July 17th, 2016, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Abraham is revered by both Jews and Christians because he was a man of faith. He believed God's promises, even when the odds seemed to be against him. In Eucharistic Prayer I, we ask God to accept our gifts "as you accepted the gifts of Abraham, our father in faith." We are children of Abraham because we believe in God's promises to us. What promises of God do you believe in?
We often hear of the faith of Abraham in the letters of Saint Paul. In one letter, we also read of another of Abraham's great gifts: hospitality. "Never neglect to welcome strangers, for some who did entertained angels." Abraham and Sarah welcomed the three young men, and received God's promise of a son. The strangers were messengers from God.
We often fear the stranger at our door, and it is wise to be cautious. But that should not prevent us from "welcoming strangers" whenever we can. Have new neighbors moved in? How can I welcome them to the neighborhood? Is there someone new at school who would appreciate a friend? Do I stick with old friends at the parish coffee hour or socials, or do I "welcome strangers" as Abraham and Sarah did? Each one of us can be a messenger from God in our own way. If we neglect to welcome others, we may miss the message of God's love given to us in a new friend! In what situations could you welcome newcomers?
For those who say, "I can't! I'm too shy! I get embarrassed!" you may find that, after welcoming others and saying, "Hi, I'm ____. Welcome to our church (or school, or block, or group)!" these feelings of shyness will gradually go away. You might like to role-play welcoming others and having short conversations. Remember that feelings of shyness are temporary. God's love is forever!
Reading 1 Genesis 18:1-10a
Reading 1 ReflectionOur reading from Genesis tells an appealing story about Abraham and Sarah. Three visitors appear unexpectedly before their tent. Abraham identifies them with the Lord. He and his wife, Sarah, rush around making preparations for a lavish meal to refresh their guests. Then their generous hospitality is even more generously rewarded. God, speaking through the guests, promises that the aged couple will have a son! For the Israelites, this story is a sign of how God's plan of salvation will be carried out through them. From the offspring of Abraham and Sarah, the Messiah will come.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Reflect for a moment on "the mystery of Christ in you." How is Christ in you? Do you experience his presence in you? When? How does the fact that Christ is in you give you hope?
Christ is also "in us" because we are one body, the Church. Christ is in us as brothers and sisters. How can we show one another that we are brothers and sisters in Christ—that we are related, that we are family in Christ? What virtues (or strengths) do you need in your life to be a good brother or sister to others in Christ's family? (One example: compassion.) How do these strengths help you become more "complete" as an individual? How do they help us all in the one body of Christ?
Reading 2 Colossians 1:24-28
Reading 2 ReflectionSaint Paul suffered many hardships in preaching the Good News. In today's reading we learn that the suffering of all Christians, like the suffering of Christ, helps the Church to grow. As Christians grow in their understanding of "the mystery of Christ," they will become "complete."
When do you make time for the "better part" -- spending moments with the Lord?
Discussion Questions for GospelMost of our lives are a combination of Martha and Mary. (Even cloistered monks and nuns, devoted to lives of prayer, have hours of work every day.) However, if our lives are all-Martha-all-the-time, they may be out of balance. We may be missing "the better part." (There is an ironic joke that goes: "At the time of death, no one says, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.' ")
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its discussion of observing Sunday as a day of worship and rest, declares, "Traditional activities (sports, restaurants, etc.) and social necessities (public services, etc.) require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure" (Catechism, 2187). Most people in our country are working more hours a week than ever before. How does this affect their families, their children? What is the responsibility in this area for Catholic supervisors and managers?
How can we put more Mary-like listening into our lives? When do we make time to listen to our families? our friends? When do we make time to listen to Jesus?