July/August 2021: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
4 July 2021

1. Personal prejudices and agendas can block us from listening to the what another person has to say. Who do they think they are? Perhaps you have experienced this. What difference has it made to you when you were able to focus on the content of what was being said and leave to one side your own prejudices about the speaker?
2. It has been said that there is nothing as useless as the right advice at the wrong time. We may want to reach out to another but may be unable to because at that moment the other person is not ready to be helped. Like Jesus we can ‘do no deed of power’. As Jesus had to be patient and wait for another opportunity, so do we. What have you learned about the importance of patience in working with others?
3. Religion easily brings up prejudices. Some dismiss religion as superstition, old hat, or based on an outdated world view. Even among believers, prejudice can make it hard for individuals to listen to an alternative way of looking at things, to consider a different way of celebrating liturgy, or to live at peace with difference. Yet a closed mind can lead to a stagnant faith. When have you found that a willingness to consider a different perspective led to a deepening and strengthening of your faith?

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
11 July 2021

1. Jesus gave the disciples a share in his mission by sending them out ahead of him. It was a gesture of trust and confidence on his part, even though they did not fully understand his mission. Have you ever been surprised by the trust shown in you by others to speak or act on their behalf?
2. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. Perhaps your experience gives you examples of the value of having another with you when engaged in an important task.
3. The apparently strange instructions given by Jesus were intended to counteract practices by bogus preachers who used preaching as a mask for money-making. True disciples of Jesus focus on the mission and not on their own comforts. Is it your experience that vested interests can impede a task, whereas having the right motives makes your mission more effective?
4. The task of the disciples was to call people to repent, (metanoia = conversion, change the way we look at God and at other people). Who have been the disciples, the people in your life who have called you to be more trusting in God? To whom have you given this call?

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
18 July 2021

1. The apostles reported to Jesus all that they had done and taught. Perhaps you have had the experience of being able to check in with somebody and share an experience. What was that like for you?
2. Jesus saw that the apostles needed to rest and eat. What has been your experience of finding a restful place after a busy day? What kind of nourishment have you found necessary in order to maintain energy and enthusiasm? Did your experience during the Covid19 pandemic give you any new insights about this?
3. When Jesus saw the crowd, he recognised their need and reached out to them. Who has been a Jesus person for you, someone who recognised your need and reached out to you? For whom have you been a Jesus person in that way?
4. It sometimes can be difficult to strike a balance between responding to the needs of others and meeting our need for rest and nourishment. What has helped you to keep the balance right?

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
25 July 2021 o Grandparent’s Day

1. At the heart of this story we are told that Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them. In our day this reminds us of the Eucharist, the bread of life, with which Jesus feeds us. Can you recall an experience of Eucharist that was especially significant for you? What was it that made it different? How did it influence your understanding of the Eucharist?
2. Take, give thanks, distribute. The actions of Jesus also suggest an attitude to time, gifts and living. We take what we are given, give thanks, and use what we have. Have you found that having a grateful heart for what you have been given has made it easier for you to share with others?
3. From what seemed meagre and inadequate resources many were fed. When have you found that when you gratefully use what little resources you have the results are beyond your expectations?
4. Jesus chose to involve those around him in feeding the people. Have there been times when you have experienced benefits from calling on those around you to use their gifts to help with a task?

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 August 2021

1. Jesus distinguishes between food that gives quick satisfaction and food that gives lasting nourishment. It is a mark of wisdom to be able to say ‘no’ to enticing but delusory attractions in order to choose things of lasting value. From your life experience what advice would you give to another about where things of lasting value are to be found?
2. Jesus reminds his listeners that God is the source of all good things. What difference does it make in your life when you are aware that life, the world, everything you have is gift, and you live in a spirit of gratitude?
3. The work of God is that we ‘believe in the one whom God has sent’. In what ways has your faith in Jesus enriched and changed your life? How has Jesus satisfied your hungers or quenched your thirsts?
4. As Jesus came down from heaven to give life to the world, so each one of us is here to be a source of life to others. Think of people who have been a source of life to you, and give thanks for them. For whom have you also been a source of life?

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
8 August 2021

1. Faith is reasonable but we cannot reason our way into faith. We have to be ‘drawn by the Father’. We must be ‘taught by God’. What opens your mind and heart to God’s message?
2. When we label others disparagingly, we close our minds to what they are saying. The Jews did this to Jesus. Have you ever had the experience of being surprised by the wisdom of another when you laid aside your prejudices about her/him to listen to what s/he was saying?
3. ‘No one has ever seen the Father except the one who is from God’. As Jesus put a human face on God and God’s love, so God’s love today is mediated to us through one another. How have other people been sacraments of God’s love for you? For whom have you been that kind of a sacrament?
4. The way in which Jesus became a source of life for us was by giving himself. It is when we truly give ourselves that we can be life-giving to one another. If we do not give of ourselves, what do we have to offer? How have you discovered the importance of self-giving, in yourself or in others?

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15 August 2021

1. The story of the Visitation is a story of two pregnant women reaching out to one another. For those of you who are mothers, perhaps you have been in that situation. What blessings do you recall in such encounters?
2. The story and the song of Mary are both celebrating the work of God in her life. When have you been particularly grateful for what was happening in your life? How did you express and celebrate your thanks?
3. Mary is praised for believing that God’s promise to her would be fulfilled. How has your trust in God’s promise to be with you helped you in your life?
4. Read the Magnificat a few times slowly and let your attention stay with whatever words or phrase you are drawn to. Place yourself in the position of the one saying the prayer. Let it be your prayer of thanksgiving for your own life.

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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
22 August 2021

1. In this chapter Jesus teaches that the meaning of his life, and the meaning of all human life, lies in being prepared to give of oneself. Perhaps you can identify with what Pope Francis says: ‘Those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others ….’ (Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel, No.10)
2. ‘This teaching is difficult’, complained his hearers, including some of his own followers. Perhaps at times you also have wondered if you could go along with it. What helped you to overcome your resistance?
3. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.’ In the midst of your doubts perhaps you have held on to your faith in Jesus because, like Peter, you found a more hopeful message in Jesus than you could find anywhere else. How has the gospel message been more attractive to you than any other?
4. ‘The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life’. Recall the words and phrases of Jesus that are words of life for you.

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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
29 August 2021

1. Certain sections of the Jewish people put great store on the importance of rules and conventions as a measure of the goodness of a person. Jesus challenges this view. Where have you seen goodness in unconventional people? What brought it home to you that being a good person meant more than getting appearances right?
2. Even fidelity in religious practice is not enough. ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’. How have you experienced the importance of carrying your faith beyond attendance at Mass on Sundays? When have you seen that in others? What brought this home to you?
3. What Jesus seeks are followers whose faith is whole-hearted and warm, people whose religion is not seen primarily in dutiful observance but in enthusiasm for life and care for one another. It is good to be with them. Give thanks for the people you know who are like that.
4. ‘It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.’ It is also from within that good intentions come. We have choices. When have you been faced with the choice between good and evil? When did you realise the importance of accepting responsibility for your own life and choices? How has this helped your growth as a person?

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