November 2020: Seeing your life through the lens of the Gospel

Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel


John Byrne osa



Solemnity of All Saints

1 November 2020

The blessings in the Beatitudes are primarily future blessings, but there can be an anticipation of the blessings in the present. At first reading some Beatitudes may seem to describe circumstances that you would like to avoid at all costs. Read them slowly. Stay with each one for a while. Let yourself get a sense of the paradox involved in each one. Perhaps you have had an experience of a deeper and more authentic life, a blessing, when

• you were poor – you knew your need of God

• you mourned – could feel for others

• you were meek – neither spineless nor emotionally out of control

• you hungered and thirsted for some cause

• you were merciful rather than vengeful

• you were pure in heart – a person of integrity, whose actions and intentions correspond

• you were a peacemaker

• you were persecuted because you stood for something


Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

8 November 2020 • Prisoners’ Sunday

1. While the parable has clear end-of-time applications it can also be applied to any moment of grace. It reminds us that moments of grace come unexpectedly, and we need to be awake to receive them. Recall times when you were alert for such a moment. What were the consequences for you?

2. Grace can also be disturbing. We can be coasting along in life and suddenly an opportunity or a graced moment arrives and we are shaken out of our routine in order to respond. Perhaps you can recall both moments when you were unprepared, and moments when you were able to respond. What lessons have you learned from such experiences?

3. We may be tempted to judge the wise virgins as being selfish for not sharing with the others, but perhaps Jesus is teaching us that there are some things that other people cannot provide for us. We have to acquire them ourselves. What qualities in life do you see as the essential oil that you must provide for yourself?


Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

15 November 2020 • World Day of the Poor

1. A gift given in love, is given to be enjoyed, treasured, and used. Through fear, one servant failed to recognise the loving trust being shown to him and buried the talent. When have you found that overcoming fear helped you to make the most of opportunities in life?

2. On the level of our own personal life, faith is not given to us to be locked away, but to be “traded” with. We trade with it when we believe in its value, trust it, and use it, bringing it into the experiences we have in daily life. Can you recall times when relying on your faith has brought you rewards?

3. Likewise with our own personal gifts and talents. We can fall into the trap of seeing these as our personal possession so that we can do with them as we like, rather than share them as gifts so that they can be multiplied. What is your experience of hoarding or sharing your own gifts? When did you feel most alive?

4. Pope Francis in his letter The Joy of the Gospel wrote, ‘I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. … The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters.’ EG (33) How is your parish responding to this call?


Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

22 November 2020

1. This judgement scene contains surprises for us. One surprise is that nobody is condemned for doing wrong, but for their failure to do good. Being a disciple of Jesus is a positive choice about how we live and relate to others. Perhaps sin-avoidance has sometimes dominated your view of what was being asked of you. What difference has it made for you when you viewed your Christian life as a daily opportunity to make a positive difference to others?

2. Another way of saying this is that the aim of Christian living is not me-centred (about my personal sanctification) but other-centred (about responding to the needs of others). What happens to you when you get caught up in yourself? Is your life not better, and often more enjoyable, when you can look beyond yourself to others?

3. Another surprise is to hear Jesus tell us that when we do something for another, he considers it done to himself. When has seeing Christ in others helped you in your dealings with them?

4. The story is about the judgement of the whole of humanity. It presents an ideal of society in which human relationships at all levels are governed by the law of love. In your experience what difference has it made to a group to which you belonged when there was a definite sensitivity to the needs of all members?


First Sunday of Advent

29 November 2020

1. The coming of the Lord is not just the moment of death, but any moment of grace. Recall unexpected graces – good things that happened when they were not anticipated.

2. Perhaps some of these were moments when you were particularly alert and aware of what was going on in you and around you and this enabled you to be open to the moment of grace. Recall the contrast with moments when that alertness and awareness were not present.

3. The servants were given charge of the household ‘each with their own job’. See yourself as a person given a responsibility within the household of God’s people. What is it like for you to see yourself trusted in this way by God? What has it been like for you when you have been shown trust in this way by another person?

4. Jesus says that what he is saying to his disciples he is saying to all. Have there been times when you have been a messenger of hope to others, encouraging them to wait for a moment of grace. Who have been the ones to encourage you?