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Newsletter Resources: December 2016/January 2017

You are welcome to use these resources in any parish newsletter distributed free of charge. 

Items included in the Liturgy Preparation pages may also be used (e.g. short summaries of the readings, homily thoughts, etc.) Please give credit to the author and this magazine.

 - Ed

 

 Sunday, 4 December 2016

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 3:1-12


1. John the Baptist came to bear witness to Jesus.  Who have been the people who have borne witness to us of the good news of the gospel that God loves us – a friend, a parent, a teacher, etc.? To whom have we borne that witness?

 

2. John appears in the story as one who had the courage to be himself in the face of opposition. He was also a person who knew his own value, did not make exaggerated claims and was content with his mission. Can you recall times when you have been content to be yourself, without pretending to be more than you are? What was it like to have that freedom, even in the face of criticism from others?

 

3. John was ‘the voice of one crying out in the wilderness’ – announcing confidently to those in the wilderness that they must not despair because God’s grace may come to them at any moment. Have you had the experience of being in the wilderness, feeling lost? From whom did you hear a voice that gave you hope? Have you been able to give hope to other people when they were in the wilderness?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS

Preaching in the wilderness… (Mt 3:1)

 

Preaching the Church’s message is both challenging and demanding. It does seem like ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness.’ The Gospel appears unreal and irrelevant when presented in doctrinal terms to many people. Perhaps the message is lost in translation. When John preached, he too found himself in a community where many would have been indifferent to his message, especially the Jews. The Jews felt that they were the favoured people; one step ahead of all others when it came to God’s judgement. Just being a Jew was enough to exempt oneself from judgement. Is there some of this in the modern psyche? John had to remind them that life, not lineage, is God’s standard of judgement. When we preach today there are three things we should keep in mind as did John, the great preacher. Firstly, our Gospel is one of social concern; the poor need our attention. Secondly, in all we do we are serving God and not ourselves. Thirdly, that God judges us all fairly, without discrimination. This emphasis may help in the ‘wilderness’ of the modern world.

 

Fr Iomar Daniels

Loughrea, Co Galway

 

*******

THE DEEP END

 

This second Sunday of Advent we are called to make straight paths for the coming of our Lord. How we prepare is important. We are waiting, and yes waiting can be frustrating. But waiting can also be a time of growth, of inspiration, of dreaming big dreams and imagining the endless possibilities that might come. We should try not to let go of that hope and inspiration.

 

John appeals to the community who have gathered to open their eyes, to take the opportunity that is at hand and deal with the spiritual crisis which surrounds them. John is calling for a radical change of heart. The decisive moment is coming where people must take a new path. What can we do to help build communities where leaders produce good fruit? What can we do to respectfully challenge those who do not? Today we pray that God’s Spirit enlivens our heart, our work and our world. 

 

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 11:2-11


1. In response to the question of John, Jesus let his actions speak for him.  Some people show by the way they live what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Who has given you such an example? Perhaps there have been times when you have done the same for others.

 

2. John made a journey of faith from an incomplete knowledge of Jesus to a deeper understanding of who he was. Recall similar steps in your journey of faith.

 

3. Faith is not primarily about answering abstract theological questions but about living the gospel. What in your life has helped you to get that sense of perspective?

 

4. John marked the end of an era, Jesus the beginning of a new one. In our lives, how do we honour the past and yet be free to move on into a new era?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

MUSINGS

John, who was in prison … (Mt 11:2)

 

There is much waiting time in prison. Waiting for sentence, for release, waiting with patience to discover one’s fate. This is where John the Baptist finds himself after confronting Herod. . John had prophesised revolutionary change but couldn’t see it in Jesus. Therefore, the question: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus knew his cousin had a depth of spirituality to sustain him and his response is simple but effective: ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see.’

 

We’ve seen it too in others who were confined. St Paul, Nelson Mandela and Viktor Frankl never lost hope. They were not self-preoccupied in waiting but focused on their mission of establishing God’s kingdom, ending apartheid or not allowing evil to win the day. ‘He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how’ (Nietzsche). Advent is our time for developing a spirituality that teaches patience; to wait with patience and hope despite the darkness of our time. In the depths of winter we learn to wait for the light. And the light will come just as the days begin to lengthen. We must wait.

 

Fr Iomar Daniels

Loughrea, Co Galway

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END


Jesus asks the crowd in today’s Gospel why they ran to see John the Baptist. Sometimes when we go to hear a famous speaker or go to someone we admire we are looking for answers. Our expectations are often not grounded in reality. Jesus asks the people what did they expect when they went to see John. Were they looking for someone nicely dressed? No, they were looking for a prophet and John was the greatest of these. Jesus’s words are almost like a eulogy for John.

 

John announces and makes way for Jesus, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. John announces a new time. John names the question we so often ask when a new exciting leader comes on the scene: Is this the one? Is this the person we’ve been waiting for? And if it is, how will we know? Our expectations can often be so great because we are constantly in need of renewal. Where in your life today do you need to experience fresh hope and newness?

 

The Gospel ends with a paradox: John is the greatest that has ever been born; yet the people who are considered the ‘lowest’ or the ‘least’ in this world are considered even greater than John by God. A statement that no doubt would have left a few people scratching their heads.

 

‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, come forth from deep within me with Christmas luminous beauty. For my heart has become the sacred crib, the birthing place of God among us.’

Edward Hays (Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)

 

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 1:18-24

 

1. As we move into prayer on the passage, we move from consideration of the mystery of how ‘God with us’ was revealed to the world in the person of Jesus 2000 years ago, to a reflection on how we become aware of ‘God with us’ now in our daily lives.

 

2. It took some time for Joseph to accept the fact that, in Mary, there truly was Emmanuel – God with us. God is with us now, but at times we struggle to perceive God’s presence. Where have you unexpectedly discovered the presence of ‘God with you’? Recall those experiences and give thanks.

 

3. Joseph was confused and uncertain about what he should do. It took time, and outside help, for him to discern what his next step should be. Perhaps you have also had difficulties along the way to some decisions or commitments. Recall that journey and the moments when it became clear to you what was being asked of you. Give thanks for the angels who helped you along the way.

 

4. Mary bore Jesus within her, unseen to all and unacknowledged by most. In Joseph she found one who believed in the treasure that she bore. We can be bearers of Jesus to others, and they to us. When have you been that kind of a bearer of Jesus to another? Who has been that to you?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him… (Mt 1:24)

 

Joseph is the central character in today’s Gospel. Through his quiet heroics, unselfish spirit and generous and fearless action, Jesus came to be born. Joseph’s action means Emmanuel; 

God-is-with-us. Throughout Advent we’ve sung ‘Come, O Christ, our Lord.’ We’ve exclaimed: ‘Stir up your power O Lord and come to save us. Let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.’ But if Christ is to be born for us we must look beyond the melting candles of the Advent wreath and see deeper than the clay moulded figures of the crib. We have to seek the face of our new-born Saviour in the melting hearts of troubled and discontented people, in the brittle bodies of the sick and the poor and fickle light of innocent children needing our guidance and care. We must become the central actors in the Christian drama of life. The name Joseph in Hebrew means ‘let him add’. We too can add to the saving plan of God. As Pope Benedict put it: ‘Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return.’

 

Fr Iomar Daniels

Loughrea, Co Galway

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END

 

While Luke focuses on the birth of Jesus from Mary’s point of view, Matthew’s Gospel tells the story from Joseph’s. Joseph must have been extremely confused when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy. He plans to quietly ‘dismiss’ her so as not to put her in danger. Mary’s options were bleak without Joseph; her fate is very much in his hands. He is immediately obedient and says yes to his call. Joseph welcomes Mary and gives this child the name he is instructed: Jesus.

 

We hear very little about Joseph in the Gospels and he is sometimes a forgotten figure in the Jesus story, yet his decision to follow God’s call is hugely important as he fulfils his promise to protect Mary from danger. Joseph’s ‘yes’ to God sets him on a dangerous path. He must protect his family and this will mean later leaving their homeland, becoming refugees fleeing the terror of Herod.

 

Each time God speaks to Joseph, it is through his dreams. The Word of God which comes to Joseph gives him a new meaning and a new mission in life. Today, can you reflect on how God speaks to you? In what ways do you hear God’s word? And when you hear God’s word, what is your response? When you have said ‘yes’, where has that led you?

Today we can pray for those who are faced with tough decisions and who must chose the more difficult path. It requires strength and bravery.

 

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

John 1:1-18


1. John opens his Gospel with a profound reflection on the meaning of creation, of life and of Jesus. Remember when you had a special awareness of the gift of life that filled you with gratitude to God for creation, and the beauty and wonder of the world: ‘All things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being.’

 

2. We hear the gospel message frequently. Sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other. Then there are occasions when it made us feel more alive, times when it helped us see the way ahead, like a light that shines in the darkness. Recall when the gospel gave you hope in the midst of anxiety or sadness and helped you to see what action would be most life giving for you and for others

 

3. Bring to mind people who have had a prophetic voice in the world – speaking the truth for the world to hear, like as a witness to testify to the light. Some of these may have been public figures. Others were ordinary people who have helped you see the ‘light’ by the witness of their own lives and words.

 

4. ‘No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son of God, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him know.’ Jesus came to us to teach us about God and put a human face on God for us. For the people of his day, and for us, that was a mission of getting us to think again about how we see God, and to believe in a God who is a God of love. Recall how the life and ministry of Jesus have changed your picture of God.

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS: Midnight Mass Luke 2: 1-14
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son… (Lk 2:7)


In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth we don’t hear anything of what Mary, might have gone through giving birth in a smelly, cold stable on that starry night. We have sanitised it. Why? To emphasise pain and holiness are not good bedfellows; to claim sweat and blood are unholy things? We’re well aware of how women were treated by our Church after giving birth in the past. We don’t sanitise the death of Jesus. We hear his last agonised cries from the cross. Pain is an essential step along the path to glory. God wants us to know that holiness comes through living life to the full which will bring joy and sorrow. In charitable love there is great satisfaction but it comes at a price. For Jesus, it was death on the cross. The pain of childbirth is a bonding moment. The death of Jesus is, also, a bonding moment for us with the God who came to save us. Through pain a fierce and tender relationship is established. Ask any mother! So, as we gaze into the crib this Christmas may we wonder at the beauty of our being and the unbreakable bond God wants with us.

 

Fr Iomar Daniels

Loughrea, Co Galway

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END

Christmas Day


If you were to put together a guest list for the birth of the Messiah 2000 years ago one might expect political leaders like Caesar Augustus and religious leaders such as the chief priests and the Pharisees to be included. Yet for Luke, the shepherds are some of the first to welcome Jesus into this world and are the first ‘preachers’ of the Good News. Many would find it completely shocking that Shepherds would be included. It was a disreputable trade and shepherds were considered ‘unclean’ because of their profession. At first they were terrified, but the angels reassured them: ‘do not be afraid’. The response of the shepherds was immediate: ‘let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing which has taken place’.

 

The poor, the marginalised, the outcast will be the first to experience the abundance of God’s hospitality through Jesus and the shepherds come in their name. We are told that people were amazed by the shepherds and their words. Their journey didn’t end in Bethlehem, for them it was perhaps only the beginning as they returned ‘glorifying and praising God’. We are invited to Bethlehem today, to open up our hearts to the one who has come to bring hope and joy. And we return, like the shepherds, ‘glorifying and praising God for all they have seen and heard’. We must allow that love to penetrate our hearts and celebrate with our family and friends the joy that lives amongst us. And when we have finished celebrating we remember that the real work of Christmas begins once again:

 

‘When the song of the angels is stilled. When the star in the sky is gone.

When the kings and princes are home. When the shepherds are back with their flocks.
The work of Christmas begins; to find the lost; to heal the broken; to feed the hungry; to release the prisoner; to rebuild the nations; to bring peace among people; to make music in the heart.’

Howard Thurman

 

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 2:16-21


1. The story tells us that the shepherds helped Mary to realize the significance of the child born to her. She treasured their words and pondered their meaning. Who have been the people who have helped you to understand the meaning of significant events in your life? Remember them gratefully.

 

2. We are told that Mary ‘pondered these things in her heart’. What part has prayerful reflection on life played for you? How has it been helpful to you in deepening your appreciation for the gift of life?

 

3. When the shepherds realized that they had been witnesses to a wonderful manifestation of God’s love for his people, they glorified and praised God. Recall ways in which you have been made aware of God’s love for you. How have you expressed your gratitude?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS


The Judgement of the Nations – When the poet Rilke came to Paris he found work as secretary to the sculptor Rodin. His desire was to write a poem as robust as the great sculptures of his employer. To do so he was told to go to the Louvre and study the works of Ancient Greece. There he was taken by a sculpture of the torso of Apollo which had been damaged – its head was missing. So impressed was Rilke by this work that he succeeded in writing his poem. The poem is a prayer. Rilke’s close observation of the statue led him to a sense that he was being observed by a godlike presence. And so he ends his poem with this realisation: you must change your life.

 

Today’s Gospel is similar. It tells you what it is for a Christian to be before God, sheep or goat. You must change your life.

 

Fr David O’Riordan
Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda

Diocese of Cloyne

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END
Treasure and ponder


If you’re anything like me, you sometimes have to make a deliberate effort to slow down. Life can be so busy that sometimes there is little time left to think. Even our downtime can be full of activities and noise, whether we’re into sports; video games; sitting down with a good book, movie or box set; or networking on social media. It can sometimes be difficult to remember the last time we sat down by ourselves in a quiet room.

 

In today’s Gospel, Mary stands in contrast to the shepherds who hurried and talked and spread the word and praised God. Of course, there is a time for these things, and the excitement of the shepherds is palpable – they had found their Saviour. No doubt Mary and Joseph shared in their joyful enthusiasm. But when things quietened down again, we are told that Mary ‘treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart’.

 

Mary sets a good example for us, taking time to meditate on all that is happening. As we start a new year afresh, we could do a lot worse than take Mary as our model. In our hectic world, we need to take time to sit quietly, to treasure and ponder, and to allow ourselves to delve deep into the mysteries of life.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 3:13-17


1. The Baptism of Jesus marks a turning point in his life and the start of his public ministry. Recall moments when your life changed and you moved into a new phase.

2. The experience was one in which Jesus had a new sense of his own identity. What have been the experiences which have helped shaped your sense of who you are?

3. How have you come to an awareness of being a child of God, beloved by God, and one on whom rests the grace of God?

4. It is surprising that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, asks to be baptised by John. The request symbolises his desire to identify with us. At the same time he is filled with the Holy Spirit. That step of identifying with us is an important element in his being able to help us. Have you ever found that when someone identifies with you, it is easier for him/her to help you? Has your ability to identify with others had any impact on your effectiveness in helping others?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS


The Baptism of Christ is a painting by fifteenth-century Italian artist Piero della Francesca. It is in the National Gallery in London. It is remarkable for its light quality. Its lightness of tone reflects a time when baptisms were concluded at dawn and the newly baptised, once washed in the font, were dressed in white robes. A dawn light suffuses the figure of Christ, including sky, landscape and water. Piero worked on a white gesso surface which had a marble-like finish and his paints were tempered with egg to create translucency and a whiteness relevant  to the theme of Baptism. The setting for the painting is Italy of his time, not ancient Jordan. As Christ is being baptised delegates are arriving from the east to negotiate a healing of the Churches East and West. A trio of angels have gathered in a conciliatory circle.

 

When we honour Christ’s Baptism on this day we are reminded to work on our own disunities.

 

Fr David O’Riordan

Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda

Diocese of Cloyne

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END


How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and Baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century Church father tells us: ‘Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.’ Do you want to see changes in your life? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. The Lord is ever ready to renew us in his Spirit and to anoint us for mission. We are called to be ‘light’ and ‘salt’ to those around us. The Lord wants his love and truth to shine through us that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation. Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.

 

‘Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with the joy of the Gospel. May I find joy in seeking to please you just as you found joy in seeking to please your Father’.

Don Schwager

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

John 1:29-34


1. John is one who directs people to Jesus as the one who had a life-giving message for them. Who have been the people in your life whose example or advice pointed you in the direction of a fuller life? Who has helped you to appreciate the importane of Jesus and his message?

 

2. In the narrative, John recognised that Jesus had more to offer people than he himself. He had the humility not to need to be the star of the show. Whom have you known with that grounded sense of their own place?

 

3. John proclaims Jesus as one who takes away the sin of the world. Who have been the people who, for you, continued this mission of Jesus and led you from sin and guilt to forgiveness and freedom? For whom have you done this?

 

4. It was not just on the cross that Jesus gave his life as the Lamb of God. His public ministry was a constant struggle against injustice and oppression. When have you shared in this mission of Jesus? Who have been models of this for you?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS: Lamb of God


Say a prayer today for the Church in Syria which is being decimated by five years of war. It was the Syrian Church in the seventh century that gave us the prayer Lamb of God which we recite three times at Sunday Mass. A timely prayer for mercy and peace to prevail in face of the pervasive warring ‘sin of the world’.

 

Not the Lamb, ‘meek and mild’ of Blake’s poem of Innocence, in Mass today, but the ‘Lamb who was slain’, mentioned thirty times in the Apocalypse, and identified by Philip in Acts 8 as the Suffering Servant for the benefit of the open minded and enquiring Ethiopian.

 

John the Baptist was the first to say Jesus is the Lamb of God, the first to say in a universalist way that Christ would take away not only Israel’s sin but the sin of the whole world. His weapons are mercy and peace. Spread them widely.

 

Fr David O’Riordan

Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda

Diocese of Cloyne

 

*******

THE DEEP END
Credible witness

 

It’s hard to know what, or who, to believe any more. During the recent US presidential race, ‘fact checking’ became something of a buzzword. After each of the major debates, newspapers and news sites churned out articles investigating the validity of the candidates’ claims. Research was rapidly carried out, sources were checked, statements from the past were dragged up to prove or disprove many a point. With the internet making it possible to ‘fact-check’ in mere minutes, it is so easy to be caught out. Those in public life have to be more careful than ever that they are speaking the truth, that they are not contradicting what they have said previously, and that they can back up their statements with authoritative evidence.

 

John the Baptist may not have been subject to such rigorous ‘fact checking’, but he was at pains to explain the source of his authority: ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven … I have seen and I am the witness’. John knew that people might not immediately take him seriously, so twice he emphasised that he did not know Jesus himself. He was not out to trick or mislead people. We can believe what this first witness says about who Jesus is, because his words come directly from God.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 4:12-23


1. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light’. Jesus applies this to himself and his message. Who have been the Jesus people who have been a source of light to you? Have you been such a light for others?

 

2. His message was a call to repentance, to a change of attitude toward God, from seeing God as one to be feared, to seeing God as a God of love. When have you heard that call in your life? What was it like for you?

 

3. Jesus invited disciples to join him in his mission. In responding, the disciples ‘left their nets’ to follow Jesus. Sometimes we have to disentangle ourselves from other things to give ourselves freely and wholeheartedly to a commitment. Have you experienced being ‘enmeshed’ and being free? Where did you find life?

 

4. In v. 23 we have a summary of the ministry of Jesus – ‘proclaiming the good news of the kingdom’ and witnessing to this by teaching and healing. Who have been the people you have known who have witnessed to the ‘kingdom’, the reign of God in our world? What have been the signs that accompanied their witness? When have you done this yourself?

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS: Jesus begins his ministry


A net is an expandable object. When the fish enter, it stretches. It’s an image that reoccurs in parable and in the personal stories of the disciples up to and following the death and resurrection of Jesus. They understand the mystery of the Kingdom to be a net that gathers fish of all kinds. In today’s Gospel they let go of the net of preoccupation and follow the Lord into discipleship. Christ’s net is reminiscent of the biblical ‘leading strings of love’ which God uses to draw people to himself. The disciples’ response contrasts with that of those who put their hand to the plough and turn back. Jesus’s project is the Kingdom, not the material restoration of the Temple. Not power. As a Church, we must know our priority is the Kingdom of God’s mercy and of the Spirit, but do we?

 

Fr David O’Riordan

Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda

Diocese of Cloyne

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END
The choice is ours


You may have heard this story before: ‘An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A battle is going on inside all of us,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”.’

 

In a way, it is as simple as that. Each one of us faces hundreds of choices every day. Mostly, they are minor decisions that may not seem important at the time. But they all add up to something. They make us the person we are. Do our choices make us the kind of person who follows Jesus, or the kind of person who goes in the opposite direction?

 

We can stay stuck where we are, repeating the same old patterns, or we can leave it all behind and choose a new path, like Peter, Andrew, James and John did. They were called, and they took decisive action. This initial choice to follow Jesus was reinforced and remade, day in and day out, during their discipleship journey, just as it is on ours.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

 

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 5:1-12

 

The blessings in the Beatitudes are primarily future blessings, but there can be an anticipation of the blessings in the present. At first reading, some Beatitudes may seem to describe circumstances that you would like to avoid at all costs. Read them slowly. Stay with each one for a while. Let yourself get a sense of the paradox involved in each one. Perhaps you have had an experience of a deeper and more authentic life, a blessing, when

you were poor – you knew your need of God

you mourned – could feel for others

you were meek – self-controlled, neither overly aggressive nor a doormat.

you hungered and thirsted for some cause

you were merciful rather than vengeful

you were pure in heart – a person of integrity, whose actions and intentions correspond

you were a peacemaker

you were persecuted because you stood for something.

 

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

*******

 

MUSINGS: The Beatitudes


When the founder of the Taizé community, Brother Roger, died in tragic circumstances in 2005, his monks resisted all efforts to turn his grave into a shrine. The work of Taizé is evangelical with its roots in the Beatitudes. The monks emphasise the value of the provisional over the permanent. We have, after all, no lasting kingdom here.

 

During the summer months Taizé is a tented village; accommodations are simple in the fields, young people come for a week and then must leave. When the work of Taizé is done, one imagines the monks will fold up their tents and disappear like Bedouin into the sands.

 

Many of our fears about the Church are fears about the loss of permanence. What will happen us? The Church will survive wherever the Beatitudes are being lived; its tents will be wherever the Beatitudes lead.

 

Fr David O’Riordan
Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda

Diocese of Cloyne

 

*******

 

THE DEEP END


Take a look at the front cover of any women’s magazine, and you’ll find a host of headlines promising to transform readers’ lives for the better. Inside you’ll find articles about miracle diets, the most flattering make-up, the latest fashions to achieve the perfect look. This trend is particularly noticeable at this time of year when the focus is on new year resolutions – new year, new you!

 

We live in a culture obsessed with appearances. The ultimate message is that we need to constantly transform our outward image in order to feel fulfilled and happy. If we let this message filter in, we can be left feeling empty, frustrated and dissatisfied with our lot.

 

But today’s Gospel speaks of a different type of happiness. The word ‘happy’ appears nine times in the Beatitudes – it is sometimes translated as ‘blessed’. This happiness Jesus is talking about should not be viewed as a reward for religious achievements, but rather as an act of grace by God. The focus is much deeper than superficial happiness. The Beatitudes call us to a radically new way of being. When we centre our lives on God, we find our true identity and lasting peace.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

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