Reflections on Daily Readings 2024
July 28th - August 31st, 2024
July 28 – August 3, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Seventeenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 144; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-5
Our first reading and our gospel are strongly linked today because they both contain a similar miracle – the feeding of many people with small quantities of bread and fish. In the first reading from the second Book of the Kings we see the prophet Elisha feeding a hundred men with twenty barley loaves which they ate and still had some to spare though they were all satisfied. Our gospel for the coming few weeks comes from the sixth chapter of St John’s Gospel which is often referred to as ‘The Bread of Life Discourse.’ Alone among the gospels, St John’s does not contain the Institution Narrative from the Last Supper and this sixth chapter is seen as a development of the theology of the Eucharist for John and his Community. In today’s passage we see Jesus teaching more than five thousand people who he then them with five barley loaves and two small fish. Again the people eat all they want and are satisfied and still have some left over. We know that Christ feeds us with even greater bread than the people received from Elisha or Christ because we receive Christ’s own body and blood which bring us eternal life rather than the fleeting satisfaction the people received from the barley loaves.
In our second reading, St Paul tells us that there is only one baptism and that we all belong to the one Lord. Therefore, as members of the Body of Christ, we must live in charity and peace but above all we must believe in Christ if we are to receive the eternal life which he promised.
Memorial of St Martha
Little is known about Martha other than what is recounted in the Gospels. She was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and a friend of the Lord. She is the sister who frets over the guests while her sister sits and listens to Jesus. She is also the one who addresses Jesus when he arrives following the death of her brother, Lazarus, and who makes her declaration of faith (“I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”).
1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from St John’s first letter speaks of love – love for God and love for others. Love was also a characteristic of Martha. We have two images of Martha presented to us in the gospels. The first is from St Luke in which we see Martha rushing about the house when our Lord arrives. She becomes annoyed because her sister, Mary, is sitting listening to Christ rather than looking after him. When she complains about this, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and to sit in his presence and listen as her sister is doing. In the second image, this time from St John’s Gospel, we are presented with the arrival of Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Martha greets him while Mary stays indoors. Martha says that if Christ had come sooner her brother would not have died but that whatever Christ asks of the Father will happen. When asked if she believed that Christ was the resurrection and the life, Martha answers that she does and that she believes him to be the Christ, the Son of God. This is the faith to which we are all called to profess and to show in our lives through love of God and neighbour.
Jeremiah 14:17-22; Psalm 78; Matthew 13:36-43
In the reading from Jeremiah we read that the southern kingdom of Judah has been stricken with a drought because the people were unfaithful to the covenant. The people need food and call on God to be merciful to them and to end the drought. The people gather in Jerusalem for a penitential service in which they acknowledge that their sins have caused the drought. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that on judgement day those who have not lived according to the will of God will be weeded out just as the darnel is weeded out and burned. Unlike the people in the first reading, we are called on to be faithful to God in good times as well as in bad.
Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; Psalm 58; Matthew 13:44-46
The Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading realises that the message he preaches is a difficult one, one of dissention and one which has separated Jeremiah from his people and given him a sense of isolation. God however, tells him to be faithful and he will strengthen him against those who do not wish to listen to him or his message. It is a reminder that, even in our day, following our Christian vocation is not always an easy one but that God is always with us to strengthen and guide us. Christ tells us in the Gospel that the kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond all price. We are called on to be like the prophet Jeremiah, to preach the Gospel of Christ no matter what the personal cost to us, knowing that there is nothing more valuable in this life than eternal life with God in the next.
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.
Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 145; Matthew 13:47-53
We have the allegory of the potter in today’s reading from Jeremiah. As the potter gently reshapes something which goes wrong and starts it afresh, so we are like clay in the hands of God who can restart creation whenever he wishes. Jeremiah realises that the sufferings the people are put through by God, are simply God’s way of remoulding the people and coaxing them back to the covenant and their promises to him. Christ again tells us in the Gospel that the good and the bad will be sifted on judgement day and only the good will be allowed in to the kingdom. We must allow the word of God to mould us each day in to a new people just as the potter moulds his clay.
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.
Jeremiah 26:1-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 13:54-58
We see Jeremiah in the first reading preaching the word of God in the Temple. He tells the people that if they are not more faithful to God that God would destroy the Temple built by Solomon. This was blasphemous for the people, who nearly rioted, but Jeremiah reminds them that this happened before at Shiloh when the Lord allowed that most sacred of places to be destroyed by the enemies of Israel. In the Gospel, we see Jesus being rejected by his own people because they think they know him just because he is from their district. In both readings the people had little faith and so the word of God could do no work in them. If we are not open to the word of God then it will not work in us either.
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24; Psalm 68; Matthew 14:1-12
The authorities wish to kill Jeremiah in the first reading because they did not like his message. He had predicted that God would destroy his own Temple in Jerusalem because of the sins of the nation. He tells the people that even if they kill him the message will be carried by others and it will never die because the message he brings are God’s own words. In the Gospel, we read of the beheading of John the Baptist for the sake of a foolish promise. The truth of the message and its constancy is put before us today and we are called on to believe it as the people did in the time of Jeremiah after they heard him speak.
August 4 – August 10, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Eighteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Jeremiah 28:1-17; Psalm 118; Matthew 14:13-21
We read in the first reading today how the prophet Hananiah gave a prophecy in the Temple which was false but which the people accepted and believed. Hananiah even takes on Jeremiah in front of the people but God assures Jeremiah that Jeremiah is the true prophet. For leading the people astray, Hananiah died. In the Gospel, we read the account of the multiplication of five loaves and the two fish. This reminds us of the bread of life, the body of Christ, which brings us all to salvation. We must be always on our guard against false teachings which tell us what we want to hear and which ultimately lead us away from God. Only in the truth and in the Eucharist is our salvation assured.
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
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.
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 96; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Mark 9:2-10
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 Mark recounts the transfiguration in the presence of three of Christ’s closest companions and of how the appearance of Christ changed so much. 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.
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.
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 50; Matthew 16:13-23
In the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, the Lord speaks of the new covenant he will make with his people and, in establishing this new covenant, he will wipe away their past sins. We know that this greatest of all covenants was fulfilled almost six centuries later in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The Psalm could easily be the prayer of one of the Lord’s faithful who is waiting for the covenant to be established. St Peter’s great profession of faith is our text in today’s Gospel. In it we read of how Peter was made the first shepherd of the flock, a role which has been handed on through the papacy. Christ is now making his final preparations before he goes to Jerusalem where he will suffer and die for us and, in so doing, create the new and everlasting covenant spoken of by Jeremiah.
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), 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.
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.
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
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).
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.
August 11 – August 17, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Nineteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28; Psalm 148; Matthew 17:22-27
Today we begin reading from the prophet Ezekiel and in today’s text the prophet is describing what appears to be the glory of the Lord. The encounter takes place about the year 593 BC during the Babylonian captivity and sees God calling the Jewish priest, Ezekiel, to be his prophet. Ezekiel is to prepare the people for the destruction of Jerusalem and for its future glory. In our Gospel passage we see Jesus again telling his followers that he will soon be put to death but that he will rise again to life. His listeners are saddened by this for they do not fully understand the meaning of his words.
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Psalm 118; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
In our first reading we see that Ezekiel is being sent to the house of Israel by the Lord but before he goes, the Lord puts his words into Ezekiel’s mouth. In consuming the scroll, Ezekiel is showing that he accepts the role of the prophet and that the words which he will preach from his heart will be the words of God himself (we find a similar image of St John the Evangelist swallowing a scroll in the Book of the Apocalypse). We are told by Christ in today’s Gospel that we must change and become as pure as little children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. Our trust in God must be as complete as that of a little child. As a child depends completely on their parents for everything, so too we must place our complete trust and confidence in God for all things come from him and he alone can save us.
Ezekiel 9:1-7, 10:18-22; Psalm 112; Matthew 18:15-20
In our reading today from the prophet Ezekiel we see the Lord sending out his messengers to weed out his faithful people from those who have departed from his Law. All of this comes to Ezekiel in a dream which goes on to show the glory of the Lord leaving the Temple in Jerusalem because of the sinfulness of the people. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we must help keep our brothers and sisters on the right path, especially if they go astray from the word of God. Everything we do has an effect on others and so we must be very careful to live according to God’s Law in public as well as in private. Our actions can build up or destroy the faith of those around us and we must never be found as a stumbling block to faith in God.
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
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.
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.
Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63; Psalm – Isaiah 12; Matthew 19:3-12
The Lord speaks to Jerusalem through the Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading and tells the city – which is a symbol of the Jewish nation – how he looked after it and nurtured it. But now the city has become infatuated with itself and is no longer faithful to the one who cared for it. Now is the time for the city and its inhabitants to remember the covenant and to be ashamed. Our Gospel text is a particularly difficult one for it speaks of the Lord’s displeasure with divorce as he tells his disciples that it is not in keeping with his Law or his vision for us. At the same time, he does not condemn those whose marriages have ended in this way.
Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Psalm 50; Matthew 19:13-15
The Lord tells us in the reading from Ezekiel that he will not punish whole groups of people for the misdeeds of a few but that he will punish the individual sinners for what they have done. Ezekiel is trying to get the people to accept responsibility for their own misdeeds rather than blaming those around them, or their ancestors, for their own sins and for the punishment which has befallen them. Again today we read in the Gospel that we must become like little children in faith and trust if we are to enter the kingdom. At the time of Christ, children had no standing in society and so Christ’s inclusion of them is important and shows the importance of a child-like trust and faith rather than one which uses reason and so reduces the faith.
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.
August 18 – August 24, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twentieth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 33; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
In the text from the book of Proverbs we see Wisdom preparing a banquet for the people and telling them that if they eat her bread and wine then they will live and walk in the ways of perception. Jesus is often seen as the personification of Wisdom and in our gospel text he tells us that he is the true bread which has come down from heaven. The people are not happy to hear this but he tells them that those who eat his bread – that is his own body – will live for ever and he will live in them and they in him.
St Paul calls on us in the second reading to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He warns us against drugging ourselves with the ways of this world but tells us that we should redeem this present age by the way in which we live. In recognising the will of God and living according to that will we can inherit eternal life.
Ezekiel 24:15-24; Psalm – Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:16-22
In the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel, the people have sinned and as a result the Lord is about to punish them. Ezekiel is told that his wife is soon to die which is a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and of the grief which the people will have for their great loss. The Psalm continues this theme. In the Gospel we read the account of the rich young man who came to Jesus to be a follower. However he was unable to follow him because even though he had kept the Commandments he could not give up his wealth. It is one thing to have possessions but it is quite another to be too attached to them. To be true followers we must be able to give up all we have for the sake of the kingdom.
Ezekiel 28:1-10; Psalm – Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:23-30
In our first reading we see God about to punish an imaginary prince in the port city of Tyre for the prince likened himself to a god and was not faithful to the true God. This comes from a section of the book of the Prophet Ezekiel in which warnings are given to the neighbouring kingdoms around Israel and Judah. The Psalm, taken from Deuteronomy, could easily have been the words spoken by God in his anger. Today’s Gospel text follows on from yesterday’s passage and in it Christ tells us that it is difficult to enter heaven if we place too much store on our possessions. First and foremost in our life must always be Christ and the Kingdom. We need possessions to live comfortably in this life but we need Christ to live peacefully for all time.
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.
Ezekiel 34:1-11; Psalm 22; Matthew 20:1-16
We read in the first reading that the people have turned away from God and have been lured by other gods because their shepherds – their religious and political leaders – have not looked after them properly. These shepherds are now to have their flocks taken from them and, ultimately, the Lord himself will be their shepherd. This latter part was fulfilled in the person of Jesus. In the Gospel parable of the generous landowner, Christ reminds us that all are equal in the sight of God whether they be rich or poor, clergy or laity, young or old. All are judged equally in his eyes. No matter our station in life we have a duty to uphold God’s word and to assist in its spread.
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.
Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
This memorial celebrates the crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven following the Solemnity of the Assumption seven days ago.
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.
Ezekiel 37:1-4; Psalm 106; Matthew 22:34-40
In our reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel we see that God is going to raise his faithful ones from the dead and give them new life. The bones symbolise the whole house of Israel which the Lord will bring back from Babylon to their own homeland in Palestine. In our Gospel, the Pharisees are testing Jesus by asking him about the Commandments. His answer is a reminder for us that we must place God above all else and love him with our whole being. Not alone this, we must also love our neighbour as we love ourselves. In giving us this commandment, Jesus put together two rules from the Old Testament and gave a greater standard to strive for and by which to live.
Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle
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.
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.
August 25 – August 31, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-First Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5; Psalm 95; Matthew 23:13-22
This week we move from the Old Testament to the New Testament and today begin reading from St Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians – a community Paul had brought the Good News to about twenty years after the Ascension, between 50 and 51 AD. We read in today’s text how this young community was an example to other local churches because of their zeal for God. Paul also tells them that God judges them so that they may be found worthy to live with him in the kingdom of heaven. In our Gospel text for today, Christ is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for reducing the significance of the Temple and its altars and for giving greater importance to the materials from which they are made. The place where we gather for worship and the altar on which the sacrifice is offered is far more important than their material make-up.
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.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-17; Psalm 95; Matthew 23:23-26
Today, St Paul exhorts his readers in Thessalonica to remain faithful to Christ’s message and not allow themselves to be led astray by false prophets or by those who proclaim that ‘the end is nigh.’ This was in answer to the idea that the Second Coming of Christ was about to happen very soon but Paul warns the people not to be deceived by false prophecies about this event but to remain faithful to the faith which he gave them. In our Gospel, Jesus continues to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees. He tells them that they have been more concerned with the measure of things than with justice, mercy and good faith. He also tells them that what is in their hearts is of far more importance than their outward appearances. We too should be more concerned with our inner disposition than with how we dress and appear to others and we must make justice and mercy priorities in our whole life while building up our faith.
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).
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Psalm 127; Matthew 23:27-32
St Paul tells us in the first reading from his second letter to the Thessalonians that we must earn the bread we eat. This was because some in the community had believed that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent and had stopped working and begun to sponge off others. None of us should take advantage of the generosity of others but should earn what we get. Likewise, we should not presume that we will automatically get into heaven but should earn our place in the kingdom. Again today the scribes and Pharisees are admonished by Christ in the Gospel for their hypocrisy. They give the outward appearance of holy men but inside are more interested in themselves than in the kingdom. There is no point in any of us giving an outward show of piety when we are dark and poisoned on the inside with self-conceit and pride.
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.
Memorial of the Beheading of St John the Baptist
As the name of this memorial suggests, today recalls the martyrdom of St John the Baptist, his last and greatest act of witness for Christ.
Jeremiah 1:17-19; Psalm 70; Mark 6:17-29
The first reading sees the Lord telling Jeremiah not to be afraid but to stand up before the people and to preach as he has been commanded to by the Lord. The reading is also a good description of John the Baptist and his fearless belief in Christ who also stood before a king and gave him warning of how to act righteously before God. Both Jeremiah and John suffered violent deaths. The gospel passage recalls the martyrdom of John and how he died for the faith as a result of a promise vainly made to a lovely girl by Herod.
1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Psalm 32; Matthew 25:1-13
We are reminded by St Paul in his letter to the Christians in Corinth that for many people preaching about a crucified saviour is nonsense – the Jews could never accept a Messiah who suffers and the Greeks could never understand a God who dies. But for those of us who believe in the wisdom of God it is our salvation and our hope. We are reminded again in our Gospel reading to be always ready for we do not know when the Lord will return or when he will call us to himself. Those who are ready and have lived a Christian life will enter the kingdom but those who have not been faithful will find themselves outside in the cold.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 32; Matthew 25:14-30
There are those who consider Christians to be foolish because they believe in someone who was so weak that he was executed in a most demeaning way. But St Paul tells us in the first reading that God uses what appears to be weak to confound the mighty and to show his great power. It is only by placing our trust in the Wisdom of God that we will understand what it is the Lord wants of us and so enter heaven. In our Gospel text we have the parable of the talents. We have all been given gifts and talents which we must use for the sake of the kingdom and the good of others. One such talent is our faith which was given to us at baptism. It is not simply enough to say that we believe in God but we must actively strengthen our faith and put it into practice in our daily lives through prayer and good works.