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Posts Tagged ‘livingtheword’

Discussion Guide:   20th Sunday Year B – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Assumption of Mary in Art : Icons, Modern, Classical | Assumption of mary, Spiritual art, Blessed mother mary

Reflection  Questions:  • The Assumption of Mary. This doctrine doesn’t simply mean ‘there’s something special about Mary’. Profoundly it affirms something special about humanity. Pope Pius XII asked all Bishops in 1950 if their congregations believed that Mary was assumed into heaven; 98 percent answered ‘Yes’. God spoke through the sense of the ʻfaithfulʼ to affirm Maryʼs assumption. It does not mean she never died but after her ʻsleepingʼ or ‘dormition’ she was taken body and soul into heaven. This was celebrated in the East since ca. A.D.600, and in the West by that centuries end.

• Early Church fathers called Mary the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ seen in the first reading in heaven, even as she once held the fullness of God in her womb and in her arms on earth. The reading also depicts the figure of ʻIsraelʼ – Godʼs People – His Bride – His Church and Mary as a ‘type’ or figure for the church and each Christian who births Christ in their life. The Church births disciples in conflict with the dragon who has many faces. The Roman Empire sought to crush Christianity, Jewish leaders persecuted the new Christian sect. Reading the passage with this background what strikes you? What face of the dragon tries to ʻdevourʼ your discipleship? How has salvation and the power of the Kingdom of God impacted your life?

• On Special Solemnities the selection of readings seeks to teach deep truths of faith. St Paul writes of the first-fruits, the first offering back to God. Jesus rises first… and then each one in proper order those who belong to Christ. Just as Jesus saves us and cleanses us from original sin through Baptism, He saved Mary and cleansed her from sin from the moment of her conception. As an all-holy vessel she could bear Christ and give him the fullness of humanity. As she knew no corruption of sin in her earthly life, her body was not subject to corruption in the grave and Christ was able to bear her up to be with Him in Heaven. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”. What is your response to Mary being ʻtaken upʼ as a first-fruit of Christ’s salvation? What hope does it enliven in you? What does the Assumption of Mary mean personally?

• The historical site of the Visitation is in the small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem called ʻEin Karemʼ. In the Church of the Visitation there are large bronze figures of Mary and Elizabeth, their pregnancy bumps almost touching as they greet each other. A conversation happens between them, but also between John and Jesus. The First Testament meets the New Testament. Zechariah, the high priestly family, the Jewish priesthood, meets the new Priesthood of Christ. Godʼs promises are fulfilled. The long waiting of the Old Testament is now turned to ʻleaping for joyʼ. The Ark of the Covenant which King David ʻleaped for joyʼ before (2 Sam 6,5) is now fulfilled with John leaping for Joy before Mary, bearing Christ and the new covenantʼ. In the baby, and the disciple John, we see our own encounter with Christ ‘hidden’ in the Eucharist, and in our encounters with others? What image strikes you the most? What could it teach you for your life?

• Mary’s Magnificat is a radical prophetic victory cry, a promise of the reversal of fortunes for all who are saved. Mary is from a humble rural town, yet sings of ‘great things done for meʼ. In Christ the world is irrevocably transformed. In this prophetic prayer we hear the mission that Jesus is to accomplish. What does lifting the lowly, casting down the mighty and the ‘promise’ mean for you?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    19th Sunday Year B: Sealed and fed to thrive!

 

Tom on Twitter: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the

Reflection Questions:

• The continuing theme of being ‘fed by God’ is developed in the readings this week. Elijah sits exhausted under a tree in the desert. He is being hunted down by Princess Jezebel who was married to the King of Israel. She tried to replace all prophets and temples of Yahweh by importing 450 prophets and followers of B’aal from her homeland in Sidon. Elijah has just killed them all and is now on the run! (see 1Kings 18, 19-46). Have you ever got into difficulty as a result of obedience to God? Have you ever said to God: ‘this is enough’? Is there any painful purifying of the Church that you find particularly difficult to participate in and endure?

• God encourages Elijah not to focus upon his own pain and fear. God wants to offer food and strength for the “40 day” journey ahead. Do you tend to focus on your own pain and mumble and groan? How could you develop a habit of being open to help and ‘being fed’? God wishes us to move from simply ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’. If you were to ask God or someone for help, what would be your question in one sentence? How could you grow your hunger so you experience being ‘fed’ with scripture and the eucharist?

• St Paul teaches that we were ‘sealed’ at our Baptism. A ‘seal’ was a special jewel or stone or metal cylinder marked with a ʻsignʼ and pressed upon clay or wax orobject. The ʻmark – sealʼ indicated  the owners signature, ownership, authority on a legal document or object. The link between the person and / or object was now displayed to the world. As ʻsealedʼ people we are to witness to whom we belong. Paul inserts attributes displaying God; kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Are you conscious of being ʻsealedʼ? Is there any anger or bitterness the spirit would like you to let go of so as not to ʻgrieve the spiritʼ dwelling in you?

• Jewish people often referred to their ʻlawsʼ as ʻbread from heavenʼ. Their laws and teachings from Moses gave them life and revealed God to them. They grumble and ʻmurmurʼ at Jesusʼ claim: I am the bread that comes down from Heaven. Hidden within this phrase Jesus is claiming the Divine Name ʻI AMʼ and to replace the ʻlawʼ. He teaches further that he is true life-giving ʻbreadʼ but that ʻbreadʼ will now be replaced with ʻfleshʼ. John presents clearly the levels of meaning: Bread. Jesus. Flesh. Can you see in this text of John 6 the threads of our belief that in the Eucharist / Mass it is truly the ʻfleshʼ of Jesus we receive? Do you recognise the invitation following reception of Jesus to now become ʻlife-for-the-worldʼ?

• The only way God can be truly revealed is someone must come from God and live among us. This is indeed the great religious hope of the Jewish people. However they become satisfied with the laws of God and were not ready to accept the ʻpersonʼ of God. Jesus claims he is this person truly ʻfromʼ God, has ʻseenʼ God. This is the claim of Christianity that sets us apart from other world religions. Because Jesus is divine – God – among – us what he promises to give us – his flesh and blood – he can and will do. As we approach the end of 5 weeks of teaching on the Eucharist consider prayerfully reading John 6. How would you explain the Eucharist now in your own words?

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

Discussion Guide:  17th Sunday Year B – Give Freely and See God Work

 

 

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry | Kaukauna Catholic Parishes

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, workplace. How could you practice unity creating virtues: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with, striving to preserve unity, maintaining a ʻbond of peaceʼ? 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 feeing the 5,000. The story of Jesus feeding with ʻbreadʼ 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), fragments (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 prophetʼ 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:      16th Sunday Year B – Mission and Rest with Jesus

 

Mark 6,30-34 | Digital Catholic Missionaries (DCM)

Reflection Questions:  • Jeremiah had witnessed over 10 years Jerusalem being captured, the Holy Temple destroyed and God’s people walked out of their land into exile. Jeremiah’s early message and warning to the King and people had been ignored. The King even burnt Jeremiah’s first manuscript of writings and warnings! Jeremiah spoke to the ‘Shepherds’ – Priests and Rulers of Israel and told them they were at fault for not helping people remain close to God. Their ‘lack of care’ caused people to be ‘scattered’. What qualities do you wish to see in your Leaders? ‘Priests’? How could you encourage them in their responsibility as shepherds? Does ‘leadership’ also require ‘followship’?

• St Paul is the great teacher of how Jews and Gentiles – two peoples who were very ‘distant’ and ‘dis-liking’ of each other – have become one family through Jesus. How? The laws teaching Jews to be ‘separate’ from everyone else have now been completed and ‘abolished’. The purpose of the ‘laws’ was to be close to God. The ‘blood of christ’ has now become the forgiving sacrifice given by God to show all sin and ‘distance’ has been removed. And this applies to everyone. Jews and Greeks (Gentiles). Have you had any experience that united you to many people? Do you recognise this takes place profoundly at Mass?

• Can you identify any barriers of culture, language, fear, perception that has stopped you feeling and living as a ʻbrother or sisterʼ with someone different from you? What would be required to ʻput that enmity (obstacle causing hostility) to death? Is there a ʻcleanʼ ʻuncleanʼ distinction at the root of the problem? What do you think St Paul would say?

• Today is the only time in the Gospel of Mark the word ʻApostlesʼ is used. It means ʻones sentʼ. We come ʻfromʼ someone and ʻreportʼ back to someone. Disciples are missioned by Jesus and need to return to Jesus. Jesus ʻtakes them to a deserted placeʼ. So excited, so busy ʻthey had no opportunity even to eatʼ, Jesus guides his disciples toward rest. Do you consider you have a healthy balance of ʻwork and restʼ? Where is your ʻdeserted placeʼ? What is the most enjoyable way you find to ʻrestʼ? Jewish people connected ʻrestʼ with ʻsabbathʼ. Are you allowing Sunday to be experience of real ʻrestʼ?

• Imagine a close family and personal friend has died. A busy atmosphere at home or work. People demanding many things. While wanting to rest, there is a vast crowd needing you. Jesus was ʻmoved with pityʼ. The word is translated also as compassion – mercy – which has its origin in the Jewish word for ʻwombʼ. What does this teach about Jesus? Can you relate to this experience? When have you ʻfedʼ people with your life, words, presence? What happened?

• This passage of Jesus teaching a large crowd will lead to his feeding the Jewish crowds (Mark 6) and the Gentile crowds (Mark 8). To teach us more about this the next 5 Sundays will jump into the Gospel of John chapter 6. Jesus, the Righteous Shepherd and True King of Israel will feed all people with the Eucharist. The Bread from Heaven. Consider a personal decision how you could learn more about the Eucharist over the next 5 weeks. Prayerfully reflect on John 6.

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

Discussion Guide:  15th Sunday Yr. B – Jesus Empowers Us to Build His Kingdom

 

Morning Prayer: 04 February – Mark 6:7-13 ~ repent and believe – The Peanut Gallery

Reflection Questions:  • Amos was a curious character. His ‘job’ had been to cut and prune trees. But he decided to go to the Bethel ‘Shrine’ (think National Cathedral) and declare that while the country was not at war – and wealth was increasing – the poor were being oppressed. Because God’s will was often spoken through ‘prophet’s’, a King would carefully silence this prophetic voice by putting priests and prophets working in the national shrine ‘on the pay-roll’. Amos declares enough is enough! The Priest of Bethel, Amaziah, wants Amos to ‘go away’. Amos declares ‘I am not corrupt and ‘paid off’ like you. In the wealthy-and oppressed debate today, who is an ‘Amos’ you know? Who is an ‘Amaziah’ you know? What do you say about the issues affecting the poor when it is raised in conversation?

• Paul’s letter to the Ephesians can be understood as a collection of hymns and prayers used in the early liturgy of the Church. Consider the beauty of this prayer. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing.You are chosen to be holy and pure. You have been adopted into God’s family. You have been forgiven and washed clean from all sin by the blood of Jesus. You exist for the praise of God. You have heard the word of truth. You have been sealed and marked and indwelt by the holy spirit. Which idea in this prayer speaks deeply to you?

• At the beginning of the Gospel of Mark a very clear pattern of events takes place with Jesus. Everywhere. Everyday. Jesus casts out evil. The kingdom of God is more than an idea. It is to be an experience where good replaces evil. After his own townspeople of Nazareth refuse to believe in him, instead of sulking and being limited by their rejection, he calls ʻtwelveʼ to go out with power to cast out evil. Jesus empowers others to become ʻlikeʼ him. Have you experienced a moment of decision: Shall I react and let myself become ʻsmallʼ or be proactive and allow myself to become ʻbigʼ? How can you work toward becoming a kingdom person of ʻhealing and curingʼ?

• The lifestyle of the disciple is significant. We are to live as Jesus lived. Only wandering missionary items were to be taken – sandals and walking stick. An extra tunic was frequently used as a tent to keep one warm for the night. No extra signs of wealth or comfort. No ʻhousehopping ʼ when the food or bedroom may not be great. Disciples were to witness to a life-style that revealed the concerns of the kingdom, not concerns of comfort. Are you concerned or comfortable? Is life becoming cluttered with Items at the expense of Interest at taking ʻauthority over unclean spiritsʼ?

• A missionary disciple can become worried or saddened they are not welcomed or listened to. Jesus tells them they can adopt the Jewish practice of ʻdusting their shoesʼ. Jewish people on returning from a gentile land into the ʻholy landʼ dusted their feet at the border crossing. They symbolically ʻshook offʼ any rejection of God from unbelievers. Is there a rejection experience you are still trying to work through and ʻshake offʼ?

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

Dear Living the Word subscribers,

Thank you for your commitment to Living the Word.

Sadly your weekly email email of our Scripture reflection for the following Sunday could be interrupted from 1 July because the provider is making changes.  They advised that it should not impact subscribers, but to be cautious we are letting you know just in case your weekly email notice and link is interrupted.

We do not keep your information. So if you stop getting the email, please contact us on nzlivingtheword@gmail.com and add ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line. Your comments about the Scripture reflections are always welcome also.

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We apologize for this potential disruption and look forward to continuing to share the Word with you.

Blessings for July which is Bible Month.

Bev McDonald

Living the Word Administrator.

Discussion Guide:   14th Sunday Yr. B – Remain ‘open’ to Jesus

 

DailyDevo | Mark 6:1-6 | Envy is a powerful emotion. It prevented the people of Nazareth from embracing Jesus. We see someon… | Daily devotional, Humility, Blessed

Reflection Questions:

• Ezekiel worked as a Priest in the Temple before being exiled with Israelites into Babylon. It was here, in a distant land, he experienced the spirit enter him and raise him to his feet to ‘speak’. It was not a popular message; the cause of their exile and punishment was due to their unfaithfulness to God. Have you experienced being moved from a ‘comfortable’ to an ‘uncomfortable’ place? Have you felt the spirit strengthen you for a new and difficult challenge? How do you think Ezekiel felt knowing the outcome of his words was uncertain… will they heed or resist?

• Today we reflect on a deep and personal self revelation of St Paul. It is uncertain if the ‘thorn’ (translated also as stake’) was a physical ailment, disease, depression. Was it constant persecution? Lust? Upset with being ‘short’? It is probably helpful we do not know as we can now all symbolically identify with Paul in our own personal experience of ‘pain’. What would you humbly own as your ‘thorn’? Some spiritual writers suggest the first deep question of spiritual direction is: where are you hurting? Boast comes from the word meaning ‘having your head held high’, from a position of understanding. Have you shared this with anyone. Would you like to receive encouragement to move from pain to boasting, and being accepting of your weakness?

• Jesus returns home to Nazareth and experiences rejection. Mark, the earliest gospel writer clearly describes the lack of faith of Jewish people and the Synagogue toward Jesus. At home in Nazareth they are attracted to his teaching but take offense (skandalizmai – scandalised) and even make a negative remark calling him ʻSon of Maryʼ. It was normal to refer to someone only using the title of ʻSon of Joseph- Fatherʼ. They are objecting to the uncertain origin of Jesus. Can you glimpse the pain and rejection of Jesus at home, with his own family members? Have you had a personal experience of rejection. Lack of belief in you. ʻCutting you downʼ. ʻPutting you into a boxʼ? How did you react? How does Jesus react? Are you curious as to what Jesus does next?

• The three readings today highlight a theme of ʻif only …ʼ. If only people would listen (Ezekiel)… If only I didnʼt have this personal difficulty (St Paul)… If only my family and friends would believe in me (Jesus)…. Difficult circumstances can shut us down, take away our energy. We need another source of energy and identity. The spirit sustained Ezekiel, Paul, Jesus to respond positively not negatively. Consider naming your challenges and decide on positive solutions. How do you overcome the ʻNazareth syndromeʼ?

• It is mysterious how Jesus ʻwas not able to perform any mighty deed thereʼ. Have you ever decided about someone and your mind and heart becomes ʻclosedʼ and not ʻopenʼ to that person? The relationship now becomes ʻstuckʼ in possibility and expectation. We bring the closed door and negative view into each conversation and meeting. How open are you to Jesus? Pray for an open mind and heart to see signs and wonders and glimpses of the kingdom at work in daily events. How are you seeking to grow your faith and relationship with Jesus?

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

 

 

Arise: Desire Leads to Faith and Action. Discussion Guide is Here

See the source image

Reflection Questions.

• The book of Wisdom has Jewish wisdom teachings written when Jews were living amidst Greek culture and philosophy. Death is pondered. Physical death does not cause an end to God’s relationship with those who belong to him. What connections do you see with the Gospel where Jairus’ daughter is raised to life? Have you reflected on creation lately? Consider what it means to be made ‘in the image of God’? If all creation belongs to God, and is gifted to us as our home, how should we treat and care for it?

• St Paul, wrote to the Corinthian church asking for money for the poor church in Jerusalem. His fund-raising pitch was ‘the gracious act’ of Jesus who in his divinity was ‘rich’, yet for our sake ‘became poor’.
Paul calls this Kenosis -self emptying. As Christians we are called to live this model of generous self gift. Our surplus is not for us to store away but so that the needs of others are met. Disciples are called to live
generously and work for human equality. Ponder how much Jesus ‘let go’ by taking on our human condition and suffering death? Some Christians are so deeply called to imitate this, that they choose voluntary poverty. How much you need to live on? What do you do with ‘surplus’? How do you respond to the needs of others as an individual? As a church community? How might living this generosity for the poor, witness to the love and self-gift of Christ today?

•The Gospel has two stories of great faith. Jairus was a leader at the Synagogue. It took great courage for him to approach Jesus as he could lose his job for seeking help from an outsider. He humbles himself and pleads for his sick daughter. Have you ever wanted to ask for help but were too embarrassed? What really holds you back? Notice that in the scriptures healing often calls for faith and action – not just prayer alone? What healing do you seek? What action would help as a step toward your desired wholeness?

• The unnamed women had endured constant menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Jewish law this flow of blood meant she was ritually unclean. She was forbidden to touch others as that would also make them unclean. Even her husband could not touch her. Imagine her isolation and desperation. Consider also her courage in reaching out? That’s why she walks secretly through the crowd and joins intense desire with faith and action to touch Jesus’ cloak. Her embarrassment mixed with fear of condemnation when
asked to publicly identify herself. Restoration has both personal and communal aspects. Why do you think Jesus wanted to make this public?

• Jesus breaks two social and religious barriers. He touches a dead body and is touched by an unclean woman. He made himself unclean, to restore those labeled unclean to full life and community. Do you
listen for and notice those who are excluded or go out of your way to include and welcome them, even to the extent of being rejected or maligned for doing it? Why or why not? How does it feel? How does exclusion or restoration and inclusion impact society? You personally?

• Ponder the imagery. There are 12 tribes of Israel, the chosen people of God. The woman suffered for ’12’ years and the girl was ’12’. The crowds at Jairus’ house ridicule Jesus. He restores the woman to community while the little girl he restores to life, but only apostles are present and no one else is to know. Does anything feel dead in you? Ask God for what you or your loved ones need. Can you hear
Jesus say, ‘arise’ and ‘your faith has saved you’?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and Bev McDonald and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide:    12th Sunday Yr. B – Do you have fear or trust?

 

HE WILL REVEAL HIMSELF TO ALL WHO SEEK HIM [MARK 4:35-41] | A CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE

Reflection Questions:  • The Book of Job shares the deep and painful reflection of suffering with a God who is supposed to be all powerful. Jobis invited to look to creation to see just how powerful God is. Have you taken the time to look intently at creation, the sea, the clouds, birds, trees, and your life. Are you small or big?

• St Paul shares a profound spiritual experience that shapes Christian living. The love of Jesus is a presence and power within us. It is based in knowing a love so personal; at the expense of one ‘dying for you’. Life now is so under the influence of this love that we mirror this radical love. We no longer life for ‘ourselves’. What do you really live for? Is flesh your guide? Is love your guide?

• Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. Have you ever pondered the depths of this to recognise what a new creature is? Something new. Something different. God seeks to shine through your life, gentleness, forgiveness, holiness, purity, actions to lift up the poor. Do people see the qualities of Jesus in you? ‘God’ in you? What ‘old qualities’ do you wish to leave behind?

• The Gospel of Mark reveals Jesus extremely busy and so many people coming to him that his Mother and cousins were worried about him. We see Jesus take time to pray early in the morning and ‘leave the crowds’. Do you ‘cross to the other side’ and go to quiet places for rest and reflection? Do you create a regular ‘space’ and ‘place’?

• The image of Jesus in the boat has always been understood as an image of the Church. Sometimes the Church experiences violent storms, great waves smashing the boat, the feeling of sinking and disaster. Cries and prayers have gone up to Jesus throughout history ‘do you not care’…. ‘we are perishing’. What waves can you name entering the boat of your life? The Church? Which attitude lives in your heart, fear or trust?

• As Jesus commands, so can you in prayerful union with Jesus command Quiet. Be still. Can you be truly quiet and still, at peace, conscious of living in the world of God’s chapel / presence. The experience of many is 20-30mins is the start of stillness and resting. How could you respond to the challenge of becoming ‘quiet and still’?

• In the gospel stories the Disciples were so stunned by Jesus calming the storm, they bowed down and worshipped him. Consider great struggles in your life, moments of feeling ‘terrified’. What happened? Can your faith help you to see and believe all of creation ultimately ‘obeys’ God. Does this make you feel ‘calm’?

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

Discussion Guide:  11th Sunday Yr B – Are We Open to a new Way of Conversion?

 

Parable of the Mustard Seed « livingtheword

Reflection Questions:    • Ezekiel is different because he was both a Priest and a Prophet. He was with God’s people when they were deported into Babylon enduring suffering and slavery. They were without a Temple, their Land, a King. In a time of great distress he is humbled to realise that very few people listen to him (and God) and even less respond with obedient living to God’s ways. He shares an image of a ‘snip’ of a great tree, a ‘faithful small remnant’ of people will be planted by God in Jerusalem. So deeply does he believe in God’s guidance of history he repeats ‘the Lord will do this’ 86 times. Would you consider yourself part of God’s ‘tender shoot’, faithful and obedient? The tree (Church) of God will include all types of birds and winged creatures and the ‘lowly’. How inclusive are you toward others?

• It is important to understand St Paul. Our bodies are good but there is a ‘desire’ in our flesh that is deeply selfish. A christian disciple lives and walks by ‘faith’ not by ‘flesh’. Jesus guides our life and choices not the selfish desires many in the ‘world’ chase. Is your ‘home’ in Jesus or the ways of the world. Paul encourages disciples to face this tension and question head-on. Imagine an examination of your life at the end of time: What did you live for? What was your heart attached to?

• Jesus very early on in the Gospel of Mark meets great resistance. His family think he is ʻout of his mindʼ and religious leaders from Jerusalem suggest he is possessed by a demonʼ (Mark 3,20). It does not look like Jesus is having much success. Have you met resistance from family and people in leadership? How did you cope? What did you hold on to so as to continue your call and purpose?

• Jesus shares a story of the mysterious and silent working of God in bringing the ʻKingdomʼ. Just as farmers presume something is happening to a seed under the ground, we also need to trust not always by sight but what we know. In truth, the mustard seed only grows to a 4 foot ʻbushʼ! Are you expecting Church to be a magnificent Cedar tree and struggle with the reality of a stumpy ʻbushʼ? Is Jesus suggesting a change from strong and powerful to humble and ʻmedicinalʼ? The mustard-seed was considered to be a medication for many ills.

• The topic most frequently talked about by Jesus was the ʻKingdom of Godʼ (Kingdom of Heaven). He chose to use parables to describe ʻGodʼs waysʼ. Parables trap us. We agree with some parts of the story but resist or donʼt want to agree with other parts. We reject it, or open ourselves to an opportunity of a new way of understanding (conversion). Why did Jesus choose to describe the Kingdom as a mustard seed. We like the idea of many birds finding shelter and the church ʻwelcoming and includingʼ all people. But a ʻmustardʼ seed and bush was a backyard weed, very stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Is the way of God really requiring a revolution? Who gets threatened by that? Do you prefer the status quo or an inclusive change welcoming the poor and marginalized?

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