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Posts Tagged ‘image of god’

The easy-print reflection and discussion guide can be found HERE

Printable Discussion Guide HERE

Reflection and Questions:

Image result for bullock yoke• Zechariah makes a prophesy that the Saviour will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Horse and Chariot were symbols of power and war. A donkey was a symbol of humble work and peace. Horse and Donkey. Power and Humility. Violence and Service. Why does the world favour a horse, God a donkey?

• “Meek” is a word mentioned twice in todays readings. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘not easily provoked’. It can also be translated as ‘teachable’. Think of a person feeling anger yet staying in control, open to listen and learn and respond with justice not violence. Meek people lead the way in reconciliation, healing. They are open to learn rather than being locked into a closed thinking pattern. Who could you identify as ‘Meek’? What practice could you adopt to develop a meek (teachable) character?

• ‘Flesh’ is Paul’s expression for a life lived without God, like an animal just following its senses. A ‘Spirit’ led life is open to God and turned outward in love. How do you experience the disciple’s tension of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’? Which life do you feed and nourish?

• In chapters 11-12 Matthew is teaching about Jesus’ identity as Messiah. Matthew has Jesus replace Moses as the great teacher. Jesus is the Wisdom of God; greater than the Torah (Law given by Moses) and all the Prophets. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son wishes to reveal him’ is a knowledge claim by Jesus. He challenges the idea of Jesus as a comfortable teacher or earthly King. What is Jesus claiming? How does his claim challenge me today?

• Jesus says learned religious figures struggle to accept him, yet ‘little ones’ (the poor, unlearned, simple folk, manual workers) accept him. Jesus was shaking up all the accepted patterns of religion and society. Why do you think learned people found his claims so difficult? How does pride and position impact our ability to be meek (teachable) and humble? When we are heavily invested in our understanding of life we can become ‘comfortable’ and ‘satisfied’. How does that block our ability to be ‘open’? Are you satisfied with the answers about your life? How have you made Jesus comfortable? What challenge of Jesus is
hardest to be ‘open’ to?

• The Torah (OT Law) handed down by Moses required knowing and being obedient to 613 laws. This was a ‘heavy burden’. People felt oppressed by the rules and those enforcing them (Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees). Jewish people referred to this as the ‘yoke of the law’. Jesus invites a radical change. ‘Come to me’ all who are feeling heavily burdened. I will give you rest. Put on my yoke. Learn from me’. The Torah is being replaced by relationship with the person of Jesus who is choosing to be yoked with us. A wooden ‘yoke’ put around the bullocks neck was tailor made, avoiding painful imbalance or abrasions and it
evenly distributed the load. An experienced bullock was paired with a young one to teach it how to work in tandem to bear far more than it could do on its own. What does this image convey to you? How are you experiencing the ‘yoke’ of Jesus? Are you trying to go it alone or are you working with Jesus?

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

 

Discussion Guide:    Pentecost – The Holy Spirit, Our Living Power Source

 

Pentecost Year A (2023) - Young Catholics

Reflection Questions:            • Pentecost was a Jewish harvest feast 50 days after Easter when fruit had ripened and wheat was harvested. Along with bringing produce to the temple, it was also an anniversary of the giving of the law (torah)- 10 commandments to Moses on Mt Sinai. There are fulfilment and replacement hints in the text. The Old Testament is being fullfilled in the New Testament. Israel is all together at Mt Sinai. The earthquake and storm and eruption – fire. Moses speaking personally to God and being gifted with ʻlawsʼ to teach and guide. Disciples gathered together in an ‘upper-room’. Tongues of fire communicating Godʼs spirit and power to teach and guide and unify all people. How would you choose to write what Pentecost ʻmeansʼ?

• Pentecost is also understood as the reversal of the Old Testament Tower of Babel story (see Gen.11). Humankindʼs sin and self importance is seen in building a tower to reach and become equal to God. This eventuated in the scattering of people and the confusion caused by different languages. The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost unites people to understand each other and the Christian message. Do you see disunity? How could you bring unity?

• Paul wrote to the Community at Corinth because some people who didn’t have the gift of tongues were considered inferior. It was causing division in the community. One gift was not to be stressed over another. Everyone is gifted. Name and claim at least 3 gifts you have. What gift do you feel you would like to develop more and use for God and the community?

•The Spirit and ʻgiftsʼ are connected to to the ʻbodyʼ. Which part of the ʻbodyʼ (Church) do you identify more with: eyes – seeing, head – thinking, heart – feeling, hands – serving, mouth – speaking, ears – praying. How do you show this in your daily life? How could you be more involved in serving God with this?

• Jesus passes through ʻfear-locked doorsʼ to bring peace and forgiveness. What ʻlocked doorsʼ are present in your life? Use your imagination in a time of prayer and allow Jesus to meet you on the other side of these locked doors….. what happened?

• The Spirit sends the Disciples / the Church ʻon missionʼ. The Church is ʻplugged inʼ to a living power-source moulding everyone into the image and consciousness of Christ. Because of the Spirit the Church has the calling and capacity to be the extension of Jesusʼ ministry in the world.

• Forgiveness of sins and the healing of wounded hearts, families, communities is what each disciple is ʻsentʼ to do. Consider what feelings and thoughts arise in a person when they are ʻsentʼ with authority to do something? Are you conscious of being sent out by the Father to ʻrepair the worldʼ?

‘Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour thy dew; Wash the stains of guilt away. Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray.…. Sequence prayer of Pentecost. Which prayer ‘image’ to the Spirit speaks personally to you? Why?

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

Discussion Guide:      5th Sunday Easter Yr. A – We Are Called to show the ‘WAY’ to Others

 

Building with Living Stones – Faith & Fellowship

Reflection Questions:    • The early Christian community described in Acts endures many challenging experiences. Today marks an incredible ‘break-through’. Greek speaking (Hellenists) Christians complained their widows were not being fed in the daily distribution of food to the poor. Jewish Christians may have been favouring their own kind. The Church was transitioning from a Jewish Christian community to a more Greek speaking and Greek cultured community. Imagine the tensions and arguments! Yet the Apostles creatively responded with wisdom and preserved unity. A new service structure was implemented into the community. Who is getting all the attention in your community? Who is not? What creative response is needed to meet the needs of ‘the poor’?

• The passage of scripture from Peter is regarded as part of an Easter Baptismal Homily. The image is of a Temple built with stones aligned with the ‘cornerstone – Jesus’ which holds the whole ‘house’ together. Who is a ‘living stone’ you look to in your local community for ‘alignment’ with Jesus? How do you ‘measure up’?

• Priesthood, a Holy People set apart, a people bringing the world to God and God to the world, is not to be understood as confined to the ‘Temple’. Peter reminds all the baptised they are no longer limited to bringing animal and grain offerings to the Temple. Their lives are to announce God’s love and care. Feeding the poor, clothing and care of the sick, prayers for the community are all part of the great ‘spiritual sacrifices’ offered to God to bring God to the people and the people to God. Do you glimpse your ‘royal’ and ‘priestly’ job description of Baptism into the family of Christ? Can you glimpse the connection between the Sunday altar and the Monday office desk?

• John 14-17 is Jesus’ departing words to his disciples. His words are filled with the language of intimate love. Have you ever had someone beautifully prepare a guest room for you? Say they want you to be always with them? How did it feel? How does it feel to know Jesus wants this relationship with you?

• Without Jesus and no longer welcome in the Jewish Temple, the Johannine community felt they were lost. ‘How can we know the ‘way’? ‘I AM the way’ is a theological punch. Jesus uses the ‘divine name (I AM) and challenges his followers to live ‘his way – the way of God’. Our life-style, our time-style, our ‘way’, is to be in exact replication of Christ. How does this challenge you?

• “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” What ‘works’ are we called to do?

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

Discussion Guide:          4th Sunday of Easter – Jesus, the Good Shepherd 

 

The Shepherd Analogy And Leadership Skills

 

Reflection Questions:            • Today is Vocation Sunday. It is also called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’ as the readings will often focus upon Jesus identifying with the role of being a ‘Shepherd’ for us, his sheep. Have you ever thought that Jesus does call some sheep to become ‘Shepherds’?

• In the Church and on behalf of the Church, priests are a sacramental representation of Jesus Christ – the head and shepherd – authoritatively proclaiming his word, repeating his acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation – particularly in baptism, penance and the Eucharist, showing his loving concern to the point of a total gift of self for the flock, which they gather into unity and lead to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit. In a word, priests exist and act in order to proclaim the Gospel to the world and to build up the Church in the name and person of Christ the head and shepherd (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no 15). What does this statement teach you about the role of the Priest? Have you ever been ‘thankful’ for the gift and ministry of a priest?

• 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?

• God writes his hopes and plans for you into your desires” (says St Ignatius). Persistent thoughts, attractions, ideas that don’t go away are symbolic of the nudges of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire at work in us. In what ways or experiences have you noticed God’s call for your life? Do you get a sense of good pasture and ‘abundant life’ from following God or does fear dominate?

• A Christian disciple is drawn to look upon the love of Christ on the cross, and then, in co-operation with grace, is drawn to ‘be’ Christ on the cross with arms outstretched in love of the world. Those called to the ‘consecrated life’ seek to conform their whole existence to Christ (Vita Consecrata 16). Have you ever considered what it would be like to be a ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ to everyone?

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

Discussion Guide:    29th Sunday Yr. C – Is Prayer Your Steering Wheel or Spare Tyre?

 

Flat Tires and Unexpected Graces

 

Reflection Questions:    • The Amalekites were a constant threat to the peaceful settlement of Godʼs people in the promised land. The battle scene is describing a theological point. Other countries made political and military alliances. Israel was to rely on God. And prayer works! What does the phrase ʻkeeping your hands raised upʼ mean for you? Have you asked anyone to pray to God for your protection? Is prayer a spare tyre or a steering wheel for you? (Corrie Ten Boom) Can you remember an experience where you recognized the power of prayer?

• Moses, the leader of Godʼs people is getting tired. He needs Aaron and Hur to support his hands. Who do you recognize as a spiritual leader and guide for you? What support could you offer? Joshua was out fighting in the field. Aaron was being trained as a leader at the side of Moses. Hur is a hidden and unknown figure behind the scenes. Which character do you most identify with? Who is at your side when you need prayer support? What is the next step for you in public leadership in the Church?

• It’s not intellectual proofs of God that convince people, but witnesses. St Paul reminds Timothy of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2Tim 1,5) who taught and witnessed faith to him from his infancy. Who has been a faith witness to you through your life?

• Scripture is inspired by God – literally ʻGod breathed! – and is able to continually inspire, encourage and challenge in a living way at every reading. Remember and write down an experience when the Word made you uncomfortable? Convinced you about some truth? Challenged you deeply? Encouraged and comforted you?

• Jesus paints a picture of a ʻmeanʼ judge who does not listen or care about anyone. Jesus is saying that God is NOT like that. Evil as the judge is, he responds to the persistent pleading and is fearful of the widow who will (in Greek) ʻstrike me and give me a black eyeʼ! Jesus encourages us that God is not someone we need to ʻwear downʼ with constant prayer. God wants to meet the needs of his chosen ones as a perfect parent. Have you moved from ʻpraying with lots of wordsʼ to ʻpraying with lots of silenceʼ? What brings you to peace and assurance of God’s love? What does the image of a baby silent in a parents arms symbolize for you?

• Widows were not allowed to inherit their husband’s property. If without family they had no one to care or look after them. Judges were to ensure widows, orphans and ʻaliensʼ (foreigners) were looked after. This widow is obviously raising her voice to demand justice. She will not sit down, feel powerless, reduce herself to being broken and afraid, she uses her voice with courage and persistence. She is not willing to be silenced in the face of injustice. Jesus reveals God is on the side of the poor and marginalized, the One who listens to their prayers. Woe to those who allow the world to remain an unjust and inhospitable place for many. When have you raised your voice for justice? What area of need or justice project catches your attention. When we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit we are sensitive to God calling us through the things we notice and pay attention to, or sometimes try to avoid. What could you do to be involved?

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    The Transforming power of Mercy and Compassion…

 

Come Home" A Modern Version of the Prodigal Son

Reflection Questions:    • God’s inexhaustible patience and mercy are the key to todays’ readings. In Exodus God revealed his ʻnameʼ and ʻfaceʼ to Moses and gave the 10 Commandments. But the people lose patience and give up waiting for Moses to return to them. In their eyes God and Moses has disappointed and abandoned them. They resolve their own solution to their issues making an ʻidolʼ of a golden calf – an ancient symbol of fertility, life and fruitfulness. Moses pleads for his stiff-necked people and God responds with mercy. Have you had an experience of ʻwaitingʼ for an answer or being disappointed by God? Have you ever lost patience with God, or felt abandoned and decided to take things into your own hands? What were the results for you and for those around you?

• Is there anything today you are ʻwaitingʼ for God to show you? Are you listening to his ʻwordʼ? Can you share your disappointment with God? Or perhaps there is a Moses figure God has placed in your life to help and guide you? Are you seeking their wise counsel and prayer for your needs? Who do you know that may be far from God, off on their own track or even blaspheming God? How often do you respond like Moses and plead for them in prayer?

• In the 2nd reading Paul writes as a mentor to his ‘child in faith’, Timothy. He shares his wisdom born of personal experience about God’s ‘inexhaustible patience’ and mercy. Who has shared their experience of the mercy of God with you? How have you experienced God’s compassion and patience? With whom, and how are you called to share that message?

• In these Parables of Mercy – Jesus shatters our misconceptions about the image of God. In striving for efficiency and profit, who would go after 1 lost sheep? It would be ‘written off’ as a predictable percentage loss. Who would ‘waste’ productivity to hunt for 1 coin? Who would welcome without question a son or daughter who wished their parents dead and disgraced the family in public?! Jesus reveals the true image of who God is – inexhaustibly patient filled with compassion and longing to find whoever is lost, embracing with tender mercy all who have sinned. What is your ʻimageʼ of God? How did that image form? What attracts you in how Jesus presents His Father in Luke 15?

• In teaching on this Gospel Pope Francis said,“the Jews treated the Samaritans with contempt, considering them strangers to the chosen people” In choosing a Samaritan in the parable Jesus shocks us into recognizing our own call to overcome prejudice and that “even a foreigner; one who does not know the true God and does not attend his temple, is able to behave according to God’s will, feeling compassion for a ‘brother’ in need and helping with all the means at his disposal”. “The Pope said. “If you come across a homeless person, and pass by without looking, do not ask yourself whether that person has had too much to drink, but whether your own heart has stiffened and turned to ice,” How does that challenge you?

• Notice each character, the younger son, the older brother, the Father. Which do you identify with and why? Asking for the inheritance was like the youngest son wishing Dad ‘dead’. He makes his father appear a fool. Yet the father’s unwavering love watches longingly for the son’s return, then he runs in public which was the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention moves from condemnation of the son toward the foolish father. His humiliation before the whole community, including the outrage of his older son are for the sake of compassion and mercy. How could the community and older son become part of that relationship of mercy?

• Jesus wants us to know that the compassion the father has in this parable is the same love God wants to show each of us? How do you respond? In the sacrament of reconciliation God longingly waits to pour mercy & transformation into your life? What holds you back?

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:      22nd Sunday Yr C: Remain Humble and You Will be Noticed

 

Prayer, Bible Study Sirach 3:1-31 20200111

Reflection Questions:    • Sirach is a book of instructions on the day-to-day living of a good life. Top on the list of advice is to be ʻhumbleʼ. Someone who is ʻa giver of giftsʼ often expects something in return, whereas a humble person is not deceitful or cunning. A humble person does not try and pretend to be stronger or better than he / she is. A humble person has an ʻattentive earʼ. Why do you think Sirach considers Humility to be so important? What sort of world is created by its opposite?

• Today is the last time we have the letter to the Hebrews read to us. The differences between the ʻold lawʼ with its blazing fires of Mt Sinai, its trumpet blasts and fearsome prophecyʼs of Daniel is contrasted with the ʻnew gospelʼ of God dwelling joyfully amongst us, ʻfirstbornʼ christians belonging to the family of God, the joy of Jesus bringing the intimacy and forgiveness of God with the new covenant of the blood of the cross. In the Old Testament, the presence of God was a ʻfearsomeʼ thing. Has your image of God moved from the Old to the New? Reflect on the images used in the Hebrews scripture passage. What image(s) is meaningful for you?

• Luke 14 – 15 has many examples of Jesus at meals. He uses these moments to teach about ʻfellowshipʼ, critique structures in society, and teach the Church about how true eucharistic gatherings should function. It is helpful to see the warmth Jesus wants to extend to those who are excluded and his challenging words to social structures which exclude people. Some say Jesus was a disturbing guest who may not have received many second invitations! What would your impression be of Jesus if you were sitting at this meal ʻobserving him carefullyʼ?

• In the time of Jesus, and generally with people who do not have ʻwealthʼ, status in the community was based on ʻreputationʼ. To have your reputation held high was a growth in ʻhonourʼ. To have your reputation lowered was considered a source of great ʻshameʼ. This system can create a game where you take a humble position but wait desperately to be ʻhonouredʼ and ʻmoved upʼ! Generosity is secretly only self-centred reciprocity. Jesus shares a subversive challenge which would change the whole social structure. What is his challenge?

• Jesus reverses everything that was considered socially and religiously ʻcorrectʼ. 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 that there is a great reversal about to take place. Notice the extreme nature of Jesusʼ challenge. He doesnʼt say give money to the poor, give some volunteer service hours to the poor, but ʻinvite them into your home, to sit at table and eat togetherʼ! To enter into a relationship that goes beyond ʻcharityʼ. Examine your life-style and ʻtimestyle ʼ. Who do you include? Exclude? Why? How could you bring about the ʻgreat reversalʼ of the Kingdom of God in your family, workplace, church community?

• What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    20th Sunday Yr. C: ‘Costly Discipleship’ – do You want Fire?

 

Baptism with Fire:- How to know if you're baptized with fire

Reflection Questions:

• Jeremiah did not have an enjoyable experience as a prophet. He lived in a time when he saw the ‘gap’ between God’s way and the way the King and Religious Leaders were leading the people. For many years he spoke challenging words of change but without success. In the end he reached the conclusion that it would be ok if the ‘Court’ and ‘Temple’ were demolished so that God would have an opportunity to ‘start again’! People became upset and today Jeremiah ends up ‘in the mud’ of a large empty water tank. Have you recently heard an invitation or idea that deeply challenged you to change? What was your response? Why do prophets often experience rejection?

• Imagine the experience of Jeremiah standing ‘in the mud’. Waiting. Crying. Faithful. Confused. And then Ebedmelech from the court arrives. Can you apply this image to your life journey now? Who could be ‘Ebed-melech’ reaching out to help you? What do we learn about God from this experience?

• The Letter to the Hebrews teaches Jewish people the meaning of Jesus life and sacrifice. Jesus followers are called to live in close imitation to him. Is there anything you are doing in your life that Jesus would not do? How could you ‘run the race….’?

• Jesus continues to teach his disciples about the deep changes required to become a ‘follower’. Fire ‘purifies’ objects, melts away any impurities. Cleanses and reduces metals back to an original state. To set the earth on fire seems to be a more painful experience than ‘giving the earth a wash’. A fire is more severe and deep. Have you ever asked Jesus for this ‘baptism’ of fire – the Spirit – to come upon you? Do you desire this baptism? Bring this desire into a time of prayer.

• Jesus is often portrayed as someone bringing peace and reconciliation. But the cost of transforming the world is great. Archbishop Oscar Romero said: the world is established in disorder which makes the mere proclamation of the good news a subversive act’. What do you think this quote means?

• Jewish people considered the relationship of care and respect between parents and children to be the greatest value to uphold. Nothing else should topple this value. Jesus inserts a seed of fire into the social structure of his time. Disciples will eventually be confronted with a choice: will you choose the relationship with Jesus to be the most important relationship of your life no matter what? This experience has often been called ‘costly discipleship’. Do you have a costly discipleship story? Could you inspire someone by sharing it or write it in a journal to claim it more deeply as a life lesson for yourself?

• In early christianity, Jewish people who became christian were ‘kicked out’ of the family home and not allowed to worship in the temple. They began to experience a new family of care and community, living together, sharing everything in common feeding the hungry. They truly began to live a ‘different life’. The first christians in Antioch were called the people of ‘the way’. Does your ‘way’ reflect the life of Jesus?

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