March 2020: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Matthew 4:1-11
1. In today’s gospel Jesus is enticed to gratify his own needs, or to perform some spectacular act in public. He rejects the temptation because he chooses commitment to his mission and dependence on his Father over any immediate gratification. We can all be tempted to go for some immediate satisfaction, but is that where happiness lies? Have you found that sometimes there is more contentment in saying ‘no’ for the sake of some long term goal? What are the goals, aims and values that inspire you in this way?

2. One way of looking at this gospel is to say that Jesus went into the desert to face his demons. We all have demons we need to face – compulsions, fears, prejudices, anger, and urges that lurk within. It is in facing our demons that we find a way to live a fuller life. Can you recall a time when you grew through facing a ‘demon’ in this way?

John Byrne OSA

Matthew 17:1-9
1. The transfiguration experience was one that, 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. 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 God? Recall when that happened, and what it was like for you.

3. 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 joy?

4. 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?

John Byrne OSA

John 4:5-42
1. Jesus leads the woman along a wonderful journey towards a deeper, fuller human life. You can enter the story from the perspective of the woman. Recognize her resistance to growth, her complacency, her evasions, and her eventual acceptance, partial though it was, of Jesus. When have you made a similar journey in your relationship with God? With others? With your own self?

2. The woman is attracted by what Jesus is saying, but for a very human motive: the thought of having water in such a way that she did not have to come and draw it from the well. We too can be attracted to Jesus by very mixed motives, some of them matters of personal interest: belonging, community, security. What have been the motives attracting you to faith, prayer, religion, church? In what way have these been stepping stones to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus? Perhaps we can also see the same movement in the growth of some of our human relationships.

3. You can also enter the story with Jesus, the ideal leader, parent, teacher, or spiritual guide. Notice how he meets the woman where she is, needing her assistance, how he is patient with her, but also challenges her to grow to what she is capable of.

John Byrne OSA

St Patrick’s Day
There is nothing more powerful than watching, from afar, someone going to confession and seeing the priest pray and offer forgiveness. There is a noticeable change in the penitent. You can almost see their burdens lifted. Their slate has been wiped clean and a fresh start beckons. God’s mercy is always on offer. We are not meant to hold on to our sins or whatever is keeping us from a full relationship with God. It is healthy to be in right relations with God. This also extends to those to whom we need to offer an apology or seek forgiveness. Jesus reminds us to offer forgiveness ‘from the heart’. Forgiveness begins when we realize in our heart that God’s mercy is unending. Our Lenten path is one that will bring us to Calvary; even in his dying breath the thief asked for forgiveness. It is never too late.

• Being a Christian involves being able to forgive. Today, reflect on how forgiving you are as a person. Do you need to adjust anything in your life to make yourself more forgiving?
• Catholics are invited to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Consider arranging to go to confession during Lent. If you are a Christian, consider going to your local faith leader and asking for a prayer for forgiveness. Mercy has no boundaries.

Return to Me with all your Heart.
Daily Reflections for Lent
Gerard Gallagher (Veritas, 2020), p. 58

John 9:1-41
A long story like the one we have today provides many different points of entry for prayer. Read the story and stay with what resonates with you. Some possible points of entry are:

1. The blind man was healed. Can you recall occasions when some blindness of yours was taken away and you could see in a new way? What was that experience like for

2. The Pharisees claimed to be the ones who could see, who knew where God was to be found, when in fact they were blind. It was the man born blind who showed himself open to seeing the hand of God at work in what happened. There can be some of each attitude in us. What has helped you to be open to seeing the hand of God at work in your life? Who have been the Jesus people who have led you to this point?

3. There are many characters in the story: Jesus, the blind beggar, the disciples, the neighbours, the blind man’s parents, and the Pharisees. Put yourself in the position of each one and see what you learn from identifying with them.

John Byrne OSA

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Don’t give up. As we journey into the penultimate week of Lent there might be a tendency to let things slide. We might be tempted to relax in our commitment. Long distance athletes speak about ‘hitting a wall’, a reference to the moment in a race or event where they feel they want to stop or have nothing left to give. Somehow, they dig deep and find the reserves of energy they need to continue. We need to know that, as we journey toward Holy Week and dig deeper into our faith, somewhere in that despair or unknowing we can find the grace to continue […]

There is a finish line and even if you think you cannot reach it, God is with you every step of the way. God’s mercy is deep. It is only when we go deeper into our relationship with God that we experience the grace and strength to further our relationship with him.

• Nothing is impossible to God. Has something ‘died’ in your life, something that Jesus could restore?
• When did you last use the words: ‘Yes Lord, I believe’? Today, try to repeat those words and believe.

Return to Me with all your Heart.
Daily Reflections for Lent.
Gerard Gallagher (Veritas, 2020), pp.88