Accountability and Support

“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17

Monthly Focus on Study

What have I studied during the past 30 days to help me better understand the gifts of God?
M1.   Bible Reading
M2.  Books of Formation
M3.  Periodicals
M4.  Other

Discussion Questions for June 17, 2018
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading

Ezekiel 17:22-24
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. What are the similarities between the “tender shoot” in this parable and the mustard seed in the Gospel? In each case “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.” What do you think of when you read this?

F2. The tender shoot becomes a majestic cedar. In the Gospels, Jesus referred to the “least” becoming the “greatest” numerous times. How is Jesus’ own life an example of this? Can you think of others who followed or now follow this example?

Second Reading

2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him, 
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. “Walk by faith, and not by sight.” What does that mean to you? Why would we need the courage Paul mentions twice in this reading, in order to walk by faith? Were the men who were beheaded by Isis, Oscar Romero, Rutilio Grande, SJ, and Dorothy Day walking by faith or sight?

S2. Do you have confidence all the time, even when the spiritual weather patterns in your life are not? Paul said, “We are always courageous.” Is that true? Are you? Always? What helps when you are not?

 

Gospel

Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1.  What is the farmer’s job in both these parables? What is God’s job? Could you ask yourself the same two questions about your ministry, … your job and God’s job? Can you trust God to do God’s job?

G2. According to Pope Francis, who is it that is in charge of the growth of the Kingdom of God? Does the growth require something from us? What happens to our (small, mustard-seed size) gifts when we use them in collaboration with God for the kingdom?

When we live like this, (pure of heart, simply and humbly) the strength of Christ bursts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history.
                                                    
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.

Pope Francis, Angelus, St. Peter’s Square
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Paragraph 5 and 6

 

**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.