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 February 12, 2017 Sunday Mass
The Epiphany of the Lord

First Reading

Sirach 15:15-20
If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man's every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. Which do we choose, life or death? Good or evil? Do we always know which is which? When you don’t know for sure, do you trust in God and go with your best guess? Why did God give us free choice?

F2. “The eyes of God are on those who fear him; he understands [our] every deed.” If so, should we be frightened? Or is God the one who not only understands, but forgives and loves even sinners?

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him, 
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Discuss a beautiful scene in nature that you like, or your favorite painting, or your most preferred music. Take your time. Now read from the Second Reading what St. Paul tells us God has prepared for those who love him. Can you sense something of what that will be?

S2. How is it that the Spirit can scrutinize the depths of God? Discuss ways in which the Spirit scrutinizes you.

Gospel

Matthew 5:17-37
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,'
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, 'You fool,'
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

"You have heard that it was said, 
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

"It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife -  unless the marriage is unlawful - 
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

"Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God's throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.'
Anything more is from the evil one."

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1. Jesus is critical of the Pharisees’ type of righteousness, which focuses on externals. They make sure everyone sees when they fast, pray on street corners, wash hands, etc. How do these things relate to the inner Spirit of the law? How do they relate to loving God and neighbor?

G2. In his homily, Pope Francis warned against an excessive rigidity. How does “going beyond the law” in order to love God and neighbor surpass the “righteousness” of the scribes and Pharisees?

Taking his cue from Jesus’ warning to his disciples that unless their righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees they will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, Pope Francis stressed the importance of Christian realism. Jesus, he said, asks us to go beyond the laws and love God and neighbor, stressing that whoever is angry with their brother will be liable to judgment.

Pope Francis urged his listeners to recall how Jesus’s request for generosity and holiness is all about going forward and always looking out beyond ourselves. This, he explained, frees us from the rigidity of the laws and from an idealism that harms us.

June 9, 2016
Mass at Santa Marta

 

**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.