27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Although a less prominent theme than in Luke, Jesus’s final journey to Jerusalem serves in Mark as the framework for his final teachings about what life in the kingdom/reign of God is like. If we are to “follow” him on the way to cross and resurrection, what road must we walk?
We have to be careful, though, to read Jesus’s prohibition of divorce in that context. Jesus is not making a legal statement here but one about relationships: a life of authentic discipleship is a life of wholehearted love—and that is the way that God wanted it from the beginning. Elsewhere in the New Testament and in church tradition we find exceptions that allow annulments. Sometimes it just becomes clear that, despite the rituals of matrimony, God has not joined these two people together. That is probably also why the discussion of marriage is followed by Jesus’s praise of little children, for little children tend to love wholeheartedly.
- What person in your life has taught you the meaning of wholehearted love? How?
- To which person have you shown such love? How?
- How have you experienced Jesus’s wholehearted love? How did it change you?
- What would such love look like in our world today?
Practice: Galatians 5:22-23 lists the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit, what happens within us and our lives when we surrender to God’s transforming love. Each day this week pick one of these fruits, ponder how it is already part of your life, and pray for growth.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: You have to travel light if you want to journey with Jesus. Any teacher loves an eager student, and this young man who runs up and wants to do his best wins Jesus’s love. He seems wholehearted, but things get him off track. He has too much baggage. Our daily responsibilities are where self-sacrificing love is made real, but we still have to keep our eyes fixed on the goal in order to keep our priorities straight.
- What do you love eagerly?
- What gets in the way of that love? What can you do about that?
- What was Jesus eager for? What does that teach us?
- How would our Church or society change if we were eager like Jesus?
Practice: Get a copy of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity, and pray it every day this week, each time thinking of some different part of your life.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: To get to the goal of our journey, we have to walk on the right path. Despite all Jesus’s attempts, the two sons of Zebedee do not get his message that the kingdom/reign comes, not to those with power, but to those who perform deeds of selfless service. That is the path that he chose to walk, even “in his human weakness.” (I suspect that good parents understand this message.)
- Which person in your life has modelled this kind of love for you? Why?
- How has coming to know Jesus changed your priorities?
- What is still making you stumble on your journey?
- How could the way you vote change our world?’
Practice: “Love is shown more in deeds than in words.” St. Ignatius Loyola. Once again, how do we treat the people in our lives who are providing us with a service—waiters, supermarket employees, the cashier at Walmart? If they do not feel appreciated and respected when we leave, then we are not preaching the Gospel. Ponder how you might need to change your behavior.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: When you finally get what you wanted, what will you do next?
- What is the biggest obstacle in your life that you wish were removed? Has it changed over time?
- What people might help you remove that obstacle?
- How could Jesus help you remove that obstacle?
- If it were removed, what would following Jesus “up the road” mean for you?
Practice: A big problem caused by the obstacles and trial in our lives is that they can make us blind to the struggles that other people face. This week take some time to look around your life, and ponder how you have been blind to the challenges that other people face. Whom do you need to apologize to? Do it.
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Laws and commandments are an essential minimum; they are like the training wheels that keep us safe until we become mature in mind and heart. A mature believer, though, has grown into a wholehearted love of God and neighbor by which we sacrifice our very selves for God’s kingdom/reign. Only God’s Spirit at work within us can bring us to that level of growth.
- How are you still trying to “earn” your way into God’s kingdom/reign?
- What else do you love so much that it keeps you from a wholehearted love of God and neighbor?
- When have you sacrificed yourself for someone else? What did you learn from this experience?
- Jesus lived for God’s kingdom/reign all the way to the cross. Yet we tend to compartmentalize our lives. How have you brought love not only to family and friends but to work or school or to the interactions of daily life?
Practice: Find a copy of St. Ignatius’s prayer Suscipe/Take, Lord, Receive, and pray it every day this week.
See also these related articles:
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – Pentecost through the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The Third Sunday of Easter through Ascension Sunday
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The Fifth Sunday of Lent through the Second Sunday of Easter
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The First through Fourth Sundays in Lent
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time to the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time