Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
July 30th - August 26th, 2023
July 30 – August 5, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Seventeenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 118; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
Our first reading today comes from the first Book of the Kings and shows us Solomon who has just succeeded his father, David, as King of Israel. The Lord comes to Solomon and tells him to ask for whatever he wants but Solomon asks for just one thing – “a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil.” And this, the Lord grants him. In the gospel, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to fine pearls for which a person will give up everything else to attain them. The message is that the way to the kingdom is through wisdom and not through riches. We are also told in the second half of the passage that the Lord will separate the good from the bad at the end of time.
In the second reading, St Paul tells us that the Wisdom of God is the Word of God and by taking it to our hearts and living according to its values then we will share the Lord’s glory.
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34; Psalm 105; Matthew 13:31-35
In our last passage from the Book of Exodus we saw the people saying that they would obey the Lord’s commands and now today we see them worshipping a calf of gold. Moses had been a long time on the mountain and they had complained to Aaron so he made a golden idol for them to keep them quiet. Moses smashes the tablets of the Law – showing that the covenant they made with the Lord has been broken. He then returns to the Lord to seek forgiveness. The Lord tells him that he, Moses, will not be held responsible for the actions of the people for they are the ones that strayed so quickly, but they will be punished when the time comes. In the Gospel we see Jesus continuing to teach through parables. Both of today’s parables refer to the kingdom which begins as a small movement (Christ and his Apostles) and which suddenly grows and is revealed in all its grandeur. We are the leaven in society and without us the kingdom will not grow or flourish and the world will not achieve justice and peace.
Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Born in 1491 in Loyola of noble stock, Ignatius became a soldier. Having been wounded in battle against the French, Ignatius began reading sacred texts while he was recovering from his injuries and then went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He became a priest and began founding the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1534 and whose members are ready to serve the Church wherever needed. He died in 1556.
Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 33:7-11, 34:5-9, 28; Psalm 102; Matthew 13:36-43
In today’s text from Exodus we see Moses meeting the Lord in the tent of meeting and on the mountain top where he asks the Lord to forgive the stupidity of the people and to take them again as his heritage. Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain in the presence of God and received again the two tablets of the Law. The Psalm reminds us that the Lord is compassion and love and that he forgives those who have sinned. In today’s Gospel we see Jesus explaining the parable of the weeds, or the darnel, to his disciples. The weeds are the followers of the prince of darkness while the good seeds are the followers of Christ. At the end of time the good will be separated from the bad and the good will enter heaven while the bad will be cast below where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. This is yet another reminder for us to examine our lives and see where we are for we do not know when judgement day will come for each of us – maybe tomorrow, maybe next year.
Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Born near Naples in 1696, Alphonsus became a lawyer before becoming a priest, being ordained in 1726. He created the Redemptoristines in 1730 and founded the Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – C.Ss.R) in 1732 to work among the country peasants. By the time of his death in 1787 however, the Redemptorists were in a terrible state though he was no longer at its helm to help heal the rifts. From 1762 to 1775 he was bishop of the small diocese of Sant’Agata dei Goti.
Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 98; Matthew 13:44-46
In the first reading from the Book of Exodus, Moses returns to the people with the tablets of the Law. His face is now radiant because he has been in the presence of God and this happens every time he meets with God. Jesus tells us in the Gospel about a man who finds a field with a hidden treasure – he sells everything he has and buys the field. The kingdom of heaven is the most prized possession in existence and if we only realised this we would do all we could to make sure that we too attain it. We do so by believing in Christ, by daily converting to the Gospel and by proclaiming the Good News wherever we go.
Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38; Psalm 83; Matthew 13:47-53
We read of the construction of the first tabernacle by Moses in the Book of Exodus. The tabernacle contained the Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the Law and there the Lord dwelled. When the Lord left the tabernacle the Israelites moved on but when he was in the tabernacle they rested. In today’s Gospel passage we have another parable about the kingdom of God, this time using the analogy of fishermen. The parable reminds us that there are both saints and sinners here on earth but the final sifting should be left to God. Those who are worthy will enter heaven; those who are not worthy will not enter. Again we are challenged to look closely at our own lives and to do all we can to ensure that we are on the right path for entry into heaven, if that is truly what we seek.
Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34-37; Psalm 80; Matthew 13:54-58
In our reading from the Book of Leviticus the Lord instructs Moses about the solemn festivals which are to be held by the Jewish people each year – Pesach (the Passover) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). These are important reminders each year for the people of all that the Lord has done for them. In the Gospel we see Jesus returning to his home town and teaching the people. His ‘old neighbours’ however, dismiss him because they did not want their comfortable little world to be changed. As a result of their lack of faith he could work few miracles. Faith and healing are both gifts from God and if we refuse faith then we also refuse healing. We are all like the Nazarenes at times and need to remind ourselves that it is the kingdom we are talking about and that Jesus is the gate to that kingdom.
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.
Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 25:1, 8-17; Psalm 66; Matthew 14:1-12
In the text from Leviticus we read of the establishment of the jubilee year. The Lord instructs the people that every fiftieth year is to be a special year for them and they are to return to their own clans that year to celebrate the sacred jubilee. Part of the jubilee was also the practice of leaving the land fallow for that year to allow its fertility to return. It is a reminder that God is the Lord of Creation and the owner of all that exists. In the Gospel text we read of the martyrdom of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch. John died because of the vanity of Herod who had made a rash promise to a beautiful girl and was afraid to go back on it even though he knew that what he was about to do was wrong. It is not always easy to do the right thing but when it comes to the kingdom of God, the right thing is the only thing to do for it will secure our place in heaven alongside John the Baptist and those who gave their lives for the sake of the kingdom.
August 6 – August 12, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Eighteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 96; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28-36
This feast recalls the day when Christ was on top of Mount Tabor with a few of his disciples and in their sight he was transfigured. The glory with which he stood before them is the glory which awaits us on the last day when we shall enter the kingdom of heaven and be counted among the elect. The first reading from the book of Daniel speaks of the glory of God, of his appearance and of his white robes. The second reading from St Peter (a witness to the transfiguration) also speaks of the glory of Christ.
The gospel text from St Luke recounts the transfiguration of the Lord on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James and John. While the disciples look on Jesus is changed and his clothes appear as white as light while he speaks with Moses and Elijah. This suggests that Jesus is greater than both the Law and the Prophets. As with Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, the Father’s voice sounds from heaven to proclaim his satisfaction with his Son. We are given an insight today into the glory which awaits us and so we are reminded to remain always faithful if we are to attain that glory.
Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Memorial of St Dominic, Priest
Born in Spain about the year 1170, Dominic first became an Augustinian canon regular. Throughout this time the Albigensian heresy was prevalent across southern France due to a lack of proper teaching and preaching. As a result, Dominic founded the Friars Preachers (Order of Preachers – O.P.), more commonly known as the Dominicans, for the purpose of preaching the true faith and in particular to combat Albigensianism. He died in 1221.
Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Martyr & Patroness of Europe
Hosea 2:16-17, 21-22; Psalm 44; Matthew 25:1-13
In our first reading we see that the Lord will lure his faithful one and betroth himself to her forever. This is appropriate for this feast for we remember that Edith Stein was Jewish by birth and over time she sought to give herself to God through the Christian Church while not forgetting her Jewish heritage. In our gospel we have the parable of the ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the bridegroom’s return. Some were foolish and were not ready for his return and so were left outside in the cold. Edith was ready when it came to her own death in the concentration camp and as that time loomed she also gave strength and solace to those around her. So today would be a good time to ask ourselves if we are ready for when the Lord calls us and have we done all that we could do to deepen our faith and to make God’s presence visible in our world.
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 things for the Carmel in Cologne but was arrested there and sent to Auschwitz. There 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, and 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 Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr
2Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 111; John 12:24-26
In our first reading today St Paul exhorts his readers to give alms to the poor and to look after them in any way possible, knowing that there will be abundant blessings from the Lord for this work or mercy. In our text from St John’s Gospel the Lord tells us that we must be like a grain of wheat because unless we die to the ways of this life and are born of the true and everlasting life we will be lost for ever. Lawrence lost his life but he did so with a great heart because what he did was done for the Lord and so his name and his example lives on to this day. He is an example to us that the life to come is of far greater value than the present life we live and that we should do all we can to secure our place alongside Lawrence in the kingdom.
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).
Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Psalm 76; Matthew 16:24-28
In the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, the last book of the Pentateuch, we see Moses rallying the people to return to God by reminding them of all that God had done for them both in Egypt and in the wilderness. The Psalm takes up this theme. In the Gospel we see Jesus teaching his disciples that those who directly seek happiness and pleasure will never find it but if they seek to do God’s will then they will find true happiness. We each have a cross to bear and we must gladly take that up as Jesus took up his cross. We can only have life if we follow Jesus’ example and remain faithful to God for true life is found, not on this earth, but in the kingdom to come.
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.
Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 6:4-13; Psalm 17; Matthew 17:14-20
In our first reading today, Moses gives the people the Shema Israel (Listen, Israel) which Christ later identified as the greatest commandment. These are the words which orthodox Jewish men wear on their foreheads and on their arms when praying. It is recited by all Jews in their morning and night prayers. It is also in the scroll found at doorways where we would have a holy water font. In the Gospel we see Jesus growing impatient with his disciples because they had been unable to cure a boy of his possession. Despite all they had seen and heard the disciples still have little faith and Jesus tells them that if their faith were stronger they could do anything. So too with us. If we have real faith in Christ and not just lip-service then we will overcome all adversities in life and gain eternal life.
August 13 – August 19, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Nineteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1Kings 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 84; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33
The power of God is a common thread in our readings today. In the first reading we see that God was to be found not in the mighty forces of nature but in the gentle breeze. The holy Prophet Elijah had gone to Horeb and took shelter in a cave and only came out when he heard the gentle breeze for he recognised this as being the presence of God. In the gospel we see Christ having power over the physical forces of nature and walking on water. Christ is always with us whether it be in the gentle breeze or in mighty power. While God is the Creator of all that there is he does always make his presence known in a great show of power but is to be seen and felt even in the quietest and most still moments in life.
In the second reading, we see St Paul lamenting the fact that the Israelites have prayed for centuries for the Messiah and yet they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah despite his miracles and his teaching. We are called on to believe in Christ and his presence even though we cannot see him. We are asked to take to heart his words in today’s gospel – “Do not be afraid.”
Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Psalm 147; Matthew 17:22-27
In our first reading today we see Moses calling the people together and reminding them of the importance of looking after the neediest people in their society – the poor, the orphaned, the widowed. He reminds them also of God’s love for them and urges them not just to have faith but to let that faith be seen in how they live their lives. In our Gospel text we see Jesus predicting his coming death at the hands of men but also his resurrection. The disciples are saddened to hear of his coming death but the prospect of his resurrection has little impact on them for they still did not fully understand all his teaching. We are reminded today to be faithful to God and to give thanks to him for all that we have received from his bounty and to let others see that faith at work in our lives.
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.
Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven
Apocalypse (Revelations) 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 44; 1Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56
The first reading from the Book of the Apocalypse refers to our Lady who, as Queen of Heaven, is robed in splendour and majesty. She gives birth to one of great importance who is taken directly to the throne of God, whose Son he is, while the Virgin flees to a special place – reminding us of her special place in heaven. In the second reading, St Paul tells us that Christ is the first-fruit – the first to rise from the dead. The gospel from St Luke contains the Magnificat – Mary’s beautiful hymn which she said upon meeting her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation. Today’s solemnity commemorates our Lady’s entry into glory, a glory which awaits us and which was prefigured on August 6th in the celebration of the Transfiguration of the Lord. 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.
Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
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.
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
August 20 – August 26, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Twentieth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 66; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
In our readings for today we see that the Word of God is meant not just for those who are baptized but for all peoples who live the gospel values. The one important criterion is belief in God. The first reading from Isaiah clearly tells us that those who live by God’s word and are faithful to him will be joyful in his house of prayer as the Lord gathers to his holy mountain all those who live by his precepts. In the gospel we see Jesus encountering a Canaanite woman who asked him to heal her daughter. Despite her ethnicity she professes faith in Christ and her daughter is healed. We must all believe in God and his Word and live lives worthy of the gospel values if we are to be saved.
The second reading from the letter to the Romans tells us that God is always merciful and that this mercy is always available to those who seek it. The mercy of God will always be there for us even if – for a time – we reject God and fail to live as he wants us to live.
Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 112; Luke 1:26-38
Our first reading today comes from the Prophet Isaiah and is commonly heard coming up to Christmas. In the text the prophet tells us about the Son who will be given to us and will bring us salvation through his self-sacrifice. The gospel text is St Luke’s account of the Annunciation in which we hear how the Son spoken of in the first reading will be born. As always, the readings on memorials and feastdays of Our Lady remind us of her great service to the word and will of God.
Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle
Apocalypse (Revelations) 21:9-14; Psalm 144; John 1:45-51
Our first reading from the Book of the Revelations made to St John the Evangelist, speaks of the new Jerusalem which has twelve foundation stones. The new Jerusalem is a metaphor for the Church established by Christ and built on the foundation of the apostles themselves. The wall symbolises the people of God. In the gospel we see Nathanael (Nathaniel) being brought to Jesus and we read of his declaration of faith because of what Jesus said to him. It is believed that this Nathanael is the St Bartholomew we honour today.
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.
Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Transverberation of St Teresa of Jesus (Avila)
This memorial, known also as the Ecstasy of Teresa of Avila or the ‘piercing of the heart’, marks the moment when her heart was pierced by an angel and set ablaze with the love of Christ. This is when Teresa entered into a spiritual marriage with the Lord, which very few people achieve. It was recorded in detail by Teresa in her Life and, when the saint had died and her body exhumed, while her body was incorrupt, it was discovered that her heart did in fact have a wound in keeping with that caused by being pierced by a spear.
1Corinthians 12:31; 13:1-10, 12-13; Psalm 39; John 14:23-27
Our first reading is one of the most beautiful texts in the New Testament and is quite appropriate for today’s memorial. In the text, from his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul speaks about love and what love is, which he does by telling us in part what love is not. No matter how great a person is or how powerful or intelligent, if they do not have love as the foundation of all that they do then they are nothing at all.
That theme is taken up in the gospel from St John in which Jesus says that those who love him will keep his word and he will make his home in their heart. This very much describes what happened to Teresa when she had the encounter with the angel and was joined in a powerful spiritual union with the Lord.