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 October 22, 2017 Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading 

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel, my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, there is no other.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. Cyrus, a Gentile, permitted the Israelites to return from captivity in Babylon to their homeland. Who are the people in the last hundred and fifty years who have broken down the walls of prejudice and freed oppressed peoples? Were they all Christian? Do you think God chose them? Has God ever used you? If so, were you aware of it?

F2. The God of one people (Israelites) is pictured doing marvelous deeds through another people (Cyrus’s people). Is this a purely political event, or is God the doer of these deeds? Notice the last line of the reading: “I am the Lord, there is no other.”

Second Reading 

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God,
how you were chosen.
For our gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Do the following help in your reception of the word:

• presence of the Holy Spirit; 
• people living the Gospel with much conviction?

Compare and contrast these:

• receiving the word as way of life
• receiving the word as a code of conduct.

S2. St. Paul says, “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” Does the Holy Spirit allow us to enter more into the sense of Christ’s words? Does the Spirit give us fraternal dialogue (brotherly conversation which helps us speak with friendship and tenderness) to solve a problem?

Gospel 

Matthew 22:15-21
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. 
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" 
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 
Show me the coin that pays the census tax." 
Then they handed him the Roman coin. 
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" 
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1.  In this Gospel, are the Pharisees interested more in taxes or in undermining Jesus’ influence? Do God’s and Caesar’s worlds have to be separated? What would the world look like if they were (somewhat) joined together? 

G2. Jesus often called the doctors of the law “hypocrites” because they claimed to have higher standards or more noble beliefs. “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” Then Jesus asks them to show him a real coin, used to pay the tax. How does he shame them?

Pope Francis said last June that “Hypocrisy is so bad for the Church.” Could there be people in the Church today who, because of their ideology, refuse to change to a “What would Jesus do?” kind of thinking regarding today’s realities?

Hypocrisy is so bad for the Church. The hypocrite is capable of destroying a community. While speaking gently, he ruinously judges a person. He is a killer.

Pope Francis concluded by exhorting the faithful to remember that the only way to respond to flattery is with truth; the only way to respond to ideology is with reality.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta, 
June 6, 2017

 

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.