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 18, 2016 Sunday Mass
Fourth Sunday of Advent

First Reading

Isaiah 7:10-14
The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: 
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; 
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people, 
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: 
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, 
and shall name him Emmanuel.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1.  Isaiah said, “A virgin will bear a son and name him Emmanuel.” Where was Jesus’ birth in God’s plan? From the beginning of time? After Adam? If the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, was the plan from the beginning of time, what does that tell you about God?

F2. God gave a sign to Ahaz, who hadn’t even asked for one. Does God give signs that aren’t requested? Give some examples. Do you think you ever miss any of God’s signs for you? Why?

Second Reading

Romans 1:1-7
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, 
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, 
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Paul says the gospel is about God’s Son, descended from David. How can a human being from our history books be God’s own self? Is Jesus just a name in the history books?

S2. Can the “grace of apostleship” be different for everyone? Could everyone be “called to be holy”? Name some ways that you can take Christ into your work, home, parish—today.

Gospel

Matthew 1:18-24
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, 
but before they lived together, 
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame, 
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
“Joseph, son of David, 
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, 
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, 
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1.  List the obstacles God encountered in bringing Jesus into the world. Is anything in this world obstacle-free? How can good come out of obstructions? John Shea made a statement about Joseph’s hesitancy to take Mary into his home. Discuss that statement: “This foreshadows the tension of all who will be drawn to Jesus. Is he a scandal to be rejected, or a manifestation of the Spirit to be welcomed?” (Shea, 45) “When Joseph awoke … ” Did Joseph wake up in more than one way?

G2.  Explain “Find God in all things” as it relates to Pope Francis’ General Audience Advent talk below.

And the reason for our hope is this: God is with us and God still trusts us! Think well on this: God is with us and God still trusts us. God the Father is generous. He comes to abide with humankind, he chooses earth as his dwelling place to remain with people and to be found where humans pass their days in joy or in sorrow. Therefore, earth is no longer only “a valley of tears”; rather, it is the place where God himself has pitched his tent, it is the meeting place of God with man, of God's solidarity with men.

… He is God-with-us. Jesus is God-with-us. … Jesus is God with us always and forever with us in history's suffering and sorrow.

General Audience with Pope Francis, 
December 18, 2013

**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.