Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chriostai Notes on the Eleventh Sunday of Kingdom Time

Questions from Last Week:

What is the history of the celebration of the eucharist? How has it changed over time? How do different denominations celebrate it today?

First Reading — Ezekiel 17:22-24 

22 Thus says the Lord GOD: "I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar, and will set it out; I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it upon a high and lofty mountain; 23 on the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar; and under it will dwell all kinds of beasts; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it." 

1. What are the similarities between the “tender shoot” in this reading and the mustard seed in the Gospel? In each case, “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.” What do you think of when you read this?

2. The tender shoot becomes a majestic cedar. In the Gospels, Jesus referred to the “least” becoming the “greatest” numerous times. How is Jesus’ own life an example of this? Can you think of others who follow(ed) this example?

3. What does this passage from Ezekiel tell us about the nature and character of God’s sovereignty?

Second Reading — 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 

6 So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. 

1. “Walk by faith, and not by sight.” What does that mean to you? Why would we need the courage, which Paul mentions twice in this reading, in order to walk by faith? Have the men beheaded by ISIS been walking by faith or sight?

2. Is your faith constant even when the spiritual weather patterns in your life are not? Paul said, “We are always courageous.” Is that true? Are you? Always? What helps when you are not?

3. What should be the focus or orientation of citizens of the Kingdom of God? 

Gospel Reading — Mark 4:26-34 

26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, 27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." 30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 33 with many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. 

1. What is the farmer’s job in both of these parables? What is God’s job? Could you ask yourself the same two questions about your ministry … your job and God’s job? Can you trust God to do God’s job?

2. How does what Pope Francis says below relate to the words below from this reading? “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God? …  It is like the mustard seed. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. … ”
The Church, he said, is “something else.” The disciples do not make the Church—they are the messengers sent by Jesus. And Christ was sent by the Father: “The Church begins there,” he said, “in the heart of the Father, who had this idea … of love. So this love story began, a story that has gone on for so long, and is not yet ended. We, the women and men of the Church, we are in the middle of a love story: each of us is a link in this chain of love. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is.
… But how does it increase? Jesus said simply: like the mustard seed, it grows like yeast in flour, without noise.
Mass in the Chapel of the Casa Santa Marta,
Vatican Radio, April 24, 2013

3. What do these two parables tell you about the Kingdom/Reign of God? 

4. In what way(s) are we to be involved in the expansion of the Kingdom of God? 

5. To whom or what is the “seed” referring? 

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