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Posts Tagged ‘love’

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?

Download 15th Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

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

  1. Turning to God and receiving Godʼs forgiveness is at the centre of the readings this week. In the first reading God has just revealed his ʻnameʼ and ʻfaceʼ to Moses and given Israel guidelines for their living (10 Commandments). Israel is pictured as restless. They have been waiting for Moses to reveal God to them. They give up waiting. They want something ʻvisibleʼ. They make an ʻidolʼ of a golden calf – an ancient symbol of fertility, life, fruitfulness. Godʼs love and tenderness meets human rebellion. Have you had an experience of ʻwaitingʼ for God? Did you decide to make a ʻcalfʼ instead? Is there anything today you are ʻwaitingʼ for God to show you? Have you taken the time to listen to his ʻwordʼ or sought the advice of a ʻMosesʼ whom God wishes to speak through? Who is a Moses figure you could go to?
  2. The second reading is omitted so as to focus upon the Parable of Mercy – the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. Jesus is seeking to shatter a human misunderstanding and image of God. Who would go after 1 lost sheep and leave 99? Who would tip upside down a house to find 1 coin? Who would welcome home without question a son who wished
  3. his Father dead and totally disgraced the family in public?! The Father is an image of what God is truly like – wanting to find whoever is lost, and embracing with forgiveness all who have sinned. What ʻimageʼ of God do you have in your heart and mind from your family and religious experience? What fresh image or new understanding attracts you in Luke 15?
  4. Tax Collectors and Sinners were excited but Pharisees and Scribes were complaining. The religious issue was who does God ʻincludeʼ and welcome into the heavenly ʻbanquetʼ (heaven). Some could not accept Jesusʼ inclusivity as it turned their religious world-view ʻupside downʼ. What is the deep reason the older son wants to exclude his younger brother? Is this attitude present in your life?
  5. The young son commits the biggest sin possible for a young Jewish person (asking for the inheritance was like wishing Dad was ‘dead’). Yet the father’s love does not change. Do you feel distant from God because of something you have done …. will you accept the love that the Father shows to his child is the same love that is shown to you? Would you accept this love is given to you in the sacrament of reconciliation? What holds you back?
  6. Identify the thoughts and feelings of each character, the younger son, the older brother, the Father. Which character do you identify more strongly with? Why?
  7. The Father does a number of humiliating actions which show the depth of his love. The Father runs in public. It was unbecoming for a Jewish elder to show one’s ankles in public. It is the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention is now drawn away from the son and the possibility of hurting him. The father accepts the humiliation, in front of the whole community, of the older son angry and argumentative. Does the older son wish the father was dead too? Does anyone appreciate the Fathers love? If this is what God is like toward you what is your response?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivinghewordʼ this week?

Download Reflection Document: 31st Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Deuteronomy (second law) is a summary of God’s teachings to help guide God’s people as they leave the desert and enter their new and promised home-land Israel). Moses reminds them they have been looked after and loved so beautifully that the only proper response to God is to return love. ‘Love your God with all your heart’. Have you ‘taken into your heart’ God’s love and care for you?
  2. Jewish people still treasure this ‘command’ to hear and remember. Devout  Jews wear this prayer in little prayer containers (phylacteries) on their wrist and forehead, pray it morning and evening, and have a container at the doorway of their home which they touch to remind them to love God who loved them. How could you be reminded of God’s love each day? Where could you put a crucifix so that it is a daily visible and touchable reminder as you ‘come and go’ in and out of your home?
  3. The Letter to the Hebrews is written for Jewish christians who are struggling and tempted to return to the practices of the temple, the laws, the sacrifices. Jesus is shown to be the true and perfect high-priest who will never die and whose sacrifice on the cross forgives ‘once and for all’. Do you ever think something else needs to be done to forgive you? Make you acceptable? Do you find yourself holding God’s love at arms length until you become perfect by your own actions? What practices or traditions do you long for that used to make you feel well?
  4. Jesus is now in Jerusalem. He has chased out money changers from the Temple, had arguments with Pharisees and Scribes. Today a frequent faith question is discussed. Jews believed that 613 laws were developed from the 10 commandments. Living all these laws put one in right relationship with God. Scribes who were teachers of the laws especially to the younger generation were often asked: Make it simple? Which is the greatest? Jesus quotes from Dt 6, 4 (1st Reading) but also adds Lev 19,18 – care of the poor (check out Lev 19.9-17). 613 becomes 2. How do you move from love of God on Sunday to love of God on Monday? Do you find it easy to separate love of God from love of neighbour? How do you see this in your life? In the Church?
  5. The Prophets of the Old Testament constantly pointed out the ease at which people worshipped in the temple with ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ but did not love their ‘neighbour’ shown by helping others in need. Love of God draws me into a relationship with all whom God loves. God painfully wishes our love to be extended to lift up the lowest and forgotten in society. Imagine entering a home for dinner and saying nice words at the table. Upon leaving the house kicking the children and scratching the hosts car. What is going on?
  6. The scribe agrees with Jesus. But Jesus says things are still incomplete: ‘you are not far from the Kingdom of God’. Close but not there yet! Your head is ‘on board’ but is your life going to truly show direct ‘action’ linking God AND Neighbour? The crowd stayed silent. Why? What would it involve to actually live and love neighbour as your own flesh and blood?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 6th Sunday Easter Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. Peter entering the home of Cornelius (A Roman Centurion / Soldier) is an incredibly important moment in the early Church. It sets in motion the whole christian mission to non-jews – to the untouchables, the pagans, the ‘greeks’. God wants to include everyone. Who do I consider an ‘outsider’ to the Church? Why? How could I be more inclusive? In my family? My church?
  2. Acts 10 reveals the early struggle to be open and welcoming. The Holy Spirit spoke in dreams and visions to inspire and move the Church and disciples. Consider the words of St Peter: ‘Get up, I myself am a human being’ and ‘God shows no partiality’. What has happened within Peter? What invitation and challenge do you notice for your own journey?
  3. Both Peter and Cornelius are spoken to in prayer. Thankfully they responded obediently. What have you heard in prayer and life lately? Have you been obedient in livingtheword? What are some obstacles you have encountered?
  4. John repeats the word love 9 times in his letter and 9 times in the Gospel. In John’s community they were fighting with gnostics who didn’t think christian behaviour was important. John reinforces the idea that love actually ‘looks like something’. Christian love is to love all others as God has loved us in Christ. Consider how God has initiated the relationship of love with us . Dying as an expiation (offering) to show us the forgiveness of our sins and the extent of God’s love. Do you initiate love or merely respond to love? Does your love change depending on a response? How does your love-style witness to christian love?
  5. God wants disciples to ‘bear fruit’. Yet fruitfulness requires attachment to the vine / trunk. The fruitfulness of joy and peace and love develops from ‘friendship with’ the Father. Friendships grow and develop in responding to needs and requests. Hence Jesus invites us to ask so the Father can give and be glorified. Would you describe your relationship with God as a ‘friend’? What is your attitude toward intercessory prayer? Ask or text your friends what they need and pray specifically for them. Don’t be afraid to ask God for signs so that God may receive ‘glory’. He gives plenty in the Acts of the Apostles!
  6. When asked to describe the love to which believers are called, St Augustine replied: “It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It hs the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the signs and sorrow of others. That is what love looks like.”
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?