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Posts Tagged ‘Parables’

Reflection for Sunday 24th is here – Extravagant, Dangerous Forgiveness.

Discussion Questions.

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The Book of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus was used to instruct new candidates for Baptism with all its wisdom lessons. Today, forgiveness is the theme. Are you ‘hugging tightly’ any anger or resentment? What behaviour is this causing? How does that behaviour help or hinder you in daily living?

• Breaking the habit of bitterness takes courage and humility. We are asked to humbly ‘remember the Most High’s covenant’ (the forgiveness of our sins on the cross). When we remember that we are loved and forgiven, we are called to respond by humbly sharing forgiveness  to others. Reflect on God’s love and mercy for you and pray for the grace to forgive when you find it hard.

• We hear St Paul’s letter to the Romans for the last time this Sunday. Tensions existed between Jews who kept ‘laws’ and customs faithfully, and Gentiles who felt no obligation of the Jews. Do you identify with a particular ‘group’ in the church? What barriers or ill feeling exists toward ‘others’ NOT in ‘your
group’? Paul reminds us we are one. How could you be an agent of ‘unity’?

• Encouraged from the previous Gospel episode of forgiveness, Peter asks Jesus precisely how generous does one have to be toward someone who has sinned. Rabbi’s taught three times. Peter suggests a large and generous amount using the perfect number 7. He thinks he must be right. Jesus pronounces an absurd preposterous amount: 77 (double perfection!). Justice gives strict legal prescriptions but gets overwhelmed by Mercy and God’s love. What is your struggle with forgiveness? Perhaps accepting it from others or forgiving yourself is a problem? See yourself as loved, cherished and forgiven by God – just as you are! You cannot earn forgiveness -it is pure gift. Is withholding forgiveness your issue?
What makes you worthy to judge another? How does God see it? Consider what you need to do.

• 10,000 talents is the largest number in Jewish Arithmetic. The word ‘talent’ is Greek for a weight of metal; the largest unit of measurement. 10,000 talents is equal to our phrase ‘billions of dollars’.
It is beyond repayable. Strikingly it is ‘forgiven’. This same servant then refuses to ‘forgive’ someone owing him $100. He is unmoved by the extraordinary forgiveness he received. Have you allowed God’s forgiveness on the cross to profoundly change you or is there some sense that you take it for granted? What would help you grow in appreciation of God’s inexhaustible forgiveness to you?

• A parable carries the seed of subversion of established patterns. The King in this parable, (God)offers
extravagant forgiveness, while the full meaning indicates that the receiver is expected to pay it forward and forgive in turn. This is dangerous and unexpected. We have a clear warning that our ongoing choices and actions in life matter? What does living forgiveness involve for me?

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

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: nzlivingtheword@gmail.com Livingtheword weekly  resources by Fr Frank Bird sm and Bev McDonald and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Reflection Guide is here.

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Discussion Questions

.The month of November begins by celebrating All Saints (Nov 1st) and All Souls (Nov 2nd). Be invited to visit a Church to pray in thanks for all those who have brightened our journey with their lives.
• The Book of Wisdom was written to share the beauty of Jewish ‘wisdom’ different from Greek ‘wisdom’. For Greeks, wisdom was the result of hard human study and work. Jewish people understood wisdom as a feminine aspect of God and a gift ‘received’. At dawn was the favoured time for prayer. During the day ‘the gate’ was a place of gathering for elders making legal decisions and where city trade
took place. Do you love, seek, watch, pray into the night for… wisdom? v17 continues: wisdom begins with the sincere desire for instruction. What would you like ‘instruction’ in? Who could you ask for help?
• Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters in the New Testament. In contrast to the belief that death was the very end, our christian faith rests on a certain hope. Use your imagination to enter Paul’s picture of the final day. Why do you think scripture refers to this as a ‘great and terrible’ day?
• In the ancient Middle – East, the complete wedding celebration would take up several days. The first stage involved the fathers of the couple discussing and arranging the contract and legal matters between the two families. The Groom would then arriveto the Brides house to take her home. It was not known how long the various discussions would take. Guests at the Groom’s house were frequently ‘waiting’ as a  result of delays. You can imagine the surprise with the Groom and Bride arriving at midnight! Jesus
uses this image for his ‘return’. The Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King (November 20) as if it was the ‘return’. What would you do if Jesus returned in 2 weeks?
• The Bridesmaids and ‘oil for their lamps’ is symbolic of being ‘ready’. ‘Oil’ equals readiness. It cannot be ‘shared’. Spiritual preparation cannot be done by someone else. There is the striking image of a ‘locked door’. Cries to ‘open the door’. A negative response. The parable draws us in. We are left with self accusation: will I be ‘ready’? In what way does this parable challenge you?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary NZ

Reflection Sheet. 17th Sunday Year A:What Are We Seeking?

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Discussion Questions:

  1. Solomon is not simply having a ‘dream’. The last person to possibly take his kingship (Shimei see 1Kings 2, 8) has now died so Solomon is now truly King. He has also just married the King of Egypt (Pharoah’s) daughter! Solomon’s power and political responsibilities are immense. He makes a special journey to Gibeon, a very special ‘high place’ and altar. With him he presents 1000 burnt offerings on the altar! (1Kings 3,4). The intensity of his prayer and yet his humility is striking. You have made me. I am your servant. I have the responsibilities of a King. Yet I am young. I don’t know what to do. Give me an ‘understanding heart’. What would your deepest and most heart-felt prayer be to God as God asks you: ‘Ask something of me’.
  2. The journey of life involves ‘ups and downs’. It takes great faith to trust that ‘all things work for good for those who love God’. Consider a difficult life experience. How has it ‘worked for your good’? Have you allowed it to mould you closer ‘to the image of his Son’?
  3. The phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ is the idea Jesus most talked about in the gospels. Having a heart for the poor. A desire and commitment to see that all are ‘included’. Fighting all systems that exclude and oppress. The compassion and forgiveness offered to us by God. These can be ‘ideas’ or ‘lived realities’. A treasure ‘thought about’ or a ‘treasure possessed’. Being possessed by ‘The Kingdom’ comes at a cost because it invites us into a complete transformation of our life. Compare your lifestyle with Jesus in the Gospels. What attracts you? What do you need to ‘let go’? What risk are you being invited to take?
  4. Filled with joy, the person in the parable sells all that he owns to buy it. The treasure (the kingdom) has now possessed him! Have you ever had an experience where something you valued is now considered ‘worthless’. How did your heart change ‘attachment’? What do you truly ‘love’ and would be willing to ‘sell all that you have’ for its possession? Are the top ‘values’ that steer your life Kingdom values or Worldly values?
  5. As in previous Ch 13 parables, Jesus includes a subversive challenge. There will be a judgment at the end of time based on how we have lived. Have we chosen and lived for the Kingdom and lived ‘rightly’ (righteously)? Or have we been ‘wicked’, consciously or unconsciously not contributing to justice and God’s plan for all? If the final judgement was to take place within a few months what would this cause you to do?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Download 1st Sunday Advent

Reflection Questions

  1. The 1st Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new ‘season’ – and a new Year (the Gospel of Matthew). Advent prepares and challenges us to be ready to welcome the second coming of Jesus and then turns us to celebrate and remember with joy the first coming of Jesus. Will you celebrate Advent AND Christmas? What do you do to celebrate and welcome a friend? How could these expressions be practiced toward Jesus this Advent / Christmas?
  2.  As the Christmas season and advertising moves us toward end of year celebrations and ‘climbing up the mountain’ of the ‘shopping mall’ how could you also give time for your friendship with God. Consider an Advent commitment to an ‘hour to be awake from sleep’. Use your imagination to reflect what it would mean to ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ’. Is there anything you are doing in your life that Jesus wouldn’t do?
  3. Jesus uses three short parables to break into our Christmas comfort zone. A sudden flood is something tragic unless one is prepared ahead of time. What does ‘building and entering the ark’ mean today? What else is there to do beyond ‘eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage’?
  4.  Imagine your work colleague, friend, family member who you live ‘side-by-side’ with each day is suddenly revealed as different in Gods eyes. A parable shocks our imagination with a surprise to make us change our life. Do you wish to be taken into a deeper relationship with God or to be ‘left’ alone ‘in the field’ or ‘at the mill’. What would divine perception see in you which human perception cannot see?
  5.  To stop a thief entering your house you have put in place certain practices or habits (locking doors and windows, turning lights on, having mail collected by a friend…) so that you are ‘always ready’ ‘awake’. What spiritual practices could you commit to so as to constantly keep ‘spiritually awake’? Have you been ‘broken into’? What wisdom for the journey was discovered to guide your future?
  6.  A famous retreat leader had hundreds of excited people waiting for very wise words and deep insights into their problems. He arrived at the microphone and asked: ‘Hands up who wants to go to Heaven?’ Everyone put their hand up. ‘Hands up those who are ready to go now’? No-one put their hand up. He said: you may consider asking yourself why you are not ready… Are you ready?
  7.  What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?