It starts with an attempt to be informed. This quickly moves to forming an opinion. From there it is an easy slide to polarizing and demonizing the opponent. Before we know it, it is echo chambers and demigods. Finding a steady compass in the midst of controversy is a challenge. The greatest threat to faithfulness is fear. Jesus warns his followers to not get distracted or bogged down by controversies and turmoil. He is not advocating a head-in-the-sand strategy but instead teaching the followers to expect adversity. Jesus is calling the faithful to be wise, aware, non-anxious and fully committed to knowing and proclaiming the Good News.
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. Quiet yourself. Become more aware of God’s presence. Open yourself to the love of Jesus as you read or hear the following passage.
Luke 21:5-19 New Revised Standard Version
5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ 7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8 And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them. 9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10 Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence, then turn to another person and discuss.
- The greatest threat to faithfulness is fear. Do you agree or disagree?
- How do you stay steady in the midst of the threat of environmental devastation, social injustices, political corruption… What role does prayer and gathering as church play?
- What is the Good News Jesus is asking us to proclaim today?
After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to talk about their insights and reflections in the larger group. Ask each person to share their messages of Good News.
You may wish to make a copy of this prayer and lead it to conclude the session.
Our Father, who art in heaven, slow to anger and of great mercy, lover of all the people of the earth. Hallowed be thy name.
Remind us that “all nations are as nothing before you,” their governments but a shadow of passing ages; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Grant to your children throughout all the world, and especially to the leaders of the nations, the gift of prayerful thought and thoughtful prayer; that following the example of our Lord, we may discern what is right and do it: Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us for neglecting to “seek peace and pursue it” and finding ourselves in each new crisis, more ready to make war than to find peace. “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved neighbour as ourselves.” Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Let us not seek revenge, but reconciliation; Let us not delight in victory, but in justice; Let us not give ourselves up to pride, but to prayer. Lead us not into temptation.
Be present to all your children ravaged by war. Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed. Be present to the loved ones of those who are killing and to the loved ones of those who are being killed. Deliver us from evil.
Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate, and forbid our arrogance in victory; For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
Wendy Lyons, Women’s Uncommon Prayers, Morehouse, 2000
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Good News has been known in your time together.