July-August 2023: 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


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 July 2023


  1. At a first reading the demand of Jesus sounds selfish ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me.’ It only makes sense when we realise that Jesus will never be outdone in generosity.

  2. Jesus never wanted suffering for anyone but he knew that if a we are going to follow in his footsteps, promoting love and respect for every person, we will meet with opposition. Fidelity has its price, but also rewards. Would you agree?

  3. The passage is a call to both radical and practical discipleship. When have you found that in order to achieve a certain objective you had to make it a priority, and then take the practical steps necessary to reach your goal? What were the benefits to you when you did this?

  4. ‘Hate’ is prophetic exaggeration for the uncompromising loyalty Jesus seeks in disciples. There may be times when people make demands in conflict with fidelity to another relationship. This can be painful. When have you found that being clear about your priorities helped you in that situation?


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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
9 July 2023

  1. For Jesus the key to a personal knowledge of God and relationship with God is not primarily through academic study but through a mind and heart open to learn. Recall moments when you had a sense that your relationship with God took a significant step forward. What kind of dispositions prepared you for that growth?

  2. Jesus was dealing with a society in which people were very conscious of status, dignity, and external appearances. He wanted to break down the barriers this created so that all would be aware of their worth and dignity. Perhaps you can recall someone who was not highly thought of in human terms, but who was a light to you.

  3. In v.27 Jesus lets us into the secret of his relationship with his Father, one of total trust. This trust freed him from anxiety and worry about himself. As a result, he was a person of gentle and humble heart and was able to bring rest to those who were overburdened. Recall people whose trust in God enabled them to be supportive to others who were stressed or burdened. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself?

  4. Recall and give thanks for people who, like Jesus in the story, were able to combine challenge with sympathetic support and understanding. Perhaps you have been able to do this for others at times also.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
16 July 2023

  1. Jesus uses parables to make people think about their own responses to his message. As you read this parable you may recognize that at different times you have been like each of the different types of soil. As you recall times when you presented fertile soil for the word of God, what helped you create that receptive atmosphere? What lessons for life do you get from that?

  2. The parable is also an invitation to us to ask ourselves why it is that there are times when we are unreceptive to a truth presented to us either in the word of God, or in the words of another. Perhaps you can recall occasions when it was only long after a conversation that you were able to acknowledge what has been an unwelcome truth. What did you learn from this?

  3. Parents with children, teachers with pupils, speakers with listeners, are all like sowers in a field where the preparation of the soil is up to another – the child, pupil or listener. They can sow the seed but cannot guarantee that it will bear fruit. At times there may be a temptation not to try any more. The challenge is to sow in hope. When have you been surprised by the harvest you have reaped?

  4. ‘We are wasting our time here’ may sometimes be the apparent wisdom in a group. Have there been times when you have gone against this apparent wisdom and seen your efforts bear fruit?


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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
23 July 2023 • World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly


  1. The owner of the field who allowed the wheat and the darnel to grow together is a reminder to us to be patient with ourselves and with others when we see everything is not right. Sometimes a preoccupation with the negative (the darnel) can blind us to seeing the positive in our own lives and in the lives of others. When have you found that a willingness to live with the messiness of the present created the conditions for future growth?

  2. Have you ever found that it was through accepting the darnel that you learned important lessons for life, e.g., learning by making mistakes, or asking stupid questions, or taking foolish risks?

  3. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven are reminders that seemingly insignificant things can have very positive results. Have you ever been surprised by the benefit to yourself or others of a kind gesture, a small initiative, or a word of encouragement?


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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
30 July 2023


  1. Have you ever found yourself saying ‘that was worth it’ after giving up something (time, pleasure, money, etc.)? What was the treasure that made the sacrifice worthwhile?

  2. The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is when God is really the ruler in our life. What treasures have you obtained when you allow God to be at the centre of your life?

  3. In life we gather a lot of things, some good and some bad. The wise person in the kingdom of heaven, knows how to sit down and make decisions on what to keep and what to discard. When have you undertaken that kind of discernment? What have you discarded? What have you retained?


The Transfiguration of the Lord
6 August 2023


  1. The transfiguration experience was one which, for Jesus, clarified his relationship with his Father and strengthened him for the future. It was also a moment of deep revelation for the disciples. What have been the experiences, the moments of insight, which for you have clarified your sense of who you are, and what is your relationship with God? 

  2. The disciples were prepared for the experience by getting in invitation from Jesus to come apart, to withdraw to the mountain. Have there been times when going apart has been an important element in preparing you for a deep experience? 

  3. On the mountain the disciples saw Jesus in a new way. His appearance changed. Sometimes in friendship there are moments of sharing in which we get to know a friend in a new and deeper way. Have you had that experience in human friendship, or in your relationship with Jesus and God. Recall when that happened, and what it was like for you. 

  4. The clear vision of Jesus with Moses and Elijah was followed by a frightening experience of being in a cloud and it was in the midst of the cloud that the disciples were instructed ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him’. Have you had the experience of learning the truth about life and about your relationship with God from moments of confusion as well as from times of special joy?

  5. After their special experience the disciples came down the mountain again. We cannot live each day at the level of special spiritual experiences, but the memory of them can strengthen us in difficult times. What memories encourage you in time of trouble?


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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
13 August 2023

  1. The story illustrates the power of faith. Have you noticed that when you believe in someone, or something, you can do things that would not be possible when you are full of doubts? Recall moments when your faith gave you strength and courage? Name for yourself the different kinds of faith that had this effect: belief in yourself, trust in another, faith in God. 

  2. When Jesus got into the boat the winds ceased. Who has been a Jesus person for you and helped to calm a storm that frightened you or made you anxious? 

  3. The experience of Peter gives encouragement to us when we waver in our trust and belief in God. In his doubt and fear Jesus reached out to him. Who has reached out a helping hand to you when you felt you were sinking? 

  4. The story ends with a profession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Have you had experiences of being rescued from some hazard or danger: experiences which deepened your faith in the presence and compassion of God for you?

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
20 August 2023

  1. Having met with rejection from the Pharisees Jesus goes to Gentile territory and encounters unexpected faith in the Canaanite woman. His mission had previously been to his own people. This adds a new dimension to his mission. Have you had occasions when a chance encounter set your life off in a new direction? 

  2. The initial reaction of Jesus to the woman was one of rejection but her persistence won a response from him. When have you found that persistence was needed to gain what you sought? What did that experience teach you? 

  3. In our days of widespread migration welcoming the stranger can be a challenge. We are more comfortable with our own. What difference has it made, to you and to others, when you were able to offer a friendly welcoming face to a stranger? 

  4. Who are the ‘Canaanite women’ who call out for attention today – people in Church or State whose needs are not being attended to?


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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 
27 August 2023


  1. This marks a turning point in the life of Jesus, and of the disciples. It is the first time that his disciples recognise him as the Messiah. Recall turning points in your own life when you came to some deeper understanding of who Jesus is. 

  2. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ This is possibly the most important question that Jesus puts to us. In your heart of hearts, how do you answer this question? 

  3. Jesus praises Peter for his faith and comments that this was not his own doing but a gift of God. Perhaps there have been times when you have been more than usually conscious that faith is a gift. Be thankful for the gift you have received. 

  4. These are troubled times for the Church and the promise of Jesus that ‘the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it’ are an encouragement. What helps you to draw strength from this promise of Jesus? What signs of hope do you see in the Church today?


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