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Posts Tagged ‘Messiah’

Download 29th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1. The Prophet Isaiah is with God’s people in Exile in Babylon. He makes a prophecy of a great leader who will not be like any leader ever known: God will allow his life to be crushed which will ‘ransom’ and ‘justify’ (make right) all people. Verses like this in Isaiah form the ‘4 songs of the suffering servant’. Christians understand these texts as teaching us about Jesus’ suffering. Have you experienced anyone willing to ‘suffer’ for you? Can you think of any story where someone restored friendship with another at great ‘cost’? What happened? How does this help you make sense of Jesus’ suffering for you?
  2. The Letter to the Hebrews continues to explain how Jesus’ death and resurrection has replaced the Jewish High Priest in the Temple. Instead of ‘walking through the curtain’ which separated people in the Temple from the sacred place of the ‘Holy of Holies’ – God’s presence – Jesus’ death allows him to ‘pass into heaven’. Instead of the High Priest sprinkling blood on the ‘Mercy Seat’ inside the Holy of Holies to bring forgiveness, Jesus on the cross has become the ‘throne of grace’ – the new revelation of God’s Mercy. Where do you go to, look at, feel, the mercy and forgiveness of God? Consider praying this week with a crucifix or at church in front of the tabernacle – to ‘find grace’.
  3. Jesus has just finished his third prediction of his suffering and death (Mk 10,32). The immediate request of James and John for ‘positions of power’ reveal they do not understand what Jesus’ death means. The ‘indignation’ of the others reveals they were all secretly seeking power and glory. The Kingdom of God and the Messiah to make it happen is still thought of as a strong political and military figure, and a triumphant banquet and honors given when the victory is won. And like other ‘rulers’, power will then be exercised as ‘authority over’ them. Such a mindset will breed continual violence. How do you view violence and war. Do you secretly wish leaders would use ‘power over’ others? Do you think the way of ‘non-violence’ works?
  4. ‘Drink the cup’ and ‘baptism’ are phrases full of meaning. The Father of the house would fill the cup of each member of the home. It was descriptive of God the Father giving out the plan / lot which was assigned for each person. It symbolised ‘God’s will’. Baptism was not so much a water baptism as an immersion into the will of God – often involving some struggle and pain. Jesus is sharing with disciples the cup (job) is to set people free from the grip of sin and bondage and satan. This is a task which will involve hardship and suffering. What does ‘drink the cup’ and ‘baptism’ mean for your life? Now? Does it ‘cost’ you anything?
  5. Jesus teaches about leadership. He uses some colorful images. Servant / Slave – humble service at a meal rather than a position of glory and being ‘waited on hand and foot’. Ransom – in Jewish culture a person in debt or enslaved could be ‘ransomed’ back. Like a special family object in a pawn shop that is to be recovered and returned to the family. In religious worship it was also understood as an ‘atonement’ (at-one-ment) offering to bring forgiveness and a re-union with God. How do you understand and exercise leadership? Have you ever actively said NO to Power. Pride. Greed?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 24th Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

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

Download 23rd Sunday Yr B

Reflection Questions

  1.  The Prophet Isaiah is with the community of Israel as it endures exile in the foreign land of Babylon. No temple. No liturgy. God is experienced as ‘silent’. In their difficulty Isaiah reveals the hope of God rescuing his people through a promised ‘Messiah’ – anointed one – who will ‘come to save you.’ Have you experienced the ‘silence’ of God? Isaiah teaches God seeks complete restoration and wholeness: imagine blind people now seeing. Deaf hearing. Crippled leaping. Silent singing. Desert now flowing. Do you consider yourself as an agent of God’s hope for a broken world?
  2. James demands concrete behaviour and action. It is not enough to know and say we care for the poor. We must show it. James highlights the christian Assembly. As we gather for worship we reveal our truth to the world: equality as brothers and sisters in Jesus. Gold rings or shabby clothing is irrelevant. Have you ‘made distinctions’ amongst friends, extended family? Do you ‘change’ when you are in the company of different people? Are you in relationship and friendship with the ‘poor’? Would they experience you as kind but still instructing them to ‘stand there’ or ‘sit at your feet’?
  3. An early document called ‘Statutes of the Apostles’ charged the priests with making a seat available for a poor person arriving at Church, but he did not have to go out of his way for a rich person. Why? Can you see how our liturgical gathering is to mirror the world we seek to create.
  4. Mark uses the same greek word from Isaiah to show that Jesus is the promised Messiah who helps the mute speak – healing his speech impediment. Today theology and geography connect. Jesus intentionally travels back to Galilee but by a very long and unusual route stepping into ‘gentile – unclean’ territory. Not only would the Pharisees and those spying on him now not follow him, but like a bull-dozer, he shows by his actions he will not live by the ‘clean’ ‘unclean’ categories that label people as distant from God. Have your words of concern for the poor been transformed into practical action? What boundaries could you ‘step over’ to welcome in those who feel distant from God?
  5. Healing passages are powerful opportunities for healing in our own lives. Consider the ‘deaf man’. He was lucky to have some friends. Normally illness or disease was considered the result of sin, the presence of an evil spirit. The person was shunned, isolated from family, considered ‘unclean’. In addition this man could not hear or speak. A picture of the most painful experience of human life and our broken humanity. As you reflect on this passage do you identify with the deaf and mute man or the carers who ‘brought him to Jesus’? Why?
  6. Jesus took the man ‘off by himself, away from the crowd’. Saving him from embarrassment, and tenderly healing the parts of his wounded body. What parts of your life need to ‘be opened’ so that you may be whole, reunited and accepted with the community. What would it mean for you to be led ‘away from the crowds for healing’. How could you take up this offer this week? What would it take for you to hear God. Sing God’s praises. Dance for joy?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 21st Sunday Yr B

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 ‘subordinate’ or ‘give way’ to one another because of our relationship with Jesus. A ‘give way’ sign stops crashes. This ‘code’ of behavior’ is seeking unity. If the wife is to be in imitation of the bride the ‘Church’ 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 ‘family code’ of behavior?
  5. Paul places the relationship of marriage into the beautiful mystery of the marriage relationship between ‘Christ and the Church’. In the celebration of the Eucharist the bodily language of love is expressed with the gift of Jesus’ 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 crisisdecision 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 ‘hard’ 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 action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download 14th Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions.

  1. Zechariah makes a prophesy that the Saviour will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Horse and Chariot were symbols of power and war. A donkey was a symbol of humble work and peace. Horse and Donkey. Power and Humility. Violence and Service. Why does the world favor a horse, God a donkey?
  2. “Meek” is a word mentioned twice in todays readings. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘not easily provoked’. Like a person feeling anger and yet staying in full control, able to turn it to justice rather than violence. Meek people lead the way in reconciliation, healing. Who could you identify as ‘Meek’? What practice could you adopt to develop a meek character?
  3. ‘Flesh’ is St Paul’s expression talking about a life that is lived without God, like an animal following only its senses. A ‘Spirit’ led life is a life open to God and turned outward in love. How do you experience the disciples tension of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’? Which life do you feed and nourish?
  4. Back into Ordinary Time we return to the Year A Gospel of Matthew. In chapters 11-12 Matthew is teaching about Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. Matthew has Jesus replace Moses as the great teacher. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is greater than the Torah (Law given by Moses) and all the Prophets. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son wishes to reveal him’ is a knowledge claim by Jesus. What does this statement mean for you?
  5. Jesus remarks how great learned religious figures (Pharisees and Scribes) cannot accept him, yet ‘little ones’ (the poor, those without learning, workers of the land) accept him. It is not necessarily learning that has proven an obstacle but pride and position. Within those who are ‘comfortable’ and ‘satisfied’ grows an inability to be ‘open’. Are you satisfied? Have you made Jesus comfortable? What challenge of Jesus do you find hardest to be ‘open’ to?
  6. The Torah (OT Law) handed down by Moses required knowing and being obedient to 613 laws. This was a ‘heavy burden’. People felt oppressed by the rules and those enforcing them (Saducees, Scribes, Pharisees). Jewish people referred to this as the ‘yoke of the law’. Jesus invites a radical change. ‘Come to me’ all who are feeling heavily burdened. I will give you rest. Put on my yoke. Learn from me. The Torah is being replaced by the person of Jesus. A wooden ‘yoke’ put around the bullocks neck was tailor made to avoid painful imbalance. In your disciples journey, how are you experiencing the ‘yoke’ of Jesus? Are you trying to do and carry more than is required?
  7. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Download:  2nd Sunday Lent Yr A

Reflection Question 3: Mountains were special ‘high places’, closer to heaven, closer to God. Jesus is often ‘going up a mountain’ to pray and be with God. Where is your ‘mountain’, ‘high place’ where you go to become still, pray, listen, open yourself to the divine voice? How could you arrange to spend more time in this place during Lent? Could you locate and try a ‘new mountain’?

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Download: Baptism of the Lord

Reflection Question 2: The Isaiah reading today is the first of four ‘suffering servant’ passages. They point to the mission of Jesus and to our personal mission and identity given in Baptism. Can you identify with the cause of making justice victorious? Being a ‘sign’ and ‘covenant’ of the relationship that God has with the world? Does your life truly show itself as a ‘light’ for all to see? Do your words and actions bring a transformation into people’s lives who live in darkness of ignorance and lack of love, imprisoned and hurt by life? Do you identify with this personal mission and the mission of the Church?

Download:3rd Sunday Advent

Reflection Question 5: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ reveals John the Baptist had some doubts about Jesus as the promised Messiah. John had preached of a divine judge, a vindicator, a warrior, someone separating out the good from the bad, throwing people into ‘an unquenchable fire’. Jesus’ actions caused some confusion to John. What is your image of God and Messiah? What expectations do you have of God bringing ‘salvation’?

Advent Story. The Master and the Puppy. C.S. Lewis. Imagine you were God and you had a puppy. You wanted to show your puppy you loved it completely. How would you show your love? You would feed it, take it for a walk, cuddle it, let it come inside…… But would you consider an extreme love? How about completely taking on the condition of being a ‘puppy’ with all the self emptying it involves? This is what God has done in Jesus. This is the real celebration at the Heart of Christmas. What is your response?

Download 2nd Sunday Advent

Reflection Question 3: They say of John the baptist: He is admired from a distance but watch out when you get close! Repent! is his cry and message. In the original Greek the word is Metanoia. Meta – change. Noia – mind / thinking. It is often linked in scriptures to both personal and communal conversion to bring about a social reconstruction of society. Everything is to be made ‘right’ ‘repaired’ ‘turned to God’s way’. Identify something you want to change personally and communally – producing ‘good fruit’. Write this in a place you will often notice during Advent.

Advent Story: Hands Up! Anthony De Mello. Some years ago a great retreat preacher came into a crowded room of people who had traveled great distances to be on retreat. The preacher came to a microphone and asked: Hands up those who want to go to heaven? Immediately all hands waved in the air. The preacher then asked: Hands up those who want to go now? No-one put their hand up. He said ‘you might like to spend the day thinking about why you are not ready now. And with stunned silence he left the room.