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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

Reflection Guide

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Discusssion Questions

• The prophet Malachi was writing to his community. They had been allowed to return home from exile. They had even received financial help to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. And yet religious practice and faithfulness was at an ‘all-time-low’. He turns his attention to the Priests. They were
responsible for the spiritual leadership of the community and were not ‘listening’ or keeping the laws ‘in their heart’, ‘not instructing people properly in ‘the way’. In the final verse Malachi also turns to those who ‘intermarried’. He interpreted this as weakening God’s family and introducing other God’s into the family – a breaking of the ‘covenant’. What would you suggest today is the source of decline in ‘religious practice’?
• St Paul, while traveling far and wide as a missionary, continued his trade as a ‘Tent maker’. He worked ‘night and day’ so as not to burden anyone. While they missed him, Paul pointed to the true source of their growth ‘the word of God at work in you’. How could you spend more time with the ‘Word of God’. Who could help you?                                                                                                                                                •The word ‘Pharisee’ means ‘set apart’ or ‘separate’. They were lay men (not priests who worked in the
Temple or scribes who were ‘scripture scholars’ and experts in the law). In Jesus’ time the Pharisees believed the ‘laws’ were not being lived perfectly and the temple priests and Religious Leaders were too comfortable with Roman authorities. When Matthew’s Gospel was written, the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed. Pharisees were now more public in their leadership – even being referred to as ‘Rabbi’ – teacher. Jesus continues his critique of religious leaders being ‘hypocritical’. Literally ‘two faces – actor’. Preaching and practice must go together. Are there any areas of your life where you are ‘acting’-Wearing ‘two faces’?
• Jesus reminds his disciples and the Church today to not follow the Pharisees or scribes. Be an example
to follow. Interpret laws sensitively so as not to load heavy burdens. Be alongside to shoulder the weight of discipleship. Do not seek glory or status. Point toward God (not self) as the true teacher. What aspect of Jesus’ leadership challenge speaks personally to you?
• ‘Father’ was a term of special respect given to ‘elders’ and special deceased persons. To call no one on earth your ‘Father’ or ‘Master’ is Jesus telling the community – and its leaders – not to ‘chase’ titles and public recognition. Service and humility are to be the trademarks of the Christian community. Is there an attitude of ‘seeking’ rather than ‘service’ in your ministry? How could you show respect to leaders and also develop a culture of equality and expectation of ‘leading by example’ in your community? Is a
humble word of correction to a leader friend needed?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide : True Freedom vs Freeloading

Reflection Questions

  1. Isaiah has a special section in chapters 24-27 known as the ‘Isaiah Apocalypse’. A vision is shared of how
    God will eventually save us. For the many who are poor, rich food and fine wine at a banquet became a symbol of
    ‘heaven’. This will take place through a mountain ‘Jerusalem’ where a message of victory over death and tears and shame will be proclaimed. Can you see this message being fulfilled in the Cross On a Jerusalem Hill? In the Eucharistic Banquet? In the Church – the ‘New Jerusalem’?
  2. Listen deeply to the feelings in the Isaiah text. It is painting a picture of hope for God’s people. What image and feeling speaks more deeply to you? Why?
  3. While still in prison St Paul receives a gift of money from the christian community at Philippi. He normally discourages gifts to be given to him. But he is thankful of this expression of love and support. Paul shares he has ‘learnt a secret’. He lives attached only to Christ. He is free. Have you experienced living ‘humbly’ and also ‘in abundance’? What did the experience teach you?
  4. The Gospel of Matthew continues with ‘judgement parables’ (the two sons, the vineyard, and now the ‘wedding
    banquet’). Even today it is a great honor to receive a wedding invitation. What thoughts and feelings are present when you open a wedding invitation? Why would you ‘refuse to come’? Why have the chief priests and elders ‘refused’?
  5. In a shame / honor culture, the King has been highly insulted when those invited refuse to attend. ‘Burned their
    city’ could be Matthew’s attempt at explaining the fire destroying Jerusalem in 70CE. God’s invitation into relationship with Him is thrown open to all (gentiles, sinners, the poor, those living on the streets…) bad and good alike. Consider the honor of God. Do you painstakingly search and urgently invite people to Mass so the ‘hall can be filled with guests’?
  6. The invited guest being thrown out challenges our expectations for a ‘nice ending’ to the story. In the Book of Revelation the ‘white wedding garment’ is a symbol of the good deeds of the saints who persevered in faith and works of love and service. It seems that all are invited to the eternal wedding, but it is not sufficient to just ‘turn up’. To be ‘chosen to enter’ requires a life turned around to ‘good deeds’. Can I see the distinction between ‘faith’ and ‘works’?
  7. A judgement parable forces a crisis. Am I ‘in’ or ‘out’? It shakes the comfortable and those ‘presuming’ eternal life is theirs by ‘right’. How does this parable challenge / judge you?
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

christ-the-king-risen-medal-crucifix-cross-pendant-2c53918fce161ef44940873785e5f1a1-1

Download Feast of Christ the King

Reflection Questions

  1. The Feast of Christ the King was initially assigned to the last Sunday in October. In 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the Year to highlight the eschatological (end times) importance of Christʼs ʻKingshipʼ. Would you consider yourself ʻreadyʼ today to meet Christ the King?
  2. David was anointed and made ʻKingʼ of Israel. But many people in Israel did not want to be like other nations and have a ʻKingʼ. They wanted to have only ʻGodʼ as their ʻrulerʼ. They were cautious of taxes, abuse of power, wealth and excess that often went with earthly ʻkingdomsʼ. David is invited by God to be first a ʻshepherdʼ of people before being a ʻcommander of Israelʼ. What does this show us about God and leadership?
  3. Paulʼs letter to the Colossians today is an ancient baptismal prayer. Imagine the baptismal scene. Thankful. Being given an inheritance. Transferred from living in darkness to light. Redeemed (returning back to your true family, purchased back from slavery). Forgiven. All of this has happened through Jesus – who makes the ʻinvisible Godʼ visible – the ʻikonʼ / image of God. What word in this baptismal prayer teaches you about your baptism? The mystery of Christianity is revealed as it worships itʼs Lord and King today.
  4. Instead of a scene of a throne indicating power and authority and judgment, we have Jesus crucified on a cross giving forgiveness. The way Jesus reveals Godʼs ʻkingshipʼ is radically different from the worldʼs power, wealth and honor. Imagine being in the crowd contemplating Jesus (or pray in front of a crucifix!). What questions are stirred up within you? What answers does God reveal to you about leadership. Salvation. Sin. Your life?
  5. Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! The promised ʻChristʼ (Messiah / Saviour) was supposed to be a strong military leader. Instead Jesus is tortured and dies at the hands of Roman soldiers. Yet mysteriously the soldiers refer to him as ʻthe chosen oneʼ, the ʻChrist of Godʼ, the ʻKing of the Jewsʼ. The scene is gruesome, but with the eyes of faith the reality taking place is ʻgloriousʼ. How would you explain Christʼs death as ʻgloriousʼ?
  6. Our human nature demands visible signs. We want to know with our own eyes that God has ʻsavedʼ us, forgives us, loves us. How does this crucifixion scene reveal the powerfully hidden way that God is able to work out (y)our redemption? Is God afraid of the mess of our ʻhumanityʼ? Are you?
  7. The Church places before us the paradox of Christ the KING. Instead of a royal procession, Jesus rode a donkey. Instead of a scepter of power, Jesus held a towel. Instead of a throne, Jesus was lifted up on a cross. Disciples replaced an army. Thorns replaced a golden crown. Mercy was his judgment. Humble homes his palace. Meals with sinners his preference. Humble sacrifice of life instead of the military sword. We, the Church, are called to exercise this style of ʻleadershipʼ and reflect his ʻimageʼ in the world today? How does this challenge you in your lifestyle? Leadership?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download Reflection Document 25th Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Wisdom continues the suffering servant theme of Isaiah last week and points to the suffering that Jesus will experience. Many Jewish people were searching for meaning and guidance outside Judaism while living in Alexandria (a large Greek city). Have you experienced a time when you went searching for other belief systems because the society you lived in made fun of your religious beliefs? Where did you turn? What happened?
  2. The Book of Wisdom reveals worldly people oppose Godly people. They pretend righteous motivations…. ‘let us see whether his words be true’…. ‘let him prove his gentleness and patience’. Has this experience of persecution and trial been part of your christian witness? Have you been able to live in trust that ‘God will take care of you’? Can you see and believe evil actions ultimately get found out and goodness is vindicated?
  3. Living in peace with each other in christian community is our calling. A desire for glory and power and possessions needs to be brought out into the open. What peace-full virtue from James could you practice more of: be pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant? What object or honor are you wanting to possess? Name a ‘selfish ambition’…
  4. Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark has 3 predictions of the passion. Each time Jesus talks about his suffering the disciples completely misunderstand what he is talking about. Today is the second prediction. Jesus talks about Death. Disciples talk about Glory. Jesusʼ teaching about accepting suffering is contrasted with his disciples argument about seniority. 2 lifestyles are revealed. What style of living describes you: living upward (glory and honor and violence) or living downward (service and humility and nonviolence)?
  5. Jesus chooses to expose the disciples lust for power in a quieter moment ʻinside the houseʼ. He challenges them. They were really just concerned about ʻpower and gloryʼ ʻwho was the greatestʼ. Jesus does a very revealing action. While they wanted to know who was ʻat the topʼ, Jesus takes a child representing someone ʻat the bottomʼ. He collapses the social and power structure. Receive and welcome and show hospitality and inclusion to the ʻbottomʼ in society. Can you see how living this invitation will inevitably enter a disciple into upsetting the status quo. Upsetting the power structure of society. Jesus calls this a disciple ʻpicking up the crossʼ. In your world, community family, workplace, who is ʻat the bottomʼ (equivalent of a child in Jesusʼ time). How could you ʻreceiveʼ them? Jesus identifies with them. Will you stand up for them?
  6. In Jesusʼ time, a child was ʻat the bottomʼ of society because in a shame / honor culture, it would be highly unlikely that a good act toward a child would be ʻrewardedʼ by the child talking to the community about the hospitality received. As a result, a kind action does not get rewarded with ʻhonorʼ in the eyes of the community. Therefore it is not worth doing. Can you recognise how subversive Jesusʼ placing the child ʻin their midstʼ is to the culture of the disciples. Who is the equivalent of a ʻchildʼ today?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 30th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. The writer of Ecclesiasticus is a writer by the name Ben Sirach. He was the ʻheadmasterʼ of an Academy in Jerusalem that mentored Jewish students in the art of living well. His writings are a collection of the best of Jewish thought and philosophy. It contrasts with Greek culture and thought which accepted a huge gap between the rich and poor, those who were ʻfreeʼ and those who we ʻslavesʼ. Why do you think ʻthe prayer of the lowly pierces the cloudsʼ?
  2. Paul is writing from Prison in Rome. In his pre-trial hearing Paul shares that there was no-one who came to support him in court. Imagine his loneliness and sense of betrayal! And yet he does not choose to blame or get angry. Scholars suggest christians in Rome were afraid of persecution if they came to support Paul. Have you had an experience of hurt from those you thought would support and protect you? Can you say like Paul ʻmay it not be held against them!ʼ Paulʼs attention continued to focus on his life imitating the life of Jesus, ʻbeing poured out like a libation (offering)ʼ. In your struggles, is your attention on your ʻenemyʼ or ʻJesusʼ?
  3. Jesus teaches about prayer and righteousness in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. What do the words of the Pharisee’s prayer reveal about his attitude toward God and sinners?
  4. A Pharisee was a strict observer of the law. Going beyond what was required they fasted 2 days per week (Jews were only required to fast on 1 day a year) and tithed on everything they received (even the goods that had already been ‘tithed’). They were extremely observant. They enjoyed their ʻholyʼ and ʻrighteousʼ reputation. Deuteronomy 26 taught them to bring a 10th of ones produce to the temple, thanking God and asking for God’s blessing, and giving to the levite, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow. Has this been fulfilled? Has the Pharisee done anything wrong? Is the Pharisee ‘righteous’?
  5. A Tax Collector (often Jewish) worked with the Roman authorities to collect road charges, goods tax, sales tax. They made significant profits above their contracted price. They were despised by Jews. For a tax collector to make amends, they were to pay-back overcharged taxes with an additional 1/5th to be added. They could never know everyone they had wronged and therefore could never repair their ‘wrongʼ The tax collectors often felt their religious situation was hopeless. They could never be forgiven! Name some of the feelings experienced by the ʻtax collectorʼ. What is it about the tax collector that you can relate to?
  6. The Pharisee encountered only himself in prayer. He was extremely satisfied with himself. Is this prayer? The Tax collector humbly looked to God for mercy. Why is it that God listens to the Tax Collector?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 31st Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Malachi was writing to his community. They had been allowed to return home from exile. They had even received financial help to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. And yet religious practice and faithfulness was at an ‘all-time-low’. He turns his attention to the Priests. They were responsible for the spiritual leadership of the community and were not ‘listening’ or keeping the laws ‘in their heart’, ‘not instructing people properly in ‘the way’. In the final verse Malachi also turns to those who ‘intermarried’. He interpreted this as weakening God’s family and introducing other God’s into the family – a breaking of the ‘covenant’. What would you suggest today is the source of decline in ‘religious practice’?
  2. St Paul, while traveling far and wide as a missionary, continued his trade as a ‘Tent maker’. He worked ‘night and day’ so as not to burden anyone. While they missed him, Paul pointed to the true source of their growth ‘the word of God at work in you’. How could you spend more time with the ‘Word of God’. Who could help you?
  3. The word ‘Pharisee’ means ‘set apart’ or ‘separate’. They were lay men (not priests who worked in the Temple or scribes who were ‘scripture scholars’ and experts in the law). In Jesus’ time the Pharisees believed the ‘laws’ were not being lived perfectly and the temple priests and Religious Leaders were too comfortable with Roman authorities. When Matthew’s Gospel was written, the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed. Pharisees were now more public in their leadership – even being referred to as ‘Rabbi’ – teacher. Jesus continues his critique of religious leaders being ‘hypocritical’. Literally ‘two faces – actor’. Preaching and practice must go together. Is there any  areas of your life where you are ‘acting’? Wearing ‘two faces’?
  4. Jesus reminds his disciples and the Church today to not follow the Pharisees or scribes. Be an example to follow. Interpret laws sensitively so as not to load heavy burdens. Be alongside to shoulder the weight of discipleship. Do not seek glory or status. Point toward God (not self) as the true teacher.  What aspect of Jesus’ leadership challenge speaks personally to you?
  5. ‘Father’ was a term of special respect given to ‘elders’ and special deceased persons. To call no one on earth your ‘Father’ or ‘Master’ is Jesus telling the community – and its leaders – not to ‘chase’ titles and public recognition. Service and humility are to be the trademarks of the Christian community. Is there an attitude of ‘seeking’ rather than ‘service’ in your ministry? How could you show respect to leaders and also develop a culture of equality and expectation of ‘leading by example’ in your community? Is a humble word of correction to a leader friend needed?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download 22nd Sunday Yr C

Reflection Question 5: Jesus reverses everything that was considered socially and religiously ‘correct’. The poor, crippled, lame, blind were excluded from the priesthood and some claimed they were not eligible to participate in the heavenly banquet. The Kingdom of God revealed by Jesus is there is a great reversal about to take place. Notice the extreme nature of Jesus’ challenge. He doesn’t say give money to the poor, give some volunteer service hours to the poor, but ‘invite them into your home, to sit at table and eat together’! To enter into a relationship that goes beyond ‘charity’. Examine your life-style and ‘time-style’. Who do you include? Exclude? Why? How could you bring about the ‘great reversal’ of the Kingdom of God in your family, workplace, church community?

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