Discussion Questions

First Reading
Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14

F1.  What does this reading tell you about God’s mercy? What is it about the covenant that lets Moses convince God not to destroy the Israelites with wrath? In a covenant do both parties have a say? Do you try to talk God into doing things?

F2. God was faithful to the covenant even though the Israelites were not. How does that relate to you? Could anything change your understanding that God loved you into being and loves you more than you could ever ask or imagine?

Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17

S1.  Paul goes from foremost sinner to foremost preacher. How does his conversion demonstrate God’s forgiveness and mercy? Is God patient today with whole countries? With the Church? With you?

S2. In your struggle to live in relationship with God and others do you have to be patient with yourself? If so, why?

Luke 15:1-32

G1. In the story of the prodigal son we hear that “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” Was the father thinking about the son everyday and waiting for him to come home? Was the son thinking “warm bed and food” or sorrow, having hurt his father? Does the father’s forgiveness depend on the son’s repentance? Why would Jesus tell us this parable?

G2. In his book, The Church of Mercy, Pope Francis discusses the parable of the Prodigal Son. What can you do as part of the church of mercy to show all people that they are the closest thing to God’s heart?

Maybe someone among us here is thinking, My sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable; my unbelief is like that of Thomas. I don't have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people.

But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said, “Father, I have many sins”? And I have always pleaded, “Don't be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything.” We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God's offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God we are not numbers, we are important; indeed we are the most important thing to him. Even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Excerpted from The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis.

Anne Osdieck

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson