Small Groups at St. Joan of Arc
Week 1 Invite
Lord our God, thank you for this day, for those gathered here to share your word and share our faith. We count on your word that wherever two or more are gathered in your name, you are with us. We pray the Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and help us to voice our faith with each other and those who have yet to be invited into your grace. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
Gospel Background: Matthew 20:1-16a
Jesus gives us verbal “pictures” of the Kingdom of God. These pictures are called parables, short stories with a punch, a twist, a surprise. They are meant to open us up to God’s presence in a new way. In today’s parable we meet a landowner, workers and a vineyard. The landowner is very busy hiring workers, inviting them at all times during the day to go to work. We can argue a lot about the “fairness” of each being paid the same wage even though they all didn’t work the same hours. But perhaps the parable also wants to teach us something about evangelization. Perhaps it is not only God who does the inviting. Perhaps the Church invites, too. Remember: we are the Church. Pope Francis calls us “missionary disciples.”
- What does it mean to “share your faith” or to share your “faith-story”?
- Does the thought of sharing your faith with someone fill you with joy and enthusiasm or with dread and fear?
- Have you ever shared your faith with someone outside of a small group?
- Do you see yourself as a “missionary disciple?”
- What do you think holds us back from inviting someone to come to church?
- How can we notice and approach those around us who may be waiting for an invitation?
Week 2 Respond
Lord our God, thank you for this day, for those gathered here to share your word, and to share our faith. We count on your word that wherever two or more are gathered in your name, you are with us. We pray the Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and help us to voice our faith with each other and those who have yet to respond to the invitation to enter into your grace. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
Gospel Background: Matthew 21:28-32
Look at what chapter we are in: 21. There are 28 chapters in Matthew’s gospel. We are getting near “the end.” Jesus has just entered Jerusalem in this chapter. While Jesus is approached by crowds of people, he is also being seriously confronted by the religious hierarchy. It’s in this context, that he gives us the Parable of the Two Sons, a parable about who responds to go into the fields. Who responds? Who doesn’t? Sometimes we can be surprised. Jesus is giving us more than a lesson on being true to our word. It’s a lesson on how we as church-people look at those who are not.
- The first son eventually responded to the father’s will. The second son said he would, yet didn’t. What are your thoughts or feelings about them?
- Have you ever felt called by God to do something or serve in some capacity and responded negatively? If you changed your mind, what prompted the change?
- What is the motivation behind your discipleship? A sense of duty, obligation? Fear? Love of God? Has that motivation changed through the years? What would others say your motivation is?
- Do you know people who react negatively to religion or Jesus or faith or the Church?
- What might prompt a more positive response?
Mission: Personal invitation is a way to love… be surprised …
Jesus calls us to act out of love – last week, if you invited someone to join you at church, how did that go? If not, how about this week? Who will you ask? Practice listening, without judgement, to people who respond negatively to Christ or the Church. Try to hear and understand why they might respond in this way.
Week 3 Ignite
Lord our God, thank you for this day, for those gathered here to share your word and to share our faith. We count on your word that wherever two or more are gathered in your name you are with us. We pray too the Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and help us to voice our faith with love and enthusiasm that ignites faith in your son and our Lord Jesus Christ. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
Gospel Background: Matthew 21: 33-43
For being a carpenter’s son, Jesus sure told a lot of stories about farming! Here’s another parable about a vineyard, a landowner and the tenants who are living in and working the land. It’s always important to keep in mind to whom Jesus is telling the story. In this case, it’s very clearly “chief priests and elders of the people,” - the temple hierarchy. The religious people who are supposed “to get it.” Clearly, when he says “the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to people who will bear its fruit, Jesus means to light a fire of faith in the hearts of his listeners. He is certainly trying to motivate them … and us!
- In what specific ways do you see yourself as part of God’s plan to build His kingdom?
- What specific gifts do you think you have you been given to help in building His kingdom?
- Do you think you are using those gifts and fully responding to the generosity of God? Are there gifts and talents you are not using on behalf of the Kingdom of God? What holds you back?
- Like in the parable, we have been given “land” to cultivate. In what areas of your life – family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. – is it most challenging to share your faith? Where do you meet the most resistance? How would Jesus handle such resistance?
- What is the role of love, compassion and mercy in evangelization?
Mission: Words can ignite our thoughts …. love always ignites our emotions …
This week – love another person with no thought of getting love in return. Surprise them with the love of God that is in you. That “other person” may be the one you invited last week, or someone else? How will you spread God’s love?
Lord our God, thank you for this day, for those gathered here to share your word, and to share our faith. We count on your word that wherever two or more are gathered in your name, you are with us. We pray too the Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and help us to voice our faith with love and enthusiasm that engages others – inspires them to have faith in your son and our Lord Jesus Christ. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
Gospel Background: Matthew 22:1-14
Today’s parable follows directly after last week’s. Many biblical scholars believe this passage is a combination of two stories of Jesus: the “Parable of the Wedding Feast” and the “Parable of the Wedding Garment.” In the first story, we see how our missionary efforts must, as Pope Francis says, “reach everyone without exception or exclusion.” In the second story, Jesus challenges those who have responded and come to the feast to fully participate in it. As Fr. Rich has been heard to say, when it comes to parish life, “It must be easy to get in; but once you are in, you’ve got to do something!” To help people respond and participate, we as Church must engage people, get involved in their lives and patiently, lovingly accompany them on their faith journey.
- Jesus invites us all to the banquet, into God’s Kingdom. We do not come to that banquet alone. Who has engaged you, accompanied you, and helped you connect with the faith community? Whom are you accompanying? How do you feel doing that?
- Every Mass, particularly on Sunday, is a foreshadowing of the heavenly banquet to come. What does it mean for you to be a Missionary Disciple on Sunday, in church? Would you have to do anything differently to be that kind of disciple on Sunday?
- How can we engage those who have turned away and invite them to come back … or at least to take another look?
- How can we engage youth/young adults and help them hear the invitation to follow Christ and experience God’s love?
- When you receive an invitation to do the loving work of God, how do you feel?
Mission: Jesus gives us the mission to make disciples … to continue His work.
How can you personally make people who are different from you feel welcome, and are you ready to help a person new to the faith? What is one way you can/will accompany someone on their faith journey?