Newsletter Resources: June

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Week beginning Sunday, 5 June 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 7:11-17

  1. True compassion of one person for another can change a situation. When has the capacity of another person to empathise with you, and feel with you in a situation, made a difference? When has your compassion been a source of comfort and strength to another?
  2. After Jesus had visited their town the people in Nain thought: ‘God has visited his people’. Bring to mind encounters you have had, or events you have attended, that left you with a greater than usual sense of the presence of God in that experience.
  3. The miracle is a reminder to us of our belief that Christ has conquered death and because of that our mortal death is not the end. How does this belief affect your attitude towards your own mortality, and to the deaths of significant people in your life?
  4. This was not the final raising from the dead for this man. He would die again. In a less dramatic way we can all experience times when we feel dead, and later come back to life, to great vitality. What has helped you to come to life again after a period when you felt down, dispirited or apparently lifeless?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘He was moved with pity for her.’ (Lk 7:13)

There is nothing like an Irish funeral. The solidarity is unmatched. Mourners are prepared to weather all kinds of storms to sympathise with the bereaved. Sympathisers will unselfishly walk any distance along with the coffin bearers to the grave. We have a great empathy with broken hearts and grief. We get sadness. We understand it. We know it. We feel it. Like Virgil, the Roman poet, we grasp the ‘tears of things’. We don’t need the professional mourners or the keeners anymore! We are stirred, naturally, by the loss of a family member, a friend, a neighbour. We are moved by today’s Gospel. We feel the widow’s pain and anguish. There is great sorrow at the loss of an only son. Jesus, too, is affected by the scene. We see his compassion. We know how he feels. This is Luke’s message for us. Contrary to the Stoical beliefs of that time, God is capable of feeling. He is capable of joy and sadness. God is not remote from our human experience. God is drawn into our world of emotions. He feels what we feel. As Luke articulates it: ‘God has visited his people’.

Fr Iomar Daniels

St Andrew’s Church, Leitrim, Loughrea, Co Galway

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The Deep End • ‘Restoration’

In this section of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks through his actions and today we hear about a miracle of resurrection. This widow has nothing left, her security and her loved ones are gone. Jesus reaches out to her, crossing cultural boundaries, as to come in contact with a dead body according to the laws of the time would make one ‘unclean’. The crowd must have been shocked as Jesus moved towards the bier. No one approached Jesus or asked him to intervene in this situation. He acts out of deep sympathy and compassion for the woman who has lost her only son.

Often we can give up on people, those who suffer addiction, refugees, prisoners, people who endure one tragedy after another. In today’s Gospel, we see an example of Jesus restoring someone to life. He reaches through the social, moral and cultural stigmas of the time and performs the ultimate miracle. We can ask ‘did he really do this?’; ‘is this possible?’ but one clear interpretation of the passage for us today is that Jesus restores people; He restores life to the man; He restores the son to his mother; He restores the crowd’s faith through his deep compassion. Through Jesus, the crowd experience God’s presence among them in a time of total despair. Today we might recall moments where God reached into our desperate situations and restored life.

Our task is not to protest the world into a certain moral conformity, but to attract the world to the saving beauty of Christ.

Brian Zahnd

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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Week beginning Sunday, 12 June 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 7:36–50

  1. The Reign of God which Jesus came to proclaim is marked by an inclusive love, a love which reaches beyond traditional bigotry and prejudice. When have you seen that kind of inclusive love in another? When have you been able to reach beyond your own instinctive prejudices? What was it like for you to be able to do this?
  2. Perhaps you have had the contrasting experiences of being excluded because of prejudice, and of being accepted despite perceived difference. What were the effects on you in each case? What does this teach you about life-giving behaviour?
  3. Jesus gave the woman an experience of being accepted as she was, despite her sinfulness. When have you had the experience of being accepted by another, warts and all? When have you been able to give that experience to another?
  4. Forgiveness is one of the characteristics of the Reign of God announced by Jesus. When have you experienced the life-giving effects of forgiveness given or received?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ (Lk 7:47)

How come there was a woman at the Pharisee’s house? How did a woman of ‘ill-repute’ get in? It would have been unusual to have a woman at such a gathering. Even more so at the home of this particular Pharisee who seems to be haughty, arrogant. It merits investigation. It would appear that the Pharisee is self-opinionated and liked to rub shoulders with people who were popular or who were seen as celebrities. Jesus was making a name for himself as a teacher and preacher. Hence, the invitation to dinner. The woman must have slipped in with the crowd. The Pharisee could not humble himself, nor had he the manners to afford Jesus, his guest, the customary etiquette. Visitors were usually greeted with a kiss of peace, had their feet washed and their head anointed with oil or sweet-smelling incense. The Pharisee, who is named as Simon, was so self-preoccupied that he was above showing any kind of welcome or love. The woman, on the other hand, who knew her need of mercy and love, let her love be shown. I suppose we could say that Simon was guilty of the greatest sin of all; no sense of sin! Or, as Pope Francis expresses it in Misericordiae Vultus, he has not recognised yet the grace that he, too, is a sinner.

Fr Iomar Daniels

St Andrew’s Church, Leitrim, Loughrea, Co Galway

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The Deep End • ‘Celebrate Mercy’

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is invited to Simon the Pharisee’s house for dinner when an ‘unwanted’ guest arrives. This woman has a bad reputation in the town; we are told nothing of her past except that she was a sinner and that she is carrying something that she wants to be free from. There are many things to say about the text but perhaps today we can focus on her celebration. The woman is able to receive God’s grace in contrast to the Pharisee who is unable to grasp what has happened. Those present find it difficult to comprehend a God who accepts sinners and they are also finding it difficult to accept someone who celebrates forgiveness so joyfully and extravagantly as this woman does.

Often, when we receive forgiveness from others, we are unable to forgive ourselves, unable to free ourselves from our own mistakes. We can take a good example from the woman in today’s Gospel who celebrates abundantly when she is freed from whatever it was that she was carrying.

The last lines of the Gospel remind us of the prominent role of ‘many’ women who covered the expenses of Jesus and the twelve and journeyed with them.

God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bone s… Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth.

Pope Francis

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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Week beginning Sunday, 19 June 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 9:18-24

  1. Jesus asks the disciples how people understand who he is and then asks them ‘Who do you say I am?’ How would you answer that question? What title or description would you give to describe who Jesus is for you?
  2. Jesus goes on to teach his followers that discipleship is not about fame and honour. It is about living gospel values and will involve suffering, but that suffering will be a prelude to new life. When have you found that living gospel values was indeed costly but that you were glad you had paid that price?
  3. The message of Jesus was not addressed just to his chosen twelve but ‘to all’. Perhaps you also have found that it is a fact of life that we often have to pay in effort, time or patience, to experience growth, progress and the good things in life. Can you bring specific experiences to mind?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘But who do you say that I am?’ (Lk 9:20)

‘Like’ and ‘don’t like’ is the language of Facebook. We post all kinds of things in the hope of a reaction. Unfortunately, some people find that their identity is wedded to this ‘virtual reality’. ‘Like’ and ‘don’t like’ dictate how a vulnerable person may feel about themselves on any given day. The number of ‘likes’ received may give a person an instant injection of the feel-good factor or even a sense of self-worth. The opposite, deflating their ego. Now, Jesus appears to be having an identity crisis of his own in this Gospel. It may seem he is fishing for ‘likes’ to boost his ego. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After time on his own, and some personal reflection, he wanted to know did anyone discover who he really was. He wanted to know had he made any difference. He had come to the realisation that what was before him was not going to be pleasant. For anyone following him the challenge wouldn’t be easy either. To blindly follow Jesus would be foolhardy. That is why the intellectual pursuit of Jesus alone is not sufficient. We must, like Peter, get to know Jesus personally. ‘The Truth which faith discloses is a Truth centred on an encounter with Christ, on the contemplation of His life and on the awareness of His presence.’ (Lumen Fidei).

Fr Iomar Daniels

St Andrew’s Church, Leitrim, Loughrea, Co Galway

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The Deep End • ‘What kind of Messiah?’

To declare Jesus the Messiah was not only a challenge to the religious authorities of the time but it was also a political statement. As Messiah, Jesus is the Anointed One, The King of Israel, and immediately becomes a threat to Herod and the Roman Empire. It is no wonder Jesus ordered the disciples to keep quiet for fear of early opposition from the authorities.

 A deeper reflection may conclude that Jesus did not want the wrong sort of success. He gives the disciples a new title in today’s Gospel: ‘Son of Man’ and a new definition of Messiahship. Jesus does not want to be a leader of a violent revolt against an establishment. He has rejected that sort of power earlier in the Gospel. Jesus leads in a different way, the least are the greatest and the poor own the Kingdom. The message of His way is of a great reversal and this forces his followers to re-examine what ‘Messiah’ (and disciple) actually mean. There can be no violence, no hunger for power, yet it is also not a passive way. Jesus still opposes suffering and evil. His leadership is one of solidarity with those who suffer and who are oppressed and that way is not an easy journey.

Jesus did the ultimate violence to violence: he laid it bare, and still did not succumb to it …. People like Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, by having violence turn against them, they unmask it and thereby begin to undo it. It is to this costly alternative that Jesus is inviting his disciples both in ancient times and today.

Justo Gonzalez

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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Week beginning Sunday, 26 June 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 9:51-62

  1. In the opening verse Jesus is portrayed as having a new sense of clarity about his life that enables him to set out on the road ‘resolutely’. Perhaps there have been such moments in your life, moments of insight and clarity about the road ahead. Recall such moments and what they were like for you.
  2. As he walked the road Jesus found that not everyone supported the journey he was making. Some of his friends were angry and wanted to hit back, but Jesus restrained them. What has helped you to cope with opposition you have met in your life, and continue your journey.
  3. The response of Jesus to prospective followers seems harsh. He lets the first man know that discipleship is not a path to a comfortable nest. It is a way in which we never know what is going to be asked of us next. The disciple must be ready to move on. Where have you found good news in being open to change confident in the presence of Jesus with you?
  4. He also demands commitment. Being human it is easy for us to start thinking about times when our commitment was less than perfect. But can you also recall the times when you realised the truth of this story – that commitment brings its own fruits and blessings. What specific blessings can you bring to mind?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ (Lk 9:57)

Does this Gospel want to sell what is on offer? It reads like a very poor advertisement. ‘Come join our faith and suffer!’ We all know what going Jerusalem meant for him. See the film ‘The Passion of Christ’ and you’ll be under no illusions. There was determination in his step. He didn’t take a shortcut but went through Samaria. Samaritans and Jews were not friends (to put it mildly!). Even Jesus’ hand of friendship was refused. All this points to the fact, that the cost of being a disciple of Jesus has a price. It can be lonely. We cannot let sentiment and emotions get in the way of the work to be done. We have to prioritise. There is no place for making excuses when the going gets tough. There are crucial, vital moments in life. We should act when our hearts are stirred. This is what Jesus is doing as he determinately and resolutely moves to Jerusalem. He is not looking back but forward to the task at hand. It is not an easy journey. As someone once said, it is like taking up three crosses. The first is the cross of inconvenience. The second is the cross of witness. And the third is the cross of martyrdom.

Fr Iomar Daniels

St Andrew’s Church, Leitrim, Loughrea, Co Galway

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The Deep End • ‘Not a straight path’

The Gospel text today begins a new section of Luke’s Gospel, one where there are many ups and downs for Jesus and the disciples as he ‘set his face towards Jerusalem’. This journey to Jerusalem will not be a straight path for them. It will be filled with many banquets and opportunities for teaching but also filled with moments of rejection and struggle; and so it is for the Christian journey, it is not a straight path.

Why do the Samaritans reject him? There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans and the disciples want to punish them. But perhaps the Samaritans were fearful of the consequences of associating with ‘heretics’ who were on their way to Jerusalem to challenge a particular system that held power over them. It is interesting how Jesus deals with the disciples who want to rain down fire on the Samaritans, he rebukes them and not long after this he will tell the parable of the Good Samaritan in which the Samaritan becomes the hero of the story. This has much to say to Christians today about the right kind of attitude towards those we consider to be ‘heretics’ or who differ in opinion from ourselves. Jesus respects their position and moves on to the next village.

The second part of the Gospel is harsh but reminds us that His call is one that radically uproots people and it is a difficult walk that should deeply challenge us if we are really living the message of the Gospel.

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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