of you?
• While Peter is well known, it was his brother Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus. The time spent with Jesus impacted Andrew so much he had to find someone to share this good news with. Have you experienced the joy of Jesus and the desire to lead others to share this faith experience? Is your lack of courage stopping a future Church leader? Saint?
• What is one action that you will do to‘ livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide for 24th December, 4th Sunday Advent, Year B

Image result for Yes to God Advent

Reflection Questions

• Advent Story. A Kitten at Christmas. A Catholic couple were celebrating Christmas Eve. The wife invited her husband to Midnight mass, but he declined. He thought he would instead stay at home on this cold night, watch television, and they could have a christmas drink when she returned. His wife left early to attend christmas carols and shortly after he heard a noise at the door. Opening the back door he noticed a cold and wet kitten. He reached toward it but it cried in fear and retreated further away. He pondered to himself how he could help comfort this poor kitten. He got some milk from the fridge, poured it into a plate, showed the kitten and placed it just inside the door. He hoped to welcome the kitten into the warm and dry room of his house. The kitten continued its crying. He tried again to reach out to it. But the kitten interpreted these actions fearfully and moved further away into the
cold. As the man continued to ponder how he could truly communicate positively with this kitten it dawned on him that he would need to become like this kitten. Suddenly he realised what God had done. He jumped into his car to attend midnight mass and whispered to his wife: for the first time Iʼve realised Christmas is God born among us in Jesus to help us! (p.s. he gave the kitten a warm box to curl up in.)

•King David had unified the tribes of Israel by bringing the ‘ark’ (the special wooden box containing the tablets of the 10 commandments) to Jerusalem. He now thought he would build a Temple to give a proper ‘home’ to God. Nathan went along with this plan but God had to intervene. God describes 11 times (I…) what he has done. God has intervened in history – not the other way around! As  you approach the end of the year and consider what you would like to do next year have you consulted God in prayer? Is there someone like Nathan who could help you?

• Paul writes of a ‘mystery kept secret for long ages’ but now made public to all nations bringing about obedience of faith. Is your faith in Jesus ‘secret’ or ‘public’? At your own level of comfort, how could you witness to being a believer and follower of Jesus? Could you invite someone to Christmas carols? Midnight Mass? Mention Jesus at your family gathering?

• God zooms in from eternity to a historical place (Galilee), to a town (Nazareth), to a person (Mary),
engaged to a descendant of the King of David (Joseph). Here is a scriptural window into the most significant historical event of eternity. God, through the angel, awaits Mary’s response. What part of Mary’s experience can you identify with the most?

• Mary saying ‘Yes’ to God’s calling and birthing Jesus into the world at Christmas is also symbolic of every disciple. Have you ever had a ‘God’ moment, a sense of a significant job God has planned for you, and then ‘the angel departed’. It was over. Are you living in obedience? Forgetfulness? Laziness? Fear?

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

Reflection Guide is here: Creative risk or Fear: who is God for you?

Image result for let it hurt let it bleed

Discussion Questions:

  • The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings for daily living. Today a woman (not necessarily exceptional or beautiful as modern media might portray), does routine daily chores filled with wisdom and purpose. Her love extends beyond her family to the poor and needy. Her life and good works is spoken of ‘at the city gates’. Have you experienced ‘charm’ as deceptive and ‘beauty’ fleeting? Two
    quite different life-styles are presented as a ‘mirror’ to expose the reader. Where do you ‘see’ yourself?
  • Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest New Testament Letter. They were concerned that ‘the Day of the Lord’ (Jesus’ return) had not happened. St Paul shares with them and us that the exact date of the ‘day of the Lord’ is not known. But we are all to be ‘living in the light’ following the way of Jesus. What image speaks more to you: not sleeping, staying alert, being sober? How could you apply this ‘image’ to an application in your life?
  • The end of the Church’s Year is coming! Next week is the end: Christ the King. The Judgement Parable of the Talents is given to us today as a way of helping us to reflect seriouslyon the end of the world and the Lord’s second coming. A careful reading of the Parable reveals some disturbingrealities.
  • One ‘talent’ is a large weight of metal equivalent to 15 years of an average wage ($750,000!). Is the Master generous or mean? What image of God do you ‘read into thetext’?
  • Two different ‘images’ and perceptions of the Master are found. Servants 1 and 2 are spurred into creativity, Servant 3 is filled with fear. He will take no risks, avoid any wrongoing, and will give back to God in ‘strict justice’ what was given. Is Servant 3 ‘self-ish’? His fear of judgement tends to paralyse him. He is not filled with a freedom and love for creative risk taking in works of mercy. Could this be an image of the Jewish community for Matthew? The Christian Community today?
  • Very large amounts of money are being traded. Is this supporting capitalist greed and risk taking or is it reduced to a ‘small matter’ in comparison to the new ‘great responsibilities’ of the Kingdom of God?
  • Reflect personally and name your ‘talents’. From this parable what do you think God asks of you? If you were to be judged on your current use of your talents what might be the conclusion?
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide: Know your true worth 12th Sunday Yr A

Image result for worth more than many sparrows

Reflection Questions.

  1. Jeremiah expresses total confidence that the Lord will protect him even though he is in a volatile situation where even one-time friends are out to trip him up. Have you ever felt trapped and surrounded by difficulties out of your control? How did you relate with God through that time?
  2. How hard is it for you to ‘trust your cause’ to God like Jeremiah? What do you need to be able to move from knowledge about faith to faith in a warm honest deep relationship of trust in which you experience the love, power, mercy, faithfulness and justice of God at ‘gut’ level in your life? Try praying the prayer of Jeremiah and keep a record of how God works in your situation.
  3. In Romans 5 Paul explains why the revelation of Jesus means God can be utterly trusted. Because he put his love on the line by sending Jesus to rescue us when we were trapped in sin and separated from God. Sin entered the world and because of sin we struggle with trials, difficulties, addictions and disordered desires and relationships with people and creation in a myriad of ways. But just as one person started the problem of sin, Jesus – true God and true Man- overcame sin not simply for himself but for many. That is the essence of the Good News: while we were trapped in sin, Jesus came to set us free. It is a gift to be accepted and opened. What aspect of your life are you struggling most with? Ask Jesus to give you the grace of what you need to be set free in that area today.
  4. Jesus tells us to “Fear no one”. That takes enormous freedom born out of trust in the absoluteness of Gods power and care for us. Jesus asks us to recognize our true worth – that we are so precious to God that every hair on our head has been counted and even a sparrow is always known to God. What does the imagery tell you about how attentive God is to you? Did you know how much God values you? Pray for thegift of knowing the worth God sees in you just as you are.
  5. The Gospel tells us that anyone who acknowledges Jesus before others will be acknowledged by Jesus before the Father. What opportunities to share Gods love will you take this week? How do you feel knowing that Jesus speaks up for you and your needs?
  6. The word ‘fear’ appears, 92 times in the New Testament. God knows our human tendency to be afraid and wants to encourage us to trust God. 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.” How does knowing your true worth help you do that?
  7. What at is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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

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

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

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

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

Download 4th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Deuteronomy is a book of long sermons and reflections. It is regarded as the second (deutero) law, an insightful reflection on the teachings of Moses. Although the great prophet, Moses did not lead God’s people into the promised land. Yet the community realised how necessary it was to have someone completely ‘in tune’ with God who could correct and guide them. Are you frightened to ‘hear the voice of God’? Do you resist being ‘still’? Listening to the deepest voice of God within your spirit? Is there a ‘prophet’ that God has placed in your life and you know it is important to ‘listen to the words of their mouth’?
  2. A true prophet speaks what God has spoken. It is not made up wisdom. Have you ‘presumed to speak in my name’? Consider praying to God for particular wisdom and insight for people whom you guide with your words and witness. Do any images or words or ideas come to mind? Write them down and continue to ask God for guidance.
  3. St Paul’s writings teach of equality of men and women in marriage. Putting the letter to the Corinthians in context, Paul’s early writings presume Jesus’ return is to happen so soon, it is best to let nothing distract us from being ready. What makes you anxious? Distracted from God?
  4. The Gospel of Mark immediately shows Jesus overcoming the forces of evil. Check out a typical day of Jesus in Mark chapters 1-3! The battle between Good and Evil is striking. Unclean spirits are taunted and afraid and surprisingly acknowledge the identity of Jesus before anyone else. Jesus is experienced differently from the scribes who taught legal rules. Jesus in his words and action brought healing and liberation. Are you a person of ‘word’ and ‘action’? Is your word filled with commitment to bring about what you have said?
  5. Exorcisms done by Jesus symbolise and reveal the ultimate struggle between good and evil that Jesus is involved with. To bring the ‘Kingdom of God’ into reality involves ‘fighting against evil’. Is there anything that you are doing in your life that Jesus would not do? If Jesus were to be in your home, flat, workplace, what would he resist? Fight? Seek to change?
  6. Jesus is shown to be the true prophet, fulfilling the prophecy of Moses (first reading) whose word is the Word of God. Yet be breaks the ‘sabbath’ law by ‘working a healing’. He does this in the synagogue, in front of scribes (Church leaders who teach the ‘law’). He creates a disturbance with the man convulsing and shaking in front of a crowd as he is released from domination by an evil spirit. Jesus as a prophet makes people uncomfortable. ‘Prophets make lovely additions to the Bible, but you certainly don’t want one in your neighborhood. No Sir! Prophets wreak havoc on the status quo…’ Can you identify anyone who is prophetic? Whose presence brings God and causes havoc in the re-establishment of God’s order? What prophetic word or act could you do this week?
  7. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download 4th Sunday Advent Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. See  Advent Story. A Kitten at Christmas.
  2. King David had unified the tribes of Israel by bringing the ‘ark’ (the special wooden box containing the tablets of the 10 commandments) to Jerusalem. He now thought he would build a Temple to give a proper ‘home’ to God. Nathan went along with this plan but God had to intervene. God describes 11 times (I…) what he has done. God has intervened in history – not the other way around! As you approach the end of the year and consider what you would like to do next year have you consulted God in prayer? Is there someone like Nathan who could help you?
  3. Paul writes of a ‘mystery kept secret for long ages’ but now made public to all nations bringing about obedience of faith. Is your faith in Jesus ‘secret’ or ‘public’? At your own level of comfort, how could you witness to being a believer and follower of Jesus? Could you invite someone to Christmas carols? Midnight Mass? Mention Jesus at your family gathering?
  4. God zooms in from eternity to a historical place (Galilee), to a town (Nazareth), to a person (Mary), engaged to a descendant of the King of David (Joseph). Here is a scriptural window into the most significant historical event of eternity. God, through the angel, awaits Mary’s response. What part of Mary’s experience can you identify with the most?
  5. Mary saying Yes to God’s calling and birthing Jesus into the world at Christmas is also symbolic of every disciple. Have you ever had a ‘God’ moment, a sense of a significant job God has planned for you, and then ‘the angel departed’. It was over. Are you living in obedience? Forgetfulness? Laziness? Fear?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?