December/January 2021: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
John Byrne osa
Second Sunday of Advent
5 December 2021
1. The manner in which Luke identifies in detail the time when John the Baptist started his preaching shows that Luke regarded this as a historic moment. Perhaps you can recall in detail the time and the circumstances of particularly significant moments in your life?
2. John called people to give expression to their desire for a change of heart by a symbolic baptism in the Jordan. When have you found it helpful to symbolise your desire to change for the better by some symbolic gesture, e.g., burning a packet of cigarettes, sending a card, making a phone call, etc.
3. ‘A voice crying in the wilderness’ is sometimes taken to refer to a voice that is ignored. Pope Francis has issued a call to all of us to take part in the consultation process preparing for the Synod in 2023. What can you, and your faith community, do to make sure his call is answered.
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Third Sunday of Advent
12 December 2021 • Gaudete Sunday
1. ‘What should we do?’ The common thread in John’s answers was to encourage his questioners to be other-centred rather than self-centred, each in the context of their own circumstances. In your experience what difference has it made for you when you changed your attitude in this way?
2. John told the people in a direct and honest way what they should do. Perhaps you have had friends who did not beat about the bush but have told you honestly what they thought about your behaviour when you asked them? In gratitude recall such friends.
3. The humility of John comes out in this passage, happy to acknowledge that he only had a minor role to play in relation to the Messiah. At the same time, he was enthused by his mission to ‘proclaim the good news to the people’. What difference has it made for you when you were able to see the good in yourself, and use your gifts without having to score by portraying yourself as greater than someone else?
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Fourth Sunday of Advent
19 December 2021
1. The greeting of Elizabeth to Mary ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’ is a joyful welcome of the child to come. Bringing new life into the world through pregnancy and birth is one of the most awesome human experiences. How have you experienced this for yourself or in someone close to you?
2. The image of the pregnant Mary going a distance to visit her cousin is a symbol of her willingness to look beyond her own needs to the needs of another. When have you witnessed that kind of generosity in others, or have been able to act in this way yourself?
3. Mary is praised for her faith, because she believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled. In what ways have you experienced blessings from your faith and trust in God’s promises? What are God’s promises that mean the most to you?
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The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
26 December 2021
1. Luke’s skill as a storyteller comes through in the details of the story in a way with which many people can identify: the loss of a child, the frantic search, the seemingly offhand speech of the teenager. Let the drama of the story speak to you. Where do you find good news in it?
2. The distress of Mary and Joseph brings to mind the distress of many parents separated from their children in today’s world by social unrest, forced migration and other factors. How does the plight of these families speak to you?
3. In Luke’s Gospel this story serves to give a glimpse of the future greatness of Jesus, the teacher of his people. Sometimes we can look back over our own life, or the lives of others, and with hindsight can see in childhood or teenage years a glimpse of gifts and talents that were later to blossom. Where have you seen this?
4. ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’ This seemingly insensitive reply by Jesus to Mary serves to highlight that in his life the mission given him by God would take precedence over family ties, painful though this would be. Perhaps you have known situations in your own life where there was pain for family members as you followed your own destiny? Where in the midst of the pain was the good news?
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Second Sunday of Christmas
2 January 2022
1. This prologue to John’s Gospel is a piece of poetry. Like all poetry one of the ways to enter into it is to read it a few times slowly and let the words and images speak to you.
2. The prologue proclaims Jesus as the true light come into the world. How has Jesus, and the message of Jesus, been a light for you in your life?
3. The prologue also affirms the transforming power of faith: ‘to all who received him … he gave power to become children of God’. How would you describe the difference it makes to you to have faith as part of your life?
4. In Jesus we get a glimpse of God and of the love of God. But as ‘Jesus people’ in the world today we also are called to be witnesses to the light. Who has been a witness to you? To whom have you been a witness?
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The Baptism of the Lord
9 January 2022
1. The people were searching and John pointed them in the direction of Jesus. On your life’s journey who have been the John the Baptist people for you, people who have pointed you in the right direction?
2. The Baptism of Jesus was a very special moment for him that affirmed him in his identity as Son of God and in his mission. Recall the experiences that affirmed you – either in your sense of who you are, or in relation to the direction you were taking in life.
3. The Baptism of Jesus marks a transition point in his life, and the start of his public ministry. Recall the transition points in your own life. Where did you see the grace of God at work in those times?
4. This experience of Jesus occurred when he was at prayer. What part has prayer played in opening you to being aware of God in your life? What part has prayer played in helping you through a transition point in your life?
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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
16 January 2022
1. The story is a story of abundance, the abundance of the blessings God gives us. How have you been aware of the abundance of God’s blessings? Let the memories lead you to prayer of thanks and praise for the times in your life when that joy and fulfilment have been very real to you.
2. The hour of Jesus had not yet come when the glory of God would be fully revealed, yet even so something of the glory of God was revealed in the sign that took place. For us also the revelation of the full glory of God lies in the future, but we do get glimpses along the way. Recall some of the signs that have revealed to you something of the glory of God, e.g., nature, art, friendship, etc.
3. Mary/Jesus. It is interesting to note that despite the apparent rebuff, Mary is the first person in the narrative to show (at the level of the action of the story) that the correct response to the presence of Jesus is to trust in him. When have you trusted in the word of Jesus like that? What relationships do you have that you can trust like that? Do you recall times when your trust was rewarded even when you had been initially disappointed?
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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
23 January 2022
Sunday of the Word of God/Catholic Schools Week begins today
1. The scene in the synagogue marks the launch of the public ministry of Jesus in Luke. Jesus was filled with the Spirit and sent. He came bursting with a message to communicate. When have you had the experience of being enthused by something in that way? Who have been the people you met who had that kind of enthusiasm?
2. His message was addressed to those who were poor, oppressed, blind, or captives. Who are these today? In what ways have you been, or are you, among these? How has the message of Jesus been good news for you, freed you, given you new sight, or revealed God’s favour to you
3. The message Jesus had was one of liberation and he told his listeners that it was being fulfilled even as they listened. It is being fulfilled even as we hear it NOW. If this does not resonate with you right now, when has the gospel given you an experience of liberation?
4. This is the Sunday of the Word of God, the word that gives life. The written word of God is not always easy to understand. What has helped you to be more at home with the Bible so that you could find there encouragement, hope, inspiration, meaning and purpose in life?
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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
30 January 2022
1. The people of Nazareth could not accept that this local boy had something to teach them. Fixed ideas about people can at times block us from hearing what is being said. What a difference when we drop our prejudices! Perhaps you have experienced hearing an important truth when you focussed on what was being said, rather than on the person saying it?
2. The anger of the people arose when Jesus confronted them with God’s inclusive ways. For them, God was ‘their God’ and God’s blessings were for them. Jesus reminded them that this is not God’s way. When have you been challenged to think in new ways and not to be excluding some people from your thoughts or concerns? Was there good news for you in the challenge?
3. Jesus continued his work despite the opposition. Have there been times when despite opposition you have been able to ‘walk through the people’ and ‘continue on your way’? Have you seen this courage in others?
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