Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 16th Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Jeremiah 23:1-6

1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD. 5 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ ”

1. In this reading the Lord speaks to the bad shepherds, i.e., leaders of his people. What are the priorities or values of a shepherd whose sheep tremble and fear? What are the priorities and values of “The Lord our justice?”

2. Imagine that you are a caretaker of people like a shepherd is for sheep. What can you do about the fear people experience all over the world due to injustice? Are you able to do anything to remedy any of the injustices? Is there anything you can do about unfair situations in your own living area?

3. Contrast the results of the two kinds of shepherds

Second Reading - Ephesians 2:13-18 13 

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 

1. Paul, a Jew preaching to Gentiles, was now a Christian preaching to Jews. There were a lot of barriers or dividing walls as Paul calls them. Discuss dividing walls present today among peoples of different beliefs, races or cultures.

2. Which dividing walls seem most impenetrable to you? Using this reading as a guide, what might people do who would like to resolve their differences or in other words break down walls that divide them? For instance, on June 17th a white man in Charleston, SC, killed nine black people in a Bible study group. The families of the victims forgave the killer. Is this the kind of action that will break down a dividing wall?

2. How did God bring about reconciliation between the Gentiles and Jews? 

3. Define reconciliation from this passage.

Gospel Reading — Mark 6:30-34 

30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 

1. Pope Francis addressed the priests of Rome on the topic of mercy by calling to mind the scene in which Jesus is moved with pity for the vast crowd for they were tired and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. How does his statement illustrate the line from the Gospel?   

2. Pope Francis said that the Gospel “must be proclaimed in poverty,” and that Jesus wanted the disciples to have a “no frills attached” attitude—“no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” How does this kind of detachment help disciples heal the “wounded and oppressed” mentioned below?

[Many] are wounded by material problems, by scandals, even in the Church, [and] the illusions of the world. We priests must be there, close to these people. …
Mercy means, above all, taking care of wounds. When a person is injured, this is the immediate help they need, not analysis; the special care can follow, but first we need to tend to the open wounds. Pastoral suffering [is] suffering with the people, like a father and a mother suffer for their children, and I would say also with anxiety.

4. How do you respond when you are thrown into a hectic situation? 

5. Do you think people appreciate being shepherded? Why, or why not? 

6. Explain Jesus’ comment that they were “like sheep without a shepherd.” 

7. What have you discovered personally about Jesus’ care?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the Fifteenth Sunday of Kingdom Time

Questions from last week:

What does it mean to be under authority?

First Reading — Amos 7:12-15 

12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” 14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” 

1. Explain the difference between being a prophet and being a witness. 

2. How do you feel about rejection? Can you think of any prophet who didn’t experience rejection? They chased Amos out of Bethel. What do you do when you think something needs to be done that makes everyone uncomfortable? What are some situations today that need prophets? Are you willing to take on the job?

3. Amos points out to Amaziah that he was a shepherd and it wasn’t his idea to be a prophet anyway. Are education, occupation, eloquence, talent or intelligence prerequisites for a prophet? Then what is necessary? If you were called to be a prophet, would you be as reluctant as Amos was?

Second Reading — Ephesians 1:3-14 

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 5 He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 which he lavished upon us. 9 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, 12we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 

1. Can you accept St. Paul’s statement that you have been in the mind of God from all eternity before the creation of the world? What is your response?

2. “In him you also … were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit …” Think of ways the Holy Spirit is active in your life, guiding, fixing, enlightening, giving courage. Has God lavished his grace on you, through the Holy Spirit, this year? This week? Today?

3. In the Second Reading mark the things that have already been done for us regarding salvation. What new aspect of salvation have you discovered? 

4. What is man’s responsibility in salvation according to this passage? 

5. What are the purposes of salvation revealed here?

Gospel Reading — Mark 6:7-13 

7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them 

1. “Evangelizing” means to bring the Good News to all humanity, and through its influence to make humanity new, transform it from within. How can you transform humanity around you in your daily life?   

2. Pope Francis said that the Gospel “must be proclaimed in poverty,” and that Jesus wanted the disciples to have a “no frills attached” attitude—“no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” How does this kind of detachment help disciples heal the “wounded and oppressed” mentioned below?

This is the mission of the Church: the Church that heals, that cares [for people]. I sometimes describe the Church as a field hospital. True, there are many wounded, how many wounded! How many people who need their wounds to be healed! This is the mission of the Church: to heal the wounded hearts, to open doors, to free [people], to say that God is good, God forgives all, that God is our Father, God is tender, that God is always waiting for us.
Mass at Santa Marta, May 2, 2015

3. What principles for sharing the Good News do you discover from this passage? 

4. What are some advantages of two people partnering in the process of sharing the Good News? 

5. Why do you think that Jesus didn’t send more “stuff” with them? How is that applicable to us?

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 14th Sunday of Kingdom Time

Questions from Last Week:

What are exercises that we can do to help us be desperate for God, willing to submit us to Him like we saw from Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood.

Spiritual Disciplines (Exercises) are designed to bring us to repentance and healthy spiritual life:

  • Prayer
    • The Sacrament of Sacred Confession
    • Saying (reciting) prayers
      • The Jesus Prayer
      • Kyrie Eleison
      • Daily Offices of Prayer
      • Canons
      • Hymns
    • Prayers of the Heart
      • Free Thought Prayer
      • Wordless Prayer (Listening)
    • Reading/Listening
      • The Bible
      • Spiritual writings
      • Spiritual meditation

  • Fasting (Voluntarily limiting and focusing ourselves and our actions, not an exercise of self-will)
    • Food
    • Needless Speaking
    • Coarse Jesting
    • Time-Wasting
    • Certain Entertainments
    • Limiting Comfort in garments or positions

  • Almsgiving
    • Tithing
    • Charitable Giving
    • Hospitality
    • Volunteering
    • Tutoring
    • Encouraging
    • Cooking
    • Cleaning
This is of course an incomplete list.  For a more thorough explanation read this:

Also, Listen to this AMAZING SERMON SERIES by Father Anthony Messeh:

really, any of his sermon series are amazing. Try the Body Shop. It's SOO goooood.

First Reading — Ezekiel 2:2-5 

2 And when he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels, who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The people also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them; and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that there has been a prophet among them. 

1. Different temperaments would respond to this assignment in different ways. How would you have responded? 

2. What provision did God make for Ezekiel to fulfill this assignment? 

3. Are there prophets in your life? Are you sometimes stubborn and closed about listening to their messages? Why? Why would you reject the person or the message?

4. Do you think the ordinary prophet has great success or runs into opposition most of the time? Have you and/or your ideas ever been rejected when you tried to change something for the better? How do you handle rejection?

Second Reading — 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7 and to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

1. If you went out shopping for weaknesses or crosses to bear would you pick the ones you already have or would you pick different ones? Why? Do you find God in your weakness? Can it be a constant source of grace?

2. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Do you rely on these words? How often do you bring them out and use them? 

3. How have you seen God glorified through someone’s problems and difficulties? 

4. What attitude or belief is at the heart of Paul’s contentment?

Gospel Reading — Mark 6:1-6 

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. 

1. Can you think of theologians, saints, or scientists who were rejected for their ideas? Do you know any prophets today? Where can you find them? What besides immigration and care for the environment might they be trying to change for the better? For what cause could you be a prophet?

2. Do you agree with Pope Francis' description of prophets below: that they are people who keep the promise of God alive, see the suffering of their people, and bring us the strength to look ahead?
A prophet is someone who listens to the words of God, who reads the spirit of the times, and who knows how to move forward towards the future. …

In the Gospel, for example, the priests ask Jesus: “With what authority do you do these things? We are the masters of the Temple!” They didn't understand the prophecy … they had forgotten the promise. They didn't know how to read the spirit of the times, they didn't listen to the words of God, they had only their authority. …

Lord, let us not lack prophets amongst your people! All those who are baptized are prophets: let us not forget God's promise, let us not tire of moving forward.
Mass at Casa Santa Marta, December 16, 2015

5. How do you view the miracles and power of Christ? 

6. Why do you think people take offense at Jesus’ words and works? 

7. Define skepticism and unbelief. 

8. How can we avoid responding to Jesus’ words and works with skepticism and unbelief?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Chriostai notes for the 13th Sunday of Kingdom Time (6/28/15)

Questions from last week:

Western V East perspectives on Tithing, Fasting, Service.

How God uses the storms in our lives to help us grow, As we explore how great is our faith.

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: … 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb; 9 when I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” 

  1. The Lord addressed Job out of the storm.” Does God address you in the stormy times of your life? How? Do you progress, regress or just hang on for dear life during stormy times?

First Reading — Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 

13 Because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. 14 For he created all things that they might exist, and the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. 15 For righteousness is immortal … 23 for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, 24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it. 

1. What do you conclude when bad things happen to good people? 

2. What does the statement “God created man for incorruption” tell you about God and his will for us?

Second Reading — 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 

7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us— see that you excel in this gracious work also …9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. … 13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, 14 but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” 

1. Do you think the many poor people in the world respond better to a wealthy God or to a poor God? It could be either. Explain your answer. With which do you feel more comfortable? Why?

2. This reading is about sharing your abundance. What do you have that you can share? How much time are you willing to give to someone? Can you give some of your talents? How? How much of your treasure are you willing to share?

3. How can we excel in faith?

Gospel Reading — Mark 5:21-43 

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 23 and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” 29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from
him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and
weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

4. With which of the people in this passage to you most identify? Why?

5. How would you describe Jesus’ concern for these individuals?

6. How can we develop a spirit of faith during the good times in our lives, that will sustain us during the difficult times?