Accountability and Support
“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
Monthly Focus on Study
What have I studied during the past 30 days to help me better understand the gifts of God?
M1. Bible Reading
M2. Books of Formation
Discussion Questions for December 16, 2018
Third Sunday of Advent
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. “He will sing joyfully because of you.” What are some examples in the world about which you might say, “Listen! God is singing!”?
F2. This reading says it twice: “Be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst.” Have you ever remembered the presence of God in the middle of a crisis? What effect did it have on you?
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. St. Paul says we must
—rejoice in the Lord always,
—be kind to all,
—make all our requests known to God and
—thank God as though he has already granted the requests.
This is a long list. Are you better at some than others? Which ones could you improve on?
S2. Maybe you rejoice when you are singing at Mass on Sunday. Are there other times during the week that you experience the same kind of joy? What makes you happy in the Lord?
The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
Gospel Discussion Questions
G1. What kind of people went to hear John and then repented? Would you show up to hear someone like John today? What do you want to see and hear? Can people be prophets even though their actions or looks are a departure from the norm? Do you know any prophets? Discuss.
G2. Sunday’s Gospel says the following:
The crowds asked him “What then should we do?”And he said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to him to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
Rita Ferrone notes that Pope Francis echoed this passage in his address to 2014 Collegeville Conference on Liturgy, Music, and the Arts:
The crowds asked Pope Francis, “What then should we do?” To the pastors he said “Get out of the sacristy! Go and be with your people; smell like your sheep!” To the wealthy nations he said, “Give up your trickle down economic theories! Address the injustices that hold the poor in bondage.” To the religious he said “Answer the questions of the CDF,* but don’t let their investigations dismay you. Continue in your ministry!”
July 7, 2014, Rita Ferrone, Church Reform, Pope Francis
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.