Reflections on the Daily Readings

October 25 - 31, 2020
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Thirtieth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 25:          The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 17; 1Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus the Lord is telling the people how they should behave towards the poor and the stranger, towards those who are weak and vulnerable. If they are not honest and upright with the poor and less fortunate then the Lord will be angry for he hears the cry of the poor and will answer their cries for justice. In essence, the Lord is saying that they should love their neighbour regardless of who they are.
In the gospel, the Pharisees are still trying to trick Jesus and yet again they fail. They ask him what he considers to be the most important commandment in the hopes of finding something they can use against him, something to show that he is not a faithful or orthodox Jew. Jesus puts two commandments from the Torah together: one a well-known and key component of Judaism and which was to love God above all else with heart, soul and mind; the second was the instruction to love one’s neighbour and which was not traditionally seen as so important. This was not necessarily something the Pharisees were happy to do for they saw themselves as being greater than the majority of their neighbours. Jesus then goes further and says that all of the laws hang on these two statements which was against the normal understanding which saw fulfilment of Torah laws, Temple service, and good deeds as being central. Jesus was saying that the law can be easily lived if the two commands he highlighted are first lived out. These readings challenge us to look at ourselves and to see how we treat our neighbours, particularly the poor.
St Paul continues to encourage the Thessalonians to remain faithful to God in our second reading. In today’s passage, he talks about how they converted to Jesus Christ when he brought them the Good News despite the opposition of others. And they took to the Gospel and the new way of life so well that, from them, others were brought into the faith, and others still look to them as an example of Christian faith.

Monday 26:         Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 4:32-5:8; Psalm 1; Luke 13:10-17
Our first reading this week is again taken from St Paul’s letter to the Christian community at Ephesus and in today’s passage Paul encourages us to love others in imitation of the Father and the Son who both love much. Only in this way can we build up the kingdom of God and live righteously. The Psalm speaks of how a good person lives. In the Gospel, Christ heals a woman on the Sabbath which infuriates a synagogue official who tells the people to come to be healed on any day of the week except the Sabbath. The Lord answers and says that none of those present would hesitate to untie his donkey on the Sabbath in order to water the beast and therefore it is right to untie a fellow human from their bonds on the Sabbath. His words leave the officials confused while the people are happy to hear him.

Tuesday 27:         Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 5:21-33; Psalm 127; Luke 13:18-21
Our first reading from the letter to the Ephesians today does not appear to be very politically correct these days but St Paul’s underlying message of respect is all the more important in today’s overwhelming climate of individualism and self-centredness. Paul speaks of married life and says that a husband and wife should have the same relationship with each other as Christ has with his Church. Today’s Gospel sees Christ using two brief parables to show how the kingdom flourishes and grows. It can only grow if we allow it to do so and if we each help in its spread.

Wednesday 28:    Feast of Sts Simon and Jude the Apostles*
Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 18; Luke 6:12-19
Our first reading from the letter to the Ephesians speaks of the Church being founded on the Apostles and prophets. The author – using St Paul to give authenticity to what he writes – speaks about the role the Apostles played in the establishment of the Church and of how their lives can give a sure foundation to the faith of each of us. It also reminds us that we are not strangers to God but can be counted as close friends through the faith handed on to us.
The gospel passage recounts the naming of the Twelve Apostles by Jesus. What is significant about his choice is that they were ordinary people who believed in him and acknowledged their sinfulness and need of grace. More importantly, Jesus spent time in prayer before he made his choice. We too should pray before we make our own important decisions and try to live as the Apostles did – completely faithful to the Lord even to the point of dying for him.

Thursday 29:       Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 6:10-20; Psalm 143; Luke 13:31-35
St Paul tells us in our final section from his letter to the Christian community in the port city of Ephesus that it is the devil we must fear and not our fellow men and women. To combat the devil we must allow God to clothe us in spiritual armour and to pray constantly while spreading the Gospel. In the Gospel text some Pharisees come to warn Jesus to leave Jerusalem or he will die at the hands of Herod. However, he tells them that it is his destiny as a prophet to die in Jerusalem. He then weeps at the fact that Jerusalem has rejected both him and his message.

Friday 30:            Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 110; Luke 14:1-6
Today we begin reading from St Paul’s letter to the Christians in the northern Greek town of Philippi. This was the first Christian community Paul had founded in Europe about the year 50 AD, this letter being written about six years later when Paul was in prison. In our opening section, Paul tells the people that the work they have begun – that is, the spread of the Gospel – will be completed by Christ when they are called home to heaven. Paul writes in glowing terms about the people and prays that their virtues may increase and that they may be blessed by the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus is again under scrutiny on the Sabbath as he goes to a meal in the home of a leading Pharisee. Before acting he asks if healing on the Sabbath is really against the Law given that those listening would unhesitatingly pull their ox from a well on the Sabbath if it fell in. His argument goes unanswered by those who were present.

Saturday 31:        Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Philippians 1:18-26; Psalm 41; Luke 14:1, 7-11
In our first reading from his letter to the Philippians, St Paul says that he wants to die for the simple reason that he wants to go to heaven. However, he realises that he has an important mission to take care of before he dies and that is the spread of the Gospel. Paul also says that both life and death come under the influence of Christ and therefore he is happy to live but does not fear death. This mission is also our mission. Christ warns us in the gospel, in the story of the wedding feast, about being a humble people and about not seeking the highest honours. Humility will serve the kingdom, and ourselves, far better than pride and honours.

Memorials this Week:
October 28:        Feast of Sts Simon & Jude, the Apostles
Very little is actually known about these two apostles. Simon, known as ‘the Zealous’, is named in the list of the Twelve. Jude (Thaddeus) is believed to be the brother of James the Less and also the author of the epistle which bears his name. Tradition holds that Simon and Jude were martyred together in Persia (modern-day Iran), but there is no proof for this.

© 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.

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