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 8, 2017 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 Reading Discussion Questions
F1.   Even though darkness covered the earth, This reading says, light and glory will come to Jerusalem’s people. How can this seeming contradiction take place? Do you notice God’s unexpected actions/epiphanies in your own life?

F2. Do believers have a light to depend upon? Are nations coming to that light? To the Christ-light? What do you think draws people to the Church today? What is it about Pope Francis that draws people?

Second Reading

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-
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.   Paul says, “Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit. …” What gifts have you been given for the benefit of others? Do you use them regularly? Sometimes?

S2. When did people first learn that God wanted to save all creation and not just the chosen ones? Do you think God planned to reveal his grace to people little by little through history? How does God work in your life?

Gospel

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 Discussion Questions
G1. In response to God’s message, the Magi rode camels across half the known world. Is there anything that would cause you to put forth effort like that? What made their search worth it for them?

G2. In his Epiphany homily, Pope Francis reflects on the star that led the wise men along the way, and that allowed them to enter into the mystery. What is that mystery? 

What is the mystery in which God is hidden? Where can I find him? All around us we see wars, the exploitation of children, torture, trafficking in arms, trafficking in persons. … In all these realities, in these, the least of our brothers and sisters who are enduring these difficult situations, there is Jesus (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). The crib points us to a different path from the one cherished by the thinking of this world: it is the path of God’s self-abasement, his glory concealed in the manger of Bethlehem, on the cross upon Calvary, in each of our suffering brothers and sisters.

The wise men entered into the mystery. They passed from human calculations to the mystery: this was their conversion. And our own? Let us ask the Lord to let us undergo that same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men. Let us ask him to protect us and to set us free from the temptations which hide the star. To let us always feel the troubling question: “Where is the star?” whenever—amid the deceptions of this world—we lose sight of it.

Pope Francis, Homily for Epiphany, 
January 6, 2015

**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.