US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing In Us - Discussion Questions

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Discussion questions for Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus
Continuing In Us
by Tomáš Halík (Doubleday Religion) 

1. Maturing in one's faith also entails enduring periods of God's silence. We need faith precisely in those twilight moments when our lives and the world are full of uncertainty and its function is not to allay our thirst for certainty and safety, but to teach us to live with mystery. Faith, hope and love are three aspects of our patience with God; they are three ways of coming to terms with the experience of God's hiddenness. If God exercises such patience with us, can we refuse him our patience and hope, and love - even in moments of darkness and emptiness, when there is no alternative but to wait or defect from the path of waiting? Waiting on God does not happen only in the waiting room of faith but belongs also at the very heart of faith.  Do you also think that having patience with God is an integral part of religious experience?  

2. Jesus had a prior interest in 'people on the fringes'. Solidarity with the poor, the exploited and the persecuted, care for the sick and handicapped is an important part of the Christian witness in this world. But today there is also need for an interest in the doubters and seekers. Why does the author believe that the Church can benefit from the seekers and outsiders? What could we learn from them? How do you we, as the Church, currently treat those without the same faith as ours?   

3.      The author speaks about a man who became an atheist after a tragic event in his family. He considers that someone like that cannot be convinced by the usual "proofs" of God's existence or facile pious comfort. The author states: "There is only one way to conquer this passionate atheism of protest. Let us embrace it with the passion of our faith, let us make this existential experience part of our own. Mature faith is always faith wounded by the world's suffering. The resurrected Christ identified Himself to his apostles with His scars."  What are your experiences from conversations with people whose faith was wounded by personal tragedy?  

4. Many theologians support the theory of 'continuing creation'; could we not similarly speak of a continuing Resurrection? The author maintains that the liberating encounter with the living God is by participation in the believe means to open one's heart and to realize that now, at this very moment, the sealed stone has been rolled aside and the rays of the Easter morning have triumphed over the dark, cold tomb.  Do you know of any other such "experience of the Resurrection" from your own experience or from stories of other people?