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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

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

Image result for worth more than many sparrows

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?

Download 6th Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. The book of Sirach was a collection of wisdom sayings, attempting to show the beauty and depth of Jewish wisdom. Personally imagine the scene of water and fire before you. What do these symbols represent in your personal life? In what ways do you stretch out your hand toward water? Toward fire? What joy have you found in reaching toward water? What wisdom have you found in being ‘burnt’ by fire?
  2. ‘If you choose’ you can keep the commandments is pointing to human free will and capacity of each of us to follow the ways of God. The meaning of the word ‘commandment’ actually means something placed into your hand. Do you see the guidance of ‘laws’ and teachings of Jesus and the Church as a ‘stick’ or a ‘message of love placed into your hands’ by someone who loves you? What is the consequence of viewing ‘laws’ as ‘a stick’?
  3. St Paul had many people in the Corinthian community turn against him. A particular group in the Corinthian community claimed to be more spiritual and knowledgeable. St Paul humbly points out that academic and worldy debate is not the sign of true wisdom from God. Knowledge and wisdom are different. Wisdom is found in love and often through suffering. And the spirit is present especially in those who love God. Who is a wisdom figure for you? How do you see love present in their life?
  4. The Gospel of Matthew is unique in that the community began with Jewish Christians, and then was increasingly joined by Greek converts to Christianity. Jewish Christians had grown up keeping all 613 laws of the Old Testament. Scribes (scriputre scholars) and Pharisees (lay men determined to keep all the Jewish laws exactly) prided themselves on being ‘righteous’ and yet Jesus says their living is ‘shallow’. Jesus invites followers to live far more deeply. Murder is healed when people resolve their ‘anger’. Adultery is healed when people can live and look upon each other without ‘lust’. Easy divorce is not a positive option. Let your word be always true in Yes and No. Anger. Lust. Relationships. Lies. What area do you need to work to transform so your life is living in right relationship with God and others?
  5.  Recall if any brother or sister has anything against you. What would the invitation ‘go first and be reconciled’ before coming to Sunday Mass personally mean for you?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ 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?

KBg8C2Download 4th Sunday Lent Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. While Moses was a great leader and teacher, the courage of Joshua was needed to face the challenge of entering the ʻpromised landʼ. The manna ceased. They were now to work for their food. What change has God been trying to work in you and teach you this Lent?
  2. St Paul wanted to teach the Corinthian community that faith in Jesus was more than believing oneʼs sins forgiven. God has also given us the ministry of reconciliation in the world. Reconciliation between peoples and with God is a christians top priority. What relationships need ʻreconcilingʼ in your life? Who could you start with?
  3. In the middle of Lent the Church encourages us to look at our understanding of God with the parable of the prodigal son. It is Jesus teaching us what the Fathers love is really like.The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus did not obey the laws of keeping separate from sinners. Surely God does not want to get ʻcontaminatedʼ with sinners? What do you honestly think is Godʼs response to your sinfulness? What ʻimageʼ do you have of God?
  4. The young son commits the biggest sin possible for a young Jewish person. Asking for the inheritance was like wishing Dad was ‘dead’! Yet the father’s love does not change. Do you feel distant from God because of something you have done …. will you accept the love that the Father shows to his child is the same love that is shown to you? Will you accept this love in the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent? What might hold you back?
  5. The Father does a number of humiliating actions which show the depth of his love. The Father runs in public. It was unbecoming for a Jewish elder to show one’s ankles in public. It is the equivalent of ‘baring one’s bottom’. The crowds attention is now drawn away from the son and the possibility of hurting him. The father accepts the humiliation, in front of the whole community, of the older son angry and argumentative. Does the older son wish the father was dead too? Does anyone appreciate the Fathers love? If this is what God is like toward you what is your response?
  6. The Son reaches a very low point in his life. Literally, the phrase ‘coming to his senses’ can be translated ‘he entered into himself’. He makes the most profound decision of his life to ‘return’. What places, practices and people could help you journey ‘into yourself’ this Lent? What decisions have you resisted in the past that would most transform your life?
  7. The parable of the Prodigal (Reckless) Son is also called the Parable of the Prodigal Father. So unconditional is the Father’s love that neither the youngest son or eldest son fully accept it. The parable ends without a resolution. Will God’s children accept his unconditional love and enjoy the ‘fattened calf’ and banquet? Can you glimpse this invitation in the celebration of the Eucharist?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Ash Wednesday Yr C

February 11, 2013

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Reflection Questions:

  1. Ash Wednesday begins Lent. It is easy for 6 weeks of Lent to pass by and one has not placed oneself on the ‘starting line’ to begin the journey. Taking part in the reception of the ashes symbolises starting the journey. It is possible to appear at the starting line but not enter the race. What was the experience and journey of Lent last year like? Share a decision and plan with a faith-friend and ask for them to cheer you on over the next 40 days.
  2. The image from the prophet Joel is an invitation for everything to come to a complete stop. Call everyone. Old. Young. Babies. Newly married. Priests in the middle of their work at the altar. How could you ‘stop’? Where? When? The image is of a special people called to be a ‘light’ not a ‘reproach’ among the nations. Pray for the whole christian church throughout the world during the season of renewed faithfulness in turning from sin and being faithful to the Gospel.
  3. Imagine being an ‘Ambassador’. The responsibility and challenge of representing and delivering important communication. If you accepted the job your witness and life-style would be challenged to be in harmony with your message. Jesus gives his disciples an ambassadors task of proclaiming ‘on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God’. Will you, as an ambassador, receive the sacrament of reconciliation during this season of Lent?
  4. Jesus does not ask, but presumes that a disciple will do certain actions. When you give alms…. When you pray…. When you fast…. These traditional lenten practices are powerful practices that help us to clearly focus on what is important. Prayer: What voices do you listen to? Fasting: What things fill your life? Almsgiving: Do you hear the cries of those in need and respond?
  5. Jesus emphasises doing these actions in ‘secret’ will be ‘repaid’ by God. ‘In secret’ guards us from seeking attention and personal ‘glory’ from others. Lent is not to turn into a shallow show. Do not be afraid to share your secret lent journey with a friend – and encourage your friend into the depths rather than the surface show.
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week? 

Download Epiphany of the Lord Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. Epiphany is the Greek word meaning to ‘show’ or ‘make manifest’. The Magi from the East (coming from the Greek word for people of special knowledge) pay homage to Jesus. This symbolises all nations recognising Jesus as King and Lord. If you had to write a story to teach the truth about Jesus what truths would you seek to include? How could the Church make Christ known more creatively today? What is the most creative christian evangelisation message you have seen lately?
  2. Isaiah makes a beautiful prophecy which is fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew story and the Magi today. God’s chosen people have just returned from exile and their country and beautiful city of Jerusalem and its Temple are in ruins. Isaiah begins with the image of Jerusalem as a woman lying down in defeat. ‘Rise up Jerusalem! Your light has come.’ As we enter the beginning of the New Year how could you experience ‘rising up’ to your most beautiful self? How could you help the Church ‘rise up’ and make Christ known? What would it take for you to be radiant and your heart throb with joy and pride in the Church community? What will you do?
  3. Paul states very clearly a mind-shattering truth: ‘the gentiles are coheirs’. Jewish people thought of and treated ‘gentiles’ as ‘unclean’. Paul says they are ‘clean’ and ‘co-partners’ in the inheritance of God’s promises and family. What adjustments in mind, heart, and action, would take place if God revealed to you that everyone was clean and equal and a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to you and you were all part of the same family? Imagine what life-style change this would involve. Are you willing to try? Can you glimpse this is the central gospel message of Jesus?
  4. In ancient times a new star was thought to indicate a new leader being born. The Magi are on a journey of seeking God. They have knowledge. Resources. Time. All that the world declares is necessary for fulfilment. Yet they are hungry for something more. What is currently guiding your life? Would you say you are thirsty, hungry, searching?  How and where do you find Jesus today?
  5. The three gifts presented reveal the identity of Jesus. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest whose role is to pray and send prayers to God in heaven. Myrrh pointing toward Jesus’ sacrifice and death and future burial. As the new year begins what personal ‘gifts’, ‘talents’, are you willing to ‘give’ in service to God? Consider the deeper meaning of homage and surrender. How could you express a deeper commitment to following Jesus? What change of direction would you like to make to imitate the Magi?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?