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Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

Reflection Guide

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Discussion Questions

  1. A special relationship between God and his people was created with Abraham and Moses. This relationship was two-way. God would look after and guide his people. God’s people would listen to and obey certain ‘laws’. The first 5 books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
    Numbers, Deuteronomy) express what is required by both parties to live this ‘Covenant’. Todays reading explores the ‘covenant code’ and what social behaviours are required by God. Aliens (foreigners), widows and orphans have no protection of family or friends. But God loves them. We are to love, include and provide for them. Who are the equivalent of aliens, widows and orphans today? Are you living in ‘covenant-love’ with them?
  2. Jewish people were not to demand interest. They developed the practice of a ‘pledge’ to ensure repayment. As a safe-guard God stated a poor person was not to go cold at night without his ‘cloak’. Certain measures were in place to protect the dignity of the poor. How could you relate this to today?
  3. Paul continues his praise of the community of Thessalonika. Despite Paul and the other teachers being forced to leave them because of persecution, their ‘imitation of them’ and ‘the word of the Lord sounding forth’ from them to other communities showed such courage and faith. Have you ever had someone inspirational leave you and yet you decided to ‘continue their example’? Who has done this for your faith journey? What happened?
  4. Jesus is again forced into an argument with religious leaders. Pharisees decide to attack Jesus’ knowledge of the ‘Laws’. Jewish people had summarised all the laws of the first 5 books of the Old Testament into 613 laws. All were to be observed. Some were interpreted as ‘heavy -very important’ and some were thought of as ‘light – not as important’. Surprisingly, Jesus took a heavy law and and a light law and said they were intimately linked. Love God AND Neighbour. Jewish people interpreted ‘neighbour’ as fellow Israelites. Jesus’ teaching pushed ‘neighbour’ to include everyone. Everyone is to be treated as belonging to ‘yourself’ – as family! How does your love get ‘limited’? Why? Who gets excluded? Can you glimpse the heart of the gospel in this brief statement?
  5. A common criticism of the prophets in the Old Testament was that love of God was celebrated in the temple with sacrifices and gifts – Sunday worship. But it stopped there! They cried: what God wants is ‘mercy, not sacrifices’. Christianity is not lived on Sunday alone. How could you show more clearly a Sunday AND Monday discipleship?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide 25th Sunday Year A

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Reflection Questions

• If you ever experience God being ‘distant’ the words of Prophet Isaiah may help. He speaks and writes to God’s people feeling distant and away from home. Yet they cannot go back to Jerusalem and the Temple. They are refugees in Babylon and their Jerusalem Temple has been demolished. Isaiah invites you to turn inward, seek the Lord where he may be found – in your heart. Does your lifestyle allow for quiet time to stop and listen to your spirit and to God?

• Paul is writing from Prison. He may be put to death. He could argue with Roman authorities that he has been unjustly treated and begin the legal battle. He could be passive and let God’s plan unfold. He is torn in two directions. Have you experienced being torn between two good options? An earthquake and conversion of the jailor provides the way forward. Could you trust God’s design of providence                  and guiding your life like Paul?

• Laborers would often stand in the middle of town waiting to be selected for jobs. At the heat of midday, and not having been selected for a job, many would walk home downcast. What do the laborers feel? In desperation some continue to stay until 4pm! What is strange about the landowners (God) behaviour?

• The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard is also called the Parable of the Generous Landowner. It is only found in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s Christian community was Jewish but gradually became filled with more Gentile converts. Jews who had served long and hard in faithful obedience to the Laws of God now witnessed Gentiles coming in at the last ‘hour’ and receiving the same ‘reward’. They were upset. God is unmasked in this parable as one who is generous. Were you upset or delighted in this parable? Why?

• The landowner’s (God’s) generosity in the parable creates a problem. The world’s expectation is strict justice. More hours worked = more money earned. Few hours worked = little money earned. Does this build a ‘just society’? Why is justice easier to manage than mercy? Why is it easier to be legal than loving? Does it mean that we give up control of destiny and judgment? Why should everyone receive a ‘just wage’?

• The ways of God are different from worldly ways. As a member of the community building the ‘kingdom of God’, what would it look like to be generous with your money like the landowner? Does your giving establish true justice or maintain charity with unjust structures and policies? check out www.caritas.org.nz

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

 

Download 26th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. Amos continues his public speech in Jerusalem against the incredibly wealthy who are so ʻsatisfiedʼ with beautiful beds, couches, food, wine, music concerts, beauty oils and cosmetics. ʻThey are not made ill by the collapse of their fellow people (Joseph)ʼ. How does wealth manage to 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?
  2. Godʼs covenantal 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 the richly blessed sharing with others to ensure all are looked after. Have you realised a christian religious commitment / covenant also involves a social obligation / covenant toward the ʻpoorʼ? How are you currently expressing this commitment in your lifestyle?
  3. Some scholars consider this passage from the Letter to Timothy could come from an Ordination Ceremony. Do you have ʻcourage under fireʼ, like Jesus before Pontius Pilate, to give your testimony and confess your faith in the most difficult of circumstances? Where and when do you find it hard?
  4. Purple clothing was the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth because its source was a rare shellfish and insect being crushed. It was the ultimate in ʻbrandedʼ clothing to distinguish a person who had wealth. What symbols of wealth are worn or shown today? Do you belong to this ʻsystemʼ? What does it mean to you?
  5. 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 the cycle of wealth to so preoccupy and claim ones attention and energy so that the needs of others go unnoticed. The rich man does know Lazarus because he calls out his name. However there is a failure of conversion. He cannot bring himself to share of his wealth. The Rich Man claims he did not have a warning that this reversal would happen. If this parable truly describes what will happen in the after-life, what does it demand of you? What would it take for your to ʻshare your wealthʼ? Have you given generously to the poor recently? Have you considered the difference between charity and true justice?
  6. The Parable of Lazarus could illustrate our Eucharistic Communities. We who are richly blessed, in our best Sunday clothes, celebrating in our liturgy Godʼs great blessing and Eucharistic Banquet, while there are so many poor sitting in the nearby streets and alley-ways. Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, refuses to allow his disciples to feel comfortable and satisfied with the default settings of the world. The costly and inclusive hospitality of God is something we are called to witness to. What obstacle to a deeper conversion to the poor sits in your way?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?