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 4th, 2016 Sunday Mass
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

First Reading

Wisdom 9:13-18b
Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. It is hard enough “to guess what is in our grasp, the writer says, let alone the things of heaven.” Can you relate to that statement? Is there anything you are uncertain about in the political arena in your country? Is there anything you are uncertain about in your spiritual life?

F2. Does God give you help when you are unclear? Which do you think God prefers in you, perfect certainty—or your best guess, trusting in God?

Second Reading

Philemon 9-10, 12-17
I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord. 
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. How did Paul bring about a change or a conversion in Onesimus? What part does love play in any change for the better? Has love worked any changes in your life?

S2. Slavery was an accepted institution in Paul’s time, but he states a revolutionary idea anyway: there are no divisions in Christ. What causes social divisions in the world today? Can you do anything to change that?

Gospel

Luke 14: 25-33
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion? 
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1. Is following Jesus a one-time choice or do you have to make it daily? Which would you rather have, all the possessions you could ever want, without Christ, or Christ and no possessions? Can you name some people who lived/live in Christ and have possessed nothing? What does this freedom allow them to do?

G2. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Do crosses make discipleship desirable? Is there anything that makes us want discipleship, even though it involves crosses? How would Pope Francis answer?

The human heart desires joy. We all desire joy; every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy the Christian is called to live out and bear witness to? It is the joy that comes from the closeness of God; from his presence in our life. …

Jesus has come to bring joy to all people for all time. It is not just a hopeful joy or a joy postponed until paradise, as if here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be filled with joy. No! It is not that, but a joy already real and tangible now, because Jesus himself is our joy, and with Jesus joy finds its home; … joy is at home in Jesus.

And our joy is just this: to be his disciples, his friends.

The Joy of Discipleship,Chapter 5: 78, 79, 89

**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.