SOURCE: Larry Broding at Word-Sunday.com.
Directions: On this page you will find questions on the Sunday Readings that can be used in RCIA or Faith Sharing groups. Clicking on the PDF icons will give participants additional commentary and resources.
Small Group Questions
by Fr. Eamon Tobin
1. Share with the group or person next to you what spoke to you most in the Gospel. With this first question, try to refrain from commenting on what others said. Just share what spoke to you and then move on to the next person.
2. Name some ways you see people today violating the First Commandment. What helps you to deep God first in your life? What makes it difficult?
3. Can you give an example where living the Gospel can make you look foolish to others? If you have a personal example, what gave you the courage to be true to your beliefs?
4. How do you feel about people who show zeal for a particular cause? How is their behavior like or different from Jesus?
5. When it comes to worship of God, there is always the danger that our worship becomes ritualistic. We go through the motions of prayer. What can help us to stop that from happening?
6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
SOURCE: ©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
by Fr. Clement Thibodeau
1. Is it really a sign of the inadequacy of our faith when we beg God for a miracle?
- Is it true that we must always accept whatever our lot is in life and never seek to change it?
- Is it wrong to ask God to heal us when we are sick or to ask for the healing of someone we love?
- Does faith require that we forgo any improvement in our physical wellbeing?
- Since Jesus says that his resurrection is the only sign worth seeking, must we conclude that it is sinful to seek other signs?
2. Have you ever hesitated to ask God for a favor for yourself?
- Do you sometimes try to disguise your personal need by asking God only indirectly, for the wellbeing of someone you love, for example?
- When did you finally decide that you could and should pray for yourself also?
- What brought you to that decision?
- How can you relate your own wellbeing to the resurrection of Christ being made real in your life?
3. Do you often think of the Ten Commandments as an expression of God’s merciful love?
- Were you brought up to view the commandments as freedom giving?
- Are you now able to accept the commandments of God as a gift that will bring you happiness if you observe them faithfully?
- Discuss some example of the bondage that results from repeated violations of the commandments.
SOURCE: © 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.
Bible Study Questions
by Vince Contreras
1. In the 2nd Reading, what does St. Paul describe as a “stumbling block” and “foolishness”? Why does he say that? Has your share in Jesus’ cross been a “stumbling block” or seemed like “foolishness” in your life—to yourself or others? How can you more view the cross as Jesus and St. Paul viewed it (verses 24-25; Luke 9:23)?
2. How might the once useful practice of the sale of sacrificial animals at the temple have deteriorated into a racket? Why else was Jesus angry (Psalm 69:10)? As one of the sellers, how would you feel about Jesus’ action? As one of the disciples?
3. How is Jesus challenged (verse 18)? Why? What effect does this response have on them?
4. Why doesn’t Jesus entrust himself “to men” (see RSVCE) in verses 23-25? See John 3:1-2.
5. If you compare your spiritual life to the rooms of a house, which room do you think Jesus might want to clean up this Lent: a) Library—the reading/media room? b) Dining room—appetites, desires? c) Workshop—where you keep your skills and talents? d) Family room—where most of your relationships are lived out? e) Closet—where your “hang-ups” are?
6. How does Jesus’ cleansing of the temple apply to the Church and to us as Christians (1 Peter 4:17; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20, especially verse 19; Hebrews 12:4-11, 14; CCC 1695)?
SOURCE: © 2014 Sunday Scripture Study for Catholics by Vince Contreras. Used with permission.
Why is Jesus very angry in today’s Gospel?
by Fr. Eamon Tobin
In today’s Gospel, we are presented with an image of Jesus that we may find difficult to visualize. In the reading, Jesus is ‘mad as hell’ with what’s going on in the Temple area, a place of prayer. Can you imagine Jesus outside our church knocking over my book tables and whipping my book salesmen? Whoa! We might wonder: “What’s up with Jesus? Isn’t his reaction to commercialism outside church a bit over the top or, more accurately, way over the top?” So why is Jesus so angry?
At the time, selling animals and changing money in the Temple are not bad in themselves. In fact, they’re a necessity because only a certain type of coin is permitted in the Temple. Cattle and sheep are sold for sacrifice so that people don’t have to drag their animals through miles of desert. What enrages Jesus is the cheating and manipulation. Money changers give people $2 for $3, while others overcharge for animals needed for sacrifice. Jesus gets ‘mad as hell’ because God’s house, which should be a place of true worship, has become a place of greed, where the poor are taken advantage of. This outrages Jesus as it outraged the prophets. Listen to what God says through the prophet Amos regarding worship that doesn’t lead to care for the poor:
I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; To the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters; And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Am 5:21; also see Is 1:12-17; Hos 6:6; 8:11-13)
Our monthly practice of bringing to church food for the poor is a good reminder that true worship of God must lead to concern for the poor, or God will be very upset, to put it mildly.
Should we have a problem with the way Jesus expressed his anger?
Can you imagine what kind of society we would have if we all followed Jesus’ example and expressed our anger as he did? Also, is there a danger that abusive persons might use today’s Gospel to justify abusive behavior? So why does Jesus display his anger the way he did? I don’t have a clear answer. I read many commentaries on this Gospel but none of them spoke to this question.
We might say that Jesus wanted the people to never forget the point he was trying to make. After all, if Jesus had merely told the money-changers, “Lads, I think you shouldn’t be taking advantage of the poor outside God’s Temple,” I doubt that they would have gotten the point. They would have simply blown away his remark as one of a young fanatic. But the way Jesus expressed his outrage would be remembered for a long time, especially by his disciples.
Also, the Bible has other examples of very unusual actions by the great men of God. They did something most unusual to get the people’s attention, for example, the ’loincloth incident’ (Jer 13:1-11) and the ’eating of the scroll’ (Ezekiel (2:1-10).) Both incidents, like the one in today’s Gospel, are very dramatic ways of getting the people’s attention. If we read the Gospel, we will find Jesus angry numerous times, especially with the Pharisees, but he never displayed his anger in such dramatic or violent way. And neither should we.
‘Righteous Anger’ and ‘Unrighteous Anger’
Righteous anger is the anger we should feel in the face of a great wrong or injustice done to us or others. Dr. Martin Luther King and his co-workers and Nelson Mandela had righteous anger about racial prejudice. Many people in our church had a sense of righteous anger towards bishops for the way they handled the sex abuse scandals. Many are still angry.
Dealing with Anger
The following is taken from my article on Dealing with Anger. Scroll down to Miscellaneous
Psychologists tell us that anger is the emotion we most often feel—with sadness coming in as a distant second. This will surprise most of us because we are such experts at repressing our anger. Learning to deal with our anger in a constructive way is one of the most important life skills that we can learn and teach our children. This article has lots of concrete information about anger, an emotion around which there is much misunderstanding. It also has several concrete suggestions on how to deal constructively with one’s anger.