Newsletter Resources: September

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, 4 September 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 14:25-33

1.  The passage is a call to both radical and practical discipleship. When have you found that in order to achieve a certain objective you had to make it a priority, and then take the practical steps necessary to reach your goal? What were the benefits to you when you did this?

2.  ‘Hate’ is prophetic exaggeration for the uncompromising loyalty Jesus seeks in disciples. There may be times when people make demands in conflict with fidelity to another relationship. This can be painful. When have you found that being clear about your priorities helped you in that situation?

3.  Jesus uses parables here to tell us that in important human affairs we do not settle for vague aspirations. When have you found that some element of practical planning has been necessary to make progress with a project? What has this taught you about making the most of your life and of your time?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

Embracing the Kingdom of God –
a call to give all that we are!

 

Today’s Gospel calls us to a radical awakening; a taking stock of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We are called to be prepared and alert, that embracing the Kingdom of God is not a passive experience, or indeed a ticking of a box exercise; I went to Mass – check; I gave money to charity – check. Jesus demands more of us; He is asking for our very being – All that I am! We are to put God first and surrender all our attachments to Him – our family, power, possessions. It is not so much that we aren’t to love them; rather, we have the freedom through God to be in the right relationship with the world when we put God first. Embracing the cross is daunting and frightening at first sight, however, God wants the best for us, and we are not left alone if we choose to follow Him. We pray today to trust in God.

 

Siobhain Tighe is a Parish Pastoral Worker of the Archdiocese of Dublin with responsibility for Youth Evangelisation

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The Deep End • ‘Counting the Cost’

Today’s Gospel is troubling. Does Jesus really expect us to hate our families, friends and even ourselves in order to be his followers? Jesus is making a point here about how we attach ourselves to things and to people, even to images of ourselves. Attachment can cause all sorts of suffering in our lives. If we are to grow, we move on from the comfortable, we let go of the familiar, and that can often be painful. Today, we can ask ourselves: ‘What is it that I need to let go of?’

The two parables in this story remind us to think things through and weigh up the cost involved. This Kingdom of God journey involves sacrifice and sometimes it feels like ‘20,000 against 10,000’. A disciple of Jesus must be ready to carry the burden not only of tensions with one’s family but even the burden of legal consequences. This was the experience of Luke’s community and it is still the experience of many Christians in the world today. So this passage is a call to conversion and we read it from the various forms of discipleship that we are in: parenting, advocacy, political life, social work, friendships, community building…

Jesus ‘turned to them’, he is speaking from experience. Jesus’ words are harsh, but spend time with this text today; his words can be interpreted as passionate, urgent, and focused, and can even offer us a great freedom and encouragement in whatever journey of discipleship we are on.

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 15:1-32

1.  There are three figures in the story of the Prodigal Son. The father is a symbol of an unconditional love. Perhaps you can recall someone showing love to you in a way that showed great forgiveness and acceptance. Have there been times when you have also loved in this way?

2.  You may be able to identify with the younger son at different stages of his journey. Be sure to follow it to the point where it becomes a good news story for you – when you ‘came to yourself’. Where and when have you experienced a homecoming after a time of exile and alienation.

3.  Do not neglect the older son. In contrast to his father, he was very judgemental towards his younger brother. Perhaps you have experienced these attitudes in others towards you, or in yourself towards others. What were they like for you? Where was there life for you, or for others?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS

Misfits welcome!

Jesus is being judged, by the authorities, to be mixing with the wrong sort of people – tax collectors, people who have made mistakes or indeed happen to be poor. Jesus welcomes the outsiders, the people who don’t fit in, and shares a meal with them – the best way to build a relationship.

Jesus explains that God’s love is limitless. He uses the Prodigal Son image, the shepherd searching for his lost sheep and the woman carefully looking through her house in search of a lost coin to demonstrate how eagerly God wants to seek us out and welcome us.

At times we can feel like the misfit – recognising that we may have had a period of ignoring or avoiding God, trying to live on our own strength. It takes courage to trust in the love of God, who like the father in the gospel is always unreservedly and lovingly looking for us to come home.

Essentially, Jesus’ message is of radical welcome; not just to those who it is easy to welcome but all. We are called to imitate.

 

Siobhain Tighe is a Parish Pastoral Worker of the Archdiocese of Dublin with responsibility for Youth Evangelisation

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The Deep End • ‘The Lost Parables’

The three parables of things lost and found emphasise the unending forgiveness of God and God’s rejoicing for those who return. In each of the situations there is a frantic search for that which is lost and a huge celebration when the lost is found.

In the third parable of the Prodigal Son there is much to reflect on. We hear that the younger brother eventually ‘came to his senses’. We might pray today that God shows us the aspects of our lives in which we also need to ‘come to our senses’.

As with all parables, we are left thinking and wondering, disturbed even. A sheep and a coin we can rejoice over, but when it is a person who has done us harm, hurt us in some way, it is a much deeper and more painful process. The elder brother in the third parable feels hard done by, is deeply hurt, full of anger and resentment. Luke, being the excellent storyteller that he is, does not tell us the outcome of the story; it is for us to finish for ourselves. The elder brother has two options: he can walk away full of resentment or he can try to let go of the anger he feels towards his brother. The latter is a more difficult path but it is the only one that leads to life, no matter how painful the journey may be. The father stands there pleading for the elder brother to come in.

‘Forgiveness isn’t about releasing someone from accountability for his actions. It is about us letting go of our anger and resentment.’

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 16:1-13

1.  As often with the parables of Jesus, this one is intended to shock in order to make us think. Jesus is not praising the injustice of the servant, but his purposefulness in preparing for the future. In your experience what difference does it make when you are purposeful and energetic instead of lethargic?

2.  It was his master’s call to account that galvanised the servant into action. What have been the experiences, or people, that have galvanised you into action when you had been somewhat half-hearted in your efforts?

3.  Who have been the people whose energy, drive and astuteness have been an inspiration to you in how to handle difficult situations?

4.  ‘No servant can be the slave of two masters’. When have you experienced the truth of this statement?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS

Choose… to share God’s wealth

The actions of the manager, in this Gospel, on hearing that he is to be fired are counter-intuitive. Instead of storing up wealth by demanding payment immediately or charging extra, he wipes the portion of ‘interest’ owed to him from their dept. He is thinking of the long-term, that they might in turn show kindness to him when he is in need.

Jesus sees the gift this use of wealth has in the life of the poor and praises it. The Christian life is a call to stewardship in which the wealth we handle is not our own but wealth God wishes the entire world would share. Challenging as it may be we are called to reflect on our use of wealth.

Jesus makes clear that we must choose – the wealth of God or the wealth of this world.

 

Siobhain Tighe is a Parish Pastoral Worker of the Archdiocese of Dublin with responsibility for Youth Evangelisation

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The Deep End • ‘Kingdom Economics’

If you think that all the parables that Jesus told were nice stories about people of integrity then today’s parable will surely make you think again. This is a parable about a scoundrel, yet it praises him and his wisdom.

The manager has been given notice by his CEO and he decides to even up the tables, while he still can, for those who are struggling to pay their debts to the company. The manager is praised for his astuteness, he has his priorities straight, he is happy to let debt go, to redistribute the load. Of course, there is self-interest on his part but Jesus is telling us that the only value the money really has is in the way it is disposed of and in doing this the manager wins the hearts and minds of the workers.

The manager won’t be the most successful man on the planet compared to the ‘children of the light’ who are more concerned with accounts than with real people. The manager is free-spirited and can be trusted to value what is really important. He knows that none of this material wealth is permanent and uses the authority that he has to relieve the suffering of those who are indebted to his company. Yes, he is a bit of a scoundrel, but Jesus liked scoundrels, once their efforts were put to good use.

‘God’s dream for creation is different from Pharaoh’s dream or Rome’s dream or Wall Street’s dream. And at the centre of God’s economy is the idea of redistribution … It is an invitation to holy mischief!’

Shane Claiborne.

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 16:19-32

1.  The first of the faults attributed to the rich man is his insensitivity to the abject poverty of those around him. When have you discovered that it is when you are aware of the needs of those around you and seek to make some response that you bring out the best in yourself?

2.  The second fault attributed to the rich man is the way he ignored the word of God coming through Moses and the prophets. How have the gospels, the scriptures or your faith opened you up to a deeper and more satisfying perspective on life?

3.  Some people look to the spectacular for a sign of God’s presence and action. For Jesus, the lessons we need are not to be sought in the spectactular, but in the ordinary things of everyday life. Where have you found sacraments of God’s presence in the world around you?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS

The Wall

The image of a formidable wall struck me as I prayed with this scripture. A wall made of an obsession with greed, selfishness, wealth, power, prestige. This wall, built by the rich man, over time, created such blindness that he became trapped in the illusion of temporary wealth, unable to hear God’s call. This self-made wall follows him to his death where in the afterlife he experiences a reversal in his fortunes and is now suffering. He now cannot break it down.

Are there times when I am so in my own bubble that I fail to see those in need? Do I avoid making eye contact with a homeless person as I rush by for example?

We are called to open our eyes and hearts and be the change.

 

Siobhain Tighe is a Parish Pastoral Worker of the Archdiocese of Dublin with responsibility for Youth Evangelisation

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The Deep End • ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’

Last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us of what economics according to God looks like – it spoke of a redistribution of wealth by a manager who realised that material wealth is only temporary; what we do with that wealth and how we distribute it is more important. Today’s parable is on a similar theme. The rich man is sorry, but it is too late for him. He had not come to his senses as the manager last week had done. The rich man is unwilling to change; even in the afterlife he wants Lazarus sent, ordered, to go to his brothers to warn them. It is not proof or special signs that they need. Their vision has been blinded by wealth. They need to ‘see’ the poor who are at their gates.

God’s economics means striving for a world where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table as the rich man. It is not simply enough to comfort the poor and say to them that they will be rewarded in heaven. This misses the point. Luke is pointing us to a great reversal that is so central to this Gospel, a call to turn the world as we know it upside down.

‘It is not God’s will

for some to have everything

and others to have nothing’.

Oscar Romero.

 

Jane Mellett

Email mellettj@gmail.com

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