April 24th, 2016, Fifth Sunday of Easter
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Try to find a map, perhaps in the back of a Bible or a New Testament, of the journeys of Saint Paul. Find the places mentioned in this reading. You might also like to find pictures of the ancient places mentioned, as well as modern day names, if these places still exist. Show what they look like today. Display your map where members of your parish can see it. It may help them as they listen to these travel stories from the Book of Acts!
This reading reminds us that trials were part of the Christian life from the beginning. Our trials may seem small by comparison. Can you name some things that can be trials for us? What should be our attitude?
Christians are still persecuted in places throughout the world. You may want to find out where and why. Keep these brothers and sisters in your prayers. Is there something else you can do for them?
Reading 1 Acts 14:21-27
Reading 1 ReflectionThis account of Paul's and Barnabas' first missionary journey reminds us that those who first planted the Church on foreign soil did not have an easy time of it. They had to travel great distances by sea and by land. After they had founded Christian communities in several cities along the way, they had to return to those same cities to build up the believers' morale. Why? Because there was harsh opposition to this upstart new religion.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2The One on the throne promises, "Behold, I make all things new." What is your dream? What in your life needs to be made new again? It may be taking more time for prayer or reading Scripture. It may be making a relationship better. It may be a commitment to eat more fruits and vegetables. It may be feeding pets or doing chores on time. It may be a nudge to do something entirely different, like pursuing a new activity, like joining the debate club, acting in the school play, or pursuing a new career. Some families may be moving to a new town or a new house. Whatever it is, making things new is part of God's plan for us. When we cooperate, we help "renew the face of the earth." We help make things new for everyone around us!
Doing new things or committing ourselves anew to choices we have made is not always easy. What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing something new or trying to make better choices?
At the end of your discussion, ask Jesus to help make things new in your hearts and lives as you continue to celebrate this Easter season of resurrection.
Reading 2 Revelations 21:1-5a
Reading 2 ReflectionIf today's reading from Revelation sounds like a dream, that may be because it symbolically represents a dream most human beings share. That dream looks forward to a final union with God and the end of every suffering people have ever endured--no more starving children; no young people ruined by drugs or alcohol; no divided families or abusive parents; no broken hearts or cries in the night.
What qualities do you believe are most important for Jesus' disciples?
Discussion Questions for GospelThe commandment to "love one another" can seem trite. This means that we seem to hear it all the time, so much so that it becomes meaningless. Love, love, love!
However, we can look for other ways to say this. Perhaps then we will understand it better. For example, a TV show popular some years ago had this line: "Take care of each other out there!" Taking care of others is a way of loving. This is part of what Jesus meant.
Can you think of other words that say "love one another" or express what love is? Brainstorm. You may want to put some of them on banners for the parish to see.