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Posts Tagged ‘Messianic prophecy’

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 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?