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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

Discussion Guide for 26th Sunday is here.

Nm 11:25-29, Jas 5:1-6Gospel Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

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Reflection Questions

  1. Like the Book of Exodus, the Book of Numbers is filled with God’s people complaining of life in the desert. Moses finds the experience of leadership so
    heavy he wishes God would allow him to die rather than carry such a heavy burden. In prayer Moses is invited to share leadership with 70 others. Have you had an experience of feeling ‘heavy’ and ‘tired’ with responsibilities and complaints? What happened? Do you have the freedom to ‘let go’, ‘share responsibilities’? Admit you are in need of help?
  2. Joshua, the ‘leader in training’ was jealous and protective of power and authority. Moses shares a new vision with him – wouldn’t it be great if everyone was attentive to God and spoke of God’s will and lived out their responsibilities and leadership gifts. Do you see people as problems needing correction, or, people gifted needing motivation?
  3. James warns of the storing up of wealth. St Basil gives a colorful reflection: If everyone kept only what is necessary for ordinary needs and left the surplus to the poor, wealth and poverty would be abolished…. Are you not a thief? The bread you store belongs to the hungry. The cloak kept in your closet belongs to those who lack clothing. The money you keep hidden away belongs to the needy. Thus you oppress as many people as you are in a position to help. Have you ever reflected upon what your ordinary needs are, and how much “surplus” you have? Do you give to the needs of the poor?
  4. John is jealous that an outsider of the disciples group is obviously sharing in the power and authority of Jesus. “He does not follow us”. He is not in our group. John’s comments reveal their misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God. They still think of it as a power structure of a political kingdom with favours granted to a small group. Have you prevented or excluded someone from service, ministry, a job, because they did not follow you?
  5. Jesus uses striking imagery to warn about being a scandal – obstacle to someone believing in Jesus. Cut off or out anything that could stop people following Jesus. What do you consider are obstacles for people coming to faith in Jesus and participating in the life of the Church? Does your life display a desire for wealth or the poor? Comfort or compassion? Arrogance or understanding? What do you need to cut off from your life?
  6. Gehenna is a place just outside of Jerusalem. Historically it was where shameful sacrifices of children were offered to the Canaanite god ʻMolechʼ. It was then regarded as an unclean and sinful place. It became a rubbish tip with constantly burning fires. Jesus uses it as a symbol of “Hell”. Uncomfortably, the issue of a final judgment and consequences of our life-style and actions is raised. Do I give a good or bad example of Christian living? Have I caused anyone to “stumble” in their relationship with God? How do I understand God as merciful yet also having a day of judgement?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword weekly download and resources are created by Fr Frank Bird sm, a Priest of the Society of Mary and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ.www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide is here

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Exodus 20:1-3,7-8,12-17, 1 Cor. 1:22-25, Gospel Jn 2:13-25

Reflection Questions

• Jewish Rabbiʼs would dance with the books of the Law. The 10 commandments was like a treasure
and a link to the marriage covenant and relationship that God had promised with his chosen people.
What strikes you about this image of ʻdancingʼ with the law? Are these ʻlawsʼ a burden? Or are they guidance directly from God that will lead to a full and joyful life? What ʻlawʼ grabs your attention the most. Why? Talk with God about that.
• The word ʻcommandʼ literally means something ʻplaced in oneʼs handʼ. Like a letter from a close friend or special advice from a wise grandparent. Which bit of advice from the 10 commandments may I need to listen to and respect more in my life at the moment?
• St Paul invites christians to be clear, it is not wisdom, special knowledge or worldly power that saves – it is the saving event of Jesus on the cross. Jews considered this full of ʻshameʼ. Greeks couldnʼt believe that God who is so powerful could actually ʻdoʼ this. What is your response to Jesus on the cross?

• Jesusʼ first public action in the Gospel of John is to cleanse and purify the temple. It is a most dramatic action. Jesus replaces the temple and its sacrifices, its legalistic ritual, with his Body, his intimate presence. The Fathers house, a house of prayer, a place of communion and becoming one with God is now replaced by Jesus with his own body. Instead oflooking at a photo album of God, Jesus insists that God, He, is in front of their very eyes. Can you see what Jesus is doing in his first public act in the gospel of John?
• The Gospel of John always has many layers of meaning and interpretation. Many began to believe as they ʻsaw the signsʼ he was doing. The cleansing of the temple takes place at the Feast of Passover. The next passover takes place in John 6 where Jesus replaces Mosesʼ bread (Manna) with his own body (Jn 6,35). The last passover takes places in John 19,31 where Jesus replaces the passover lamb with his body on the cross. Can you see the ʻsigns he was doingʼ and believe?
• Has my image and experience of the Church changed over time? A Marketplace with all of its conflict?
Legalistic ritual and laws? Intimate presence and communion with God in the celebration of the Eucharist?
• Lent is an opportunity to practice three deep transforming experiences: Praying, Fasting, Giving. They can be re-framed as Listening (to God), Stopping (negative habits), Seeing (those in need and responding). Which Lenten practice could you intensely focus upon this week?
• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

Reflection Guide is here.

N.B.During Lent, parishes with people preparing for the sacraments at Easter have special readings helping them understand the identity of Jesus and meaning of their baptism. Those alternative Scripture reflections are here. 

Discussion Questions:2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23, Eph 2:4-10, Gospel Jn 3:14-21.

  • Godʼs people suffered the destruction of their Temple in Jerusalem and were exiled into another country for 70 years. Something had gone horribly wrong. Wasnʼt God supposed to provide them with unconditional protection? Have you had an experience of feeling abandoned or being forgotten by God? What caused that experience? The first reading shares the idea of false worship. What do you think ʻretrieved its lostsabbathsʼ could mean? For you?
  • Godʼs guidance of history stirs a secular leader, Cyrus King of Persia, to release Godʼs chosen people and also to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It is beyond anyones imagination that such an event could happen. What does this show about God? History? Your life?
  • The Ephesians reading is a beautiful text for the Lenten journey. The generosity of Gods love to die while we were still sinful. We glimpse ʻhow infinitely rich he is in graceʼ towards us. Do you consider yourself forgiven, cleansed, called to be ʻGodʼs work of artʼ and live the ʻgood lifeʼ? What steps toward greater holiness of life could you take into Week 4 of Lent? The discussion with Nicodemus in the darkness of night is symbolic. Nicodemus wants to protect his reputation and not be exposed. Found out. He is scared of making his belief ʻpublicʼ. It could involve him losing friends. Is there something I feel called to bring to the light of reconciliation during this time of Lent?
  • John 3:16 is a popular line in the scriptures to summarise Godʼs love for us “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” It is linked with the Gospel image of Jesus being ʻlifted up”. Locate a crucifix to pray with or go into a church and ponder Jesus on the Cross. Consider the depth of what the cross teaches us personally: I am forgiven. I am so loved – and therefore loveable! How does that make you feel? What is your response?
  • What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz e-mail: contact@livingtheword.org.nz

 

 

 

Discussion Guide: Turning Toward God

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Gn 9:8-15/1 Pt 3:18-22/Mk 1:12-15 

Reflection Questions

• The season of Lent begins with the receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday. If you were not able to attend Ash Wednesday ask your priest if he could mark the ashes on your forehead with a prayer on Sunday. Or you may consider placing your thumb in soil and marking yourself with the sign of the cross. It takes a physical experience to remind us of something beginning. Consider Ash Wednesday like arriving at the starting line of a race. We need to be present and committed – when the starting gun goes
off we need ‘begin’ the journey to the finish line of Easter. Are you psychologically ‘ready’? What will the
spiritual practices of ‘Prayer’ ‘Fasting’ and ‘Alms-Giving’ involve for your daily / weekly routine?
• In the season of Lent, the First and Gospel readings are not specifically linked, but independently teach us a truth about God and ourselves. The word describing the ‘Ark’ built by Noah, is also used for the ark carrying baby moses tosafety, the ark holding the special tablets of the commandments and symbolic of the Ark of the Church. God has made a covenant / promise to protect and be with those who belong to him. Have you ever had an experience or sign showing God’s protection for you? Can you see the Church as an ‘Ark’ today? How?

•The Second readings of Lent teach us the meaning of Baptism. The cleansing of Baptism waters is not
washing away physical dirt, but literally a ‘putting away of filth’ as one now living in Christ. Lent becomes a time of renewed effort in living our christian identity. What do you recognise needs to be ‘put away’ from your life? What is the first step on this journey?
• Jesus responded to the Spirits inspiration into the Desert. To help create a prayer-full lent, what place
and time each day can you identify that will work for you? How could you symbolise beginning this journey?
• Being in the desert for 40 days links to Israel being in the desert for 40 years. A time of testing, proving loyalty, closer union with God. As Adults, Lent is not a season for child-like practices of giving up lollies. It is a journey facing struggle and sin, being ʻtestedʼ, proving my loyalty to God. Is my Lenten commitment serious enough? Do I consider it will bring me closer to God?
• “The angels ministered to him.” God does not leave us alone. Angels are provided. Literally, Angels mean ʻgood message bearersʼ. In my Lenten journey and wilderness experience who are some ʻangelsʼ that God may have already placed in my life to support me but I have not responded to. Is there someone you could ask to accompany you on your journey of Lent? It could be just the help you need!
• Repent and believe the gospel. This is Jesusʼ first public words ever spoken. The Greek word is metanoia – change, physically turn your life around. What do I know needs to change to find wholeness in my life?
• How will you ‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide for 24th Sunday Year A 

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Reflection Questions

• The Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) was also known as the ‘Church Book’ as it was used to instruct new candidates for Baptism with all its lessons of wisdom for living. Today, forgiveness is the theme. Are you ‘hugging tightly’ any anger or resentment? What behaviour is this causing in your life?

• Breaking the chain of hurt, unforgiveness, violence is extremely difficult. Can you ‘remember the Most High’s covenant’ (the forgiveness of our sins on the cross) and knowing our faults have been overlooked… ‘overlook faults’?

• Today is the final Sunday this year we hear from St Paul’s letter to the Romans. Tensions existed between Jews who kept all their ‘laws’ and customs faithfully, and Gentiles who did not feel the obligation of the ‘laws’ and ‘customs’ of the Jews. Do you identify with a particular ‘group’ within
the Church? Do you create barriers and ill feeling toward ‘others’ not in ‘your group’? Paul reminds us we are not individuals or ‘groups’ but 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 whohas sinned. Rabbi’s taught three times. Peter suggests a large and generous amount using the perfect number 7. Jesus pronounces an uncountable amount: 77 (double
perfection!). Justice and its strict legal prescription is to be overwhelmed by Mercy and God’s love. Do you have a struggle with forgiveness? Acceptance of or Giving of? Consider what you need to do.

• 10,000 talents is very descriptive. 10,000 is the largest number in Jewish Arithmetic. And the word ‘talent’ is a greek word for a weight of metal. It is the largest unit of measurement. 10,000 talents is equal to our phrase ‘billions of dollars’. It is an unrepayable debt. Strikingly it is ‘forgiven’. This same servant then refuses to ‘forgive’ someone owing him $100. He has been unmoved by the forgiveness
offered him. Have you allowed God’s forgiveness on the cross to profoundlychange you? How could you express your acceptance of God’s incredible forgiveness?

• A parable has within it the seed of subversion of the currently established patterns of operating. The King (God) in the parable offers forgiveness, and yet the full meaning of the parable indicates this forgiveness is conditional. The receiver is expected in turn to forgive. This is dangerous and unexpected. God could change and take back an earlier decision?
What will happen to me? What does living forgiveness involve for me?

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

Discussion Guide is Here


Reflection Questions

• Ezekial is regarded as one of the 3great prophets (Behind Isaiah and Jeremiah). Ezekiel is both a priest and
a prophet and is speaking during a time of Exile away from Home. Without temple practises, faithfulness to the laws of God kept Jewish identity and preserved unity. Ezekiel provides a powerful image of a ‘watchman’, standing, watching, ‘looking out’ for dangers that may be approaching your family. God’s family. Have you had the courage to ‘say anything and warn others’? What happens without ‘watchmen’? Are you challenged into action knowing that your salvation is at stake? What do you feel needs to be spoken of in your family? Community? Parish?
• To love your neighbour as your own flesh is a striking challenge. Jewish interpretation wriggled around the challenge by regarding one’s ‘neighbour’ as their own Jewish citizens. This allowed Jews not to care for ‘outsiders’. Ponder the essential challenge of loving everyone as your own flesh. In what ways have you wriggled out of the challenge?
• Matthew 18 is dedicated to life inside the Christian community. How is the community of Jesus supposed to
respond to hurts and arguments that come from living together? A pattern is
developed to avoid hurting and shaming those involved. Private conversation, then semi-privateconversation and only as a last resort a public church decision. Reconciliation is not ‘brooding’ in silence. Is there anyone you need to
approach ‘face to face’?
• Have you experienced the importance of a wise person to help ensure ‘every fact is established on the testimony of two or three’. Anger and resentment cripple christian hearts and disciples. Who are your ‘two or three’ guides to help your reconciliation journey?
• Treating a person like a Gentile or tax collector can be interpreted two ways.
If reconciliation does not result, do we exclude or offer continued hopeful patience? What did Jesus do?
• The goal of Christian community is to witness to the world the love of Christ with each other. The authority to bind and loose is given by Jesus to the community in the context of prayer and agreement together. Is there need for prayer and discernment with a group about decisions you (or your ministry group, parish…) are making?
• Jesus makes a promise where two or more are in agreement in prayer it shall be granted to them. What prayer
request would you like to share with friends. Who could you invite into your prayer / voice to God?
• What is one action that you will do to‘livetheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide: Know your true worth 12th Sunday Yr A

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Reflection Questions.

  1. Jeremiah expresses total confidence that the Lord will protect him even though he is in a volatile situation where even one-time friends are out to trip him up. Have you ever felt trapped and surrounded by difficulties out of your control? How did you relate with God through that time?
  2. How hard is it for you to ‘trust your cause’ to God like Jeremiah? What do you need to be able to move from knowledge about faith to faith in a warm honest deep relationship of trust in which you experience the love, power, mercy, faithfulness and justice of God at ‘gut’ level in your life? Try praying the prayer of Jeremiah and keep a record of how God works in your situation.
  3. In Romans 5 Paul explains why the revelation of Jesus means God can be utterly trusted. Because he put his love on the line by sending Jesus to rescue us when we were trapped in sin and separated from God. Sin entered the world and because of sin we struggle with trials, difficulties, addictions and disordered desires and relationships with people and creation in a myriad of ways. But just as one person started the problem of sin, Jesus – true God and true Man- overcame sin not simply for himself but for many. That is the essence of the Good News: while we were trapped in sin, Jesus came to set us free. It is a gift to be accepted and opened. What aspect of your life are you struggling most with? Ask Jesus to give you the grace of what you need to be set free in that area today.
  4. Jesus tells us to “Fear no one”. That takes enormous freedom born out of trust in the absoluteness of Gods power and care for us. Jesus asks us to recognize our true worth – that we are so precious to God that every hair on our head has been counted and even a sparrow is always known to God. What does the imagery tell you about how attentive God is to you? Did you know how much God values you? Pray for thegift of knowing the worth God sees in you just as you are.
  5. The Gospel tells us that anyone who acknowledges Jesus before others will be acknowledged by Jesus before the Father. What opportunities to share Gods love will you take this week? How do you feel knowing that Jesus speaks up for you and your needs?
  6. The word ‘fear’ appears, 92 times in the New Testament. God knows our human tendency to be afraid and wants to encourage us to trust God. Pope St John XXIII said, “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” How does knowing your true worth help you do that?
  7. What at is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Good Friday Readings

Spend time today aware that you too are the beloved disciple standing with Mary at the foot of the cross.  Reflect on the depth of God’s love for you and every person.

 

Download Palm Sunday Document

Reflection Questions:

  • On Palm Sunday we wave ʻpalmsʼ in remembrance of Jesusʼ procession into Jerusalem. We cry ʻHosannaʼ (in Hebrew meaning ʻSave Us Now). What is your expectation of God ʻsaving usʼ? Are you willing to let go of a strong powerful military figure and allow a ʻsuffering servantʼ? On a donkey? What do you think happened in the minds and hearts of the crowd gathered to eventually cry ʻcrucify himʼ?
  • Palm Sunday is also called ʻPassionʼSunday as we listen to the whole story of Jesusʼ personal betrayal by his disciples, his court appearance before religious and political rulers, his rejection by previously welcoming crowds, his cruel whipping and torture by soldiers. Watch, listen, feel the violence. Where does such cruelty
  • originate from in the world? Why does the world seek a ʻvictimʼ?
  • ‘He made no answer’. The silence of Jesus as Pontius Pilate questions and interrogates him is striking. Have youever been tempted to argue your way out of a difficult situation to ‘save yourself’. Jesus’ silence is a deep act of trust in God. How would you have behaved in this situation?
  • It may be a surprise to learn that Jesus and his disciples were regarded as a bunch of revolutionaries from Galilee, hanging out in parks, carrying swords, wanted and hunted by police. How would such a group be considered today? In the Church?
  • Jesusʼ sufferings ʻunmasksʼ and reveals the worldʼs violence and cruelty. Jesus responds peacefully in interrogation. Heals a soldier’s ear. Asks the Father to forgive. Welcomes criminals to heaven. Commits his spirit into the hands of the Father. Is Jesus a ʻdoor-matʼ or a ʻsaviourʼ? How?
  • Soldiers make a game of teasing Jesus. He is stripped, humiliated, hit, played with as a ‘game’. Consider in the world today soldiers abusing innocent people. Can you feel their pain? Pray for them and soldiers in places of terror and oppression today.
  • Simon from Cyrene did not want to lift the heavy wooden cross of Jesus. Have you ever felt you were in thewrong place at the wrong time and got a heavy job? Has someone in great need crossed your path recently? Do you run away from people suffering?
  • The veil of the sanctuary was a large thick curtain that separated the ‘holy of holies’ from the rest of the temple. It was the sacred place where God’s presence was known to dwell sitting on the ‘mercy seat’ (that held the 10 commandments). The gospel of Matthew paints with words the truth that here on the cross is the new ‘mercy seat’ where God dwells. Spend time with a crucifix this week and ponder what you see.
  • What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download 3rd Sunday Advent Reflection Document

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 ʻyour kindness known to allʼ? Do you have anxieties that you refuse to make ʻknown 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 ʻchangeʼ they claimed their own need for conversion: ʻwhat should we do?ʼ 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 ʻjobʼ 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 ʻhotʼ ʻpurifyingʼ 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 ʻwinnowing fanʼ was used in the barn to throw the grain up into the air, the dust and ʻchaffʼ – seed casings and bits of stalk – drifted away. This stage separated the wheat. How do you relate to the image of judgement and ʻfireʼ 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 Jesusʼ sandals let alone carry them! Whose sandals do you carry? Who do you listen to as your ʻteacherʼ? 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 ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?