Reflections on the Daily Readings

June 25 - July 1, 2017
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Twelfth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 25:          The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 68; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33
In our first reading, we see the Prophet Jeremiah speaking of all those who were looking to bring him down, who wanted him silenced because they did not like his preaching even though what he preached was God’s word. Yet, in the second half of the reading he says that God was on his side and therefore he had nothing to fear but instead remained steadfast and praised the Lord. Our Psalm could easily have been the words spoken to God by Jeremiah as he asked for help.
In the gospel passage from St Matthew, Jesus tells the Twelve that the soul is far more important than the body and it is the soul which they must be concerned with for the body is but a passing thing, the soul something eternal. The work of spreading the Gospel will not be easy and there will be a certain fear and anxiety associated with it. Yet, while people may hurt and injure and even kill us, they cannot hurt the soul and so we should not fear but should strive ahead. Those who should fear are those who allow Satan to rule in their life and take them away from the Lord. Sparrows were the cheapest thing on sale in the market and yet God looks after them and so he loves us all the more because we are his sons and daughters. If we are faithful to the Lord, if we preach the message of Jesus Christ openly and without fear, and without reducing or compromising the message, then he will be an advocate for us before the Father. But if we shirk from this responsibility and deny being his disciples, then we will lose a powerful advocate before the throne of God. We must let go of all that holds us back and become the people he wants us to be.
In the passage from the letter to the Romans, St Paul tells the people that sin has always been in the world. For many, sin was simply the breaking of one of the Laws, but Paul reminds them that between Adam and the time of Moses there was no law, though there was still sin. Sin is anything people do which displeases God regardless of any law. Sin originally came through one person – Adam – and, likewise, the salvation of the world comes through one man – Jesus Christ – who gave his life as a free gift that the people might be saved and returned to union with God.

Monday 26:         Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 32; Matthew 7:1-5
We return to the Book of Genesis which we will read from over the next three weeks. Today we begin at the twelfth chapter where we see Abram being called by the Lord and told to move with his family to a land that the Lord would point out. Even though he did not know where he was going, how long it would take or what sort of welcome he would find there, Abram went without question because he believed in the Lord and knew that the Lord would look after him no matter what lay ahead. Our Psalm tells us that those who have been chosen by the Lord will be blessed. In our Gospel today we are reminded by Jesus not to be hypocrites but to remember that as we judge others so too we will be judged by others. Quite often the things we see in others which we don’t like are only seen because we ourselves do the very thing we are giving out about. Therefore we should not judge others but should leave the judging to God and strive to make our lives perfect for the day when he will judge us. If we respond to the Lord with the same trust as Abram did, then we will not go wrong.

Tuesday 27:         Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 13:2, 5-18; Psalm 14; Matthew 7:26, 12-14
In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis we see disputes breaking out between Abram’s people and the people of his nephew Lot because the land is not able to provide for their combined numbers. Rather than fight over things the two sit down and decide on a strategy and both go to live in peace – Lot to the good lands of the south near the Dead Sea, while Abram to the poor lands of the north. It is Abram’s unselfish consideration for his kinsman that is placed before us. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us to protect and defend what is holy and not to give it to unbelievers. We must always treat others as we would like them to treat us and to settle arguments as quickly and amicably as did Abram and Lot. We are also told that the road to eternal happiness is the narrowest of roads because so many people take the road to perdition or hell. We should do all we can to ensure that we are one of the ones on the narrow road when our life comes to an end, and we do this by placing the needs of others before our own needs.

Wednesday 28:   Memorial of St Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop & Martyr*
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 104; Matthew 7:15-20
In today’s first reading we see the Lord reward Abram for his faithfulness and his willingness to go into the unknown for his Lord and God. Despite the fact that Abram has no children the Lord promises that he would be the father or a great nation. Part of the covenants of old was a ceremony which sealed the covenant. In the case of Abram, he and God were to pass between the animals prepared for sacrifice as a reminder that this lay in store for whoever broke the covenant. The Psalm speaks of this covenant and of the “children of Abraham” showing that the covenant has been fulfilled. In the Gospel, Jesus is warning us about false prophets who pretend to come from him. He is telling us that there is only one kingdom and one Good News and it is the only door by which we may enter. Others may come with promises of immortality but we must listen to what they say because in their speech we will know whether they are true or false prophets. How we act shows clearly the sort of person we are at the heart of our being. Through everything we must remain faithful to Christ and to his Gospel alone.

Thursday 29:       Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles*
At the Vigil Mass
Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 18; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles focuses on St Peter. In the passage he is going to the Temple for prayers and passes a cripple who begs from Peter and John. Peter tells him that he has no money to give but instead heals him of his impediment in the name of Jesus Christ. The man walks and follows them into the Temple to give praise to God.
The second reading from his letter to the Galatians is a synopsis of Paul’s life as a persecutor of the Church and then its apostle to the pagans at God’s command. He says that the message he preaches is not some human creation but comes from Jesus Christ himself.
Our gospel passage is a post-resurrection encounter between Jesus and his disciples in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Peter answers positively and is distressed when Jesus asks the question three times – possibly remembering his triple denial of Jesus. The Lord entrusts the Church to Peter as the one to guide and strengthen its members but he also indicates that this will not be an easy task, and that a death not of Peter’s time or choosing lies in store for him.

At Mass during the Day
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 33; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the release of St Peter from prison before Herod could put him to death as he had St James. The execution of James had delighted the Jews and Herod sought to curry further favour by executing Peter as well. While Peter was in prison the early Christian community prayed for him and he was led to safety by an angel.
In the second reading, St Paul tells Timothy that he has been able to preach the Good News because he had God at his side to give him power and to guide him. The letter depicts Paul’s own death and so he is handing on his work to Timothy to continue the spread of the Good News to the pagans, which was Paul’s particular mission.
In the gospel, we read of Peter’s great profession of faith in which he says that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In response Jesus makes Peter – who is so often spokesman for the apostles in Jesus’ ministry – the head of the Church with authority in terms of decision making. He also tells Peter that nothing will ever prevail against the Church, especially the devil. Our readings show us how we should live: by being faithful to God and not fearing what may come for God is always with us. They also remind us that even those who consider themselves to be ‘ordinary’ can become ‘heroes’ of the faith for these men were quite ordinary and quite unremarkable before they received the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit which we too have received. We are also reminded that they were old men when they were martyred because even in old age they witnessed for Christ. Regardless of our age or our standing in society we should always publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Friday 30:            Of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22; Psalm 127; Matthew 8:1-4
There are two aspects to today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis. The first is that every covenant had some form of sign or seal – for Noah, for example, it was the rainbow following the Flood. For Abram and his followers it was to be circumcision and which was replaced by baptism for us. The second aspect is the promise made to Abram that Sarai would bear him a child. Abram laughs quietly at this because of his great age and yet the Lord proves that he has authority even over creation by allowing Sarai to give birth at such an advanced age. Not alone does the Lord say this but he names the child who will be born to them a year from now. It is also part of the covenant that their names now change to Abraham and Sarah. In the Gospel passage from St Matthew we see Jesus curing a leper not because he had to but because he wanted to and because the leper too wanted it. The Lord will not force us to do anything against our will but he is always ready and willing to help us in any situation if only we would ask.

Saturday 1:          Memorial of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop & Martyr*
Genesis 18:1-15; Psalm – see Luke 1; Matthew 8:5-17
Quite often when we read the books of the Old Testament we find that we are reading the same incident twice but from two different perspectives. This is a reminder to us that several of the works were written by more than one person or group. We see that today as we have the second telling of the conception of Isaac by Sarah but this time from Sarah’s point of view. It is now Sarah who does not believe, and even though she is not beside the angel when she laughs he knows exactly what she is thinking because nothing is hidden from God just as nothing is impossible for him. In our Gospel today we have a passage containing several cures by Jesus. The important aspect to each one is that those who are cured are cured because they have faith or because those who sought the cure on their behalf had faith. One of those cured is the servant of a Roman centurion who is cured because the centurion himself had faith. The second was the cure of St Peter’s mother-in-law. If we have faith then we can stand before the Lord and make our requests knowing that he will answer.

Memorials this Week:
June 28:              Memorial of St Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop & Martyr
Irenaeus was born about the year 125 in Smyrna in Asia Minor (Izmir in modern-day Turkey) and was a pupil of Justin Martyr, and was also influenced by St Polycarp. He came to Gaul (Western Europe) as a missionary and was later made Bishop of Lyons, France. He is counted as one of the Fathers of the Church because of his writings and is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. He died sometime around the year 203, possibly by being martyred for the faith.

June 29:              Solemnity of Sts Peter & Paul the Apostles
Today’s feast celebrates the two founders of the Church in the city of Rome and has been observed in Rome since the fourth century. This date was traditionally considered the foundation day of the city of Rome by Romulus and Remus. On this day, newly appointed metropolitan archbishops receive the pallium – the key symbol of their office – and which was blessed on the Feast of St Agnes (January 21).

July 1:                 Memorial of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop & Martyr
Oliver was born in Meath, Ireland, in 1625 and ordained priest in Rome in 1654. Soon after he was made professor at the Propaganda Fide College and in 1669 was created Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. It was a difficult time for the Church in Ireland and even though he was on very good terms with the Protestant bishops, he was forced into hiding in 1673. Following his betrayal he was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. His trial in Dublin collapsed due to lack of evidence and he was sent to London, England, where a grand jury said there was nothing to answer for. Following a third (fixed) trial he was sentenced to death. He was hung, drawn and quartered in 1681, the last Roman Catholic to be martyred at Tyburn, London. He was canonized in 1975.

© 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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