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 23, 2016 Sunday Mass
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

First Reading

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
The LORD is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.
Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.
The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,
nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.
The one who serves God willingly is heard;
his petition reaches the heavens.
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds,
judges justly and affirms the right,
and the Lord will not delay..

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” How are the orphan, the widow, and the oppressed mentioned in the reading, lowly or humble? Name some people you know who fit this description. What does humility look like on them? How is your humility; are you honest with God?

F2. Do you do anything when you hear the cry of the oppressed, the wail of the orphan or the widow’s complaint? Is there something you could do that you are not doing now, to help anyone in need? How is our own Pope Francis like Sirach in biblical times?

Second Reading

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Beloved:
I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. 
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. Do you feel like you are sometimes being “poured out like a libation,” or that everyone has deserted you? What do you think Paul did to combat these feelings in himself? What do you think would help you?

S2. Paul was rescued from “the lion’s mouth” and he trusted that he would be safe from every evil threat. What are the evil threats to the earth? To the Church? What are threats to you? How is your trust?

Gospel

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else. 
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --
greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. 
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1.  Is the Pharisee saying the prayer to God or to himself? If you were in God’s place, which kind of prayer would you answer first? Of the two praying, which one has a sincere heart?

G2. According to Pope Francis, God has a weakness for the humble ones, and their prayers open God’s heart wide. Which heart can God fill with his mercy, the humble empty one, or the one that keeps track of all his/her good deeds and his/her neighbors’ misdeeds?

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Gospel). Jesus contrasts the arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s prayer with the tax collector’s humble recognition of his sinfulness and need for the Lord’s mercy. True prayer is born of a heart which repents of its faults and failings, yet pleads for the grace to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbor. Indeed, the proud disdain of the Pharisee for the sinner at his side prevents him from being righteous in God’s sight. To pray well, then, we need to look into our own hearts and there, in humble silence, let the Lord speak to us. The honesty and humility which God asks of us is the necessary condition for our receiving his mercy.

General Audience, June 1, 2016

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.