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Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

Download 3rd Easter Sunday Reflection Document

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Reflection Questions:

  • The church continues for 8 weeks soaking us with the message and stories of Easter. Consider the story of the newly married Catholic German couple. The wife welcomed fleeing Jews into their house for safety. The husband on returning challenges his wife on their own safety and possible death. She replies: but we believe in the resurrection. Is your heart glad? Tongue exulting? Flesh hopeful?
  • Peter with the ‘Eleven’ standing in the midst of many ‘Jews’ is a picture of the early Church in Jerusalem. Considering the tone of their words and the audience, fear of persecution is heavily present behind the scenes. Picture yourself today, in the Church,one of the ‘eleven’. What are the challenges and obstacles of the christian community today? The Holy Spirit moved the disciples from fear behind closed doors to courage and preaching in public places. Do you sense the Holy Spirit moving and inspiring you toward a certain action, attitude, mission task?
  • The word ‘ransom’ has a special history in the Old Testament. If a member of your family was sold as a slave, imprisoned, or family land was in-debt, the eldest member of the family had a special duty to ‘ransom’ (buy-back) the family member or land. This image is used by Peter. We have not been won back to God by gold but ‘with the precious blood of Christ’. Do you glimpse the cost of God wanting us to know we are ‘reconciled’ with him? Do you glimpse how loved and loveable you are? What is your life-style response?• The Road to Emmaus features disciples so upset and downcast. They had such high hopes in Jesus. They now ‘walk away’ from Jerusalem. They could not understand why the death of Jesus was necessary. Their saviour had become a failure. To understand they need to be shocked and humbled at how God’s power is able to workthrough human weakness. Are you ‘walking away’ from Easter / Jerusalem disappointed? Do you ‘see’?

    • In the Church’s liturgy what was present in Christ has now passed over into the mysteries / sacraments. Past events are truly made present now. The Emmaus story reflects this truth. Jesus is truly present when his words are shared and his actions at table are repeated. When he ‘blessed, broke, gave’ bread were very very important to the community. These particular actions and words were unique to him and were commanded to be repeated. How could your heart burn more with scripture? What do you need so that you may ‘recognise him’ in the celebration of the Eucharist?

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

Download Easter Sunday Year A Document

Reflections Questions:

  1. Easter (and the next 7 weeks) is filled with the belief in the Resurrection, the appearances of Jesus, and readings from the Acts of Apostles. Acts 10 (first reading) is very significant as it involves Peter addressing a Gentile (Cornelius) and his family in their home. Jews could not be in a Gentile house or eat with them because of the clean / unclean restrictions of the Jewish Laws. This  ʻuncleanʼ ʻsinnerʼ ʻimpureʼ label is the biggest obstacle between Jews and Gentiles not only in the First and New Testament but even today. God was demanding the unthinkable from good and law abiding Jews. Peter was being taught by God to ʻlift the status of ʻuncleanʼ off the backs of the Gentiles.ʼ What cultural, religious, family boundaries have you been brought up with which lead you to separate yourself from others? Who does the world label ʻuncleanʼ today?
  2. The Resurrection is a belief in Jesus rising from death. It is also deeply a life- style victory over powerful rulers who crush the poor and powerless. Does your belief in the Resurrection show itself in a Resurrection lifestyle?
  3. The image of Easter Sunday is the empty tomb. If thieves had stolen Jesus they would not have unwrapped him. The burial cloths are ʻaloneʼ. The story and evidence is shared. People consider it ʻnonsenseʼ. Peter walks home ʻamazedʼ. If you were present in the Resurrection scene, having witnessed his suffering, death and burial. And now the empty tomb with burial cloths on the ground… what would you think? A stolen body or risen Lord? What thoughts and emotions would be present? Spend some time at the ʻtombʼ and see what it teaches you. Can you ʻseeʼ and ‘believeʼ?
  4. Jesus is risen as he said! Jesusʼ resurrection shows a victory over death. Death has lost its ʻstingʼ. Identify 3 things that you would now allow to enter your consciousness as a consequence of believing in the Resurrection? What are ʻResurrectionʼ behaviours? What does it mean to be ʻEaster peopleʼ and ʻChristianʼ?
  5. Imagine someone you have loved in a very intimate and special way. This person died and you were personally involved in seeing the death, the burial. In grief you go to the place of burial and see first-hand that your friend is not there. There is evidence of burial cloths and a messenger that ʻhe has been raisedʼ and that your friend so wants to meet with you and you will see each other soon. What would be your thoughts and feelings? If the resurrection is true, what change in thinking happens about death? About life? About God?
  6. As you have participated in the Holy Week ceremonies over the past few days what do you remember most, what struck you personally from the words, symbols, liturgies? What do you think God was trying to show you for your life journey?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘living the word’ this week?

Download Readings for the Easter Vigil of Light

Reflection Questions

  1. St Augustine has famously called the Easter Vigil ‘The Mother of All Feasts’. This special night gives us signs, symbols, words, gestures which are at the heart of our Catholic Christian faith and identity. Every Sunday celebration flows from this Easter Celebration.
  2. We gather in the dark of night. Darkness symbolizing an absence of light, an unclear path to walk. Gathering around the light of a fire. Like people of ancient times have gathered and talked. We remember the pillar of fire that led God’s family through the desert journey. From this fire we light the Easter Candle the symbol of Christ. Our true ‘light’. It is normal to turn a light-switch and ‘see’. Can you locate an experience of darkness, feeling lost, uncertain of where and how to walk? And the joy of a ‘light’ to guide you? This dark / light reality is important to let enter your religious imagination this night.
  3. The foundational story of our beginnings and the divine statement 6 times of creation being ‘very good’ is deeply important. Despite the chaos of history, pollution, violence, can you look deeply into life and see ‘goodness’ and the ‘beauty of men and women in the ‘image of God’? How might this foundational attitude of goodness and thank-full-ness toward life cause you to live?
  4. Lights turn on and bells ring at the reading of the New Testament. Why?
  5. St Paul teaches us about baptism and the renewal of our baptismal promises made at the Easter Vigil. Our baptism actually involved us into Jesus’ death. We were ‘buried’. Our baptism calls us into ‘a death like his’. Our ‘old self’ of selfishness and sin has and is being crucified and ‘put to death’. Christ’s rising is also our future rising. Consider Paul’s words personally: ‘you must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ’. What do these words teach you about your baptism?
  6. The Resurrection continues from the crucifixion scene with ‘end time events’ being seen: earthquakes, angels, people shaking with fear. Matthew wants us to recognize a truly cosmic event is taking place. A tomb, a place of death is now empty. What does this mean? Jesus has been raised from the dead. What does this mean? As we profess our belief in the resurrection of our bodies, is this merely present as an idea in your head stored up for when you die, or a reality that takes away fear and profoundly influences your living ‘now’?
  7. Jesus calls his disciples ‘brothers’ not hopeless losers who abandoned him. We are ‘family’ to Jesus. No matter how Lent went, enjoy Easter!
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘live the word’ this week?

Download 32nd Sunday Reflection Document

Reflection Questions

  1. The stories of the Mother and 7 Brothers in the book of Maccabees aims to share Jewish Hero stories. While under persecution from Roman Emperors it was helpful to look to examples of great courage and faithfulness to Jewish teaching and tradition. It is best understood not primarily as exact history, but faith lessons taught via story. It was the Macaabean family that stirred up a revolt against Syrian authorities and drove them out of Israel. These young brothers along with their Mum defiantly proclaim their belief in the resurrection. If in the midst of a violent persecution, where would your heart and thoughts turn to?
  2. St Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they are not to sit idle, waiting for the end of time. They are to do all they can so that the Word of the Lord may speed forward… and keep on ʻdoingʼ what they have been instructed to do by Paul. This requires the ʻendurance of christʼ. How would you rate your discipleship journey at present. Idle? Speeding forward? What do you require endurance in?
  3. Sadducees were the elite priestly class that served in the Temple. They only believed in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and did not consider other writings or oral traditions as binding. Consequently they did not believe in the Resurrection. They sought to involve Jesus in a conversation that would cause others to ridicule him. Their view of marriage was a Levirite view. Marriage continued the family line and stopped a family dying out. Jesus challenges the Sadducees not to think so narrowly. In death we are changed, not ʻdeadʼ. And there is more to marriage than maintaining children. Have you ever considered that Marriage is to symbolise the union we will have with God in heaven? Marriage is a sign pointing to a heavenly reality. When you are in the ʻrealityʼ of the restaurant you no longer need the ʻsignʼ for the restaurant. What does this teach you about Christian Marriage?
  4. Celibacy and Chastity are connected with Marriage as they seek to live the ʻrealityʼ of union with God in heaven instead of living the ʻsignʼ of God in marriage. Can you see how priests, sisters, brothers, consecrated lay people, married people are all ʻpointingʼ to the same reality? Have you ever had difficulty understand the vow of ʻchastityʼ that religious people make? Do you understand a little more now?
  5. In celebrating the recent All Souls Day (November 2nd) did it stir up within you thoughts of resurrection and your belief in the after-life. How would you say the Resurrection affects your life ʻnowʼ?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Download 2nd Sunday Easter

Reflection Questions

  1. Early followers of Jesus were fearful that authorities would persecute them and their families. Consequently ʻmany dared not join the Apostles in the Temple porchʼ. Is there something you would like to join in your Church family but are scared for some reason? What would help you get over your ʻfearʼ? Do you fear your Priest? Public leadership in the Church?
  2. Easter changed the disciples. A presence and power of Christ comes out of Peter that heals the sick and disturbed. It is primarily actions and ʻsignsʼ that helped people ʻbelieveʼ. What signs and wonders could be done by your hands to bring Christ to the sick and disturbed?
  3. John, the Beloved Disciple, the writer of the Book of Revelation, was exiled on the island of Patmos because he ʻgave testimony to Jesusʼ. Yet in the midst of imprisonment he has deep and enlightening ʻrevelationsʼ from Christ – dressed in white walking among the lampstands (symbols of Christian communities). John shares he experiences the distress of trials, a kingdom vision which sustains him the endurance and comforting presence of being in Jesus. Imagine Jesus walking amongst the lampstands of Christian communities. Is your community ‘shining’? Is there any experience of the disciple John that you can identify with in your life at present?
  4. Fear was very real for the disciples of Jesus. If they hunted and killed Jesus they could do the same to his followers. Violent persecution eventually changed toward another type of persecution. Converts from Judaism to Christianity would be disowned by family. A ‘funeral service’ would even be held to cut a convert off from their family and community. Do you recognise as a Christian the calling to be living an ‘alternative society’ to witness to God’s ways whatever the challenges? How does your life-style ‘challenge the world’?
  5. While other disciples had believed in Peter and John and Mary, Thomas refused and placed certain conditions on his belief. He needed Jesus to be very ʻrealʼ for him. Jesus responded to Thomasʼ probing and questioning. Do you identify with Thomas or know someone who is like Thomas? What is a question or source of ʻunbeliefʼ? How could you be like Jesus for unbelievers and make faith ‘real’?
  6. Peace is a special gift Jesus promises to his disciples. The disciples are afraid of the Jews and meeting behind ʻlocked doorsʼ. Jesus repeats his words of peace twice. Peacefulness, as a gift of the spirits forgiveness and presence is to be characteristic of a disciples encounter with the world and the world with us. Can you say you are ʻat peaceʼ?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Download Reflection documents

Holy Thursday – The Eucharist is for the soul what food is for the body

Good Friday – God’s judgement on the world is forgiveness

Easter Vigil – Don’t be afraid Jesus has overcome all evil

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent

Download Reflection Document 5th Sunday Lent (RCIA Readings)

Reflection Questions

  1. Rising from the dead is an image in the First and Gospel readings. Ezekiel was not referring to the resurrection of individuals but returning from exile in ‘slavery’ as God’s people were trapped in a ‘foreign land’. As the journey of Lent nears completion we are encouraged to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We invite the spirit to ‘open our graves’ and ‘rise from them’. Where do you experience ‘lifelessness’? Sadness? Dryness? Death?
  2. Suffering is well known to the prophet Ezekiel. He writes of suffering as tough meat being boiled to tenderness in a pot and the heat of fire burning off the rust on the pot (Ez 24). In the midst of suffering Ezekiel writes 86 times ‘I am the LORD’ reminding us that God is guiding our personal lives and history. Can you trust God can work through your suffering? What is your suffering / salvation story?
  3. While we all live as ‘flesh and blood’ St Paul recognises it is possible for our ‘body / flesh’ to steer our life seeking only to satisfy itself with food and pleasure. Selfish and sensual living (flesh living) alone does not ‘please God’. Our baptism welcomed into our lives the Spirit of Christ which inspires and nudges us to become more like Christ. Consider the great power of the spirit to raise Christ from the dead. What would you like to pray for?
  4. Chapter 11 of John is very special. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the seventh ‘sign’ of Jesus. It is important to recognise a sign points to a reality. Jesus, on hearing of his friends death strangely talks immediately of ‘glory’. He even waits for four days as the Jewish belief was that the spirit of the body hovered over the body for 3 days. It is clear Lazarus is truly dead. Only God can bring someone back from the dead. This will be Jesus’ greatest sign to prove his identity as God. If you were present to this scene what would your questions be?
  5. Martha and Mary ask questions and respond to Jesus like true Jewish disciples and faith seekers. Jesus is considered an intermediary – someone ‘close to God’ ‘whatever you ask of God God will give you’. Jesus is unhappy with this response. Martha responds with a Jewish belief in the final resurrection from the dead and a hope in the Messiah. Jesus boldly proclaims ‘Martha, I AM the resurrection and the life’. In effect Jesus is teaching Martha (and us) I am God and I am in charge of and responsible for the resurrection and all life! Let me prove this to you ‘where have you laid him’? Can you trace your faith journey about Jesus’ identity in the questions of Martha? What does this 7th sign now teach you about Jesus? Do you believe?
  6. The Gospel of John was written in Greek. Greek thinking did not allow God to ‘change’ as this would suggest God was weak and not all-powerful. In the midst of his loved friends we have the profound short sentence. ‘And Jesus wept.’ God weeps and is deeply moved by our pain and sadness. Jesus is also perturbed and troubled. John stirs questions up for us about God. If God weeps what does that mean? Is Jesus upset and angry that people do not recognise who he is? What is your response personally to Jesus in this Gospel story?
  7. Jesus strangely says a prayer of thanksgiving before the tomb. Can you allow yourself to hear this prayer to you in the tomb of your wounds and bandages from your life journey. What do you request this Easter to be untied from?
  8. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Readings for Holy Thursday

Readings for Good Friday

Download Easter Vigil

Download Easter Sunday

Reflection Questions

  1. Easter (and the next 7 weeks) is filled with the belief in the Resurrection, the appearances of Jesus, and readings from the Acts of Apostles. Acts 10 (first reading) is very significant as it involves Peter addressing a gentile (Cornelius) and his family in their home. Jews could not be in a gentile house or eat with them because of the clean / unclean restrictions of the Jewish Laws. This ʻuncleanʼ ʻsinnerʼ ʻimpureʼ label is the biggest obstacle between Jews and gentiles not only in the Old and New Testament but even today. God was demanding the unthinkable from good and law abiding Jews. Peter was being taught by God to ʻlift the status of ʻuncleanʼ off the backs of the gentiles.ʼ What cultural, religious, family boundaries have you been brought up with which lead you to separate yourself from others? Who does the world label ʻuncleanʼ?
  2.  The Resurrection is a belief in Jesus rising from death. It is also deeply a life-style victory over powerful rulers who crush the poor and powerless. Does your belief in the Resurrection show itself in a Resurrection lifestyle?
  3. The image of Easter Sunday is the empty tomb. If thieves had stolen Jesus they would not have unwrapped him. The burial cloths are ʻaloneʼ. The story and evidence is shared. People consider it ʻnonsenseʼ. Peter walks home ʻamazedʼ. If you were present in the Resurrection scene, having witnessed his suffering, death and burial. And now the empty tomb with burial cloths on the ground… what would you think? A stolen body or risen Lord? What thoughts and emotions would be present? Spend some time at the ʻtombʼ and see what it teaches you. Can you ʻseeʼ and ʻbelieveʼ?
  4. Jesus is risen as he said! Jesusʼ resurrection shows a victory over death. Death has lost its ʻstingʼ. Identify 3 things that you would now allow to enter your consciousness as a consequence of believing in the Resurrection? What are ʻResurrectionʼ behaviours? What does it mean to be ʻEaster peopleʼ and ʻChristianʼ?
  5. Imagine someone you have loved in a very intimate and special way. This person died and you were personally involved in seeing the death, the burial. In grief you go to the place of burial and see first-hand that your friend is not there. There is evidence of burial cloths and a messenger that ʻhe has been raisedʼ and that your friend so wants to meet with you and you will see each other soon. What would be your thoughts and feelings? If the resurrection is true, what change in thinking happens about death? About life? About God?
  6. As you have participated in the Holy Week ceremonies over the past few days what do you remember most, what struck you personally from the words, symbols, liturgies? What do you think God was trying to show you for your life journey?
  7. What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

On Thursday 15th August the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption. This is the Patronal Feast Day for New Zealand. To acknowledge this a special livingtheword reflection is posted for this celebration.

Download Feast of the Assumption

Reflection Questions

  1. The Assumption of Mary. Pope Pius XII asked all Bishops in 1950 if their congregations believed that Mary was assumed into heaven. 98 percent answered Yes. The Pope recognised that God was speaking through the Church and the sense of faith of the ʻfaithfulʼ. Maryʼs assumption – being taken up – does not mean she did not die but after her ʻsleepingʼ she was taken body and soul into heaven. We as Christian disciples hope to follow after her.
  2. Christian interpretation has often seen in this first reading the figure of Mary. However the early writer was not writing of Mary but the figure of ʻIsraelʼ – Godʼs People – The Bride – The ʻChurchʼ. The Church giving painful birth to disciples is in tension with the dragon who has worn a variety of faces. The Roman Empire seeking to crush Christianity. Persecution of Jewish leaders on the growing sect of disciples in Jerusalem. Reading the passage with this background what strikes you? What face of the dragon have you experienced trying to ʻdevourʼ your discipleship?
  3. On Special Solemnities the selection of readings seeks to teach deep truths of faith. St Paul writes of the first-fruits the first offering back to God. Jesus rises first… and then each one in proper order those who belong to Christ. Do you consider it fitting and right that Mary is ʻtaken upʼ first to enjoy the resurrection with her son? What is your response to the feast of the Assumption of Mary? What does it teach you? Mean for you?
  4. The historical site of the Visitation is in the small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem called ʻEin Karemʼ. In the Church of the Visitation there are large bronze figures of Mary and Elizabeth, their two pregnant tummies almost touching as they greet each other. A conversation happens between Elizabeth and Mary, but also between John and Jesus. The Old Testament is meeting the New Testament. Zechariah, the High Priestly family, the Jewish Priesthood, is meeting the New Priesthood of Christ. Godʼs promises of old, now fulfilled. The long waiting of the Old Testament is now turned to ʻleaping for joyʼ. The Ark of the Covenant which King David ʻleaped for joyʼ before (2 Sam 6,5) is now fulfilled with John leaping for Joy before Mary, bearing Christ and the new covenantʼ. In the baby and disciple John we see our own leaping for joy in the Church before the Eucharist. What image strikes you the most? What could it teach you for your life?
  5. The Magnificat of Mary rejoices in her Savior, but it is not in a timid tone of a young virgin. Luke places on Maryʼs lips a battle cry. A great reversal of life and fortunes is happening. She who is lowly, from a humble rural town, has had great things done ʻfor meʼ. The world has been tipped-up-side-down with everyone falling from their positions and posessions. In Maryʼs religious and prophetic prayer we glimpse the great reversal that Jesus will accomplish in his mission. What does casting down the mighty and lifting up the lowly mean to you?
  6. What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?