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Posts Tagged ‘image of god’

Discussion Guide for 17th Sunday is here

Image result for took loaves fishes blessed them

Reflection Questions

  • Over the next 5 weeks, our scripture readings focus upon the events of God feeding his people. We depart from the normal Gospel of Mark readings from
    Mark chapter 6 and are placed into the Gospel of John chapter 6. The next five weeks provide an opportunity for prayer and deeper reflection upon the Eucharist and its meaning for our lives.
  • Jewish people recognised miraculous events of Prophets feeding God’s people with bread symbolised God feeding his family and satisfying their hunger. It was normal to bring Barley – which was harvested around the time of the Jewish Passover – to the temple as an offering. Significantly, because the temple in the North (Gilgal) was following false Baal worship the bread / barley offering is presented to a holy man (Elisha) who distributed it to the poor. Do you experience the prophetic connection between worship and being fed and ‘morality’ – now feeding the poor of the world on behalf of God?
  • Last week we heard Jesus has united us all together – Jews and Gentiles. Paul encourages us ‘to live in a manner worthy….’ showing this unity. How do you experience disunity?
  • Imagine your life, relationships, work-place. How could you practice unity-creating virtues: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with, striving to preserve unity, maintaining  bonds of peace? What is your biggest challenge?
  • Because the Gospel of Mark (Yr B) has only 16 chapters, we jump into John chapter 6 for 5 weeks to explore Jesusʼ feeding the 5,000. The story of Jesus feeding with bread is told 6 times in the Gospels. John is the most theologically full with special words and meaning. It is around the Jewish Feast of the Passover. At Passover Jewish people remembered Moses the great prophet feeding them with ʻmanna in the desertʼ. The promised Messiah (King) would also do a miraculous feeding. We notice in each of the three Passovers of Jesusʼ public ministry (Jn 2, 6, 19) the passover is fulfilled and replaced ʻwith his bodyʼ. 5 loaves and 2 fish = 7 the perfect Jewish number indicating a perfect feeding. Taking the loaves, gave thanks, gave it to distribute, gather (synagein), fragment  (klasma) are all special words used by the early church for the celebration of  the Eucharist. Twelve indicates ʻall Jewish tribes / peopleʼ. What do you make of all these ʻcluesʼ in the reading today? What does this story now mean for you?
  •  In the midst of large crowds who are hungry, Philip offers no solution. Instead he remarks it will cost so much to fix this problem, 2/3rds of a years wage! What thought or feeling decides your  (in)actions: cost or compassion? Do you offer your small contribution of money or compassion, or give up in the sight of large injustice / poverty / hunger?
  •   The crowds ʻseeʼ the sign Jesus has worked, think of him as ʻtruly the prophet’Comapssion, UnityC they have been waiting for – the Messiah. The one promised. They wish to make him King. A Political Ruler. Why do you think Jesus ʻwithdrawsʼ? Why is the ʻlifting up of Jesusʼ on the cross the enthronement moment in the gospel of John?
  • What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide for Trinity Sunday

Reflection Questions

  • Easter concludes with 50 days and the celebration of Pentecost. The Feast of the Trinity and the Feast of Corpus Christi are the Sunday experiences before us. Yet what we celebrate and believe is far from ʻordinaryʼ. Moses speaks to the people and us: can your imagination comprehend how great it is that God has personally ʻspokenʼ to us in the fire on the mountain of Sinai. God personally fought for us and rescued us out of Egypt where we were mistreated. Can you recognize and see with ʻyour very eyesʼ things God has done for you? What experience do you need to treasure more deeply?
    • This Trinity was first of all an experience of disciples before it became a theological teaching. ʻGod does not prove himself, he shows himselfʼ. Jesus is the Messiah sent by the Father. His life and words reveals the Fathers love and Mercy. The Spirit is the first gift into our hearts. Imagine the whole experience of being ʻadoptedʼ. The parents doing it and the child receiving it. The child will need help to cry out ʻAbbaʼ – Daddy. Do you experience this relationship? ʻYou did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fearʼ. What do these words mean for you?
  • The most significant events in the Gospel of Matthew happen on Mountains. It symbolises being very close to God and consequently the events taking place have the full authority and power of God. It is almost humourous that the disciples bow down in worship but are also doubting. Some texts have ʻbut some doubtedʼ. Jesusʼ response is to approach them! And even in the midst of doubt he sends them into the world with a job / mission. Imagine yourself in this scene. Do you bow, kneel, stand, doubt, hunger, question, fear, run, watch….? What do you wish to say to Jesus as he ʻsends you outʼ?
    • Knowing and using a personʼs name symbolises a relationship and knowledge of the person. Using a persons name attracts and turns the persons attention toward you. Reflect on using the name of someone who loves you. What is the experience of calling their ʻnameʼ? Imaginatively enter this experience speaking to each person of the Trinity. Abba – Father. Jesus – Son. Holy Spirit. Can you glimpse a personal relationship and knowledge of each?
    • Within the mystery of Godʼs nature we enter a mystery that love is not alone – but a relationship of 3. Consider the ancient icon of the Trinity above. There is an empty space at the table for you to ʻpull up your chairʼ at prayer and at the Eucharistic table. What do you notice as you spend time in prayer with this icon?
    • Jesus gives clear – and challenging – instructions. There is no privileged people, his message is for ʻall nationsʼ. A new rite of Baptism in the name of Father Son and Holy Spirit will mark an acceptance and adoption into the family of God. People need to be taught how to ʻobserveʼ and live Jesusʼ teachings. ʻGoʼ! Do you have a consciousness of being involved in this ʻgreat commissionʼ? If people were to be with you, would they glimpse a love-relationship alive and nurtured by a church community? If anyone asked you about your relationship with God what would you share?
    • What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

 

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail:contact@livingtheword.org.nz. Livingtheword weekly resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and are distributed by Marist Laity NZ, www.maristlaitynz.org based in the Diocese of Auckland, NZ

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Reflection Questions

  1. Moses is giving his final words of farewell in the book of Deuteronomy today. The ʻLawʼ which Moses gave to Israel from God is not simply written in decrees but is written into our very nature…. ʻvery near to youʼ. Jewish people kept this ʻshemaʼ close to them by posting it on their doorways and wrapping it around their foreheads in times of prayer. How could you keep Godʼs ways and guidelines close to you? Is there any practice or habit you could adopt to express a love for Godʼs teachings?
  2. We hear from St Paulʼs letter to the Colossians in the next 3 Sundays. Paul is writing a letter to correct errors of a heresy. Gnosticism taught that God was only spirit and did not mix with the material world of ʻmatterʼ. Jesus therefore was thought of as an ʻintermediaryʼ between God and Man, like an Angel. God couldnʼt become ʻfleshʼ because this would involve God getting ʻdirtyʼ and mixing with humanity! Paul responds Jesus Christ is truly the image and exact representative of the invisible God, the fulness of God dwelt in him. God has truly come among us and reconciled us. What was the obstacle of Gnosticism? Is this obstacle in your own thinking?
  3. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is intended to ʻshake usʼ toward loving as God loves. Parables are meant to ʻshockʼ us out of the status quo. Stay with the parable until something ʻshocksʼ you.
  4. Jesus responds to an expert in the law of Moses. Jesus includes in the ʻshemaʼ an addition to ʻlove your neighbour as yourselfʼ (Lev 19,18). Jewish people practically limited this ʻadditionʼ to extending care only toward fellow Jewish citizens. Why do cultures limit and enforce cultural and social divisions of who is ʻincludedʼ and ʻexcludedʼ? In your social and religious circle, who do you ʻinclude / excludeʼ? Why?
  5. The ʻlawʼ stated that Priests and Levites were to be kept ʻcleanʼ for religious service. Getting close to a dead body or touching ʻbloodʼ would make them ʻuncleanʼ. They ʻseeʼ someone in great need – but decide to ʻpass byʼ. Jesus critiques this socially and religiously ʻacceptable behaviourʼ. Religious sacrifices and duties are no substitute for lack of compassion and injustice. In your week who have you ʻseenʼ, ʻpassed byʼ?
  6. A Samaritan was the cultural equivalent of a terrorist or drug dealer. It was the greatest shock for Jewish listeners to have a Samaritan as a hero surpassing a religiously observant Priest and Levite. The Samaritan put his money where his mouth was. His love for God showed itself in deep compassion not simply pious thoughts or words. Oil and Wine were gifts offered at the altar, used now to soften and disinfect wounds. 2 days wages and a promise of more if needed reveal not just first aid but ongoing care. What inspires you in the Samaritanʼs actions? What would it look like for you to ʻgo and do likewiseʼ?
  7. Jesus challenges the lawyer – and us – to a new approach to life. The question is not ʻwho is my neighbourʼ but will I be a ʻneighbourʼ ?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

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Reflection Questions.

  1. Imagine a great religious and political leader committing adultery and trying to cover up the pregnancy with the secret killing of the husband. This is actually what has happened with the great leader of Israel – King David (see 2 Sam 11). David moves from covering up to confession. God forgives David. What strikes you about Godʼs forgiveness? The painful consequences of sin? What is your experience?
  2. King David is thought to have composed the famous Psalm 51 expressing heartfelt sorrow for sin. If you were to have a heart-felt conversation with God what words would you use? Use Psalm 51 to help you. Consider making use of the sacrament of confession this coming week. What obstacles do you need to overcome to experience Godʼs waiting embrace?
  3. Paul is responding to a big question: Am I acceptable to God? Jewish people in the Galatian community were trying to convince new christian disciples they still had to observe all the Jewish laws to be ʻrightʼ and acceptable to God. Paul, who was a very law-abiding Pharisee cries No! Human frailty eventually breaks the law and observing ʻlawsʼ pales in comparison to what has been given in Jesus. God has come among us, taught us, forgiven us, revealed the resurrection to us. Faith is entering into the embrace of Godʼs acceptance for us in Jesus. What is your response? How could you accept the ʻacceptanceʼ of God?
  4. Paul paints a powerful picture. ‘I have been crucified with Christ’. Imagine each day climbing onto the cross – arms extended in an embrace of our broken world – like Christ giving of his body and blood on the cross to heal the world. Is your life lived with arms open generously or arms tightly closed in self preservation?
  5. Some cultural information behind this parable is helpful for reflection. Hospitality was always to be shown to guests. Water to wash feet, hands. Perfume / oil to annoint oneʼs head. Simon shows no hospitality to Jesus. Women were also conditioned only to show and let down their hair for their husband. The woman is showing very intimate actions of love toward Jesus. What now strikes you in this parable?
  6. Simon the Pharisee and the Woman who was regarded as a ʻsinnerʼ in the town are both struggling with who is ʻacceptable to Godʼ. The Pharisee thought only people keeping all the rules and laws were satisfying the ʻpurityʼ code of being ʻcleanʼ and therefore ʻrightʼ with God. Simon is horrified that Jesus allows a sinful woman to ʻtouchʼ him and thereby make him ʻuncleanʼ. What is Simonʼs deep theological problem?
  7. Imagine someone releasing you of a debt of a year and a half of your wages. Or 3 months of your wages. What would your feelings be? Would this experience find expression in any action? What is the greatest ʻreleaseʼ experience you have had. Did it change your lifestyle in any way?
  8. The quality and image of discipleship between the Woman and Simon is different. What attracts you? Why?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

KBg8C2Download 5th Sunday Lent Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. Chapters 40-55 are a special part of the Book of Isaiah. While still away from their homeland struggling with life in exile in Babylon, Isaiah invites people to understand God ‘is doing something new’. Have you ever wanted things to ‘return to the way they were’ when chariots and horseman of Egypt were beaten up by God? If you had to ‘see’ new ‘rivers’, current experiences that are forming you, what would you identify? Do you allow yourself to see difficult times as experiences that can grow you eventually into ‘praise’?
  2. In his previous life as a Pharisee, Paul would have treasured living all 613 Jewish laws taught by Moses. He would have had honor and status in the community. This is now colourfully referred to as ‘rubbish’. (Literally the word means scraps thrown to dogs). Paul’s life is now aimed toward ‘being taken possession of by Jesus’. Have you ever desired to be ‘fully taken over by God’? How could you pursue this as a ‘goal’? Paul reflects this reality of possession is not ‘taken’ but received as a gift. What part of your life would you like to ask the Spirit into this Lent?
  3. In the season of Lent special readings are chosen to hopefully puncture our lives so that we let in God’s mercy. The Prodigal Son is now followed this week with the Woman caught in Adultery. Both readings reveal an unexpected forgiveness.
  4. Early in the morning people starting coming to Jesus in the temple area and listened to his teaching. In this last week of Lent how could you bring yourself into the presence of Jesus to ‘listen’ and ask for guidance. Is there a church in your neighbourhood, on your way to work which can help you achieve this?
  5. Scribes and Pharisees believed following Laws strictly would bring a person into ‘holiness’. They were upset Jesus spent time with those doing the opposite (sinners). They test him publicly if he keeps the Laws Moses commanded. They wish to maintain a way of relating to God that puts people into ‘holy’ – right -and ‘sinners’ – wrong. Love and mercy is abandoned in favour of judgment and punishment. Jesus beautifully takes away all ‘holy’ pretending as he knows we all sin. Faced with this deep truth we meet God’s response. Consider praying vulnerably in the context of your own life: neither do I condemn you. What is your response to someone when you realise they do not judge you but love you?
  6. Can you remember a time when your relationship with God changed away from a focus on sin toward a deeper knowing of forgiveness? What has been the deepest experience you have had of the Mercy of God? Do you allow the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help you move beyond guilt into wisdom and forgiveness?
  7. Please note in communities that are welcoming candidates for Baptism at Easter different readings are used for the ‘Rite of Scrutinies’ this Sunday.
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Trinity Sunday Yr A

  1. Reflection Questions The Feast of the Holy Trinity was born out of the Arian controversy debating the divinity of Christ. This was resolved with the Nicene Creed and the Councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381). By the early 400’s preaching and liturgical texts sought to strengthen the Church’s faith and teaching on the Trinity and the origin of this feast began.
  2. “God does not prove himself; he shows himself”. God’s self-revelation (unveiling) is necessary as all human attempts to know the depths of God would be simply guessing. It is fitting then the first reading shares one of the great moments of God ‘revealing’ himself on Mount Sinai with Moses. Todays text is actually the fourth time Moses has gone up the mountain to speak with God.The title ‘LORD’ is a greek translation of the Hebrew YAWHEH – I AM WHO I AM – the DIVINE NAME. But God wishes to go further. ‘I am merciful and gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity’. The Hebrew word used to describe this character of God is found in the word ‘Hesed’. God has a covenantal spousal love which is ever faithful, particularly when the other covenant partner is not faithful. Does this change your image of God? Heal an ‘old’ image of God? Comfort you? How?
  3. St Paul’s letter today shares an early liturgical greeting (still used today). A kiss of peace was to be offered to each other, not after the Our Father before receiving communion, but at the beginning of community worship to show and sign the love by which we live and what celebrate. How do you greet others in your faith community? Would people see the warmth and love of Christ made visible before their eyes? How could the sign of peace become more significant for you?
  4. The Gospel does not attempt to explore theologically the Three Divine Persons in the One God but provide us with a glimpse of the profound inner nature of Love that is God. Sometimes words and views can portray God as having to be ‘pacified’ or ‘persuaded to forgive’ by Jesus. Todays famous text completely over-rides this viewpoint. God sent and gave his Son not to condemn the world but to save the world. The motive is love. Self communication. Forgiveness. The issue now is human response. A gift can be offered. Will it be received? A response not to believe is actually a ‘self imposed judgment’. How could you help present and witness more fruitfully to your friends so they may ‘receive’ Christ?
  5. Rublev’s famous Icon of the Trinity is shown to the left. It has inspired many to recognise the inner union and movement of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do you notice a gap at the table ready for you to pull up a chair? What do you think this means?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

Download Palm Sunday

Reflection Questions:

  1. 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’. 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?
  2. The Passion Reading from Matthew has many details. There is betrayal by close friends, the violence of crowds, political and religious leaders protecting self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What aspect of the Passion grabbed your attention?
  3. 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 will ultimately change the world We are there and it is now. The Gospel is convicting. Today. Can you see how the same issues are present today. Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel? Judas – selling out on God for money? Fleeing disciples – worrying so much about one’s own safety? Peter – professing and denying Jesus within the hour? Soldiers – carrying out unjust instructions from above, persecuting the innocent without thought? Pilate – pretending to be powerless, washing hands of justice and choosing to ignore evil? Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring the rules are kept and people are ‘safe’?
  4. Matthew has some particular details that teach us about Christ’s death. To emphasize the historical and theological importance of Jesus’ death signs expected at the end of time and history as we know it are portrayed true to Old Testament prophecy. Darkness, Elijah returning, earthquakes, the old order being overturned (raising of the just). A theological reference to the special veil inside the Temple which separated everyone from the ‘Holy of Holies’ – the place where God dwelt – is mentioned. Judaism has come to an end. The new temple, altar, sacrifice, the new dwelling place, God is now unveiled in Jesus, on the Cross. History has turned. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. A new historical and theological order is present. A new covenant has been established. Do you see? Believe?
  5. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download Document: 8th Sunday Yr A

Reflection Question 3: Trust in God is a consistent theme in the scripture readings this week. Jesus brushes away many small arguments and gets to the core issue: you cannot be the slave of God and money (mammon was a Hebrew word referring to property or anything of value, its modern translation has become ‘money’). Trust and Worry are connected. What we worry about reveals what we secretly trust in. What would you list as your top 3 worries? What do they ‘reveal’ about you? What do you think of Jesus’ 3 arguments against ‘worry’?

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Reflection Question 5: Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector of the large city of Jericho. He would have been extremely wealthy. And yet he does something extremely humbling – he climbs a tree. He publicly admits he is short in front of the large crowd. He exposes himself to ridicule in his effort of seeking Jesus. Life changing meetings with Jesus are often the result of extraordinary actions by gospel characters. What made Zaccheaus climb the tree? Instead of climbing the tree, what action could you take to get closer to Jesus? What is the risk or fear that could stop you? Who could give you support or advice?

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Reflection Question 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?

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