July-August 2019: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
7 July 2019

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

1. Jesus sent out his disciples on a mission to let people know that ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Recall when you have reached out to another, in word or in deed, to help them realize that they were cherished, perhaps by a word of sympathy or encouragement, or by giving a hand with a difficult task. What was it like for you to experience yourself as a person bringing help and encouragement to another?

2. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. When have you found it beneficial not to be working alone, but with another by your side? How did companionship change the experience? What you were able to achieve together that you could not have done on your own?

3. The instructions Jesus gave the disciples suggest appropriate attitudes for the one who ‘goes before Jesus.’ Let the images speak to you and evoke memories of times when you were welcomed and times when you were not. When have you found that it was good news to have the attitudes Jesus describes?

4. When the disciples returned, Jesus warned them not to focus on the thrill of what they had been able to achieve. It was more important that their ‘names are written in heaven.’ Sometimes we too need reminders that who we are is more important than what we do. Who have been the people who brought this home to you? Have there been experiences that helped you to appreciate this?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
14 July 2019
Luke 10:25-37

1. Today’s gospel brings us right to the heart of what a Christian life involves: love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus tells us that having life both now and in the future is the fruit of living in a spirit of love. How have you experienced love given and received as a source of life and vitality?

2. With media today we are brought face to face with suffering, poverty and hunger so vast that it can engender a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. The parable challenges us about how we react when we come face to face with a person in need. We may sometimes try to avoid getting involved. Recall when you overcame this reaction and reached out to help. What did that do for you, and for the other person?

3. Bring to mind the people who have been an inspiration to you by the care and attention they have given to others.

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
21 July 2019
Luke 10:38-42

1. The two sisters symbolize the contemplative and active dimensions of life, at times difficult to balance. What wisdom have you learned through life experiences on how to strike a balance between prayer and action?

2. Many people misunderstand hospitality. They worry and fret about decorating the house and preparing abundant food. Yet sometimes it is something else that is needed to make people feel at home; namely, to sit with guests and to listen to them. What has been your experience of being a cherished guest and when have you been able to make others feel welcome and at home?

3. We can make the same mistake in relation to people who are important to us: children, friends, parents, or others. We can worry and fret about doing things for them when perhaps the important thing is to give them time and listen to them. What does your experience tell you?

4. When it comes to welcoming God into our lives, one appropriate response is to spend time listening to God’s word. When have you found time devoted to the word of God enriching for you?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
28 July 2019
Luke 11:1-13

1. In the prayer Jesus gave us as a model, the focus is not on getting God to do what we want, but on trying to be open to what God wants: ‘Your kingdom come.’ That openness implies a trust that what God wants for us is our good. When have you found that it was good for you to take life as it comes, trusting that the Spirit was with you no matter what happened?

2. One of the points in the parable of the friend knocking at the door, is that in the case of true friendship it will not be necessary to browbeat the friend into giving what you seek. Recall times when you had a friend who gave willingly and readily. What was it like to have such a generous and willing response? Perhaps you can also recall when you have been that kind of a friend to others.

3. In the culture of the Middle East, hospitality is a priority. It would be unimaginable not to help a friend. Just so, it is unimaginable that God will ignore our prayer. When you think of the reliability of God, what are the images that you find helpful and that encourage you to persist in prayer?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
4 August 2019
Luke 12:13-21

1. ‘One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions,’ says Jesus. What have you found to be more important in life than possessions? What brought this home to you?

2. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.’ Perhaps you have seen how greed can lead to trouble in public life, in family life, and in the personal life of individuals. What has helped you to guard against greed? What benefits have you experienced when you were less greedy?

3. The message of the parable could be summed up as: ‘If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans.’ Life takes many unanticipated twists and turns. When have you found that have had to change your plans because of unexpected circumstances? What has helped you to be flexible and resourceful at such times?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 1 August 2019
Luke 12:32-48

1. The opening verses of this gospel reading invite us to ask ourselves what we see as our purpose in life. What are our priorities? Is our heart set on material progress and advance, or do we have other priorities? What has helped you to appreciate that there is more to your life than earthly possessions and success?

2. At times one can sense in Jesus an urgency, as if he wanted to shake people and wake them up to take his words seriously. The parable has that tone: ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.’ When have you found that being alert enabled you to grasp a moment of opportunity that you might easily have missed? Perhaps when a child or friend gave a hint that they would like to talk, and a very meaningful conversation ensued?

3. Another consideration that adds to the sense of urgency in the words of Jesus is that we only have one life, and we do not know how long it will last. So Jesus calls us on us to live in the now and to treasure our time. Sometimes we drift aimlessly through a day, and on other occasions use a day purposefully. What difference does that make, if any, to how you experience the day?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15 August 2019

Our Christian calling is to live this life, here and now, as authentic disciples, while remembering that the hour of our death will come, sooner or later. We focus on these two moments – now, and the hour of our death – every time we pray the Hail Mary.

The feast of the Assumption is about what Mary experienced at the end of her life. Mary was so well prepared, so close to the Lord, that at the end of her life she didn’t undergo decay but was taken directly into God’s presence. The promise of our Christian faith is that death is not the final reality for any of us. The Assumption of Mary into heaven can serve as a signpost and a reminder.

As we honour the Mother of God, let’s also give a little thought to the end of our life, the hour of our death. We have the prayers of Mary now and at the hour of our death, but let’s also play our part. Let’s recognise and affirm that death is a reality, one which we can all be prepared for. How we live our now will be very relevant at the hour of our death.


Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
18 August 2019
Luke 12:49-53

1. The commitment of Jesus to his mission is shown in his desire to undergo the baptism that awaits him. Have there been times when there was something you greatly hoped for, even though you knew there would be a baptism of fire along the way? What was it like for you to undergo such a baptism of fire and then arrive at what you desired?

2. Jesus recognized that the message he proclaimed would meet with a mixed reception. This did not hold him back from proclaiming the Reign of God. When have you seen this kind of courage in yourself, or in others?

3. Jesus challenged those listening to him to commit themselves to discipleship, despite opposition from those close to them, even family members. When have you found that being true to yourself and to your beliefs required such courage? What was it like for you when you were able to follow that courageous road?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
25 August 2019
Luke 13:22-30

1. The question put to Jesus is one that many still ask: ‘Will many be saved?’ In his answer, Jesus is not concerned about numbers but warns his listeners about complacency. Just as his listeners could not regard the mere fact of being Jews as sufficient for salvation, neither can we regard being Christians as enough. Salvation will come from our acceptance of Jesus. For any relationship to be alive – either with God or with another human person – the real question is: ‘Is my heart in this relationship?’ What does your experience tell you of this?

2. ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door.’ Jesus himself is on his journey to Jerusalem; purposeful and determined. His true followers will also be purposeful and determined. That is true of any journey, career, or relationship if there is to be growth or progress. What it is like for you when you fail to do this? What is it like for you when the effort is there?

John Byrne oSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com