Accountability and Support

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
– Matthew 18:20

Monthly Focus on Piety

With what spiritual aids have I nourished my vital union with Christ during the past 30 days?
M1.   Morning offering
M2.  Personal Prayer Period
M3.  Mass and Communion
M4.  Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
M5.  Rosary / Devotion to Mary
M6.  Examination of Conscience
M7.  Spiritual Direction

Discussion Questions for September 2, 2018
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

Moses said to the people:
"Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 
In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin upon you,
you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it. 
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
'This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.'
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him? 
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?"

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” Can you answer Moses’ question?  What makes a law just? Can you state the law in one sentence, as Jesus did? 

F2. Discuss some human rights issues that would change if everyone in the world observed the law? How might your community or your work place change?

Second Reading

James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27

Dearest brothers and sisters:
All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. 
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1.  James says the law is planted in us. Would you like to see it planted in your mind or in your heart? What difference would it make? Discuss Karl Rahner’s statement: “In the heart of knowledge stands love, from which knowledge itself lives.”*

S2. Are you a hearer of the word or are you also a doer of it? Name some times when you just “talked the talk” but did not want to “walk the walk.”

Gospel

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. 
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves. 
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
"Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" 
He responded,
"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
"Hear me, all of you, and understand. 
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1. Pope Francis remarks on the danger of legalism.

In the Gospel, those who met Christ with a spirit of prophecy welcomed him as the Messiah, but without it, the void that is left is occupied by clericalism; and it is this clericalism that asks Jesus, ‘By what authority do you do these things? By what law? ... A prophet reminds the people of God to move beyond a spirit of legality. Lord, let us not forget your promise. Let us not grow tired of going forward. Let us not close ourselves in with legality.

Pope Francis homily at St. Martha Guest House Chapel, 
December 17, 2013

The Pharisees questioned Jesus with some smugness, about how his disciples were not keeping the law. In Luke 20:2 and Mark 11:27 they wanted to know what authority he had for acting the way he did. After reading Sunday’s Gospel and Francis’ remarks, what do you think are the main hazards of what he calls “clericalism”?
 

G2. What was missing from the Pharisees’ observance of the law? How much is religious observance worth if it is just exterior? On the other hand, what is that worth if what you do comes from the Word living in your heart, whether it’s fishing or fasting?

 

**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.