Who are the people named in this reading as needing special care? Give some reasons why these same people may need special care today. Would you add some other people to this list? What is the meaning of the phrase that God uses to describe why their cries will be heard: "I am compassionate"?
As we see in the first reading from the Book of Exodus, after the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, God spelled out other ways in which the Israelites should live the covenant. These individual laws give clear guidance on relating to God and others. They also carry a threat of punishment for those who ignore the needy. Aliens, widows, orphans, and poor debtors are to be treated with compassion. If their cries for help are not answered, God says, "I will surely hear their cry." This reading erases any doubt about how important it is to treat those in need with compassion, understanding their suffering and taking action to change what is causing it.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2
St. Paul says his followers have received the word with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. What does this mean? Have you ever experienced joy in praying, singing hymns, visiting a church, experiencing God's presence in nature, or doing a good deed? How can the word of God echo forth from you resoundingly?
In this reading St. Paul is filled with gratitude that the new Christians of Thessalonica are following his example. They are not keeping the faith to themselves. They are imitating Paul by letting the gospel echo from their lives for all to hear. The students have become the teachers.
Whom does your family consider as “neighbors”? How can you expand whom you call neighbor?
Discussion Questions for Gospel
Why do you think most people say that this is the most important teaching of Jesus? Why is it called the "law of love"? How does this sum up the ten commandments and other teachings of Jesus? Who are our neighbors? What does "as yourself" mean?
When you heard the Pharisee's question to Jesus, did you know what the answer would be? If not, now would be a good time to learn the answer by heart. Which is the greatest commandment? Jesus quotes the law of love in two parts. First we must love God with our entire selves. Out of that love of God grows the love of others. We must love our neighbors with as much care and concern as we have for ourselves. Does it seem very easy to love? As we try to do it, we will find it can be very difficult.