February 2021: Seeing your life through the lens of the Gospel
Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
John Byrne osa
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
7 February 2021
This passage contains three stories and there is food for thought in each of them.
1. The first story (vv. 29-31) is one of healing. You might reflect on times when you were sick in body, mind or spirit and someone was a ‘Jesus person’ to you, someone who ‘took you by the hand and lifted you up’. Remember them with gratitude. Have there been times also when you did this for others?
2. The second story (vv. 32-34) adds another dimension. People are freed from demons. Have you had the experience of being freed from demons that imprisoned you: fear, anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem, addictions, bitterness, etc.? What was it like for you to get that freedom? Who were the ‘Jesus people’ who helped to free you?
3. The third story (vv. 35-39) has a number of different elements we can consider
a) Jesus goes off to a desert place to pray. After a hectic day he felt the need for quiet to ground himself once more. In the busyness of life how do you keep in touch with what is going on inside yourself? How do you keep in touch with God? Where do you find your ‘deserted place’? What difference does it make for you when you do succeed in taking time out?
b) Jesus shows himself as a person seeking to break new ground. The disciples want him to continue ministry where he is. He wants to move on. What has been your experience of breaking new ground, moving beyond your comfort zone, or trying something you had not tried before? When has this had a life-giving effect for you?
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
14 February 2021 • Day of Prayer for Temperance
1. Jesus’ compassion for people suffering was an outstanding characteristic of his ministry. We see the healing power of God at work through him. Recall times when the compassion of others has had a healing effect on you. Remember also when your compassion towards someone in trouble brought them hope, healing or strength.
2. ‘If you choose, you can make me clean’. Our choice is a key factor in how we affect others. We cannot choose to have no impact on the people in our lives. Even a choice to do nothing has an effect. When have you been particularly aware of the importance of your choice to be a positive influence on another?
3. Lepers were forced to live away from others. The leper’s cure meant that he was also readmitted to contact with the community. Perhaps you recall people who were once ostracized being brought back into family or community. Who was the Jesus person who helped this healing to take place?
4. The joy of the leper on being healed was such that he could not keep the good news to himself. Bring to mind occasions when you were so filled with good news that you could not keep it to yourself.
First Sunday of Lent
21 February 2020
1. Jesus he is about to start his public ministry. Mark tells us this was preceded by a deep inner struggle when his resolve to take on his God-given mission was tested. Recall important decisions in your own life. Were they accompanied by struggle and doubt? Who were the angels who supported you at that time? Give thanks for them.
2. Such periods of anxiety may seem like wilderness experiences at the time. Later, with hindsight, we may see them as being good for us. Perhaps, like Jesus, you recall a time when the Spirit of God led you into the wilderness to be tested and after the experience you had a clearer sense of your own identity or your purpose in life.
3. Repent and believe the good news was the heart of the message of Jesus. It was not a call to penance but to a change of heart, a change of attitude, leading to a change in behaviour. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of right relationships: with God, with one another, with creation, with ourselves. It is a change that leads to a fuller life. When have you found that a change in your attitude towards God, others, yourself, or the world around you, has led you to a more fulfilled or more fruitful life?
4. There is immediacy about the call of Jesus: ‘the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near’. Recall when you had a realisation that NOW was the moment of opportunity – for a change in your life, for a spiritual renewal, or a time to give a wholehearted yes to life. At this moment to what do you believe you are invited to say ‘yes’?
Second Sunday of Lent
28 February 2020
1. Some special spiritual experiences are well nigh impossible to describe in words. The Transfiguration was one of these. Jesus had a new and deeper insight into his relationship with his heavenly Father, one that would sustain him through what lay ahead of him. Have you had WOW moments that you found hard to describe to others? How have these sustained you in difficult times?
2. It can be both scary and wonderful to witness transformation in another, especially a person who is close. At times parents get a taste of this when a child’s talent blossoms and is recognised by the child. We may also experience it when a dear friend recognises s/he is in a blind alley and gives up an addiction.
3. ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.’ Peter, James and John were particularly close to Jesus, but they were not good at listening to Jesus, especially when he spoke of the painful road of servant discipleship. Jesus is the one we must listen to, even when his message is hard to hear. It is in this message we find life. When have you found this to be true?
4. Strangely this instruction came to the disciples when they were confused and ‘in a cloud’. Perhaps you recall a moment of insight coming to you at a time when you were confused.