Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chriostai Study Notes for the Thirtieth Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Jeremiah 31:7-9

7 For thus says the Lord: “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel.’ 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her who is in travail, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born.

  1. How do you feel these Israelites should respond to God?

  1. What can we learn from this passage?

  2. This reading is about God’s promise to console and deliver his people. They were a remnant in the land of the north, blind and lame, and they departed in tears. Pope Francis said new policies and new forms of social consensus are needed to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices. What does/can your parish or office or family do to fight the poverty?
How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
      4. Is there anyone in your life who just needs the road “leveled out” a little? If you help, how is this good for you as well as that person? Does self-giving help bring about the reign of God?

Second Reading — Hebrews 5:1-6

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; 6 as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

  1. Why do you think God has such intense concern for the poor and needy of the world?

  1. How does this passage in Hebrews describe a priest’s primary role?

  2. “He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.” How would the experience of weakness help someone minister to others? Do you think Jesus’ human experience and suffering draws people to him? Why?

  3.  Baptism makes all of us ministers of the reign of God. Think about Moses, Peter, Paul, St. Augustine, St. Damien, St. Thomas Aquinas and others. Discuss how weaknesses can help make good ministers.

Gospel Reading — Mark 10:46-52

46 And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

  1. Besides physical blindness what signs of blindness do you see in society?

  1. How do you respond to other’s blindness?

  1. What steps would you recommend for assessing the degree of one’s own blindness?

  1. How can we cultivate our faith so that our petitions to Jesus are faith based?

  2. The disciples were trying to shut up Bartimaeus. But he kept calling out to Jesus anyway. What do you do when others tell you to keep quiet? In the history of the Church can you think of great scientists and theologians who were silenced?

  3. “Master, I want to see.” What is it that you want to “see” that will change your life as radically as Bartimaeus changed his? Do you recognize Christ in our midst today as Bartimaeus did? How open are you to the working of the Spirit in your life?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 29th Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Isaiah 53:10-11

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; 11 he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.

  1. How many aspects of salvation can you discover in this passage?

  1. Which aspect of salvation is most meaningful to you?

  2. Do you suffer with the loved one, who is suffering? Would you take the person’s place if you could? Does God act in this manner in the suffering of all human beings?

  3. “Do this in memory of me.” Is this an invitation to join Jesus’ suffering and participate in his redemption of the world? Can God use your actions or your suffering to accomplish God’s work in the world today?

Second Reading — Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  1. How should an understanding of Jesus intercession for us affect our lives?

  1. What does the writer of Hebrews mean by “hold fast our confession”?

  2. Christ is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” the Second Reading says. Does he completely understand your situation no matter how dense it is? Are you able to understand other people’s weaknesses? Jesus “was tested in every way.” Do you ever remember this when you are being tested and are in need of grace?

  3. “ … Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God … ” Since Jesus was an authentic human being, do you think he carries with him every member of the human race to the throne of God?

Gospel Reading — Mark 10:35-45

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  1. How would you respond if Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

  1. Why do you think the disciples were indignant? What was the root of their response?

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate being servant and “slave of all”?

  1. Redefine in light of Jesus’ discourse, what it means to “serve.”

  2. Jesus told the disciples that the way to rank first is by serving others. What does unselfish service look like in your parish, work, or home? On a larger scale could it change the world? How?
    The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature.

    Such understanding and respect call for a higher degree of wisdom, one which accepts transcendence, rejects the creation of an all-powerful élite, and recognizes that the full meaning of individual and collective life is found in selfless service to others and in the sage and respectful use of creation for the common good. To repeat the words of Paul VI, “the edifice of modern civilization has to be built on spiritual principles, for they are the only ones capable not only of supporting it, but of shedding light on it.”

  3. “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant …” In this quote from his U. N. address below, where does Pope Francis say the full meaning of individual and collective life is found? Why does Jesus attribute so much importance to the emptying of oneself?

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Kingdom Time.

Amos 5: 6-7, 10-15 

6 Seek the LORD and live, Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, And devour it, With no one to quench it in Bethel- 7 You who turn justice to wormwood, And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!" 10 They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly. 11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor And take grain taxes from him, Though you have built houses of hewn stone, Yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, But you shall not drink wine from them. 12 For I know your manifold transgressions And your mighty sins: Afflicting the just and taking bribes; Diverting the poor from justice at the gate. 13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, For it is an evil time. 14 Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the LORD God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. 15 Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.  

1. What has Israel done to deserve the Lord's judgment (5:7, 10, 11, 12)?

2. The Lord pleads with Israel in verses 4, 6, 14 and 15. In this context, what would it mean for Israel to seek the Lord?

3.  In their complacency and security, Israel failed to grieve over the ruin of their nation (5:6). What should grieve you today about your personal life?  What grieves you about your church and your nation? Take time to pray about those things that cause you to grieve. Ask the Lord to help you seek his will in these areas.

Second Reading — Hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

  1. What does “the Word of God is living and active” mean to you?

  1. Give an example of how God’s Word discerns our thought and intentions.
  2. This reading says that “the word of God … is able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” How do you feel about God knowing you better than you know yourself? Do you trust God with such personal things? And would you like to know yourself better?
  3. Do motives and attitudes color your decision-making? Are your motives and attitudes in good order, or could they use a re-alignment?

Gospel Reading — Mark 10:17-30

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” 21 And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

  1. Where do you see yourself in this story?
  1. How would you respond if Jesus issued the same invitation to you?
  1. What are some warning signals that would warn us that we are in danger of trusting in money?
  1. What motivations do you see for sacrificial living?
  2. Think of people you know who spend their time giving. What are they like? Do they receive the hundredfold Jesus promised to those who follow him? What happens to you when you give things up
  3. Are possessions themselves the difficulty, or is clinging to them? Or is it the inner drive to own and accumulate that is the problem? Can the unbridled desire to possess be a stumbling block to world peace or ecological sustainability? How?

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 27th Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Genesis 2:18-24

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh..

  1. How does the Genesis passage help to define loneliness?
  1. What does “leaving” one’s parents and “cleaving” to one’s wife mean to you?

3 . In The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupèry has the fox say that “ … you become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” God let Adam, one of us, give each creature its name, which is, in a way, like a taming process. Do we feel responsible for the planet and all the life on it? Do you see any areas in our environment where we are not acting responsibly? Discuss what you can do in your home or place of work to make changes for the better.

4. Do you think the culture from which this story comes values women the same as men? Why or why not? What would you say to a person who thinks the superiority of men over women is divinely revealed in this text? What will you do if the women and men in your work place are not treated as equals?

Second Reading — Hebrews 2:9-11

9 But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, …

  1. What can we learn about dealing with our mate’s imperfections from Jesus’ example?

2. What ideas do you get when you tie the first line of the First Reading, “The Lord God said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’” with the first line from the Second Reading, “He ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels.’” (For the little while he was with us.)

3. Jesus consecrated himself to his Father and us along with him. He called us sisters and brothers. How does this influence our reverence toward our brothers and sisters? Do you treat the bag lady with the same respect that you treat the CEO?

Gospel Reading — Mark 10:2-16

2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

  1. What did Jesus mean when saying that divorce was allowed by Moses because of their hardness of heart?

  1. What are the positive reasons why people should avoid divorce?

  1. Describe what you feel should be the Christian’s attitude toward divorce. Toward marriage.

  1. How does the quality of our marriage either open the door for our children to come to Jesus, or hinder their coming to Him?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 26th Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Numbers 11:25-29

25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did so no more.
26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested upon them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, forbid them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”

1. Joshua wanted Moses to stop Eldad and Medad's prophesying because they didn't follow the rules. Can you relate to this kind of problem? Is Moses' response in this reading related to Jesus' response in the Gospel? How?

2. Does the Spirit work in religions other than your own? Ever? Always? What might the Spirit be doing in them? Do gifts in other peoples help you to see what God might be doing through them? If the origin of a gift is not clearly from the Spirit, would “By their fruits you shall know them” be a good test?

3. Contrast the attitudes of Joshua and Moses

Second Reading — James 5:1-6

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.

1. Wages withheld from the harvesters cry aloud to the Lord of hosts, James says. How does this message apply today to arguments for a federal minimum wage hike or buying Fair Trade coffee? Or beefing up laws that would end human trafficking?

2. James says that the rich in this reading got their wealth at the expense of the poor. How would the harvesters in the reading feel this? How would humane treatment from the rich relate to a living wage? To profound respect?
  1. How should we relate to the spiritual success of other Christians?

  1. What is the root cause of jealousy, selfishness and greed?

Gospel Reading — Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. …
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. … 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

1. What was Jesus’ response to the idea that no one outside the inner circle was to minister in his name? Can anyone lay exclusive claim to the reign of God as Jesus revealed it?

2. The good that every person does should be accepted, Pope Francis says below. How far does he go in accepting good works from others?
“If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do well.” The disciples were a little intolerant, closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” This was wrong. ... Jesus broadens the horizon, reminding us that the Lord created us in His image and likeness and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. The objection is swift: “But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.” Yes, he can. ... The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! “Father, the atheists?” Even the atheists. Everyone! We must meet one another doing good. “But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.
  1. Why were the disciples opposed to the man who was casting out demons?

  1. Compare the disciples’ attitude toward this other person who was casting out demons, with the Pharisees attitude toward Jesus’ casting out demons.

  1. What does Jesus teach regarding our attitude toward others who serve him?