Reflections on Daily Readings 2024
March 31st - April 27th, 2024
March 31 – April 6, 2024
Easter Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 117; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, 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 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 7 – April 13, 2024
Easter Season – The Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 117; 1John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31
In our first reading today we read of the ideal way of living the Christian message – everyone united together in faith, looking out for one another and sharing their possessions for the good of all. Our Psalm is a hymn of praise to God. St John tells us in the second reading that those who truly believe in Christ are the sons and daughters of God and will overcome the world. We do this by loving God and our neighbour and by keeping the commandments which, John tells us, are not difficult to keep if we put our mind to it. Our gospel text recounts the first visit of Jesus to his disciples eight days after the resurrection. They are amazed but they were also filled with joy and he sends them out to preach the Good News to all peoples. Important for us in this text is the fact that St Thomas was not there and because he did not see Jesus he refuses to believe. He is there the next time Jesus returns and is told to put his finger in the wounds showing that Jesus knew what Thomas had said. We all doubt from time to time – as did Thomas – but Thomas represents each of us and received the proof on our behalf. Therefore, with him we are called on to say “My Lord, and my God.” Another way of looking at this text is that perhaps Thomas refused to believe because of who it was he was listening to. Perhaps we too fail to accept something as true because of how we view those who are telling us. No matter who spreads the faith, the faith has Christ and the Holy Spirit behind it to confirm it and so we need to listen and to believe.
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Today is celebrated as a solemnity as it recalls the day when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that God had chosen her to play an important role in the plan of salvation – that of bearing the Christ-child. Key for us is Mary’s acceptance of this task even though the whole episode must have terrified her.
Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Psalm 39; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
The readings for this solemnity all point towards one very important word – “Yes.” They each speak of doing the will of God with open hearts. The gospel text recounts Gabriel’s visit to Mary to tell her that she is to bear the Saviour of the world. Mary answers “yes” to God and we too are called on to say “yes” to him every day of our lives and to trust in his goodness as completely as did Mary. Our gospel today also reminds us of Christ’s “yes” in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was faced with the prospect of dying for us. Yet in that “yes” which caused his death he also secured our salvation. Now is the time for us to say “yes” to him and to truly gain that salvation.
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.
Memorial of St Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr
Stanislaus was born in Szczepanow in 1030 and became bishop of Cracow in 1072. It is said that he was martyred in 1079 by Prince Boleslaus II, who is said to have been a cruel and evil man and for which Stanislaus had excommunicated him.
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 14 – April 20, 2024
Easter Season – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4; 1John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48
In our first reading we see St Peter still teaching the people about Christ and telling them that they had betrayed the Prince of Life for a murderer. However, despite the gravity of the charge he lays against them he goes on to tell them that they will be saved if they repent of their sins and return to God. In the second reading St John tells us that all our sins are taken away by Christ who is our advocate before the Father, so we should never despair when we do wrong but should turn to God in confidence knowing that his love is far greater than ours. In our gospel, we have St Luke’s account of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples. He greets them and then shows them his wounds and invites them to touch him so that they can see that it really is him. They heard others tell about seeing him and yet they still doubted the veracity of the resurrection. But now he teaches them again and they come to see that all that is happening has been foretold in scripture. We too are called on to have true faith in the risen Lord because he is still merciful and will intercede for us before the Father no matter how often we fall. The Lord reminds us that repentance is to be preached to the whole world and that we are to do the preaching.
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.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 7:51-8:1; Psalm 30; John 6:30-35
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the trial of St Stephen and of how he tells those who are persecuting him that they have killed the long-awaited Messiah. However, Stephen finds comfort in the knowledge that the Messiah is waiting to receive him in to eternal life and so Stephen becomes the first martyr for Christ. As he dies, Stephen asks God to forgive those who have persecuted him. The words of the Psalm could easily have come from Stephen’s lips as he was being martyred. The people in the gospel ask Christ for bread and remind him of the manna in the desert. He tells them that the only true bread is the bread of life – which is himself. We are called to put our total trust in Christ and in the Father as Stephen did.
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.
Memorial of Blessed Baptist Spagnoli of Mantua, Carmelite Priest
Baptist Spagnoli was born on April 17, 1447, the eldest son of a Spanish nobleman at the court of Mantua, in the plains of Northern Italy. His early days did not please his father but after some years of study he entered the Carmelite Order at Ferrara which was, at the time, under the Reform of Mantua and operated as a separate congregation within the Order. He continued his studies and was ordained priest before being elected on six occasions as superior of the Congregation, and eventually Prior General of the Order in 1513. He also embarked on a number of diplomatic missions for the papacy. He continued to write and some of his writings survive today. He was also quoted by William Shakespeare (Love’s Labour Lost, Act IV, scene 2, line 95ff). He died in Mantua on March 20, 1516.
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.
Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 115; John 6:60-69
As we continue reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see that with the conversion of Saul (who now goes by his Roman name of ‘Paul’ rather than the Jewish ‘Saul’) the Christians are now free to preach and to proclaim the Risen Christ. St Peter continues his travels and in the name of Christ he cures people and restores the dead to life. In our gospel text for today we come to the end of our reading of St John’s sixth chapter and we see that many who have been listening to Christ are unable to believe or to accept what he has been saying about being the bread of life. When he asks the apostles what they think, Peter replies that there is nobody else to go to for he is the one who has the message of eternal life. This is the faith that we are called to profess.
April 21 – April 27, 2024
Easter Season – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 117; 1John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18
In our first reading we see St Peter talking to the elders a short while after he had cured a cripple, which the elders were not pleased with because he had done so in the name of the Risen Lord. They had hoped that in killing Jesus they would kill off his support as well and yet here was Peter and his companions preaching and healing in Christ’s name. Peter reminds them of what they did and tells them that Christ is the keystone, the only name by which we can be saved. St John tells us in the second reading that, as followers of Christ and children of God, we are outcasts from the world which does not want to know us. But because of the Father’s great love, those who believe in him and live by his commandments will live in glory with God. In the gospel, we have the ‘Good Shepherd’ passage from St John in which Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd who willingly gives his life for his sheep. Those who believe in him listen to his voice and do as he commands and will be gathered together into the one true fold. The challenge for us is to live as outcasts from the world and to shun the ways of this world for the glory which has been promised us through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 41; John 10:11-18
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter is being criticised for associating with uncircumcised people. He tells those who are criticising him that what he did was instructed by God. Clearly, the message of God is meant for all people to hear and to believe regardless of their current beliefs. In the gospel text – a continuation of that for the Fourth Sunday of Easter – Jesus speaks to the people and likens himself to a shepherd, but a shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Christ tells us that many shepherds run away at the first sign of trouble but that the Good Shepherd, the true shepherd who has concern for his flock, freely lays down his life to save those entrusted to him. There is also the suggestion that others outside the Church will also be saved by Christ.
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 86; John 10:22-30
Our continuous reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a constant reminder of the sort of life we are called to – one which proclaims Christ and his Gospel in word and deed. Today’s reading notes that the name “Christian” is used for the first time. It also notes that the Good News is deliberately preached to the Gentiles for the first time thanks to the teaching of St Philip in Samaria and St Peter’s contact with Cornelius, a Roman centurion. In the gospel, the theme of sheep and shepherd is used again today. Despite all that Christ has said to this point, many of those who have heard him have failed to understand what he has been saying. They have failed because they are not the sheep of his flock but follow another shepherd.
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 12:24-13:5; Psalm 66; John 12:44-50
Saints Paul and Barnabas have just completed their work in Antioch (one of the largest cities in the world at the time) in today’s first reading. However, they are again called by the Holy Spirit and so resume their travels in the name of Christ once more, this time travelling to the Gentiles in Cyprus and southern Turkey. In the gospel, Christ proclaims that he is the light of the world who has been sent by the Father to bring all those who believe in him to eternal life, and that to believe in Christ is to believe in the Father.
Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist
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.
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.
Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2; John 14:1-6
St Paul, in our first reading, continues teaching the people in the synagogue in Pisidia and tells them that when the Jews in Jerusalem had Jesus put to death, they did no more than fulfil sacred scripture. In the gospel, Jesus tells us – in response to a pessimistic remark from St Thomas – that he is the way, the truth and the life and that if we believe in him, we too will have life. Christ is the only way to the Father – as we heard earlier this week – there is no other and any other which appears to suit us better and be more in line with our own views will not bring us to eternal life. Christ is the embodiment of the truth he speaks about and he is the one who gives life to our Eucharistic celebration.
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 13:44-52; Psalm 97; John 14:7-14
In our passage from the Acts of the Apostles we read that many more people are now coming to the synagogue to hear Saints Paul and Barnabas and the message they bring. The Jews are not happy at this but the people are because not all of them are Jews and yet the message is being preached freely to everyone regardless of their current beliefs. In the gospel, Jesus continues to teach his disciples that he and the Father are one and that in believing in him they are believing in the Father. St Philip is slow to believe or to understand that God the Father and God the Son are one and the same person though he has heard this many times from Christ’s own mouth. We have heard these words all our lives and must ask ourselves whether we believe them or whether we’re a little hesitant. True faith is when we accept such mysteries without waiting for proof.