Reflections on the Daily Readings

February 17 - 24, 2019
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Sixth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 17:          The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1; 1Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26
In our first reading today, from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, we are reminded that we must always place our trust in God. While in life we have to trust in our fellow men and women – and this is a good thing – ultimately, we must place our trust first and foremost in God because there is only so much our fellow men and women can do for us, while God can give us eternal life. This theme of placing our sole trust in God is continued in the Psalm.
In the gospel, we have St Luke’s account of the Beatitudes and which are divided between blessings and woes. The blessings and woes are dependent on how people live rather than a particular group to which they might belong. There is also a division in Luke’s account between those who are materially poor and those who are materially wealthy. Those who are poor have no attachments and are free to focus on God while the wealthy can, at times, be concerned with their possessions and fail to see the presence of God in their lives. In sharing their wealth, however, the wealthy can imitate the generosity of God and so become blessed. There is a reminder that with the blessings there can also be rejection as a result of living the way God wants us to live because others may reject us for that belief and way of life as it can shine a spotlight on their own lack of belief, or on a way of life which is contrary to the Gospel and to the Kingdom.
In the second reading from the first letter to the Christians at Corinth, St Paul continues to argue against those who denied the resurrection or its necessity for salvation. The Corinthians prided themselves on being a wise and learned people but Paul says that if they continue to deny the resurrection of Jesus then are no better than the rest of the people around them and, further, those of their number who had died believing in Jesus would have no salvation. It is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that we have access to the Kingdom.

Monday 18:         Of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 4:1-5, 25; Psalm 49; Mark 8:11-13
In today’s reading from the Book of Genesis we see Adam and Eve now exiled from the Garden of Eden. They start a family and Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel – the former tilled the land while the latter became a shepherd. We are told that Abel prospered more than Cain and that this ultimately led to Cain slaying his younger brother. God punishes Cain for his sin but promises to punish even more those who might take Cain’s life. At the end of the reading, Eve gives birth to her third son – Seth. In the Gospel, Jesus is again in conflict with the Pharisees because they, after all that they had seen, still demanded a sign from Christ if they were to believe. If we are waiting for a sign before we believe then we will never have faith. We are reminded to always keep watch over ourselves and never allow envy or resentment to rule our actions because God sees all.

Tuesday 19:         Of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; Psalm 28; Mark 8:14-21
The first reading from the Book of Genesis tells us of God’s disappointment with man and woman who had drifted further and further from him and so he resolves to wipe them from the earth by means of a great flood. Only Noah and his family would be left to repopulate the earth. In the Gospel Jesus warns his disciples not to be taken in by the sweet words of Herod and the Pharisees who no longer faithfully worship God but order the people for their own ends. The two readings remind us that our faith must be pure and must be based on God’s word. If we live according to his word then we will know what the right way to act is and we will act accordingly if we believe.

Wednesday 20:    Of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22; Psalm 115; Mark 8:22-26
In the first reading we read of the end of the Flood and of Noah’s sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. The Psalm continues the theme of thanksgiving. In the Gospel we see Jesus cure a blind man who gradually begins to see and this reminds us that faith grows over time and in time we accept the Lord more and more. We are reminded to give thanks to God for all that we have received in life no matter how trivial it may seem but also remembering to thank him for the gift of life itself. Faith grows over time but we must work at it all the time.

Thursday 21:       Of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 9:1-13; Psalm 101; Mark 8:27-33
God makes a covenant with Noah in our first reading from Genesis and uses the words he used in forging the original covenant with Adam and Eve. He sets the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of that covenant, though few people make that connection anymore. In the Gospel from St Mark, Christ tells the disciples that he is to suffer grievously which upsets Peter who tries to prevent the Lord from going to Jerusalem. He is admonished for this by Christ even though – moments before – he made his great profession of faith with the words ‘You are the Christ.’ Christ is the eternal covenant which surpasses all covenants and is eternal. We are called on to have faith in him as did St Peter and to say with him every day – “You are the Christ.”

Friday 22:            Feast of the Chair of St Peter, Apostle*
1Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 22; Matthew 16:13-19
In his first letter, a pastoral letter to those who were responsible for looking after the faithful, St Peter tells us how he himself exercised his authority as a leader in the faith. In the passage Peter speaks of his being a witness to the sufferings of Jesus – reminding his readers that he was present with the Lord and knew the human Christ. This letter also tells us how he implores all elders to be true shepherds to those entrusted to them by the Lord, and to be perfect examples of living witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All is to be done with humility and for the love of God rather than for earthly praise. As Peter was the chief shepherd of the flock after Jesus Christ, the Psalm for today reminds us that the Lord is the true Shepherd.
The gospel passage from St Matthew shows Peter being appointed as leader of Christ’s Church following his great proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. When the question is put to the group it is Peter who speaks up and answers on their behalf – even before the Lord appoints him as leader Peter has been the spokesman for the group. As he was leader of the fledgling group, Peter is also a powerful symbol of unity for the Church which continues right down to this day.

Saturday 23:        Memorial of St Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr*
Hebrews 11:1-7; Psalm 144; Mark 9:2-13
Today we turn to the letter to the Hebrews and in today’s passage we are told by the author of the importance of faith and that it is only by faith that we can become one with the Father. We cannot please God in anything we do unless we have faith. In the Gospel we read St Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Transfiguration showed Christ in his glorified state but it also showed us what we can be if we live Christian lives and enter heaven. His appearance with Moses and Elijah is also significant as they stood for the Law and the Prophets – important pillars of the Jewish faith. The readings call on us to be people of faith and to believe in God without hesitation.

Memorials this Week:
February 22:        The Feast of the Chair of St Peter
This feast has been observed in Rome since the fourth century. It celebrates the unity of the Church under the papacy and the readings recall Christ’s choice of Peter as the rock on which he would build the Church.

February 23:        Memorial of St Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of John the Evangelist and is regarded as one of the greatest of the Apostolic Fathers. He wrote a number of letters similar to St Paul and these were read publicly for many years. He was martyred at the request of the people by being burnt at the stake probably in 155.

© 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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