Reading Group Guide
1. Jesus's family rejects him when they learn his intention to travel and preach rather than run the family business. Mary's family casts her out when she joins with Jesus. What does this say about the nature of family? Is it possible to find one's true family outside of blood-ties?
2. The people of Jesus's hometown of Nazareth do not welcome him or wish to hear his message. Why would the people he grew up with reject him? Why would it be easier to preach to strangers than to long time family and friends?
3. Compare Judas' conversion (finding Jesus's answers to be "rational" and "persuasive") to that of the other disciples. What is the difference between believing with your head and believing with your heart? Does it make a difference?
4. Mary is unhappy that she has the gift of visions and says she would rather be ordinary. What does it mean to live an ordinary life? Given the choice, would she have chosen an ordinary life?
5. Why does Jesus reject Mary's proclamation of love? Do you think Jesus loved her in the same way as she loved him but felt unable to act on it, or do you think he was truly only interested in her as a spiritual companion? Could Jesus have done what he did had he had a wife?
6. Jesus is persecuted by the Romans, and suffers in death on the cross. Mary is also persecuted, by opponents of Jesus and also by her own family. She suffers her entire life over her separation from her daughter. Is it necessary to suffer? Is that the only way humans are able to deepen spiritually? Could Jesus have spread his message without suffering? Compare his life to the life of Mohammed, who lived to be an old man, and died peacefully.
7. Does a person's commitment to the truth necessarily mean that he or she will be persecuted by society?
8. There is a desire among Jesus' followers to make him the King of Israel who will throw out the Romans. Why are the crowds more interested in Jesus as a secular king than a heavenly one? How does this compare to the current struggle for power in the Middle East?
9. The Bible mentions very little about Mary Magdalene. Why would the Bible not mention her more? Throughout Mary, Called Magdalene there is resistance to Mary's spiritual leadership because she is a woman. Why would men not want a woman in positions of spiritual leadership? What is it that women threaten?
10. Jesus comments that, "There is no way to avert evil," and later that "John the Baptist's death is wrong." What is your understanding of evil? Why would an all-powerful God allow evil, or something "wrong" to occur? Is evil necessary so that we may understand its opposite?
11. People who have visions are discounted as crazy in our culture. If you began having visions, would you believe them? What would it take for you to believe them? Would you give up your own life, your spouse, and your child, if you felt you were being called by God to spread the truth?