Accountability and Support

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Monthly Focus on Nurturing Relationship with Christ

When was I most aware of Christ’s presence in my life during the past 30 days? Why?

Discussion Questions for December 11, 2016 Sunday Mass
Third Sunday of Advent

First Reading

Isaiah 35:1-6a,10
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1.  Isaiah said God would give signs to tell the Israelites of their delivery from slavery. What were these signs? Are there signs of God’s loving presence in your life? What about in the world of medicine and social justice today?

F2. Who does God use to transform the world now? Name one thing you can do in your home, community, parish, work or environment to make the world a better place?

Second Reading

James 5:7-10
Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, 
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, 
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1.  “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth.” How does this statement relate to Advent? What part does nature play? What is the farmer doing? What do you do? What does God do in you during this time? Is patience involved in both situations?

S2. What are some qualities that patience brings with it? What does impatience bring? St. James warns his community against complaining about one another. Is this a fault peculiar to St. James’ community? How does it relate to patience?

Gospel

Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, 
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, 
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply, 
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: 
the blind regain their sight, 
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed, 
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, 
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist; 
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1. Explain in both the literal and metaphorical senses “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised.” John asked Jesus if he was “the one who is to come.” Jesus answered with the above statement. The people who came to John were seeking the deepest desires of their hearts. How was Jesus’ response an answer to those desires?

G2. John the Baptist might have expected a mighty one and was confused at the gentle, healing Jesus. Pope Francis invites us into the cell of John the Baptist to look into his soul, which was weighed down not only by chains, but by “the shackles of doubt.” Does God always come into your life the way you expect?nt points for us in this Gospel?

[John the Baptist] suffered in prison—let us say the word—the interior torture of doubt, saying: “But maybe I made a mistake? This Messiah is not how I imagined the Messiah would be.” And he invited his disciples to ask Jesus: “But tell us, tell us the truth: are you he who is to come?” because that doubt made him suffer. “Was I mistaken in proclaiming someone who isn’t [who I thought]?” The suffering, the interior solitude of this man. “I, on the other hand, must diminish, but diminish thus: in my soul, in my body, in everything.” …

… [L]et us ask the Lord for the grace of humility that John had, … the grace that there [be] always space in our lives for Jesus to grow and that we abase ourselves, to the very end.

Pope Francis: God Triumphs through Humility
Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. May 2, 2016

**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.