November 2023: 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
5 November 2023 • Prisoners’ Sunday


  1. The condemnation of the scribes and pharisees by Jesus brings to mind the public discourse about the Church in recent years. This has highlighted the failures of church people to live up to the values of the Gospel. This has had a negative effect on many people and on their religious practice. How do you find hope in the midst of this negative criticism? 

  2. When our actions match our words about gospel values, then our words carry more weight. Recall people whom you admired for this quality. Perhaps your own experience at times confirms this. 

  3. Our passage ends with a paradox. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. For Jesus the way to greatness and a full life is through service of others. When have you found the way of service brought unexpected rewards?


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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
12 November 2023

  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?

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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
19 November 2023 • 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 evangelisation in their respective communities. … The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and 


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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
26 November 2023


  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?


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