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Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

Download 15th Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. The final chapters of Isaiah are called the ‘Book of Consolations’, written to comfort and encourage the Israelites in exile. God’s people are invited to trust deeply in the power and promises of God. They will return home. The power of God’s word to do and bring about what is spoken points also to the Gospel reading and the power of the ‘seed’ that is sown to be extremely fruitful. The Hebrew ‘dabar’ is translated as both ‘word’ and ‘deed’. Consider your own word. Do you ‘do’ as you ‘say’? Is your word powerful? Effective? Can people rely on your ‘word’ and ‘what you say you will do’?
  2. St Paul uses striking imagery to describe our spiritual journey. We groan within ourselves as we ‘wait for adoption’ and the ultimate redemption of our bodies. What life experience at present is causing you to ‘groan inwardly’? Do you accept or resent your human frailty and weakness? St Paul’s words suggest he talked with God about this. What is the experience of ‘waiting for adoption’? Can you link this with your discipleship and suffering?
  3. Matthew chapter 13 has a series of parables. Today we listen to the first about the ‘Sower and the Seed’. The seed is the focus of the parable. It is symbolic of Jesus’ ‘word’ being sown by his preaching. A concern of Jesus’ disciples and the early Christian community was why Jesus was apparently so ‘unsuccessful’. Many people listened, were healed, but did not believe and ‘follow’. This parable may be an attempt by the community of Matthew to explain why this happened.
  4. Two points would have astounded the listeners of this parable. The generosity – or foolishness of the sower – putting seed in places where it will not grow. And the extreme fruitfulness of the seed planted in rich soil. A good crop would have been a yeild of 30% of the seed, but this seed brings also 60% and 100% fruitfulness! What does this show about God and the power of His Word? Consider the fruitfulness of the scriptures in your life. Can you identify a time when you responded to the Word asking you to do something incredibly challenging? Life-changing? What passage did this for you?
  5. The reader is invited to reflect upon what type of ‘soil’ is present in their life and if there are any obstacles to the Word (seed)? Things closing my eyes, ears, heart? A question or topic of faith that I have not pursued enough and been satisfied with ‘not understanding’? Some trial or tribulation that I have let dominate my life, whose voice I have let be louder than God’s voice? Concern and ‘anxiety’ for money, job, clothing, posessions, relationships that have led me to choose the world over God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be  ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download 28th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Wisdom is thought to have been written by King Solomon. Today’s text links to the story of young King Solomon, newly married to a princess of Egypt, heavily aware of leadership responsibilities and following the example of his Father, King David. In 1 Kings 3:6-9 Solomon prays for wisdom – a heart to understand what is good and what is evil. Today is Solomon’s reflection on just what a precious gift wisdom is. Have you ever needed to search for and find a wise person to offer direction and guidance? How would you describe your need? What happened?
  2. ‘I chose to have her rather than the light’. Wisdom is not a ‘possession’ or equal to worldly wealth of Gold of Silver. It is the spiritual gift of knowing the truth and the very will of God. ‘Discernment’ of God’s will is a discipleship skill. It literally means ‘to cut away’. Consider a choice that you need to make. List the choices. Pray for wisdom. ‘Cut away’ options that are shallow, unspiritually motivated. Pay attention to the desire beneath the choice. Ask a wise person for advice.
  3. Hebrews is written for Jewish Christians struggling with persecution and the difficulties and fragility of the early christian church.They remembered with joy the clear Jewish laws and customs and the sacrificial practices of the Temple. The author of Hebrews points them to the penetrating power of the Word. Have you every experienced the powerful and personal way the scriptures can reach deeply inside you and speak to you deepest pain and questions? Reveal you to yourself? Challenge you? Inspire you? What scripture passage has done this for you? What happened?
  4. The theme of wisdom is contrasted with wealth in the Gospel. A rich young man faithful to the ‘laws’ still finds himself unsatisfied in life. His question: ‘What must I do?’ is still focussed on external actions of obedience. Jesus wishes to lead him from ‘observance of laws’ to ‘living in love’. The invitation to change the base of his security from possessions to ‘treasure in heaven’ causes his face to fall. What possessions would you be terrified of letting go? Why? Do you trust that God will supply everything you need?
  5. The invitation to a deeper discipleship does not necessarily require letting go of ‘wealth’ but letting go of its ‘attachment’. Jesus uses an image. To get a camel loaded with items for trade through a ‘narrow gate’ in Jerusalem required unloading items, the camel sometimes having to kneel down and crawl through a small space (eye of a needle). Some scholars also suggest a misspelling of a word means it is a ‘cable’ that is trying to be threaded through the eye of a needle. How would you describe your ‘use of wealth’. Is it available for building the Kingdom of God? The needs of the poor? How much ‘security’ and ‘life’ does your bank balance or possessions bring you? What does this story reveal to you personally?
  6. Peter implies a disciples question about reward and security. 100% is an incredibly fruitful return. Normally a return would be 10%. It will be mixed up ‘with persecutions’ however. Consider asking a Priest, Brother, Sister, Christian friend how they have experienced God’s faithfulness in relying on God for their security.
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 4th Sunday Easter Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Church celebrates ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’ today. It is an opportunity to consider service of Christ in the Church for the World through a vocation in single life, married life, priesthood, religious life. Can you think of people who are good examples for you of each vocation? Spend time in prayer praying for each one.
  2. Vocation means ‘call’. St Ignatius teaches us that: “God writes his hopes into our deepest desires”. What does that mean God may be calling you to? Imagine the highs and lows of each vocation – what attracts you? What desire is strongest? Are you willing to follow it?
  3. ‘Laying down one’s life for the sheep’ is contrasted with being a ‘hired man’ who works for pay and has no ‘concern’ for the sheep. What do you think is the difference between Vocation and Career? Does one lead down and the other attempt climbing up?
  4. St Peter shares a building image. Very large stones were measured and cut to ‘fit’ and be suitable for building upon. Is your life truly ‘built’ upon Jesus or is it merely ‘looking’ at Jesus? Does your lifestyle ‘show’ you are ‘God’s child…’?
  5. One of the actions done by a good shepherd is to ‘lie down’ in the ‘gateway’ of a small  low fenced circle of stones to care for the sheep and protect them from harm. The good shepherd was willing to fight to the death any wolf seeking to harm the sheep. It was an expectation that a child who was looking after the sheep, if attacked, was to show evidence of scratches or wolf fur to the family. Are you willing to fight and protect God’s family? Seek out the lost who have strayed? Stand attentive to warn of dangerous influences?
  6. ‘Laying down ones life’ is another scriptural picture of the way Jesus lay down his life on the cross – as the good shepherd. Laying down and enduring a sleep-shortened night is something parents do for love of their children. Knowing sheep by name, sharing each day and providing nourishment and shelter. Can you see similarities between parenthood and priesthood? Does ‘laying down your life’ appeal to you or frighten you? Does love lead you – or does fear fill you?
  7. ‘No-one takes it from me, I lay it down on my own’. A vocation is something freely chosen. We ‘hear’ the call of God through desire and attraction, we give ourselves to walk the journey of discovery and we ‘take up’ what is involved in faithfulness to our personal calling. Fear. I’m not good enough. I feel stuck. I don’t know are all human responses. Consider reflecting on the document ‘Discerning your vocation’ to show your willingness to take a further step into God’s call. Click here or go to http://livingtheword.org.nz/resources/
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download 2nd Sunday Yr B – Listening to God’s Call

Reflection Questions

  1. 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’?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. ‘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?
  7. 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?
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

Download 4th Sunday Easter

Reflection Question 3: Jesus identifies himself as a Shepherd but also a ‘gate’. In the middle east, shepherds would gather their sheep together at night sometimes creating a shelter or collection of wooden sticks to build a fence. Sometimes they may have built with blocks a square with a narrow gap for the sheep to enter in and out. One shepherd would take the role of ‘gate’, lying down in the ‘gap’ as an expression of caring for the sheep and not letting them out, and protecting the sheep from danger coming in. What does this image reveal to you about Jesus? Can you identify anyone’s vocation who follows this ‘laying down of their life’? Can you see the similarities between a Mum, Dad, Priest, Sister, Brother?