December-January 2022/23: 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
4 December 2022

  1. John the Baptist came to bear witness to Jesus. Who have been the people who have borne witness to us of the good news of the gospel that God loves us – a friend, a parent, a teacher, etc.? To whom have we borne that witness?

  2. John appears in the story as one who had the courage to be himself in the face of opposition. He was also a person who knew his own value, did not make exaggerated claims and was content with his mission. Can you recall times when you have been content to be yourself, without pretending to be more than you are? What was it like to have that freedom, even in the face of criticism from others?

  3. John was ‘the voice of one crying out in the wilderness’ – announcing confidently to those in the wilderness that they must not despair because God’s grace may come to them at any moment. Have you had the experience of being in the wilderness, feeling lost? From whom did you hear a voice that gave you hope? Have you been able to give hope to other people when they were in the wilderness?


* * *

Third Sunday of Advent
11 December 2022 • Gaudete Sunday

  1. In response to the question of John, Jesus let his actions speak for him. Some people show by the way they live what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Who has given you such an example? Perhaps there have been times when you have done the same for others.

  2. John made a journey of faith from an incomplete knowledge of Jesus to a deeper understanding of who he was. Recall similar steps in your journey of faith.

  3. Faith is not primarily about answering abstract theological questions but about living the gospel. What in your life has helped you to get that sense of perspective?

  4. John marked the end of an era, Jesus the beginning of a new one. In our lives how do we honour the past and yet be free to move on into the future?


* * *

Fourth Sunday of Advent
18 December 2022 • World Day for Consecrated Life

The text speaks of how ‘God with us’ was revealed to the world in the person of Jesus 2000 years ago. I suggest that we move on from there to consider how we become aware of ‘God with us’ now in our daily lives.

  1.  It took some time for Joseph to accept the fact that, in Mary, there truly was Emmanuel – God with us. God is with us now, but at times we struggle to perceive God’s presence. Where have you unexpectedly discovered the presence of ‘God with you’? Recall those experiences and give thanks.

  2.  Joseph was confused and uncertain about what he should do. It took time, and outside help, for him to discern what his next step should be. Perhaps you have also had difficulties along the way to some decisions or commitments. Recall that journey and the moments when it became clear to you what was being asked of you. Give thanks for the angels who helped you along the way.

  3.  Mary bore Jesus within her, unseen to all, and unacknowledged by most. In Joseph she found one who believed in the treasure that she bore. We can be bearers of Jesus to others, and they to us. When have you been that kind of a bearer of Jesus to another? Who has been that to you?


* * *

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
25 December 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?


* * *

Mary, the Holy Mother of God
1 January 2023 • World Day of Peace

  1. The story tells us that the shepherds helped Mary to realise the significance of the child born to her. She treasured their words and pondered their meaning. Who have been the people who have helped you to understand the meaning of significant events in your life? Remember them gratefully.

  2. We are told that Mary ‘pondered these things in her heart’. What part has prayerful reflection on life played for you? How has it been helpful to you in deepening your appreciation for the gift of life?

  3. When the shepherds realized that they had been witnesses to a wonderful manifestation of God’s love for his people they glorified and praised God. Recall ways in which you have been made aware of God’s love for you. How have you expressed your gratitude?


* * *

The Baptism of the Lord
8 January 2023

  1. The Baptism of Jesus marks a turning point in his life, and the start of his public ministry. Recall moments when your life changed and you moved into a new phase.

  2. The experience was one in which Jesus had a new sense of his own identity. What have been the experiences which have helped shaped your sense of who you are?

  3. How have you come to an awareness of being a child of God, beloved by God, and one on whom rests the grace of God?

  4. It is surprising that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, asks to be baptised by John. The request symbolises his desire to identify with us. At the same time he is filled with the Holy Spirit. That step of identifying with us is an important element in his being able to help us. Have you ever found that when someone identifies with you, it is easier for him/her to help you? Has your ability to empathise with others had any impact on your effectiveness in helping them?


* * *

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
15 January 2023

  1. John is one who directs people to Jesus as the one who had a life-giving message for them. Who have been the people in your life whose example or advice pointed you in the direction of a fuller life? Who has helped you to appreciate the importance of Jesus and his message? 

  2. In the narrative John recognised that Jesus had more to offer people than he himself. He had the humility not to need to be the star of the show. Whom have you known with that grounded sense of their own place? 

  3. John proclaims Jesus as one who takes away the sin of the world. Who have been the people who, for you, continued this mission of Jesus and led you from sin and guilt to forgiveness and freedom? For whom have you done this?

  4. It was not just on the cross that Jesus gave his life as the Lamb of God. His public ministry was a constant struggle against injustice and oppression. When have you shared in this mission of Jesus? Who have been models of this for you?


* * *

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
22 January 2023
Sunday of The Word of God • Catholic Schools Week begins

  1. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light’ … Jesus applies this to himself and his message. Who have been the Jesus people who have been a source of light to you? Have you been such a light for others?

  2. His message was a call to repentance, to a change of attitude toward God, from seeing God as one to be feared, to seeing God as a God of love. When have you heard that call in your life? What was it like for you?

  3. Jesus invited disciples to join him in his mission. In responding, the disciples ‘left their nets’ to follow Jesus. Sometimes we have to disentangle ourselves from other things to give ourselves freely and wholeheartedly to a commitment. Have you experienced being ‘enmeshed’ and being free? Where did you find life? 

  4. In v 23 we have a summary of the ministry of Jesus – ‘proclaiming the good news of the kingdom’ and witnessing to this by teaching and healing. Who have been the people you have known who have witnessed to the ‘kingdom’, the reign of God in our world? What have been the signs that accompanied their witness? When have you done this yourself?

* * *