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Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

Easy print reflection guide is Here

Matthew 16:13-20

• The special office of ‘Master of the Palace’ also had another well known title ‘Keeper of the Keys’. This involved wearing the key to the palace door. It hung from just below the shoulder and was obvious to all who saw it. Symbolically and physically, this person had access to the King and had authority to act in the name of the King. Unfortunately Shebna in the first reading had a liking for the King’s chariots (Is 22, 16-18) and was building himself a special tomb – both expressions of status and power. He was removed from his office by the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah makes a prophecy that such a person given this role will be a ‘peg in a sure spot’. What do you think this means?

• St Paul comes to the end of his painful sharing and confusion as to why his own people (Israel) could not accept Jesus. After all his wrestling and argument with God he finishes in prayer. He hands over this struggle to the mystery of how God works. What do you feel you need to hand over to God?

•The Gospel of Matthew from Chapter 14 has Jesus giving special instruction to his 12 disciples. Dramatically he leaves Galilee and walks them into a place filled with Temples to Roman Emperors and Baal worship. There is even a temple dedicated to the fertility cult of the ‘dancing goat’! Against the background of this pagan worship he confronts his disciples, and us: Who do YOU say I am? What do YOU think of me? Imagine being in this scene. Jesus asks this question of you.

• Simon’s response brings together two ‘titles’. The Christ (in greek or Messiah in Hebrew) is the long awaited one promised by God to save his people. But added to this Simon recognises the unique filial relationship Jesus has with God. Jesus is not simply a prophet (John Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah…) but uniquely one with God. Would you say you ‘know about’ Jesus or that you ‘know Jesus’? Is your christian faith ‘second hand’ or grounded on a ‘personal encounter’ with Jesus?

• Peter – Cephas (meaning Rock) was not a known Jewish name. It is a striking image. Rock was immediately associated with God. And combined with the role of ‘keeper of the keys’ Peter’s leadership and authority within the group of 12 is made clear. The Church is being provided with a teaching authority for the time when Jesus will not be physically present to interpret the Laws of Moses and Gospel of Jesus. Do you view this gift of authority by Jesus positively or negatively?

• Binding and loosing and powers of the netherworld present a Jewish view of the rule of God. Jesus is understood as wrestling the human world from the grip of satan and reclaiming it for God. How do you relate to power, order, authority. Is it needed in the Church?

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

The Easy Print Guide is HERE

Discussion Questions

Crucified and Risen

1. Fr Anthony De Mello, a famous preacher and teacher once began a retreat by asking: “Hands up if you want to go to heaven.” All eagerly put their hands up. He responded, “Hands up if you want to go to heaven now.” No hands went up. He suggested they think about why they were ‘not ready’ and he walked out of the room! What would be your answer and why?

2. The Book of Daniel is written to encourage Jewish people during a time of great persecution. Mighty armies, Kings, powerful empires would cease and be silenced by the ‘Son of Man’. This is an enthronement vision of Jesus before God the Father. In the midst of super-powers and battles for resources and status do you view the world and history with ‘hope’ that the way of Jesus will be victorious? Ask God for what you need to help you grow in this mindset.

3. The second reading is a testimony of what Peter, James and John experience when they are given the revelation of who Jesus truly is as the glorified beloved son of the Father. The three apostles did not share the experience at the request of Jesus, but they also did not fully comprehend its meaning until
after the Resurrection. Describe a time you experienced something significant which took a long time to fully understand. What personal experience of God has helped you grow deeper in your faith or knowledge of God in your life over time? How much weight do we place on eyewitness testimony today?
How does Peter’s eyewitness testimony impact your faith?

4. A ‘mountain’ or ‘high place’ was symbolic of a place where one can ‘be in touch with God’. Where is a ‘place’ where you feel close to God and which helps you ‘listen’ to yourself and God?

5. Jewish people remembered living in tents in the 40 years of wandering in the desert. They believed God would come among them and look after them again with the coming of the Messiah. They thought Moses or Elijah would come again. Peter acknowledges Jesus’ true identity. White symbolizes divinity and Jesus being truly God among us. What are you waiting for God to ‘do’ for you? Can you identify ways God is showing himself present and active now in your life?

6. The disciples were ‘afraid’. Have you ever been ‘afraid’ of damaging a love relationship with someone close to you? This is called ‘holy fear’. How could you live a ‘holy fear’ this week?

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

The Easy Print Reflection is HERE

Image result for matthew 13:44

Discussion Guide

• Solomon is not simply having a ‘dream’. The last person to possibly take his kingship (Shimei see 1Kings 2, 8) has now died so Solomon is now truly King. He has also just married the King of Egypt’s (Pharoah’s) daughter! Solomon’s power and political responsibilities are immense. He makes a special journey to Gibeon, a very special ‘high place’ and altar. With him he presents 1000 burnt offerings on the altar! (1Kings 3,4). The intensity of his prayer and yet his humility is striking. You have made me. I am your servant. I have the responsibilities of a King. Yet I am young. I don’t know what to do. Give me an ‘understanding heart’. What would your deepest and most heartfelt prayer be to God as God asks you: ‘Ask something of me’.

• The journey of life involves ‘ups and downs’. It takes great faith to trust that ‘all things work for good for those who love God’. Consider a difficult life experience. How has it ‘worked for your good’? Have you allowed it to mould you closer ‘to the image of his Son’?

• The phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ is the idea Jesus most talked about in the gospels. Having a heart for the poor. A desire and commitment to see that all are ‘included’. Fighting all systems that exclude and oppress. The compassion and forgiveness offered to us by God. These can be ‘ideas’ or ‘lived realities’. A treasure ‘thought about’ or a ‘treasure possessed’. Being possessed by ‘The Kingdom’ comes at a cost because it invites us into a complete transformation of our life. Compare your lifestyle with Jesus
in the Gospels. What attracts you? What do you need to ‘let go’? What risk are you being invited to take?

• Filled with joy, the person in the parable sells all that he owns to buy it. The treasure (the kingdom) has now possessed him! Have you ever had an experience where something you valued is now considered ‘worthless’. How did your heart change ‘attachment’? What do you truly ‘love’ and would be willing to ‘sell all that you have’ for its possession? Are the top ‘values’ that steer your life Kingdom values or Worldly values?

• As in previous Ch 13 parables, Jesus includes a subversive challenge. There will be a judgment at the end of time based on how we have lived. Have we chosen and lived for the Kingdom and lived ‘rightly’ (righteously)? Or have we been ‘wicked’, consciously or unconsciously not contributing to justice and God’s plan for all? If the final judgement was to take place within a few months, what would this cause you to do?

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

Printable Discussion Guide is HERE

Reflection and Questions

Whoever Has Ears, Let Them Hear... Part 1 - Real Life Fellowship• The Book of Wisdom was written for Jewish people living in cities heavily influenced by Greek culture and philosophy. Wisdom teaching was to remind them of their history and relationship with God. People are to learn from the patience and gentleness and forgiving nature of God and show this in their own lives. How can you be both ‘just’ and ‘kind’? Does your use of power show itself in being ‘lenient’ and gentle to all?

• Last week the Spirit dwelling within us was referred to as a ‘first-fruits’. A first installment. An engagement ring looking forward to the promise of the wedding day! St Paul today provides a beautiful image of the presence and power of the Spirit at work in us. The Spirit prays within us in a unique way
to God. Have you experienced a time of wanting to pray to God but not having words to describe how you
feel. What prayer intention does your body and spirit ‘groan’ with to God? Do you recognise that this experience can be a powerful prayer? Offer this groaning today to God in prayer.

•Weeds. Seeds. Yeast. Each image expresses something of the way that God and God’s project (growing the Kingdom of heaven) is present and alive in the world. Allowing wheat and weeds to grow together is risky farming. What is your emotional reaction to the presence of good and evil existing alongside each other? Within you? Can you glimpse the patience of God?

• The mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet within a year it can turn into a shrub large enough to be mistaken for a tree. From very small beginnings it becomes something extraordinarily large. Can you identify a small action of love and service that made a profound impact on you? Can you recognise that your daily ‘sowing’ mustard seeds of justice and forgiveness and gentleness, builds the kingdom of heaven? What ‘seed’ needs to be sown most in your workplace / home today?

• The humble presence of a small amount of yeast in a large quantity of flour dramatically transforms a flour mixture into bread (three measures would feed 100 people). Jesus challenges disciples to be this type of ‘presence’ in the world. Yet the kingdom requires a person to be completely possessed by a small
seed: love your neighbour as yourself.

• Parables often hide a challenging message. The apparent power of evil. The littleness of the ‘seeds’ of our loving. The small amount of our ‘yeast’ in the vastness of the world and its problems. Yet the mustard
seed is tremendously fruitful. The yeast succeeds in transforming flour. Hope is at the centre of kingdom
living. The ‘righteous will shine’. Can you live full of hope – refusing to be beaten by the reality you see?

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

The Printable Guide is  HERE

His Word in Pictures: Matthew 10:40

Reflection Questions

  1. The Shunamite woman is not identified but described as a woman of influence. Sheltering a prophet involved considerable risk in the political situation of her time. She chose to offer radical hospitality and make a difference. This story from Elisha’s miracles highlights the truth of the Gospel where Jesus says,
    “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward… ”. What are the parallels you see between the Gospel and the Shunamite woman’s story?
  2. Her risk ended up being life-giving and fruitful with the birth of child. Offering radical hospitality is a risky business. The migrant crisis comes to mind. In parts of the world it can involve great risk to profess Christianity and in others it’s seen as irrelevant or held up for derision. What are the pressures around you? What help do you need from God?
  3. St Paul uses the analogy that choosing Jesus is to be ‘baptized’ not only into new life in and with Christ, but also into death with him. What are some of the things that you may need to let go of or in a sense die to, in order to truly live for Christ in our world today? Do you ever think about your Baptism in those terms? You could intentionally renew those promises as an adult choice next time you pray the Creed.
  4. There is a prevailing sense that to choose something means to lose freedom. To choose does mean to let go of the many possibilities for the one and so much works against us making that choice so we strive to keep our options open. How do you respond to that idea?
  5. Do you know the saying that ‘to be a jack of all trades is to be master of none?’ What is Jesus asking us to master? How does making a choice for the one thing Jesus offers, involve a sense of dying to other possibilities?
  6. Love in the Bible differs radically from the notion of “love” today, which is used primarily to convey heartfelt emotion. The love Jesus refers to could be expressed as like the deep attachment family members have for one another. It conveys the meaning of being permanently attached, staying connected with one another no matter what. As disciples we are called into a profound attachment to Christ akin to a revolutionary realignment of every facet of our life. The choice is presented starkly here to help us appreciate the depth of the call and commitment Jesus asks us to choose, but also the depth of
    the reward that is faithfully assured.
  7. Think about people who support your faith journey. How do they offer you a ‘cup of water’? Water is essential and sustains life. How are you life-giving for others?
  8. Do you know someone who struggles to accept Christ or the Church? What is the promise for you and for them in this Gospel? What do Christians need to do for them to receive their reward?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Printable Guide and Questions are HERE

Reflection Questions

Image result for MatthewJesus acknowledges us before God

  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 in which you experience of love, power, mercy 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 caused the problem, 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 do you struggle most with? Ask Jesus to give you the grace for what you need to be set free in that area today.
  4. Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid of them.” It takes enormous freedom to live without fear of others. Only by trusting in the absoluteness of Gods power and care is it truly possible. Jesus asks us to recognize our worth – we are so precious to God that every hair on our head has been counted and even a sparrow is known to God. What does the imagery tell you about how attentive God is to you? Do you truly know how much God values you? Look at yourself in a mirror and sense God saying, every hair on your head is counted. Pray to embrace the worth God sees in you.
  5. Who is the only “One” who can destroy both soul and body? To fear God can be misconstrued. What do you think Jesus means when he says to ‘fear’ God rather than anyone else? Gehenna is a Greek word for hell. It was the name given to a burning dump outside Jerusalem which came to represent final punishment. The Gospel tells us that anyone who acknowledges Jesus before others will be acknowledged by Jesus before the Father. How do you feel knowing that Jesus is speaking up for you and your needs and will do so at the final judgment?
  6. Scripture repeats, ‘Do not be afraid’, many times. God understands our human tendency to fear and wants us to surrender our whole life in trust to God.
  7. What at is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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.