Newsletter Resources: July/August

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Newsletter Resources: July/August.pdf

 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

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 realise 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.  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, or what you were able to achieve?

3.  The instructions Jesus gave the disciples suggest appropriate attitudes for the one who ‘goes before Jesus’. Let the images speak to you and evoke memories of times when you were welcomed and times when you were not. When have you found that it was good news to have the attitudes Jesus describes?

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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions.’ (Luke 10:19)

This Gospel was for many years the only option given for St Patrick’s Day. I always thought the reason was in the sentence above. Christians were to be protected from serpents and scorpions, said the Lord who commissioned the seventy-two. So Patrick took good care to banish all snakes from Ireland, as part, perhaps, of this protection deal. Or maybe these were symbols of an ancient pre-Christian faith, or more likely, instances of all that might hurt a new Christian.

Snakes continue to be a reality in many parts of the world, outside Ireland. People bitten by snakes make news every day of the year, particularly when the ones bitten are unsuspecting western tourists. But Christians should not fear snakes or indeed anything harmful: nothing comes in the way of the Lord’s work.

Lord, the power available to us believers is not fanciful or imaginary. You are close, you are with us, protecting us from all that might hurt us. Serpents and scorpions, even snakes must stay away.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • We come in peace

‘God save all here’ is a traditional Irish blessing, spoken on entering someone’s home or arriving at a gathering. It was also used as a general greeting when entering a public house, and is often heard in films depicting life in early 20th century Ireland. Other variations traditionally spoken on crossing a threshold include ‘God bless all here’ or ‘God bless all in this house’. While not in use as much these days, such greetings serve to set the tone for a visit. They indicate that the visitor has come in peace, with good wishes for all present – he or she bears no ill will to anyone.

Today Jesus recommends a specific greeting for his disciples to use when entering a home: ‘Peace to this house!’ Whatever house the disciples go into, this should be their greeting. Like the traditional Irish blessings, these words set a tone. Jesus explains that if a person of peace lives in that house, ‘your peace will go and rest on him’. The peace blessing offered by the disciples will spread to those they meet. Peace should be our number one consideration in our dealings with others.

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 10:25-37

1.  Today’s gospel brings us right to the heart of what a Christian life involves: love of God and 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.  Bring to mind the people who have been an inspiration to you by the care and attention they have given to others.

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘Go and do the same yourself.’ (Luke 10:37b)

There’s a story told of students who are learning how to preach. They are given the task of a homily on the Good Samaritan. Their eloquence knows no bounds. But, unknown to them, their tutor has positioned a homeless man outside the door they are to pass when their preaching was over. Most avert their eyes and run by, tripping along on the wings of their eloquence. One stops and spends time with the poor man. The prize for best preaching goes to that student. For what good is eloquence if the preacher is not converted by his own message?

     The story of the Good Samaritan would be easier but for the sting in the tail. Going and doing as the Good Samaritan did is not an easy path. It is much easier to preach about it and leave the practical implications to others.

     Lord, you are our model. Your attention was always drawn to hurt and vulnerable people. Help us to go and do likewise, following up lofty words with practical deeds.

Fr Bernard Cotter

Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • A parable brought to life

Listeners to Joe Duffy’s Liveline radio programme may have heard the story earlier in the summer of an American tourist who was beaten and robbed of his valuables during a violent mugging in Dublin. Forty-six-year-old Donnie Brown, who was travelling alone on his first holiday in Ireland, was attacked after stopping to ask a woman for directions back to his hostel. The gang held a knife to his throat and stole his wallet, bag, and phone, before leaving him lying bloodied in a lane.

Donnie recalled how he had found help in a local shop and from Gardaí who drove him around the area in the hope of identifying his attackers. However, after his story was aired on the radio, he experienced a real outpouring of kindness. A bed and breakfast owner offered him free accommodation, and he received more than 40 offers of help from all over Ireland, including free use of a rental car. ‘I feel like I’ve won the lottery,’ he said afterwards.

It is extraordinary that such a horrific experience could end with someone feeling so blessed. The man in today’s parable must have felt something similar, to be treated with such generosity, from an unexpected source, after his ordeal. Those who helped Donnie in Dublin didn’t know him or have any reason to help him. Their kindness to a stranger was very much in the spirit of the Good Samaritan we hear about today.

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 10:38-42

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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘My sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself.’
(Luke 10:40b)

I find it easy to picture Martha in her kitchen. Every hob has a pot brewing on it, some boiling over. Every kettle is turned on. Steam fills the air, microwaves beep, smoke detectors detect trouble. Martha stands in the midst, sweat pouring out of everywhere: a living example of what happens when you take on everything and don’t seek help.

     It’s hard not to feel sorry for Martha, though she may have drawn her misfortune on herself. As children, her sister Mary was probably taught not to stray into the kitchen, Martha’s domain, lest she cause upset. Mary had her own unique role to play.

     In truth, every kitchen, every house needs a Martha and a Mary. Within each of us, also, the practical and contemplative alike need to be developed, each essential.

     Lord, when I am being holy and listening to you, help me not to forget how to be a Martha too. Teach me to multi-task in your vineyard, if not in your kitchen.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • The host with the most

Which one are you? It’s such a familiar story. Think of the last time you had friends or family over for a meal or a gathering. Were you more of a Mary or a Martha? Many of us fall more easily into one category than the other – the ‘host with the most’ who is always up to their eyes with the cooking and catering and table clearing; or the chatterer who is happy to leave the washing up until later?

At face value, I don’t think Jesus is saying we shouldn’t be hospitable and look after our guests, offering them food or drinks. Like many, I really feel for Martha in this story. She had welcomed Jesus into her home, was looking after him and busying herself with serving him, while her sister was too busy listening to Jesus to offer to help. It is no wonder that Martha complained. After all, someone had to do the practical work. Martha may have wanted to spend time with her guest too – but then, who would have served him?

The key is in Jesus’s words. He does not criticise Martha for her efforts, but rather gently rebukes her for ‘worrying and fretting about so many things’. She is so distracted and bogged down in her work that she has forgotten to spend time with Jesus. This is familiar territory for many of us. We are often distracted and busy. Do we make space to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen? Can we take time each day, perhaps, for a Scripture reading?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 11:1-13

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.  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.

3.  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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘The heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’ (Luke 11:13, paraphrased)

Children hate it when they do not get the exact gift they put in for – ask Santa Claus. Our young ones look for one model of a mobile phone and get a slightly older (and possibly more reasonably-priced) version. Loud disappointment rebounds through the whole house: ‘That was NOT what I wanted!’

The father who would hand his child a snake instead of a fish would get a similar response. Giving a stone instead of bread would not go down well either.

The only time when the wrong gift is acceptable is when it is a better gift, bigger, more generous, more useful, more luxuriant. Which brings us to the key message of the Gospel: you may ask for whatever you wish from God, what you get in return will blow your mind, even though it is not exactly what you asked for.

Heavenly Father, help me. Whatever I seek, send your Holy Spirit to fill my heart. Let your Spirit satisfy me.

Fr Bernard Cotter

Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • The Open Door

How do you pray? Is there a right or a wrong way of doing it? Should we pray lying in bed or kneeling at the altar, alone or in company, in the church or out in nature, in stillness and silence or with tambourines and songs of praise?

The first disciples weren’t quite sure how to go about things, and today we see them approach Jesus to ask him ‘Lord, teach us to pray’. In response, he gave them the words of what we now know as the ‘Our Father’. But he had some more advice for the disciples too – keep praying! If you were to call on a friend for help in the middle of the night, Jesus says, your persistence alone would convince him to help. If a child asks for food, his parents will naturally grant him what he asks for. The message is clear – we just have to keep asking.

Jesus often withdrew to quiet places to spend time alone in prayer, and we know from the Passion accounts that he cried out to God in moments of anguish and desperation. There are many different ways to pray. It matters less where and how we choose to pray, than the fact that we choose to pray at all. If we keep asking, if we keep the lines of communication open, God will grant us what is good. Brian Zahnd

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 31 July 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 12:13-21

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 have had to change your plans because of unexpected circumstances? What has helped you to be flexible and resourceful at such times?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ (Luke 12:13)

Most parents have to deal occasionally with fighting children. One child has stolen the other’s toy, so the parent has to arbitrate. Parents learn to intervene in such a way that all of life will not be spent supplying such judgments. They hope their children will learn that it’s usually easier to sort things out instead of relying on another authority to do it.

The aggrieved brother in this Gospel had evidently never learned this lesson, so he comes to a figure of authority to sort things for him. Jesus, the wise master, refuses to be drawn in. Instead, he issues a ruling that might apply to each brother: Beware of avarice, there’s no security in possessions.

I wonder what happened to the complaining brother. Did he seek another authority who might give a more favourable judgment? Or did he listen, take Jesus’ words to heart and follow?

Jesus, help me to be content with my life. Help me to trust in your loving care, every step of the way.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • Building bigger barns

There is a lot of pressure these days to upgrade. Phone companies offer special incentives if we upgrade to the latest smartphone, while car dealers are constantly trying to convince us to trade in our older car for a brand new model. And it wasn’t so long ago that all the talk was about buying a starter home or getting on the property ladder. The idea is that we can always go bigger and do better for ourselves. If we think about it, most of us will admit we have more than we need to get by, but there is still a drive to acquire more ‘stuff’. 

The rich man in today’s parable was busying himself with upgrading. Faced with a lack of sufficient space to store all his crop and his goods, he decided to build bigger barns. Satisfied, he then sat back to enjoy the finer things in life, to ‘eat, drink, have a good time’.

But Jesus offers a gentle reminder that, really, these are not the thing that matter. After all, we can’t take any of these treasures with us. Our farmer friend had forgotten to focus on the more important things in life – he had stored up riches on earth instead of focusing on making himself ‘rich in the sight of God’. What treasures are important to us?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 7 August 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 12:32-48

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 gives a hint that they would like to talk and a very meaningful conversation ensues.

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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘If the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.’ (Luke 12:39)

I used to think this line on the Gospel was fanciful, or that it belonged to another age. Thieves are more discreet than that, I thought, breaking in not through a wall but via an unguarded door or an open window.

That was until I saw the first ATM robbery, when a bulldozer was used to break down the wall of a bank and remove the banklink machine, with all its money intact. It struck me then that the scriptures were well rooted, that the avarice in people’s hearts is timeless – as are the actions it leads to.

People are not so different now from the folks Jesus observed. Then, as now, some begin with enthusiasm, but fall back to their former ways. And some come late in the day to the conclusion that Jesus was right, and act accordingly.

Lord, teach me wisdom. Keep me from the avarice that leads to wrongdoing.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • Watching and Waiting

We do not like to wait. Listening to a radio discussion recently about the ever-increasing role technology plays in our lives, one panellist described how her smartphone had become almost like an extension of her arm. We don’t know how to be alone or to have free time anymore, she lamented. If we’re waiting for a friend or family member, the slightest delay has us reaching for our phones to catch up on emails, social media or the latest news. Delayed flights, or food that doesn’t arrive promptly in a restaurant, can make us impatient and jittery. We have lost the art of waiting.

Yet Jesus regularly emphasises the importance of waiting. But it is clear that it is not the sort of waiting where we can sit around scrolling through our phones – there is an art to it. We must be awake and dressed for action and have our lamps lit, ready to go. We must be ready to open the door to the master when he knocks.

The ‘waiter’ described in today’s Gospel is a devoted servant, eagerly awaiting his master’s return. We don’t know when Jesus will return, but we are called to live in constant vigilance and readiness. Let us not be found asleep on the job, or distracting ourselves with the trivial things in life!

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 12:49-53

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 toundergo such a baptism of fire and then arrive at what you desired?

2.  Jesus recognised 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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘Let Jeremiah be put to death:
he is unquestionably disheartening the people.’
(Jeremiah 38:4)

Telling the truth can be a dangerous business: ask the prophet Jeremiah. He ‘spoke truth to power’, as prophets are supposed to do, and the person in power, the king, didn’t like it one bit. Getting rid of the prophet seemed easier than heeding the warnings. Jeremiah was lucky to escape with his life.

Jesus knew quite a bit about the hazards of speaking the truth too. He saw John the Baptist beheaded for annoying Herod. His enemies built up quite a file of ‘subversive’ words spoken by Jesus. His death on Calvary proved that his words had gotten through. Unlike Jeremiah, Jesus could not escape paying the ultimate price.

His words from today’s Gospel wouldn’t have helped Jesus. People in power love to see people praying for peace, rather than examining the causes of war. Jesus acknowledges that conflict is part of life, even among believers. There is no magic potion to prevent discord.

Lord, help me to speak the truth as you did, regardless of consequences.

Fr Bernard Cotter

Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • Peace on earth?

It is only a few short weeks since Jesus was advising his disciples to greet people with the words ‘Peace to this house!’ We certainly like to associate Jesus more with peace than division. When Jesus later appears to the disciples after his resurrection, his first words are ‘Peace be with you’. And now here he is talking about division!

At the time that Luke was writing his Gospel, the early Christian community was experiencing division. Households were divided over what to believe. It is not that Jesus was encouraging division; rather, not everyone was ready to accept his teachings. Jesus remains a divisive figure today. People either run towards him or run from him. Division is a natural consequence of Jesus’ work, and those who follow him must be willing to sacrifice everything.

This is a challenging Gospel for us. It’s almost as if Jesus is asking us what we are willing to do in his name, if we are truly ablaze with love for him. We may at times face ridicule or rejection from the world. We may have to change the company we keep, or leave old ways of life behind, in order to truly follow him. In this sense there may well be division.

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 21 August 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 13:22-30

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. What it is like for you when you fail to do this? What is it like for you when the effort is there?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘Men from east and west, from north and south,
will come to take their places at the feast.’
(Luke 1: 29)

This is one of the times when it’s useful to live in a rural parish. When I hear of people coming from the fringe to take their places at the feast, I imagine the dwellers in the townlands at the edge of the parish pushing out the people at its core. These residents of liminal townlands sometimes have divided loyalties: we who live at the centre of the parish, near the parish church, feel it is left to us to keep everything going. But in the vision in today’s gospel, it is these people on the edge who will come to the feast, while we dwellers at the heart of things are pitched out. Is this just or unjust? Jesus is clear. The people at the feast are the ones who deserve to be there.

Lord, help me not to forget that there are no reserved spaces at the banquet, that there is equal access, by your grace. Amen.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • Do I Know You?

What a frightening thought, that the master would reject us and deny that he knows us. To think that we would have done our best to live a good life, only to meet him at the narrow door and be denied admission!

Yet many of us think we have it all sussed. Like those in today’s Gospel, we think we are surely safe. But there is a certain complacency in the voices that plead to the master ‘We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets’ – as if it is enough to have a passing acquaintance with Jesus. Those are not the words of someone who really knows the master and deserves to enter his house. We may think we won’t be denied eternal salvation because we say our prayers, go to Mass every Sunday, and try our best to live good and holy lives. Wouldn’t it be disappointing after all that if we turned into someone that Christ does not recognise?

There are elements in all our lives that Christ would not recognise. What are the areas in our lives that need to change, in order that he might invite us in?

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 14:1, 7-14

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 (verse 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?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely.’ (Luke 14:1)

It’s no fun to be watched, to have your actions checked against what you say. Jesus had been preaching love and tolerance, now his fellow-guests wondered if he would let his true feelings slip. Just a sideways comment or a flippant remark would be enough to confirm their suspicion that he was not all he seemed. The leading Pharisees were acutely aware of tiny errors that revealed infidelity to law-keeping. They were master-observers.

Jesus remained consistent however. He not only believed in humility, he preached it – and he lived it. The Pharisees saw that Jesus was true to his word.

Consistency is a hard standard to measure up to. It’s much easier to preach one thing and live another. But we don’t get away with it when our actions are being monitored, when we are watched, as is often the case.

Lord, help me to remember that what I do and say has an impact on others, and that my words and deeds have to match.

Fr Bernard Cotter
Bandon, Co Cork

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The Deep End • Topsy-turvy Land

The people walk upon their heads,
The sea is made of sand,
The children go to school by night,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.
The front-door step is at the back,
You’re walking when you stand,
You wear your hat upon your feet,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

from ‘Topsy-Turvey Land
by H.E. Wilkinson

Everything is upside down and back to front these past few weeks. Have you been following the train of thought in the Gospel readings? First we had Jesus talking about how he has come to bring division, rather than peace. Next we heard him tell people that the first will be last, and the last first.

Today, he turns our expectations on their head once again, this time offering a lesson in humility. We should not ‘exalt’ ourselves or take the place of honour among our friends and acquaintances; rather, we should ‘humble’ ourselves and take the lowest place. When we throw a party, we ought to invite those in need rather than our friends, family, or rich, influential people – because we should expect nothing in return for kindness or generosity.

Jesus seems to enjoy a ‘topsy-turvy’ approach to life. Following him means thinking differently from the rest of the world – wearing our hat on our feet, so to speak!

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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