Reflections on Daily Readings 2022
November 27th - December 31st, 2022
November 27 – December 3, 2022
Advent – The First Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 121; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:27-44
Today we begin the Advent season in which we make our preparations for the Lord’s birth into our lives at Christmas. The theme for today is very much of waiting but also of being ready for the moment which will arrive at a time we do not expect. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the mountain of the Temple of the Lord towering above all mountains and that in the Lord’s time there will be peace and not war. In the second reading from his letter to the Romans, St Paul exhorts us to wake up and to live honest Christian lives because the Lord’s time is at hand – we must show our faith in him by how we live and witness. In the gospel, Jesus is warning us to be prepared and ready because we do not know when the day of the Lord will arrive. It could be today, it could be next year, but, whenever, we must not be found wanting or caught off-guard – we must be alert and ready. We do this by reforming our lives every day and living according to the Gospel precepts and commandments of God.
Monday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 121; Matthew 8:5-11
The readings throughout the Advent Season help us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas by putting certain images and thoughts before us regarding the Son of God. We begin today with a text from the Prophet Isaiah which is one of the major prophetic writings of the Old Testament and which began to be written down in 744 BC. In today’s text we are told that people will stream to the Lord’s Temple and that there will be a time of peace and prosperity between nations and peoples. The Psalm takes up this theme and speaks of rejoicing when others say ‘let us go to God’s house.’ In the gospel from St Matthew we have the cure of the centurion’s servant. When Jesus said that he would go the centurion’s house the man said that he didn’t have to do that – all he had to do was to say the word and the servant would be cured. The man had tremendous faith in Jesus and in his word and it is this example of faith which we are to ponder on today. This is the faith that we are each called to have and to demonstrate if the birth of Christ at Christmas is to have any meaning in our lives and if we are to reach eternal life.
Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10, 11-14; Psalm 71; Luke 10:21-24
The reading today from Isaiah speaks of an offspring of Jesse who will be king and who will rule with God’s blessing. In his time there will be peace and prosperity for all and the kingdom will be sought after by the nations. On this king will rest the Spirit of the Lord who will bring him wisdom and insight, counsel and power, knowledge and fear of the Lord. The Psalm continues this theme and says that ‘In his days justice shall flourish.’ In the gospel from St Luke we see that Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims that everything has been entrusted to him by the Father and that the only way to know the Father is through the Son. This means that the birth of Christ at Christmas is not a mere nicety or an excuse for a celebration – without getting to know Christ and accepting him into our hearts we cannot really know the Father. If we are to enter eternal life then we need to strengthen our relationship with both which we do in these days of Advent.
Feast of St Andrew the Apostle
Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 4:18-22
In the first reading from the letter to the Romans, St Paul speaks of the importance of spreading the Good News because if the Word is not spread then people will not hear of Christ and so will be unable to believe in him or to call upon him. In our gospel text for today’s feast we read of the call of St Andrew by Christ. Andrew responded generously to the Lord’s call and without hesitation and he spread the Gospel among the peoples even to the point of giving his life in martyrdom for Christ. His example of spreading the Good News is set before us today and we are reminded that we have all been called by Christ to do the very same in our own day.
Like so many of Christ’s apostles very little is actually known about Andrew. He was the brother of St Peter, a disciple of John the Baptist, and was the first to be called by Christ. In St John’s Gospel he tells his brother of Jesus with the words – “We have found the Messiah.” He is also mentioned in the gospels as the one who brought the Gentiles to Jesus and the one who pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes. He is said to have preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and Greece and to have been martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Achaia. He is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia.
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 117; Matthew 7:21, 24-27
In the text from the Prophet Isaiah today we read that the Lord has set up a strong city for his people. Those who lived in the high citadels have been knocked from their thrones so that even the poor trample on them. The Psalm reminds us that ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men [or] princes.’ In the gospel passage we see Jesus teaching the people and telling them that it is very easy for people to call out his name and seek his help but this does not win entry to heaven. We must have faith in Christ but we must put that faith into practice and carry out the will of God if we are to enter heaven. While faith may be a personal thing to each one of us it is something which must be lived out in a communal way in that what we believe must be seen by others in the way in which we live. If we haven’t been living out our faith then we need to look at that carefully and make a change if we are to worthily receive the gift of Christ in our lives in a few weeks’ time.
Friday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 26; Matthew 9:27-31
Our reading from Isaiah continues to speak of how things will be different in the day of the lord when the Messiah shall come among the people. Those who are lowly will be raised up, those who plot evil against the good will be silenced, shame will be removed. The Psalm asks the Lord that we live in his house for ever. In the gospel we see Jesus restoring sight to two blind men but only after they had affirmed that they had faith in him and his ability to cure them. This is the sort of thing which the first reading spoke of and so we can see that Jesus is the one to whom the first reading refers. It is now time for us to affirm our faith in Christ as we move towards the celebration of his birth.
Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Psalm 146; Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1, 5-8
Our first reading speaks of the people being punished and how miserable life will be. But it also speaks of the Lord healing his people and how he will be gracious to them when he hears them cry out to him. In our gospel passage we see that Jesus has been travelling throughout the countryside and teaching people in various towns and villages. He feels sorry for them because they want the message he has but he has not enough time to get around to them all. So he sends out the Twelve to preach in his name and to heal the sick. There is a reminder here that we too should preach the Good News wherever we go and we can do this very effectively by the way in which we live our lives. A good life demonstrating the Gospel values can speak more than a good sermon for actions speak louder than words. The harvest today is still vast and we each have a role to play in the building up of the kingdom so that the celebration of Christmas may have greater meaning for all of us.
Memorial of St Francis Xavier, Priest
Francis Xavier was born in Navarre in 1506 and was one of the original seven companions of St Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits. He was one of the greatest missionaries and concentrated his efforts on India and the Far East. He organised his newly-founded communities in such a way that they were well able to survive after he had moved to new territories. He died in 1552 on his way to China. He was named Patron Saint of the Foreign Missions and of all works for the spreading of Christianity by Pope St Pius X.
December 4 – December 10, 2022
Advent – The Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 71; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12
Our readings today give us two key people and two important role models for us. The first is Isaiah who spoke of the Lord’s arrival and who, in his way, prepared the way for the Lord’s coming. The second is John the Baptist – the Lord’s own cousin – who is spoken of by Isaiah and who prepared the way for the Lord in the Lord’s own time. Isaiah tells us that a time will come when there will be peace and integrity, faithfulness and equity. The Psalm reminds us that in the days of the Lord, “justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” In the gospel we are introduced to John the Baptist who is preaching repentance and who directly challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees who come to him for baptism. He has a stark warning for them and for us that the Lord will sift through his people and separate the faithful from the unfaithful. He goes on to remind us that there will always be those who will be unfaithful. We are the successors to John and to his mission and by our baptismal promises we have taken on the duty to prepare the way in our own time for the Lord’s imminent coming in power through the celebration of Christmas. Before we can be heralds of that great news we must first prepare a way for him to enter more deeply into our own hearts and we do that during these days of Advent. St Paul reminds us in the second reading that those who do not give up are helped in this work and so we too will be helped and strengthened if we continue to have faith in God and to work for the building of the kingdom.
Monday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 84; Luke 5:17-26
We again begin this week with a text from Isaiah and today we read that the Lord himself is coming to his people and when he does the lame shall walk, the blind shall see and the deaf shall hear. Upon his arrival the barren lands shall become prosperous and dry lands shall be watered. The Psalm continues this theme of the Lord coming to save his people. The gospel text from St Luke recounts the cure of a lame man whose stretcher had to be let in through the roof because of the crowds. Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven and this does not sit well with the Pharisees who had come to hear him, for they believed that only God himself could forgive. The text can be seen to fulfil the first reading in that this is God himself among the people and therefore Jesus does have the authority to forgive. This is important for us at this time as we need to look at our own lives and not just ask whether or not we believe Jesus to be the Son of God, but to also acknowledge our failings – openly and honestly – and ask the Lord for forgiveness as we approach the celebration of his birth.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 95; Matthew 18:12-14
In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we read of how God will come to console his people and to tell his people that their sin has been atoned for. The concluding part of the text tells us that God is like a shepherd who will feed his flock and gather his lambs in his arms. The Psalm continues this theme and also praises God. In our very short gospel text Jesus uses a parable about a shepherd who goes in search of one stray sheep and then rejoices when he gets it back. Jesus concludes by saying that God rejoices when someone who has strayed from the right path returns to the true path. This again is a reminder to us to look closely at our own lives and to make amends for anything that it is not in keeping with the values of the Gospel. Now is the time to repent of our sins while knowing that God is our consolation and that he rejoices at our return.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 40:25-31; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:28-30
Our first reading today reminds us of the power of God and that there is no one else like him in creation for he is the Creator of all – he alone can bring us consolation and peace. Our very short gospel passage sees Jesus calling the people to himself, particularly those who are burdened and weary. The Lord tells us that he has a yoke to be carried but that his yoke is easy and light. The readings remind us again that we need to look at our lives and at our faith and acknowledge that God is the Lord of all and that Jesus is his Son and our Saviour.
Memorial of St Ambrose, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Ambrose was born sometime around the year 340 in Gaul. He was a lawyer and later became governor in what is today northern Italy. He had his offices in Milan where he was elected Bishop by popular acclaim of the laity and was consecrated on December 7, 374, even though he was still only preparing to be baptised. He worked untiringly for the Church and was not afraid of standing up to the Emperors in defence of the faith and of morals. He was a close friend of St Monica and baptised St Augustine. He died on Good Friday, 397.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 97:1-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38
Today’s solemnity recalls the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother. It is fitting that she should be conceived free from the traditional mark of original sin as she would be the mother of Jesus Christ. Our first reading comes from the Book of Genesis and it reminds us of how sin entered the world through our first parents. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and a barrier was placed between humans and God. By contrast, Mary is often seen as the ‘New Eve’ for it is through her Son that we are restored to full unity with God. Our gospel text from St Luke recalls the Annunciation to Mary by the Angel Gabriel. In the scene Mary is greeted with the words, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured!’ (Luke 1:28), which shows the special place Mary already had above the rest of the sons and daughters of God. Just as important, and indeed central, is Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel’s message because it allows the poor decision of Adam and Eve to be reversed. The second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us that God has chosen us in Christ to be his people and that Mary’s immaculate conception was part of God’s predestined plan for our salvation and glory. In order to achieve that salvation and glory we have to live the gospel values and say ‘yes’ to God every day, just as Mary did. Falling as it does in Advent, this solemnity also reminds us of our preparations for the birth of Christ at Christmas and of the necessity to remove sin from our own lives.
Friday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 48:17-19; Psalm 1; Matthew 11:16-19
In our last text from Isaiah for a while we read how the Lord laments the fact that the people were not open to keeping his commandments for if they had been their happiness would be so much greater. The Psalm reminds us that those who do follow the Lord and keep his commandments and live as he asks ‘will have the light of life.’ Our gospel text for today is a continuation of yesterday’s in which Jesus is talking about his cousin, John the Baptist. He reminds the people that when John came living a good life they called him a mad man and that when he, Jesus, arrived living the life they wanted John to live they called him a drunkard and a glutton. There is a reminder here that we cannot create God to be who we want him to be. The readings remind us that if we reject God and his Son as they are then we will never be truly happy. We are challenged today to look at our image of God and see if it is an image we have made ourselves and use to justify how we live, or do we believe in God as he really is and so live our lives according the Gospel.
Saturday of the Second Week of Advent
Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; Psalm 79; Matthew 17:10-13
Our first reading today comes from the Book of Ecclesiasticus or Sirach and reminds us of the Prophet Elijah and of all that he did. It tells us that he will come again and it reminds us of the gospel passage on Thursday in which Jesus implied that John the Baptist was Elijah retuning. In the gospel text we see Jesus speaking with his disciples and they ask him why Elijah has to come back. He tells them that this has to happen to make sure that all is as it should be. He then says that Elijah has indeed come back and they understand this to be John the Baptist. This takes place after John has been beheaded. It is also a reminder that we too have to make sure all is ready for the celebration of the Birth of Christ. The most important preparations concern the faith and not expensive presents and glittering wrapping paper. If we fail to prepare properly for Christmas then we will be missing out on the most important gift of all – the presence of Christ in our hearts.
December 11 – December 17, 2022
Advent – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; Psalm 145; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
The tone of our celebration for today is one of rejoicing at the fact that the coming of the Lord is very near. In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the prophet is exalting the people to rejoice and to be glad for their God is coming to them. On that day “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.” The excerpt we have from St James’ letter calls on the people to be patient and of joyful heart because the Lord is coming. He tells them that this should not just be for a time only but as a way of life for all time because in this way we will live the sort of lives which God asks of us and will encourage others to follow our example. We again have the Baptist in our gospel for today but this time he appears to be somewhat unsure about Christ. He sends his own disciples to find out if Jesus is the Christ. The reply which Jesus sends is based very much on the scriptures, particularly the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus tells them to tell his cousin what they have seen – the blind being given sight, the lame walking again. Christ is the reason why we rejoice, he is the reason why we make an effort to amend our lives each year because it is he who is our Saviour and who will raise us with him to eternal life.
Monday of the Third Week of Advent.
Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17; Psalm 24; Matthew 21:23-27
Our first reading today comes from the Old Testament Book of Numbers and recounts a poem by Balaam, son of Beor. In the poem Balaam recounts what the Lord tells him and he declares that one from the tribe of Jacob shall take the leadership and he will be a great king. In the gospel we see Jesus being challenged by the chief priests and the elders of the Temple. They want to know where he gets his authority from. We know that Jesus is a descendent of Jacob and so he is the great king spoken of in the first reading. However, he is also the Son of God and is himself God and there is no greater authority than this. The challenge for us today is to ask ourselves whether or not we really see him this way for this is one of the cornerstones of our faith.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent.
Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 33; Matthew 21:28-32
In our first reading today from the Prophet Zephaniah, who was writing about 620BC, we read that trouble ‘is coming to the rebellious, the defiled, the tyrannical city!’ The Lord says that he will change peoples’ ways and that truth will be spoken and shame will be removed. This very much echoes themes we have heard over the past two weeks from Isaiah. In the gospel we see Jesus telling the Pharisees that the very people they regard as sinners – tax collectors and prostitutes – are living better lives than the Pharisees are because they believed in the words of John the Baptist and took them to heart. The Pharisees were often seen as men who taught people one thing but did something else themselves. The readings ask us to look at our lives and to see how we are living them. Specifically we need to ask ourselves if we are like the Pharisees – happy to call ourselves Christian but not really living Christian lives in keeping with the Gospel. In the few days that are left before Christmas we need to answer this question honestly and make a change to our lives.
Memorial of St Lucy, Virgin & Martyr
Very little is known about Lucy though pious tradition says that she turned down the advances of a suitor who, in an act of rage, denounced her as a Christian and had her killed. She suffered martyrdom at Syracuse during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian about the year 304. She is listed among the saints and martyrs in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
Memorial of St John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Juan de Yepes Alvarez was born in Fontiveros, Old Castile, Spain, in 1542 and became a Carmelite Friar in 1563. Having met St Teresa of Avila they became good friends and Teresa encouraged him to reform the male branch of the Carmelite Order as she was reforming the Carmelite nuns. This he did and founded a number of reformed monasteries. He was imprisoned by the Carmelites at Toledo for trying to reform them and later was badly treated by the houses of his own reform which he had established. It is as a mystic that John is known as a “Doctor of the Church.” His best known writings and poems are ‘The Ascent of Mount Carmel,’ ‘The Dark Night of the Soul,’ and ‘The Spiritual Canticle’. He died at Ubeda on December 14, 1591, and was canonized in 1726.
Isaiah 43:1-3a, 4-5; Psalm 138; Romans 8:14-18 28-30; John 17:11, 17-26
Our first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah is quite appropriate for the feast of St John of the Cross because in it the Lord is telling his faithful servant that he will be with him to protect and strengthen him no matter what trials and fears he has to face. The Psalm reminds us that the Lord knows everything we do and that there is no hiding from him.
The second reading, from the letter to the Romans, also speaks of suffering as making us true heirs and brothers of Jesus Christ. Only in suffering for the sake of the Kingdom can we truly be seen as Christ-like. The Lord has called people for this and, with those he has called, he shares his glory.
In the gospel we see Jesus thanking, praising and petitioning God. He thanks the Father for those who have been faithful to him and asks that they may be strengthened for their work of building the Kingdom. He also asks that they may be united in their work in the same way that the Father and Son are united. The readings very much reflect the life which John lived in Spain and they also challenge us to work for the building up of the Kingdom even in the face of conflict, knowing that God is at our side to help us and to reward us.
Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Isaiah 54:1-10; Psalm 29; Luke 7:24-30
Our first reading from Isaiah tells us that the Lord will take pity on us and our lives will be so much better as a result. The Lord tells us that ‘my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken.’ In the gospel Jesus is speaking to the people about John the Baptist and the baptism which he brought. He tells them that because the Pharisees refused to be baptised by John they have thwarted God’s plan for them. God’s plan for us is that we accept the love and peace he promised us in the first reading which comes to us by listening to the words of Christ and believing in him as our Saviour. This is what the Pharisees were also asked to do but they refused and so lost what God had in store for them. As we approach the Season of Christmas we need to look honestly at our lives and ask ourselves whether or not we have fully accepted Christ as our Saviour.
Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8; Psalm 66; John 5:33-36
Our first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord gathering his people into his house. We are all invited to this house but, in order to enter, we must ‘Have a care for justice, act with integrity’ and observe the Sabbath. The Lord also says that ‘foreigners’ who believe will also be welcomed. In our gospel text from St John we see Jesus telling the people that he does not rely on the testimony of John the Baptist or anyone else because what he speaks comes directly from God and is truth. However, John came to help the people to understand and to believe. It is for us to decide whether or not we are going to believe in Christ and his message knowing the great invite to and promise of eternal life which awaits those who do believe and who do live a life in keeping with the Gospel values.
Genesis 49:2, 9-10; Psalm 71; Matthew 1:1-17
The readings for these final days leading up to Christmas all set the scene for the birth of Christ. Today we read from the Book of Genesis – the first book of the Bible – and in it we see Jacob blessing his twelve sons prior to his death. Our passage comes from the blessing of his son Judah who will also be blessed by his own brothers. Jacob also says that the sceptre shall not pass from Judah until the one comes to whom it rightfully belongs. Our gospel text comes from St Matthew and presents the genealogy of Jesus Christ from Abraham. Judah was the great-grandson of Abraham and is one of the fore-fathers of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus is the one to whom the sceptre rightfully belongs. This helps to make sense of the readings of the past three weeks which spoke of a mighty king coming to rule the people and bring them peace. This person is Jesus Christ.
December 18 – December 24, 2022
Advent – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24
In our first reading for today we read of an encounter between God and Ahaz, king of Judah. In the encounter, God tells Ahaz to ask for whatever he wants but Ahaz refuses to put the Lord to the test. As a result, the Lord tells him and the House of David that a maiden will give birth to a son who will be Emmanuel. In the gospel from St Matthew, we have another encounter, this time between Joseph and God’s messenger. Joseph now knows that Mary is pregnant but the angel tells him to go through with the marriage for the child was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and his name will be Emmanuel. In the second reading from his letter to the Romans, St Paul tells his readers that he is writing to tell them about the Son of God who is a descendent of King David and who has the power of God. These three readings all refer to Jesus Christ whose birth as a human being we are about to celebrate. It is a reminder that there is now very little time to make our real preparations to worthily celebrate the season of Christmas.
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25; Psalm 70; Luke 1:5-25
Our first reading today from the Book of Judges recounts the annunciation to the wife of Manoah of the tribe of Dan in which she is told that she would bear a son. This child was Samson who was a great champion against the Philistines. In the gospel we read of the annunciation to Zechariah, the priest, by the angel Gabriel. The angel tells him that Elizabeth, his wife and cousin of Mary, will bear a son despite her years. The angel tells Zechariah that he is to name the child John and that he will be great in the sight of the Lord bringing many people back to the Lord. Zechariah doubts what the angel says and loses the power of his speech as a result.
Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23; Luke 1:26-38
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we see King Ahaz refusing to put the Lord to the test. The Lord then gives the people a sign and the sign is that of a maiden with child. This child will be special and will be called ‘Immanuel.’ Over the past few days we have read of various annunciations to people by the Lord’s angel and all were about the birth of a child. Today we have the most important of those annunciations and this is to Mary. She is the maiden spoken of in the first reading and her child is to be great and is to be named ‘Jesus.’ Of importance in this text is the fact that Mary, despite being undoubtedly surprised by the visit, readily says ‘Yes’ to the angel’s word. This attitude of Mary, like Joseph’s own response to his annunciation, is the attitude we are all called to have as we approach the great season of Christmas – an attitude of openness and receptiveness to the will of God in our lives.
Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18; Psalm 32; Luke 1:39-45
Our first reading today comes from the Song of Songs which has often been seen as an allegory of the story of God and his people. Seeing it in this way the groom represents God and in our passage we see him inviting his beloved to come to him and to live with him in happiness. In the alternative reading from the Prophet Zephaniah the people are told to rejoice for the Lord is in their midst and that he has driven away their enemies and renewed them. Looking to the gospel text we see Elizabeth and her unborn son rejoicing when Mary and her unborn child come into their presence. In our gospel text we see Mary travelling to the hill country of Judah to be with her cousin, Elizabeth, and to rejoice in Elizabeth’s pregnancy. As soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice the child in her womb leaps for joy – John has recognised who the child Mary is carrying is. At the same time Elizabeth acknowledges that Mary carries the Lord and that therefore she is most blessed.
1Samuel 1:24-28; Psalm – 1Samuel 2:1, 4-8; Luke 1:46-56
Today’s first reading comes from the first Book of Samuel and our text recounts the birth of Samuel himself. His mother was barren and had pleaded with the Lord to give her a child. This the Lord did and she brings the child to the temple at Shiloh to dedicate him to the Lord in keeping with the promise she had made. In our gospel we continue yesterday’s meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. We have the ‘Magnificat’ – Mary’s hymn of praise as written by Luke for the wondrous thing the Lord has done for her. We are told that Mary stayed for three months with Elizabeth and then returned home.
Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24; Psalm 24; Luke 1:57-66
In our first reading from the Prophet Malachi we read that the Lord will send a messenger to prepare things before his arrival. This messenger will be Elijah who appeared in our texts in the second week of Advent and in those texts there was the implication that John the Baptist was the new Elijah. In our gospel text we have the birth of John the Baptist and how his father’s speech was restored when he said that the child was to be named John. We are told in the concluding sentence that ‘the hand of the Lord was with’ John. The connection between the first reading and the gospel text is quite clear.
Christmas Eve – Morning Mass
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Ps 88; Luke 1:67-79
Our first reading for today from the second book of Samuel tells of a message for King David given to Nathan by the Lord. In the message the Lord says that David’s house will be a great house which will be established for ever. This house will be one to which all peoples will come. Our gospel text comes from the birth of John the Baptist and today we see his father – Zechariah the priest – proclaim a hymn of praise for God – the Benedictus. In this hymn, Zechariah blesses God and says that he has come to the help of his people by raising up one from the house of David. He says that his own son, John, ‘shall be called Prophet of the Most High and will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way before him.’ The season of Christmas is now upon us and the scene has been fully set for the celebration of Christ’s birth. All the signs of the past few weeks, and particularly of the past eight days, have pointed to this moment and it is now time for us to rejoice in the birth of our salvation. At the same time we must not let this opportunity pass – the preparations we have made over the past few weeks must not be allowed to lapse but our ‘new lives’ must continue into the season of Christmas and beyond as people of renewed and invigorated faith.
Christmas Eve – Vigil Mass
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 88; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25
Our first reading this evening from the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord coming to his people. There is one reason for this – “the Lord takes delight in you.” In the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Paul witnessing to Christ. He reminds the people that Jesus is of David’s line – the successor who had been promised by God. Jesus’ immediate predecessor was John the Baptist and Paul quotes from John – “I am not fit to undo his sandal.” The first part of our gospel from St Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus going back to Abraham. The second part of the passage tells us how Jesus came to be born but the story centres on Joseph rather than the actual birth. Joseph was aghast to find out that his young bride was pregnant but at the word of God he accepted what was happening and looked after Mary and the Child. Joseph is our role model because, like him, we too have doubts, but, also like him, we are called on to believe in the word of God and to truly accept Jesus as our Lord and to carry out his will.
Isaiah 9:1-7; Psalm 95; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Our first reading from Isaiah speaks of the Son that is given to us. This Son will destroy war and oppression. He will assume all authority and the peace he brings will have no end. In the second reading St Paul tells us that the grace of God has been revealed – it has been revealed in Christ. But he also reminds us that we are waiting for the second coming of Christ and until then we should have no ambition other than to do good. Our gospel passage from St Luke tells of the lowly birth of Christ at Bethlehem. The shepherds were the first to hear the glad tidings and we too are called on to hear these same glad tidings and to believe in our Saviour and to worship him.
December 25 – December 31, 2022
Christmas Season | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Isaiah 62:11-12; Psalm 96; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20
Isaiah tells us in the first reading this morning that our Saviour comes – he has been born for us. St Paul reminds us in his letter to St Titus that the Saviour came to us for no other reason than the fact that he had compassion for us. Despite all we had done and continue to do the Lord has compassion for us and still wants to save us. In the gospel passage from St Luke we see the shepherds coming to worship their new-born King and Saviour. They were the first to hear the great news and they readily came and worshipped. We too are called on this day to worship our Saviour who has been born anew for us.
Mass during the Day
Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 97; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
Today we read in Isaiah how the Lord has come to redeem his people and how “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us in the second reading that God had spoken to his people in past times through various prophets and in various other ways. But now he has spoken to us through his own Son, a Son who has destroyed the power of sin and death. In the gospel, we read the opening passage of St John’s gospel in which he speaks of Christ as being the Word of God, a Word which has been with God since the beginning, a Word which was God. He reminds us that this Word was in the world from the very beginning but the world did not recognise it. Those who did recognise it and accept it were saved. We too will be saved if we truly accept that the Son who is born to us today is the Son of God and has the power to save.
Feast of St Stephen, the First Martyr
Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Psalm 30; Matthew 10:17-22
Our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles gives an account of Stephen’s belief in the Son of God and of the “great wonders and signs” he worked and which led to his arrest and trial before the supreme court of the Jews. It goes on to tell us of his martyrdom for holding such beliefs. The Psalm could quite easily have been the last words of Stephen as he died – “Into your hands I commend my spirit, it is you who will redeem me Lord.” In the gospel passage from St Matthew we see Jesus warning his followers that they will be handed over to others and betrayed for believing in him. But he tells them not to worry because they will have the Spirit of God with them and those who stand “firm to the end will be saved.” Having just celebrated the birth of the Saviour we are challenged to believe in him even to the point of dying for him as St Stephen did.
Stephen was the first deacon and the first martyr for the Church. His martyrdom is recounted by St Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. He was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem while Saul (the future St Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles) looked on approvingly.
Feast of St John the Apostle & Evangelist
1 John 1:1-4; Psalm 96; John 20:2-8
In the first reading, St John is giving testimony that what he has said about Jesus is the truth. It is almost his affidavit that what he is saying is correct and not some made up story. He is writing this account because he wants to share his joyful friendship with God with others. In the gospel, we have the account of John and Peter going to the tomb having heard that Jesus was no longer there. John gets there first but waits for Peter – the first among equals – before he goes in. They see that Jesus has risen and they believe all that he has said and this is what John’s testimony in the first reading points to. We too are challenged today to believe in God having been given assurances by John that Jesus is the Saviour.
The younger brother of St James the Greater, John was the only apostle that we know of who did not suffer martyrdom, but died at a good age in Ephesus maybe as late as 100 AD. He is attributed with authorship of the fourth Gospel, of three epistles and of the Book of Revelation though it is doubtful that he is the author of the last of these. He is sometimes referred to as ‘John the Divine’ or ‘John the Theologian.’ Being ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ and the only apostle to be present at the foot of the cross, he was entrusted with the care of Our Lady by our Lord at the crucifixion.
Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
1 John 1:5-2:2; Psalm 123; Matthew 2:13-18
In our first reading, St John calls on us to live as children of the light always doing what is right and good. He also reminds us that – if we do go astray – the Lord will be our advocate and will return us to union with God. Our gospel passage today recounts the flight into Egypt of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and of the slaying of the Innocents by Herod in his attempt to kill the newborn king and so secure his own throne. The Holy Innocents gave their lives for Christ that he might live reminding us of the presence and power of the forces of darkness in our world. We are called on to believe in God even to the point of dying for him.
Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
1John 2:3-11; Psalm 95; Luke 2:22-35
In our first reading today St John reminds us of the commandment to love one another, a love which must be as self-sacrificing as the love of Christ for us. By living out this commandment we will come to perfection in God and we will truly be living Christian lives. Failure to live by love removes us from the light of Christ so that we become the people who walk in darkness. In our gospel passage we read of the presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple in accordance with the Law. While there, the Holy Family are met by Simeon who blesses them and thanks God for letting him see the Messiah before he dies, which he can now do in peace. He also warns them – especially Mary – that though this child is the Son of God there will also be suffering associated with him.
Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
1John 2:12-17; Psalm 95; Luke 2:36-40
In our first reading from St John we are again reminded to keep faithful to God and to live according to his will by avoiding the obstacles which the world places before us. The spirit of goodwill which marks this joyful season must permeate our lives not just for these few weeks each year but every day of our lives. It is a challenge to live this way but a challenge which we can live up to because we have the love of God to support us. Our gospel is the end section of the Presentation text and today we see Anna greeting the Child and telling all present that he is the Saviour of Jerusalem. Having fulfilled the Law, the Holy Family then return to Nazareth
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
1John 2:18-21; Psalm 95; John 1:1-18
In the reading from the first letter of St John we are again reminded that we are all children of God and that we have already received the truth and the knowledge of God. John was writing to those who live in modern day Turkey and rebuking them for having abandoned the Christian way which he sees as a sign of the coming of the antichrist. For John, those who are true believers would never abandon the faith and the Christian calling so easily. Our gospel text today is the prologue to St John’s gospel in which the evangelist tells us that Christ is the Word of God and that he has existed since the beginning. He also tells us that those who accept Christ as their Saviour and Lord will become children of God. As believers and children of God we have a duty and responsibility to live Christian lives and to proclaim Christ as our Saviour and Lord and especially having just celebrated his birth.