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Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Discussion Guide is Here


Reflection Questions

• Ezekial is regarded as one of the 3great prophets (Behind Isaiah and Jeremiah). Ezekiel is both a priest and
a prophet and is speaking during a time of Exile away from Home. Without temple practises, faithfulness to the laws of God kept Jewish identity and preserved unity. Ezekiel provides a powerful image of a ‘watchman’, standing, watching, ‘looking out’ for dangers that may be approaching your family. God’s family. Have you had the courage to ‘say anything and warn others’? What happens without ‘watchmen’? Are you challenged into action knowing that your salvation is at stake? What do you feel needs to be spoken of in your family? Community? Parish?
• To love your neighbour as your own flesh is a striking challenge. Jewish interpretation wriggled around the challenge by regarding one’s ‘neighbour’ as their own Jewish citizens. This allowed Jews not to care for ‘outsiders’. Ponder the essential challenge of loving everyone as your own flesh. In what ways have you wriggled out of the challenge?
• Matthew 18 is dedicated to life inside the Christian community. How is the community of Jesus supposed to
respond to hurts and arguments that come from living together? A pattern is
developed to avoid hurting and shaming those involved. Private conversation, then semi-privateconversation and only as a last resort a public church decision. Reconciliation is not ‘brooding’ in silence. Is there anyone you need to
approach ‘face to face’?
• Have you experienced the importance of a wise person to help ensure ‘every fact is established on the testimony of two or three’. Anger and resentment cripple christian hearts and disciples. Who are your ‘two or three’ guides to help your reconciliation journey?
• Treating a person like a Gentile or tax collector can be interpreted two ways.
If reconciliation does not result, do we exclude or offer continued hopeful patience? What did Jesus do?
• The goal of Christian community is to witness to the world the love of Christ with each other. The authority to bind and loose is given by Jesus to the community in the context of prayer and agreement together. Is there need for prayer and discernment with a group about decisions you (or your ministry group, parish…) are making?
• Jesus makes a promise where two or more are in agreement in prayer it shall be granted to them. What prayer
request would you like to share with friends. Who could you invite into your prayer / voice to God?
• What is one action that you will do to‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide Year A 20th Sunday is here

Reflection Questions for individuals or groups.

Gospel Mt 15:21-28

1)God’s chosen people, who were marched away from home into exile in Babylon, are now given permission to return home and rebuild their temple. King Cyrus even gives them back their sacred vessels stolen from the Temple 60 years earlier. The Hebrew people could hardly believe what was happening. God could even work through a Gentile King to rescue and restore his people. Isaiah shares a vision of all peoples being able to worship together in the Temple. This vision was never truly fulfilled. Non Jews were only allowed into an ‘outer courtyard’ of the Temple. What vision of welcome do you have for your Church? What limits your vision from becoming a reality?

2) Paul continues to grieve over his own Jewish people. He hopes that disobedience will eventually meet mercy! People labelled and feeling distant from God (Gentiles) will experience union with God. Paul reminds the Church of God’s passionate desire for all the ‘unclean’ / gentiles to be made welcome in the Church. Who do you judge unclean?

3) Some geography helps to understand the context of the Gospel reading today. Jesus has just finished arguing with the Pharisees (Mt 15:1-20) about what is ‘clean and unclean’. He now travels into unclean ‘gentile’ territory. He moves out of the ‘Holy Land’ and into Canaanite territory. Is he trying to get rid of the Pharisees who keep following and arguing with him? Or is he trying to teach his disciples a lesson going beyond mere words of teaching? The disciples would have been hesitant to go themselves into ‘unclean’ territory. What do you think Jesus could be teaching the disciples? The Church?

4) Without napkins at the dinner table, it was a practice that bread was broken and ones hands were cleaned with bread. Bread and food was left after dinner on the floor. House dogs were frequently able to mop up the crumbs and foodscraps after the guests had finished. This is an image used in the reading today. Is Jesus derogatory toward the woman or just revealing his first concern was ‘lost sheep of Israel’?

5) The disciples wanted the canaanite woman sent away. She was unsettling. Was Jesus waiting for the disciples reaction to her as a way of teaching them about clean / unclean?

6) The Gentile woman kneels before Jesus and prays ‘Lord help me’. Jesus praises and rewards her persistence and faith. To the Jewish community of the Gospel of Matthew this event would have come as a shock. Jesus entered into and found faith among the unclean gentiles. Imagine feeling or being labelled as ‘unclean’ by ‘the church’. What obstacles need to be overcome for people to meet Jesus? Are you helping or hindering?

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

6th Sunday Easter. Love is a Verb Reflection is here.

Pope Francis quote:

Discussion questions.

  1. Persecution in Jerusalem saw many christians go out to other towns and cities. Samaria was the Northern part of Israel, the home of the ‘Samaritans’. Because of history and religious differences – they waited for the Messiah to come to Mt Gerazim instead of Jerusalem – Samaritans and Jews did not associate together. It is a newly appointed Greek speaking Philip (see last weeks readings) who enters into this area. Looking back on your life, has sufferings, trials, persecution helped you expand the horizons of your life? In your workplace or parish do some barriers need to be broken down? Who could be a ‘Philip’ without the baggage of the past to work in this area?
  2. Philip’s whole life won people over to his message. It was not only his words but ‘the signs’ he was doing. Does your lifestyle help or hinder people to hear and accept the gospel?
  3. Peter’s letter acknowledges suffering. Keep your conscience clear and show good conduct. How could this apply to your life?
  4. The Easter-tide readings are still dwelling upon the farewell speech of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel of John (Jn 14-17). He promises to send to them ‘another advocate’. Advocate comes from a greek legal word meaning someone who will give ‘good advice’ and stand alongside to speak for you. Like a lawyer in a courtroom. In trials and troubles the Holy Spirit will lead into ‘truth’. John will also use the words ‘Paraclete’ (one standing alongside) and comforter as words to explain the role and experience the Holy Spirit will bring. Ponder the words ‘Advocate’ and ‘Paraclete’ and ‘Comforter’. Does this expand your appreciation of the Holy Spirit?
  5. Many consider the Holy Spirit difficult to know and experience. A guide from the scripture texts – could it be that being more courageous in mission – being ‘taken to court’ – might help us experience the Holy Spirit at work in our lives? Can you identify an experience of the spirit in your life? How could this experience be grown and deepened?
  6. There is a long prayer tradition of repeating and deeply feeling the words of a scripture phrase. Our mind focusses upon the words and our heart feels its truth. John shares some beautiful phrases today. Pray for 5 minutes with a phrase… take one with you for your car journey, lunchtime prayer, personal quiet time….
  • ‘I am in the Father and you are in me and I in you’.
  • ‘Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father’
  • ‘I will love you and reveal myself to you’.

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

Download Palm Sunday Document

Reflection Questions:

  • On Palm Sunday we wave ʻpalmsʼ in remembrance of Jesusʼ procession into Jerusalem. We cry ʻHosannaʼ (in Hebrew meaning ʻSave Us Now). What is your expectation of God ʻsaving usʼ? Are you willing to let go of a strong powerful military figure and allow a ʻsuffering servantʼ? On a donkey? What do you think happened in the minds and hearts of the crowd gathered to eventually cry ʻcrucify himʼ?
  • Palm Sunday is also called ʻPassionʼSunday as we listen to the whole story of Jesusʼ personal betrayal by his disciples, his court appearance before religious and political rulers, his rejection by previously welcoming crowds, his cruel whipping and torture by soldiers. Watch, listen, feel the violence. Where does such cruelty
  • originate from in the world? Why does the world seek a ʻvictimʼ?
  • ‘He made no answer’. The silence of Jesus as Pontius Pilate questions and interrogates him is striking. Have youever been tempted to argue your way out of a difficult situation to ‘save yourself’. Jesus’ silence is a deep act of trust in God. How would you have behaved in this situation?
  • It may be a surprise to learn that Jesus and his disciples were regarded as a bunch of revolutionaries from Galilee, hanging out in parks, carrying swords, wanted and hunted by police. How would such a group be considered today? In the Church?
  • Jesusʼ sufferings ʻunmasksʼ and reveals the worldʼs violence and cruelty. Jesus responds peacefully in interrogation. Heals a soldier’s ear. Asks the Father to forgive. Welcomes criminals to heaven. Commits his spirit into the hands of the Father. Is Jesus a ʻdoor-matʼ or a ʻsaviourʼ? How?
  • Soldiers make a game of teasing Jesus. He is stripped, humiliated, hit, played with as a ‘game’. Consider in the world today soldiers abusing innocent people. Can you feel their pain? Pray for them and soldiers in places of terror and oppression today.
  • Simon from Cyrene did not want to lift the heavy wooden cross of Jesus. Have you ever felt you were in thewrong place at the wrong time and got a heavy job? Has someone in great need crossed your path recently? Do you run away from people suffering?
  • The veil of the sanctuary was a large thick curtain that separated the ‘holy of holies’ from the rest of the temple. It was the sacred place where God’s presence was known to dwell sitting on the ‘mercy seat’ (that held the 10 commandments). The gospel of Matthew paints with words the truth that here on the cross is the new ‘mercy seat’ where God dwells. Spend time with a crucifix this week and ponder what you see.
  • What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 26th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. Amos continues his public speech in Jerusalem against the incredibly wealthy who are so ʻsatisfiedʼ with beautiful beds, couches, food, wine, music concerts, beauty oils and cosmetics. ʻThey are not made ill by the collapse of their fellow people (Joseph)ʼ. How does wealth manage to create a ʻblindnessʼ to the poor? Can you remember any experience where you had your eyes opened to the cry of the poor? What happened?
  2. Godʼs covenantal relationship in Dt 15:4 stated that ʻthere should be no poor among you because the Lord will richly bless youʼ. Implied in this is the richly blessed sharing with others to ensure all are looked after. Have you realised a christian religious commitment / covenant also involves a social obligation / covenant toward the ʻpoorʼ? How are you currently expressing this commitment in your lifestyle?
  3. Some scholars consider this passage from the Letter to Timothy could come from an Ordination Ceremony. Do you have ʻcourage under fireʼ, like Jesus before Pontius Pilate, to give your testimony and confess your faith in the most difficult of circumstances? Where and when do you find it hard?
  4. Purple clothing was the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth because its source was a rare shellfish and insect being crushed. It was the ultimate in ʻbrandedʼ clothing to distinguish a person who had wealth. What symbols of wealth are worn or shown today? Do you belong to this ʻsystemʼ? What does it mean to you?
  5. The Great Reversal of fortunes is a theme of the Gospel of Luke. The Rich will be brought low, the poor will be lifted up. However it is not riches themselves that are the problem (Abraham himself was a very rich man!). It is the cycle of wealth to so preoccupy and claim ones attention and energy so that the needs of others go unnoticed. The rich man does know Lazarus because he calls out his name. However there is a failure of conversion. He cannot bring himself to share of his wealth. The Rich Man claims he did not have a warning that this reversal would happen. If this parable truly describes what will happen in the after-life, what does it demand of you? What would it take for your to ʻshare your wealthʼ? Have you given generously to the poor recently? Have you considered the difference between charity and true justice?
  6. The Parable of Lazarus could illustrate our Eucharistic Communities. We who are richly blessed, in our best Sunday clothes, celebrating in our liturgy Godʼs great blessing and Eucharistic Banquet, while there are so many poor sitting in the nearby streets and alley-ways. Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, refuses to allow his disciples to feel comfortable and satisfied with the default settings of the world. The costly and inclusive hospitality of God is something we are called to witness to. What obstacle to a deeper conversion to the poor sits in your way?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download Reflection Document 24th Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. The 3rd Song of the Suffering Servant reading from Isaiah has been chosen today to ‘match’ with the Gospel reading and Jesus’ predication of suffering in Jerusalem. Isaiah gets battered and bruised as he shares a message of hope amongst his people in Exile in Babylon. So disheartened are God’s people they feel their ‘God’ has been over-powered by Babylon’s God by allowing them to be exiled. Each day Isaiah listens to God and seeks to comfort his people. Have you ‘heard’ anything from God recently…. and ‘not turned your back’ on it?
  2. Isaiah chooses above all to trust in God and ultimately he believes he will not be disgraced. Even though the experience of rejection is hard. Have you ever realised deeply your purpose and passion and calling. What would it involve to ‘set your face like flint’ in living and achieving this call from God? Do you know someone who is an example to you? Have you ever asked their advice?
  3. A beautiful part of Jewish tradition and piety was an emphasis on helping the poor. It was more than an obligation. In fact, lifting up the poor (through almsgiving) earned one the title ‘righteous’ before God. If faith is words only, it is ‘dead’. Can your faith be seen in any ‘works’ for lifting up the poor?
  4. Today we arrive half-way in the Gospel of Mark. It is a turning point. Jesusʼ secret identity only known and shouted by ʻevil spiritsʼ is now public and spoken by Peter. The healing ministry of Galilee turns toward the suffering and saving mystery of Jerusalem – the Cross. Peter correctly states Jesusʼ identity but misunderstands what this really means. Do you secretly wish God will ride triumphantly into the world and with power and might (violence!) ʻsave the worldʼ?
  5. Peterʼs – and Jewish- expectation was for a Messiah / Saviour to be a Royal leader, political figure, show military might and ʻboot outʼ the occupation Army of Rome. Bring a military victory. Restore Israelʼs national honor. Jesus gets ʻtold offʼ by Peter when he suggests there is another way God will ʻsaveʼ. Jesus ʻrebukesʼ Peter and told him to get behind him (the rightful place for a disciple to walk is behind the master). A major argument reveals a major disagreement. What do you think is going on here? Satan is the Hebrew word for ʻobstacleʼ. What is the obstacle that needs to be removed?
  6. As Jesus turns the disciples toward Jerusalem he gathered them together to teach them. To ʻtake up your crossʼ was a shocking idea for disciples of the time. We have sanitized it with the thought of privately enduring little hardships and spiritual difficulties. Essentially, the cross was the most shameful object to die upon. It was the means by which Rome tortured and crucified anyone who resisted them and the power ʻstatus quoʼ. It symbolised the powerful, crushing the poor. The fear of death (violence used by the powerful elite) reduced the poor to inaction and non revolution. Jesus points the pathway to over-turning this violence with non violent resistance and the willingness to even take up your cross, deny yourself, be willing to die. You will ransom (lead someone from slavery to freedom) societies structures and interrupt the cycle of violence in the world. The disciples didnʼt get it. Do you?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 5th Sunday Yr A 

Reflection Questions

  1. Isaiah chapter 58 is a very significant chapter for the church community. Isaiah is writing to the Jewish community that has returned to Jerusalem after exile, built the new temple, but forgotten what real worship and honouring of God involves. The prophet invites us to ‘share’ your bread with the hungry not ‘give’ your bread to the hungry. There is a big difference. One sits down and enters a relationship. Another gives ‘charity’, closes the door and remains at a distance from the ‘poor’ ‘homeless’ ‘naked’ ‘person in need’. Have you experienced the difference between ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’? Have you seen or do you know someone in real need at the moment? Is there a member of your family, close friend whom you are ‘turning your back on’?
  2. In the time of St Paul, great travelling preachers and philosophers would delight the crowd with great speeches and words of wisdom. Paul tried only to speak of Jesus and the great and humble love of God revealed in Jesus crucified. Putting aside arguments, personalities, theologies, can you say you have discovered the person of Jesus and the beautiful forgiving love of the cross? What happened? Who (could) help(ed) you?
  3. Salt has a very different meaning in the time of Jesus than it does today. Salt was so valuable it was used in Roman times instead of ‘money’ to purchase goods. It acted as a preservative stopping food ‘turning rotten’. Significantly it was also mixed with camel and donkey ‘dung’ because it has catalytic properties which helped the ‘dung’ burn as fuel for cooking ovens. Part of the process involved dung being thrown onto a salt block. Eventually the block lost its ‘saltiness’ and was thrown out onto the road and was trampled upon. What image of salt inspires you and helps you understand your Christian calling: being a presence that stops the world turning rotten? Mixing with dung to produce a fire?
  4. Jerusalem, the special city on the hill-top, the place of the Temple and ‘dwelling place’ of God is often pictured in the Old Testament as a ‘light’ for the world. It is ridiculous to light a lamp and then ‘hide it’ under your bed. A light guides. Welcomes. Protects. Shows a pathway. Stops us knocking into sharp objects in the dark! ‘Jerusalem’ is the ‘church’ but also the ‘individual Christian disciple’. How can your ‘light’ be uncovered? What ‘good deeds’ have you always wanted to do? What would you like to do so that others may give praise and thanks to God for your life?
  5. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

 

Download Reflection Document – 3rd Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. The Prophet Isaiah remarks that the land called ‘District of the Gentiles’ (the area around the sea of Galilee)  will see ‘a great light’. Imagine a small narrow road linking one part of the world with the other. This is the ‘Holy Land’ (Israel). It was a very busy trading route. Consequently there were many ‘foreigners’. For Jewish people it sometimes felt like a curse. However in God’s plan the light shines brighter in the darkness. Have you ever experienced being lost in darkness and then helped by a light? What happened. What is Isaiah trying to teach us about God?
  2. St Paul continues his writing to the people of Corinth. He is upset that their witness and service to Christ has turned towards arguments rather than charity. Have you ever felt a group of people wanting you to ‘belong’ to ‘their idea’? Have you had an experience of ‘division’ in the community or workplace or parish, people claiming the same purpose but not united in ‘mind’? Did you seek to understand ‘both sides’ and seek unity, or, did you grow division?
  3. Today in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus leaves his home town of Nazareth and arrives in Galilee. Fulfilling the 1st Reading prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus spends most of his 3 years of public ministry between 3 towns in Galilee. As the new year begins do you feel it is time to leave your ‘Nazareth’, your place of comfort, and enter ‘Galilee’ to undertake a new challenge? How could you be a light to ‘people who sit in darkness’? Those overshadowed by death, sickness, sadnees?
  4.  In the time of Jesus, the phrase Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God were special. Everyone was waiting for the time when God would finally overcome the power of evil. Essentially Jesus begins preaching a ‘wake up’ call: ‘change your mind (repent), take notice, God is now showing victory over evil! This is the good news. Have you ever noticed Jesus both preaches and heals. Words and actions go together. How does your life bring the kingdom of heaven and contribute to the overcoming of evil? Is your faith words and actions?
  5.  Fishing was the main industry around the sea of Galilee. Peter, Andrew, James and John were probably not ‘poor’. Boats, nets, family, work colleagues, commitments and bank accounts are significant for them (and us!). Yet they are placed second to Jesus’ invitation to follow. Is the presence of your life curing and comforting (disease and illness?) or comfortable and callous? If you had to write a sentence of what you thought God would personally like you to do / be, what would you write?
  6.  What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 29th Sunday 

Reflection Questions

  1. The Amelekites 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? Can you remember an experience where you recognised the power of prayer?
  2. Moses, the leader of Godʼs people is getting tired. He needs Aaron and Hur to support his hands. Who do you recognise 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 identify with? What is the next step for you in public leadership in the Church?
  3. It is 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 great faith witness to you from your infancy?
  4. Scripture is inspired by God – literally ʻGod breathed! – and is able to continually inspire, encourage and challenge in a living way at every reading. Can you remember an experience when the word made you uncomfortable? Convinced you about some teaching? Challenged you deeply? Encouraged and comforted you?
  5. Jesus paints a picture of a ʻmeanʼ judge who does not listen or care about anyone. Jesus is saying that God is NOT like this judge. Evil as the judge is, he responds to the persistent prayer and is fearful of the widow who will (in Greek) ʻstrike me and give me a black eyeʼ! Jesus encourages us. God is not someone who we need to ʻwear downʼ by our constant prayer. We are to trust in God as a loving parent. Have you moved from ʻpraying with lots of wordsʼ to ʻpraying with lots of silenceʼ? What does the image of a baby silent in a parents arms symbolise for you?
  6. Widows were not allowed to inherit their husbands 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. Silent. Jesusʼ parable reveals that God is on the side of the poor and listens to their prayers. Wow to those who allow the world to remain for many an unjust and inhospitable place. Have you ever raised your voice for the cause of justice? What area of need or justice project has caught your attention recently. What could you do to be involved?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 26th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Amos continues his public speech in Jerusalem against the incredibly wealthy who are so ʻsatisfiedʼ with beautiful beds, couches, food, wine, music concerts, beauty oils and cosmetics. ʻThey are not made ill by the collapse of their fellow people (Joseph)ʼ. How does wealth manage to create a ʻblindnessʼ to the poor? Can you remember any experience where you had your eyes opened to the cry of the poor? What happened?
  2. Godʼs covenantal relationship in Dt 15:4 stated that ʻthere should be no poor among you because the Lord will richly bless youʼ. Implied in this is the richly blessed sharing with others to ensure all are looked after. Have you realised a christian religious commitment / covenant also involves a social obligation / covenant toward the ʻpoorʼ? How are you currently expressing this commitment in your lifestyle?
  3. Some scholars consider this passage from the Letter to Timothy could come from an Ordination Ceremony. Do you have ʻcourage under fireʼ, like Jesus before Pontius Pilate, to give your testimony and confess your faith in the most difficult of circumstances? Where and when do you find it hard?
  4. Purple clothing was the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth because its source was a rare shellfish and insect being crushed. It was the ultimate in ʻbrandedʼ clothing to distinguish a person who had wealth. What symbols of wealth are worn or shown today? Do you belong to this ʻsystemʼ? What does it mean to you?
  5. The Great Reversal of fortunes is a theme of the Gospel of Luke. The Rich will be brought low, the poor will be lifted up. However it is not riches themselves that are the problem (Abraham himself was a very rich man!). It is the cycle of wealth to so preoccupy and claim ones attention and energy so that the needs of others go unnoticed. The rich man does know Lazarus because he calls out his name. However there is a failure of conversion. He cannot bring himself to share of his wealth. The Rich Man claims he did not have a warning that this reversal would happen. If this parable truly describes what will happen in the after-life, what does it demand of you? What would it take for your to ʻshare your wealthʼ? Have you given generously to the poor recently? Have you considered the difference between charity and true justice?
  6. The Parable of Lazarus could illustrate our Eucharistic Communities. We who are richly blessed, in our best Sunday clothes, celebrating in our liturgy Godʼs great blessing and Eucharistic Banquet, while there are so many poor sitting in the nearby streets and alley-ways. Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, refuses to allow his disciples to feel comfortable and satisfied with the default settings of the world. The costly and inclusive hospitality of God is something we are called to witness to. What obstacle to a deeper conversion to the poor sits in your way?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?