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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

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 1st Sunday Advent

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 ʻfor the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy onesʼ. Picture your own town instead of Thessalonica. What is the purpose of ʻconducting yourselves to please Godʼ? Is it only for heaven or a sign for people ʻtodayʼ of heaven?
  4. Year C begins with our move from the Gospel of Mark to the Gospel of Luke. Lukeʼs community is tired of waiting on a promise of Christʼs return. Luke gives instruction on how christians are to live while ʻwaitingʼ. What does the image: ʻstand erect and raise your headʼ mean to you. What would make you do this? What does living in readiness ʻnowʼ actually look like for you?
  5. Luke contrasts people of the ʻworldʼ 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 ʻvigilantʼ ʻprayerfulʼ ʻreadyʼ? 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 ʻslow downʼ 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: ʻWhat the caterpillar calls end of the world, the Master calls a butterflyʼ
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 33rd Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. In the context of the Church’s liturgy, the 33rd Sunday is only one week away from the end of the year. Next week is Christ The King. Liturgically we enter an atmosphere of reaching the ‘end of time’. Because of this pattern todays readings have an apocalyptic atmosphere of end time struggle and judgment.
  2. Daniel means ‘My judge is God’. The Book of Daniel is written during a time of great persecution when Antiochus Epiphanes is forcing Jews to convert to pagan gods. Here is the first time in Hebrew scriptures that a resurrection of the faithful is mentioned. God is the master of history. All those ‘in the book’ who ‘shine brightly’ and lead people on the way to ‘justice’ will be like stars living forever. Examine your own life. How would the statement ‘my judge is God’ shape your life? Antiochus may not be forcing you to eat pigs flesh (abhorrent and unclean to Jews) but what idols or practices are you subtly invited to ‘eat’?
  3. The Letter to the Hebrews concludes. We are taught about the sacrifice of Jesus fulfilling and finishing the Old Testament sacrifices. Notice the image of the Old Testament Priest ‘standing’ and working each day. Jesus, after the sacrifice of the cross, now being ‘seated’ and waiting for the time of gathering. Consider the victory and offer of forgiveness that has taken place on the cross. Imagine a winning sports team lifting the captain high onto their shoulders with winning trophy held high! This sacrifice of the cross – like a trophy – is held by the priest in the consecration of the bread and wine into the sacrifice and body and blood of Jesus. We stand together rejoicing. And we receive this sacrifice as a sacred forgiveness and communion meal bringing us into a total physical and spiritual union with God and each other. Do you see the depth and great celebration taking place at Mass? What would you like to learn more about? Who could you ask?
  4. The Book of Daniel and The Book of Revelation are apocalyptic writings ʻunveilingʼ a vision of what will take place at the end of time. Each Gospel inserts some apocalyptic passages pointing toward that final day. The images of the sun darkened, stars falling, heavenly struggle, share a cosmic event affecting all of creation. Have you noticed that at the crucifixion of Jesus these images appear. Could this mean that the final ʻeventʼ and ʻstruggleʼ and ʻvictoryʼ has taken place on the cross? Could this be why the early disciples were so expectant of Jesusʼ return before ʻthis generation passed awayʼ?
  5. Why the delay in the second coming is a question asked by Christians. Why is Jesus sitting ʻwaitingʼ in heaven as portrayed in Hebrews? The Gospel points to a ʻgathering of the elect from the four corners of the earthʼ. Will this require all the earth to ʻhear the message of Jesusʼ? Is Jesus lazy on a heavenly chair or waiting urgently to work in the Church, in the sacraments, in each disciple, winning the world ʻheart by heartʼ? How do you understand christian ʻwaitingʼ for the second coming?
  6. ʻThat day or hourʼ is unknown. That it will happen is certain, when it will happen is uncertain. Consider a spiritual practice of imagination prayer. Present yourself to Jesus at the end of time. What does he say? What do you say?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download Sunday 26th

Reflection Questions

  1. Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet with his people in exile in Babylon. Jewish people had a deep sense that sins of their ancestors had caused their current situation (in exile away from Home and their sacred Temple in Jerusalem). It was easy for them to ‘blame’ others for their current situation. They ‘blamed’ God that this exile was ‘unfair’. Ezekiel invites them to take personal responsibility for ‘sin’. Turn to virtue, do what is right and just. This is the way forward. God will teach us and lead us home. Is there an attitude in your life of ‘blame’ rather than taking ‘responsibility’? Blame leads to death. Responsibility leads to life. What change do you need to make?
  2. St Paul invites disciples to have the one essential attitude that will maintain unity: humility. Giving up an attitude of having special rights. Power. Influence. Can you think of a situation in which being ‘humble’ would have saved a meeting, argument, relationship. How could you become more ‘humble’?
  3. Jesus has now arrived in Jerusalem. Angry at his emptying of the Temple, the religious leaders challenge his actions and authority to teach. Jesus responds. Pious words and lip-service is easy. To be true children of God requires actions of doing the will of the Father. In your own self assessment, how large is the gap between your profession of faith and the practice of your faith? In what area of your life is more ‘action’ required? What would motivate you to action?
  4. Anyone can talk holiness, but it is quite another thing to live it. Consider someone in your life who ‘talks the talk and walks the walk’ of their christian belief. How do they inspire your journey? How could you follow their example?
  5. Both sons responses hurt the Father. No-one here is perfect. Jesus understands a priority for Jewish people is to show ‘honor’. The son who said ‘Yes, sir’ was honorable in front of the Father but it was soon revealed as empty and meaningless. Honor is shown ultimately in real obedience. What will it mean for you to ‘walk the talk’ in obedience this week? Consider writing it down.
  6. A requirement for ‘tax collectors’ to be truly repentant and ‘right with God’ was to repay money to those who had been ‘over-taxed’. However it was impossible for them to know and remember all the people they had wrongly taxed. Tax collectors felt helpless and stuck in a situation of never feeling they could be forgiven by God. Jesus reveals this is not the case. God welcomes those who turn to him. Do you know someone who needs help to hope and believe in God’s forgiveness? Consider praying a special prayer for them.
  7. What is one action that you will do to ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Download 4th Sunday Lent Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. Anointing with oil and ‘eyes being opened’ are part of the special journey in Lent for candidates asking for baptism at Easter. For those already baptized, these readings teach us about the deep meaning of our own baptism.
  2. Samuel was the young boy who sat in the temple and was taught how to listen to God’s voice. He became one of the greatest prophets because ‘he never let a word spoken to him by God fall to the ground’. Today he is told by God to do a very dangerous action – high treason! While King Saul was still alive, Samuel was to go to Bethlehem and anoint another King. Are you open to being shocked by what God plans for you? Samuel was told to fill his horn with oil and go… what do you think God is asking of you?
  3.  Samuel had previously anointed King Saul who was tall and handsome ‘head and shoulder above the rest’. He may have been tempted, or had truly learnt a lesson not to judge a person by their ‘appearance’. God sees beyond appearance into a persons heart. Identify someone you are judging by ‘appearance’ and practice noticing their ‘heart’.
  4. St Paul writes about the difference in a persons life before knowing Jesus. Imagine you are in an unfamiliar house and need to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Not knowing where the light switch is you knock into chairs and hard edged furniture. You walk slowly and carefully. Now, turn the light switch on and you walk differently. Peacefully. Confidently. ‘Arise…from death and darkness, Christ will give you light’. Imagine the experience of being blind and then being able to see. This was the experience the early church said happened through Baptism preparation for each adult.
  5. Around the year 85-90 Jewish Christians were excluded from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The man born blind became a very special story and symbol of life being changed by Jesus. The blind man considers Jesus a ‘man’. Then recognizes him as a ‘prophet’. Finally he believes Jesus to be truly the Son of Man – the promised Messiah (anointed one). He calls him Lord (the name of God) and worships him. As a result the blind man becomes rejected by the Pharisees, his family and the community’. They threw him out…. How has your faith journey grown in understanding of Jesus? Would you be willing to endure rejection or persecution for your belief? What do you think happened to the blind man? Can you identify with any of his Christian experience?
  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?

Download 11th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions.

  1. Imagine a great religious and political leader committing adultery and trying to cover up the pregnancy with the secret killing of the husband. This is actually what has happened with the great leader of Israel – King David (see 2 Sam 11). David moves from covering up to confession. God forgives David. What strikes you about Godʼs forgiveness? The painful consequences of sin? What is your experience?
  2. King David is thought to have composed the famous Psalm 51 expressing heartfelt sorrow for sin. If you were to have a heart-felt conversation with God what words would you use? Use Psalm 51 to help you. Consider making use of the sacrament of confession this coming week. What obstacles do you need to overcome to experience Godʼs waiting embrace?
  3. Paul is responding to a big question: Am I acceptable to God? Jewish people in the Galatian community were trying to convince new christian disciples they still had to observe all the Jewish laws to be ʻrightʼ and acceptable to God. Paul, who was a very law-abiding Pharisee cries No! Human frailty eventually breaks the law and observing ʻlawsʼ pales in comparison to what has been given in Jesus. God has come among us, taught us, forgiven us, revealed the resurrection to us. Faith is entering into the embrace of Godʼs acceptance for us in Jesus. What is your response? How could you accept the ʻacceptanceʼ of God?
  4. Paul paints a powerful picture. ‘I have been crucified with Christ’. Imagine each day climbing onto the cross – arms extended in an embrace of our broken world – like Christ giving of his body and blood on the cross to heal the world. Is your life lived with arms open generously or arms tightly closed in self preservation?
  5. Some cultural information behind this parable is helpful for reflection. Hospitality was always to be shown to guests. Water to wash feet, hands. Perfume / oil to annoint oneʼs head. Simon shows no hospitality to Jesus. Women were also conditioned only to show and let down their hair for their husband. The woman is showing very intimate actions of love toward Jesus. What now strikes you in this parable?
  6. Simon the Pharisee and the Woman who was regarded as a ʻsinnerʼ in the town are both struggling with who is ʻacceptable to Godʼ. The Pharisee thought only people keeping all the rules and laws were satisfying the ʻpurityʼ code of being ʻcleanʼ and therefore ʻrightʼ with God. Simon is horrified that Jesus allows a sinful woman to ʻtouchʼ him and thereby make him ʻuncleanʼ. What is Simonʼs deep theological problem?
  7. Imagine someone releasing you of a debt of a year and a half of your wages. Or 3 months of your wages. What would your feelings be? Would this experience find expression in any action? What is the greatest ʻreleaseʼ experience you have had. Did it change your lifestyle in any way?
  8. The quality and image of discipleship between the Woman and Simon is different. What attracts you? Why?
  9. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

KBg8C2Download 2nd Sunday Lent Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. Abram has 3 conversations with God about a promise made to him. This is the second and Abram is upset. He has left his home, is in a foreign land, and the promise to be the Father of a large nation is almost laughable as he and his wife are now so old. They do not have a child. Abram asks for a sign. God makes a covenant. In the Old Testament a covenant was a solemn promise between two parties. Both parties would walk through the middle of the split animals as a symbol of what would happen if either party broke the promise. God is the only one to walk through the animals (v17) symbolised by the fire. What do you think this means? Can you identify with Abram in your life? What does God’s covenant faithfulness mean for you today?
  2. St Paul loved the Philippian community. They were his first community. They were being pressured politically. To be acceptable they needed to partake in civic ceremonies and the worship of the Emperor cult. They were worried about their image of acceptability. St Paul reminds them their citizenship is in heaven. What pressures do you face to be acceptable in the eyes of the world? How can you live more fully for ‘heaven’ during this time of Lent?
  3. The transfiguration of Jesus appearing dazzlingly white symbolises a heavenly reality. Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Fulfilling the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah). Jesus’ divine nature shines through. While glorious, the ministry in Galilee is now over. Jesus will soon ‘set his face like flint’ (Lk 9,51) towards the ‘exodus’, his suffering, death and resurrection in Jerusalem. Peter wants to stay in glory on the mountain. Is there anything you have heard in prayer that requires costly obedience? Where would the ‘journey down the mountain’(from prayer)  and confronting evil (to the cross) lead you?
  4. Making tents and sleeping in them was part of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. It reminded Jewish people of the special time when God pitched his tent among them in the desert. It was a symbol of wanting God to be with them again. Jesus is revealed as the very presence of God among his people in the transfigured bright whiteness like Moses had met on Mt Sinai. Peter doesn’t get it. He seeks to build tents hoping for a future coming of God. Peter does not know what he is saying or doing. Are you mucking around with ‘tents’ or going down the mountain to work?
  5. The ‘Divine Voice’ of the Father from heaven speaks only a few times in the Gospels. 9 words are shared today: ‘This is my chosen Son, listen to him’. During the season of Lent how could you ‘listen’ more? What is the best way you have found in the past to ‘listen’ to God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

 

Ash Wednesday Yr C

February 11, 2013

Download Ash Wednesday Yr C

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 Baptism of the Lord Yr C

Reflection Questions

  1. The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. 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 ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?
  3. It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why?
  4. 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’?
  5. ou 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’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your annointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a
  • Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
  • Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
  • King – to lead the world not follow the world.
  • How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?
  1. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?