Newsletter Resources: November

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.

 – Ed

Download Newsletter Resources pdf

 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 20:27-38

1. The question of the Sadducees suggests that how we will be in the afterlife is a continuation of how we are here. The reply of Jesus affirms that we are important not because of any ‘status’ we might have but because we are children of God. Recall moments when you saw your worth, or the worth of another, as something other than worldly status.

2. A common tactic in an argument is to make fun of the position of another. Then one does not have to take seriously the view being expressed. Have you ever found yourself doing this? Have you experienced others doing it with you? What were the effects of such an attitude? Is there life here? If not, where have you found a fuller life?

3. Jesus used the phrase ‘Children of the resurrection’ to describe his followers because we believe in something that cannot be proven. Life can sometimes present us with that kind of a challenge – an invitation to believe in things we cannot prove: another person, a cause, the value of a course of action, etc. What has been your experience of believing and acting on this kind of faith?

4. At the heart of our Christian faith is belief that death is not the end. We believe that the relationship we have with God, which starts in this life, survives death and continues after death. We call this resurrection. In this month of November, we recall those we have loved and who have died. How has belief in the resurrection helped you in thinking about those you have loved and who are no longer with you?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS: ‘Children of the Resurrection’

In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus using a slightly exaggerated and absurd case study. They have no faith in the resurrection and therefore do not grasp that in a place of peace, justice and freedom, people cannot be ‘owned’ or ‘given’. We should not be too preoccupied with questions like theirs: ‘Whose wife will she be?’ ‘Will I look old?’ ‘Will I have a body?’ Questions like these ignore the radical freshness of the Kingdom of God.

We are all ‘children of this world’ who are called to be ‘children of the resurrection’. You might recall today someone who has passed away, but who is very much alive because of their influence on people, their generosity and kindness and the difference they made to those around them. They are ‘children of the resurrection’. They make huge sacrifices for the liberation of people around them, for those who need healing or are oppressed in any way. They ‘cannot die’ even though they, like Jesus, can be condemned by society.

‘You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret – you return to the beauty you have always been.’

 – Aberjhani

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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The Deep End • Seven weddings and seven funerals

It sounds like a trick question; the Sadducees are setting Jesus up for a fall. One suspects that whatever answer Jesus gives to their very technical question about death will be used to catch him out. The Sadducees are introduced as opponents of belief in the resurrection. Quoting the Law of Moses, under which a man whose brother died without children was obliged to marry his brother’s widow, their question presents a hypothetical, far-fetched case. The story involves seven marriages and eight deaths, when you include the woman at its centre.

But Jesus surprises them with his answer, making their question seem ridiculous in the process. He brushes aside the premise of their case with what one commentator calls a ‘theological shrug’. He sidesteps their attempt to trap him by affirming the reality of the life to come, which he says will be very different from how we imagine it. While we tend to think that heaven will be an improved and happier version of our earthly life, Jesus says the reality is different. The relationships and structures of this life will be transformed in the next, far beyond our expectations. What we do know is that we will be with God. We might imagine it in the words from today’s Psalm: ‘I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.’

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

**********

 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 21:5-19

1.  Luke presents Jesus as a prophet, capable of reading the signs of the times, and one who offered wise and insightful advice on how to cope with difficult times. Who are the people you see who act like this in the troubled times we live in today? Maybe you yourself have been a calming influence in the face of turmoil within your family, parish, church, workplace, or elsewhere. Can you claim that gift and give thanks for being such a person?

2. Jesus alerts his listeners to the transitory nature of human grandeur and splendour. How have you been reminded of this truth? What lessons has this given you about life?

3. In any walk of life troubles will come. Jesus encourages his listeners to stand firm in such circumstances, telling them ‘your endurance will win you your lives’. When you are in the midst of inner turmoil and/or outer trouble or opposition, what have you found gives you the strength and ability to endure?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS: ‘Endurance’

At some point we have all seen and heard someone shouting on the street or on the internet about the end of the world. You’d be forgiven for thinking that today’s Gospel is trying to achieve the same thing. We are reading the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel for Year C. Jesus is in Jerusalem and the passages we hear are talking about end times. The people gathered are obviously excited having seen how magnificent the Temple is, having come ‘up from the country’ and Jesus is trying to calm them down. The time for excitement might not be just yet. Jesus reminds them, and us, that these things are short-lived and we should not be too bothered about ‘fine stonework’ and ‘votive offerings’. These things do not last.

Jesus tries to comfort the people regarding various crisis that will happen; the call is to take perspective, to look at the bigger picture. Endurance is the message of today’s Gospel. The people of Jerusalem will witness the destruction of the Temple, the disciples will face persecution, people of faith will have tough times ahead. Whatever crisis may come, Jesus is affirming people to keep going, to stay focused and not be afraid

‘Lord, when we are young we think that we become great through our achievements. Life has taught us the truth of Jesus’ words: 

it is by endurance that we win our lives’
– Michel de Verteuil

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

**********

 

The Deep End • Not a hair of your head

I remember a cartoon from my childhood. An angel counts the hairs on the head of a child – the figure is already up in the thousands. ‘He was always good at maths!’ whispers an angelic bystander. It was cute, a lovely image of how intimately God knows and cares for each one of us.

Today’s Gospel is not so ‘cute’. There is talk of plagues and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal and death, as Jesus alerts his followers to the dangers ahead. It is an intense monologue, and no doubt an upsetting one for his disciples.

But it culminates with a reassuring image. In spite of all this hardship, Jesus promises a reward for our patience and endurance. In fact, he puts it like this: ‘Not a hair of your head will be lost.’ Though we worry that we may not be strong enough to stand up to opposition, Jesus promises to be with us in times of trial, and to give us ‘eloquence and a wisdom’ to deal with whatever is thrown at us. That’s quite a promise. Do we believe it? If we truly believe that God knows us so intimately that he knows exactly how many hairs we have on our heads, we must believe that he cares enough to give us the strength to face whatever obstacles we encounter.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

**********

 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 23:35-43

1.  Today’s feast puts before us Jesus as a person who never used power for his own selfish advantage. Who have you known who used power for the benefit of others rather than for their own self-interest? When have you used power in this way?

2.  The power of God is shown in an unexpected way in the Crucifixion, not in a wonderful display of spectacular dominance, but in Jesus sharing our human weakness. When has the honesty of another sharing his/her human vulnerability with you had a powerful effect? When has your honesty in that way had a positive effect on another?

3.  Jesus is an example of someone in apparent helplessness. In human terms, he was powerless. It was his trust in the love of God with him that helped him through. It was only later with the hindsight of the resurrection that the moment of helplessness could be seen as one in which the power of God was present. Have you had experiences on which you can look back now and see that the power of God was at work in your moments of helplessness?

4.  We may also identify with the good thief, reaching out in support of the innocent Jesus. Who has reached out to you when you experienced unfair treatment? To whom have you reached out in that way?

5.  The scene also puts before us the liberating power of forgiveness. The forgiveness of Jesus brought new life to the criminal hanging on the cross with him. When have you found that forgiveness given, or received, was a source of new life for yourself or for others?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS: ‘Christ the King’

This is the final Sunday of Year C and, as we draw to a close, of our reading of Luke’s Gospel, we hear the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is the Feast of Christ the King and this Gospel certainly gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage we may have about kings, leaders and kingdoms. Jesus’ kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate, or many other earthly leaders know. It is a kingdom built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace. Few ‘kings’ can measure up to this: responding to violence with forgiveness, giving those with no hope a reason to hope. Today’s Gospel gives a powerful image of Jesus as servant King, like a beacon light for society in today’s world. Who do you know in our world today who is the more living example of this type of kingship, making daily sacrifices in endless service to those around them?

‘The power of truth, of honesty, of forgiveness – with no frills! How different the world would be if it was governed by this kind of power.’ 

– Michel de Verteuil

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

**********

 

The Deep End • A new kind of royalty

Kings, queens, princes and princesses – all hold a fascination for us ordinary folk, their lives so far removed from our day to day lives. Newspapers and magazines make a big business of keeping readers up to date on what real-life royals are up to, often attempting to emphasise how ‘ordinary’ their lives are too – they are normal people just like you and me! Children continue to enjoy fairytales involving princes and princesses – but the genre has been somewhat subverted in recent years with the advent of unconventional royal heroes such as Frozen’s Elsa or Brave’s Merida. Our perception of what it means to be royalty is slowly changing.

In Jesus’ time, people had certain expectations of a king. They expected that the great messianic king would lead a rebellion and bring war and judgement, and that he would establish his kingdom on earth. The Jesus that we see in today’s Gospel appears to be the exact opposite, which is why he is mocked on the cross. A true king would be able to save himself from humiliation and death.

But Jesus is a different sort of king, and one of the criminals hanging beside Jesus is the first to recognise this – the first person, too, to witness the forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus came to bring. That is what his kingdom is all about.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

**********

Sunday, 27 November 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 24:37-44

1. The ‘coming of the Son of Man’ can be applied to the end of the world, to the moment of death, or to any moment of grace. We are not given advance notice as to when any of these will happen, so the message is to be alert and ready. When have you found that your alertness meant that you were able to receive an unexpected grace (e.g. take an opportunity which presented itself, or respond to a hint from another person that you might easily have missed, etc.)

2. One of the enemies of alert living is constant busyness. Have you ever found that being caught up in your own agenda makes you less sensitive to what is happening around you? Recall times when you paused in your relentless busyness and were rewarded by a significant interchange with another person, a moment of grace.

3. You probably know the difference between being ready for a visitor and the unannounced caller who catches you unprepared. Let the memory of the discomfort of being caught off guard spur you on to a constant readiness for the coming of the Lord.

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS: Advent

You know that feeling of waiting for something or someone? It is a feeling of excitement or maybe anxiety. For most people, waiting is not a very popular pastime, it can be seen as a waste of time. If we allow it to, waiting can be a creative time, a time of high alert, where we may even be more aware of ourselves. Our senses are heightened especially when we are waiting for important news or results or waiting on a loved one to call or to arrive. Waiting is not always seen as a good thing but it can be a time for growth. And so, we enter into the season of waiting: Advent. The Gospel reminds us to be alert and use this time to prepare. What will our preparations be like? God is with us in many different ways, trying to catch our attention in the midst of our busy days. As we fight our way through the queues in the coming weeks, can we use 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 20 mins … to stop, be still, to ask God to enter into our hearts and lives once more.

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

**********

 

The Deep End • Living transparently

How many of us can truly say that our lives are an open book? ‘Transparency’ is a bit of a buzz word in the media these days. With every scandal that hits the headlines uncovering the corrupt practices of some public figure or another, our trust is shaken. When it is a person from whom we would have expected better, or whose actions have hurt countless others, we are left to ponder the whys and hows of it all – How could they live a double life for so long? Why did they feel the need? And how on earth did they think they would get away with it?

But when we think about it, how many of us are living truly transparent lives? Do our outside selves always match our inner selves? We may be harbouring grudges or nasty thoughts about family members, friends, colleagues or acquaintances. Maybe we are cheating or being dishonest in some small way, or cutting corners in our work. It is likely that we have built up some habits or practices that we would rather no one knew about.

In our second reading today, Paul talks about the ‘things we prefer to do under the cover of the dark’, and urges us to ‘arm ourselves and appear in the light’. As we enter into Advent, it is the ideal time to examine our own lives – to come out into the light.

 

Tríona Doherty

Athlone, Co Roscommon

Email trionad@gmail.com

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