Newsletter Resources – January

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.

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Sunday, 7 January 2018


Mark 1:7-11

  1. John gives an example of humility as a person confident in his own role but not seeking to claim to be more than he is. He is able to acknowledge that Jesus is greater. There is a freedom in being able to acknowledge the gifts of others without losing a sense of one’s own giftedness. Recall times when you were able to do this.
  2. The baptism of Jesus was an extraordinary religious experience for him. Something happened that was a major step forward for Jesus in coming to know that he was the beloved Son of God. We all have events in our lives that are milestones along the road of discovering who we are. What have been these milestones for you?
  3. ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ Bring to mind memories of experiences in which you knew you were the beloved (of God or of another person) and that the one who loved you was well pleased. Bring these experiences to mind with gratitude, knowing that the only proper response to love received is thankfulness. Perhaps you have also given that experience to another.
  4. It is easy to lament the growing secularisation in the world today, but the Spirit of God who spoke loudly to the world in the Christ-event is active today. How can we be open to the new things the Spirit is saying to the Church today?

John Byrne osa



THE DEEP END: A searching God

He came in search of John.
He came in search of baptism.
He came in search of blessing.
He came in search of the Spirit.
He came in search of God’s favour.
He came in search of God’s love.

The first active step that Jesus takes as he begins his ministry is to search. He journeys from Nazareth to the River Jordan to find John, in order to be baptised. While John feels he is ‘not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals’, Jesus still seeks him out. He needs this moment of baptism and blessing to begin his ministry. This is his moment of divine calling and endorsement from the Father: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

We know what it is like to search. We yearn for meaning, for love, and our hearts are always searching for God. Today’s first reading from Isaiah speaks of this great thirst: ‘Oh come to the water all you who are thirsty’; ‘Seek the Lord while he is still to be found’. We must seek constantly to bring ourselves into the presence of God, who will give us his blessing and strength for the road ahead.

‘You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.’
St Augustine

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon


Sunday, 14 January 2018


John 1:35-42

  1. John pointed the disciples towards Jesus as the one they should follow. Remember the people in your life who have pointed you in a new and life-giving direction? Perhaps in some cases this may have involved directing you away from your association with them – e.g., leaving home, changing jobs, etc.
  2. Jesus invited the disciples to come and see how he lived. How have you come to learn how Jesus lived, and what he was looking for in life? How has this attracted you to follow him?
  3. What is your experience of gathering in small groups to learn to live like Jesus by listening to the gospel together? Where two or three are gathered in his name, Jesus is there in the midst of them.
  4. Andrew did not keep the good news to himself but invited his brother to join him in following Jesus. What is your experience of receiving, or giving, an invitation to join in some worthwhile venture?

John Byrne osa



THE DEEP END: Come and see

Today is the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and this year’s theme is ‘Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees’.

In his message to mark the day, Pope Francis spoke of our responsibility, as individuals, communities and Church, to welcome everyone, particularly those who have been forced to leave their home in search of a better future.

‘Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age … This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.’

Pope Francis has spoken often of our ‘brotherly responsibility’ towards our fellow human beings, and how our welcome ought to be a response to the Lord’s supreme commandment to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves. We all have opportunities to do this in our communities.

In today’s gospel Jesus invites the disciples to ‘come and see’ where he lives. He welcomes them into his home and they stay with him for the rest of the day. The example of Jesus encourages us to be welcoming, to extend a warm invitation, and to spend time with others in friendship.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon


Sunday, 21 January 2018


Mark 1:14-20

  1. ‘The time is fulfilled’ – this is a decisive moment in the life of Jesus. His public ministry is about to begin. Recall turning points in your own life when something new happened and with hindsight you can say the time was ripe for it to happen, ‘the time was fulfilled’.
  2. ‘Repent and believe the good news’. Jesus was not preaching a new doctrine, he was proclaiming an event that had already happened. The time has come. Jesus called for a change of heart as a response to the good news of the gospel message. A new way of understanding God leads to a conversion in how we relate to God, a change of heart. A growth in awareness of who we are can lead us to a new level of self-confidence, another change of heart. Can you recall times when ‘good news’ led you to a change of heart?
  3. The Spirit of God who was at work in Jesus calling the disciples continues to work in our day and in our lives. That is why the gospel message is one of good news. When has your understanding of the gospel message led you to a different style of life? Who was the Jesus person through whom the call came to you? To whom have you been a Jesus person in this way?

John Byrne osa


THE DEEP END: The call

‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you, and you in me?’

The hymn ‘The Summons,’ by John L. Bell, consists of a list of questions from Jesus as he calls each one of us to be disciples. Each one begins with the words ‘Will you…?’ The final verse is our response as disciples: ‘Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.’

Today we reflect on Jesus’ call to the very first disciples. There is a simplicity to the scenes where Jesus gathers his first disciples. He issues the invitation to follow him, and the fishermen respond with a resounding yes, leaving their nets, boats, and even their families behind, no questions asked. In the opening chapters of Mark’s gospel everything happens ‘at once’ or immediately. There is a sense of urgency; the time has come, the kingdom of God is near, and Jesus needs helpers to work alongside him.

Jesus asks the same of us, his modern-day disciples: ‘Follow me’. We are summoned too. We are challenged to leave aside our worldly concerns, see the world in a new way, and to begin a new adventure with Jesus.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon

Sunday, 28 January 2018


Mark 1:21-28

  1. In this first chapter Mark familiarises his readers with the type of things Jesus did to proclaim the kingdom, the reign of God. Our passage today touches on two of these, the first being that ‘he taught as one having authority’. It makes a difference when you listen to someone who is clearly speaking from experience and personal knowledge. Remember people who impressed you in this way.
  2. Jesus combined teaching with healing, and he drove the evil spirit out of the man. The power of God that worked this wonder through Jesus is also at work in and through us today. When have you been freed from some bad habit?
  3. The evil spirit convulsed the man before it left him. The path to liberation can be a painful struggle. If you have found it so, who was the Jesus person that helped you through the struggle to freedom?
  4. It is not only individuals but groups that can be struggling with an evil spirit – jealousy, rivalry, malicious gossiping, abuse of power, etc. Sometimes a Jesus person comes into the group and drives out that evil spirit. Have you experienced this? Perhaps you yourself have been this person on some occasion?

John Byrne osa


THE DEEP END: Genuine authority

‘But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d…’

Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare

We probably wouldn’t have to look too hard for examples of public figures who seem to fit the above description. Puffed up with a sense of their own importance, they are anxious to be seen as the expert on a given subject, in spite of their limited knowledge or experience. We criticise politicians if we feel they are blind to the struggles of ordinary people. They don’t know what it’s like, for example, to live on a minimum wage, or to be at risk of homelessness. On the other hand, it is refreshing when those in power have faced some of these issues themselves, or have made the effort to do their research and to listen to people. We can tell when someone is speaking with genuine authority and care.

Those who listen to Jesus teaching in the synagogue know there is something different and exciting about him. His teaching is in sharp contrast to the scribes they are used to hearing. The difference, stated twice in this passage, is his authority, and it leaves his audience ‘astonished’. He does not use it the way we might tend to use our ‘little brief authority’, to make ourselves look good. Instead he uses his authority to serve, to love, and to bring mercy and freedom.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon