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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of John Lamb of God’

Discussion Guide for Year A – 2nd Sunday. Be a Light to the Nations

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Reflection Questions

1] This Sunday marks the beginning of ‘Ordinary’ Time. The season of Christmas has ended. Isaiah is among the group of Jewish exiles who return to Jerusalem (Zion). Yet there is continuity with last Sunday’s Baptism of the Lord through the themes of holiness, servanthood and John the Baptist. Isaiah prophesies a relationship of more than a servant. There is deep tenderness in his wording that Jacob and Israel be ‘gathered to him’. “It is too little for you to be a servant” he says. The vision presented is far beyond Israel’s understanding and stretches us all to serve and reveal God’s mercy to all nations, all peoples! Israel, Christand the Church are called to be ‘a light to the nations’ that ‘salvation may reach the ends of the earth’. As you look at Yourself, the Church and the World, what do you ‘see’? What do you think is God’s vision for disciples, the Church, the World? What would it mean for parish and family life if we more actively embraced this vision of being ‘a light’ in our geographical locations and spheres of influence?

2] Paul and Isaiah call us to relationship with God and remind us that God makes us holy; we are called to see ourselves as being sanctified (made holy) in Christ. An object, place or person who has been blessed (sanctified) can be described as ‘holy’. Our holiness comes from Baptism and anointing in Christ. How do you feel about God seeing you as ‘holy’? Are there some ideas about holiness you need to challenge to accept how God sees you? Self-condemning thoughts and feeling as if ‘its all up to me’ are common. How does this Scripture challenge such views about ourselves and about Christian holiness?

3] The Gospel is from John in a year of Matthew. This suggests we be attentive. John’s account of Jesus’ Baptism is not connected with forgiveness of sins; its purpose is to reveal Jesus to Israel. John portrays events to excite personal testimony about Jesus. Instead of narrating the baptism; he shows its meaning through John the Baptist’s testimony; “The reason why I came…was that he [Jesus] might be made known.” What are we asked to learn from John the Baptist?

4] We are created by God, for God. Living from this truth may take a life-time. John the Baptist’s, first insight was in the womb: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb” (Lk 1:41). His first encounter with the Son of God, was unconscious and mediated by his mother. How did John’s life reflect that experience? For many of us, our first encounters with God were unconscious and mediated by parents. Ask; ‘How does my life reflect the gift of God’s anointing?’ Then talk to God in prayer.

5] The voice from heaven instructs the Baptizer that the one on whom the Spirit descends is the Chosen One; he baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The last sentence of today’s Gospel expresses the conviction we are all invited to experience after hearing John the Baptist’s “evidence.” Are you able to say, “I have seen for myself…’This is God’s chosen One!’ (v 34)” It is that conviction, born not from our own efforts but from embracing the Holy Spirit’s ongoing grace in our lives, that enables us to recognize ourselves as ‘holy’ and to be ‘lumen gentium:’ light to the nations. Is that conviction rooted firmly in your heart? How does it make you feel? What do you need from God to embrace it more fully?

6] In v 29 John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The “lamb of God” is central in the Mass. Christ, as the sacrifice who reveals God’s love for us, is often symbolized by a lamb; a young ram up to a year old. The title may be the victorious apocalyptic lamb who would destroy evil in the world (Rev 5-7; 17:14); the paschal lamb, whose blood saved Israel (Exodus 12); and/or the suffering servant led like a lamb to the slaughter as a sin-offering (Isaiah 53:7, 10). What image means most to you and why?

7] How will you be livingtheword this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz  Email: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com   Livingtheword resources are created by Fr Frank Bird a Marist priest and Mrs Bev McDonald, ACSD, distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ www.maristlaitynz.org

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Reflection Questions

  1. Today marks the beginning of ‘ordinary’ time in the liturgy of the church. Symbolised by the color green, our ‘ordinary’ days and weeks are called to bring ‘life’ to the world. As your daily routines and patterns become established in the new year how are you encouraging life and growth to yourself, family, workplace? How could you be more ‘life-giving’?
  2. The Prophet Isaiah is living in the midst of the Jewish people in exile. He feels as if he was made into a polished arrow, concealed in a quiver for God to use (v2). Yet he is also sad that he has labored in vain, and all his energy has been spent (v3) with no results. God whispers into his ear: I have bigger plans for you. It is not enough for you to just live and speak among your family. ‘I will make you a light to the nations’! Have you ever felt tired by the experience of God ‘sharpening’ you into an arrow through your struggles? Have you adjusted your life to not simply ‘serving’ but ‘being a light’ for others?
  3. St Paul writes to the community in Corinth. He had stayed in this community for 18 months and then moved on. The community experienced struggles and difficulties when he went. Corinth was known as an ancient city with a reputation for depravity and drunkenness. So bad was its reputation it even earned the phrase in Greek ‘to live like a Corinthian’! St Paul spent 18 months here and it became one of the most vibrant Christian communities. Paul urges the community to continue to live up to their calling ‘to be holy’. What does the challenge to holiness look and feel like in your life at the moment?
  4.  John the Baptist gives Jesus one of the earliest and most important titles which we still use today: the Lamb of God. A lamb in the Old Testament was sacrificed in the temple and became an offering which received forgiveness of sins by God. Jesus replaced the ‘lambs’ that were sacrificed at each Jewish Passover. On the cross Jesus becomes ‘the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world’. Have you allowed the great event of the Cross to become personal for you? Imagine an event happens that ‘takes away all your sins’. What would your response be?
  5. John witnessed that he had seen the spirit come down and remain on Jesus. Who do you recognise as someone ‘spirit filled’ and alive with the presence of God? What do you admire or feel attracted toward by their life? How does their life ‘prepare’ the way for you to draw closer to God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?