Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
January 29th - February 25th, 2023
January 29 – February 4, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13; Psalm 145; 1Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12
The first reading from Zephaniah speaks to us about acting with humility and being honest before the Lord. Those who live by humility and seek the Lord will find shelter in the Lord and uninterrupted rest. In our gospel passage from St Matthew, we have the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. As well as being a well known passage it is a radical way of living, something that could bring great good to our world but only if people choose to live it. Matthew tells us that the sermon took place on top of a mountain reminding us of Moses, and the fact that Jesus was seated which emphasises his authority. The connection between this and the first reading is the theme of humility.
St Paul tells us in the second reading from his second letter to the Corinthians that God often chooses what we regard as something foolish or lowly and turns it into something great, such as humility or what many regard as weakness or foolishness. Paul tells us that what the world regards as foolish and weak is actually turned into something powerful and transforming by the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-40; Psalm 31; Mark 5:1-20
In our first reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author speaks of some of the greatest heroes of the Jewish people – men who fought battles and conquered their enemies. He also speaks of the prophets who stood for the truth and did not flinch in the face of torture. Some were great warriors while others were weak but they all lived by faith, and because they had faith they achieved great things. In the Gospel, Jesus cures a demoniac by casting out the evil spirits that had possessed him. The spirits instead entered a herd of pigs and were killed. The people were amazed when they saw this but were also terrified and asked Jesus to leave their area. Both of our readings speak to us about faith. The first reading speaks of those who had faith and lived by it while the Gospel speaks of those who had little faith and did not want what faith they had to grow. Perhaps it was because they realised the conversion they would have to undergo if they were to become people of faith. We know what faith can do and what reward lies in store for us. We are given a choice – to be people of faith and enter heaven, or to be people who turn their backs on God, refusing to grow.
Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalm 22; Mark 5:21-43
Our extract from the letter to the Hebrews tells us today that having received the faith we should keep on believing and strengthening our faith. If we keep Jesus in mind then we will be able to do this for he too lived a life of faith. The life he lived is an example for us to follow, even if that means going to our death for the faith. Today’s Gospel text recounts two miracles for us. The first was the cure of the haemorrhagic woman who believed that she would be cured if she could even touch the hem of Christ’s cloak. The second is the restoring to life of Jairus’ daughter, because he had faith enough to ask for Christ’s help. Again today, our readings challenge us to look closely at our faith and to do what we can to strengthen it and live lives based on faith.
Memorial of St John Bosco, Priest
Don Bosco was born in 1815 to a peasant family in Piedmont, Italy. After being ordained he established several boys’ clubs and schools in Turin which very quickly flourished. He was also well known for his preaching and fund-raising skills and he built several churches. In 1854 he founded what became the Salesian Congregation to educate and look after boys, and with St Mary Mazzarello he founded the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians in 1872 to educate and look after girls. He died in 1888.
Feast of St Brigid, Virgin, Secondary Patron of Ireland
Romans 12:3-13; Psalm 148; Mark 3:31-35.
St Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans that each of us has been given a different grace or gift and that we should not boast about them. As the body must work as one, without one part being any better than another, so too the Christian community must work together as one for the good of the kingdom. The gospel text is quite appropriate for the feast we celebrate today for it tells us that those who do the will of God are truly the brothers and sisters of Christ. Brigid left us an example of this in her life in that she always did the will of God and placed Christ and others before her own needs.
About St Brigid
Brigid was born near Dundalk about the middle of the fifth century. She became a nun and founded a monastery in Kildare (for both men and women) and became known for her love of justice, for her compassion for the poor, and for the many miracles she worked. She was the spiritual mother of Irish nuns for many centuries and is often referred to as “Mary of the Gael” (Mary of the Irish). She died about the year 525.
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas Day)
Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 23; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40.
The reading from Malachi tells us that God will send his messenger to prepare the way and that, suddenly, the Lord himself will appear. This reminds us of John the Baptist’s preaching. In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author tells us that Christ had to become human in order to fully represent us before God the Father. In our gospel passage from St Luke, we see Mary and Joseph going to the Temple with the infant Jesus to be purified. There, they meet Simeon and also Anna who both speak of the child as being salvation for all the nations. Simeon praises God and says that he can now rest in peace for he has seen the Saviour. Though he was the Son of God and himself God, Jesus was still brought up in the faith and with respect for the Law of Moses.
On this day we call to mind the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple by his parents in keeping with the Law of Moses. This event is recorded in today’s the gospel. Today is also the formal end of the Christmas festival of light and the memorial of Christ’s birth. Today, candles are blessed and carried in procession as a sign of our welcoming Christ the Light into our lives. It is also a special day in the Church’s calendar when the Church prays for Consecrated Life – a life which is consecrated to God through prayer and service and which enriches and gladdens the Christian community. We also pray to God to help people to hear and answer his call and so consecrate themselves to the Lord.
Hebrews 13:1-8; Psalm 27; Mark 6:14-29
The author of the letter to the Hebrews encourages us today to proclaim the Good News in our lives and to help others to draw closer to God. He also reminds us that Christ is unchanging – he is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Today’s Gospel recounts the beheading of John the Baptist because of a rash promise Herod had made to Herodias’ daughter. Again we are called to live by faith and to proclaim the Gospel in our lives. John the Baptist believed in God and gave his life for that belief.
Memorial of St Blaise, Bishop & Martyr (Optional)
Very little about Blaise is known with great certainty though it would appear that he had been a bishop in Armenia and was martyred about the year 316. Throats are blessed because it is told that he saved the life of a boy in whose throat a fishbone had lodged. The blessing of throats today is a reminder to us of the Lord’s desire for us to be well and to remove suffering from our lives.
Hebrews 13:15-17, 20-21; Psalm 23; Mark 6:30-34
As we conclude the letter to the Hebrews we are exhorted one last time to live according to the Gospel, obeying the leaders of the Church who are there to guide us towards God. In the Gospel, the disciples have returned from their preaching and curing and a huge crowd gathers. They go with Jesus to rest but the crowd follows them and Jesus begins to teach them. The readings call on us to live Christian lives but also to play our part in the spread of the Gospel.
Memorial of St Agatha, Virgin & Martyr
The cult and veneration of Agatha goes back to earliest times though nothing is known of her life other than the fact that she was martyred in Sicily. She is among those named in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
February 5 – February 11, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Fifth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 111; 1Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16
In this Sunday’s first reading the Prophet Isaiah gives us a few simple instructions on how to live our lives, particularly where the poor are concerned. He talks about light shining out for others to brighten their lives. Continuing the theme of light, Jesus tells his disciples that they are the light of the world, but he warns them to be careful about that. They are to preach openly and are not to keep to themselves what they have seen and heard. We are the successors of the apostles, we are the modern day heralds of the gospel and we too have a duty to make that message known to all whom we meet.
St Paul reminds the Corinthians in the second reading that he was no great orator but that what he preached came from his own faith in God.
Genesis 1:1-19; Psalm 103; Mark 6:53-56
Today we begin reading from the Book of Genesis and in today’s passage we read of the first four days of creation. The author is not presenting scientific truth but is writing the basic truth that God is the benign Lord of Creation who has a plan for us. The Psalm takes up the theme of creation and praises God for all that he has made. In our Gospel we read that Christ’s fame had spread throughout the countryside and that the people brought to him their sick whom he cured. God created everything there is and he holds all of it in view and so he is aware of our difficulties and the things that afflict us. Being so aware he is ready to help and heal us if we believe and call on him from our hearts.
Memorial of Sts Paul Miki & Companions, Martyrs
Paul was born in Japan between 1564 and 1566 and joined the Jesuits in 1580. Along with twenty-five other Christians – both religious and lay, Franciscans and Jesuits – he was tortured and martyred at Nagasaki in 1597.
Genesis 1:20-2:4; Psalm 8; Mark 7:1-13
Today we read of the conclusion of the seven days of creation and in the text we see that humans were the last to be created but they are also the jewel in the crown of God’s creation. Being last created we were also entrusted with the stewardship of the earth, to look after it on God’s behalf. The book is an important reminder about the role of God in creation and of the role of humans to rule over that creation in the way in which God intends. The Psalm praises God for his magnificent creation. In our Gospel text from St Mark we see Jesus at odds with the Pharisees who are being overly concerned with the Law. He admonishes them for clinging to human traditions while not being concerned with the law of God. We are challenged today to listen to the word of God and to carry out its precepts in our lives rather than being interested in what we ourselves want to do or in creating traditions to suit ourselves.
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17; Psalm 103; Mark 7:14-23
Today we read of the second account of the creation of man from the Book of Genesis and in it we see that the Lord provided man with every good thing in the garden but forbade him to eat of one tree only – all else was his to taste. Our Gospel passage for today is a continuation of yesterday’s in which Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees because his disciples did not purify themselves before eating. His answer to them is that what goes in to a person does not make them unclean – all food is clean. It is what is inside their hearts and minds which makes them unclean and prone to do the wrong thing. This was difficult for the Jews of the time to hear and we know from elsewhere in the New Testament that St Peter himself had to receive a vision before he too preached the same thing. We are all aware of our shortcomings and the image of Adam in the garden reminds us of what we can be and what we must strive for.
Genesis 2:18-25; Psalm 127; Mark 7:24-30
Today we read of the creation of woman from the second creation account and we see that woman was created as a helpmate for man who was his equal and whose qualities complemented his. It was also the author’s way of emphasising that marriage is between one man and one woman in happiness. In our Gospel we see a Syrophoenician woman coming to Jesus because her daughter was possessed. Because she was a pagan Jesus told her that the believers had to be helped first but she reminded him that there was plenty of room for everyone at his table. Because of her faith in Christ’s powers her daughter was cured which also reminds us that there are plenty of people who may not belong to our Church but who still have faith and are welcome in the Kingdom. We are to keep in mind that we were created to live together in harmony, helping each other to fulfil our potential no matter what our creed or colour.
Genesis 3:1-8; Psalm 31; Mark 7:31-37
In our first reading we read of the temptation of Adam and Eve by the serpent and how it was successful in getting them to disobey God. This is where the Church’s teaching on original sin comes from. The Psalm is a reminder for us to acknowledge our sinfulness before God and to seek forgiveness. In our Gospel we read of the cure of a deaf man with a speech impediment after Jesus calls him away from the embarrassing glare of the onlookers. The Lord uses the word ‘Ephphatha’ which is part of the ceremony of Baptism for infants. The Lord is always close to us and wants to be closer still but we must want that too and we show that by living according to his precepts and avoiding sin.
Memorial of St Scholastica, Virgin
Scholastica was born in Umbria in the late fifth century and was the sister of St Benedict. She became a nun and eventually was prioress of her monastery near Monte Cassino which she ran under the direction and guidance of her brother. She died in 543 or 547.
Genesis 3:9-24; Psalm 89; Mark 8:1-10
The first reading tells us of the expulsion of man and woman from the Garden of Eden because they disobeyed God’s command and lost his divine friendship. In the Gospel we see Jesus feed the multitude with a few small fish and some loaves. This is in contrast to the first reading where Adam and Eve were forced to till the ground and fend for themselves. God wants us to be with him but we can only be with him if we live life according to the Gospel values. The Gospel is also a reminder that we must always help those who are in need from whatever we may have, no matter how little.
Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Optional)
In 1858, fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous received a vision from Our Lady near the mountain village of Lourdes, in southern France. Initially, people refused to believe her but the apparitions continued. When Bernadette asked the Lady who she was she replied that she was the Immaculate Conception. In time the well and site of the apparition became a centre of prayer as people flocked to it to draw closer to Our Lady and in the hope of receiving a cure. Several miracles have taken place here. In recognition of this, Pope John Paul II named this particular day ‘World Day of the Sick’ in 1992. On this day, special liturgies may be celebrated which include the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
February 12 – February 18, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Sixth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20; Psalm 118; 1Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37
The first reading this week comes from the Book of Ecclesiasticus and tells us that God knows all that we do and that he has never told anyone to do that which is wrong. We are also reminded that it is within our power to keep the commandments. The gospel passage from St Matthew sees Jesus commenting on the Law as the Jews had it and telling them that they have gone astray in their observance of it. We can only gain eternal life if we take on board the true message and wisdom of Christ and live that out in our daily lives.
The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians tells us that there is wisdom or knowledge available to us in order for us to gain eternal life. This is not earthly wisdom but a wisdom which was worked out before the ages began and is a simple but powerful one.
Genesis 4:1-5, 25; Psalm 49; Mark 8:11-13
In today’s reading from the Book of Genesis we see Adam and Eve now exiled from the Garden of Eden. They start a family and Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel – the former tilled the land while the latter became a shepherd. We are told that Abel prospered more than Cain and that this ultimately led to Cain slaying his younger brother. God punishes Cain for his sin but promises to punish even more those who might take Cain’s life. At the end of the reading, Eve gives birth to her third son – Seth. In the Gospel, Jesus is again in conflict with the Pharisees because they, after all that they had seen, still demanded a sign from Christ if they were to believe. If we are waiting for a sign before we believe then we will never have faith. We are reminded to always keep watch over ourselves and never allow envy or resentment to rule our actions because God sees all.
Feast of Saints Cyril & Methodius, Patrons of Europe
Acts 13:46-49; Psalm 116; Luke 10:1-9
These two men are responsible for bringing the Good News to those who spoke the Slavonic language in the ninth century. Like Saints Paul and Barnabas in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, they proclaimed the message to those who had not heard the story of Christ and our salvation and in doing so they did as the seventy-two did in going out ahead of the Lord (St Luke). The response to the Psalm sums up their mandate – “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the good news.” Our gospel text from St Luke sees Jesus sending out the seventy-two in pairs to preach and heal in his name just as Cyril and Methodius did in their time. As they responded to the Lord’s mandate so too we are challenged to follow their example and spread the Good News.
These two brothers were born about the year 825 in Salonika, were educated at Constantinople, and are regarded as the apostles of the southern Slavs to whom they preached the Gospel. In 863 they were sent as missionaries to Moravia. In 869 Cyril died in Rome but his brother was consecrated bishop and went back to Moravia and Pannonia (Hungary) with permission to use the Slavonic language in the liturgy. The Slavonic translation of the Bible is attributed to them. He was opposed by the German bishops and was for a time imprisoned. Methodius died in 885.
Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22; Psalm 115; Mark 8:22-26
In the first reading we read of the end of the Flood and of Noah’s sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. The Psalm continues the theme of thanksgiving. In the Gospel we see Jesus cure a blind man who gradually begins to see and this reminds us that faith grows over time and in time we accept the Lord more and more. We are reminded to give thanks to God for all that we have received in life no matter how trivial it may seem but also remembering to thank him for the gift of life itself. Faith grows over time but we must work at it all the time.
Genesis 9:1-13; Psalm 101; Mark 8:27-33
God makes a covenant with Noah in our first reading from Genesis and uses the words he used in forging the original covenant with Adam and Eve. He sets the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of that covenant, though few people make that connection anymore. In the Gospel from St Mark, Christ tells the disciples that he is to suffer grievously which upsets Peter who tries to prevent the Lord from going to Jerusalem. He is admonished for this by Christ even though – moments before – he made his great profession of faith with the words ‘You are the Christ.’ Christ is the eternal covenant which surpasses all covenants and is eternal. We are called on to have faith in him as did St Peter and to say with him every day – “You are the Christ.”
Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 32; Mark 8:34-9:1
In our final reading from the Book of Genesis we see how the people have strayed from the covenant and in their pride are trying to be as powerful as God by building a tower which would reach up to heaven. In their arrogance, God destroys the tower and confuses the people by giving them different languages so that they could no longer understand each other. Jesus warns us in the Gospel of the futility of trying to win this world when in fact we should be striving to secure our place in heaven. Only those who follow Jesus truthfully and with a sure heart will enter the kingdom and their true inheritance.
Hebrews 11:1-7; Psalm 144; Mark 9:2-13
Today we turn to the letter to the Hebrews and in today’s passage we are told by the author of the importance of faith and that it is only by faith that we can become one with the Father. We cannot please God in anything we do unless we have faith. In the Gospel we read St Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Transfiguration showed Christ in his glorified state but it also showed us what we can be if we live Christian lives and enter heaven. His appearance with Moses and Elijah is also significant as they stood for the Law and the Prophets – important pillars of the Jewish faith. The readings call on us to be people of faith and to believe in God without hesitation.
February 19 – February 25, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Seventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; Psalm 102; 1Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
Today’s first reading from the Book of Leviticus (one of the books of the Torah) and the gospel speak of love and how we should love one another. The first reading from the Book of Leviticus is brief but contains the key points or commands for living life as God wants us to live. In the gospel, Jesus tells us that the old way of ‘an eye for an eye’ has no place in the kingdom and will not lead to peace. He tells us that we must love even our enemies if we are to be his disciples and so bring lasting peace to the world.
The second reading tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and we must do all that we can to protect and strengthen that temple. If we look after the temple within us and live according to the will of the Spirit, we will truly love our fellow men and women and so help make the kingdom of God a visible reality here on earth for all to see.
Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10; Psalm 92; Mark 9:14-29
Today we turn to the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiasticus or the writings of Ben Sirach who lived in the second century before Christ and whose Greek text was translated about the year 132 BC. Sirach was a respected teacher of wisdom who had a school in Jerusalem and who also taught knowledge of the scriptures. In our first reading today we are told that all wisdom is from the Lord, it is he who created her. No matter what mortal man may do he will never comprehend all wisdom because only one person is truly wise – the Lord. In our Gospel today we see Jesus casting out a spirit because his disciples have not faith strong enough to do so. He rebukes them, not because their faith is small but because they haven’t worked hard enough to understand what he has taught them and to truly trust in him. He also tells us that a key thing for us is prayer because this helps to strengthen our faith.
Ecclesiasticus 2:1-11; Psalm 36; Mark 9:30-37
Our first reading tells us that if we aspire to serve the Lord then we must be ready for an ordeal because those who serve the Lord are not always welcome in society – either in Old Testament times or in our own day. To serve the Lord, as we are called to do, means a radical change in our lives and this confronts others who should also change their lives. Ben Sirach, the author of this book, also tells us to trust in God for he will help us. In our Gospel passage we see Jesus telling the disciples of his impending death and resurrection though they fail to understand what he is saying. He goes on to tell them that those who wish to serve him must make themselves the servants of others in order to show their true faith and action and must welcome others in Christ’s name.
Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 50; 2Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Today we enter Lent – the great penitential season of the Church’s year – in preparation for the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of each of us. The readings today speak about repentance, about fasting, about preparation. We are called to prepare for the glory of the resurrection and our salvation by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the gospel, we are told that what we do is to be done quietly and without drawing attention to ourselves for that means nothing in the sight of God. Throughout Lent, many people give up various things, such as chocolate or sugar, etc., but what we are asked to give up in the readings has far greater impact not just on ourselves but on others, for we are asked to give up sin and hypocrisy.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 1; Luke 9:22-25
In today’s Old Testament reading Moses sets before the people a choice – life or death. To gain long life they must live according to the commandments of God. To gain death they need only ignore God. The Psalm speaks of the happiness of those who do turn to God. Similar to the first reading, Jesus too gives us a choice – life or death. If we opt to follow him in all that we do and say then we will gain an eternal reward, though this may mean losing our physical life here on earth but it will certainly mean entering into life with Christ. The purpose of the readings each day is to make us think about our lives and where they are going. The readings today encourage us to reflect, at this early part of Lent, on what we have to change over the next few weeks in order to make us more worthy of the great sacrifice made for us by Christ.
Memorial of St Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of John the Evangelist and is regarded as one of the greatest of the Apostolic Fathers. He wrote a number of letters similar to St Paul and these were read publicly for many years. He was martyred at the request of the people by being burnt at the stake probably in 155.
Friday after Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 50; Matthew 9:14-15
Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord tells us the sort of fast that is false – one which is trumpeted before others while putting on a false impression of being miserable. Instead, God wants a quiet, private fast. He also wants all oppression to cease and for all people to show charity to their neighbours. Isaiah spells out practical works of mercy that do please God. We might imitate these ourselves in a variety of ways throughout this penitential season. In the gospel, the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus why it is his that his disciples don’t fast like they and the Pharisees do. In reply he tells them that because he (the bridegroom) is with them, they will not fast – when he is gone, then the time will be right for fasting.
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 85; Luke 5:27-32
The Lord continues to tell his people how they should live if they are to enjoy his favour. They must do all that he has commanded them and must bring about an end to tyranny and oppression. It reminds us of the blessings and rewards that lie in store for us if we practise kindness and compassion towards others. Our gospel text reminds us that the Word of God is not just for those who believe and live their lives in accordance with his wishes for they are not in need of conversion. His Word is for all people and particularly for those who are not living a life worthy of him – and he is the judge of what is worthy of him.