November 2019: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel
John Byrne osa



Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

3 November 2019

1. Zacchaeus showed himself open to the call of Jesus, to the surprise of his contemporaries who thought there was no good in tax collectors. Sometimes the people who give us lessons in goodness may be people we previously disregarded. Recall when this happened for you.

2. It was the eagerness of Zacchaeus to see what kind of a man Jesus was that opened him up to conversion. When you consider moments of change in your life, what were the interests or desires that prepared you for change?

3. The decision of Jesus to eat in the house of Zacchaeus broke the social norms of his day and scandalized those who saw him. When have you found table fellowship a useful way of breaking down artificial boundaries between people? When has a kind word had this effect?

4. Zacchaeus had become rich off the backs of the people and they thoroughly disliked him. Yet he was the one singled out by Jesus and he responded to Jesus’ call. Perhaps you have also seen people who hurt you and caused you pain change their ways. How have you reacted to such a change? What has helped you to see the grace of God at work, and give thanks?

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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

10 November 2019 • Prisoners’ Sunday

1. The question of the Sadduccees suggests that how we will be in the afterlife is a continuation of how we are here. The reply of Jesus affirms that this is not so. We are important not because of any ‘status’ we might have but because we are children of God. Recall moments when you saw your worth, or the worth of another, as something other than worldly status.

2. A common tactic in an argument is to make fun of the position of another. Then one does not have to take seriously the view being expressed. Have you ever found yourself doing this? Have you experienced others doing it with you? What were the effects of such an attitude? Is there life here? If not, where have you found a fuller life?

3. Jesus’ use of the phrase ‘Children of the resurrection’ to describe his followers, points to the fact that we believe in something that cannot be proven. Life can sometimes present us with that kind of a challenge–an invitation to believe in things we cannot prove: another person, a cause, the value of a course of action, etc. What has been your experience of believing and acting on this kind of faith?

4. At the heart of our Christian faith is belief that death is not the end. We believe that the relationship we have with God, and that starts in this life, survives death and continues after death in the resurrection. In this month of November we recall those we have loved and have died. How has belief in the resurrection helped you in thinking about those you have loved and who are no longer with you?

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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

17 November 2019 • World Day of the Poor

1. Luke presents Jesus as a prophet, capable of reading the signs of the times, and one who offered wise and insightful advice on how to cope with difficult times. Who are the people you see who act like this in the troubled times we live in today? Maybe you yourself have been a calming influence in the face of turmoil within your family, parish, church, workplace, or elsewhere. Can you claim that gift and give thanks for being such a person?

2. Jesus alerts his listeners to the transitory nature of human grandeur and splendour. How have you been reminded of this truth? What lessons has this given you about life?

3. In any walk of life, troubles will come. Jesus encourages his listeners to stand firm in such circumstances, telling them: ‘your endurance will win you your lives’. When you are in the midst of inner turmoil and/or outer trouble or opposition, what has given you the strength and ability to endure?

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

24 November 2019

1. Today’s feast puts before us Jesus as a person who never used power for his own selfish advantage. Who have you known who used power for the benefit of others rather than for their own self-interest? When have you used power in this way?

2. The power of God is shown in an unexpected way in the Crucifixion; not in a wonderful display of spectacular dominance, but in Jesus sharing our human weakness. When has the honesty of another sharing his/her human vulnerability with you had a powerful effect? When has your honesty in that way had a positive effect on another?

3. Jesus is an example of someone who is apparently helpless. In human terms, he was powerless. It was his trust in the love of God for him that helped him through. It was only later, with the hindsight of the resurrection, that the moment of helplessness could be seen as one in which the power of God was present. Have you had experiences on which you can look back now and see that the power of God was at work in your moments of helplessness?

4. We may also identify with the good thief, reaching out in support of the innocent Jesus. Who has reached out to you when you experienced unfair treatment? To whom have you reached out in that way?

5. The scene also puts before us the liberating power of forgiveness. The forgiveness of Jesus brought new life to the criminal hanging on the cross with him. When have you found that forgiveness given, or received, was a source of new life for yourself or for others?