Seeing Your Life Through The Lens of  The Gospel

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
3 July 2022

  1. Jesus sent out his disciples on a mission to let people know ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Recall when you have reached out to another in word or in deed to help them realize that they were cherished, perhaps by a word of sympathy or encouragement, or by giving a hand with a difficult task. What was it like for you to experience yourself as a person bringing help and encouragement to another?

  2. Recent events (Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and poverty and famine in some countries) have created situations of dire need for some. These crises have also brought out great generosity as people reached out in caring for the sick and refugees and contributing money when they could. Perhaps there are individuals or groups that have particularly. inspired you. Remember them and ask God’s blessing on them.

  3. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. When have you found it beneficial not to be working alone, but with another by your side? How did companionship change the experience? What you were able to achieve together that you could not have done on your own?

  4. When the disciples returned Jesus warned them not to focus on the thrill of what they had been able to achieve. It was more important that their ‘names are written in heaven’. Sometimes we also need reminders that who we are is more important than what we do. Who have been the people who brought this home to you? Have there been experiences that helped you to appreciate this?

 

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 July 2022

  1. Today’s gospel brings us right to the heart of what a Christian life involves: love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus tells us that having life both now and in the future is the fruit of living in a spirit of love. How have you experienced love given and received as a source of life and vitality?

  2. With media today we are brought face to face with suffering, poverty and hunger so vast that it can engender a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. The parable challenges us about how we react when we come face to face with a person in need. We may sometimes try to avoid getting involved. Recall when you overcame this reaction and reached out to help. What did that do for you, and for the other person? 

  3. In The Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis comments that it is a temptation for some religious people to claim they are too busy to get involved with the poor and says ‘none of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.’ Who are the people whose commitment to these causes inspire you.

 

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
17 July 2022

  1. The two sisters symbolize the contemplative and active dimensions of life, at times difficult to balance. What wisdom have you learned through life experiences on how to strike a balance between prayer and action?

  2. Many people misunderstand hospitality. They worry and fret about decorating the house and preparing abundant food. Yet sometimes it is something else that is needed to make people feel at home, namely, to sit with guests and to listen to them speaking. What has been your experience of being a cherished guest and when have you been able to make others feel welcome and at home?

  3. We can make the same mistake in relation to people who are important to us in life: children, friends, parents, or others. We can worry and fret about doing things for them when perhaps the important thing is to give them time and to listen to them. What does your experience tell you?

  4. When it comes to welcoming God into our lives, one appropriate response is to give time listening to God’s word. When have you found time devoted to the word of God enriching for you?

 

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
24 July 2022 • World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly

  1. In the prayer Jesus gave us as a model, the focus is not on getting God to do what we want, but on trying to be open to what God wants: ‘Your kingdom come’. That openness implies a trust that what God wants for us is our good. When have you found that it was good for you to take life as it comes, trusting that the Spirit was with you no matter what happened? 

  2. It can be helpful at times to pray the Lord’s Prayer with one eye on what you see lies ahead for you in the day. Spend a moment thinking of what you have to do and then take each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer and see how that speaks to your agenda. 

  3. One of the points in the parable of the friend knocking at the door, is that in the case of true friendship it will not be necessary to browbeat the friend into giving what you seek. Recall times when you had a friend who gave willingly and readily. What was it like to have such a generous and willing response? Perhaps you can also recall when you have been that kind of a friend to others. 

  4. In the culture of the Middle East hospitality is a priority. It would be unimaginable not to help a friend. Just so, it is unimaginable that God will ignore our prayer. When you think of the reliability of God what are the images that you find helpful and that encourage you to persist in prayer?

 

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
31 July 2022

  1. ‘One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions’, said Jesus. What have you found by experience to be more important in life than possessions? What brought this home to you?

  2. ‘Be on your guard against all kinds of greed’. Perhaps you have seen how greed can lead to trouble in public life, in family life, and in the personal life of individuals. What has helped you to guard against greed? What benefits have you experienced when you were less greedy? 

  3. The message of the parable could be summed up in saying ‘If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans’. Life takes many twists and turns we do not anticipate. When have you found that you had to change your plans because of unexpected circumstances? What has helped you to be flexible and resourceful at such times?

 

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
7 August 2022

  1. The opening verses of this gospel invite us to ask ourselves what do we see as our purpose in life? What are our priorities? Is our heart set on material progress and advance, or do we have other priorities? What has helped you to appreciate that there is more to your life than earthly possessions and success?

  2. At times one can sense in Jesus an urgency, as if he wanted to shake people and wake them up to take his words seriously. The parable has that tone: ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit’. When have you found that being alert enabled you to grasp a moment of opportunity that you might easily have missed, e.g., when a child or friend gave a hint that they would like to talk, and a very meaningful conversation ensued. 

  3. Another consideration that adds to the sense of urgency in the words of Jesus is that we only have one life, and we do not know how long that will last. So, Jesus calls us on us to live in the now and to treasure our time. Sometimes we can drift aimlessly through a day, and on other occasions use a day purposefully. What difference does that make, if any, to how you experience the day?

 

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
14 August 2022

  1. The commitment of Jesus to his mission is shown in his desire to undergo the baptism that awaits him. Have there been times when there was something you greatly hoped for, even though you knew there would be a baptism of fire along the way? What was it like for you to undergo such a baptism of fire and then arrive at what you desired? 

  2. Jesus recognied that the message he proclaimed would meet with a mixed reception. This did not hold him back from proclaiming the Reign of God. When have you seen this kind of courage in yourself, or in others? 

  3. Jesus challenged those listening to him to commit themselves to discipleship, despite opposition from those close to them, even family members. When have you found that being true to yourself and to your beliefs required such courage? What was it like for you when you were able to follow that courageous road?

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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
21 August 2022

  1. The question put to Jesus is one that many still ask: ‘Will many be saved?’ In his answer Jesus is not concerned about numbers but warns his listeners about complacency. Just as his listeners could not regard the mere fact of being Jews as sufficient for salvation, neither can we regard being Christians as enough. That entitlement will come from our acceptance of Jesus. For any relationship to be alive – either with God or with another human person – the real question is ‘Is my heart in this relationship?’ What does your experience tell you of this? 

  2. ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door’. Jesus himself is on his journey to Jerusalem, purposeful and determined. His true followers will also be purposeful and determined. That is true in any journey, career, or relationship if there is to be growth or progress. Do you ever find that you have lost your enthusiasm for life and become a bit bored? What can you do to recover some of the enthusiasm you once had?

 

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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
28 August 2022

  1. The parable brings out two contrasting experiences, but each in its own way can be a moment of grace, a moment of truth, a moment of growth. You may be able to recall such experiences in your life. In the first (verses 8, 9) we discover that we had claimed a place that is too high for us; we are not as selfless, generous or compassionate as we thought we were. In the second (v.10) when others point out a goodness in ourselves that we may not have acknowledged to ourselves. How have you grown through such experiences? 

  2. In verses 12-14 Jesus warns us against the danger of ulterior motives in doing good. We can do good things partly because of the benefit we will get from what we do. That is natural but can lead to disappointment and resentment when our expectations are not met. When the good deed in itself is our reward, we have a greater freedom. Feedback will be a bonus but not necessary. What does your life experience tell you about this?

 

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