Accountability and Support

“Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.”
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Monthly Focus on Action

“I will make you fishers of men.”
M1.   What apostolic success did the Lord accomplish through me during the past 30 days to extend the kingdom? In my family? In my work? In my environment?
M2.  With what apostolic failure did the Lord wish to test me during the past 30 days? In my family? In my work? In my environment?
M3.  How did I fulfill last month’s plan?
M4.  What do I need to work on?

Discussion Questions for August 26, 2018
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading 

Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges, and their officers. 
When they stood in ranks before God,
Joshua addressed all the people:
"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. 
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

But the people answered,
"Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods. 
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery. 
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed. 
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. Both the First Reading and the Gospel are concerned with choice. The Israelites gave reasons for choosing to serve the Lord. “For it was the Lord, our God who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, … performed miracles, … and protected us.” What is your reason for choosing God in your life?

F2. Do you have more invested in a choice you made, or a choice someone else made for you? What are the implications for your family, church, job and community? In your opinion do you think God gave you free will?

Second Reading 

Ephesians 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body. 
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish. 
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. 
He who loves his wife loves himself. 
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it, 
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

or

Brothers and sisters:
Live in love, as Christ loved us. 
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish. 
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. 
He who loves his wife loves himself. 
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it, 
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Compare and contrast the bride with a difficult childbirth and the church with the birth of new ideas. An example of the latter would be some of the family problems addressed in the meetings of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

S2. Paul compares husband and wife with Christ and the Church. What is his point?

Gospel

John 6:60-69

Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said,
"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, "Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before? 
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe."
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him. 
And he said,
"For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father."

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" 
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1. Jesus asks, “Do you also want to leave?” If you were there at the time would you be one of the many disciples who returned to his/her former way of life or one that stayed with Jesus? Is there any middle ground here?

G2. According to Pope Francis how do we become inserted into Christ’s immense work of salvation? When and how does Christ sharpen our spiritual vision with his love?

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” We too, who belong to the Church today, pose this question. Even if it is more hesitant on our lips than on Peter’s, our answer, like that of the Apostle, can only be the person of Jesus. Yes, he lived 2000 years ago. But we can encounter him in our own time when we listen to his Word and are near to him in a special way in the Eucharist. … May the Holy Mass never become a superficial routine for us! May we draw more and more from its profundity! It is precisely the Mass that inserts us in Christ’s immense work of salvation, to sharpen our spiritual vision by his love: by his “prophecy in act” with which, at the Last Supper, he initiated the gift of self on the cross; by his irrevocable victory over sin and death, which we boldly and festively proclaim. “We need to learn how to live the Holy Mass

Message of Pope Francis on the occasion of
the National Eucharistic Congress of Germany
 (Cologne, 5-9 June 2013, paragraph 3)

 

Anne Osdieck

 

**From Saint Louis University & Anne Osdieck

Suggested Strategies for Managing the Clock

  • For those with smaller groups or those who have the luxury of enough allotted time, it is suggested that the group cover each question from the monthly focus through the Gospel discussion questions
  • For those with larger groups or don't have the luxury of operating on God's Time, it is suggested that the group cover the monthly focus question and then feel free to skip around and attempt to answer only a few questions - whether that’s just the gospel, or the second reading and gospel, etc.