April 2021: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
John Byrne osa
Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
4 April 2021
In some ways this gospel is a difficult one for prayer. It only presents a part of the story and the full unfolding of the good news the story contains lies in the next part of the text. However, even with this section there is plenty of material for reflection and for prayer.
1. The disciples are in a state of shock and suffering from a traumatic loss. Jesus, the one in whom they had placed so much hope, has been murdered and buried. Then, before they have time to recover comes another shock – the body of Jesus is missing. In the past year we have had shock after shock during the coronavirus crisis. What was that like for you? How did you cope? What, or who, sustained you then?
2. Mary and Peter, and possibly others, came and discovered that the tomb was empty. The part of the story we have in this text gives no explanations of what has happened. They are left in a state of bewilderment ‘for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.’ Have you been in that kind of a situation, faced with events you cannot explain, possibly events which have dashed your hopes in another person, or in God? What has that been like for you?
3. Yet in spite of the lack of explanation, the beloved disciple ‘saw and believed’. Have there been times when others have done something that you could not understand, and which they could not explain at the time and yet you believed that all was not as it seemed? … times when you decided to trust in spite of the evidence?
Have there been times when others have shown this kind of faith in you when you were not able to offer satisfactory explanations, and all you could say was ‘trust me’?
Have there been times in your relationship with God when you have felt that you were faced with an empty tomb and still you believed?
Where have you found life in such experiences?
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Second Sunday of Easter
11 April 2021 • Divine Mercy Sunday
1. ‘Peace be with you’ was the greeting of Jesus on meeting his frightened apostles. Who has come to you bringing peace at times when you were frightened? For whom have you been an agent of peace?
2. The greeting is joined with the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples to be forgiving. Forgiveness is at times an essential step on the road to peace. Perhaps you can recall when holding on to a hurt or grudge disturbed your inner peace. What helped you to forgive and find peace?
3. Thomas, doubting and questioning, is possibly a person with whom we can identify. What part have doubting, and questioning, played on your faith journey? How has your faith been strengthened by such moments?
4. ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believed’. That requires great trust. Perhaps you have had the experience of being trusted without having had to prove every step along the way. What was it like to be trusted in that way? Who have you been able to trust in a similar manner?
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Third Sunday of Easter
18 April 2021
1. When we are not expecting it to happen, even a good event can startle us. So it was with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He sought to calm them and helped them to see the good news behind what had initially alarmed them. Who has been a Jesus person for you by helping you to find meaning and good news in life?
2. Jesus helped the disciples to find new hope, but he did not give them easy answers. He asked them to see the facts before their eyes. He wanted them to learn from the lived experience they were having. As a parent, teacher, friend or guide, have you been a Jesus person to another, helping him/her to find hope and purpose in life by learning from his/her experiences? Who has done this for you?
3. Jesus opened their minds to ‘understand the scriptures’, and the effect was transformative. Perhaps there have been times when a new and deeper understanding of scripture has had a transformative impact on you. Recall the experience and give thanks for those who opened the scriptures for you.
4. The resurrection experience empowered the disciples to be witnesses. Unexpected possibilities for the future surfaced when it seemed that hope had gone. When have new possibilities opened for you after a ‘resurrection’ experience: recovery of health when it did not seem possible, new opportunities after failure or disappointment, inner healing after a deep hurt, etc?
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Fourth Sunday of Easter
25 April 2021 • Day of Prayer for Vocations
1. Our relationship with those ‘in charge’ of us changes when we sense that not only are they in charge, but they care. Remember the difference this made for you as a child, and give thanks for the caring adults who were part of your life.
2. The good shepherd ‘lays down his life for the sheep’. When has your care for another led you to ‘lay down your life’ for that person, e.g., as a friend, parent, spouse, son or daughter? When you have known another to do this for you?
3. Jesus speaks of the freedom of the Good Shepherd in laying down his life. Faced with the needs of others, we can at times feel trapped into looking after them, caught by duty, obligation, or guilt. We can become like the hired hands doing a job without care for the person. Perhaps you have experienced both attitudes, caring for others under duress and caring by your free choice. What difference did it make when you chose to care for the other, even in circumstances where you had little option?
4. What do these experiences of love and care in human relationships reveal to you about God’s love for you?
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