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Posts Tagged ‘Mass’

Discussion Guide, He Is Risen

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Reflection Questions

• Acts chapter 10 is an very significant part of the New Testament. It is hard for us to understand just how big were the divisions between Jews and Non Jews (Gentiles). Jews were not allowed to enter a Gentile house and were certainly not allowed to ‘eat a meal together’. Acts 10 reveals the story of Peter entering a Gentile home and having a meal with a Gentile (and Roman Soldier!) Cornelius. Peter had a vision from God that the ʻgentilesʼ were ʻcleanʼ and could sit at table together with Jews. This message
would upset many who had long held religious views of separation. What obstacle may God wish to remove within you so you can sit together with an ‘enemy’? Who do you consider ʻuncleanʼ?
• Before the Feast of the Passover Jewish women would spend hours sweeping and tidying their homes. They particularly got rid of any ʻleavenʼ (yeast to make the bread rise). It was a symbol of sin, capable of
affecting the whole ʻloafʼ. In response to the Resurrection we are called to be ʻnewʼ, people of the light, walking out of darkness. What particular action, habit, area of my life will I seek to tidy and sweep during the season of Easter as a response to living the new life of the Resurrection?

• Johnʼs gospel has Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple (John) – three foundational members of the early christian community – walking about confused. Belief in the Resurrection was
not something that happened instantly. Even the ʻother discipleʼ who saw burial cloths before Peter, had to look again before he believed. What has been your experience of Holy Thursday, Good Friday,
Easter Saturday Vigil. What have you seen? What do you remember? What was shown to you by God to help you ʻbelieveʼ?
• Imagine someone you have loved in a very intimate and special way. This person died and you were personally involved in seeing the death, the burial. In grief you go to the place of burial and see first-hand that your friend is not there. There is evidence of burial cloths and a messenger that ʻhe has been raisedʼ and that your friend so wants to meet with you and you will see each other soon. What would be your thoughts and feelings? If the resurrection is true, what change in thinking happens about death? About life? About God?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

Discussion Guide for Palm Sunday is here.   Is 50:4-7. Phil 2:6-11,  Mk 14:1-15:47 or Mk 15:1-39

Reflection Questions Palm Sunday

• The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy. Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak?

• The Passion Reading from Mark has many details. There is betrayal by close friends, the violence of crowds, politicalnand religious leaders protecting their self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What detail of the Passion attracts your attention this year, in the circumstances of our world? your life?

•Raymond Brown a Catholic Scripture scholar warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that will ultimately change the world. We are there and it is now. The Gospel is convicting. Today. Can you see how the same issues are present today. Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel?
• Judas – selling out on God for money?
• Fleeing disciples – worrying so much about one’s own safety?
• Peter – professing and denying Jesus within the hour?
• Soldiers – carrying out unjust instructions from above, persecuting the innocent without thought?
• Pilate – pretending to be powerless, washing hands of justice and choosing to ignore evil?
• Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and prefering the rules are kept and people are ‘safe’?
• Barabbas can be literally translated as Bar – Son. Abbas – Father. Who is the true Son of the Father? Jesus or Barabbas? Will it be a revolution of the heart and a message of peace, or a violent revolt
against military powers using military means that will bring ʻsalvationʼ? Why does the crowd choose ʻBarabbasʼ?

• The veil of the sanctuary separated into a special area of the Temple the Holy of Holies. In this place only the High Priest could enter to meet ‘face to face’ with God. The Gospel of Mark writes interpretively that this ‘private and exclusive’ meeting place with God has now been revealed as ‘on the cross’ for everyone. Here is the Son of God crucified out of passionate love and the desire to create a new covenant of forgiveness. The cross becomes the ‘new mercy seat’ (hidden behind the veil in the
Holy of Holies) for all to see, believe in, and receive. Spend some time in prayer and looking upon Jesus on the cross. What do you ‘see’? What does this teachyou?

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz.  Livingtheword weekly download and resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and are made available by Bev McDonald, Facilitator, Marist Laity NZ www.maristlaitynz.org

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?

Discussion Guide is here

Image result for body and blood of christ feast

Reflection questions for groups or individuals

  • The Solemnity of the Body and Bloodof Christ (Corpus Christi) began as a response to increased devotion to the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the 12th Century. This led to a desire to ‘see’, Jesus in the consecrated elements. In 1220 in Paris the practice of elevating the host began.
  • God’s journey with his people in the desert involved difficulties but also God’s providence and care. You were hungry and I fed you with manna – ‘a food unknown to you’. (See Ex 16). Providing food is a basic expression of care for your children. It creates a bond. And yet they soon grew tired of this ‘manna’. It became taken for granted. How could you reawaken a deeper sense of appreciation for God feeding us with the Word and the Body and Blood of Jesus at Mass? Is it ‘normal’ or ‘special’? How?
  • There were many temples in the city of Corinth. It was ‘normal’ to take food and offer it to various ‘god’s and pledge allegiance to them. St Paul writes this is not to happen with christians. At the sacred meal (Eucharist) we participate in and receive the blood of Christ and the body of Christ. It is not right to then join your body with worship to other ‘altars’ and ‘demons’ (1Cor 10,21). Is my communion with Jesus real or superficial? Does my life-style show I have many ‘gods’ and ‘altars’ that I worship at? What change and purification may be necessary in my life?
  • Moses was greatly revered for ‘feeding’ people with bread from heaven (1st Reading). Jesus now replaces Moses and this ‘event’ with his body. ‘Heavenly Bread’ is now replaced with ‘flesh’. It is no accident that the words flesh and blood are repeated 10 times in this text. How can this man give us his flesh to eat is a question that leads to layers of questions. Is Jesus a ‘man’ or the Divine Son of God? Is the real question ‘how’ can this happen or ‘who’ is making this promise? Do you believe in these words? This promise? What the Mass brings into the life of the world and the Church and offers personally to you?
  • Meditate / reflect on these scriptural lines and allow a conversation tobegin with God.
  1. The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world….
  2. My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink….
  3. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you….
  4. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them…..
  • Is your experience of the Eucharist one of looking, sitting, getting or becoming? Does it progress from Sunday into Monday…?
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Download Readings for the Easter Vigil of Light

Reflection Questions

  1. St Augustine has famously called the Easter Vigil ‘The Mother of All Feasts’. This special night gives us signs, symbols, words, gestures which are at the heart of our Catholic Christian faith and identity. Every Sunday celebration flows from this Easter Celebration.
  2. We gather in the dark of night. Darkness symbolizing an absence of light, an unclear path to walk. Gathering around the light of a fire. Like people of ancient times have gathered and talked. We remember the pillar of fire that led God’s family through the desert journey. From this fire we light the Easter Candle the symbol of Christ. Our true ‘light’. It is normal to turn a light-switch and ‘see’. Can you locate an experience of darkness, feeling lost, uncertain of where and how to walk? And the joy of a ‘light’ to guide you? This dark / light reality is important to let enter your religious imagination this night.
  3. The foundational story of our beginnings and the divine statement 6 times of creation being ‘very good’ is deeply important. Despite the chaos of history, pollution, violence, can you look deeply into life and see ‘goodness’ and the ‘beauty of men and women in the ‘image of God’? How might this foundational attitude of goodness and thank-full-ness toward life cause you to live?
  4. Lights turn on and bells ring at the reading of the New Testament. Why?
  5. St Paul teaches us about baptism and the renewal of our baptismal promises made at the Easter Vigil. Our baptism actually involved us into Jesus’ death. We were ‘buried’. Our baptism calls us into ‘a death like his’. Our ‘old self’ of selfishness and sin has and is being crucified and ‘put to death’. Christ’s rising is also our future rising. Consider Paul’s words personally: ‘you must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ’. What do these words teach you about your baptism?
  6. The Resurrection continues from the crucifixion scene with ‘end time events’ being seen: earthquakes, angels, people shaking with fear. Matthew wants us to recognize a truly cosmic event is taking place. A tomb, a place of death is now empty. What does this mean? Jesus has been raised from the dead. What does this mean? As we profess our belief in the resurrection of our bodies, is this merely present as an idea in your head stored up for when you die, or a reality that takes away fear and profoundly influences your living ‘now’?
  7. Jesus calls his disciples ‘brothers’ not hopeless losers who abandoned him. We are ‘family’ to Jesus. No matter how Lent went, enjoy Easter!
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘live the word’ this week?

Download Holy Thursday Discussion Document

Reflection Questions

  • Holy Thursday is a celebration of the Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood and a reminder of the last command of Jesus for disciples to love and serve each other. There are some dramatic images of blood being painted on doorways and a humble servant washing dirty feet. Both are heavy with meaning as we enter the celebration of the sacred 3 days of Easter.
  • A lamb being sacrificed and the blood placed on the doorways of the house caused the angel of death to ʻpass-overʼ the house. All the houses not marked with blood were affected by death (see Ex 12,23). Symbolically blood represented life. It also had the power to overcome sin and death. It cleansed. It forgave sin. Can you make the link between the Passover lamb and Jesus being the ʻlamb of God that takes away the sins of the worldʼ? What is the significance of Christʼs blood?
  • In a typical Jewish celebration of the Passover meal the Father would take some unleavened bread and remind the family of having to leave Egypt in great haste. Imagine the surprise of the disciples when Jesus speaks not of the Exodus or unleavened bread but states his own body will bring about a new Exodus / Passover. Jesus is replacing the Jewish Passover with new sacramental words and signs. Can you see the link between unleavened bread and the gift of Jesusʼ body?
  • To understand the Eucharist we need first to understand the Passover (which the Eucharist fulfills and replaces). In the Jewish Passover there were four cups of wine. The second cup was the most important. It remembered the blood of the lambs sprinkled on the doorposts. Jesus in the words of institution at the last supper did not make reference to the blood of the lamb, but instead states he is beginning a new and everlasting covenant with his own blood. Can you see how Jesus is fulfilling and replacing the Jewish Passover?
  • St Paulʼs letter to the Corinthians is one of the earliest passages of scripture in the New Testament. Paul states very clearly that what was handed on to him about the celebration of the Eucharist was connected with Jesusʼ own words and command at the last supper. If the Eucharist is ʻproclaimingʼ the death of the Lord what does this mean for you? For the world? •
  • St John does not have the last supper scene like the other gospels. Instead John teaches christian disciples that to celebrate the Eucharist is by implication to participate in the life of Jesus who emptied himself, washed, served. Foot washing was considered such a lowly task that even Jewish slaves were not expected or asked to perform it! John teaches us not to disconnect the Eucharist with service to repair and heal the world. How does Jesusʼ last example and the ʻtools of the tradeʼ of a basin and towel challenge you today? What is self emptying work washing the dirty parts of humanity look like in our society today?
  • What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Download Feast of Body and Blood of Christ

Reflection Questions

  1. When the Church celebrates a special ʻFeastʼ or ʻSolemnityʼ it is frequently the result of controversy. The origin of this feast dates to the 12th Century responding to debate about the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. When was the first time you can remember debating and seeking to understand Jesus truly present with the gift of his body and blood in the Mass? How would you describe and share this eucharistic faith with a friend today?
  2. Melchizedek, King of Salem is a very mysterious figure without a genealogy. By his actions he is both King and Priest. And Salem is known as the future city of Jerusalem – the dwelling place of God the Most High for Israel. Abraham has just returned from overcoming 4 kings and rescuing Lot and all his possessions. A King was normally wary of such a visitor as Abraham. They would show welcome by tending to the wounded – hoping that their ʻkingdomʼ would not be pillaged by the visiting army. Strikingly Abraham who represents Godʼs people, offers this Priest / King a tenth of all his possessions! Many writers comment Melchizedek is a sign of an altogether new and divine priesthood able to confer a special blessing from God. How do you understand the Priesthood today?
  3. Paulʼs letter to the Corinthians is the earliest writing we have of the celebration of the Eucharist (15-20 years before the first gospel). Paul shares this ʻtraditionʼ (which means ʻhanding onʼ) comes from Jesus himself. We are told to ʻDo thisʼ. For Jewish people, to do a ritual liturgical action in ʻremembranceʼ was to actually enter and receive the event celebrated. Paul shares the Eucharist proclaims and makes present the cross and victory of Jesus. We receive Godʼs forgiveness but also intimate communion. What does receiving ʻholy communionʼ mean for you?
  4. King Herod has just asked a question ʻwho is this man of whom I hear such wondersʼ? (Luke 9,9). The Gospel of Luke shares this miracle story of the loaves. Old Testament background stories add texture to this passage where Elisha showed himself working by Godʼs power to feed 100 people with a few loaves. God fed his hungry people in the journey in the desert
  5. through Moses. Jesus now feeds the hungry, sick, and poor of Israel. Godʼs hospitality and Jesusʼ mission is shown. Jesus gets the 12 Apostles to serve the banquet. What might this teach us about the mission of the church in the world to the hungry? The Eucharist?
  6. The disciples attitude was one of inward focus and concern, ʻturn them awayʼ we donʼt have enough resources. As you receive Jesusʼ body and blood will your attitude be one of simply ʻlookingʼ? selfishly ʻgettingʼ? generously self offering?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download Reflection documents

Holy Thursday – The Eucharist is for the soul what food is for the body

Good Friday – God’s judgement on the world is forgiveness

Easter Vigil – Don’t be afraid Jesus has overcome all evil

Download Reflection Document 21st Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. Joshua leads God’s people from their long journey in the desert (Exodus) into the ‘promised land’. Shechem (meaning ‘shoulder) is a very important geographical location and an ancient place of worship linked to Abraham. It is the entry point between two mountains. Today is truly a ‘crisis – a ‘decision’ time: will they worship the local gods or Yahweh their LORD? We all place our lives down in service of something. What ‘worship’ temptations do you struggle with? What. Where. How. Who…. do you worship?
  2. Have you experienced in your life journey being led ‘out of a state of slavery’? Being protected mysteriously along the entire journey of your life among many peoples…? What are some significant ‘God moments’ of your life journey. How might reflecting backward help you live forward?
  3. A warning. Today’s ‘Household code’ has been very misunderstood. So misunderstood one option today has the first 4 verses deleted to make a shortened reading. Greek philosophers wrote about the behaviour of a ‘home’. Jewish and Christian writers also used this idea but changed its meaning significantly. Notice a biblical rule of thumb, the bigger the problem, the more text. Men get 4x more!
  4. A basic starting principle is being ʻsubordinateʼ or ʻgive wayʼ to one another because of our relationship with Jesus. A ʻgive wayʼ sign stops crashes. This ʻcodeʼ of behaviorʼ is seeking unity. If the wife is to be in imitation of the bride the ʻChurchʼ and the husband is to be in imitation of Christ, can you see how the typical cultural view of the time is being turned upside down? What challenges you personally in this new ʻfamily codeʼ of behavior?
  5. Paul places the relationship of marriage into the beautiful mystery of the marriage relationship between ʻChrist and the Churchʼ. In the celebration of the Eucharist the bodily language of love is expressed with the gift of Jesusʼ body and blood being received by the Church bringing a one-flesh Holy Communion. How could you make this reception special, more intimate, meaningful? Consider creating your own personal prayer to pray in silence after communion.
  6. Today is a crisis decision time for disciples. Is Jesus a man with strange teaching or the “Holy One of God” teaching Truth? Accepting Jesus will give his Body and Blood is ʻhardʼ for them. They are shocked. Their minds and expectations cannot grasp this large and challenging truth The mystery of God leading the heart and mind into belief is involved. Who and what has helped you in your journey of discovery of the Eucharist? Has your journey of faith reached a decision making step of belief in the real, true, substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Do you believe?
  7. What is one thing you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Jesus, we thank you for your teaching over the past 5 weeks on the Eucharist. You are who you claim to be – the Holy One of God. Your words are filled with the Spirit and they are Truth. We know and believe that in you God has come to meet us and be with us. We believe in you. We receive you. We follow you. We live for you. Amen.

Download Reflection Document 

Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of Proverbs shares many short wisdom sayings. Wisdom and Foolishness are two pathways we can walk. Two ‘women’, are presented as preparing a home and a banquet. A prostitute (foolishness) chapters 5-7. A Lady (wisdom) chapters 8-9. Stolen bread and water are contrasted with fine food. Which voice and house will you enter? Where do you go for ‘wisdom’ and ‘guidance’? What recent wisdom have you learnt from walking down wrong paths?
  2. Paul continues to explain the life-style of a baptised person in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘watch carefully how you live’. When was the last opportunity you took to have some time of reflection and review of your life….. asking for a clear vision and trying to understand ‘what is the will of the Lord’. Consider planning a few hours in the week to reflect on how you could live the life-style of Christ more deeply.
  3. We are at week 4 of 5 weeks sitting with the Gospel of John chapter 6. Jesus has challenged the Jewish understanding of Passover ‘bread from Heaven’ and insists he is the one sent from Heaven. He is ‘living bread’ and he goes even further to claim he will give his ‘flesh’ for the life of the world. Ponder what the symbol and experience of ‘bread’ means for you. How is Jesus’ life like ‘bread’ for you?
  4. The gospel of John invites us to make a significant transition from ʻbreadʼ [the Jewish Passover meal] to ʻflesh-and- bloodʼ – the whole person [Jesusʼ replacement of the passover with the offering of his life on the cross]. The special Jewish celebration of Godʼs love and forgiveness is now replaced with the Cross – the sign of Godʼs love and forgiveness for the whole world. Unleavened Bread and Passover Lamb has now become a sacrificial meal transformed. Wine and Bread is now transformed to Blood and Flesh because Jesus has said it, promised it, given it. Enlightened or confused?
  5. The deep language and expression of love helps our heart seeking understanding. Love desires to ʻgiveʼ and gift oneʼs ʻpresenceʼ to the beloved. To resolve the human difficulty of not knowing how to come to God, we find God comes to us through the gift of the true presence of Jesus in the body and blood at Mass. We are seated at a God- given (wisdom) banquet. For John, it is not enough to ʻbelieveʼ in Jesus, we are also called to ʻreceiveʼ the physical gift and life-presence of Jesus into our physical bodies. Do you receive in ʻignoranceʼ or with ʻknowledgeʼ?
  6. True life, ʻeternal lifeʼ is given and received. The life and spirit of Jesus is now present within the receiver of the Eucharist (good -gift). It is because of this truth we call the experience ʻHoly – Communion (many becoming one with the one who is Holy – God). After receiving communion how could you develop a greater appreciation of this physical intimacy with Jesus? Consider making up a personal prayer to pray at this time of silence after communion.
  7. St Thomas Aquinas offers two simple sentences for reflection. Where do these sentences lead you in reflection…..
  • “What food is our bodies, the eucharist if for our souls”.
  • “The proper effect of the Eucharist is to transform us into God”
  • What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?