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Posts Tagged ‘lent’

Download 5th Sunday Lent

Reflection Questions

  1. Ezekiel is an interesting person. He was both a prophet and a priest. He was also taken away with the first group of Israelites into exile. He shares a positive and hopeful message to his people. God will turn this situation around. Name a difficult struggle you experience in your life. Can you see a slow transformation and wisdom in the midst of your suffering? What does the deep voice of the spirit invite you to do so you can ‘rise from your grave’?
  2. St Paul uses the word ‘flesh’ (sarx) to mean people who have a self-centred orientation towards the world. Frequently those who live this way make themselves, their senses and pleasure, their ‘idol’ / god. Those who live directed by the spirit of Christ are turned outward in love and ‘self-lessness’. Ponder the powerful bodily image of arms wrapped around yourself tightly, or arms open and outstretched in embrace of the world. How do you live your life? How is your almsgiving this lent?
  3. In the Gospel of John Jesus performs 7 signs. Each sign is a fulfillment of a Messianic hope from the Old Testament. Each sign reveals the presence of God in Jesus. Today is the 7th and most important sign. Jesus overcomes death. And only God can overcome death! Place yourself in this gospel story. If you were really there in this scene what questions would you ask? What would you believe from this experience?
  4. Martha’s questions reveal a growing knowledge of who Jesus really is. She begins with Jesus as someone close to God – “whatever you ask, God will give to you.” Jesus responds to Mary’s belief in the resurrection on the last day with a powerful statement: Mary, the one who is in charge of the resurrection is looking at you! I AM the resurrection and the life. And to prove it, Jesus raises Lazarus. What does Jesus wish to reveal to Mary? Do you see the ‘sign’ and believe what it is pointing to?
  5. The Rabbi’s believed and taught that the spirit and breath of life hovered around a dead body for three days. Waiting for 4 days can be understood as Jesus ensuring everyone knew Lazarus had truly died.  Twice Jesus is ‘perturbed’ or angry that someone he loves has been tied hand and foot and buried. (A symbol of what sin and death can do to us.) Untie him and let him go becomes a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s promise (1st reading) and an image of what Jesus can do personally for each disciple. What tomb am I in? What cloths bind me up? Who might God be using to ‘take away the stone’ blocking me from joy and life?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 4th Sunday Lent Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. Anointing with oil and ‘eyes being opened’ are part of the special journey in Lent for candidates asking for baptism at Easter. For those already baptized, these readings teach us about the deep meaning of our own baptism.
  2. Samuel was the young boy who sat in the temple and was taught how to listen to God’s voice. He became one of the greatest prophets because ‘he never let a word spoken to him by God fall to the ground’. Today he is told by God to do a very dangerous action – high treason! While King Saul was still alive, Samuel was to go to Bethlehem and anoint another King. Are you open to being shocked by what God plans for you? Samuel was told to fill his horn with oil and go… what do you think God is asking of you?
  3.  Samuel had previously anointed King Saul who was tall and handsome ‘head and shoulder above the rest’. He may have been tempted, or had truly learnt a lesson not to judge a person by their ‘appearance’. God sees beyond appearance into a persons heart. Identify someone you are judging by ‘appearance’ and practice noticing their ‘heart’.
  4. St Paul writes about the difference in a persons life before knowing Jesus. Imagine you are in an unfamiliar house and need to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Not knowing where the light switch is you knock into chairs and hard edged furniture. You walk slowly and carefully. Now, turn the light switch on and you walk differently. Peacefully. Confidently. ‘Arise…from death and darkness, Christ will give you light’. Imagine the experience of being blind and then being able to see. This was the experience the early church said happened through Baptism preparation for each adult.
  5. Around the year 85-90 Jewish Christians were excluded from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The man born blind became a very special story and symbol of life being changed by Jesus. The blind man considers Jesus a ‘man’. Then recognizes him as a ‘prophet’. Finally he believes Jesus to be truly the Son of Man – the promised Messiah (anointed one). He calls him Lord (the name of God) and worships him. As a result the blind man becomes rejected by the Pharisees, his family and the community’. They threw him out…. How has your faith journey grown in understanding of Jesus? Would you be willing to endure rejection or persecution for your belief? What do you think happened to the blind man? Can you identify with any of his Christian experience?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 3rd Sunday Lent

Reflection Questions

  1. ‘A goal without a plan is still a dream’. Reflect on your experience of Lent so far. How would you evaluate your Lenten journey and commitment? What has worked well and could be practised more?
  2. People ‘grumbled’. Moses, heavy with the experience of leading God’s people is frightened he will get stones thrown at him! Wisdom is shared with Moses. Go ahead of the people with some wise people. Get away from the grumbling voices. Do grumbling or criticizing voices pull you down and make you feel sad? How could you walk away from complaining voices this Lent, select some ‘wisdom voices’ (elders), and get on with the job of providing water for people to drink and survive?
  3.  St Paul paints a picture for our imagination. Have you ever had someone love you and show continued kindness even when you were rebelling against them? Imagine if this person was willing to ‘die’ to ‘win you over’? Have you ever considered just how precious and ‘loveable’ you are that God would be willing to die for you? This historical event is located at the cross. Consider visiting a catholic church and spending time with the ‘stations of the cross’.
  4. Samaritans were considered unclean and unworthy because they were historically Jewish people that had inter-married with non believers in the area of Samaria. Jews would normally avoid close contact and speech with Samaritans and refused to allow them into the temple in Jerusalem. A conversation begins around ‘water’ a symbol of the life-giving relationship with God. In the ‘heat of the day’ where do you go to find rest and water? What is your ‘Jacobs well’?
  5. It is possible that the Samaritan woman has chosen to collect water at the most inconvenient time under the midday sun to avoid the company of other women. Has she had experiences of rejection or gossip? Life has been hard for her. She wants to ‘never be thirsty or have to keep coming here’. This Lent ask yourself the two deep questions of spiritual direction: What do you want? Where do you hurt? Consider writing in a special journal your answers to these two special questions.
  6.  Some scripture scholars suggest that the 5 husbands the woman has already had, is actually the 5 different ‘gods’ which have influenced the Samaritans by their inter-marriage with ‘outsiders’ and their ‘gods’. Jesus says He is ‘I AM’ which is the Divine Name given by God to Moses. What do you think this means?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Ash Wednesday

Reflection Questions:

  1. Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by and one has not placed oneself on the ‘starting line’ to begin the journey. Taking part in the reception of the ashes symbolises starting the journey. It is possible to appear at the starting line but not enter the race. What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? Share a decision and plan with a faith-friend and ask for them to cheer you on over the next 40 days.
  2. The image from the prophet Joel is an invitation for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies. Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. How could you ‘stop’? Where? When? The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Pray for the whole christian church throughout the world during the season of renewed faithfulness in turning from sin and being faithful to the Gospel.
  3. Imagine being an ‘Ambassador’. The responsibility and challenge of representing and delivering important communication. If you accepted the job your witness and life-style would be challenged to be in harmony with your message. Jesus gives his disciples an ambassadors task of proclaiming ‘on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God’. Will you, as an ambassador, receive the sacrament of reconciliation during this season of Lent?
  4. Jesus does not ask, but presumes that a disciple will do certain actions. When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast…. These traditional lenten practices are powerful practices that help us to clearly focus on what is important. Prayer: What voices do you listen to? Fasting: What things fill your life?Almsgiving: Do you hear the cries of those in need and respond?
  5. Jesus emphasises doing these actions in ‘secret’ will be ‘repaid’ by God. ‘In secret’ guards us from seeking attention and personal ‘glory’ from others. Lent is not to turn into a shallow show. Do not be afraid to share your secret lent journey with a friend – and encourage your friend into the depths rather than the surface show.
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ 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?

KBg8C2Download 3rd Sunday Lent Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. In the Lenten journey, God offers Moses a sacred meeting in the desert. God attracts Moses with the burning bush and gives Moses the Divine Name – I AM WHO I AM (translated in Hebrew Yaweh). When someone shares their name with you what does this mean? How have you encountered God so far during Lent?
  2. When we listen to God we face a similar choice to Moses: take on the role of passive spectator OR assume the role of a history making change agent. Moses shared with God that he felt too weak and unable to talk properly. God told Moses to get Aaron to help him. What challenging invitation has God shared with you lately? Who might you ask to help you be obedient to fulfilling Godʼs will?
  3. The Corinthian community was becoming comfortable. They assumed that receiving Baptism and celebrating Eucharist was all one needed to be ʻsavedʼ. St Paul reminds them of the dangers of ʻpresuming salvationʼ. Our Hebrew ancestors did this and they ʻwere struck down in the desertʼ. This is a warning. We need to continually try to co- operate with God. Are you feeling ʻcomfortableʼ in your faith? What lifestyle choice or action could you make to show a radical following of Jesus?
  4. The theme of Godʼs judgment enters the Luke Gospel passage for Lent. Pilate had killed religious revolutionaries from Galilee while they were offering sacrifices to God in the temple and this event was compared to a tower falling over near the Temple (pool of Siloam) killing 18 people. They asked Jesus if these people were sinners and God was punishing them. Jesus provides a shocking answer. We are all going to die and receive judgment before God. It is urgent and your first concern to be found ʻreadyʼ. Are you ready to die? Why not?
  5. The fig tree is a symbol of the promised Land and is the only tree mentioned in the garden of Eden. It was symbolic of the blessings of God. The fig and olive trees were also symbols of God’s people. In this parable Jesus invites the listener to be ʻthe fig treeʼ. Interestingly, it normally took about 3 years for a fig tree to bear fruit. The first year of fruit was then given to God at the Temple. Can you sense the urgency on waiting for the fig tree ‘to bear fruit’? After waiting 3 years a logical and good farmer would cut it down. It is wasting soil. And it would be another 3 years ‘waiting’ for fruit. By Godʼs mercy it is allowed 1 more year – but the fig tree is still ʻunder judgmentʼ. Consider if you were given the ʻgift of another yearʼ before meeting God and being ‘fruitful’.
  6. In ancient times people thought natural disaster was God punishing people for ‘sin’ and wrong doing. Jesus says God does not operate this way. Jesus shares the importance of people moving away from sin and unhelpful patterns of guilt and blame. Repent means literally ‘to turn your life around’. What would you like to turn ‘from’ and ‘to’?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download Reflection 2nd Sunday Lent Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. At first glance, Abraham’s willingness to kill his son Isaac looks like murder. A deeper reflection leads us to recognise what is involved in offering a ‘sacrifice’. Abraham’s hope and future promise for many descendants is in Isaac. Abraham places his life and future in the hands of God. A ‘test’ for Abraham has found him ‘worthy’ and completely abandoned and obedient to whatever God will ask. Has God called you to do something? Have you delayed? Why does God invite followers to ‘give up’ things we hold so tightly?
  2. Some scholars suggest that this special ‘high place’ where Abraham was to offer Isaac was the actual site of the 1st Temple of Solomon. High places were often on ‘mountains’ and were ‘meeting places with God’. Where is your ‘high place’ and what ‘offering’ or ‘sacrifice’ could you offer to God showing you yield to God’s will for your life in total trust?
  3. St Paul encourages us to enter our imagination to feel how great God’s love must be. Have you ever had a friend or family show great generosity in buying or doing something for you? That ‘proof’ of their love allows you to deeply know they are ‘for’ you. If God did not spare his own Son, there is nothing more he could give to show the depth of his love. Does this give you confidence? To ask? Love?
  4. The Transfiguration is in the middle of Mark’s gospel. It is time to go deeper. Jesus has just challenged disciples to be willing to ‘give up your life’(8,34-35) for his cause. They probably want ‘proof’ that it will be ‘worth it’. Jesus shows disciples his divinity (dazzling white as a sign of God’s presence) and authority (Moses and Elijah both spoke to God face to face on special mountains). He is truly the Son of God! Persecution and even death will be moments of persecutors merely bringing judgement upon themselves as against God, and will be a doorway for a disciple into heaven and victory. Do you overly spiritualize the phrase ‘deny oneself’? Is Lent about punishing the body or a transformed lifestyle and society confronting injustice? How much ‘cost’ are you willing to endure? How could you ‘give alms’ to lift up those in need this Lent?
  5. The presence of God – like a cloud covering the Mountain to speak face to face with Moses – speaks. We are not simply to gaze or adore, but LISTEN TO HIM. How could you more faithfully ‘listen’ to Jesus in prayer this Lent? What has worked? What has not worked?
  6. Fasting has often been a spiritual practice that intensifies within our bodies a focus, a need, a prayer, a request, a cause. What or Who could you fast From or For?
  7. How will you ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download 1st Sunday Lent Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The season of Lent begins with the receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday. If you were not able to attend Ash Wednesday ask your priest if he could mark the ashes on your forehead with a prayer on Sunday. Or you may consider placing your thumb in soil and marking yourself with the sign of the cross. It takes a physical experience to remind us of something beginning. Consider Ash Wednesday like arriving at the starting line of a race. We need to be present and committed – when the starting gun goes off we need ‘begin’ the journey to the finish line of Easter. Are you psychologically ‘ready’? What will the spiritual practices of ‘Prayer’ ‘Fasting’ and ‘Alms-Giving’ involve for your daily / weekly routine?
  2. In the season of Lent, the First and Gospel readings are not specifically linked, but independently teach us a truth about God and ourselves. The word describing the ‘Ark’ built by Noah, is also used for the ark carrying baby moses to safety, the ark holding the special tablets of the commandments and symbolic of the Ark of the Church. God has made a covenant / promise to protect and be with those who belong to him. Have you ever had an experience or sign showing God’s protection for you? Can you see the Church as an ‘Ark’ today? How?
  3. The Second readings of Lent teach us the meaning of Baptism. The cleansing of Baptism waters is not washing away physical dirt, but literally a ‘putting away of filth’ as one now living in Christ. Lent becomes a time of renewed effort in living our christian identity. What do you recognise needs to be ‘put away’ from your life? What is the first step on this journey?
  4. Jesus responded to the Spirits inspiration into the Desert. To help create a prayer-full lent, what place and time each day can you identify that will work for you? How could you symbolise beginning this journey?
  5. Being in the desert for 40 days links to Israel being in the desert for 40 years. A time of testing, proving loyalty, closer union with God. As Adults, Lent is not a season for child-like practices of giving up lollies. It is a journey facing struggle and sin, being ‘tested’, proving my loyalty to God. Is my Lenten commitment serious enough? Do I consider it will bring me closer to God?
  6. “The angels ministered to him.” God does not leave us alone. Angels are provided. Literally, Angels mean ‘good message bearers’. In my Lenten journey and wilderness experience who are some ‘angels’ that God may have already placed in my life to support me but I have not responded to. Is there someone you could ask to accompany you on your journey of Lent? It could be just the help you need!
  7. Repent and believe the gospel. This is Jesus’ first public words ever spoken. The greek word is metanoia – change, physically turn your life around. What do I know needs to change to find wholeness in my life?
  8. How will you ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download document: Palm sunday Yr C
Reflection question 4: Palm Sunday is also called ‘Passion’ Sunday as we listen to the whole story of Jesus’ 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 ‘victim’?

The Readings for the Holy Week ceremonies can be found here:

Holy Thursday:

Good Friday

Easter Vigil

Download: 5th Sunday Lent of Year C

Reflection question 5: Sexual sin is personal, embarassing, and can be a guilt ridden experience. Everyone expected ‘judgment’ of the woman but Jesus lead everyone into ‘enlightenment’. Consider your personal struggle with human weakness. Instead of judgment, consider what you are ‘learning’ about yourself? How could you move from guilt toward wisdom in this area of your life?

  • Please note. 2010 involves Year C readings on Sunday. However during Lent for the purpose of teaching the candidates who are going to be baptised at Easter you may find your parish using different readings (Year A for a few Sundays). To view the Year A Readings follow this link