Reflections on the Daily Readings

October 22 - 28, 2017
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Twenty-ninth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 22:          The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Psalm 95; 1Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21
In the first reading the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, says that, apart from him, all is nothing. At this time the people are in exile in Babylon but the Lord now directs Cyrus, the current pagan king who holds them captive, to be the one who will bring about their liberation. It is a reminder that God can bring salvation and freedom to those he wants in a way they might least expect.
In the gospel, the Pharisees are trying to catch Jesus out and for which they had a meeting to work out a strategy. They returned with a group of Herodians, a group loyal to Herod Antipas and therefore to the Roman Empire. The Pharisees and many in Israel did not like paying taxes to Caesar because the money maintained his control over their lands and over their lives. They asked Jesus whether they should pay the taxes or not and would have been happy with a yes or no answer. If Jesus said ‘yes’ then he would be seen as no friend to Israel and therefore not a true Jew; if he answered ‘no’ then he could be denounced by the Herodians to the Roman authorities as a trouble maker and possibly as an insurgent. Instead the Lord turns the tables and gives an unexpected answer and tells them that, as Caesar’s head is on the coins, then Caesar has a right to claim them back. He uses this to say that all we have comes from God and therefore he is deserving of our praise, our thanks and our faith, which was a suggestion that perhaps the Pharisees and other religious leaders were not doing this themselves. It is a reminder to us that we must not take our relationship with God, his love or his kindness to us for granted, but must deepen our relationship with him every day, recognising that we are the created, not the Creator.
For the final weeks of this year, our second reading comes from St Paul’s first letter to the Christians of Thessalonica. Today’s reading is from the opening section of the letter in which he reminds them of their faith, their love and their hope, and that he always remembers them in his prayers to God. Paul is giving them a little boost to keep them strong in the faith. The same applies to us today.

Monday 23:         Of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 4:20-25; Psalm – Luke 1:69-75; Luke 12:13-21
Before St Paul became a Christian he was a Pharisee and the Pharisees believed that people were justified if they adhered to the letter of the Law and so they lived their lives in fidelity to the Law. Now a Christian, Paul realises that more than mere adherence to laws is necessary – we must also have faith. He reminds us of Abraham who had complete faith in God even though he had no idea where God was leading him and when the promise made by God seemed to be impossible in view of how old he and Sarah were. Our Psalm today is the familiar text of the Benedictus. In the Gospel we are reminded by Jesus not to lay store on earthly things for these will not last or bring happiness. We must always place God above all else and see material things as secondary, requiring only what we truly need rather than what we want. Jesus tells the story of a rich man who died without learning this lesson.

Tuesday 24:         Of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 5:12, 15, 17-21; Psalm 39; Luke 12:35-38
In the first reading from his letter to the Romans, St Paul tells us that as sin entered the world through one man so also the world is redeemed through one man. The first man is Adam and the second is Christ. No matter how many sins people may commit the grace of God is ever more abundant and salvation awaits every human being if they have the courage to accept it. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us to be always ready for we do not know when the master will return. He uses the analogy of the servants waiting for the master to return from his wedding banquet. No matter what time he returns he will want them to be waiting for him. However, he will expect more than to find them waiting but to also find his house in good order. We are the stewards of God’s creation and so he will expect to find his house in good order when he comes to visit us.

Wednesday 25:   Of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 6:12-18; Psalm 123; Luke 12:39-48
St Paul tells us today that we must not let the ability to sin reign in our lives. We all have the ability to sin and in today’s world the great temptation is to follow ways which are not God’s ways and to do whatever it is that we want to do. We must resist this and instead become enslaved to righteousness, which does not mean living a dull life. Again in our Gospel passage for today we are reminded by the Lord to be always ready for the moment when he calls us to give an account of our lives, and not just of our lives but of our stewardship of his creation and as witnesses of his Gospel. Those who have been faithful to the Covenant sealed in the Blood of Christ will be rewarded. The important point to note is that the Lord does not tell us when he will come to visit us. For most of us there are many years to come, yet, for many others, tomorrow could be the day they meet the Lord.

Thursday 26:       Of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 6:19-23; Psalm 1; Luke 12:49-53
We continue reading from the letter to the Romans where we are told that we have been freed from the slavery of sin by Christ and that now we have the ability to live lives of righteousness. In so doing we will achieve eternal life with the Father. In talking about ‘wages,’ St Paul is referring to the wages a Roman soldier would have received and the ‘gift’ reminds the people of the gift the emperor gave out to people. Both remind us that our sins bring us closer to death or separation from God and that our sharing in eternal happiness is due entirely to the love of God. The Psalm tells us of the happiness of the people who place their trust in God and live by his ways. In the Gospel we see Jesus telling the people that he has brought division with him. This may seem odd but when we look at it we realise that he is talking about division between those who believe in him and those who do not believe in him. The divisions which we see between those who do believe in Christ are at odds with his message. But in the world we see a very clear distinction between those who accept Christ and make every effort to live Christian lives faithful to the Gospel and those who do not accept him and continue in their own ways. Unity can only be achieved when we show others that belief in Christ is the right way to live and that it is not a dull and boring way to live but a path of joyfulness and fulfilment.

Friday 27:            Of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 7:18-25; Psalm 118; Luke 12:54-59
In today’s passage from the letter to the Romans we see St Paul openly speaking of the struggle taking place within him – the struggle between living the Gospel values and living the easier and more carefree life which so often leads to sin. He knows what the right thing to do is and yet he struggles. In this, any of us could replace Paul’s name with our own. The Gospel message is not always easy to live but with the help and the grace of God, who is always at our side, it is very possible. In the Gospel passage today from St Luke, we see Jesus admonishing the people for not being able to read the signs of the times. They can make many other predictions regarding what they see and yet they cannot read the most obvious things before them, such as the presence of the Messiah. We have the Messiah in our midst always and yet we too fail to read the signs of the times and follow him in complete sincerity.

Saturday 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. St Paul 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.

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
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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