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
M3.  Periodicals
M4.  Other

Discussion Questions for December 17, 2017 Sunday Mass
Third Sunday in Advent

First Reading

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1.  Sinful as we sometimes are, Pope Francis says our main purpose as Church is to “live and bear witness to Jesus, … [to] bring glad tidings to the poor ... [to] set at liberty those who are oppressed.” If you can’t get away to help in Puerto Rico or it’s too dangerous to go to the Sudan, what can you do for the poor, the brokenhearted, the prisoners or captives in your own area?

The Church, believe me, despite all the delays, infidelities, mistakes and sins which it may have committed and can still commit in those who compose it, has no other meaning and purpose than to live and bear witness to Jesus: He who was sent from Abba “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Rorate Caeli, 
Pope Francis’ reply to Eugenio Scalfari,
atheist co-founder and former editor of
Italy’s most popular newspaper, La Repubblic
Sept. 11, 2013

F2. Isaiah is the first to tell us “to bring glad tidings. … ” Jesus quotes Isaiah next (Luke 4:18-19) and Pope Francis repeats it again. How important is that message to you? Should the fact that we have “mistakes and infidelities” under our belts hinder us? How could those mistakes help us help others? 

Second Reading

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. How can you ensure that the Spirit has opportunities to work in you? How can anyone “rejoice always” when they are suffering? Do you know people who seem to do that? Do you find that all things work together for you if you love God? If you realize that, could that be “praying without ceasing”?

S2. What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit working in the depths of your spirit and God’s peace that is applied to your body, soul and spirit?

Gospel

John 1:6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, "I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'make straight the way of the Lord,'"
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent. 
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1. In the First Reading the Lord sends Isaiah with a message. In the Gospel God sends John to testify to the light of Christ. Does God send you? If you decide to “testify to the light” by helping or looking for Christ in the poor all the time, could that be “praying without ceasing”?

G2. “There is one among you whom you do not recognize … ” Do you recognize Christ in all the different faces and ways he come to you each day?
 

**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.