July 24th, 2016, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1What does justice mean to you? What does mercy mean to you? In this story, the bad are not punished. They are saved with and because of the good and innocent people in the city, even if the good people are very few in number. This is an example of the mercy of God. This story shows us that we all are in "the same boat" or "the same city." As Jesus said, both the weeds and the wheat will grow together until the final harvest. We must learn to live with people who do not always do the right or the best thing, who are weak and sinful. And sometimes those people are us! Can we be merciful toward people who are sinful and weak, including ourselves? How? Our natural tendency is to get even with those who hurt us, to administer our own kind of "justice." What does this story have to say about that?
Much is often made of Abraham "bargaining" with God. This is the way we humans act with one another. We try to make a good deal into a better one. However, God does not need to be persuaded or bargained into being merciful! The story is written in this way to show that our prayers to God for mercy are always answered with a yes. Pray this prayer together: Lord, thank you for all the times you have been merciful to me. Help me to remember your mercy when I feel like getting even with those who have hurt or offended me. In the name of Jesus, your Son and our Lord. Amen.
Reading 1 Genesis 18:20-32
Reading 1 ReflectionCould the author of Genesis have come up with a better story to show the power of prayer and just how merciful God is? Here we see Abraham pleading with God, praying a beautiful prayer for mercy. Abraham's prayer shows us how close he was to God. It also shows that God always listens to our prayers. God's mercy is so great!
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Saint Paul wrote that we are raised to new life because we believe in the power of God. God does not use his power to force us to pray, or to help others, or to forgive. When do you experience the power of God in your life? (Hint: Think of some of the gifts from God you have been given. Think of ways you help others. God's power often works through people, including you!)
How can you show your gratitude to Jesus this week for dying and rising for us?
Reading 2 Colossians 2:12-14
Reading 2 ReflectionWhen you were baptized, you were freed from sin and given new life through water and the Holy Spirit. It is this new life of grace that Paul speaks of today. He reminds Christians that Jesus has canceled the "debt" of our sins by his death on the cross. Our new life is not just something for later, after we die. It begins now!
Whom do you know who is seeking the Lord? Can you assist in their search?
Discussion Questions for GospelImagine that you are in the group of disciples who asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Are you surprised that this prayer seems so simple and easy?
Try praying one line of the Our Father each day, at various times all during the day. The first day, pray, "Father, hallowed be your name." The second day, pray, "Father, your kingdom come." And so on.
How can you hallow?make holy?God's name? How can you help God's kingdom to come? How can you appreciate and share daily bread and all the gifts you receive from the Father each day? How can you ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness to others?