Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
March 26th - April 29th, 2023
March 26 – April 1, 2023
The Fifth Week of Lent | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 129; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45
The first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel recounts the Lord telling his people that he will give them his spirit and they will live. St Paul in our second reading, which comes from his letter to the Romans, continues this theme and says that the spirit of God has been given to the people and that it is life-giving for them. This is because their only interest is in spiritual things and not things of an unspiritual nature. In the gospel, we have the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This reminds us of the death of Jesus and of his resurrection but also provokes us to think about our own death in baptism and resurrection at the end of time. While Lazarus returned to life we know that he died again but that final death was so that he could live in life eternal.
Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Psalm 22; John 8:1-11
Our readings today remind us that God himself defends those who are innocent, particularly when they cannot defend themselves. In the reading from Daniel we see that two judges have become infatuated with Susanna and have lied to save themselves, condemning her to death for something she did not do. She is only saved by asking God for help. He heard her cry and sent the boy Daniel to save her. In the gospel we see another woman about to be stoned for committing adultery. She is saved by Jesus who forgives her her sins and tells her to sin no more. In both cases, those who had themselves sinned were quick to condemn others while covering up their own wrong doings. We often find ourselves in the situation of the women in today’s texts – we find ourselves in need of Jesus’ healing and compassion. During this time of preparation we are called on to acknowledge our own sins and to ask forgiveness for them while resolving to do better in the future.
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 101; John 8:21-30
Today’s reading from the Book of Numbers shows the Israelites turning against God even though he had just won their release from slavery in Egypt. In this episode the Jews turned against God in the wilderness and began worshipping false gods. Moses fashions a bronze serpent which saves those who look at it. In the gospel, Jesus is speaking about himself and telling the people that only when they have killed him will they realise that he is the Son of God because only then will they see his glory. Like the bronze serpent on the pole, Christ on the cross will bring us new life. We are called to believe in Jesus though we have not seen him with our own eyes. The Jews in Egypt saw God’s power when he led them to freedom, yet they turned against him. We must not turn against him, but must put our total trust in him, serving his Gospel throughout our lives.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28; Psalm – Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42
In the Book of the Prophet Daniel there is recounted the story of three young men – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – who refused to abandon their religion for King Nebuchadnezzar, part of which we read two weeks ago. The king had them bound and thrown into a fiery furnace but the angel of God joined them there and they walked through the furnace unharmed. At the end of the reading, the king too praises the true God. The reading reminds us that when we are truly free in heart, nothing can trouble us or separate us from the love of God. The Psalm continues this theme. In the gospel, Jesus tells his listeners that they will only be free if they listen to his word and live by it, because only then will they be free from the slavery to sin and so be his true disciples. God’s word is available to us but it is up to us to accept it and to let it take root in our lives.
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Genesis 17:3-9; Psalm 104; John 8:51-59
In the reading from Genesis we see God making his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. This covenant was fulfilled in the person and life of Jesus. In the gospel, Jesus is speaking of Abraham and telling his listeners that Abraham longed to see Christ’s day. He reveals himself to his listeners with the words “I Am,” which is the name God used for himself when he spoke with Moses. Jesus is telling them that the God of Moses, Abraham, and Isaac is the same person who is now speaking to them. He goes on to tell us that even though we may suffer and die in this world, that suffering and death has no power over us if we believe in him alone. That which was promised to Abraham has come to pass in the person of Jesus and it is a saving covenant for us who believe it.
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 17; John 10:31-42
The Prophet Jeremiah is being persecuted by the people but he still places his trust in God and still praises him. It is a reminder of Jesus who is soon to be arrested and who will also pray to the Father for guidance and strength while never abandoning faith in the Father. The Psalm is a prayer of confidence in God by one who is being persecuted. Our gospel reading shows Jesus being persecuted by some of the Jews. He, like Jeremiah, is under God’s protection and so is saved from them until the hour of his glory. We too will be saved and supported if we praise God all our days and turn to him in confidence. But we must not forget him when things are going well for us.
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 37:21-28; Psalm – Jeremiah 31:10-13; John 11:45-56
In our first reading we see the prophet Ezekiel looking forward to a day when the Lord will unite the people under a new leader as a redeemed nation. In the gospel, we see the Pharisees taking the decision to kill Jesus. They did so in order to save their people because they feared that Jesus’ talk of a supreme power and authority would cause a revolt which the Romans would crush as ruthlessly as the previous ones. While their motives may have been honourable it was they who were misguided because they had closed their minds to the word of God and believed the Messiah to be a political and military leader. The words of Caiaphas also suggest that the death of Jesus might unite the people – an echo of the first reading. They never thought that the Messiah would free them in spirit which is a far greater thing. If we truly open our hearts to God then the unity which the gospel speaks of will take place as the kingdom takes shape in our world.
April 2 – April 8, 2023
Holy Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Palm (Passion) Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
The readings today all point to the person of Christ. Isaiah speaks of Christ as one who came to preach but who was beaten and insulted. St Paul in the second reading speaks of the divinity of Christ and what he gave up in order to become one of us. The gospel from St Matthew recounts the Passion and Death of Christ for us. While Palm Sunday recalls the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem it is also the beginning of the end of his earthly life and gives us a contrast which helps us to focus on what is to happen later this week. Seeing the Christ suffer for us, it also helps us to carry our sufferings for him. Between today’s reading of the Passion and that on Friday we have a final opportunity to reflect on the history-changing events which are about to happen and of their significance for each and every one of us.
Monday in Holy Week
Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 26; John 12:1-11
Our first reading from Isaiah points to the person of Christ who is the fulfilment of the covenants made so long ago. We could in a way see the reading as God dedicating his Son for the work he is about to accomplish. The Psalm speaks of the Lord as our light and our help. The gospel passage is leading up to the Passion at the end of this week. Today we see a woman named Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and he tells those with him that she will need this ointment again for his burial. While Judas was indignant at the ointment being used in this way Jesus sided with Mary because the intention in her heart was pure and well placed. The reading also prepares us for the betrayal by Judas later this week. Meanwhile, the chief priests continue to plot his death.
Tuesday in Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 70; John 13:21-33, 36-38
The Prophet Isaiah today speaks beautifully of the servant of God, one who will be the light of the nations. Each of us is called to witness for God before men and women so that this passage may be said of each of us. We could in a way see the reading as Jesus speaking about his destiny as redeemer of the world. The Psalm is the prayer of a man persecuted by his enemies and who seeks the help of God. In the gospel we have the scene at the Last Supper. We are confronted with the fact that Judas is about to hand Jesus over to his accusers while St Peter will fail to stand up for Christ despite his vow. We too can fail God when the crunch comes but if we believe in his power and pray to him as the psalmist does in today’s Psalm, then he will stand by us and we will be the light of the nations.
Wednesday in Holy Week – Spy Wednesday
Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 26:14-25
The reading from Isaiah takes up the theme found in yesterday’s first reading – that of answering God’s call and witnessing for him before our fellow men and women, which may at times bring suffering and persecution. The Psalm is of a man in great distress who calls on God for help against his enemies. The gospel reading sees Judas accepting thirty silver pieces for handing Jesus over to the Jewish authorities – hence the name “Spy Wednesday.” We all have the ability to be like Judas at times and to deny Christ for the sake of our other gods. Judas realised too late that what he was doing would not work and in his sorrow he repented in the only way he knew how. How often do we truly feel sorry for having betrayed the Lord for the ways of this world and if we did feel sorry, when did we last truly do penance for it? We are called to rely on God’s help and believe in the reprieve Christ gained for us so that we will become the witnesses Isaiah speaks of.
Isaiah 61:1-3, 6a, 8b-9; Psalm 88; Apocalypse 1:5-8; Luke 4:16-21
This celebration takes place in the Cathedral in every diocese on the morning of Holy Thursday and is presided over by the bishop as head of the diocese. During this Mass the sacred oils (the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens) are blessed and the Oil of Chrism consecrated. They are then distributed to the churches throughout the diocese for use in the coming year. Also at this Mass, the bishop is joined by clergy from throughout the diocese which represents the unity of the diocese and of the universal Church. The clergy renew their commitment to priestly service before the bishop and the people.
The first reading for this celebration from the Prophet Isaiah speaks very much of the presbyteral order – of those ordained to sacred ministry and who will carry on the work of God following the example of Christ. The second reading from St John’s vision in the Apocalypse speaks of what Christ has done for us by washing away our sins with his blood. It also says that those who pierced him will now see his glory. The gospel text from St Luke echoes the first reading and in it we see Jesus preaching in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. Through baptism we all have a common priesthood – that of spreading the gospel of Christ across the world beginning in our own small corner of that world. While this morning is a celebration of the ordained ministers gathered with their bishop it is also a celebration of the commitment we each have to work for the building of the kingdom of God.
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 115; 1Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15
The Lord’s Supper is celebrated in the evening time – just as the Passover Meal was celebrated in the evening to recall the first Passover in which the Jews left Egypt. As the blood of the lamb saved the Jews, so the blood of Christ brings salvation to the whole world. The first reading from the Book of Exodus recounts the instructions given to the people regarding the Passover meal. The letter of St Paul tells of the institution of the Eucharist when Christ gave his disciples bread and wine as his very own body and blood. The gospel shows us the scene in the upper room and in it we see Jesus washing the feet of those who were with him. In this way he showed that they were to be servants of all. After the gospel is read, the washing of feet takes place as a reminder to us today of the instruction Christ gave us. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle to the Altar of Repose and the altars stripped and crucifixes covered. This gives us a stark reminder that the Lord has been taken from us.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 30; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
This celebration should take place in the mid-afternoon as this corresponds to the time when Jesus went to Calvary to be crucified. The Prophet Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant, of the one who died for our sake. It gives an account of the terrible suffering he underwent and the fact that it was our sins which caused that suffering. The passage from the letter to the Hebrews speaks of Christ as the one who lived a human life like us and, because he trusted in God and interceded for us, brought about our salvation. The gospel of St John recalls the Passion and death of Christ. The celebration begins with a silent procession to the sanctuary – the silence reminding us of the importance of what is happening. The Liturgy of the Word is followed by the Intercessions and then the Veneration of the Cross. The Veneration begins with the presentation of the Cross to the people before each person present goes forward and kisses the Cross – the sign of their salvation. The cross is then placed in a prominent position before the people as a reminder to them of what their sins have bought. The Celebration concludes with the Holy Communion.
The Easter Vigil
The Triduum reaches its climax on this night with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. The vigil begins outside in darkness with the Service of Light in which the Easter Fire is lit and the new Paschal Candle blessed. From this each of the faithful lights a candle and carries it in procession into the church. When the procession reaches the sanctuary the great Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) is sung. This great hymn reminds us of what Christ and God have done for us.
The Liturgy of the Word follows and the readings trace the history of salvation from the story of Creation to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on this night. For this there are seven Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings given but, for pastoral reasons, the Old Testament readings may be reduced in number.
- Genesis 1:1-2:2: The first passage taken from the book of Genesis recalls the story of Creation, of how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. A key aspect to this text is that God looked on everything he had created and saw that it was all very good – there was nothing that displeased God or which he regretted or tried to re-mould.
- Genesis 22:1-18: The second passage from Genesis recalls the sacrifice by Abraham of his son, Isaac, at the Lord’s command. It is a powerful story of one man’s faith in God because sacrificing his son would have negated the other promises God had made with him, and yet Abraham believed in God so much that even this was not too much for his faith.
- Exodus 14:15-15:1: The reading from Exodus is obligatory and tells of the final escape of the Israelites from Egypt. After the Passover, in which the first born of man and beast died, the pharaoh sent the Israelites out of Egypt to be rid of them and their curse. However, the pharaoh immediately regrets this and pursues the Israelites and so the Lord brings an end to pharaoh and his soldiers, and the Israelites are finally free to return in peace to their own land.
- Isaiah 54:5-14: In the passage from Deutero-Isaiah, we see that the Lord has abandoned his people for a time because of their sinfulness but he has now taken them back and promises to never leave them again even though they are still sinners. He uses the image of a bride and says that if the people are faithful to him then they will bear offspring, people of faith like them who will pass on the faith to others.
- Isaiah 55:1-11: This passage from Deutero-Isaiah exhorts the people to seek out the Lord but suggests that he is not simply found in the sanctuaries but is to be found everywhere, throughout all of his Creation. It is also a call to fidelity and purity of heart before the Lord with the promise of a great reward.
- Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4: The text from Baruch was written at a time when the Israelites were again in exile – this time the Babylonian captivity – and they are told by the prophet that this is because they had been unfaithful to God. They are reminded that if they return to the Lord then once again they will live and prosper.
- Ezekiel 36:16-28: In the reading from Ezekiel, the Lord says that the people have profaned his name and done that which is wrong and so have been exiled. They have also suggested that the Lord is not the true God because he couldn’t protect his people and prevent their exile. So now the Lord is going to act and will bring the people home to their own land where they will live forever and where the Lord will give them a new heart to worship him both as individuals and as a nation.
The Epistle – Romans 6:3-11: St Paul tells us in the New Testament epistle that, through baptism, we are bound in a very special way to Jesus Christ who died that we might have life. Because of that baptism, death has no power over us just as it has no power over Jesus Christ any longer and, if we keep his commandments and live up to our baptismal commitments, then we too shall live for ever.
The Gospel – Matthew 28:1-10: In St Matthew’s account, we see the angel open the tomb as the women arrive to complete the burial preparations which should have taken place before burial but could not because of the Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday. The angel invites them to see the empty tomb and tells them that the Lord has risen. He then sends them back to the disciples and, as they head away, they are greeted by the Risen Lord who tells them to go to the disciples and send them to Galilee where he will meet them.
Where possible, the Sacrament of Baptism now takes place. If there is no one to be baptised then Easter Water is blessed and the faithful renew their baptismal promises before being sprinkled with the Easter Water. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is now celebrated for the first time since Holy Thursday and for this the altar is again covered with a cloth and burning candles are placed on or near it. The whole feeling of the Vigil is one of great joy and celebration for our salvation has been won for us and Christ has been glorified by his Father. The liturgy begun on Holy Thursday evening now concludes.
April 9 – April 15, 2023
Easter Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 117; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter is proclaiming the Risen Lord and saying that not only has Christ risen but he has also appeared to his followers, and that he himself has witnessed this. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for this great day – the day of the Resurrection of the Lord. St Paul in his letter to the Colossians speaks of us becoming new people, living as Christ commanded, and looking to heaven and to God for that is where our future lies. The gospel tells of the finding of the empty tomb and the realisation that scripture had pointed to this moment – the Resurrection of Christ. If we too follow the path Christ has marked out for us then we too will inherit eternal life.
Monday of Easter Week
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm 15; Matthew 28:8-15
Today’s readings testify to the Resurrection of Christ. St Peter, along with his fellow disciples, is speaking to a crowd and speaking to them of Christ and is part of the first ever Christian sermon. The basis for his preaching and that of the apostles is clearly their own personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Like the sermons recorded in the Acts of the Apostles they are personal testaments to the death and resurrection of Christ. In the gospel, Jesus appears to the women and tells them to go and get the disciples and to tell them to go to Galilee where he will meet them. Galilee represented normality and everyday life for the disciples and it reminds us that we too will find Christ in the normality of our lives.
Tuesday of Easter Week
Acts 2:36-41; Psalm 32; John 20:11-18
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of yesterday’s reading and in it we see St Peter still teaching the people. So moved are the people by his personal testimony that they believe in his message and in Christ as their Risen Lord and Saviour. Peter begins by telling the people how they had put to death the promised Messiah. That day, we are told, about 3,000 people converted to Christianity. Today’s gospel text is a further telling of the Resurrection, this time from St John. Here we see Christ talking to Mary Magdalene and telling her to tell the disciples that he has risen and is preparing to ascend to the Father, who is also our Father.
Wednesday of Easter Week
Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 104; Luke 24:13-35
St Peter and his fellow disciples have been strengthened by the Resurrection of Christ and are now going about preaching his message and curing the people in his name. Today we see them run into conflict with the Jewish authorities for doing the very things that the authorities had crucified Jesus for. The disciples are aware of this and yet they continue unafraid. The gospel text is the familiar story of Christ’s appearance to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. They only recognise him at the breaking of bread because they had not believed all that he had told them while he was still alive. The breaking of the bread is also a reminder to them of the importance Christ placed on his institution of the Eucharist and of the necessity of doing this in his memory. When they did realise that it was the Lord, their hearts burned with joy. When did our hearts last burn with joy in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist? We are called on to have faith like Peter and the disciples and to openly proclaim our faith in Christ.
Thursday of Easter Week
Acts 3:11-26; Psalm 8; Luke 24:35-48
In the Acts of the Apostles we again see St Peter and the disciples proclaiming the message of Christ and his Resurrection. Peter also insists that it was trust in the name of Jesus that cured the lame man in our text. The “you” of the last paragraph is addressed very strongly to today’s listeners. Today’s gospel passage tells of the first encounter the disciples as a group have with the Risen Jesus. He comes to visit them and they are afraid but, having touched him, they believe. He opens their minds so that they understand clearly that his life is a fulfilment of all that sacred scripture had said about the Messiah.
Friday of Easter Week
Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 117; John 21:1-14
In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles for today, St Peter addresses the elders who have arrested himself and St John. He tells them that there is only one name in all the world that can save us and that is the name of Christ. It is strengthening to see Peter – a former fisherman from Galilee – taking on the most powerful of the Jewish authorities and boldly proclaiming the very things that they forbid Jesus from proclaiming and ultimately put him to death for. Today’s gospel text from John tells of another meeting with Jesus and the disciples after the Resurrection. The meeting we read of today took place by the Sea of Tiberias. When the disciples come ashore they find that Jesus has prepared breakfast for them and as they gather he gives bread to them – reminding them of what he did in the upper room on Holy Thursday night and of his instruction to repeat that sacred action.
Saturday of Easter Week
Acts 4:13-21; Psalm 117; Mark 16:9-15
Today’s first reading continues with the trial of St Peter and St John before the elders of the people. They are warned not to preach about Christ again but they reply by saying that they cannot promise this – so strong is their belief in Christ now. We also see that the authorities are once again afraid of public opinion which is in favour of the apostles and their message. The text from St Mark’s gospel tells us of the meeting of Christ with his disciples. They have not accepted the word of those who said they had seen the risen Lord and he rebukes them for their lack of faith. The gospel ends with the great mandate to “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.” The commitment of Peter and John in the first reading shows that they have taken this mandate to heart and are actively carrying it out. This mandate is also given to each of us to carry on no matter where we find ourselves in life.
April 16 – April 22, 2023
Easter Season – Second week of Easter | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 117; Revelations 1:9-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31
In our first reading today we see that the apostles have continued to preach about Christ and his resurrection. This teaching has had a great effect and many people have now come not just to listen to their teaching but to seek cures for their illnesses. All that the apostles do is done in the name of Jesus and it is Christ who grants healing through their actions and words. The Psalm reminds us that the love of the Lord has no end. Our second reading comes from the opening chapter of St John’s Revelations in which John tells us that he has been imprisoned for having preached the word of God. During this imprisonment he had a vision from God in which he is visited by Christ who tells him that he has not died but lives for ever. In our gospel we see Jesus appearing to the disciples where they have locked themselves away for fear of the Jews. He gives them his Spirit and sends them out to preach in his name. Of particular importance to us is the absence of St Thomas. When the others told him that Jesus had appeared he refused to believe and only believed when Jesus appeared eight days later. Thomas represents all of us who find the idea of resurrection difficult to grasp and the reading also reminds us that the first apostles were also slow to come to full belief. He also represents us when he makes his great declaration of faith – ‘My Lord and my God!’ This is the declaration which we too must make if we are to inherit eternal life through the Lord’s resurrection.
Monday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 4:23-31; Psalm 2; John 3:1-8
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles takes up where we left it on Saturday. Saints Peter and John have been released and now they continue to boldly preach the Good News in spite of the warning of the elders. We also learn that the early Christian community – rather than being depressed at the troubles and persecutions that lay ahead – fearlessly pray to God for protection. In the gospel passage, Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus and is telling him that it is essential for a person to be baptised and to live out that faith in order to be saved. This means that we must study, understand and live out our faith and develop our own spiritual lives. We, as baptised people, have an obligation to proclaim the Risen Lord as did Peter and John.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 91; John 3:7-15
In the first reading for today we get a glimpse of the early Christian Church at work and we are told that the disciples continued to proclaim Christ while those who believed looked after each other and saw to it that none of the community was ever in need. This strong community life enables them to live fearlessly and to give strong witness to the Risen Lord. One person in particular is mentioned for his Christian values – Barnabas. Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus is continued in today’s text from St John’s gospel and again Jesus tells us that faith in him is essential for salvation – faith and belief like that of Barnabas.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:17-26; Psalm 33; John 3:16-21
We read today that St Peter and the apostles are again imprisoned for speaking about Christ. This time, they are miraculously set free and go immediately to the Temple where they again preach openly about Jesus. The text for today ends with Peter giving witness in the Jewish supreme court to the resurrection of the Christ. In the gospel, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he was sent into the world because of the Father’s great love for his creation and that salvation awaits those who believe in him. We are called on to have belief in the Lord just as Peter and the apostles had but also to let that faith be seen by those with whom we come into contact.
Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 33; John 3:31-36
Our first reading today from St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles continues St Peter’s trial before the Jewish supreme court and he speaks so strongly about Christ that they wish to kill him but are unable to do so. In the gospel, John the Baptist is speaking to his own followers in the passage from St John and he is telling them that belief in Christ leads to eternal life. No one else can bring us to the kingdom or offer us what Christ has offered to each of us through his blood on the cross.
Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:34-42; Psalm 26; John 6:1-15
We read of the conclusion of the trial of St Peter and his companions before the Jewish supreme court. Peter and the others have been helped by Gamaliel – a rabbi and former teacher of St Paul – who says that if they are frauds then their preaching will come to nothing. The other elders listen to him and instruct Peter and company to be flogged having been warned not to preach again. However, it has no effect as the apostles are happy to suffer humiliation for the sake of Christ and it encourages them to preach all the more earnestly. The gospel text from St John sees a miracle of the loaves and fish taking place. It is often regarded as John’s equivalent of the Institution Narratives in the Synoptic Gospels. Christ gives bread to the people and then fish – both of which are symbolic of himself. This giving of loaves and fish was also repeated in one of the appearances of the Risen Lord to the apostles after they had been fishing all night. If we acknowledge our own poverty and our dependence on God then he will fill us with his riches.
Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 32; John 6:16-21
In the Acts of the Apostles today we see that the number of believers has grown and with it a conflict between two different groups of Jewish-Christians – the Hellenists and the Hebrews. To help settle the dispute and to make sure that there are enough ministers for the minor matters to allow the disciples to look after their role, they institute the diaconate. They spend time in prayer and then choose seven men on whom they lay their hands to invoke the Holy Spirit – a gesture which is central to the Ordination Rites of the Church today. In the gospel, Jesus walks on water to the disciples out on the lake demonstrating that he is Lord of creation and can overcome the natural world and its rules as he wishes.
April 23 – April 29, 2023
Easter Season – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm 15; 1Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
In the first reading from the Acts, St Peter is addressing the gathering and boldly speaking to them of the Risen Lord. He is telling them that it is impossible for Christ to be held in Hades because he now has power over life and death. In the second reading, Peter is telling the people to remain faithful to Christ and to be on their guard whether they be at home or abroad. He reminds them of the tremendous ransom that was paid on their behalf, a ransom which cannot be equated with anything they or the world could ever possess. The gospel passage from St Luke recounts the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In the story, Christ meets two men but we are only given one name which suggests that Luke sees the second man as representing all the followers of Christ who have doubts. Christ appears to them and asks how they are and gradually he opens their eyes to him. So too he opens our eyes in many and different ways.
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 118; John 6:22-29
Today’s first reading sees the arrest of St Stephen for proclaiming the message of Christ and the Gospel. Stephen is undaunted because all that he says is being guided by the Holy Spirit and Stephen is content – so much so that “his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.” In the gospel, we have the continuation of the sixth chapter of St John and in it we see the people following Jesus because they want more of the bread that he had given them. He tells them that the bread they must work and long for is the bread of eternal life and that they must believe in him. We are called to believe in Christ even to the point of suffering for him like Stephen did.
St Mark, the Evangelist
1Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 88; Mark 16:15-20
In our first reading for this feast, St Peter gives instruction to the people on how they should live with one another. In the letter he makes mention of St Mark, who is one of his companions. The gospel account from Mark tells of Christ’s commandment to his followers that they are to go out and spread his Gospel everywhere. Mark himself did this through his travels with St Paul and later with Peter and particularly through the written word of his Gospel.
There is not very much known about St Mark. It was thought that he was the young man referred to in Mark 14:51-52 who fled at the arrest of Jesus, though there is no proof. He was a companion of St Paul on his first missionary journey as noted by Paul in his writings. Later he joined St Peter, on whose teachings his Gospel is based and which was written for Christians who were being persecuted in Rome to show them that Christ too suffered but never gave up. According to tradition, he founded the Church in Alexandria and was probably its bishop when he was martyred about the year 74. The symbol for St Mark is the winged lion.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 8:1-8; Psalm 65; John 6:35-40
Our reading today from the Acts of the Apostles shows that the persecution of the early Church did not end with the death of the first martyr – Stephen. It increased and we are now introduced to one of the greatest of those persecutors – Saul of Tarsus. Many now leave the area but as they travel they spread the Gospel wherever they go. In the gospel text for today, Jesus speaks of himself as the bread of life and that those who believe in him shall have eternal life. Again, the readings this week remind us of what took place during the Triduum and of what has been won for us: salvation and eternal life. We are reminded to believe in Christ and in him alone.
Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 65; John 6:44-51
The Acts of the Apostles today tells of St Philip and his work of preaching and baptising in the name of Christ as he travelled. On one of his journeys he meets an Ethiopian official who is having difficulty understanding some of the texts from the Prophet Isaiah. Philip travels with the official and begins to tell him about Christ as the suffering servant the official has been reading about. The official then asks for baptism. The Psalm could have been used by Philip as he travelled and preached. Today’s gospel continues the theme of yesterday’s text – Christ is the bread of life and we are all called to believe in him in order to have eternal life.
Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 116; John 6:52-59
Today we read of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, an event of major significance for the early Church. The event had such a profound effect on Saul that he became a firm believer in Christ and became a fearless preacher of the Good News. The gospel is from the sixth chapter of St John’s gospel in which Jesus is clarifying all that he has said so far about being the bread of life which brings eternal life to the believers who receive him into their hearts. With the image of the conversion of St Paul before us today we are challenged to look closely at our lives and to accept Christ as our Saviour and so spread the Good News of the kingdom wherever we may go.
St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Europe
1 John 1:5-2:2; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:25-30
The first reading from the first letter of St John calls on us to live in the light, just as St Catherine of Siena did. If we live in the light we will not go wrong and we will live in truth before God and our fellow men and women. The gospel passage too can be applied to today’s saint for she brought comfort to many who were poor through her gentleness and humility of heart. We too are called to look after others and to share our belongings, our time and our life with them.
About St Catherine of Siena:
Born in Siena in 1347, Catherine became a Dominican Tertiary and lived a life of charitable works. She became involved in politics and was instrumental in getting Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon for Rome. She died in 1380 leaving behind more than 400 letters and a great mystical work, Dialogue. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and Patroness of Europe in the Jubilee Year, 2000.