April 2022: Seeing your life through the lens of the Gospel
Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
John Byrne OSA
First Sunday of Lent
3 April 2022
1. Compassion for human frailty combined with a gentle challenge to a better life marked the response of Jesus. From whom have you experienced a compassionate challenge? What was that like for you? To whom have you given such a challenge?
2. The Pharisees and scribes self-righteously condemned the woman until Jesus brought them in touch with their own sinfulness. This was a conversion moment for them and they turned away from their quest for the death of the woman. Have there been times when your awareness of your own fragility and sinfulness has helped you to be less judgemental of others?
3. ‘What do you say?’ can be an embarrassing question. Jesus had the courage to voice an opinion, even though it was against the party line of the day. When you have seen that courage shown – by yourself, or by another? What was the result?
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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
10 April 2022
This passage is a very rich one and it would be a mistake to attempt to pray each and every part of it. Almost every phrase has something new: actions, images, symbols, words. When you read the passage, stay with whatever part of it resonates with your own life, but make sure when you pray it that you stay with the passage until you get beyond the violence and the horror to find a good news lesson for you.
A few specific points taken at random are:
- In this scene of great tragedy, there are people helping others, either reluctantly or with compassion: Simon, the women of Jerusalem, the criminal on the cross, and Jesus himself. Note the differences in the manner in which the help given (as a burden, with sympathy, etc). What has been your experience of helping and being helped?
- Despite the persecution by the leaders Jesus still shows forgiveness. When have you seen that spirit of forgiveness in yourself or in others? In your experience what is the effect of a forgiving spirit … or the absence of that spirit?
- Towards the end there is a ray of light. Jesus says ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’. His relationship with his Father was one of trust, even at a moment like this. What difference has it made to you in times of difficulty or pain to have a relationship of trust with God, or with someone else?
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Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
17 April 2022
- You might identify with the women through the events of that morning. They came search and found an empty tomb. Then they were told they were looking in the wrong place: ‘why look for the living among the dead’. Finally they had to cope with the staggering good news that Jesus was alive when they thought he was dead. Let their story remind you of your journey when you found life again where you thought there was none – perhaps you may have felt like that during the recent long covid lockdown.
- The women were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Remember the women in your life who have brought you good news, and the women who have been witnesses to you bringing you to faith in yourself, in others, or in God.
- The women did not keep their discovery to themselves but hastened to share the good news with the apostles. Have there been times when your heart has been full of good news that you were eager to share with others.
Easter Sunday morning Mass
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 of the story lies in the next part of the text. However, even with this section there is plenty of material for reflection and for prayer.
- 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. Have you had experiences in which one tragedy or crisis follows quickly after another? Perhaps this happened for you as Covid spread? How did you cope? What, or who, sustained you then?
- 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?
- 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
24 April 2022 • Divine Mercy Sunday
- ‘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 afraid? To whom have you been able to bring peace?
- Thomas, doubting and questioning, is possibly a person with whom we can identify. What positive part have doubting and questioning played in your life? How have such moments helped you to know that your life is worthwhile? How have questions and doubts strengthened your faith?
- Note the way that Jesus dealt with Thomas. He did not give out because he doubted. He accepted how he felt and led him along to see the truth of his resurrection. Who has been that kind of teacher for you, gently taking you where you were and leading you to a deeper knowledge of some truth about life? For whom have you been that kind of teacher?
- ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believed’. That requires great trust. During the recent pandemic there were times when one wondered if we would ever see the end of it. Where did you find hope as the pandemic continued month after month?
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