Reflections on the Daily Readings

October 13 - 19, 2019
The Season of  Ordinary Time - The Twenty-eighth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 13:      The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 97; 2Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19
In our first reading today from the second book of the Kings we read of the cure of the leper Naaman. He had come to the prophet Elisha who told him to bathe seven times in the Jordan. Having been cured, Naaman returned to Elisha and offered him a gift which the prophet refused, because the prophet had not worked the miracle. Naaman then proclaimed that he now believed in the one true God and that he would offer holocaust to none other. It was believed by some that gods belonged to particular territories and so Naaman takes some of the soil home with him so that even in his own country he can keep a connection with the true God.
In the gospel we have the story of the ten lepers who were cured of their disease by Jesus in answer to their request. This happens on the borders of Samaria and Galilee as Jesus headed for Jerusalem, and so the chances of meeting both Jewish and Samaritan lepers together was quite high. Only one of the ten lepers returned to give thanks for the cure and he was a foreigner, a Samaritan who was regarded as not sharing the same faith as the Jews. The story reminds us of Naaman in the first reading who was not a Jew but who gave thanks to God for his own cure. The point of the two stories is that we must give thanks to God for what we have because everything we have comes from his bounty. All too often we take what we have for granted and it is only when others from outside the faith give thanks that we realise how arrogant we have really been. In both stories, foreigners also had faith in God and this reminds us that faith in God is not confined to the faith community we belong to but is to be found in other groups also.
In the second reading from the second letter to Timothy, the author reminds Timothy of the basic faith that St Paul had handed on, and of how Paul had suffered for that faith but never gave up. The ‘saying that you can rely on’ is a reminder that in Jesus Christ there is life, and that the Lord will never disown those who are faithful to him and who never give up. Even when we go astray and walk away from him, God is always there to welcome us back and to lead us home to paradise.

Monday 14:     Of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 1:1-7; Psalm 97; Luke 11:29-32
We now return to the New Testament and over the next four weeks will take our first reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans which was written to the Church in Rome (though it was not founded by Paul) between 57 and 58 AD. In today’s passage we have Paul’s opening comments in which he tells the people that he was called by God to be a disciple and to preach about Jesus Christ. The opening, or salutation of the letter, contains many of the truths of the faith held by the early Church. In the Gospel we see Jesus teaching the people and he reminds them of Jonah who was sent to the Ninevites to bring them back to the right path, which we read of last week. He tells them that there is something greater than Jonah in their midst and that their generation is in more need of conversion than were the Ninevites. Unlike the Ninevites, however, their generation will not listen or repent and so will be lost. We each have a duty to preach the good news as Paul did and to bring the message of salvation to all people so that they may change their ways as did the people of Nineveh.

Tuesday 15:     Memorial of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church*
Romans 1:16-25; Psalm 18; Luke 11:37-41
In today’s passage from the letter to the Romans, St Paul reminds us that the everlasting power and divinity of God are visible in his creation. Even if God did not speak to his people directly they could still know him through his creation. In the letter Paul also points out what sort of lives people lead when they don’t have faith in God. In the Gospel, we see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees because they are too concerned with external things and are not at all concerned with what is to be found in the heart of a person. He reminds them that God made the inside and the outside of everything and that therefore both inside and outside are clean. However, what is within a person is of far more importance than what is on the outside. The Lord also tells us that giving to charity is one way of cleansing the heart.

In Carmelite Churches:
October 15:         Feast of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Wisdom 7:7-14; or Romans 8:14-17, 26-27; Psalm 83; John 7:14-18, 37-39a
The reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks about praying for and receiving understanding and about the importance of wisdom more than anything else, and about the goodness which wisdom brings. The text from the letter to the Romans talks about the Holy Spirit being there to help us in our weakness, a Spirit which has been given to each of us by God. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that the words which he speaks and uses to teach are not his words as a human but come from God in heaven. They are the words which we must listen to as St Teresa did in her lifetime and which brought her such great union with God while she lived.

Wednesday 16:           Of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 2:1-11; Psalm 61; Luke 11:42-46
St Paul tells us in the first reading that God will reward all those who have been good and who keep to his ways. Those who refuse to repent and continue in their sinful ways will always receive their reward but each person’s reward depends on what it is they have done in life in terms of faith and helping their fellow men and women. The response to the Psalm reminds us of this. We again see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees in the Gospel and he does so today because they have failed to be just or to love God – they have been too interested in the minutiae of the Law. He reminds them that they too will die but that they will be quickly forgotten because of their example. He admonishes lawyers (theologians of the day) because they heaped burdens on the people instead of helping them.

Thursday 17:   Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr*
Romans 3:21-30; Psalm 129; Luke 11:47-54
In the first reading St Paul tells us that we are justified by faith and not by mere observance of a Law. Keeping the Laws of God are important but if they are not done from a faith-driven desire then they are worthless. Faith is all important if our actions are to be seen as Christian and Christ-like and so bring us to eternal life. Paul also tells us that we do not earn faith because of our good works and so should never use our good deeds as a way of showing off our faith. In our Gospel passage for today we again see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees for their lack of honesty before the Lord. They build the tombs for the prophets who their own forefathers had killed and so their generation will now pay for the slaughter of the prophets. The Pharisees then begin a ‘furious attack on him to try to catch him out.’

Friday 18:            Feast of St Luke the Evangelist*
2Timothy 4:10-17; Psalm 144; Luke 10:1-9
In our first reading from the second letter to Timothy, the author suggests that it is St Paul who is writing and that he has nobody with him now except Luke. The text seems slightly odd for today’s feast because it doesn’t say a whole lot to us in the first paragraph – it’s almost ‘housekeeping stuff’ on the author’s part – but it does tell us of Luke’s role in the spread of the Good News and how he came to know much of what he wrote. The evangelist was a companion of Paul in the latter’s second and third missionary journeys. The author also tells of an occasion when Paul had to defend himself and how only God was there to support him, but that this enabled him to continue preaching to the pagans. The Psalm reminds us that the friends of the Lord make him known to others.
In the gospel, the Lord sends out seventy-two disciples to preach and cure in his name in the places which he himself was to visit. In this way they were to make it easier for the Lord to enter people’s hearts and lives. We are all reminded that we each have a role to play in the spread of the Gospel by how we live and act, and that we too must open a way into people’s hearts so that they can see the Lord’s presence in their own lives. Tradition at one time thought that Luke was a member of this seventy-two, but this is without foundation.

Saturday 19:    Of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 4:13, 16-18; Psalm 104; Luke 12:9-12
St Paul again uses the example of Abraham in our first reading today to point out that Abraham was justified because of his faith and so too are all those who are his sons and daughters in the faith if they too believe in God. Again, Paul is ‘correcting’ a belief among the rabbis of the time that Abraham was justified because of the Law of Moses rather than because of his belief in God. They are justified not because they are his biological descendants but because of their faith in God as Abraham had faith. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that those who openly opt for God will have Christ on their side before the throne of God but that those who openly opt against God will have no one on their side. Christ will support those who believe in him but those who do not believe will be on their own. Those who do opt for God will not just have Christ on their side in heaven but will also have the Holy Spirit with them to guide them in all that they do and say.

Memorials this Week:
October 15:        Memorial of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila in central Spain in 1515. She entered the Carmelites and made great progress in the way of perfection and experienced mystical revelations. At this time religious life in Spain, and across Europe, was in much need of reform and Teresa began this work with the monastery in which she was living. She also founded other monasteries under her strict reform and enlisted St John of the Cross to reform the male branch of the Order of Carmelites. After her death, the reform she began eventually separated from the Order of Carmelites to become the Order of Discalced Carmelites. She wrote a number of books which brought her to the attention of the Inquisition but which she persevered in writing and which demonstrate a profound insight into prayer. For Teresa, prayer was a conversation with a close friend and this can be seen in her many references to Jesus Christ. Her letters also show a tremendous humanity while gently bringing people back into line. Her best-known works are ‘The Way of Perfection’ and ‘The Interior Castle’. She died at Alba de Tormes in 1582 and was canonized in 1622. Her writings have earned her the title of Doctor of the Church.

October 17:        Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr
Not very much is known about Ignatius except that he was the bishop of Antioch (near modern-day Antakya in southern Turkey) who, in old age, was sent to Rome to be martyred with other Christians. It is quite possible that he was a disciple of St John the Evangelist and this makes his teaching and writing quite important. On the long journey to Rome he wrote several letters to various churches as did St Paul, and these letters are among the most important documents of the ancient Church. He died in 107 when he was thrown to the lions.

October 18:        Feast of St Luke the Evangelist
St Luke was from Antioch (near modern-day Antakya in southern Turkey) and St Paul tells us that he was a physician before joining Paul for part of his missionary journeys. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel which bears his name as one unified text detailing the life of Jesus and the effect that his teaching, death and resurrection had on the early Church. It is most probable that Luke wasn’t of Jewish birth, but he did have a very good knowledge of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), which comes through in his Gospel and in the Acts. The Gospel was written for Theophilus and others to convince them of the truth about Jesus Christ.

© 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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