October 2023: Seeing Your Life Through The Lens of The Gospel

Seeing Your Life Through The Lens of  The Gospel

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com


Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 October 2023


  1. It is possible to be a dutiful and observant Christian, and yet feel there is something missing. Does it not make a huge difference when your heart is in what you are doing? It is so much better than just going through the motions. Where do you experience that most in your life?

  2. The desire of Jesus for us is that we grow in that kind of committed, enthusiastic involvement in life. What encourages you to grow in this way? Recall times when your relationship with God, or with another person, was something that gave you energy, hope or joy. What lessons do you learn from those memories?

  3. The elders probably thought well of themselves in contrast to the tax collectors and sinners. Perhaps you know some unconventional people, ones who appear to ignore the ‘right’ way of doing things, and yet they have taught you something about true goodness.


* * *

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
8 October 2023

  1. The target audience of this allegorical parable are the Jewish chief priests and elders portrayed here as rejecting Jesus and his teaching and, as a consequence, losing out on what God was offering them. It is a story of opportunity for life presented and rejected, and they lose out in the process. How important have you found it to recognise and accept opportunities for growth, development, and new life when these were presented to you?

  2. The parable is also a cautionary tale about the destructive effects of greed – doing violence to the rights of others which eventually destroys the greedy themselves. What attitude towards possessions has helped you to be at peace with yourself and at peace with others?

  3. The vineyard of the Lord is an image for God’s people. As we look at the vineyard we have been given, we can ask ourselves ‘are we good tenants?’ Recall times when you have been a good tenant and reached out caringly for those around you.

  4. ‘It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone. This was the Lord’s doing and it was wonderful to see.’ Sometimes a person not highly regarded plays a key role in a project, and it is wonderful to see. Can you recall examples of this?

* * *

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
15 October 2023

There are two parables here that Matthew has joined together. Looking at the first one:

  1. Scripture often speaks of the kingdom of God as a banquet. The image of people being at a meal where everyone is happy and welcome and where all hunger and thirst is satisfied gets across the idea that God loves, accepts, and welcomes us and wants us to make that experience available to one another. Think of times in your life when you have had ‘banquet’ experiences and when you have felt accepted and loved? 

  2. The host enlists the help of his servants to invite people to the banquet. We are commissioned by the Lord to invite people to the banquet of the kingdom, to the fullness of life – as parents, teachers, friends, etc. What has it been like for you to play a part in leading others to a fuller life?

  3. As in the parable last week there is a message about being alert to invitations that offer a fuller life and the danger of losing out if we neglect to respond to such invitations. Perhaps there have been opportunities offered to you that you missed, and now regret. Think also of the blessings you received because you seized the moment and took an opportunity that presented itself.

  4. The second parable puts the focus on how we respond to invitations. Some invitations are ones that challenge us to change, to conversion, to put on a ‘wedding garment.’ What has been your experience of changing in response to an invitation you received?


* * *

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
22 October 2023 • Mission Sunday


  1. The story sees a mixture of religion and politics, a potentially explosive combination. Jesus does not ask us to avoid politics, but that our involvement in the affairs of the world be informed by the perspective of the Reign of God. How does the gospel give you a vision of how your involvement in society should be? 

  2. Pharisees and Herodians were not natural allies but a shared dislike of Jesus brought them together in an attempt to discredit him. Perhaps you experience the same opposition in society today when you profess to being a Catholic. Jesus did not get into an argument with them but simply professed his belief in the priority of God in his life. What have you found helpful in bearing witness to the fact that you are still a Catholic? 

  3. Jesus recognises that we can be faced with conflicting claims for attention. He does not tell us how to solve that dilemma but challenges us to make sure that our allegiance to God takes priority. When have you been faced with a conflict of loyalties? What helped you to get your priorities right?


* * *

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
29 October 2023


  1. You may feel some sympathy with the Jews struggling to cope with 613 laws and wondering which were the important ones. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the rules and regulations of your own tradition? And have you ever been blessed by meeting someone, or reading something, that was able to cut through all the layers and point out to you what is essential in life? Who was that person? What did s/he say or do? Is there some phrase or text that encapsulates such wisdom for you? 

  2. If you were asked what is most important in life, what would your answer be? Recall the experiences and relationships you have had. Which are the ones that you treasure most? What has particularly enriched your life? How would you encourage another person who asked you how s/he could live a full life? 

  3. In the unusual circumstances of recent years social life was disrupted by Covid. We had to find unusual and creative ways of showing love to our neighbours. What ways of reaching out to others did you find were most appreciated?