Reflections on the Daily Readings

August 12 - 18, 2018
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Nineteenth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week III.

Sunday 12:          The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 33; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51
We see a very dejected and hopeless prophet Elijah in the first reading from the first Book of the Kings for he is being hounded by the king and queen, who follow the false god, Baal. Elijah undertakes a journey to Mount Horeb to save his life, but so dejected is he that he prays for death. The angel of the Lord comes to him with bread and water which strengthens Elijah so that he can make the long forty-day journey to the sacred mountain.
In the gospel passage from the Bread of Life Discourse from the fourth gospel, we see Jesus again teaching the people that he is the Bread of Life which has come down from heaven and which can bring them eternal life. The passage begins with the people complaining that they know Jesus and his family and so it is not possible that he has come down from heaven. This is because they missed the possibility of Jesus being God Incarnate and saw only his earthly existence. Jesus tells them that he has come down from heaven and that eternal life comes through him. He contrasts the Israelites of the Exodus – who wandered in the desert and who died even though they ate the manna – with those who will believe in him – they will live forever because he gives them the Bread of Life. That Bread of Life is given to us every day in the Eucharist, which is the Body of Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is also essential for eternal life and that faith is nourished by the Eucharist.
In the second reading the Christians at Ephesus are again challenged to live truly Christian lives. In the passage, the author urges the people to root out those things which disrupt their life as a community and to practise forgiveness and kindness. Above all they are to imitate the life of Jesus Christ, who gave himself up to God as a sacrifice for their sakes. If Christians believe in Jesus, then this will be an easy thing to do and they will inherit the Kingdom which Jesus promised in the gospel.

Monday 13:         Of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28; Psalm 148; Matthew 17:22-27
Today we begin reading from the prophet Ezekiel and in today’s text the prophet is describing what appears to be the glory of the Lord. The encounter takes place about the year 593 BC during the Babylonian captivity and sees God calling the Jewish priest, Ezekiel, to be his prophet. Ezekiel is to prepare the people for the destruction of Jerusalem and for its future glory. In our Gospel passage we see Jesus again telling his followers that he will soon be put to death but that he will rise again to life. His listeners are saddened by this for they do not fully understand the meaning of his words.

Tuesday 14:         Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe, Priest & Martyr*
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Psalm 118; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
In our first reading we see that Ezekiel is being sent to the house of Israel by the Lord but before he goes, the Lord puts his words into Ezekiel’s mouth. In consuming the scroll, Ezekiel is showing that he accepts the role of the prophet and that the words which he will preach from his heart will be the words of God himself (we find a similar image of St John the Evangelist swallowing a scroll in the Book of the Apocalypse).  We are told by Christ in today’s Gospel that we must change and become as pure as little children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. Our trust in God must be as complete as that of a little child. As a child depends completely on their parents for everything, so too we must place our complete trust and confidence in God for all things come from him and he alone can save us.

Wednesday 15:   Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven*
At the Vigil Mass
1Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16, 16:1-2; Psalm 131; 1Corinthians 15:54-57; Luke 11:27-28
In our first reading from the first book of the Chronicles we see the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the tent which David had prepared for it and the ritual is accompanied by music and rejoicing. The ark was the vessel which carried the Lord’s commandments for his people as they journeyed to the Promised Land. Mary too was an ark for she carried the Son of God for nine months and brought him into the world. The rejoicing of David and the people echoes the rejoicing of the heavenly host as Mary is carried to heaven.
In the second reading St Paul reminds us that we are victorious over death because of Jesus Christ. As the woman who gave birth to Jesus, Mary’s soul didn’t simply triumph over death but her body too was preserved from the corruptibility of death.
In the very short gospel we see a woman praising Jesus’ mother. The Lord acknowledges that she can be happy at being his mother, but he says that happier still are those who follow her example of discipleship by listening to his words and following or living them in their life. Mary’s example is of someone who heard God’s word and lived it out it in her own life, even to her own agony at the foot of the Cross. Yet, that moment of anguish and pain was transformed in the glory of the resurrection, and it is Mary’s share in that resurrection and eternal life which we celebrate in this feast.

At Mass during the Day
Apocalypse (Revelations) 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 44; 1Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56
The Book of the Apocalypse is not always easy to understand and there are several interpretations for various passages. Our text today opens with mention of the ark and so suggests that the passage is about our Lady who, as Queen of Heaven, is robed in splendour and majesty. She gives birth to one of great importance who is taken directly to the throne of God, whose Son he is, while the Virgin flees to a special place – reminding us of her special place in heaven.
In the second reading, St Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is the first-fruit and the first to rise from the dead. Those who belong to him will also triumph over death and in a particular way this was true of Our Lady who didn’t simply overcome death in her soul but in her body as well.
The gospel from St Luke contains the Magnificat, Mary’s beautiful hymn which she said upon meeting her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation. It may seem a little unusual for this celebration but it is a hymn of praise suitable as much in heaven as on earth and continues to speak of the wonderful things which God did for her. Today’s solemnity commemorates our Lady’s entry into glory, a glory which awaits us and which was prefigured on August 6 in the celebration of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Thursday 16:       Of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 12:1-12; Psalm 77; Matthew 18:21-19:1
In today’s first reading we see how Ezekiel is ordered by the Lord to leave the city because of its evil ways. But he is to do it in broad daylight so that the people will see what he does and may, in this way, be persuaded of their sinfulness and so return to God. These actions are to be a symbol of God’s dissatisfaction with the House of Israel in the hopes that the people will heed what is happening and return to the right path. However, the people have grown stubborn and don’t believe that God would destroy his own city. In the Gospel from St Matthew, Christ tells us that there is to be no limit to the number of times we are to forgive others if they wrong us and seek forgiveness. As the Lord is merciful with us so we must be merciful with others.

Friday 17:            Memorial of Our Lady of Knock*
Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63; Psalm – Isaiah 12; Matthew 19:3-12
The Lord speaks to Jerusalem through the Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading and tells the city – which is a symbol of the Jewish nation – how he looked after it and nurtured it. But now the city has become infatuated with itself and is no longer faithful to the one who cared for it. Now is the time for the city and its inhabitants to remember the covenant and to be ashamed. Our Gospel text is a particularly difficult one for it speaks of the Lord’s displeasure with divorce as he tells his disciples that it is not in keeping with his Law or his vision for us. At the same time, he does not condemn those whose marriages have ended in this way.

Saturday 18:        Of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Psalm 50; Matthew 19:13-15
The Lord tells us in the reading from Ezekiel that he will not punish whole groups of people for the misdeeds of a few but that he will punish the individual sinners for what they have done. Ezekiel is trying to get the people to accept responsibility for their own misdeeds rather than blaming those around them, or their ancestors, for their own sins and for the punishment which has befallen them. Again today we read in the Gospel that we must become like little children in faith and trust if we are to enter the kingdom. At the time of Christ, children had no standing in society and so Christ’s inclusion of them is important and shows the importance of a child-like trust and faith rather than one which uses reason and so reduces the faith.

Memorials this Week
August 14:           Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe, Priest & Martyr
Maximilian was born near Lodz, in central Poland in 1894 (then part of Russia). He became a Franciscan in 1910 and both his parents also entered religious orders. He also founded a community in Japan in 1930 and returned to Europe in 1936. With the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 he and his community gave shelter to Poles and Jews who were being rounded up by the Nazi regime. For this he was imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration, Camp in southern Poland, where he ministered to his fellow prisoners. In reprisal for an escape by some prisoners, the camp authorities took ten men to be starved to death, one of which came from Maximilian’s bunker. Maximilian volunteered to take the man’s place and so was deprived of food for two weeks. He was eventually put to death by lethal injection on August 14, 1941. He was canonized by his fellow countryman, Pope John Paul II, in 1982. Among those at the canonization was the man whose life he had saved by his heroic act in 1941.

August 15:           Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven
This solemnity celebrates the fact that at the end of Mary’s life, her body was assumed into heaven rather than undergo decay in the earth. Though maintained by the faithful for centuries, it was only proclaimed a dogma of the faith by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

August 17:           Memorial of Our Lady of Knock
Readings of the Day or from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At about 8.00pm on August 21, 1879, a wet evening, fifteen people in a remote part of Co Mayo, western Ireland, witnessed an apparition on the gable wall of the parish church in Knock. In the apparition were Our Lady, St Joseph her spouse, St John the Evangelist, an altar and cross, angels, and a lamb. Everything was in white and nothing was said. The apparition lasted about two hours and over the years several inquiries were held – even as late as 1936 with the remaining survivors, some of whom were then living abroad. Today, Knock Shrine is the most important Marian shrine in Ireland and draws many pilgrims from around the world. In 1979, John Paul II, on his Apostolic Visit to Ireland, prayed at the site of the apparition.

© 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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