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?

Chriostai Notes 25th Sunday of Kingdom Time

Proverbs 2: 1-9

 2 making
 3 indeed, 
 4 if
 5 then 
 God—6 for
 7 He
 8 so 
9 Then
justice and 

1. The game show, "Who wants to be a millionaire?" draws a large audience. Would a show called, "Who wants to be wise?" or "Who wants to be godly?" be as popular? Why or why not?

2. Is it enough to listen to and heed wise instruction? Why or why not? If there is more, what more is there?

3. How does this passage attempt to instill a desire to learn wisdom? In what way can you try to instill desire in yourself? In someone else?

4. How does the "fear of Yahweh" affect how you pursue wisdom?

5. What does the image of the "path" communicate to you? Do you usually think of your decisions in terms of choosing a path? Why? or why not?

6. What is the advantage of thinking of your decisions as choosing a "path?"

James 3:16-4:3
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
4:1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

1. Where does ambition for power and greatness lead? What does it do to a country? to a business? to a Church? Is there a way to cultivate peace?

2. St. James asks, “… where do the conflicts among you come from?” In today’s Gospel the disciples had been arguing and “discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.” Do you think their discussion could have ended in anything but conflict? Why?
  1. What characteristics of wisdom would you most like to see increased in your life?

  1. Why are our prayers sometimes not answered as we would like?

Gospel Reading — Mark 9:30-37
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.
33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

1. Jesus tells the disciples that in order to rank first they should be the servants of all. Who would you serve if you could? Anyone close to you? Where do you think your parish ranks in taking care of people in need? Where would you rank yourself?

2. According to Pope Francis, how does the person benefit by receiving a child in Jesus’ name? What does he say it does for the child or the one received?
We see how faith brings light and hope in situations of grave hardship; we observe how faith is rekindled in hearts touched by the Spirit of Jesus who said, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.’ ” …

Goodness is its own reward and draws us closer to God, who is the Supreme Good. It helps us to think like him, to see our lives in the light of his plan of love for each one of us, and enables us to delight in life’s daily joys, helping us in difficulties and in trials.
  1. Why would the disciples be ashamed or afraid to tell Jesus what they were discussing?

  1. In light of this passage complete the following statement, “Greatness is …

  1. What point about greatness is Jesus making with the child?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Chriostai Notes for the 24th Sunday of Kingdom Time

Questions From Last Week:

-  Should we expect peace, rest and an entrance into the promised land, both spiritually and physically?

- In a society where our beliefs are interpreted as hate, how we can be seen as merciful more than judgmental?

- How will we respond to getting muddy like the OT prophets?

- Like God wanted the Israelites to recognize that He should be their focus, we should see Him as our place of rest.

- How can God's sacred areas and be a place of rest for the sick, weary and needy, not of condemnation?

First Reading — Isaiah 50:5-9

5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

1. The words of this reading are those of the famous “Suffering Servant,” in the writings of Isaiah centuries before Christ. How do you think God upheld the rights of this Suffering Servant? Of Jesus?

2. Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself.” How does this relate to the words we find in today’s First Reading, “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame”?

3. In what way does Isaiah’s prophesy inspire you?

4. How was God’s help manifested to Isaiah?

Second Reading — James 2:14-18

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith

1. The letter of James tells us to serve our neighbor. Do you ever respond to such call? If so, how? With your entire life?  In some of your actions? With a few words?

2. Why does Pope Francis say we must have a faith that “engages us”?
[T]he Gospels also contain stories of “people who don't know doctrine but have a lot of faith,” such as the Samaritan woman at the well who opened her heart to the Lord because she “met not abstract truth,” but the person of Jesus Christ.
This encounter in faith always leads a Christian to move outward toward others.

Faith always leads to witness. Faith is a meeting with Jesus Christ, with God, and it is born from that and leads you to witness.
Without such fruit, faith is lifeless. A faith without works, a faith that doesn't engage you, that doesn't lead you to witness, isn't faith. It is words, and nothing more than words.

3. What is the relationship between faith and works?

Gospel Reading — Mark 8:27-35

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

1. Do you want people you love to know you well? Do you think Christ wants you to know him well and personally? He asks the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” What if he asked that question of you? Do you answer it differently at different times in your life?

2. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly … ” In these words Jesus is telling the apostles what discipleship is all about. How does Peter handle this message? How do you? Can “losing your life” be a means to gaining life? Can you desire to follow him in such a way?
3. What is encompassed in the statement, “You are the Christ”?
4. Why did Jesus say that Peter’s rebuke represented the side of men rather than the side of God

5. When has it cost you to follow Christ?

6. How do you respond to Jesus’ challenge in verses 34-35?

Chriostai Notes for the 23rd Sunday of Kingdom Time

First Reading — Isaiah 35:4-7

4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

1. Will healing abound, and will God also transform all nature? What lines in the reading indicate this? It is an ancient promise, but of a new age. Is this age the coming of Christ? How can you prepare?

2. Isaiah writes about the hope of deliverance from exile. Do you need to be liberated from suffering sometimes? Does this message of hope speak to you?

3. How do you respond to Isaiah’s prophesy?

Second Reading — James 2:1-5

1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?

1. Do you give the same respect to people who have money and prestige as you do those who do not? “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith?”

2. The disabled receive the blessings in the First Reading and the poor are chosen heirs in the Second. How do these readings make you feel about the poverty in your life?

3. Define partiality.

4. What is your conviction regarding partiality when you are the one getting the special treatment?

Gospel Reading — Mark 7:31-37

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.
37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

1. In the Gospel the people relate Jesus’ curing the deaf man to the prophet’s promise in the First Reading, (then will the ears of the deaf be cleared … tongue of the mute will sing … ) What does this miracle of the deaf man say to you about when the reign of God started?

2. How do Pope Francis' two tweets below relate to this Gospel? Discuss possible actions they might inspire.
Lord, teach us to step outside ourselves. Teach us to go out into the streets and manifest your love.
True charity requires courage: let us overcome the fear of getting our hands dirty, so as to help those in need.

3. How does this passage correspond with Isaiah’s prediction in the first reading?

4. How have you or someone you know experienced a unique healing touch from Jesus?
5. What areas of hearing and speaking would you like the Lord to touch and heal in your life?
6. How do you feel about the presence or absence of the miraculous in your life?