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 September 24, 2017 Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading 

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.” Can God always be near? Name some times in your day when it is easier to find God than at others. What helps you in your life to “find God in all things”?

F2. Isaiah is writing about a call to conversion in this reading. How does this apply to you? Do you withhold mercy when your friend offends you? Are you be able to have mercy on ISIL/ISIS (Islamic State) beheading young American journalists? Or on genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda? Does God ever withhold mercy or pardon?

Second Reading 

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. 
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me. 
And I do not know which I shall choose. 
I am caught between the two. 
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better. 
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1.  Is there someone who “magnifies” the Lord for you? Every time you are around him or her, do you feel Christ somehow present? Why is that? What about them clears your eyesight?

S2. What did Paul mean when he said, “For to me life is Christ and death is gain.” What do you think was the “fruitful labor” for Paul, especially since he had to stay in the “flesh”? What is your “fruitful labor”?

Gospel 

Matthew 20:1-16a
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard. 
Going out about nine o'clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off. 
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o'clock, and did likewise. 
Going out about five o'clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.'
He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
'Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came,
each received the usual daily wage. 
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage. 
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
'These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply,
'My friend, I am not cheating you. 
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 
Take what is yours and go. 
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? 
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Gospel Discussion Questions

G1.  This Gospel reading is not about strict justice but outrageous generosity. Are any of us, first hour worker or eleventh, ever worthy of grace, no matter what? What is the message of this parable? What is the message for you in your everyday life?

G2. How would grace be handed out if people made the rules? What if God’s ways were like our ways, if God’s bountiful generosity did not exceed the level of simple distributive justice?

According to Pope Francis, in Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 46, who qualify as the “last” in the gospel saying, “the last shall be first”?

A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way. At times we have to be like the father of the prodigal son, who always keeps his door open so that when the son returns, he can readily pass through it.

The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door.

Pope Francis, A Mother With an Open Heart
Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, p. 46

 

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.