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ARISE!

Gathering Together in Christ

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

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Acts of the Apostles 4:32-33 [NRSV]

Focus for this Session

• The nature of faith as both personal (we each have to say “I believe”) and communal (we share the faith of the Church)

• The importance of faith sharing (which respects both the personal and communal aspects of faith)

• We gather, united in our quest for an encounter with Christ

— What are our hopes and expectations?

— Have we come looking for what we want, or are we ready to receive what we need? —Are we open to what this encounter with Christ will bring, to where it may lead us?

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ARISE • Season One • Encountering Christ Today

Gather Introductions Allow a few moments for everyone to introduce themselves briefly. The leader should start, and then invite the other members in turn to present themselves.

Opening Prayer As we gather for our first meeting, let us remember that we are all children of God … … that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ … Brief pause Let us pray that we will enjoy our time together … ... that we will sense the presence of Christ who promises to be with all those gathered in his name … ... and that by this sharing, his Word may speak to our hearts. Brief pause

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Leader

Suggested Song Gather Us In verses 1 & 2

Breaking Open Our Story

Reflection

While visiting my mother after her second RENEW small group meeting, I asked how the session went. With surprise in her voice, she said, “Do you know that some people think of Jesus as their best friend?” Her response caught my attention. “Mom, how do you think of Jesus?” I inquired. “Well,” she said, “I think of Jesus as my Savior, my Redeemer.” I thought, How beautiful! Here is my Mom in her late seventies, discovering something I had long believed, but never shared with her. Jesus was my best friend, my constant companion, one I talked to throughout the day.

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SESSION 1: ARISE! Gathering Together In Christ Here is my Mom who taught me to pray; who when we were in grade and high school led the six of us in the family rosary each evening after dinner; who together with my Dad prayed night prayers aloud just before retiring each evening. This was the per- Making the Gospel Come Alive son who brought me to Our access to the Gospels is made encounter Jesus. How possible by doing faith-filled reading of the beautiful that in her 70s, sacred texts, by listening to them in the she had the opportunity Church’s liturgy, and by witnessing their meanof a fresh encounter with ing in our lives and in the lives of others.” Jesus, and came to think United States of Jesus not just as Savior Catholic Catechism for Adults, and Redeemer, but as her page 80 best friend! To gather, as we do now, to faith share, is to respect in a very real way that “my” faith is a faith I share with others. Faith sharing is explicit recognition that in my quest to encounter Jesus, I need the help of others, and an expression of my willingness to help them in exactly the same quest.

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Invitation to Share

Take a few moments of silence to reflect on one of the following questions. Then share your reflections. 1. What are my hopes and expectations as I gather with the group for this first faith-sharing session? Share these briefly with the group. 2. Share a time when something someone else said became a significant part of your own thinking, or altered your attitude in some way.

Breaking Open God’s Story The Word of God

Sometime before the meeting, the leader asks a member of the group to be prepared to proclaim the passage from the Gospel according to Mark.

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ARISE • Season One • Encountering Christ Today

Mark 2:1-12

The cure of a paralytic Reader The Gospel of the Lord. All Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflect

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Moment of silent reflection • What word, phrase, or image from the Scripture reading touches my heart or speaks to my life?

Invitation to Share

Reflection

The leader invites those who so wish to echo a key word or phrase that touched them from the Scripture passage. All across our diocese, in nearly every parish, people are gathering together, and in a very real sense they are gathering for an encounter with Jesus … just as people gathered around the house in Capernaum when they heard he was there. What motivated them—and us—to gather around Jesus in this way? No doubt there were some gathered around that house in Capernaum because they heard that Jesus the wonder-worker was in town, and they hoped to see a miracle. Still others were probably hoping to benefit from a miracle; maybe they were longing that something wrong in their life would be put right by this man about whom they had heard so much. This is the man who had healed not only his friend’s mother-in-law, but everyone they brought to him. Not just physical healing either, but liberating people from evil spirits. Others again were there to hear him talk. Here was someone, they all said, who spoke with authority, who spoke about the kingdom being at hand, who brought good news.

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SESSION 1: ARISE! Gathering Together In Christ All of these people, for one reason or another, were interested in having an encounter with Jesus. Then more arrive: one is a paralytic, carried by four people, but they can’t get near Jesus because of the crowd. Undaunted, they drag the stretcher up to the roof, strip it off, and lower their friend. An amazing dialogue ensues—amazing for a number of reasons. Mark tells us that what follows is because Jesus sees faith, Miracles and Faith but surprisingly, the faith Miracles and faith go closely together. not of the paralytic but of his friends. Amazing There is a double connection between faith because what Jesus first and miracles: grants is the deepest heal- 1. The purpose of the miracle is to lead to faith; that is, to provoke the question ing, the very reason for “Who is this?” The purpose of the miracle which he has been sent is to awaken the basic human attitude by God; to offer forgiveof wonder, and thus enlighten people. ness of sin, reconciliation Miracles are meant to make people ask with God, the very founquestions and shake their certainties. … dation on which the king- 2. Seeing and recognizing miracles as miradom he preaches is built. cles, that is, as acts of God, presupposes If you were the paralytic, faith. Miracles are signs for faith…. your immediate reaction Belief in miracles is not belief in prodigies, might have been disap- but trust in God’s almighty power and provipointment. “This isn’t dence. The real object of this belief is not what I expected to hear!” various extraordinary phenomena, but God. It’s not well received by What Jesus’ miracles are ultimately saying is some of the onlookers that in Jesus God was carrying out his plan, either, who ironically and that God acted in him for the salvation considered themselves of humankind and the world.” From Jesus the Christ the experts on matters by Walter Kaspar religious. “Who does he think he is!” What about us? Didn’t we, too, first encounter Jesus thanks to someone else? Many of us have been baptized as babies, literally brought to Jesus by others, and it was on the strength of their faith that we became members of the Church. Even if we were baptized as adults, were we not encouraged on our faith journey by others? Or think even about coming to this small community meeting; how many of us

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ARISE • Season One • Encountering Christ Today

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would be here if we had not been brought, or at least encouraged to come, by others? Then again, we’ve probably come to this meeting with certain expectations, however vague. Is an encounter with Christ ever what we expect? As long as we leave ourselves open, then we will find we receive more from the encounter than we ever dreamed. “Get up!’ Jesus says, not just to the paralytic, but to us too, who have gathered, eager for an encounter with him. The word Mark uses (in the original Greek) is “Arise,” the very same word the angel will use later in this same Gospel to say Jesus has been raised (Mark 16:6). What happened to the paralytic? A happier life, we hope, but eventually, he would have died. The call we hear is from a Christ who is beyond death, is greater than death, who is already himself risen and wanting to share that risen life with us. All we have to do is welcome that invitation, and let the Spirit of the risen Jesus transform us so that we become his healing presence in the world today. An immense privilege—but also a responsibility. Are we ready for it? Alone, certainly not, but together, we can be. Today is a first step. Strengthened by our sharing, we can move forward, together in Christ.

Invitation to Share

Take a few moments of silence to reflect on the following questions. Then share your reflections. 1. Who am I in this Gospel story? One of the crowd who is interested, but whose interest blocks others from Jesus? The paralytic, longing for healing, but who needs the help of others to bring me to Jesus? One of the friends who bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus? 2. The paralytic (and his friends) come looking for healing. Jesus first offers forgiveness. What do I hope for in seeking an encounter with Jesus?

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SESSION 1: ARISE! Gathering Together In Christ 3. Jesus’ last words to the paralytic man are that he should “… go home.” What is Jesus sending me home to do?

Invitation to Act

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Sharing and being together in a small Christian community fosters growth in our faith and in our spirituality. But no communal sharing is complete without a serious commitment to putting our faith into practice. In this session we have reflected on seeking out an encounter with Christ: to what kind of action does this inspire us?

Some Suggestions

1. Commit to a specific action of service to the sick. For example: • visit or send a card to someone who is sick: someone from your parish, neighborhood, or a colleague from work • if your parish celebrates a public ceremony of the anointing of the sick, offer whatever help is appropriate in preparing for it and making it happen 2. Talk to family, friends, neighbors about your experience in this first week of faith sharing. Is there someone else I could bring to the next ARISE meeting? 3. In what way can I open myself to an encounter with the forgiving Christ? One way might be by preparing for and receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Closing Prayer

Suggested Song Healer of Our Every Ill Leader All

It is truly right and just that we should always give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God. We praise you and thank you! 17


ARISE • Season One • Encountering Christ Today For you do not cease to spur us on to possess a more abundant life and, being rich in mercy, you constantly offer pardon and call on sinners to trust in your forgiveness alone. We praise you and thank you! Never did you turn away from us, and, though time and again we have broken your covenant, you have bound the human family to yourself through Jesus your Son, our Redeemer, with a new bond of love so tight that it can never be undone. We praise you and thank you!

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Leader All Leader All

Leader

Even now you set before your people a time of grace and reconciliation, and, as they turn back to you in spirit, you grant them hope in Christ Jesus and a desire to be of service to all, while they entrust themselves more fully to the Holy Spirit.

Leader All

In the silence of our hearts, let us bring in faith and in prayer to the Lord those we know who are suffering in mind or body. Pause for silent prayer, then: Let us pray, in faith. May the Lord come to those we have named in our hearts, with his mercy and love and grant them healing, forgiveness, and renewal.

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(from the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I, The Roman Missal)


SESSION 1: ARISE! Gathering Together In Christ Leader All

For ourselves, too, let us pray. May the Lord guide our hearts in the way of his love. May he give us strength to walk in newness of life.

Looking Ahead Prepare for the next faith-sharing meeting by reading over Session Two. In particular:

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• read the “Focus of this Session” (on page 20).

• read the Gospel passage: Mark 8:27-35. It would help you set this passage in context if you were to read from Mark 1:14 (the beginning of Jesus’ ministry) up to this passage.

© RENEW International, 2012. All rights reserved.

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ARISE Session 1 - Gathering Together in Christ  
ARISE Session 1 - Gathering Together in Christ