God has actually spoken

The scripture readings for Sunday are a great starting point to start listening

more

It's more enjoyable with others

There are some simple and effective ways to share scripture in homes, cafes, parishes

more

Let's walk the talk

Prayer becomes lived out when we make decisions and lifestyle commitments

more

Sign up for email notifications

Or follow us via Twitter, facebook, RSS and more

more

Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult Bible Study’

Discussion Guide:    23rd Sunday Yr. B – Do Your Actions Give Hope in a Broken World?

 

 

 

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man

Reflection Questions:    • The Prophet Isaiah is with the community of Israel as it endures exile in the foreign land of Babylon. No temple. No liturgy. God is experienced as ‘silent’. In their difficulty Isaiah reveals the hope of God rescuing his people through a promised ‘Messiah’ – anointed one – who will ‘come to save you.’ Have you experienced the ‘silence’ of God? Isaiah teaches God seeks complete restoration and wholeness: imagine blind people now seeing. Deaf hearing. Crippled leaping. Silent singing. Desert now flowing. Do you consider yourself as an agent of God’s hope for a broken world?

• James demands concrete behaviour and action. It is not enough to know and say we care for the poor. We must show it. James highlights the Christian Assembly. As we gather for worship we reveal our truth to the world: equality as brothers and sisters in Jesus. Gold rings or shabby clothing is irrelevant. Have you ‘made distinctions’ amongst friends, extended family? Do you ‘change’ when you are in the company of different people? Are you in relationship and friendship with the ‘poor’? Would they experience you as kind but still instructing them to ‘stand there’ or ‘sit at your feet’?

• An early document called ‘Statutes of the Apostles’ charged the priests with making a seat available for a poor person arriving at Church, but he did not have to go out of his way for a rich person. Why? Can you see how our liturgical gathering is to mirror the world we seek to create.

• Mark uses the same Greek word from Isaiah to show that Jesus is the promised Messiah who helps the mute speak – healing his speech impediment. Today theology and geography connect. Jesus intentionally travels back to Galilee but by a very long and unusual route stepping into ʻgentile – uncleanʼ territory. Not only would the Pharisees and those spying on him now not follow him, but like a bulldozer, he shows by his actions he will not live by the ʻcleanʼ-ʻuncleanʼ categories that label people as distant from God. Have your words of concern for the poor been transformed into practical action? What boundaries could you ʻstep overʼ to welcome in those who feel distant from God?

• Healing passages are powerful opportunities for healing in our own lives. Consider the ʻdeaf manʼ. He was lucky to have some friends. Normally illness or disease was considered the result of sin, the presence of an evil spirit. The person was shunned, isolated from family, considered ʻuncleanʼ. In addition this man could not hear or speak. A picture of the most painful experience of human life and our broken humanity. As you reflect on this passage do you identify with the deaf and mute man or the carers who ʻbrought him to Jesusʼ? Why?

• Jesus took the man ʻoff by himself, away from the crowdʼ. Saving him from embarrassment, and tenderly healing the parts of his wounded body. What parts of your life need to ʻbe openedʼ so that you may be whole, reunited and accepted with the community. What would it mean for you to be led ʻaway from the crowds for healingʼ. How could you take up this offer this week? What would it take for you to hear God. Sing Godʼs praises. Dance for joy?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    21st Sunday Year B: Do you believe in the ‘Holy One Of God?’

 

GOD IS REAL (21st Sunday, Year B / Jn 6: 60-69) | soysi

Reflection Questions:  • Joshua leads God’s people from their long journey in the desert (Exodus) into the ‘promised land’. Shechem (meaning ‘shoulder) is a very important geographical location and an ancient place of worship linked to Abraham. It is the entry point between two mountains. Today is truly a ‘crisis – a ‘decision’ time: will they worship the local gods or Yahweh their LORD? We all place our lives down in service of something. What ‘worship’ temptations do you struggle with? What. Where. How. Who…. do you worship?

• Have you experienced in your life journey being led ‘out of a state of slavery’? Being protected mysteriously along the entire journey of your life among many peoples…? What are some significant ‘God moments’ of your life journey. How might reflecting backward help you live forward?

• A warning. Today’s ‘Household code’ has been very misunderstood. So misunderstood one option today has the first 4 verses deleted to make a shortened reading. Greek philosophers wrote about the behaviour of a ‘home’. Jewish and Christian writers also used this idea but changed its meaning significantly. Notice a biblical rule of thumb, the bigger the problem, the more text. Men get 4x more!

• A basic starting principle is being ʻsubordinateʼ or ʻgive wayʼ to one another because of our relationship with Jesus. A ʻgive wayʼ sign stops crashes. This ʻcodeʼ of behaviourʼ is seeking unity. If the wife is to be in imitation of the bride the ʻChurchʼ and the husband is to be in imitation of Christ, can you see how the typical cultural view of the time is being turned upside down? What challenges you personally in this new ʻfamily codeʼ of behaviour?

• Paul places the relationship of marriage into the beautiful mystery of the marriage relationship between ʻChrist and the Churchʼ. In the celebration of the Eucharist the bodily language of love is expressed with the gift of Jesusʼ body and blood being received by the Church bringing a one-flesh Holy Communion. How could you make this reception special, more intimate, meaningful? Consider creating your own personal prayer to pray in silence after communion.

• Today is a crisis – decision time for disciples. Is Jesus a man with strange teaching or the “Holy One of God” teaching Truth? Accepting Jesus will give his Body and Blood is ʻhardʼ for them. They are shocked. Their minds and expectations cannot grasp this large and challenging truth The mystery of God leading the heart and mind into belief is involved. Who and what has helped you in your journey of discovery of the Eucharist? Has your journey of faith reached a decision making step of belief in the real, true, substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Do you believe?

Jesus, we thank you for your teaching over the past 5 weeks on the Eucharist. You are who you claim to be – the Holy One of God. Your words are filled with the Spirit and they are Truth. We know and believe that in you God has come to meet us and be with us. We believe in you. We receive you. We follow you. We live for you. Amen.

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

 

 

Discussion Guide:   20th Sunday Year B – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Assumption of Mary in Art : Icons, Modern, Classical | Assumption of mary, Spiritual art, Blessed mother mary

Reflection  Questions:  • The Assumption of Mary. This doctrine doesn’t simply mean ‘there’s something special about Mary’. Profoundly it affirms something special about humanity. Pope Pius XII asked all Bishops in 1950 if their congregations believed that Mary was assumed into heaven; 98 percent answered ‘Yes’. God spoke through the sense of the ʻfaithfulʼ to affirm Maryʼs assumption. It does not mean she never died but after her ʻsleepingʼ or ‘dormition’ she was taken body and soul into heaven. This was celebrated in the East since ca. A.D.600, and in the West by that centuries end.

• Early Church fathers called Mary the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ seen in the first reading in heaven, even as she once held the fullness of God in her womb and in her arms on earth. The reading also depicts the figure of ʻIsraelʼ – Godʼs People – His Bride – His Church and Mary as a ‘type’ or figure for the church and each Christian who births Christ in their life. The Church births disciples in conflict with the dragon who has many faces. The Roman Empire sought to crush Christianity, Jewish leaders persecuted the new Christian sect. Reading the passage with this background what strikes you? What face of the dragon tries to ʻdevourʼ your discipleship? How has salvation and the power of the Kingdom of God impacted your life?

• 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. Just as Jesus saves us and cleanses us from original sin through Baptism, He saved Mary and cleansed her from sin from the moment of her conception. As an all-holy vessel she could bear Christ and give him the fullness of humanity. As she knew no corruption of sin in her earthly life, her body was not subject to corruption in the grave and Christ was able to bear her up to be with Him in Heaven. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”. What is your response to Mary being ʻtaken upʼ as a first-fruit of Christ’s salvation? What hope does it enliven in you? What does the Assumption of Mary mean personally?

• 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 pregnancy bumps almost touching as they greet each other. A conversation happens between them, but also between John and Jesus. The First Testament meets the New Testament. Zechariah, the high priestly family, the Jewish priesthood, meets the new Priesthood of Christ. Godʼs promises are 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 the disciple John, we see our own encounter with Christ ‘hidden’ in the Eucharist, and in our encounters with others? What image strikes you the most? What could it teach you for your life?

• Mary’s Magnificat is a radical prophetic victory cry, a promise of the reversal of fortunes for all who are saved. Mary is from a humble rural town, yet sings of ‘great things done for meʼ. In Christ the world is irrevocably transformed. In this prophetic prayer we hear the mission that Jesus is to accomplish. What does lifting the lowly, casting down the mighty and the ‘promise’ mean for you?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:  17th Sunday Year B – Give Freely and See God Work

 

 

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry | Kaukauna Catholic Parishes

Reflection Questions:  • Over the next 5 weeks, our scripture readings focus upon the events of God feeding his people. We depart from the normal Gospel of Mark readings from Mark chapter 6 and are placed into the Gospel of John chapter 6. The next five weeks provide an opportunity for prayer and deeper reflection upon the Eucharist and its meaning for our lives.

• Jewish people recognised miraculous events of Prophets feeding God’s people with bread symbolised God feeding his family and satisfying their hunger. It was normal to bring Barley – which was harvested around the time of the Jewish passover – to the temple as an offering. Significantly, because the temple in the North (Gilgal) was following false Baal worship the bread / barley offering is presented to a holy man (Elisha) who distributed it to the poor. Do you experience the prophetic connection between worship and being fed and ‘morality’ – now feeding the poor of the world on behalf of God?

• Last week we heard Jesus has united us all together – Jews and Gentiles. Paul encourages us ‘to live in a manner worthy….’ showing this unity. How do you experience disunity?

•Imagine your life, relationships, workplace. How could you practice unity creating virtues: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with, striving to preserve unity, maintaining a ʻbond of peaceʼ? What is your biggest challenge?

• Because the Gospel of Mark (Yr B) has only 16 chapters, we jump into John chapter 6 for 5 weeks to explore Jesusʼ feeing the 5,000. The story of Jesus feeding with ʻbreadʼ is told 6 times in the Gospels. John is the most theologically full with special words and meaning. It is around the Jewish Feast of the Passover. At passover Jewish people remembered Moses the great prophet feeding them with ʻmanna in the desertʼ. The promised Messiah (King) would also do a miraculous feeding. We notice in each of the three Passovers of Jesusʼ public ministry (Jn 2, 6, 19) the passover is fulfilled and replaced ʻwith his bodyʼ. 5 loaves and 2 fish = 7 the perfect Jewish number indicating a perfect feeding. Taking the loaves, gave thanks, gave it to distribute, gather (synagein), fragments (klasma) are all special words used by the early church for the celebration of the Eucharist. Twelve indicates ʻall Jewish tribes / peopleʼ. What do you make of all these ʻcluesʼ in the reading today? What does this story now mean for you?

• In the midst of large crowds who are hungry, Philip offers no solution. Instead he remarks it will cost so much to fix this problem, 2/3rds of a years wage! What thought or feeling decides your (in)actions: cost or compassion? Do you offer your small contribution of money or compassion, or give up in the sight of large injustice / poverty / hunger?

• The crowds ʻseeʼ the sign Jesus has worked, think of him as ʻtruly the prophetʼ they have been waiting for – the Messiah. The one promised. They wish to make him King. A Political Ruler. Why do you think Jesus ʻwithdrawsʼ? Why is the ʻlifting up of Jesusʼ on the cross the enthronement moment in the gospel of John?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Dear Living the Word subscribers,

Thank you for your commitment to Living the Word.

Sadly your weekly email email of our Scripture reflection for the following Sunday could be interrupted from 1 July because the provider is making changes.  They advised that it should not impact subscribers, but to be cautious we are letting you know just in case your weekly email notice and link is interrupted.

We do not keep your information. So if you stop getting the email, please contact us on nzlivingtheword@gmail.com and add ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line. Your comments about the Scripture reflections are always welcome also.

The other option would be to access the material and the website directly via our Facebook Page at livingtheword | Facebook. 

We apologize for this potential disruption and look forward to continuing to share the Word with you.

Blessings for July which is Bible Month.

Bev McDonald

Living the Word Administrator.

Arise: Desire Leads to Faith and Action. Discussion Guide is Here

See the source image

Reflection Questions.

• The book of Wisdom has Jewish wisdom teachings written when Jews were living amidst Greek culture and philosophy. Death is pondered. Physical death does not cause an end to God’s relationship with those who belong to him. What connections do you see with the Gospel where Jairus’ daughter is raised to life? Have you reflected on creation lately? Consider what it means to be made ‘in the image of God’? If all creation belongs to God, and is gifted to us as our home, how should we treat and care for it?

• St Paul, wrote to the Corinthian church asking for money for the poor church in Jerusalem. His fund-raising pitch was ‘the gracious act’ of Jesus who in his divinity was ‘rich’, yet for our sake ‘became poor’.
Paul calls this Kenosis -self emptying. As Christians we are called to live this model of generous self gift. Our surplus is not for us to store away but so that the needs of others are met. Disciples are called to live
generously and work for human equality. Ponder how much Jesus ‘let go’ by taking on our human condition and suffering death? Some Christians are so deeply called to imitate this, that they choose voluntary poverty. How much you need to live on? What do you do with ‘surplus’? How do you respond to the needs of others as an individual? As a church community? How might living this generosity for the poor, witness to the love and self-gift of Christ today?

•The Gospel has two stories of great faith. Jairus was a leader at the Synagogue. It took great courage for him to approach Jesus as he could lose his job for seeking help from an outsider. He humbles himself and pleads for his sick daughter. Have you ever wanted to ask for help but were too embarrassed? What really holds you back? Notice that in the scriptures healing often calls for faith and action – not just prayer alone? What healing do you seek? What action would help as a step toward your desired wholeness?

• The unnamed women had endured constant menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Jewish law this flow of blood meant she was ritually unclean. She was forbidden to touch others as that would also make them unclean. Even her husband could not touch her. Imagine her isolation and desperation. Consider also her courage in reaching out? That’s why she walks secretly through the crowd and joins intense desire with faith and action to touch Jesus’ cloak. Her embarrassment mixed with fear of condemnation when
asked to publicly identify herself. Restoration has both personal and communal aspects. Why do you think Jesus wanted to make this public?

• Jesus breaks two social and religious barriers. He touches a dead body and is touched by an unclean woman. He made himself unclean, to restore those labeled unclean to full life and community. Do you
listen for and notice those who are excluded or go out of your way to include and welcome them, even to the extent of being rejected or maligned for doing it? Why or why not? How does it feel? How does exclusion or restoration and inclusion impact society? You personally?

• Ponder the imagery. There are 12 tribes of Israel, the chosen people of God. The woman suffered for ’12’ years and the girl was ’12’. The crowds at Jairus’ house ridicule Jesus. He restores the woman to community while the little girl he restores to life, but only apostles are present and no one else is to know. Does anything feel dead in you? Ask God for what you or your loved ones need. Can you hear
Jesus say, ‘arise’ and ‘your faith has saved you’?

• How will you ʻlivethewordʼ this week?

web: www.livingtheword.org.nz   Livingtheword resources were created by Fr Frank Bird sm, and Bev McDonald and distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ. www.maristlaitynz.org

Discussion Guide:    Trinity Sunday Yr. B

 

Rublev's Icon of the Trinity « livingtheword

Reflection Questions:    • Easter concludes with 50 days and the celebration of Pentecost. The Feast of the Trinity and the Feast of Corpus Christi are the Sunday experiences before us. Yet what we celebrate and believe is far from ʻordinaryʼ. Moses speaks to the people and us: can your imagination comprehend how great it is that God has personally ʻspokenʼ to us in the fire on the mountain of Sinai. God personally fought for us and rescued us out of Egypt where we were mistreated. Can you recognise and see with ʻyour very eyesʼ things God has done for you? What experience do you need to treasure more deeply?

• This Trinity was first of all an experience of disciples before it became a theological teaching. ʻGod does not prove himself, he shows himselfʼ. Jesus is the Messiah sent by the Father. His life and words reveals the Fathers love and Mercy. The Spirit is the first gift into our hearts. Imagine the whole experience of being ʻadoptedʼ. The parents doing it and the child receiving it. The child will need help to cry out ʻAbbaʼ – Daddy. Do you experience this relationship? ʻYou did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fearʼ. What do these words mean for you?

•The most significant events in the Gospel of Matthew happen on Mountains. It symbolises being very close to God and consequently the events taking place have the full authority and power of God. It is almost humorous that the disciples bow down in worship but are also doubting. Some texts have ʻbut some doubtedʼ. Jesusʼ response is to approach them! And even in the midst of doubt he sends them into the world with a job /mission. Imagine yourself in this scene. Do you bow, kneel, stand, doubt, hunger, question, fear, run, watch….? What do you wish to say to Jesus as he ʻsends you outʼ?

• Knowing and using a personʼs name symbolizes a relationship and knowledge of the person. Using a person’s name attracts and turns the person’s attention toward you. Reflect on using the name of someone who loves you. What is the experience of calling their ʻnameʼ? Imaginatively enter this experience speaking to each person of the Trinity. Abba – Father. Jesus – Son. Holy Spirit. Can you glimpse a personal relationship and knowledge of each?

• Within the mystery of Godʼs nature we enter a mystery that love is not alone – but a relationship of 3. Consider the ancient icon of the Trinity opposite. There is an empty space at the table for you to ʻpull up your chairʼ at prayer and at the Eucharistic table. What do you notice as you spend time in prayer with this icon?

• Jesus gives clear – and challenging – instructions. There is no privileged people, his message is for ʻall nationsʼ.  A new rite of Baptism in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit will mark an acceptance and adoption into the family of God. People need to be taught how to ʻobserveʼ and live Jesusʼ teachings. ʻGo’! Do you have a consciousness of being involved in this ʻgreat commissionʼ? If people were to be with you, would they glimpse a love relationship alive and nurtured by a church community? If anyone asked you about your relationship with God what would you share?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    Feast of Pentecost – ‘Receive the Holy Spirit

 

Catholic Living Today: “Receive the Holy Spirit."

Reflection Questions:        • Pentecost was a Jewish harvest feast 50 days after Easter when fruit had ripened and wheat was harvested. Along with bringing produce to the temple, it was also an anniversary of the giving of the law (torah)- 10 commandments to Moses on Mt Sinai. There are fulfilment and replacement hints in the text following the interpretive principle the Old Testament is fullfilled in the New Testament. Israel together at Mt Sinai. The earthquake and storm and eruption – fire. Moses speaking personally to God and being gifted withʻlawsʼ to teach and guide. Disciples gathered together in upper-room. Tongues of fire communicating Godʼs spirit and power to teach and guide and unify all people. How would you write what Pentecost ʻmeansʼ?

• Pentecost is also understood as the reversal of the Old Testament Tower of Babel story (see Gen 11). Humankindʼs sin and self importance building the tower to reach and equal God eventuated in the scattering of people and the confusion caused by different languages. The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost unites people to understand each other and the christian message. Does the world today need to hear about Jesus in a fresh and creative way? Where would you start? Be inspired!

• Paul wrote to the Community at Corinth because some people who didnʼt have the gift of tongues were considered inferior. It was causing division in the community. One gift was not to be stressed over another. Everyone is gifted. Name and claim at least 3 gifts you have. What gift do you feel you would like to develop more and use for God and the community?

• The Spirit and ʻgiftsʼ are connected to and give life to the ʻbodyʼ. Which part of the ʻbodyʼ do you identify more with: eyes -seeing, head – thinking, heart – feeling, hands – serving, mouth -speaking, ears -praying. How do you show this in your daily life? How could you be more involved in serving God with this

• Jesus passes through ʻfear -locked doorsʼ to bring peace and forgiveness. What ʻlocked doorsʼ are present in your life?Use your imagination in a time of prayer and allow Jesus to meet you on the other side of these locked doors….. what happened?

• The Spirit sends the Disciples / the Church ʻon missionʼ. The Church is ʻplugged inʼ to a living power-source moulding everyone into the image and consciousness of Christ. Because of the Spirit, the Church has the calling and capacity to be the extension of Jesusʼ ministry in the world. Forgiveness of sins and the healing of wounded hearts, families, communities is what each disciple is ʻsentʼ to do. Consider what feelings and thoughts arise in a person when they are ʻsentʼ with authority to do something? Are you conscious of being sent out by the Father to ʻrepair the worldʼ?

• ‘Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour thy dew; Wash the stains of guilt away. Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray….. Sequence prayer of Pentecost Which prayer ‘image’ to the Spirit speaks personally to you? Why?

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

 

 

Discussion Guide: Ascension of the Lord Yr. B – Our mission: to be the ‘Body of Christ’

 

Mark 16:15 - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net

Reflection Questions:      • The writer of the Gospel of Luke is also understood to have written the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts, we learn of the unfolding events after Easter. The Feast of the Ascension is not trying to claim historically after 40 days Jesus ‘ascended’ but simply reflect on his ‘Ascension’ and new presence now in Heaven. Jesus states a promise has been made by the ‘Father’ to send the Holy Spirit. Have you ever asked someone to make a ‘promise’? Why? What does this reveal about Jesus and ‘us’?

• The disciples are almost ‘told off’ by the Angels. ‘Why are you looking up at the sky?’ Instead of looking up, look around and get to work. The text also encourages a waiting for the spirit and its power so that each disciple can ‘witness’. Have you ‘waited in prayer’ calling for the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit? Consider how you could enter deeply into this prayer request leading to the celebration of Pentecost next week? Consider a place and time. The Spirit is often given through other people’s prayer. Who could you ask?

• Paul teaches beautifully about the deeper reality of ‘Church’. Rather than a mere ‘building’ Paul reminds us our identity and mission is to be the ‘body of Christ’. It will take plenty of work to present to the world a community ‘fully mature’ and with the ‘full stature’ of Christ. What virtue do you think you could live more intentionally at home / work / Church? Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Bearing with one another. Preserving unity?

• The Gospel of Mark is the earliest gospel and was written in a time when the early disciples still thought the return of Christ would be soon. The urgency to share the gospel with every creature before the return of Jesus can almost be felt in the text. This mission is still an active job description to us by Jesus. Imagine having such a wonderful message that you know will bring people joy and life. As you prepare to share it, would you consider just how the message would be received, what obstacles may be in the way, so that they truly ‘get it’ when you speak. St Francis of Assisi told his followers ‘Preach the gospel to the whole world, and use words when necessary’. Do you witness more by words or example? How could you try the other option?

• Mark uses dramatic language to highlight the truth that the power of the Holy Spirit is truly at work in the lives of disciples and in ‘signs’ that accompany the ‘words’. The image is of an intimate connection between Jesus in heaven and his disciples preaching. What signs would you like to pray for on your journey at the moment.

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

 

Discussion Guide  5th Sunday Lent (RCIA) – Come out

 

Radical Faith – Daily Dose With Dr.Shermaine

Reflection Questions:  • 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

• 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?

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