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You are welcome to use these resources in any parish newsletter distributed free of charge. These resources, along with The Deep End, may be downloaded from the Intercom pages on the Veritas website: www.veritas.ie and from www.intercommagazine.ie

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, 7 October 2018


SEEING YOUR LIFE
THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Mark 10:2-16

1.  Marriages do break down, but in this story Jesus appears as the wise person urging people to seek first the original harmony where possible, rather than seek escape routes when difficulties arise. When have you found that, in marriage or in other relationships, the bonds have been strengthened when you have been prepared to work through difficulties?

2.  There are other things that we needlessly and wrongly put in opposition: young and old, male and female, people from different cultures, body and soul. Perhaps at times you have discovered the advantages of exploring the richness in combining such apparently exclusive opposites.

3.  The children in the second story can be taken as representing any group of ‘little ones’ whose opinion we may be inclined to dismiss. When have you found that you have been taught an important lesson about life, about love, or about faith by people whose views you had been inclined to dismiss?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

‘[The Rosary’s] most characteristic element … the litany-like succession of Hail Mary’s, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel’s announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb’ (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Mary’s constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of the mysteries proposes to us – now as the Son of God, now as the son of the Virgin – at his birth in a stable at Bethlehem, at his presentation by his Mother in the Temple, as a youth full of zeal for his Father’s affairs, as the Redeemer in agony in the garden, scourged and crowned with thorns, carrying the Cross and dying on Calvary; risen from the dead and ascended to the glory of the Father to send forth the gift of the Spirit.’

Blessed Paul VI, Marialis Cultus 46

 

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THE DEEP END: Asking the wrong question

Today’s gospel is challenging. It contains two instances of Jesus correcting a popular opinion of the time and offering an alternative way.

     The first is one of the few times Jesus is presented as speaking about marriage. The question asked by the Pharisees is whether it is ‘against the Law’ for a man to divorce his wife. Note that they do not ask whether divorce is right, or just – only whether it is legal. They are testing Jesus of course. They know the answer and so does he: divorce was indeed allowed under the law. Divorce was relatively common in the society of the time, though there were different interpretations of the law.

     But Jesus, as always, is less concerned about the law than the rightness of a situation. He directs his questioners instead to God’s plan for marriage and the unity between a married couple. When he delivers his strongest words about divorce, it is in the context of adultery; the sin is not the breaking of the legal agreement, but the betrayal of one’s spouse. The Pharisees are asking the wrong question.

     The second part of the gospel sees Jesus once again teaching people to look at things in a new way. Children at the time of Jesus, not unlike wives, were often viewed as property, without any rights of their own. The disciples fail to show any concern for them when they turn them away. But Jesus welcomes them, blesses them, and treats them with love and concern. He goes so far as to present them as teachers, on account of their faith and openness. Another surprising attitude!

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

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Sunday, 14 October 2018


SEEING YOUR LIFE
THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Mark 10:17-30

1.  We often get satisfaction from the things we own, clothes, cars, homes, gadgets, or money. There would be something unnatural if we did not. But what happens to us when our possessions begin to ‘own’ us, when they take a hold of us, when we become obsessed with them? Jesus seeks followers who have the freedom to let go of possessions in order to be a servant of others. In whom have you seen this freedom? When have you experienced it yourself?

2.  Growth implies change. That change sometimes means letting go of something we have at this moment: job, status, home, security, or something else we value. There can be an apparent loss in letting go. Yet have you ever found that you actually gained by having the freedom to let go of something to which you had previously clung?

3.  The disciples thought that Jesus was making impossible demands of people following him. He acknowledged that discipleship was impossible to us on our own efforts alone. How have you experienced the benefits of the help of others and of God when you were faced with difficulties in life?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

‘Of the essence of motherhood is the fact that it concerns the person. Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother. Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood. For each child is generated in a unique and unrepeatable way, and this is true both for the mother and for the child. Each child is surrounded in the same way by that maternal love on which are based the child’s development and coming to maturity as a human being […] Mary’s motherhood which becomes man’s inheritance is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.’

Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater 42

 

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THE DEEP END: Will I miss it?

As I write this, I am in the middle of moving house. As anyone who has ever moved house will know, it can be an exhausting and stressful time. There are boxes to be filled and labelled, furniture to be lifted and transported, and rooms to be cleaned. There are things to throw in the bin or skip, and trips to the recycling centre and charity shop. And there are a bucket load of emotions that go with the whole process, particularly when it comes to those decisions over what is worth holding onto, and what can be let go. Many an item I’ve regarded in recent weeks, agonising over whether it needs to make the journey with me. My motto has become ‘Will I miss if it if I get rid of it?’ A friend of mine swears by the ‘KonMari’ method of decluttering, which advises asking yourself whether or not an item ‘brings you joy’.

     Such are the practical considerations we deal with in life, particularly at pivotal times such as moving home, moving in with a partner, when a child flies the nest, or after a loved one passes away. While we may not be people ‘of great wealth’ like the man in today’s gospel, most of us accumulate a great deal of possessions over a lifetime. Some of it is necessary, but much of it is superfluous. If it came down to it, how much could we let go of? What good will our earthly treasures do us, in the long run?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

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Sunday, 21 October 2018


SEEING YOUR LIFE
THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Mark 10:35-45

1.  Jesus had spent much time teaching his followers that discipleship was a life of service, a life of giving oneself for others. In spite of that James and John were thinking of what they could get out of it. For Jesus, for the apostles, and for each one of us, the glory of God is revealed when we allow God to work through us as we give ourselves for others. When have you found that you reach a fuller life, and others benefit, when you act in this spirit of service?

2.  One of the great problems in a community, a parish, or an organisation, is when you have some people jockeying for status and positions of power. The good of the group and the people it serves take second place to personal prestige. You have probably seen this happen. Perhaps you have also witnessed people with a spirit of service that allowed them to value the good of the group over personal rewards. Recall them and give thanks for their witness.

3.  Jesus himself is the great model of this spirit of service. Think of the aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry that have inspired you to imitate his giving of his life for others.

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

‘… for over a thousand years, the Church has greeted Mary, the Mother of God, as ‘Star of the Sea’: Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards which destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us? With her ‘yes’ she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched his tent among us (cf. Jn 1:14).’

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi 49

 

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THE DEEP END: Your mission …

Tom Cruise is no stranger to performing outrageous stunts. He has scaled buildings, clung to sheer rock faces, and dangled out of helicopters, all in the name of entertainment, and his movies are all the better and more realistic for it. Time and time again, the daredevil actor has pushed himself to his limits, and his methods succeed in shaking audiences out of their ennui and transporting them to a world where anything is possible. In the latest Mission Impossible film, he broke his ankle while filming a rooftop leap, but true to form he simply kept on running.

     What has a movie star got to do with Mission Sunday? This day is set aside every October to encourage us all to reflect on the mission we have been given to spread the gospel. For some brave men and women, this involves leaving their home and travelling
abroad, building up the Church in challenging and sometimes dangerous circumstances. For all of us, it involves an attempt to live out the teachings of Jesus and spread the good news, whatever our situation in life. It takes courage, and sometimes we need to push ourselves to our limits, beyond our comfort zones. Though we stumble and things can get difficult – we have doubts perhaps, or are ridiculed for our faith or lifestyle – we do our best to keep on going.

     The Mission Impossible movies each include the instruction: ‘You mission, should you choose to accept it…’ This Mission Sunday, we are called to make a choice. Will we choose to play our part in the Church’s missionary work?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

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Sunday, 28 October 2018


SEEING YOUR LIFE
THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Mark 10:46-52

1.  In this story Jesus cures the blind man, Bartimaeus. Recovery of sight in the Bible is often a metaphor for coming to faith. Perhaps during your life you have had moments of insight, of deeper understanding, of appreciating who Jesus is for you. What was it that helped you to see more clearly?

2.  Who has the ‘Jesus person’ who helped you to see more clearly? Perhaps, as a parent, a teacher, or a friend, you have also been a ‘Jesus person’ for another and helped her or him to a clearer understanding of the meaning of life, love, and faith.

3.  To get to Jesus, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak so that he would not be impeded. What have you had to discard in order to be able to see more clearly (e.g., an assumption, a prejudice, a rigid opinion)?

4.  ‘Your faith has saved you’ Jesus said to Bartimaeus. Recall situations in which you have been grateful for the faith that is yours because in some way it saved you.

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

‘Mary, Virgin and Mother, you who, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith: as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own ‘yes’ to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Filled with Christ’s presence, you brought joy to John the Baptist, making him exult in the womb of his mother. Brimming over with joy, you sang of the great things done by God. Standing at the foot of the cross with unyielding faith, you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit so that the evangelising Church might be born. Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the gospel of life, which triumphs over death.’

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 288

 

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THE DEEP END: Who is blind?

Who is blind in today’s gospel? The obvious answer, of course, is the blind man! Bartimaeus is blind and desperate. He has not been blind all his life, so he knows about the wonderful gift of sight he is now missing. His faith is strong, and his courage is stronger still; no matter how much he is scolded and silenced, he calls to Jesus all the louder. Though he is physically blind, he sees plenty.

     Who sees Bartimaeus? Certainly not the followers of Jesus. They do not think of Bartimaeus as someone worthy of meeting Jesus. To the extent that they think about him at all, he is an irritation, a poor beggar to look down on, hardly a person. They are utterly blind to his needs.

     I’m struck by the irony of the crowds summoning Bartimaeus with the word ‘Courage’. He has already shown tremendous courage. Minutes previously Jesus’ followers had been content to pass him by and silence his cries for help, but their master has given an order and they must obey. How they must have squirmed, calling him over.

     The blind man sees Jesus, and Jesus sees the blind man. Everyone else is blind to both of them. Everyone else fades into the background of the story, just as Bartimaeus was pushed to the back of the crowds.

     Perhaps it is time for an eyesight test. Do we see Jesus for who he really is? Do we pay attention to those around us, or are we blind to their needs? Do we hear the cry of the poor, or are we complicit in silencing them?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

 

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