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Posts Tagged ‘Conversion’

The Easter Triduum:

Reflection Guides are available for

Holy Thursday HERE,

Good Friday Readings are HERE,

A Guide to help reflect on Good Friday from Creighton University is here

Easter Saturday VIGIL is HERE

 

Easter Blessings from the Team at Living the Word.

 

 

 

Preparing With All Your Heart: The Passion of Christ: Discussion Guide is HERE

Reflection Questions

Image result for palm sunday year b

Palm Sunday: The Passion of the Lord
• The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on
a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent
of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’ – The anointed One. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy.
Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak? When have you been part of an ecstatic crowd of welcome and jubilation? How did you feel during, and after the event?

• The Passion Reading from Mark has many details.  There is betrayal by close friends, the mob violence, milling crowds, political and religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion strikes you most this year, in the particular circumstances of our world today? Your life? Talk to God about that and share with others about it as you are comfortable.

•Raymond Brown, a Catholic Scripture scholar, warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that changed the world. We are there and it is now. Every Mass makes it present today. The Gospel is the living word-
convicting us, converting us -Today! Can you see ways that the same issues are still present today?

Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
Judas – Putting money and his own ideas ahead of his commitment to Jesus.
Fleeing disciples – putting all the focus on personal safety?
Peter – professing and then denying Jesus within the hour?
Soldiers – carrying out unjust orders from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
Pilate – pretending he has no power, washing his hands of justice and ignoring evil?
Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring that rules be kept and ‘safety’  maintained?
Narrator – dispassionately observing and unmoved. Share your responses in prayer over this week.

Barabbas literally translated is Bar = Son, Abbas = (of the) Father. Who is the true ‘Son of the Father‘ – Jesus or Barabbas? What will bring ‘salvation’ : Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt against military powers using military means? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?

• The veil of the Temple sanctuary separated off the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. Mark writes interpretively that this ‘private and exclusive’ meeting place with God has now been revealed as ‘on the cross’ for everyone. Here is the Son of God crucified out of passionate love and the desire to create a new covenant of forgiveness. The cross becomes the ‘new mercy seat’ (hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies) for all to see, believe in, and receive. Spend some time in prayer with Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teach you?

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

These Resources by Living the Word, are prepared by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, ACSD, Marist Laity NZ. You are welcome to copy and share them for personal or group use but please ensure the website is credited. www.livingtheword.org.nz, Email: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Lent Yr. B (RCIA readings) – Give me water that I may not thirst again

 

 

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman - John 4:1-42 | Marg Mowczko

Reflection Questions:  • The symbol of ‘water’ has different levels of meaning. It can represent life keeping us from death. Water can be symbolic of a life journey yearning for something more. In Exodus, Moses is in the midst of leading his people who feel like they are ‘dying of thirst’ and they blame him. God invites him to go away from all the moaning voices, taking only a few elders with him. Which part of the story does your life and lent journey identify with at the moment: Water. Thirst. Moaning. Crying. Going away from voices. Quarreling. Testing. Questioning?

• Paul continues the important teaching of being made ‘right’ with God. It is not our doing, but faith in the cross of Jesus. This brings peace in our heart and spirit. And we look forward in hope to heaven and the final victory. Have you ever given a gift to someone whose behaviour has not yet changed to show they are ‘worthy’ or ‘thankful’? Why do it? There is the hope that the person may ‘see’ the depth of your love. What does it mean that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners?

•Week 3, 4, 5 of Lent in Year A features Gospel of John readings. These are specially inserted for helping people preparing for Baptism at Easter. They contain powerful symbols of water (quenching our thirst), light (a blind man sees) and the gift of life (raising Lazarus from death). Reflect on the image of sitting in the heat of the midday sun beside a well. What would you feel?Think about? Do? What questions would you ask Jesus? Spend 5 minutes imaginatively praying into this scene. What happened?

• It was unusual for a woman to collect water in the heat of the day alone. The longer gospel text reveals she has had 5 ‘husbands’. It is possible she has been hurt by the gossip of other women. Her journey is our journey. Which part of the journey of the Samaritan woman can you identify with?

• Jesus breaks the social barriers of talking with a woman alone, and with a despised enemy (Jews do not associate with Samaritans). Jesus sits with her, talks, asks for help, offers her life that will quench her ‘thirst’ forever. A ‘rejected outsider’ becomes a disciple and the only person to evangelise a whole community in the gospel of John! She now rushes to the market place full of men to tell them the good news of meeting Jesus. Deep hopes have been fulfilled. Does your relationship with Jesus show itself others?

• The woman at the well reveals a disciple’s learning. Jesus is first thought a ‘prophet’, then possibly the ‘Messiah’ and then indeed ‘truly the ‘Saviour of the world’. Hidden in the text is Jesus saying ‘I AM..’ This is the Divine Name – the name Jews gave to God (Ex 3,14). What does this mean?

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

Discussion Guide:    1st Sunday Lent Yr. B – Turn towards God

 

Image result for turn to God roadsign

Reflection Questions:    • The season of Lent begins with the receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday. If you were not able to attend Ash Wednesday ask your priest if he could mark the ashes on your forehead with a prayer on Sunday. Or you may consider placing your thumb in soil and marking yourself with the sign of the cross. It takes a physical experience to remind us of something beginning. Consider Ash Wednesday like arriving at the starting line of a race. We need to be present and committed – when the starting gun goes off we need to ‘begin’ the journey to the finish line of Easter. Are you psychologically ‘ready’? What will the spiritual practices of ‘Prayer’ ‘Fasting’ and ‘Alms-Giving’ involve for your daily /weekly routine?

• In the season of Lent, the First and Gospel readings are not specifically linked, but independently teach us a truth about God and ourselves. The word describing the ‘Ark’ built by Noah, is also used for the ark carrying baby Moses to safety, the ark holding the special tablets of the commandments and symbolic of the Ark of the Church. God has made a covenant / promise to protect and be with those who belong to him. Have you ever had an experience or sign showing God’s protection for you? Can you see the Church as an ‘Ark’ today? How?

•The Second readings of Lent teach us the meaning of Baptism. The cleansing of Baptism waters is not washing away physical dirt, but literally a ‘putting away of filth’ as one now living in Christ. Lent becomes a time of renewed effort in living our christian identity. What do you recognise needs to be ‘put away’ from your life? What is the first step on this journey?

• Jesus responded to the Spirit’s inspiration into the Desert. To help create a prayer-full lent, what place and time each day can you identify that will work for you? How could you symbolise beginning this journey?

• Being in the desert for 40 days links to Israel being in the desert for 40 years. A time of testing, proving loyalty, closer union with God. As adults, Lent is not a season for child-like practices of giving up lollies. It is a journey facing struggle and sin, being ʻtestedʼ, proving my loyalty to God. Is my Lenten commitment serious enough? Do I consider it will bring me closer to God?

• “The angels ministered to him.” God does not leave us alone. Angels are provided. Literally, Angels mean ʻgood message bearersʼ. In my Lenten journey and wilderness experience who are some ʻangelsʼ that God may have already placed in my life to support me but I have not responded to. Is there someone you could ask to accompany you on your journey of Lent? It could be just the help you need!

• Repent and believe the gospel. This is Jesusʼ first public words ever spoken. The greek word is metanoia – change, physically turn your life around. What do I know needs to change to find wholeness in my life?

• How will you ‘livetheword’ this week?

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.

Ash Wednesday Readings Reflection

• Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent, a six-week period (excluding Sundays) dedicated to prayer, fasting, and reflection in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum. The late Henri Nouwen described Lent as a time to ‘re-focus and re-enter a place of truth’. It is a journey of love, toward love, in love.

• Taking part in the reception of the ashes symbolizes starting the journey. What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? Share a decision and plan with a faith-friend about how you intend to enter & journey through these 40 days & cheer each other on.

• The image from the prophet Joel is an invitation for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone; Old, Young, Babies, Newly married, Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. The world is being invited to STOP due to Covid. How could that enforced ‘stop’ become more personal and intentional for God? What could you Stop? When? How? The image is of a special people called to be ‘light’ rather than a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Pray for the whole Christian church throughout the world during the season of renewed faithfulness. As we turn from sin to become more faithful to the Gospel may our fresh witness resonate with the people of today with the hope that ‘now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day…’.

• Imagine being an ‘Ambassador’ with the responsibility of representing and delivering crucial communication. Your witness and life-style gets challenged to be in harmony with your message. Jesus gives us an ambassadors task of proclaiming ‘on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God’. Will you, as an ambassador, receive the sacrament of reconciliation during this season of Lent? How will your daily life witness to Jesus as a disciple of worship, compassion, and mercy for others?• Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions. When you give alms… When you pray… When you fast… These traditional Lenten practices are powerful tools that help us clearly focus on what is important.

• Prayer: What voices do you listen to?
• Fasting: What things fill your life?
• Almsgiving: Do you hear the cries of those in need and respond?

• Jesus emphasizes that doing these actions in ‘secret’ will be ‘repaid’ by God. ‘In secret’ guards us from seeking attention and personal ‘glory’ from others. Lent is not to be a shallow show. But do not be afraid to share your personal Lent journey with a friend – and also encourage your friend into the depths rather than the surface show.

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

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference given to the Living the Word website.

 

Ash Wednesday – Starting the Lenten Journey

HOW DO I START?

Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by without really placing oneself on the ‘starting line’. Taking part in the reception of ashes symbolizes our decision to start the journey.

If you cannot be part of a service due to health or Covid issues, pray at home or find an on-line service. You can read the Scripture of the day and make the sign of the cross in some way.

It is possible to be at the starting line but not enter the race!

What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? How
can you make this more meaningful? Share a decision/plan with a
faith-friend & ask them to encourage you over the next 40 days.

IT TAKES TIME
The image from the prophet Joel 2:12-18 (1st Reading Ash Wednesday) is an invitation
for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies.
Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. STOP!

Covid may have required an enforced STOP for you. How could make an intentional ‘stop’ at
a personal, spiritual or social level? Where? When?

The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Take some quiet
time to tell yourself you have started the journey and write a decision or plan for Lent.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Jesus presumes that a disciple will be doing certain actions (see Gospel for Ash Wed, Matthew
6:1-6,16-18). When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast….
These are the three traditional and powerful Lenten practices that help us focus on what is
important: Our relationship with God, our discipline and discipleship, our interrelationships, witness and community.

Practice of Prayer: What voices do I listen to? How much of my time do I set aside to hear God?

Practice of Fasting: What things fill my life? What is unhealthy? What do I have trouble letting go of? What needs change? Balance? How do my choices care for the environment and the poor?

Practice of Almsgiving: How do I spend my money and resources? Do I hear the cries of those in need and respond? Could I live more simply and be more generous? Do I seek Gods guidance about my financial and resource decisions?

Whether you have access to an Ash Wednesday service this year or not, try to gather with at least one other person face to face or online and give to God your commitment to begin the journey of Lent with a plan and a desire to grow as His disciple.

Material produced by Fr Frank Bird SM and Bev McDonald, Lay Marist NZ. www.livingtheword.org.nz, nzlivingtheowrd@gmail.com, www.maristlaitynz.org. You are welcome to share this resource or use it with reference to the Living the Word website.

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Yr. B – Are You With God?

AT ONCE” | Grace for the Race

Reflection Questions:    • The Book of the Prophet Jonah is a book about his life. It is understood not to be an historical writing, but a reflection on the nationalism of the Hebrew people (represented by Jonah) who could not consider ‘Gentiles’ as worthy of receiving God’s Mercy and attention (represented by the Gentile city of Nineveh). Jonah was called by God to speak to the people of Nineveh but instead chose to run in the opposite direction. Only after trying to escape and spending 3 days in the belly of a whale did he show obedience to God’s call. Strikingly the people of Nineveh responded to God’s call to change and ‘turn from their evil way’. Have you heard a constant voice, noticed a constant desire, felt a passion stir within that does not go away? This is frequently the way people experience God’s ‘call’ upon their life. Are you ‘running in the opposite direction’? Arguing with God (like Jonah) with reasons ‘why you will not do it’. What is your best guess as God’s calling on your life today. What is your response?

• Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is an early letter when Paul still thought Jesus would be returning ‘very soon’. While we are conscious of Jesus’ delayed return his message still holds: all the things of the world will pass away and nothing is to become an obstacle between ourselves and God. List the relationships and objects / possessions that are important to you. Is anyone / anything damaging the time and relationship and obedience that God is asking of you? What could you do to restore a balance? What could you ‘let go of’ to be more available to God?

• The beginning of Mark’s Gospel quickly teaches about being a disciple of Jesus. In a dark way the cost of being a true disciple is suggested with John the Baptist being ‘handed over’. Jesus too will be handed over. Disciples too will be handed over. A battle scene is subtly painted with words. Satan’s rule is now going to be replaced by that of God: The Kingdom of God is at hand! While sometimes  slower at revealing itself, God’s ways to bring justice and overcome evil will triumph. Are you with God? Are you engaged in overcoming ‘evil’ or are you passively watching? What does ‘Repent’ (change) mean for you?

• Simon and Andrew, with their Father and hired men are considered to be at least ‘middle class’. Part of a family business, boats, employees. In following Jesus they are letting go of family expectations and financial security. They must be attracted to an even greater concern. What is it? Re-image the scene using your own ‘family’ and ‘work’. What is your response to Jesus?

• In the Gospel of Mark, immediately Jesus chooses disciples. Immediately he places himself with others in a community. He will teach but also receive companionship. Who are likeminded people who you need to support your discipleship? How could you ‘build community’ together to encourage faithfulness and obedience to Jesus?

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

Discussion Guide:    2nd Sunday Yr. B – What Are You Looking For?

 

The Gospel According to John Blog: Come and See (John 1:35-51)

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. Is your 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 & Scriptures for 25th Sun. Year A:The Parable of the Generosity of God-HERE

See the source image

Reflection Questions

• Many feel displaced from church and Sacraments due to the pandemic. God feeling ‘distant’ is a common spiritual experience. The words of Isaiah may help. He speaks and writes to God’s people feeling distant and away from home. They are refugees in Babylon and their Jerusalem Temple has been
demolished so they cannot go back to Jerusalem or the Temple. Isaiah invites us to look inward, seek the Lord where he may be found – in your heart. How can you allow more time to stop and listen to your spirit and to God in daily life?

• Paul is writing from Prison. He may be put to death. He has choices; he could argue with Roman authorities that he has been unjustly treated and begin the legal battle or 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? What was the outcome for you? An earthquake and conversion of the jailer provides the way forward for Paul. Talk to God about what you need to be able to trust God’s providence and guidance for your life.

• Workers would stand in the middle of town as a labour pool waiting to be selected for jobs. At the heat of midday, not having been given a job, many would walk home downcast. What do you think those labourers felt? In desperation some continue to stay until after 4pm! What strikes you most about the landowners (God) behaviour?

• This Labourers in the Vineyard parable could be the parable of the Generous Landowner. It is only in the Gospel of Matthew. That Christian community was Jewish but gradually swelled with Gentile converts. Jews who had served long in faithful obedience to the Law now saw Gentiles coming in at the last ‘hour’ and receiving the same ‘reward’. They were upset. God seems almost ludicrously generous. Who do you identify with in the parable? What is your emotional response to the parable and why? Consider both the practical aspects of it for today as well as its eternal life message?

• The landowner’s (God’s) generosity creates a problem then and for us. The world’s expectation is strict justice. More hours worked = more money. Fewer hours worked = less money. 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’? How would you describe the difference between equality and equity?

• God’s ways are different from worldly ways. As someone building the ‘kingdom of God’, how are you called to be like the landowner? How can you establish true justice and equity within your sphere of influence? Why is it easier to maintain unjust structures/policies and simply give charity?

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly  resources by Fr Frank Bird sm & Bev McDonald – distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide22nd Sunday Yr. A – Do not conform – but be transformed!

ReflecSwimming Against the Tidetion Questions

• Jeremiah was a young prophet who spoke out against King Jehoiakim. The King was so upset with Jeremiah’s words pointing out injustice he burnt Jeremiah’s writings. Prophets were passionately aware of the call to love God and show this in true worship. To care for the poor and the stranger through hospitality and giving. Often this put them in conflict with the religious, political and social systems of their day. Do you see in the world a cause for ‘crying out’? Do you see and wish to share outrage at what is accepted by society? What would you feel is a desire ‘burning in your heart, imprisoned in your bones’?

• Both Roman citizens and Jews in Rome were familiar with offering sacrifices in a temple. St Paul leads them on. It is not an external sacrifice of food to God which is required, but your very bodies offered in loving service. Do you consider your daily faithful service as an ‘offering’ pleasing to God? How could you offer your body more to God? Are you conformed to this age or the will of God?

• Within minutes of Peter being made the ‘rock’ upon which the Church would be built, Jesus now calls him ‘Satan’. Although Peter recognised Jesus as the Christ and Son of God he was wrong in understanding what this actually meant. The Jewish hope was of a glorious ruler who would put to death all enemies of Israel. It was inconceivable that the ‘Christ’ the ‘anointed one’ should suffer. He was supposed to make others suffer. Can you glimpse how difficult it would have been for Peter and the disciples to have their understanding of the ‘Christ’ changed? Would you naturally presume glory rather than suffering is fitting for God?

• Satan is a Hebrew word meaning ‘adversary’. One who puts another pathway against you which leads away from God. Peter is suggesting ‘another way’ from the path to suffering in Jerusalem. He is acting as Satan does. He is told to ‘get behind’ (the position of a disciple following his master). What are you arguing with God about in your life? Does it involve the pathway of comfort and glory, or suffering and self denial? Will you ‘get behind’ or stay arguing?

• Taking up the ‘cross’ is more than coping with burdens and failures. It is an act of revolutionary zeal to stand in opposition to structures of injustice which block the coming of the Kingdom of God. Only revolutionaries against the Roman authorities suffered crucifixion on the cross. Are you willing to lose your life in the cause of justice and true reconciliation? Can you imagine the joy when your conduct and life is repaid in Heaven?

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