Accountability and Support

“Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.”
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Monthly Focus on Action

“I will make you fishers of men.”
M1.   What apostolic success did the Lord accomplish through me during the past 30 days to extend the kingdom? In my family? In my work? In my environment?
M2.  With what apostolic failure did the Lord wish to test me during the past 30 days? In my family? In my work? In my environment?
M3.  How did I fulfill last month’s plan?
M4.  What do I need to work on?

Discussion Questions for July 23, 2017 Sunday Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading 

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. Care, justice, mercy and kindness. What would world history be like if all leaders had possessed these qualities? Are you full of mercy, kindness and caring or could you use a little “topping off’?

F2. Does it give you hope that you can repent for sins? How does this translate into your dealings with other people?

Second Reading 

Romans 8:26-27
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. 
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Discuss this quote from Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar:

I have the conviction that my inadequate attempt to understand is supported by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, that my acts of worship, petition and thanksgiving are borne along and remodeled by the Spirit’s infinite and eternal acts. … “The Spirit breaks forth out of the very core of the believer’s spiritual life, showing him [her] the way, stirring [them] to action, thinking, willing and praying with him [her].

S2. Do you remember that the Spirit is present with you? What gives nobility to your small efforts, sufferings and weaknesses? Do you ever call on the Spirit when you are in need? Think of all the ways the Spirit has come to your aid when you have needed help.

Gospel 

Matthew 13:24-43
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? 
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him,
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them. 
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He proposed another parable to them. 
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field. 
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. 
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable. 
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. 
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. 
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." 
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. 
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age. 
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father. 
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1.  Can you always tell the weeds from the flowers, or saints from sinners? If you are quick to judge might you mistake a saint for a sinner? Is God patient with you regarding the “weeds” in your own garden? How patient are you with others? With yourself?

G2.  According to Pope Francis what is the important lesson that comes from the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven? Our cooperation is required, but are we in control?

An important lesson comes to us from these two parables: God’s Kingdom requires our cooperation, but it is above all the initiative and gift of the Lord. Our weak effort, seemingly small before the complexity of the problems of the world, when integrated with God’s effort, fears no difficulty. The victory of the Lord is certain: his love will make every seed of goodness present on the ground sprout and grow. This opens us up to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, the injustices, the sufferings that we encounter. The seed of goodness and peace sprouts and develops, because the merciful love of God makes it ripen.

Pope Francis: The Seed of God's Teaching, June 14, 2015

 

Anne Osdieck

 

**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.