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Posts Tagged ‘Purification’

Download Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Reflections Questions

  1. The Feast of the Presentation is an ancient festival of the early Christian community in Jerusalem that can be traced back to writings in the years 300AD. A special part of the celebration was the lighting of candles to celebrate Jesus being ‘presented in the Temple’ as the ‘light to enlighten the Gentiles’ (Luke 2:32). Today many parishes have a special ceremony of blessing prayer candles, baptismal candles. Religious renew their vows and consecration. Some countries also have the custom of blessing new mothers re-enacting the blessing of Mary presenting her child in the Temple.
  2. The Prophet Malachi (meaning My Messenger) is an interesting prophet as he speaks to a community that has a beautiful and newly re-built Temple in Jerusalem, but the Priests and the People are ‘lax’ and not celebrating and worshipping with much effort. What does the image of a ‘refiners fire’ and a special ingredient to cleanse and make ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ pure mean for you?
  3. ‘Free from the fear of death’ is a special phrase. Fearful of death, so many people worship the body and the world and live as if this is all that there is. As a consequence they are subject to ‘slavery all their life’. The ‘flesh’ (sensual pleasure) and the spirit of the ‘world’ (greed) trap people. How might the ‘fear of death’ trap you? Knowing of eternal life, what is there really to fear? What is your response?
  4.  According to Jewish custom, mothers were required to be ritually purified 40 days after birth. As part of the ceremony of cleansing and new life two offerings were made. A Lamb and a dove / pigeon. If the family were poor they could offer two doves / pigeons. It is recognised that Mary and Joseph offered two birds which is evidence that they were ‘poor’. It is also recognised that a further sacrifice could be offered to ‘buy back’ the first born from God. Mary and Joseph did not do this. As a parent do you offer your children to God and help them seek God, or do you ‘buy them back’ and direct them only in the ways of the world?
  5.  The great moment foretold by the Prophet Malachi of God coming into the Temple (his home) is only acknowledged by a faithful few. The repetition of the ‘Holy Spirit’ reminds us that it is really the ‘Spirit’ that helps us see and understand God. If you were to say to someone ‘my favour rests on you’ what would that mean for you? Do you recognise at baptism that the spirit ‘rests on you’ and God ‘favours’ you?
  6.  What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 3rd Sunday Advent Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday when the Pink candle of the Advent Wreath is lit. The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon – ‘Rejoice’. This theme is found in the first two readings. We are reminded that the joyful coming of Christ is drawing nearer. Christmas celebrates presence with presents.
  2. Today is the only time every 3 years we hear this beautiful passage from the Prophet Zephaniah. Zion is the name for Jerusalem, and Christians understand Jerusalem signifies God’s people. Replace ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ prayerfully with your own name. How does this prophecy make you feel? What line strikes you the most? Why?
  3. St Paul is writing to the Philippians trying to resolve an argument between two women which is destroying the unity of the Christian community. He puts their argument into the ‘big picture’. Rejoicing, kindness and no anxiety are trademarks of a christian. Paul reminds the community that each member is to reflect Christ. In the hostile town of Philippi, they are to be attractive and lead people to Christ – not turn them off. Is ‘your kindness known to all’? Do you have anxieties that you refuse to make ‘known and truly hand over to him?
  4. A practice of Advent preparation is celebrating forgiveness. Crowds gathered to be with John the Baptist, not in the Temple, but by the Jordan River. Hungry for God and for the world to experience ‘change’ they claimed their own need for conversion: ‘what should we do?’ John directs their attention toward care of the poor – sharing clothing and food. What do you have plenty of? Who has none? Have you ever desired to simplify your life and be more generous? What happened?
  5. Tax collectors were present, along with soldiers who protected them. John does not deny their ‘job’ but reminds them all jobs are to serve the unity of the community. Look deeply into your ordinary tasks of life. Are you doing them well? Enter the gospel scene in prayer and ask John the question: What should I do? What happened?
  6. John baptises and cleanses with water. Jesus baptises and cleanses with the Holy Spirit and fire. Water and Fire. What would you choose? Fire purifies through hot temperatures. What have been ‘hot’ ‘purifying’ moments for you this year? What wisdom have you been led into? What parts of your life would you like to bring to God for reconciliation at the end of the year?
  7. A ‘winnowing fan’ was used in the barn to throw the grain up into the air, the dust and ‘chaff’ – seed casings and bits of stalk – drifted away. This stage separated the wheat. How do you relate to the image of judgement and ‘fire’ at the end of time?
  8. A common practice in the time of Jesus was for disciples to carry the sandals of their teacher. John shares he is not even worthy to undo the straps of Jesus’ sandals let alone carry them! Whose sandals do you carry? Who do you listen to as your ‘teacher’? What life lessons or teaching would you like to ask about at this point in your life journey?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?