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Posts Tagged ‘Repent’

Discussion Guide, Repent and Turn to God

Acts 3:13-15,17-19, 1 John 2:1-5, Luke 24:35-48

Image result for fish swimming upstream

Reflection Questions

  • Peter has gone through a remarkable experience of change since his denial of Christ and  now has the confidence to preach the core christian message to unbelievers.  He now knows what it is to be forgiven and to turn back to relationship with Jesus. Notice then how his preaching is connected with his ʻlivingʼ and the ʻsignsʼ that he works (he just cured someone!). ʻPreachingʼ comes after ʻlivingʼ.  What sign / action / witness can I ʻliveʼ this week to let people experience Jesus through me?
  • Holiness is a universal call to everyone. ʻRepent and be convertedʼ is an invitation to a complete change of oneʼs value system. The worldview of the early disciples had been tipped upside down with the Resurrection. Consider what change took place for the early disciples to sell land and give to those in need? Is your value system those of the ʻworldʼ or ʻChristʼ?  Ask God what areas of your life need more of the Holy Spirit so you can change and grow as a disciple. Then take the next most obvious steps to cooperate with God and bring that change about.
  • Some people in the Johannine community believed that ‘knowledge’ of salvation was salvation. ‘Knowing’ Jesus and his forgiveness was all that was important. Moral behaviour and changing one’s lifestyle were irrelevant. Yet the Easter Acts of the Apostles and Gospel readings, teach that the disciples of Jesus witnessed to the resurrection with power and signs and wonders. Their lives were transformed. The Easter Sunday Victory of the Resurrection is supposed to overturn the evil of good Friday. Christians are not just baptised and waiting for the idea of the resurrection to become true when they die and enter eternal life. We have a job to do. Holiness is for now. As disciples we are each called to live in and for Christ in our everyday life whatever that entails for us. How could you ʻkeep the wordʼ more and let the ʻlove of God come to perfection within youʼ more?
  • Jesus was ʻmade known to them in the breaking of breadʼ. This new action and new words with it, was so new at the last supper that it transformed the traditional Passover meal. Only the Son of God could do this. Yet the resurrected Jesus must have appeared different to the disciples as it was only ‘at the breaking of the bread’ that they recognised him. How do you understand what happens at the celebration of the Mass / Eucharist? How does it help you experience the ongoing presence of Jesus? Do you have questions of the Scriptures that require some help to understand them? What are they? Who could you ask for help?
  • “Why are you troubled and what are the questions rising in your heart” What are the things you need to look at, discuss with someone, write about, research, pray about, so you too can reach the peace and transformation Jesus offers today?
  • What is one action that you will do to ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

 

 

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Reflection Questions

  1. The Book of the Prophet Jonah is a book about his life. It is understood not to be an historical writing, but a reflection on the nationalism of the Hebrew people (represented by Jonah) who could not consider ‘Gentiles’ as worthy of recieving God’s Mercy and attention (represented by the Gentile city of Nineveh). Jonah was called by God to speak to the people of Nineveh but instead chose to run in the opposite direction. Only after trying to escape and spending 3 days in the belly of a whale did he show obedience to God’s call. Strikingly the people of Nineveh responded to God’s call to change and ‘turn from their evil way’. Have you heard a constant voice, noticed a constant desire, felt a passion stir within that does not go away? This is frequently the way people experience God’s ‘call’ upon their life. Are you ‘running in the opposite direction’? Arguing with God (like Jonah) with reasons ‘why you will not do it’. What is your best guess as God’s calling on your life today. What is your response?
  2. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is an early letter when Paul still thought Jesus would be returning ‘very soon’. While we are conscious of Jesus’ delayed return his message still holds: all the things of the world will pass away and nothing is to become an obstacle between ourselves and God. List the relationships and objects / possessions that are important to you. Is anyone / anything damaging the time and relationship and obedience that God is asking of you? What could you do to restore a balance? What could you ‘let go of’ to be more available to God?
  3. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel quickly teaches about being a disciple of Jesus. In a dark way the cost of being a true disciple is suggested with John the Baptist being ‘handed over’. Jesus too will be handed over. Disciples too will be handed over. A battle scene is subtly painted with words. Satan’s rule is now going to be replaced by that of God: The Kingdom of God is at hand! While sometimes slower at revealing itself, God’s ways to bring justice and overcome evil will triumph. Are you with God? Are you engaged in overcoming ‘evil’ or are you passively watching? What does ‘Repent’ (change) mean for you?
  4. Simon and Andrew, with their Father and hired men are considered to be at least ‘middle class’. Part of a family business, boats, employees. In following Jesus they are letting go of family expectations and financial security. They must be attracted to an even greater concern. What is it? Re- image the scene using your own ‘family’ and ‘work’. What is your response to Jesus?
  5. In the Gospel of Mark, immediately Jesus chooses disciples. Immediately he places himself with others in a community. He will teach but also receive companionship. Who are like- minded people who you need to support your discipleship? How could you ‘build community’ together to encourage faithfulness and obedience to Jesus?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

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 Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Todayʼs prophecy foretells Jesusʼ coming. Celebrating Jesusʼ Baptism we learn also of our own ʻjob descriptionʼ to live following Jesusʼ lifestyle and example in the world. What does it mean for you to be: ʻchosenʼ, ʻupon whom I have put my spiritʼ, ʻbring forth justiceʼ. Called personally for the ʻvictory of justiceʼ. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?
  2. Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ʻcleanʼ and ʻuncleanʼ. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ʻuncleanʼ. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ʻuncleanʼ. Peter is told by God to go into Corneliusʼ home (He was a gentile!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ʻpeople of every nation are acceptable to Godʼ. Who do you consider to be ʻcleanʼ ʻuncleanʼ? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome? What obstacles do you have to overcome?
  3. The Psalm for each Sunday expresses the cry of the human heart. Joyfulness in drawing water which brings life. What does the symbol of water mean for you? Being in touch with the central idea, now pray intently each word of the psalm. Do not go on from each sentence until each word is prayed and experienced fully.
  4. What is one line that speaks deeply to your life today? Write it on your hand and take it with you today. Repeat it often so that it is prayed in your heart.
  5. It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. Only a servant / slave would be asked to wash someone’s feet. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why?
  6. Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’?
  7. You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. Repeat again and again in your heart ‘You are my beloved Son / Daughter; with you I am well pleased’. Allow this to heal, encourage and strengthen you. What response do you make to God after hearing this?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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Reflection Questions

  1. Isaiah chapters 40-55 are known as the ‘Book of Comfort’. The prophet is speaking encouraging words to the exiles as they return home and seek to rebuild their lives and the Temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah is also known as the ‘carrier of the hope of the Messiah’. Foretelling a time when God will come among his people. Can you see the prediction of John the Baptist and Jesus in the reading from Isaiah? What image speaks personally to you on your advent journey?
  2. The preparation of a straight road or a royal highway was known to happen in ancient times when a very special person was to visit. Physically, valleys were filled and hills were lowered to make the way smooth and easy. At great expense! As Advent invites us to make a clear pathway for the Lord, what roadblocks, ditches, hills require the earthmoving equipment of prayer, spiritual direction, reconciliation?
  3. The 2nd Letter of Peter is regarded as possibly the latest of the New Testament Letters. Obviously they are concerned with the delay of Jesus. Peter teaches God’s final judgement is not based upon human calendars. While Peter uses the popular belief of the time of a final ‘fire’ at the end of time, he also emphasises the need for good behaviour and ‘righteousness’ (whereas gnostics did not consider there would be a future judgment and therefore immorality was irrelevant). Would Christ’s coming find you ‘eager to be found without spot’? At peace? What is the source of your ‘dis-ease’?
  4. Today we hear the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel we will listen to for the rest of the Year. Mark immediately shares the ‘secret’ in the first line. We are about to hear ‘gospel’ (good news about a victory battle over evil) done by Jesus Christ. He is the one who reveals by words, actions of power, that he has all the attributes of God = Son of God. Is your interest raised? Consider spending a few hours to read Mark (the shortest gospel) for Advent.
  5. To announce a figure of such great importance requires a voice to ‘proclaim’ the immanent arrival. This is the role of John the Baptist. Significantly John does this at the Jordan river (at the same crossing point Israel left the desert and entered the Promised Land). A new rescuing by God is taking place. John is painted to be like the great prophet Elijah who was to return to prepare for the ‘great day of the Lord’. Who has been a holy witness and ‘prophet’ like John the Baptist for your journey? Who could you be a holy witness for this advent calling them back to God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection Document – 3rd Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. The Prophet Isaiah remarks that the land called ‘District of the Gentiles’ (the area around the sea of Galilee)  will see ‘a great light’. Imagine a small narrow road linking one part of the world with the other. This is the ‘Holy Land’ (Israel). It was a very busy trading route. Consequently there were many ‘foreigners’. For Jewish people it sometimes felt like a curse. However in God’s plan the light shines brighter in the darkness. Have you ever experienced being lost in darkness and then helped by a light? What happened. What is Isaiah trying to teach us about God?
  2. St Paul continues his writing to the people of Corinth. He is upset that their witness and service to Christ has turned towards arguments rather than charity. Have you ever felt a group of people wanting you to ‘belong’ to ‘their idea’? Have you had an experience of ‘division’ in the community or workplace or parish, people claiming the same purpose but not united in ‘mind’? Did you seek to understand ‘both sides’ and seek unity, or, did you grow division?
  3. Today in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus leaves his home town of Nazareth and arrives in Galilee. Fulfilling the 1st Reading prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus spends most of his 3 years of public ministry between 3 towns in Galilee. As the new year begins do you feel it is time to leave your ‘Nazareth’, your place of comfort, and enter ‘Galilee’ to undertake a new challenge? How could you be a light to ‘people who sit in darkness’? Those overshadowed by death, sickness, sadnees?
  4.  In the time of Jesus, the phrase Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God were special. Everyone was waiting for the time when God would finally overcome the power of evil. Essentially Jesus begins preaching a ‘wake up’ call: ‘change your mind (repent), take notice, God is now showing victory over evil! This is the good news. Have you ever noticed Jesus both preaches and heals. Words and actions go together. How does your life bring the kingdom of heaven and contribute to the overcoming of evil? Is your faith words and actions?
  5.  Fishing was the main industry around the sea of Galilee. Peter, Andrew, James and John were probably not ‘poor’. Boats, nets, family, work colleagues, commitments and bank accounts are significant for them (and us!). Yet they are placed second to Jesus’ invitation to follow. Is the presence of your life curing and comforting (disease and illness?) or comfortable and callous? If you had to write a sentence of what you thought God would personally like you to do / be, what would you write?
  6.  What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

1st Sunday Lent Yr C

February 11, 2013

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Reflection Questions

  1. The book of Deuteronomy shares one of the most important statements of faith in the Old Testament. It was spoken every time a person gave their offering to the priest in the Temple. It reminded them of their identity and how God ‘saved’ them. Bringing the tithe (tenth) of the harvest to the temple acknowledged God’s care and provision. How could you express this religious practice of thankfulness – ‘tithing’ (giving a 10th)? Dt 26: 12-15 invites giving to the levite (priest), the foreigner (refugee), the orphan and the widow (those without family and financial support). This is at the heart of the Lenten practice of ‘almsgiving’. How generous will you be in giving of your time, talent, money, compassion… this Lent as a way of ‘thanksgiving’ for what God has given you?
  2. Paul’s letter to the Romans is a careful explanation of how we are made right with God. Justification by keeping the ‘law’ was deeply ingrained in Jewish consciousness and history. Paul reminds us that it is faith in God’s covenantal relationship with us in Jesus that saves us. In a relationship, what is the difference between ‘law’ and ‘love’? Do you ‘enjoy-love’ your relationship with God? Does a ‘love’ relationship need to respect any ‘law’? What word or image would describe your relationship with God ‘now’ as the journey of Lent begins?
  3. Jesus in the desert provides us with the starting point of Lent. Consider how you can create some ‘desert’ space in your life, away from distractions and noise, to be with God and discover your ‘true’ self? What is 1 decision you can make to enter the Lenten ‘desert’?
  4. Careful reflection on Jesus’ temptations leads us to see a mirror conflict within ourselves between good and evil. Get bread for ‘self’. Seek power and reputation. Demand support from others. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving are practices during Lent to deconstruct our false self and reconstruct our true self. Almsgiving enables the hungry at our door and beyond to be fed and healed. Fasting turns us from worldly consumerism to clarity of purpose and compassion for others. Prayer tunes us into God’s vision and voice. From Jesus’ temptations, which core temptation do you notice strongly at work in your life? Which Lenten practice do you need?
  5. Repent literally means ‘change your mind’. It could be understood as ‘turn your value system around completely – 180 degrees’. As Lent begins, Jesus guides us: there is more to life than satisifying our ‘bread-belly’ and physical or material cravings. What creative fasting experience could you create to nourish your spirit and soul journey?
  6. Returning from the great baptism event in the Jordan, Jesus would have faced pressure to get active and do things. Interestingly his choice was to listen to where the Holy Spirit deep inside was calling. Are you faced with a temptation to ‘perform’ and be a certain type of person in public? Whose voice is the Spirit and what is the Desert for you?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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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?

Download Reflection – 1st Sunday Advent Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Advent begins today. The color purple has an interesting background for us to ponder. Purple dye historically originated from a tiny shell-fish. It took 12,000 shell fish to make 1.5 grams of pure dye. The expense meant it was used only by the wealthy and became a symbol of royalty. Advent purple indicates we are waiting for the coming of the King of Kings. We are ‘preparing’ for the birth of Jesus but also spiritually for the second ‘coming’. Ponder for a few minutes what you would do if in 4 weeks time you were truly going to stand before Jesus Christ the King.
  2. Jeremiah was a prophet in a very difficult time. Jewish King after Jewish King had failed to bring peace. God’s people were now in exile in Babylon. In the midst of foreign people and their gods Jewish people began to lose hope. Jeremiah reminds them of a promise made by God to believe in: I will raise up a ‘just shoot’ from the line of David. So beautiful will this event be, the great city of Jerusalem will be renamed – Justice! In the midst of life’s difficulties what brings you hope? Frequently we think of God’s love, but do we recognise what God really wants is ‘justice’. Do you hope for this as a future event or do you give your life to its fulfillment ‘today’?
  3. Thessalonica was one of the earliest christian communities. A port city bringing trade and culture, hot springs bringing tourists. It was prime real estate in a Roman provincial town. With many cultures came many gods, Greek, Egyptian, Roman Emperor worship. Paul had been chased out of this town quickly but had established a small group of christian followers. He writes to encourage them to be blameless in holiness, living lives pleasing to God. Ready ‘for the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones’. Picture your own town instead of Thessalonica. What is the purpose of ‘conducting yourselves to please God’? Is it only for heaven or a sign for people ‘today’ of heaven?
  4. Year C begins with our move from the Gospel of Mark to the Gospel of Luke. Luke’s community is tired of waiting on a promise of Christ’s return. Luke gives instruction on how christians are to live while ‘waiting’. What does the image: ‘stand erect and raise your head’ mean to you. What would make you do this? What does living in readiness ‘now’ actually look like for you?
  5. Luke contrasts people of the ‘world’ with hearts drowsy or hardened with excessive sensual pleasure, drunkenness, worries, with christian disciples watchful and vigilant, praying and ready to stand before the Son of Man. Where are you in this picture? What advent practices could you begin to be ‘vigilant’ ‘prayerful’ ‘ready’? What would you like to bring to God in the Advent practice of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation?
  6. We all know what December will involve: shopping, christmas cards, cooking, end of year celebrations. Will you be satisfied? How could you ‘slow down’ and set aside time to soak up the christian focus of Christmas – is there a church near or on the journey from work  you could visit for 5 minutes daily?
  7. Christians view the end of the world differently: ‘What the caterpillar calls end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly’
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

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Reflection Question 4: Jesus leaves home and invites disciples also to ‘leave home and family and assets’ – all the things which we most treasure and love and can also become status symbols of ‘success’. We choose what we ‘want’. What we hunger for. What do you think Simon and Andrew, James and John ‘hungered for? Do you feel it within you? This God inspired hunger (calling) breeds a freedom to respond. Have you located what you are most deeply attracted to? What you hunger and desire? Have you recognised God’s ‘call is planted within you in your deepest desires’? What is your response?

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Reflection Question 3: They say of John the baptist: He is admired from a distance but watch out when you get close! Repent! is his cry and message. In the original Greek the word is Metanoia. Meta – change. Noia – mind / thinking. It is often linked in scriptures to both personal and communal conversion to bring about a social reconstruction of society. Everything is to be made ‘right’ ‘repaired’ ‘turned to God’s way’. Identify something you want to change personally and communally – producing ‘good fruit’. Write this in a place you will often notice during Advent.

Advent Story: Hands Up! Anthony De Mello. Some years ago a great retreat preacher came into a crowded room of people who had traveled great distances to be on retreat. The preacher came to a microphone and asked: Hands up those who want to go to heaven? Immediately all hands waved in the air. The preacher then asked: Hands up those who want to go now? No-one put their hand up. He said ‘you might like to spend the day thinking about why you are not ready now. And with stunned silence he left the room.