November 2021: Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel


John Byrne osa



Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

7 November 2021 • Prisioners’ Sunday


1.  The scribes are presented as ostentatious and devious, acting more out of self-interest than the love of God or people. There can be a element of self-interest in each of us. Perhaps there have been times when you have been disturbed by glimpsing in yourself ‘other motives’ in your doing good. Recall when you were awakened to this fact. Where was the good news for you in that awakening?

2.  In material terms what the widow had to offer was very little. Recall when you felt yourself called to give and gave even though you apparently had very little. Perhaps you have had the experience of finding that what you thought was little and insignificant meant a great deal to another person. Recall some of those moments.

3.  At this critical moment for the church Pope Francis has called a synod and has invited all believers to make a contribution. It’s easy for us to see this as a call to professional church people, clergy and religious. They have always taken care of this kind of thing. Now the call is that the voices of the little ones can also be heard. How can you help this to happen in your church community?


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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 November 2021 • World Day of the Poor


1.  Jesus speaks of the established order falling apart, but the collapse of the old order opened the way for new possibilities. Our church is in crisis, and the world is facing climate disaster. Where have you seen something new and hopeful emerge in the midst of all this, e.g. some action arising from better eco awareness (less waste, a community garden, et al)?

2.  The parable of the fig tree. Even in winter it begins to put forth leaves which give a hint of the fruit to come. Where have you found signs of hope in a wintry situation – in your own life, in the life of some group, in the life of the Church, in our world?

3.  Jesus proposes no clear time-scale for the events being foretold, so the final sentence (v.32) is a call to alertness, to live the present to the full. What difference does it make to you when you are able to live the present moment to the full?


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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

21 November 2021


1.  The feast we have today, and the gospel, give us an opportunity to reflect on the different ways in which we, and others, exercise influence and leadership. The authority of Pilate came from position and power. The authority of Jesus came from his integrity and what he stood for. Recall leaders you have known whose influence was like that of Jesus (teachers, community leaders, family members).

2.  The values of the kingdom of God cannot be imposed. It is never a matter of fighting battles, or forcing others into compliance. Perhaps through experience you have learned the limitations of the use of force, as a parent, a teacher, a group leader. What has been the good news, the learnings for you, in this?

3.  Jesus came to bear witness to the truth and we are all created for a purpose. Who are today’s witnesses to truth in the world? Who are the people whose witness to truth has impressed you, either now or in the past? In what way have you been able to be a witness to truth? What was it like for you to be such a witness?


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First Sunday of Advent

28 November 2021


1.  We live in a time when we are told that disaster lies ahead for us and for our planet if we do not change our ways. But perhaps this new awareness can be a prelude to us changing our ways? The gospel was written to give hope to Christians in danger. What gives you hope amid the dangers facing our world today?

2.  Our church community is also in crisis. The numbers of people attending church services have dropped. We have fewer clergy and religious. Scandals have rocked the church community. What helps you to keep faith in such circumstances?

3.  This passage can be taken as a metaphor for personal experiences when it seemed that your world was collapsing around you: plans thwarted, deep disappointment, something out of your control altering the course of your life, etc.? When have such experiences been a prelude to something new? Allow the dramatic language of the passage remind you of this experience, making sure that you recognise the double movement of collapse and liberation.

4.  Jesus himself is the model in this gospel story as he taught his disciples the spirituality of ‘waiting in joyful hope’. What difference has watchfulness (in the sense of being watchful in prayer) and hope made to you in facing difficult situations?

5.  Advent is a time that calls us to be alert to the signs of the hidden presence of God in our world. What reminds you of this presence of God? Have there been occasions when something woke you up in an unexpected way to the presence of God in the world, e.g. through love, beauty, nature, etc.?