November 2, 2014 - Reflection Questions 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:02:00 AM
November 2, 2014
Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Gospel Possibilities:

Matt 5:1-12a
Matt 11:25-30
Matt 25:31-46
Luke 7:11-17
Luke 23:44-36, 5, 52-53, 24:1-6a
Luke 24:13-16, 28-35
John 5:24-29
John 6:37-40
John 6:51-58
John 11:17-27
John 11:32-45
John 14:1-6

Note: Unlike most Sundays in the year, this feast has many possible gospel readings. They are all listed below with a few reflection questions for each. Your parish bulletin may have the reading listed that they have selected for next Sunday. It may be fruitful as well to read through the possibilities and see which text speaks to you in your life situation.
Matthew 5:1-12a
1 When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Reflection Questions:
1.     Where are you in the first line of this gospel: one of the crowd that Jesus left behind to be alone with the disciples, a disciple that Jesus has taken aside to instruct, a disciple who is becoming more aware of what it is to be a disciple?
2.     Have you ever experienced blessings during a painful period of your life?  What made it possible for you to move to a place where you were able to discover the blessing? How was the place where you were aware of the blessing different from the place where you seemed only to be aware of the difficulty or pain?
3.     Who are the people who help you to learn (or mentor you) about being a follower?
4.     Can you identify people in your life who you would include among the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of righteousness? What is the quality of your relationship with any of these people? What do they bring to your life?
Matthew 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
28 "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Reflection Questions:
1.     What connotation does being childlike have for you? Would you be flattered if someone spoke of you as being childlike? How does your attitude toward being childlike impact your effort to be open to God working in your life?
2.     Jesus invites the burdened to come to him. How does society respond to those who are burdened? How does your community? How do you?
3.     How you experience God’s yoke in your life today? Would you describe it as a yoke that is easy and light? What would you like to say to Jesus about his statement?
Matthew 25:31-46
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' 40 And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' 44 Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' 45 He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life
Reflection Questions
1.     Who are the “least" in your world, your neighborhood, and your church community? Do you think they feel like God looks upon them as “brothers of mine?” What do you think God would say to you concerning their sense of self?
2.     Why is it that both those who are called “blessed” and those who are called “accursed” did not recognize the Lord? Does God keep it a secret intentionally? Is there an aspect of the reality of how God is present in the world being revealed here?
3.     As you reflect on this Gospel text, what would you like to say to God?
Luke 7:11-17
11 Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep." 14 He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people." 17 This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.
Reflection Questions:
1.     Has anyone ever told you to stop crying or that you needed to move on from some loss?
2.     What do you think the woman felt like telling Jesus when He told her “Do not weep?”
3.     Where have you discovered God working in your life to turn your mourning into an awareness of God’s care and compassion?
Luke 23: 44-46, 50, 52-53, 24:1-6a
44 It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon 45 because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. 46 Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit;" and when he had said this he breathed his last.
50 Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, 52 he went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.
1 At daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. 5 They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? 6 He is not here, but he has been raised.
Reflection Questions:
1.     Do you ever wonder why the Father did not do something to prevent the death of his son on the Cross?
2.     Where was the Father when his son died?
3.     Where do you think the Father will be when you die?
Luke 24:13-35
13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."
25 And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" 33
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Reflection Questions:
1.     What do you imagine were some of the things going through the minds and hearts of the two disciples as they left Jerusalem?
2.     What do you think would have happened if they had not shared their faith, fears and doubts with Jesus that day?
3.     How easy is it for you to share with others your doubts fears and disappointments? How easily do you share that in prayer with God?
4.     Is it easier for you to see the Spirit of God working in the prayer, in the liturgy, or in the ordinary events of your day? Are there things that you learn about God’s presence in your life from living the gospel values that do not seem to be present to you in prayer and liturgy? Does that seem right to you?
John 5:24-29
24 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. 25 Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself. 27 And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.
Reflection Questions
1.     Jesus talks about those who have passed from death to life as if that has already happened, and is happening. Do you believe that those who have died are already in the fullness of life?
2.     For those you have known, that have died, do you treat them as if they are alive?
3.     How is the Church celebration of All Souls inviting you into a deeper reflection on a God who is the fountain of life?
John 6:37-40
[Jesus said to the crowd] 37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, 38 because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. 39 And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it (on) the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day."
Reflection Questions:
1.     Do your fea death? Do you fear the final judgment?
2.     How are the feasts of All Saints and All Souls a celebration of God’s action and desire? How  are these two celebrations different? How do they speak to you of God’s desire for you?
3.     Will you ever be good enough to be worthy of God’s desire for you? Do you try to be? What happens within you when you know you have failed again?
4.     Do you have a sense that God is protecting you?
5.     In the gospel text Jesus says, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,…” (verse 39) He does not say anyone but anything. Do you think that is important?
John 6:51-58
[Jesus said to the crowds:] 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"
53 Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Reflection Questions:
1.     Do you experience the truth of the saying “you are what you eat” within your own life experience?
2.     What images come to mind when you think of flesh? What images come to mind when you think of blood?
3.     Have you ever had periods when you did not get enough to eat? How far back would you have to go in your family to note a generation that truly worried about not having enough to eat? How do you think that experience affected them?
4.     Jesus builds on the Jews remembering the time when their ancestors were starving in the desert. How do you think that memory affected those who were hearing Jesus’ teaching without having yet experienced the Last Supper or the cross? How do you think this teaching is different for those who are members of John’s community who remember the events of the Last Supper and the Cross?
5.     How might your experience of this feast and this gospel text be different from those who live in places where the priest is only present three or four times a year?
6.     Do you experience yourself as “being what you eat?” Do others? What is the difference for you believing Christ is in the Eucharist and feeding on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist?
7.     What do you think Jesus is trying to reveal to you about God’s relationship to you? How would you like to respond?
John 11:17-27
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." 24 Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."
Reflection Questions:
1.     Do you think Jesus had the ability to come and heal Lazarus while he was still ill? Wouldn’t it have been easier for everyone if he had come and healed Lazarus while he was still ill? Why didn’t he?
2.     Martha and Mary are upset with Jesus. How does Jesus respond to them?
3.     Do you ever tell God when you are upset with how God seems to be dealing your lived situation?
John 11:32-45
32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, 34 and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see." 35 And Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." 37 But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?" 38 So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. 42 I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go." 45 Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Reflection questions:
1.     Do you think that Jesus was feeling the loss of Lazarus so deeply that he actually cried? How does that fit with your understanding of Jesus being the Son of God?
2.     In John’s gospel the raising of Lazarus becomes the principle reason for the religious leaders deciding that Jesus needed to be eliminated. What does the fact that Jesus nevertheless raised him say to you about God’s relationship to you?
3.     Where do you encounter a God who gives life in the midst of death in your own life?
John 14:1-6
[Jesus said to his disciples:] 1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 2 In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4 Where I am going you know the way."
5 Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
Reflection Questions:
1.     What are the separations, losses, or deaths that are part of your life recently? Have any of these been particularly painful? How would you have felt if someone had told you “do not let you heart be troubled?”
2.     In verses 2 and 3 of this gospel, Jesus speaks of having prepared a place for you. How do you envision this place that has been prepared for you?
3.     How do you think both Thomas and Philip were feeling as they heard Jesus speaking to them? How do you think Jesus felt as they asked their questions? What were you feeling as this gospel unfolded?
4.     If Jesus is, indeed, “the way” to return to God, how do you understand this “way” that Jesus has shown us? What does that mean for you?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday is posted at the following link.
Reflection questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.
They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.
To be added to the distribution list, send your name and email address to
A Spanish translation of the reflection questions is made possible by Fernando Alessandrini.
Please include this information when printing or forwarding.
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