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Posts Tagged ‘young adults’

The Discussion guide for Hear the Word, Live the Word is here.

Questions for individual or group Reflection.

  1. The final chapters of Isaiah are called the ‘Book of Consolations’, written to comfort and encourage the Israelites in exile. God’s people are invited to trust deeply in the power and promises of God. They will return home. The power of God’s word to do and bring about what is spoken points also to the Gospel reading and the power of the ‘seed’ that is sown to be extremely fruitful. The Hebrew ‘dabar’ is translated as both ‘word’ and ‘deed’. Consider your own word. Do you ‘do’ as you ‘say’? Is your word powerful? Effective? Can people rely on your ‘word’ and ‘what you say you will do’?
  2. St Paul uses striking imagery to describe our spiritual journey. We groan within ourselves as we ‘wait for adoption’ and the ultimate redemption of our bodies. What life experience at present is causing you to ‘groan inwardly’? Do you accept or resent your human frailty and weakness? St Paul’s words suggest he talked with God about this. What is the experience of ‘waiting for adoption’? Can you link this with your discipleship and suffering?
  3. Matthew chapter 13 has a series of parables. Today we listen to the first about the ‘Sower and the Seed’. The seed is the focus of the parable. It is symbolic of Jesus’ ‘word’ being sown by his preaching. A concern of Jesus’ disciples and the early Christian community was why Jesus was apparently so ‘unsuccessful’. Many people listened, were healed, but did not believe and ‘follow’. This parable may be an attempt by the community of Matthew to explain why this happened.
  4. Two points would have astounded the listeners of this parable. The generosity – or foolishness of the sower – putting seed in places where it will not grow. And the extreme fruitfulness of the seed planted in rich soil. A good crop would have been a yeild of 30% of the seed, but this seed brings also 60% and 100% fruitfulness! What does this show about God and the power of His Word? Consider the fruitfulness of the scriptures in your life. Can you identify a time when you responded to the Word asking you to do something incredibly challenging? Life-changing? What passage did this for you?
  5. The reader is invited to reflect upon what type of ‘soil’ is present in their life and if there are any obstacles to the Word (seed)? Things closing my eyes, ears, heart? A question or topic of faith that I have not pursued enough and been satisfied with ‘not understanding’? Some trial or tribulation that I have let dominate my life, whose voice I have let be louder than God’s voice? Concern and ‘anxiety’ for money, job, clothing, posessions, relationships that have led me to choose the world over God?
  6. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

An easy to print guide to Being Yoked with Christ: Year A, 14th Sunday is here

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Reflection and discussion questions.

  1. Zechariah makes a prophesy that the Saviour will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Horse and Chariot were symbols of power and war. A donkey was a symbol of humble work and peace. Horse and Donkey. Power and Humility. Violence and Service. Why does the world favor a horse, God a donkey?
  2. “Meek” is a word mentioned twice in todays readings. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘not easily provoked’. Like a person feeling anger and yet staying in full control, able to turn it to justice rather than violence. Meek people lead the way in reconciliation, healing. Who could you identify as ‘Meek’? What practice could you adopt to develop a meek character?
  3. ‘Flesh’ is St Paul’s expression talkingabout a life that is lived without God, like an animal following only its senses. A ‘Spirit’ led life is a life open to God and turned outward in love. How do you experience the disciples tension of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’? Which life do you feed and nourish?
  4. In chapters 11-12 Matthew is teaching about Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. Matthew has Jesus replace Moses as the great teacher. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is greater than the Torah (Law given by Moses) and all the Prophets. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son wishes to reveal him’ is a knowledge claim by Jesus. What does this statement mean for you?
  5. Jesus remarks how great learned religious figures (Pharisees and Scribes) cannot accept him, yet ‘little ones’ (the poor, those without learning, workers of the land) accept him. It is not necessarily learning that has proven an obstacle but pride and position. Within those who are ‘comfortable’ and ‘satisfied’ grows an inability to be ‘open’. Are you satisfied? Have you made Jesus comfortable? What challenge of Jesus do you find hardest to be ‘open’ to?
  6. The Torah (OT Law) handed down by Moses required knowing and being obedient to 613 laws. This was a ‘heavy burden’. People felt oppressed by the rules and those enforcing them (Saducees, Scribes, Pharisees). Jewish people referred to this as the ‘yoke of the law’. Jesus invites a radical change. ‘Come to me’ all who are feeling heavily burdened. ‘I will give you rest’. Put on my yoke. ‘Learn from me’. The Torah is being replaced by the person of Jesus. A wooden ‘yoke’ put around the bullocks neck was tailor made to avoid painful imbalance. In your disciples journey, how are you experiencing the ‘yoke’ of Jesus? Are you trying to do and carry more than is required?
  7. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

KBg8C2Download 14th Sunday Yr C 

Reflection Questions

  1. Isaiah provides a very intimate feminine image of a baby being comforted at a Motherʼs breast to symbolise the return of exiles back to Jerusalem. It is one of the most cherished images of Godʼs love for sinful humanity. Some commentators share this as a feminine image in the Old Testament to the Compassionate Father in the Prodigal Son Gospel story. Try replacing ʻJerusalemʼ with your own name. What feelings are stirred within you? If the Old Testament ʻJerusalemʼ is now the ʻChurchʼ, which sacraments provide us with this tender grace of love?
  2. • St Paul leads us into a deeper discovery of the meaning of the cross. The cross does not only give us Jesusʼ forgiveness of sins but reveals a rule and ʻlife-styleʼ. Christian disciples are now drawn into a way of living that reveals they are ʻcrucified to the worldʼ. Many worldly attractions are no longer top priorities. My life direction and purpose is now in Jesus and for others. Consider what your deepest desires are and what you are really living for? If 1000 people lived your ʻlife-styleʼ what sort of world would be emerging?
  3. Jesus sent out 72 people – the number of known nations in the world. He urgently seeks to bring people to God – and to dethrone Satanʼs power in the world. Have you ever thought of a ʻmissionʼ project that is bigger than yourself and requires others to help? What would you need to do to start the project? Have you been attracted to a project? What happened?
  4. Take no money, no bag, no extra shoes, donʼt be distracted by talking to anyone on the way to your job, and donʼt jump from house to house to seek comfort. A serious challenge! Disciples are to be detached from any security other than their relationship with Jesus. They only resource they bring is ʻpeaceʼ, and working and praying in Jesusʼ name to ʻcure the sickʼ. Can you identify anyone who lives this ʻabsolute trust in God lifestyleʼ as an example for you? Has their inspiration changed anything in you?
  5.  Jesus warns disciples to be ready for rejection. Peace not anger and argument are trademark signs of christian disciples. Have you had the courage to witness to Christ? Have you shared ideas and projects that were not ʻreceivedʼ? Shaking of the dust was not done individually but by a ʻpairʼ. Why do you think it was important for Jesus to send out disciples in ʻpairsʼ? Who could you have as a ʻpairʼ to journey and share with – especially in the rejection moments?
  6. Jesus did not delay sending people out on mission until the disciples were complete and perfect. I need more formation. Iʼm not good enough. Iʼm not confident enough. Iʼm too broken and sinful are easy responses to not engage in mission and ministry. Sometimes we need prayer- filled focus. What is God asking of me and what is the next step in ʻdoing itʼ? ʻBehold, I have given you the power…..
  7.  What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ 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?

 

Download 18th Sunday Yr A

Reflection Questions:

  1. Isaiah 40-55 is known as ‘The Book of Comfort’. God will comfort and look after his people. In ancient cultures a relationship and bond of commitment was sealed by a meal together. They also acknowledged with a prayer of thanksgiving that something was sacrificed (an animal, a grain of wheat..) in order that human beings were fed. A ‘sacrifice’ enabled a ‘meal’ which established a ‘bond between the participants of a meal’. This is the basis of a ‘covenant’ meal in the Old Testament, the Last Supper and indeed the Eucharist Christians celebrate. God promises to feed us without money being paid. And to nourish us both physically and spiritually. Consider the gifts God gives you each day. How has God been ‘feeding’ you?
  2. St Paul himself endured being beaten, stoned, whipped, shipwrecked, imprisoned. Yet he boldly declares nothing can separate us from God’s love revealed in Christ. What current experience causes you to think and feel ‘separated’ from Christ? Does Christ on the Cross ‘bridge this gap’?
  3. Matthew 13 was filled with Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 14 is now concerned with the Kingdom of the Church and the mission of the Disciples. We are taught how we are to be and live.
  4. John the Baptist, the greatest prophet, has been killed. This sadness causes Jesus to retreat to a deserted and lonely place. Consider all the feelings of Jesus in loosing a very close companion. Wanting silence and rest. Having a crowd chase after him. Tired and yet moved with pity and willing to give of himself. What do you learn about Jesus? About God? About yourself?
  5. John the Baptist spoke courageously reminding Herod he cannot marry his brothers wife. Why does the world seek to remove the ‘voice’ of a prophet? Have you experienced the tension and risk in being a ‘prophet’ today? What happened?
  6. Matthew is seeking to show Jesus as the fulfilment of Moses and all the prophets. Parallel to the feeding in the desert (Moses / Exodus) Jesus now feeds a large crowd in a ‘deserted place’ with bread. There is an abundance of food (a symbol of the great messianic age). Each Apostle is left holding one of 12 baskets of bread symbolic of the new Tribe of Israel (Church). The Disciples now have the job of feeding the hungry. Imaginatively enter the scene and pretend to be a disciple. What did you learn?
  7. The Disciples had a ‘poverty mentality’. Jesus had an ‘abundance mentality’ when even a small amount of resources were offered to God. Consider your response to the ‘poor and hungry’ this week. What could you do with the little you have?
  8. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

Download 5th Sunday Easter Yr A

Reflection Questions

  1. The early Christian community described in Acts endures many challenging experiences. Today marks an incredible ‘break-through’. Greek speaking (Hellenists) Christians complained their widows were not being fed in the daily distribution of food to the poor. Jewish Christians may have been favouring their own kind. The Church was transitioning from a Jewish Christian community to a more Greek speaking and Greek cultured community. Imagine the tensions and arguments! Yet the Apostles creatively responded with wisdom and preserved unity. A new service structure was implemented into the community. Who is getting all the attention in your community? Who is not? What creative response is needed to meet the needs of ‘the poor’?
  2. The passage of scripture from Peter is regarded as part of an Easter Baptismal Homily. The image is of a Temple built with stones aligned with the ‘cornerstone – Jesus’ which holds the whole ‘house’ together. Who is a ‘living stone’ you look to in your local community for ‘alignment’ with Jesus? How do you ‘measure up’?
  3. Priesthood, a Holy People set apart, a people bringing the world to God and God to the world, is not to be understood as confined to the ‘Temple’. Peter reminds all the baptised they are no longer limited to bringing animal and grain offerings to the Temple. Their lives are to announce God’s love and care. Feeding the poor, clothing and care of the sick, prayers for the community are all part of the great ‘spiritual sacrifices’ offered to God to bring God to the people and the people to God. Do you glimpse your ‘royal’ and ‘priestly’ job description of Baptism into the family of Christ? Can you glimpse the connection between the Sunday altar and the Monday office desk?
  4. John 14-17 is Jesus’ departing words to his disciples. His words are filled with the language of intimate love. Have you ever had someone beautifully prepare a guest room for you? Say they want you to be always with them? How did it feel? How does it feel to know Jesus wants this relationship with you?
  5. Without Jesus and no longer welcome in the Jewish Temple, the Johannine community felt they were lost. ‘How can we know the ‘way’? ‘I AM the way’ is a theological punch. Jesus uses the ‘divine name (I AM) and challenges his followers to live ‘his way – the way of God’. Our life-style, our time-style, our ‘way’, is to be in exact replication of Christ. How does this challenge you?
  6. “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” What ‘works’ are we called to do?
  7. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Download:3rd Sunday Advent

Reflection Question 5: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ reveals John the Baptist had some doubts about Jesus as the promised Messiah. John had preached of a divine judge, a vindicator, a warrior, someone separating out the good from the bad, throwing people into ‘an unquenchable fire’. Jesus’ actions caused some confusion to John. What is your image of God and Messiah? What expectations do you have of God bringing ‘salvation’?

Advent Story. The Master and the Puppy. C.S. Lewis. Imagine you were God and you had a puppy. You wanted to show your puppy you loved it completely. How would you show your love? You would feed it, take it for a walk, cuddle it, let it come inside…… But would you consider an extreme love? How about completely taking on the condition of being a ‘puppy’ with all the self emptying it involves? This is what God has done in Jesus. This is the real celebration at the Heart of Christmas. What is your response?

Download 29th Sunday Yr C

Reflection Question 1: The Amelekites were a constant threat to the peaceful settlement of God’s people in the promised land. The battle scene is describing a theological point. Other countries made political and military alliances. Israel was to rely on God. And prayer works! What does the phrase ‘keeping your hands raised up’ mean for you? Have you asked anyone to pray to God for your protection? Can you remember an experience where you recognised the power of prayer?

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Check out the livingtheword bookshelf for helpful scripture books to learn more

Download: 25th Sunday Yr C

Reflection Question 4: The rich man has a dishonest steward, but Jesus concludes by praising some of the dishonest stewards actions. The steward has just lost his job. Before everyone finds out, he has a crafty but risky plan. He will not charge the full interest and commission on the debt. He will win friends and those in debt will also praise the honour of the rich land owner believing that the master is truly honorable in not charging them interest on their ‘loan’. Jesus comments that worldly people are often more creative and faithful to their goals and use of money to build ‘their kingdom’ than are spiritual people. How could you creatively use money to build the ‘Kingdom of God’. Have you considered any creative fund raising project which could serve the poor? Have you shared your wealth and shown a preferential option for the poor recently?

Enjoy and Share – how about printing or sharing a livingtheword poster

Download: 19th Sunday Yr C

Reflection Question 6: If entry into heaven was based on a quiz, and you knew the answers before-hand, would you practise the answers? If we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and lost – and we know this is the ‘masters will’ – would we be found ‘ready’? Do we fear not being found ready…. are we in for a ‘severe beating’?

It is Vocation Awareness Week this week – reflect on some helpful tips to finding your vocation

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