June 26th, 2016, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1This is a vocation story. The word vocation means "call." Each of us is called by God to become something good and to do, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, "something beautiful for God." This does not only mean in the future, as a priest, religious, or layperson. It means now, too. What are you called to do today for God? How will you show this week that you are called by God to do good?
If you are an adult and therefore can look back over time, what is your "vocation story?" How were you called by God to be where you are today?
Reading 1 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Reading 1 ReflectionToday we hear the dramatic story of the prophet Elijah appointing his successor. At God's command, Elijah chooses Elisha to take his place. Elijah throws his cloak, the symbol of his prophet's vocation, over Elisha's shoulders. With no questions asked, Elisha mmediately says farewell to his family and destroys his oxen and plow. He drops everything to follow God's call.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2The actions of "biting and tearing one another to pieces" sounds all too familiar! Our relationships with others can be built up and made stronger or can be torn down and crushed. We are free to make this choice. Think about the relationships you are in?with parents, teachers, friends, people in your neighborhood and in your parish, even with other students or people you may not know well. Each relationship needs your positive contribution. How can you build up each of these relationships? How can you help another person this week?
Saint Paul warns us that being a negative influence has its consequences. He calls it "destruction." Think of some examples of negative thoughts and actions. How can they hurt the very person who gives them a place in his or her own life or uses them against others?
Reading 2 Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Reading 2 ReflectionWhen Elisha gave up everything to do God's will, he must have felt truly free. In our second reading, Paul reminds the Galatians that Christians have been called to live in freedom. Those who have accepted Christ follow his example of love. Those who listen to the "flesh"?whatever urges them to act against God's will?are still slaves. They act against their own best interests when they listen to the voice of selfishness.
When did you first decide to follow Jesus?
Discussion Questions for GospelPlowing gets a field ready for planting. In Jesus' time, a farmer plowed a field by following an ox on foot. The farmer used the reins in his hands to give signals to the ox. If the farmer looked back, he would of course move his body around. Then the reins would jiggle. The ox would think it was a "turn signal" from the reins. The ox would veer from the straight path and the farmer's smooth straight row would be ruined. Jesus asks us to keep looking straight ahead as we follow him. No looking back to check on how we're doing! This takes trust. How do you show you trust Jesus to lead you "straight ahead?" When are you tempted to "look back" (perhaps at your sins and failings) or to look around in a different direction? Who or what helps you to keep trusting Jesus? How can you show that you are "fit" for the reign of God?
There are many ways of following Jesus. Some followers of Jesus today still give up "home, family, and means of income." Do you know anyone who has? We usually think of those in religious vows, like priests, sisters, and brothers. Find out about the priests, sisters, and brothers who serve in your parish or diocese. Some lay people also join together to follow Jesus as missionaries and helpers to the poor. They serve for one or more years in this country and in places around the world. Others join religious orders as Associate Members, but do not take vows or live in community. They may be married or single. Find out about some lay organizations that do this. Here are some examples: Maryknoll Lay Associates, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Associates of the Divine Compassion.