Reflections on Daily Readings
August 1st - August 28th, 2021
August 1st to August 7th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Eighteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Exodus 16:2-4; Psalm 77; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus, the Jewish people are travelling through the wilderness away from Egypt and they complain that they have nothing to eat. So the Lord provides them with manna – bread from heaven – to satisfy them. In the gospel passage from St John we see Jesus telling the people that he is the bread of life. The bread which the people had every day did not last and so they sought for something better. What Christ gives is eternal and comes from God. That bread is given to us at every celebration of the Mass and it will bring us eternal life.
In the second reading St Paul tells us that we must undergo a spiritual revolution and put aside our material desires. In so doing we will draw closer to Christ and to the eternal life he has promised to each of us.
Numbers 11:4-15; Psalm 80; Matthew 14:13-21
In our first reading from the Book of Numbers we have the account of the people complaining that all they have to eat is manna which they have now grown tired of. The Lord is angry but Moses pleads with him out of fear. We can also sense Moses’ frustration at the constant whining of the people who still prefer their life of servitude under the Egyptians to their life of freedom under God. In the Gospel we see Jesus feeding the multitude from five loaves and two fish. The people came wishing to listen to him even as he mourned for John the Baptist and they received more than they had expected. Those who turn to the Lord in faith and openness of heart will be fed and strengthened by him for their earthly journey.
Numbers 12:1-13; Psalm 50; Matthew 14:22-36
In the first reading today from the Book of Numbers we see that Moses has married a Cushite woman which did not find favour with Miriam and Aaron so they speak against Moses. Part of their anger also comes from jealousy at the fact that they did not have the same standing in God’s eyes as their brother Moses. They too had acted on behalf of God but Moses was the one with all the glory. The Lord is angered by this and he summons the three of them to the tent of meeting where he reprimands Miriam and Aaron for speaking against his servant. As the Lord departs, Miriam is turned into a leper. Aaron asks the Lord for forgiveness but it is the prayer of Moses which sees Miriam cured – proving his closeness to God and his superiority. The Psalm reminds us of Aaron and Miriam asking for forgiveness for speaking against Moses. In the Gospel we see Jesus walking across the lake to the disciples who were fishing. Peter begins to walk across the water to him but he doubts what he is doing and flounders. The episode is a further reminder that Christ is the Lord of all Creation and has power even over nature itself. It also reminds us that with faith in Christ we can overcome anything and be successful in our endeavours.
Numbers 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-29, 34-35; Psalm 105; Matthew 15:21-28
In our first reading today from the Book of Numbers we see that Moses has sent men into Canaan to check out the country. They come back and give a favourable report as to its fertility but a negative one as to the people they wish to displace. The people again complain against God and doubt his ability to deliver the land to them. Therefore he punishes them by allowing them to wander for a generation in the desert so that most of their current number will never see the Promised Land. In the Gospel text from St Matthew we see Jesus initially refusing to help a woman because she was of the wrong tribe. However, when she proves her faith, he grants her request and cures her sick daughter. We are reminded that simply asking the Lord for something is useless unless we have faith and demonstrate that faith by living Christian lives.
Memorial of St John Mary Vianney, Priest
Vianney, commonly known as the Curé d’Ars, was born in Dardilly, France in 1786. Due to his educational difficulties he was almost refused ordination but was ordained priest in 1815, being appointed curate in the town of Ars near Lyons in 1818, where he was to minister for the rest of his life. Nothing in life mattered to him except matters spiritual so that his clothes were falling apart, his food was insufficient and he hardly slept, but he still attracted thousands to his little church where many benefited from his hidden knowledge and his gifts of healing. It is said that over 1,000 people a week came to him in the twelve months before he died in 1859. He was canonized in 1925 and named patron saint of parish clergy four years later.
Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 94; Matthew 16:13-23
We see the people continue their complaints against God in the reading from the Book of Numbers. Again the complaint is about food so the Lord orders Moses to strike the rock so that water would flow for the people. Moses does this but not quite as the Lord commanded, so Moses is told that he will not lead the people into the Promised Land. The Psalm reminds us of the complaining of the people. In the Gospel for today we have St Peter’s great profession of faith – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ then goes on to predict his death in Jerusalem and Peter pleads with him not to go there and, for this, the Lord rebukes him for trying to prevent what must happen. Despite his profession of faith Peter still did not fully understand what that profession really meant. Whenever we seek to prevent the spread of the kingdom – knowingly or otherwise – we are taking the place of Satan. God’s ways are not our ways and so we should always be open to the work of God in our lives.
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or 2 Peter 1-16-19; Psalm 96; Mark 9:2-10
This feast commemorates the day when Jesus, in the company of Peter, James and John, was transformed before their eyes on a mountain top. It reminds us of the various occasions in the Old Testament when people, such as Moses, met with God on mountains and spoke with him there. In the Transfiguration, God is heard to speak from heaven which re-enforces who Jesus Christ is for the Apostles who were with him.
Feast of St Albert of Trapani, Carmelite Priest
Albert was born in Trapani, Sicily, in the 1240s. He joined the Carmelite Order and was ordained priest, becoming Provincial in Sicily in 1296. Due to his piety and holiness many came to hear him preach and to be cured of their illnesses. He took part in missionary journeys. During the Siege of Messina in 1301 the authorities asked Albert and his companions to pray for an end to the siege. The story is told that as Albert finished Mass some ships ran the blockade with food for the people and soon after the siege was lifted. He died at Messina in 1306/1307
Isaiah 58:6-12; Psalm 1; 2Corinthians 4:1-6; Mark 10:17-30
Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah exhorts us to live a life of integrity and to be a light that leads people out of darkness towards the light of Jesus Christ. The text speaks very much about the life of Albert of Trapani for he did give his bread to the hungry, he did clothe the poor, he was a man of great integrity and the people came to him to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ from his lips.
The second reading from St Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians reminds us to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to the full message which he preached: we are not to shy away from proclaiming ourselves to be his disciples and we are not to water down the message to make it acceptable to those who are unhappy with parts of it. Albert fulfilled the second reading by preaching about Jesus Christ throughout his life.
The gospel from St Mark sees a rich young man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life and Jesus tells him that he must keep the commandments, give to the poor from his abundant wealth, and follow him. The young man was able do two of the three but, for eternal life, all three are required. This is a reminder that there are obstacles which we place between ourselves and God and which we must overcome if we are to be his true disciples. Albert is an example for us for he was able to live out all three showing that it is possible.
August 8th to August 14th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Nineteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
1Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 33; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51
We see a very dejected and hopeless Elijah in the first reading from the first Book of the Kings for he is being hounded by the people. He goes into the wilderness to escape but the angel of the Lord comes to him with food and drink which strengthens Elijah so that he can make the long journey to Mount Horeb. In the gospel we see Jesus again teaching the people that he is the bread of life which has come down from heaven and which can bring them eternal life. He is also very clear that it is his flesh which will give life to the world.
In the second reading St Paul exhorts us to live in the Spirit of God and to believe in Christ. We are to live in peace and harmony with one another. If we believe in Christ then this will be easy to do and we will inherit the kingdom which Jesus promised us in the gospel.
Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Carmelite, Martyr & Co-Patroness of Europe
Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891, the eleventh child of a Jewish family living in Breslau in what was then Germany (today Poland). She studied and became a lecturer of philosophy and knew many of the leading philosophers of her day including Edmund Husserl (for whom she was an assistant) and Martin Heidegger. She became a Catholic in 1922 having been moved by the life of St Teresa of Avila. Eleven years later she entered the Carmel at Cologne and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. During the Nazi persecution, she moved to the Carmel in Echt, Holland, to ease the pressure on the Carmel in Cologne, but there she was arrested along with her sister, Rosa, and sent to Auschwitz. Upon arrival at the concentration camp, she was gassed on August 9, 1942, offering up her holocaust for the people of Israel. Her writings are noted for their doctrinal richness and spirituality including The Hidden Life and The Science of the Cross. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Cologne on May 1, 1987, being canonized at Rome twelve years later. She was also named Co-Patroness of Europe.
Esther 4C:12-16, 23, 25; Psalm 33; John 4:19-24
In the first reading from the book of Esther, we see Queen Esther pleading before God for her people. Her husband had been tricked into having the Jews treated badly with a view to their extermination, and so she pleaded to God for their safety before going before the king herself. Having been born a Jew, Teresa Benedicta also pleaded for her people during the Holocaust and offered her life for their salvation.
In the gospel, we see Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman at a well despite the fact that Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other, and she was also an unaccompanied woman. In the conversation the Lord tells her that it does not matter where she worships so long as she has faith and worships the one true God – the Jews held that one could only worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, whereas the Samaritans worshipped on Mount Gerizim. As a result of the conversation, the woman came to believe in Jesus as her Messiah as did many of the people of her town following her original call to them.
Feast of St Laurence the Deacon, Martyr
2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 111; John 12:24-26
Laurence was one of the seven deacons in Rome under Pope St Sixtus II. Three days after Sixtus was martyred in 258, Laurence was himself martyred by being roasted alive on a grid-iron. He is remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 65; Matthew 18:15-20
Today we read of the death of Moses and how Joshua, son of Nun and military commander, led the people to the Promised Land. Before he dies, Moses ascends to the top of Mount Nebo close to the Dead Sea where he has a good view of the land the Chosen People are now about to enter. In preparing Joshua for this moment, we are told that Moses laid his hands on Joshua, a ritual which is still part of the Ordination Rite to this day. Our Psalm is a hymn of praise for all the Lord has done. In the Gospel, we see Jesus giving instructions for sorting out legal problems. It may seem odd that he would tell his followers to treat people like pagans and tax collectors if they did not listen but then we must remember that the tax collectors he had with him were those who demonstrated their faith in him and so were welcomed into his flock. In the last part of the passage he tells us that where two or three are gathered in his name that he is there among them. This is not simply confined to prayer and the Church but could be any gathering for prayer, business, etc., and which should begin with a prayer to the Lord for guidance.
Memorial of St Clare, Virgin & Religious
Clare was born in Assisi 1193 and left home at the age of 18 to join St Francis of Assisi. Influenced by his ideas she established the first convent of Franciscan nuns, today known as the Poor Clares, at San Damiano, and spent the rest of her life in that convent. She died in 1253 and was canonized two years later.
Joshua 3:7-11, 13-17; Psalm 113A; Matthew 18:21-19:1
In the reading from the Book of Joshua we see that the Ark of the Lord leads the people on dry ground across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The Ark reminds us of the cloud which guided the people out of Egypt, and the crossing of the River Jordan reminds us of the crossing through the Red Sea. The journey which began so long ago has now reached its conclusion and fulfilment. The Psalm summarises some of the events which have taken place since the Passover in Egypt. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the importance of forgiveness. We are forgiven by God for what we have done wrong when we go to confession but the sacrament is negated if we ourselves do not forgive those who have hurt us or sinned against us. Jesus uses a story to illustrate this for his listeners. It is not always easy to forgive others but it is something which we must be prepared to do because it would be hypocritical of us to expect forgiveness for what we have done while we withhold forgiveness from others.
Joshua 24:1-13; Psalm 135; Matthew 19:3-12
In our first reading today from the Book of Joshua, the Lord speaks through Joshua and reminds the people of all that he has done for them – how he freed them from slavery in Egypt, fought battles on their behalf and gave them a land that they never worked and towns that they never built. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for all this. Our Gospel text today is not an easy one for many people for it deals with marriage and in it Christ is quite clear that marriage is indissoluble regardless of the circumstances. The Jews were allowed to divorce and so Christ was very much out of step with the tradition within which he had grown up but he tells the people that they only have divorce because they were stubborn people. However, he, as God, tells us that divorce is not in keeping with the Divine plan and so is not acceptable.
Joshua 24:14-29; Psalm 15; Matthew 19:13-15
Our reading from the Book of Joshua sees Joshua asking the people which god they wish to serve – the true God or the gods of the land they have just entered. They wish to serve the true God and Joshua reminds them that if they go astray they will be cast off by the God they have sworn to serve. Joshua renews the covenant that was made on Mount Sinai and then divides the land among the tribes of Israel. Again today we see Jesus welcoming children and reminding his listeners to be like children in their faith. Too often we try to rationalise things or explain them scientifically and so miss the mysterious and the divine at work in our world. But a child trusts their parents implicitly and this is what we too must do. Only by trusting God completely can we inherit eternal life.
Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe, Priest & Martyr
Maximilian was born near Lodz, in Poland in 1894 (then part of Russia). He became a Franciscan in 1910 and both his parents also entered religious orders. He also founded a community in Japan in 1930 and returned to Europe in 1936. With the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 he and his community gave shelter to Poles and Jews who were being rounded up by the Nazi regime. For this he was imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp where he ministered to his fellow prisoners. In reprisal for an escape by some prisoners, the camp authorities took ten men to be starved to death, one of which came from Maximilian’s bunker. Maximilian volunteered to take the man’s place and so was deprived of food for two weeks. He was eventually put to death by lethal injection on August 14, 1941. He was canonized by his fellow countryman, Pope John Paul II, in 1982. Among those at the canonization was the man whose life he had saved by his heroic act in 1941.
August 15th to August 21st, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Twentieth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven
Apocalypse 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 44; Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56
This solemnity celebrates the fact that at the end of Mary’s life, her body was assumed into heaven rather than undergo decay in the earth. Though maintained by the faithful for centuries, it was only proclaimed a dogma of the faith by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
Judges 2:11-19; Psalm 105; Matthew 19:16-22
In our first reading today from the Book of Judges we see that the people have quickly deserted the way of the Lord and do all that is against his will and so he allowed them to be taken and subjected by their enemies. He appointed judges for them but as soon as each judge died they behaved worse than ever before because even though the leadership was strong, they themselves were weak. This sequence of events took place over a period of about 150 years from the time the Chosen People arrived in the Promised Land to the time of the first king. This also corresponds to the time when the Hebrews moved from being nomads to being settled farmers. In the Gospel we have the story of the rich young man who comes to Jesus seeking eternal life. He has kept the commandments but Jesus tells him that he must give up all that he has. To most people the young man deserves eternal life because he did no wrong but Jesus makes a distinction between being good and being perfect. It’s easy enough to be good but it takes real conviction to be perfect.
Judges 6:11-24; Psalm 84; Matthew 19:23-30
In our reading form the Book of Judges we see the Lord appointing Gideon as the one who will free his people from the oppression of the Midianites who were roving bands of nomads from the Arabian Desert. We are reminded in this of Christ for scripture referred to his birth-place as the least of the tribes and this is how Gideon refers to himself. He seeks a sign that it is the Lord who is speaking and he receives one and so believes. In our Gospel text the disciples are worried that they will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven given what Jesus tells them. But he reassures them and us by telling us that while relying on our own abilities we cannot enter heaven, but with God on our side we can enter and receive our inheritance. We, like Gideon, have been given a mission but, unlike Gideon, we will not be given a specific individual sign but must trust in the Lord and live Christian lives. If we wait for a sign we will be waiting a long time and may miss the kingdom completely.
Memorial of Our Lady of Knock
Readings of the Day or from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At about 8.00pm on August 21, 1879, a wet evening, fifteen people in a remote part of Co Mayo witnessed an apparition on the gable wall of the parish church in Knock. In the apparition were Our Lady, St Joseph her spouse, St John the Evangelist, an altar and cross, angels, and a lamb. Everything was in white and nothing was said. The apparition lasted about two hours and over the years several inquiries were held – even as late as 1936 with the remaining survivors, some of whom were then living abroad. Today, Knock Shrine is the most important Marian shrine in Ireland and draws many pilgrims from around the world. In 1979, Blessed John Paul II, on his Apostolic Visit to Ireland, prayed at the site of the apparition.
Judges 9:6-15; Psalm 20; Matthew 20:1-16
In our first reading we see that the people have proclaimed Abimelech as their king despite the fact that the Lord was their king. In his story about trees, Jotham suggests that Abimelech will not be a good king and that in fact a king is not what the people need at all. In the Gospel text from St Matthew, we see Jesus using a parable in which a landowner pays all of his servants the same wages though some had worked only an hour while others worked for the full day. The workers are, naturally, unhappy though he paid them according to the agreement he made with each one. The Lord has made an agreement with each one of us which is that if we keep his commandments and live according to the Gospel then we will inherit eternal life. What is important is that we look after ourselves and not be worrying or be nosey about others and what they are doing or not doing as the case may be. The Lord deals with each person individually and while we worship collectively and live as members of one family we must look after ourselves and make sure that we are truly living out the Gospel values.
Judges 11:29-39; Psalm 39; Matthew 22:1-14
In our reading today from the Book of Judges we see Jephthah being successful over the Ammonites. But the victory comes at a high price because he must now sacrifice his daughter – his only child – in return for the victory and the vow he had made to God. We are reminded of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his only son and of Christ, who gave himself to fulfil the Covenant Promise. In the Gospel we have the parable of the marriage feast to which none of those who were initially invited bother to attend. The wedding banquet represents the kingdom and God is the king who issues the invites. He is under no obligation to issue the invites but he invites everyone and anyone just as he has invited all of us. An important part of accepting the invite is that we prepare ourselves properly for admittance to the banquet and that means converting our lives to the Gospel. There is a note of urgency in the text which reminds us to convert today and not tomorrow for tomorrow may never come for some of us.
Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14-16, 22; Psalm 145; Matthew 22:34-40
Our first reading today comes from the Book of Ruth and in it we see Naomi returning to her own people for she has heard that the Lord is with them and looking after them. She herself has suffered the loss of her husband and her two sons and now one of her daughters-in-law is returning to her own people. But the second daughter-in-law – Ruth, a Gentile – will not leave her but clings to her and takes Naomi’s people as her people and Naomi’s God as her God. In the Gospel Jesus is questioned by the authorities as to what he saw as the greatest commandment. He quotes the Shema Israel (“Listen, Israel . . .” – Deuteronomy) as the core of the faith. He also adds love of neighbour as the second commandment. Our Lord then says that everything hangs on these two commandments because if we fulfil the letter of the Law but without love of God or love of neighbour, then our observance of the Law will be of little value to us. In all that we do we must work from a foundation of love.
Memorial of St Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church
Bernard was born near Dijon in France in 1090. In 1112 he joined the Cistercian monastery of Cîteaux along with thirty other young men. Soon after he established the monastery of Clairvaux and was its first abbot. He worked tirelessly for the unity of the Church and against heresies and was not afraid to dispute with princes or to give advice to popes. He took part in Oecumenical and other councils, travelled extensively to preach the faith and established 68 other Cistercian monasteries. He died in 1153 and was canonized twenty-one years later.
Ruth 2:1-3, 8-11, 4:13-17; Psalm 127; Matthew 23:1-12
We see Ruth being rewarded in the first reading for her kindness to her mother-in-law, Naomi. In time she marries a man of her father-in-law’s tribe, named Boaz, and she gave birth to a son whose grandson was King David. In our Gospel text, Jesus tells the people to do what the scribes and Pharisees tell them to do for they have authority, but he also tells them not to do what the scribes and Pharisees actually do for they do it for show. Our faith and the expression of our faith must be genuine for if it is done for show then people will see through this very quickly and God quickest of all. Our lives must be humble and genuinely Christian if we are to inherit the kingdom.
Memorial of Pope St Pius X
Giuseppe Sarto was born in 1835 and was ordained priest in 1858. He was made Bishop of Mantua in 1884 and eight years later was created Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. In 1903 he was elected Pope. During his pontificate he urged daily communion and facilitated the communion of children and the sick. He encouraged Bible reading and tackled Modernism. He died two weeks after the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and was canonized forty years later.
August 22nd to August 28th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-First Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 33; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69
In our first reading we see Joshua calling the people together at Shechem and asking them whom they wish to serve – the true God or the gods of the local peoples. They opt for the true God who led them from Egypt and say that they will not desert him. In the gospel we come to the end of the sixth chapter of St John’s Gospel and with it the end of the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus has told the people that he is the bread of life, that only those who eat of his flesh can have eternal life, and that he is the Son of Man. Many of those who had listened to him are not happy at these words and so they leave him and refuse to listen to him again. On behalf of the disciples St Peter says that he will stay with Christ because he has the message of eternal life. We too must ask ourselves whether or not we believe in Christ’s message and whether or not we follow the Lord as the people in the first reading swore to do. If we truly believe in the words Christ spoke then that should be evident in the way in which we treat others.
In the second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, St Paul calls on us to love and respect one another for we are all part of Christ’s mystical body here on earth. Paul also reminds us that this has many implications for us and for how we should live.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8-10; Psalm 149; Matthew 23:13-22
Today we begin reading from St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians and which was written in Corinth between 50-51 AD, possibly following reports received from St Timothy. In today’s opening section we see Paul reminding them that God loves them. Many of Paul’s letters were written to bring his readers back to the right path and to keep them faithful to God. In this letter he does this by reminding the people of all that they have received from God and of the great faith they had from the outset. The Christian Community at Thessalonica was founded there by Paul about twenty years after the Resurrection on what was an important point on the trade routes between east and west. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for God. In the Gospel we see Jesus rebuking the scribes and Pharisees because they have become too interested in technicalities and are, therefore, a block to the people drawing closer to God. This is a constant reminder to us that we can become too engrossed in details and so miss out on a wonderful and intimate relationship with God who does so much for us.
Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle
Apocalypse 21:9-14; Psalm 144; John 1:45-51
Very little is known about Bartholomew apart from his being listed among the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels. Many scholars identify him as the Nathanael who came to visit Jesus under the cover of darkness in the first chapter of St John’s Gospel. Tradition holds that he preached the faith in India, though there is no evidence of this.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Psalm 138; Matthew 23:27-32
St Paul tells the Thessalonians in the first reading of how he slaved for the people in order to bring them the Good News. He reminds them that he was a tentmaker and was therefore able to live off his own independence and not be a burden to others while preaching the Good News. This was possibly added to quieten those who tried to discredit Paul by saying that he preached solely for money. In our Gospel text for today, Jesus continues to berate the scribes and Pharisees and he tells them that, while they appear to be good on the outside, on the inside they are full of hypocrisy for they are no better than those who killed the prophets. There is a contrast in our readings today between the single-minded Paul of the first reading, who wants people to be saved, and the Pharisees of the Gospel who are looking after their own reputations and status rather than leading the people to God.
1 Thessalonians 3:7-13; Psalm 89; Matthew 24:42-51
In our first reading we see St Paul praising the Thessalonians because he has heard from St Timothy of their great faith. He is currently in Corinth where things are not going so well for him and he tells them that he wishes he could see them again as this would be a boost to him. Having praised them he goes on to encourage them to a greater love than they already have, a love which would encompass the whole human race. In the Gospel we see Jesus exhorting the people to be always ready because nobody knows when this life will end. We cannot be Christians whenever it suits us but must always live out our Christianity so that whenever the Lord does call he will find us ready and pure.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Psalm 96; Matthew 25:1-13
We see St Paul in our first reading explicitly calling the people of Thessalonica to holiness and to avoid anything which would lead them into sin and away from God. Sexual immorality was widespread in Paul’s day and he was aware that the Thessalonians were living in a society in which this was very common. He reminds them that each person can become a temple for the Holy Spirit and therefore every human being must be treated with great respect. In our Gospel text today we have the same theme as yesterday – that of being ready. Today Jesus uses the parable of the foolish bridesmaids who were caught out when the bridegroom arrived at an unexpected hour. Those who are prepared and have lived good lives will enter the kingdom with the Lord, but those who have not, will not necessarily enter because they may not have time to repent and return to the right path. It is quite easy for us to assume that we have years left in us yet, but, for some, it could all end today.
Memorial of St Monica
Born in North Africa to a Christian family in 332, Monica married a pagan, Patricius, who was converted due to her gentle ways. She then spent her energies in converting her eldest son – Augustine – to the faith. She followed him to Milan where she enlisted the help of St Ambrose, then Bishop of Milan, and in time Augustine was converted and became one of the greatest teachers in the Church. She died in Ostia in 387 while Augustine was taking her home to North Africa. Her last words, recorded in Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ were – “Lay this body wherever it may be. Let no care of it disturb you: this only I ask of you that you should remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be” (Confessions Book 9, Chapter 11).
1 Thessalonians 4:9-11; Psalm 97; Matthew 25:14-30
St Paul continues to encourage the people to love one another and today he tells them that it was from God that they learned to love and that with the help of God and their willingness they will learn to love even more than they do at present. He also reminds them that he taught them to live in such a way that others would see Christianity in action and so come to believe. We have the parable of the talents in our Gospel text for today and it is a reminder to us that we all have talents but that we won’t fully realise those gifts unless we actually try. Some have huge and obvious talents but everyone has small talents too and these are just as important as the big obvious ones that some people seem to have. In any case we must work to the best of our ability for the sake of the kingdom.
Memorial of St Augustine, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Augustine was born in Thagaste in North Africa in 354, one of four children of St Monica. He studied law and spent several years of his life following the ways of Manichaeism and fathered a child with his mistress. He was converted through the prayers of his mother, St Monica, with the help of St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who baptised him in 387. He returned to Africa and was made Bishop of Hippo in 396 where he established communities of priests and nuns. His Rule for religious institutes is the basis for many Congregations and Institutes of Apostolic Life today. He became the greatest of the Latin Fathers of the Church and spent much of his energies fighting heresies. His two best known works are ‘The Confessions’ and ‘De Civitate Dei’ (‘City of God’) which are still influential today. He died in 430.