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 January 7, 2018 Sunday Mass

The Epiphany of the Lord

First Reading

Isaiah 60:1-6
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

First Discussion Questions
F1. The First Reading says that, though darkness covered the earth, light and glory had come to Jerusalem. Are you always aware of God’s light and glory? What about God’s actions in your life?

F2. Did Jerusalem have light of her own? Were nations coming to her or to the light? What do you think draws people to the Church today: power or tenderness? How is Pope Francis’ statement below like the “star” of the first Epiphany?

I would like to say to those who feel far from God and from the Church—I would like to say respectively—to all those who are fearful or indifferent: the Lord is also calling you to be a part of his people and he does so with deep respect and love!” The Lord is calling you. The Lord is seeking you. The Lord is waiting for you. The Lord does not proselytize, he loves, and this love seeks you, waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.

Pope Francis, Angelus, 
St. Peter's Square, January 6, 2014 

Second Reading

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace
that was given to me for your benefit, 
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Just what was this mystery that brightened the whole world? Why was the star an integral part of the story?

S2. Paul says that a revelation was given him by the Spirit. It said that Christ’s life was too great to be limited to its starting place. His life was for all generations and not only the Jews but the Gentiles as well. All are “coheirs, members of the same body.” Did the star’s light shine on each and every person, precious and irreplaceable, in God’s eyes? Do we all need each other?

Gospel Reading

Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod, 
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled, 
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, 
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, 
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, 
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.

Gospel Reading Discussion Questions
G1.  God sent the Magi a message that caused them to ride camels half way across the known world. What would motivate you to put in this kind of effort? For them, what was worth this kind of search? These wise men were responsive to revelations from God and their openness brought them to Bethlehem. They were not disappointed. Is there a lesson here?

G2. What is the main contrast between Jerusalem and Bethlehem? Between Herod and the Magi? What does this tell you about places and people God chooses? At the end of this story Joseph, Mary and Jesus ended up running from Herod. Do we find “Herods” in the world today? Who are “Joseph, Mary and Jesus” running from today?

**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.