Reflections on the Daily Readings

June 9 - 15, 2019
The Season of  Ordinary Time - The Tenth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 9:            Pentecost Sunday
Vigil Mass
Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8, 16-20 or Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Joel 3:1-5; Psalm 103; Romans 8:22-27; John 7:37-39
If an extended Vigil is celebrated, all four Old Testament readings with proper Psalms and Collects are used and are followed by the New Testament reading and Gospel.
The first reading from the Book of Genesis contains the story of the Tower of Babel which was a story of human rebellion against the divine will. God had intended that the people should spread across the face of the earth but they did not follow his will, preferring instead to gather together in one place. In their pride they decided to build a heaven-touching tower and so make a great name for themselves. God destroyed the tower and so the people were scattered and the confusion of their languages would mean that they would not gather together and try to replace God again.
In the reading from the book of Exodus, we have one of the great theophanies between God and his people. In the opening section God reminds the people that he was the one who freed them from slavery in Egypt and now they must choose whether or not they wish to be his people. They reply that they will be his people and so Moses brought them out of the camp to meet God at the foot of the mountain, an event which takes place in a storm of smoke, fire and trumpet and in which God came down to his people.
In the reading from the prophet Ezekiel, the prophet has been given a vision in which there is a contrast between a dead Israel and one which has life. Ezekiel had been sent to preach to the House of Israel and to bring them back to the right path and this is ultimately achieved by the presence of the Spirit of God, which Ezekiel is told to summon and give to the people. Without the Spirit the people are like dead people but with the Spirit they have life.
In the reading from the prophet Joel, the Lord says that he will pour out his Spirit on all people, slave as well as free. This comes at the end of various plagues which have befallen the House of Israel for their lack of faithfulness to God. But those who have been faithful will be vindicated and will receive the Spirit which will give them strength and protection.
The Psalm asks the Lord to once again send his Spirit and renew the world.
In the second reading, St Paul reminds the Romans that the whole of creation has been waiting and hoping for salvation. This salvation has come through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is given to each person to help them to live the life God wants them to live, to help them to please God. The true Christian does so through prayer and living out the faith and this happens through the gift of the Holy Spirit if each person cooperates with the Spirit.
In the gospel we see Jesus attending one of the festivals in the Temple in Jerusalem in which water was a key symbol. Jesus says that he has water for those who believe in him but the evangelist makes it clear that the water Jesus is referring to is the Holy Spirit which the Lord grants to his followers after the resurrection. The connection, therefore, is that without the Holy Spirit working in our lives we cannot have true life, a life which is eternal and will see us enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Mass during the Day
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 103; Romans 8:8-17; John 14:15-16, 23-26
Our first reading contains the traditional story about the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and of how they lost their fear and went out in to the open to preach the message of Jesus Christ. The fact that those from various parts of the world with diverse languages and dialects could hear the Apostles and understand their message is a reminder that the message of the Gospel, the love of God and entry to the Kingdom, is intended for everyone. The Spirit they receive is also the same Spirit that worked in and with Jesus and so the work of the Apostles – the early Church – is not new work but a continuation of the work and presence of Jesus Christ in the world. The Psalm is a hymn requesting the Father to send the Holy Spirit among his people and, through him, to renew the face of the earth.
In the second reading, the Romans are told by St Paul that the aim of human life is to please God. To help people to live lives which are pleasing to God and which will ultimately see them enter the Kingdom of heaven, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit to live in his people. Those who cooperate, or who live their lives under the guidance of the Spirit, will please God and so enter heaven, but those who continue to live by the ways of this world rather than the ways of God will never be able to attain this. The Holy Spirit has made each person an heir to the Kingdom but only if they live according to the Spirit.
In the gospel reading from St John, we see Jesus telling his disciples that he will send them the Spirit – whom he calls the Advocate – to be with them to strengthen and to guide them after he has gone from them. This is the Spirit who is sent in the first reading and it is this Spirit which encouraged the apostles to go out and preach the Good News, to begin the mission of the Church. Though the Lord was to return to the Father, the Spirit was to abide for ever in his people and would remind them of the teachings of Jesus Christ. As heirs of the apostles we too have received the Holy Spirit, most notably at Baptism and Confirmation, and it is up to us to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to give praise and glory to God by the lives we lead, especially in our world of today which has so much to block out the voice of the Spirit and the love of God.

Monday 10:         Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; or Acts 1:12-14; Psalm 86; John 19:25-34
Our first reading for this memorial comes from the Book of Genesis and reminds us of how sin entered the world through our first parents. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and a barrier was placed between humans and God. Mary stands in contrast to Adam and Eve and is often seen as the ‘New Eve’, as the woman who was to bring into the world the One who would restore eternal life to us. In the alternative reading, we see the apostles and a number of others gathered with Mary in the Upper Room in Jerusalem between the Ascension and Pentecost, and quite often this scene is depicted in paintings and icons with Mary in the middle of the image surrounded by the apostles. This reminds us that Mary was still central for the fledgling group as she was the one who gave birth to the Saviour and she was still a living connection to him. The group is gathered together in prayer.
In the gospel passage comes from St John we are presented with the harrowing scene on Calvary where Mary witnesses the death of her Son. Even at this moment of anguish and death, Jesus is mindful of his mother and places her in the care of one of the Twelve with the instruction that she is now his mother. That disciple represents all of us and we too are told that Mary is our mother and we look to her for comfort, guidance and support as we would the woman who gave birth to us.

Tuesday 11:         Memorial of St Barnabas, Apostle*
Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3; Psalm 97; Matthew 10:7-13
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts some of the work done by St Barnabas in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are introduced to him as an envoy sent from the Church in Jerusalem to Antioch – where a large number have been converted – to ensure that the message is being properly preached. He is pleased with what he finds and encourages the community in its work and belief. He then goes on to look for Paul – who is still called Saul – and brings him to Antioch and eventually to Jerusalem. The faithful were still unsure about Paul, given his reputation, but through the work of Barnabas he is accepted. After a year in Antioch the Holy Spirit makes it known that he has a special task for Barnabas and Paul and so, after prayer and fasting and the laying on of hands, they head off to fulfil their duties.
The gospel passage for today sees Jesus sending out his Apostles and telling them how they should act as they enter each town they come to. This is very much applicable to Barnabas and Paul who spread the Gospel from Palestine to Greece and who brought healing and strength to those whom they met. We are called to be like Barnabas and to give our life to the service of God and the Word knowing that we are building up the Kingdom of God in our time and will be rewarded for our faithfulness. Barnabas is a particularly strong example as he gave up all he had for the sake of the Gospel (he sold his land and gave the money to the needy), he listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and was guided by it, and he had a concern for the teaching of the true faith (orthodoxy). We are called to follow the Lord’s call and to serve him wherever we find ourselves and in whatever way we can, trusting that he is always with us to guide and protect us.

Wednesday 12:    Of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
2Corinthians 3:4-11; Psalm 98; Matthew 5:17-19
In our first reading today St Paul is reminding his readers that he is an administrator of God’s covenant by the power of God. This new covenant is not written down like the tablets of stone given to Moses. It is far greater and is written by the Holy Spirit and therefore is also everlasting. This is the greatest covenant and one which we must live up to. It is also a living covenant as Christ lives for ever. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that he did not come to abolish the old Laws as some had thought. He came rather to complete them and give them their full meaning and he reminds us that we have to keep those Laws if we are to be his servants. We cannot be choosey in what we believe but must believe whole-heartedly in the Lord and in his Laws and commandments.

Thursday 13:       Memorial of St Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church*
2Corinthians 3:15-4:1, 3-6; Psalm 84; Matthew 5:20-26
In our first reading today from his second letter to the Corinthians, St Paul tells us to remove the veil from over our minds which prevents us from listening to, understanding and accepting the word of God for what it is – the true word of God and not some human invention. In the Gospel Jesus reminds us to be reconciled with our brother – that is, all those with whom we live or meet. He tells us that we sin even by thinking negatively about others and so we should make reparation for that before approaching the altar of God. We must lay aside all anger and resentment and live by the Law of the Lord in harmony and peace with one another and with God.

Friday 14:            Of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
2Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 115; Matthew 5:27-32
St Paul reminds us that with God on our side nothing can ever trouble us. We may be persecuted from time to time but this will never trouble us because God will be out at side to free us. If we believe in God and are open to the workings of the Holy Spirit we will live as true Christians and so bring glory to God. In the Gospel we continue reading from St Matthew’s section on the Sermon on the Mount where Christ lays down the blueprint for true Christian living. Today he gives us his instruction in favour of marriage and the indissolubility of marriage – a passage which few want to acknowledge today because it prevents them living the free and easy life they wish to live with whoever they wish to live it. But Christ’s teaching is clear and unambiguous – divorce is not in keeping with God’s will.

In Carmelite Churches:
June 14:               Memorial of St Elisha, Prophet*

Saturday 15:        Of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
2Corinthians 5:14-21; Psalm 102; Matthew 5:33-37
In our first reading St Paul reminds us of the great necessity of reconciliation – reconciliation with our neighbour and reconciliation with God. Paul is an ambassador of this great work and so are we who have heard this message and who have been reconciled with God ourselves. The Psalm today takes up this theme of reconciliation. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that we should not swear. This may seem odd but when we think of the commandment – “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” – and the fact that everything we swear by comes from God in the first place, then in a way he is reminding us not to belittle God’s name by using it in vain and so break the commandment. Our word should be our bond and when we say that we will do something then we should do it. If we are living truly Christian lives then people will need nothing more from us than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Memorials this Week:
June 11:               Memorial of St Barnabas, Apostle
Little is known about Barnabas but, like St Paul, he is always counted as an apostle because he was divinely called to spread the Gospel with Paul. He is the one who was sent to Paul to ‘bring him into Christianity’ after Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus, and is the one in Acts 4 who sold his land and gave the money to the common fund. He also attended the first council of the Church in Jerusalem with Paul. He is said to have been martyred in Cyprus.

June 13:               Memorial of St Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He first joined the Augustinian canons regular but later left to become a Friar Minor of St Francis and preached in Italy and France. He was known to his contemporaries as “The Hammer of Heretics” for his dedicated preaching of the true faith. He has a reputation for retrieving lost objects of careless people. According to a story he received a vision of the Child Jesus and this is why statues of Anthony show him holding the Child Jesus. He died in 1231, was canonized a year later in 1232, and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1947.

June 14:               Memorial of St Elisha, Prophet
Elisha came from a wealthy family and was appointed by God to be successor to the great Prophet Elijah. Just before Elijah was taken up into heaven Elisha asked for a double portion of his mentor’s spirit and this was granted. He is noted in the Old Testament for curing the leprosy of Naaman and for raising a dead child to life, both of which were referred to by Christ in his preaching.

June 16 - 22, 2019
The Season of  Ordinary Time - The Eleventh Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week III.

Sunday 16:          The Most Holy Trinity
Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Today we keep the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity when we acknowledge in a very special way that, while there is only one God, there are three persons in that one God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is a cornerstone of the faith but at the same time a teaching which is difficult to grasp or comprehend. While many people have no problem believing in a God, there is some difficulty in accepting that God can be three persons while remaining One God. Many have tried to explain it such as St Patrick who used the shamrock, but understanding is not necessary for faith and some things will always be mysteries. It is a reminder that there are things in our faith which are mysteries, things which we don’t have the capacity to understand, to reason or to solve by science, and yet we believe them to be true because proof is not necessary for true faith. Jesus did not explicitly use the word ‘trinity’ and yet his teaching that he and the Father are One, his instruction to baptise in the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, point to a Trinity in One God.
In the first reading from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, Wisdom is portrayed as having been present when God created all things. Today, we understand Jesus to be the personification of Wisdom and so we believe that he was at the Father’s side through all of creation. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for the Creator.
In the second reading from St Paul to the Romans, Paul too speaks of the Trinity because he says that through Jesus Christ the faithful draw closer to the Father with the perseverance and hope given by the Spirit. The Father wants all people to be with him and his Son has shown the way while the Spirit fortifies the faithful for the journey. All that remains is for the faithful to accept that guidance and follow the path marked out by Jesus Christ.
In the gospel reading from St John, Jesus is telling his disciples that he has many things to say to them, though not enough time, but that the Spirit will guide them after he has returned to the Father. Everything has been done at the Father’s command and the Son now entrusts that to his disciples who will be guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The word ‘trinity’ may not have been explicitly used by Jesus, but in this short passage all three persons are mentioned by him and all are clearly equal.

Monday 17:         Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Psalm 97; Matthew 5:38-42
In our first reading today from his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, St Paul is urging us to prove that we are servants of God. God has already given us the grace to do this work and he urges us not to neglect that grace but to work with it and so give glory to God in all things whether we are being persecuted, working or resting. In all things we must let the glory of God shine through so that others may come to believe in him. Paul also tells us that we should never put this duty off until tomorrow because we might not have a tomorrow. In our Gospel for today, Jesus says the same thing but he tells us not just to do as we are told by those who don’t believe or who are testing us, but to do what they have asked and more besides. We must not offer resistance to anyone because through it all we have Jesus with us to strengthen and guide us and to bring us to victory for the glory of God.

Tuesday 18:         Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 8:1-9; Psalm 145; Matthew 5:43-48
In a very gentle way in the first reading St Paul is reminding the community at Corinth of their duty to live the Gospel and also to aid in the spread of the Gospel. He is in Macedonia and building up the Church there and he tells the Corinthians of all that is happening there so that they will feel, perhaps, a little envious and will work all the harder themselves to keep the faith. He also reminds them that Jerusalem is the focus of the faith. In our Gospel we are called on by Jesus to be perfect just as our Father is perfect. This is not an easy thing to do and in particular he tells us that we should love our enemies which many people shy away from. But given God’s law of love we are not asked to like our enemies which is very different from loving them. In loving them we pray for their salvation and for an increase in them of the grace which has been poured out into the whole world. Nothing can disarm our enemies more than our prayers for them.

Wednesday 19:    Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Psalm 111; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
In our first reading today St Paul urges us to be cheerful givers. If we give to others out of charity it will mean nothing if we do so simply to fulfil the commandment to look after one another. However, if it is done out of genuine concern for the receiver then we will receive many graces and favours ourselves and will move a step closer to full union with God. Paul speaks of this because he was organising a special collection for the community in Jerusalem – the birth place of the faith. In our Gospel reading today from St Matthew we see Jesus instructing us on how to give to others and on how to pray – we are to do both without any show or arrogance. God alone sees all that we do in secret and God is the one we must please. Putting on an act for our fellow man is mere folly if it is simply done to win his approval. This doesn’t mean that we don’t make a special effort and dress appropriately when coming to church but it does mean that our reason for attending church must be of far greater importance than how people see us.

Thursday 20:       Memorial of the Irish Martyrs*
2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Psalm 110; Matthew 6:7-15
At the time that St Paul was writing to the Corinthians they had begun to fall away from the true faith and disunity was creeping in among them. Paul’s letter was an attempt to keep them in tune with the correct Gospel as is seen clearly in today’s passage. He is telling them that the message which he brought is the right one and that there is only one Good News – anyone who comes with differences from this are not to be followed. As proof of what he is saying he tells them that he taught them for no fee because he did so out of love – love for God and love for the Corinthians. In our Gospel we see Jesus teaching his disciples the ‘Our Father.’ It is a prayer which encompasses all of life – past, present and future and one which we should pray with great reverence and care. At the end Jesus also reminds us that we must forgive others who have hurt us or sinned against us because if we do not forgive others, then we have no right to expect God to forgive us the sins we commit against him and our fellow men and women.

Friday 21:            Memorial of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious*
2 Corinthians 11:18, 21-30; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:19-23
Many people boast about their successes in life and the great things that they have done so St Paul in our first reading to the Corinthians today boasts about himself also. But Paul doesn’t boast about the wonderful things he has done or about the amount of travelling he has done, or about the number of times he has been in prison and punished by the civil authorities. He boasts about the occasions when he was in dangerous situations and in all his boasting he comes across as being weak or naïve. And yet all of this was done at the Lord’s command so that the Good News might spread throughout the land and because Paul’s greatest treasure was Christ. In the Gospel Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be found. On the last day there is little point if our treasure is in a bank vault and our heart with it, or in the jewels in our trinket box, because they are not the keys to heaven. If we wish to enter heaven then heaven must be our treasure so that our heart will always be there – in life and in death.

Saturday 22:        Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:24-34
We have that great line in our first reading today from St Paul – “For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” It is not always easy to see what Paul is saying here but when people are doing very well in life they tend to forget about God and all that they have received from his bounty. When people are at their lowest ebb it is then that they turn to God and are most open to his mercy and generosity. So in a way Paul is telling us that we are the best Christians when things are not going so well for us. While this is true it is a reminder to us that we must always give thanks to God for what we have received whether it be family, material wealth, good health, or even the things which we regard as ‘bad’ – only then can we be true Christians all the time. Christ takes up this idea in the Gospel and tells us not to worry about tomorrow but to live for today and leave tomorrow in his care. Everything else in creation does not worry and still it all continues to work smoothly. So we too should not worry about anything but live Christian lives in keeping with the Gospel and in so doing give glory and praise to God.

Memorials this Week:
June 20:               Memorial of the Irish Martyrs
Between 1579 and 1654, seventeen Irish people were put to death for the Catholic Faith during the persecutions in Ireland. Of the eleven clergy: nine belonged to religious Orders, four were bishops (three Religious), four were priests (one secular). Of the six lay people: one was a woman (Margaret Ball), three were sailors, and one – Francis Taylor – was Lord Mayor of Dublin. These seventeen were canonized in 1992.

June 21:               Memorial of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
The patron saint of Youth, Luigi Gonzaga was born in Castiglione in northern Italy in 1568. Born into high society he refused to allow corruption and worldliness take hold of his life, preferring instead to become a Jesuit. He joined the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1585 but after six years of tending to the sick he too became ill – probably with the plague – and died in 1591.

June 23 - 29, 2019
The Season of  Ordinary Time - The Twelfth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 23:          Corpus Christi – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 109; 1Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17
Today we celebrate the great solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – which has the Last Supper on Holy Thursday night as its backdrop and origin. We celebrate it today in thanksgiving for the great gift we receive through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ freely given for us. In today’s solemnity we celebrate in a very special way the fact that the Lord is really, truly and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine. This Sacred Host, this True Presence is reserved in the tabernacles in our churches and chapels and strengthens us and the Church along the path to salvation. Jesus made a new and everlasting covenant with us which brings eternal life to all who believe in him and this covenant was sealed in his blood on the Cross. Traditionally, this day was marked by processions with the Blessed Sacrament carried through towns and villages whose streets and neighbourhoods were cleaned up and decorated for the occasion. The solemnity marks one of the great mysteries of our faith and with it one of the great gifts which God has given to his Church.
In the first reading from the Book of Genesis we see the high priest, Melchizedek, offering bread and wine to God in thanksgiving for the victories achieved by Abraham with God’s help. This bread and wine is a foreshadow of the bread and wine to be offered by Jesus Christ at the Passover meal.
The second reading from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians contains one of the oldest records of the Last Supper and of what became the key elements in the celebration of the Eucharist for the Christian Communities. The text also reminds the people to continue this act of remembrance because, through the Lord’s death, comes redemption and salvation.
The gospel text is St Luke’s account of the miracle of the loaves and fish in which Jesus fed a multitude who were hungry. Jesus has told us that he is the bread of life and that those who partake of his Body and Blood will want for nothing because his Body and Blood will strengthen and guide them. There is an echo of the Eucharistic celebration in the text as the Lord took the bread and blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the people. It may be difficult to grasp how a small wafer or a drop of wine can be so important or undergo such a change, but faith is not dependent on proof and so we keep today’s solemnity, asking the Lord to lead us toward our true homeland and to strengthen our faith in this most precious of sacraments.

Monday 24:         Solemnity of the Birth of St John the Baptist*
At the Vigil Mass
Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 70; 1Peter 1:8-12; Luke 1:5-17
Our reading from the prophet Jeremiah is very apt for a celebration of John the Baptist because it speaks about how the Lord formed the child in the womb to be his servant and to be prophet to the nations. Ever before John came to be born the Lord had singled him out to be his prophet and we will read of this in the gospel passage. The text also reminds us that everything John was to say and teach was given him by God and that his role was to upset the nations and kingdoms and make them re-evaluate themselves.
In the second reading, St Peter says that even though the people have not seen Jesus Christ they still love him and we recall that at the Visitation, John – still a baby in his mother’s womb – leapt for joy when he heard Mary speak because he knew who she carried within her. Ultimately, John never saw the things he preached about come to fruition as he was martyred before they were fulfilled, but he was the one who prepared the people for the teaching that was to follow him.
In our gospel passage for this Vigil we read of the annunciation to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a child even though they were getting on in years. The angel also tells Zechariah of the role this child would fulfil and that he would have the spirit and power of Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets of the Old Testament. John – the bridge between Old and New Testament – will be filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb and he will bring many in Israel back to the Lord their God.

At Mass during the Day
Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 138; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80.
Our readings today speak to us about St John the Baptist and his life. John was the last of the prophets – those people who were called by God to remind the people of the covenants and to point out to them when they were straying from the Law of God. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah reminds us of the messenger who would prepare the way for the Lord. This messenger was formed in the womb to be the Lord’s servant and to be the light of the nations to guide many back to the Lord.
In the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Paul speaking about John the Baptist who was the one spoken of by Isaiah, the one to prepare the way for the Lord and who proclaimed to the people that Jesus was the Christ who they were to listen to.
The gospel recounts for us the birth of John the Baptist and how it was that he got his name. When asked, Elizabeth gives the name because Zechariah cannot speak, but as a woman her word is not accepted so the people ask Zechariah and, as soon as he writes the name, his power of speech is restored and he praises God. It is also a sign that Zechariah has accepted the angel’s message for it was the angel who decreed the child’s name. The affair was spoken of across the hill country.

Tuesday 25:         Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 13:2, 5-18; Psalm 14; Matthew 7:26, 12-14
In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis we see disputes breaking out between Abram’s people and the people of his nephew Lot because the land is not able to provide for their combined numbers. Rather than fight over things the two sit down and decide on a strategy and both go to live in peace – Lot to the good lands of the south near the Dead Sea, while Abram to the poor lands of the north. It is Abram’s unselfish consideration for his kinsman that is placed before us. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us to protect and defend what is holy and not to give it to unbelievers. We must always treat others as we would like them to treat us and to settle arguments as quickly and amicably as did Abram and Lot. We are also told that the road to eternal happiness is the narrowest of roads because so many people take the road to perdition or hell. We should do all we can to ensure that we are one of the ones on the narrow road when our life comes to an end, and we do this by placing the needs of others before our own needs.

Wednesday 26:    Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 104; Matthew 7:15-20
In today’s first reading we see the Lord reward Abram for his faithfulness and his willingness to go into the unknown for his Lord and God. Despite the fact that Abram has no children the Lord promises that he would be the father or a great nation. Part of the covenants of old was a ceremony which sealed the covenant. In the case of Abram, he and God were to pass between the animals prepared for sacrifice as a reminder that this lay in store for whoever broke the covenant. The Psalm speaks of this covenant and of the “children of Abraham” showing that the covenant has been fulfilled. In the Gospel, Jesus is warning us about false prophets who pretend to come from him. He is telling us that there is only one kingdom and one Good News and it is the only door by which we may enter. Others may come with promises of immortality but we must listen to what they say because in their speech we will know whether they are true or false prophets. How we act shows clearly the sort of person we are at the heart of our being. Through everything we must remain faithful to Christ and to his Gospel alone.

Thursday 27:       Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 16:1-12, 15-16; Psalm 105; Matthew 7:21-29
In our first reading from Genesis we see Sarai, who is well on in years, giving her servant-girl to Abram in the hopes that this is how the Lord will give Abram his descendants. Sarai failed to have faith in the promise of God and followed a custom of the day for barren women – that of giving their servant-girl to their husband so that the girl may provide a child in her place. Hagar, the slave-girl, does indeed give Abram a son but this is not the child that the Lord had promised. Hagar’s child was called Ishmael and he did indeed have many descendants for it is from him that the Moslem faith traces its lineage. In our Gospel we come to the end of the passage on the Sermon on the Mount and today we are reminded by Christ that speaking about him and calling out to him in our need is not enough if we are to be saved. We can only call ourselves Christian if what we say is reflected in what we do. If we say one thing and do another then we are hypocrites and are not worthy of the kingdom or eternal life. We must also give an example to others of true Christian living and therefore we must put our professed faith in to practice each and every day.

Friday 28:            Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Ezekiel 34:11-16; Psalm 22; Romans 5:5-11; Luke 15:3-7
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart calls to mind images of the Sacred Heart in which the heart of Jesus Christ is emblazoned upon his chest for all to see. In the images, Jesus points to his heart which on the one hand invites us to draw closer to him and on the other reminds us that he has been rejected and his heart has been pierced because of that.
In the first reading from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, we see the Lord saying that he will be a shepherd to his people and a shepherd who will look after all of his people no matter who they are. It is a passage written against the civil rulers and religious leaders of the day who had failed in their work of protecting the people from injustice and leading them to the true worship of God. The Psalm is the well-known Psalm 22 which speaks of the Lord being the shepherd who leads us to eternal life.
In the letter to the Romans, St Paul says that the love of God has been given to his people through the Holy Spirit. He says that Jesus died for his people even while they were still sinning and so they should be ‘filled with joyful trust in God’ because this death means that they are restored to eternal life in God because of the love he has for his people.
In the gospel passage from St Luke, Jesus is giving reasons for his associating with sinners. He does so because the virtuous are already on the path to life but eternal life is available to all people, and so he associates with tax collectors and sinners that they too may have a chance to convert and so share in this life. All of this is because the love of God for his people knows no bounds and he will give his people every chance and opportunity to change their lives and enter the Kingdom.

Saturday 29:        Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles*
At the Vigil Mass
Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 18; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles focuses on St Peter. In the passage he is going to the Temple for prayers and passes a cripple who begs from Peter and John. Peter tells him that he has no money to give, but instead heals him of his impediment in the name of Jesus Christ. The man walks and follows them into the Temple to give praise to God.
The second reading from his letter to the Galatians is a synopsis of Paul’s life as a persecutor of the Church and then its apostle to the pagans at God’s command. He says that the message he preaches is not some human creation but comes from Jesus Christ himself.
Our gospel passage is a post-resurrection encounter between Jesus and his disciples in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Peter answers positively and is distressed when Jesus asks the question three times – possibly remembering his triple denial of Jesus. The Lord entrusts the Church to Peter as the one to guide and strengthen its members but he also indicates that this will not be an easy task, and that a death, not of Peter’s time or choosing, lies in store for him.

At Mass during the Day
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 33; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the release of St Peter from prison before Herod could put him to death, as he had St James. The execution of James had delighted the Jews and Herod sought to curry further favour by executing Peter as well. While Peter was in prison the early Christian community prayed for him and he was led to safety by an angel.
In the second reading, the author – writing in St Paul’s name – tells Timothy that he has been able to preach the Good News because he had God at his side to give him power and to guide him. The letter depicts Paul’s own death and so he is handing on the work to Timothy to continue the spread of the Good News to the pagans, which was Paul’s particular mission.
In the gospel, we read of Peter’s great profession of faith in which he says that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In response, Jesus makes Peter – who is so often spokesman for the apostles in Jesus’ ministry – the head of the Church with authority in terms of decision making. He also tells Peter that nothing will ever prevail against the Church, especially the devil. Our readings show us how we should live: by being faithful to God and not fearing what may come for God is always with us. They also remind us that even those who consider themselves to be ‘ordinary’ can become ‘heroes’ of the faith, for these men were quite ordinary and quite unremarkable before they received the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit which we too have received. We are also reminded that they were old men when they were martyred because even in old age they witnessed for Christ. Regardless of our age or our standing in society we should always publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Memorials this Week:
June 24:               Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist
John was a cousin of Jesus and was just a few months older than him. In the gospel, John is the fore-runner to Christ and is known as ‘the Baptist’ because he was the one who began baptising with water for the forgiveness of sins. He suffered martyrdom by beheading because of a promise foolishly made by King Herod.

June 29:               Solemnity of Sts Peter & Paul the Apostles
Today’s feast celebrates the two founders of the Church in the city of Rome and has been observed in Rome since the fourth century. This date was traditionally considered the foundation day of the city of Rome by Romulus and Remus.

© P. Breen, O.Carm. 2011, 2013
The Reflections above are available in printed form in:
Reflections on the Readings for every day of the Church's year.
Patrick J. Breen, O.Carm. Dublin: Columba Press. 2011. ISBN 978 1 85607 732 3.

And direct from the publishers: Columba Press, Dublin.

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