Reflections on the Daily Readings

June 17 - 23, 2018
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Eleventh Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week III.

Sunday 17:          The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 91; 2Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
In our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel we see the Lord likening his presence and his Kingdom to a noble cedar tree. The twig which is taken from the cedar tree and planted on the mountain is a future king from the line of David while the other trees, which are humbled, represent the surrounding kings. The birds and other creatures who come to shelter by it represent the people of God who will find protection and fulfilment in their worship of him and in following his law.
In the gospel, Jesus uses similar imagery to show that the Kingdom grows quietly but constantly and provides shelter and support to all who come to it. The first parable speaks about a man who sows seed and which grows without his understanding. It yields a good harvest and the man wastes no time in gathering it in. The second parable refers to the mustard seed which is very small in comparison to the resulting shrub, and in which birds find shelter and shade. Both parables refer to the growth of the Kingdom which takes place silently but constantly. In that Kingdom, all people have a place and all can find support and shelter within it. Entry to that Kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ, through acceptance of his Gospel, and by living lives worthy of God. The seed of faith has been sown in each of us and if we are open to that faith then we too will produce a great harvest of good works which will help us to enter the Kingdom.
In the second reading, St Paul regards this current, physical life as being an exile from the Lord – only when people leave this life can they become one with the Lord. Whether they are in this life or the next, the goal of every Christian should be to do his will, and only by doing his will in this life can they attain union with him in the next. No matter what people do in this life, it will all come out in the ‘law court of Christ’, and so each person should live as best they can in keeping with the Gospel.

Monday 18:         Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 21:1-16; Psalm 5; Matthew 5:38-42
Today’s first reading sees Naboth – a just man – being stoned to death so that the king can have himself a vegetable garden. Naboth refused to hand over what had been handed down to him by his forefathers and even Ahab acknowledges this to be right. However, Queen Jezebel arranged for false accusations to be made against Naboth so that he could be tried as a traitor and the lands confiscated. In the Gospel from St Matthew, Christ tells us to always turn the other cheek to the wicked. Naboth could be seen as a forerunner to Christ for both were wrongly accused and wrongly put to death. We are reminded of what lies can do and how they can destroy lives.

Tuesday 19:         Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 21:17-29; Psalm 50; Matthew 5:43-48
Our reading today from the Kings is a continuation of yesterday’s text, and in it we see Elijah confronting King Ahab. He accuses Ahab of killing Naboth and of doing what was wrong in the eyes of God. Having heard the predicted doom, Ahab repents. The Psalm is one of pleading for mercy and would have been quite fitting if spoken by the king. Christ, in the Gospel, tells us that we must love our enemies no matter what they have done to us. Only when we love them are we living truly Christian lives.

Wednesday 20:   Memorial of the Irish Martyrs*
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14; Psalm 30; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Today’s first reading sees Elijah being assumed into heaven – his work on earth now completed. In his place, Elisha takes over from his master as the foremost prophet in the land. In our Gospel text, Christ is telling the disciples that they should not parade their religious practice in front of others or use it to show off. They should pray and fast quietly because God sees all that they do. Christ did not do away with prayer and fasting but changed how it should be done. We are called on to fast and to pray to our Father in heaven but without drawing attention to ourselves.

Thursday 21:       Memorial of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious*
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 48:1-14; Psalm 96; Matthew 6:7-15
Today’s reading from Ecclesiasticus is a hymn of praise for Elijah and Elisha and their service for the Lord. The author emphasises how the two prophets never tired of bringing the people back to God’s way of living even when that work brought them great danger. The text from St Matthew’s Gospel sees Christ teaching his followers how to pray and in it he gives them the “Our Father” – the Lord’s Prayer. We are called on to pray to the Father and to serve him as did Elijah and Elisha. We are also asked to think carefully about the words of the Lord’s Prayer and to try to fulfil each of its phrases.

Friday 22:            Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20; Psalm 131; Matthew 6:19-23
The reading from the second book of the Kings sees Queen Athaliah seizing power by slaying her grandsons. However, one male heir – Jehoash – is hidden by his aunt and survives the queen’s massacre. Eventually the people revolt against her tyrannical rule and Jehoiada, the priest, has her removed from power and establishes a new covenant with God while destroying the temple of the Baals which Athaliah had built. In the Gospel, we are told that we should not store up treasure for ourselves on earth for they are worthless. Rather, we are to store up treasure in heaven and this is done through upright living in the sight of God.

Saturday 23:        Of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
2 Chronicles 24:17-25; Psalm 88; Matthew 6:24-34
In our reading from the second Book of the Chronicles, Jehoiada the priest – who had crowned Joash as king and who had made the covenant between God and the king – dies and quickly the people abandon the faith. King Joash has Zechariah – son of Jehoiada – put to death in Jerusalem about 796BC because he spoke out against the king and the people for their transgressions and abandonment of the true faith. As a result, the land is taken over and plundered by the Aramaeans who are small in number, and the king himself dies at the hand of his own people for his murder of Zechariah. The Psalm is a reminder to be faithful to the covenants made with God. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that we cannot serve two masters – we can only serve one. That master should be God. If we serve him faithfully then we will never have to worry about anything or even about tomorrow, for the Lord will look after us in all things. We are called to put our complete trust in God and never forget the Covenant he has made with us in the blood of his Son.

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 delle Stiviere in Tuscany, to the northeast of central Italy, in 1568. Born into high society he refused to allow corruption and worldliness take hold of his life, preferring instead to renounce his inheritance and 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.

© 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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