Reflections on Daily Readings 2022
December 26th - January 29th
December 26 to January 1, 2022
Christmas Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
1Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 83; 1John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52
In our reading from the first book of Samuel we read of the birth of Samuel. Hannah had prayed to the Lord for a child and promised that the child would be dedicated to God forever. The child is born and Hannah gives praise and thanks to God for the gift of new life and, when the child is a year old, she brings him to the Temple to dedicate him to God as she had promised. The child grew and became one of the greatest judges in the history of Israel. In the second reading St John asks us to think about the love which God has lavished upon us, in particular by letting us be known as his sons and daughters. All we have to do in return is to live by the Gospel precepts. In our gospel passage from St Luke we have the story of the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple by his very worried parents. When questioned he tells them that he was carrying out his Father’s will. Though his true Father was in heaven he still lived under the authority of both Mary and Joseph and grew strong in the sight of his peers. This is the ideal to which all families are called – an ideal based on love and respect.
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.
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 new-born 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.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 66; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
In our first reading today from the Book of Numbers we see God telling Moses how to bless the people in his name – “May the Lord bless you and keep you…” In our reading from Galatians we are reminded that Christ was born of a woman and therefore he was as human as we are. However, in so doing he has enabled each of us to become children of God just as he is the Son of God. In the gospel passage we see the Holy Family still in the stable or cave when the shepherds come having been sent by the angels. The second part of the text recalls how the Child was named Jesus in accordance with the instruction of Gabriel at the annunciation.
January 2 – January 8, 2022
Christmas Season | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Second Sunday after Christmas
Sirach 24:1-2, 8-12; Psalm 147; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18; John 1:1-18
The first reading and the gospel today are linked together because they both speak about the Wisdom of God coming to dwell among his chosen people. Jesus is that Wisdom and he lived on this earth as a human being, as one of his own creation and one of his own people. St Paul tells us in the second reading that in this way we are all sons of God because, through the incarnation, Christ restored us to glory and we are all saved through him if we earnestly seek that salvation and the inheritance he promised us. Paul is asking us to think about this great mystery and to realise the hope which is now before each one of us.
1John 2:29-3:6; Psalm 97; John 1:29-34
In our first reading today we are reminded that those who truly know God do not sin because they live according to his will and are his children. The title ‘Son of God’ was reserved for those in Old Testament times who lived uprightly in the sight of God. St John is challenging us to live up to the fact that we are the Sons and Daughters of God. In our gospel text we see John the Baptist witnessing to Jesus and telling his listeners that Jesus is truly the Son of God who is filled with the Spirit of God. The two readings call on us to reaffirm our allegiance to God and to witness to him at all times.
1John 3:7-10; Psalm 97; John 1:35-42
In our first reading today, St John tells us that a sinful way of life is not in keeping with God’s love for us. We are the children of God and so cannot sin if the seed of truth and the Spirit of God are within us. In today’s gospel we read of the calling of the first apostle – St Andrew – who went and called his brother, St Peter, proclaiming that he had found the Messiah. We have heard about Jesus all our lives but how long is it since we proclaimed him as the Messiah?
1John 3:11-21; Psalm 99; John 1:43-51
St John continues to exhort us to live according to the will of God and to love one another by showing us what love is not – the slaying of Abel by his brother Cain. For John, showing hatred to another person is to imitate Cain. For him, our love should not be mere lip-service, but should be seen in all our actions. In the gospel passage for today we see Philip and Nathanael witnessing to Jesus as he calls them to be his disciples. We too are called on to witness to Christ and to the kingdom through loving others at all times no matter what they may do to us, and to bring the love and peace which God bestowed on us at Christmas to the world.
The Epiphany Of The Lord
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 71; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the first formal presentation of the Christ-child to the world represented by the three Wise Men from the east, traditionally named Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior.
The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the first formal presentation of the Christ-child to the world represented by the three wise men from the east. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the glory of the Lord now becoming visible and of the great joy that this brings to the earth. The Psalm continues this theme and tells of how all the people shall worship and give glory and praise to God. In the second reading from his letter to the Ephesians, St Paul tells his readers that the message of God through Christ is meant for all people – not just the Jewish people but all peoples. The gospel text from St Matthew recalls how the three wise men came to find the Child and the homage they pay to him. The three wise men in particular represent all peoples – Jew and Gentile alike – and on our behalf they pay homage to our infant king while also giving him gifts from us. We cannot give him presents as the wise men did for he is no longer physically present but we can give him the gift of believing in him and of proclaiming the Gospel. As the Christmas carol says – “what I have I give him, give my all.”
1John 3:22-4:6; Psalm 2; Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
St John reminds us in the first reading that those who keep the Commandments, believe in Christ and love one another will have God in them. He also warns the people of Asia Minor about false prophets who were about at the time diluting the message given by Christ. One of the marks of a true prophet or believer in Christ was that the preacher fully accepted the Incarnation. We are reminded that the language of belief is often alien in our world today and so we must persevere all the more and not believe the false prophets who come speaking the language that people want to hear. In the gospel from St Matthew we read of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry or his first appearance in public following the arrest of John the Baptist. Jesus’ fame and reputation quickly spread as he goes about preaching and curing.
Feast of St Peter Thomas, Carmelite and Bishop
Peter Thomas was born about the year 1305 in southern Périgord, France, and became a Carmelite at the age of twenty-one. In 1345 he was chosen by the Order as its Procurator General to the papal court, which was then at Avignon in France. He was made Bishop of Patti and Lipari in 1354, Bishop of Corone (Koroni) in the Peloponnesus region of southern Greece in 1359, Papal Legate for the East, Archbishop of Crete in 1363, and Latin Patriarch of Constantinople in 1364. Throughout all of this he worked tirelessly for Church unity and was a special envoy on behalf of Pope Urban V on several occasions. In 1365 he was in charge of the military expedition against Alexandria during which he was injured, resulting in his death three months later at Famagosta, Cyprus, in 1366.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Ephesians 2:13-22; Psalm 121; John 10:11-16
The first reading for today’s feast from the book of the Prophet Ezekiel comes from a passage in which the image of the shepherd is used. In another passage the author speaks of bad shepherds who do not look after their sheep and who are human shepherds. Our text comes from the passage which sees God as the Good Shepherd, the one who has true concern for his sheep and who leads them to good pastures.
In the alternative reading from the letter to the Ephesians, the author says that the differences between Jew and Gentile have been removed through Jesus Christ so that they are now one people in the sight of God. This is seen visibly in the Christian Community and in the Church, which is built upon the foundations of the Apostles with Jesus Christ as the main cornerstone, just as he should be the cornerstone of the life of every Christian.
In the gospel text from St John, we see Jesus take up the Good Shepherd image from Ezekiel and say that he is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the one who has true care for each one of us and this was shown when he laid down his life that we might be reconciled to God and have life eternal. The bad or false shepherd doesn’t care about the sheep in his care because they are not his, and so he runs away and leaves the sheep to their own devices and to be taken by the evil one, whereas the Lord looks after those who are faithful to him to see that they reach heaven.
January 9 – January 15, 2022
Ordinary Time – The First Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 103; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Our first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah is a call to the people to rise up and be consoled for their liberation is now at hand. The Lord has now come to them and he will gather them together as a shepherd gathers his sheep. It is an appropriate text for the celebration of the Lord’s baptism because with his baptism Jesus began his public ministry – at his baptism he was revealed to the people and God signalled his approval of him. At the Epiphany we celebrated the revelation of our salvation to the Magi but now we celebrate his revelation to all the people and the preaching of the Good News. Our gospel passage recounts Christ’s baptism by John in the Jordan as told by Luke. In it, the Father witnesses to his own Son and says that he is the Chosen One in fulfilment of the text from Isaiah. In the second reading, St Paul tells us that Christ became a sacrifice for us simply because he had compassion for us – we had done nothing to merit it. Now however, we must live good and religious lives in this present world while we wait for the blessings of the world to come. At our own baptism we became God’s chosen ones in a special way and by living out Paul’s instructions in the second reading we will help to bring Christ’s glory to the whole world.
1Samuel 1:1-8; Psalm 115; Mark 1:14-20
At the start of this year we begin reading from the Prophet Samuel and from St Mark’s Gospel. Samuel was a prophet but also one of the last military leaders who were referred to as judges in the eleventh century before Christ. In the text from Samuel we see Samuel’s father, Elkanah, and his two wives – one who has had children and the other, Hannah, who is barren. They have gone to Shiloh to worship God at the Ark and the first wife taunts Hannah because of her barrenness. In St Mark’s Gospel we see that Christ now begins his mission – the time has come. Having begun proclaiming he begins to choose men to help him in his work. We too are asked to help in that work in fulfilment of our baptismal promises and each according to their abilities and talents.
1Samuel 1:9-20; Psalm – 1 Samuel 2:1, 2-8; Mark 1:21-28
In our first reading today from the first book of Samuel, we read of Hannah going to the shrine of the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh and asking the Lord to remove her stigma and grant her a child. The text shows us the great devotion Hannah had for the Lord and of the enormous pain which her barrenness caused her. The priest Eli initially thinks she has had too much to drink but quickly realises her situation. The Lord hears Hannah’s prayer and grants her a son whom she names Samuel. The Psalm is a hymn of praise which we could imagine Hannah singing. In the Gospel, Jesus and his disciples are travelling and preaching. Jesus is also casting out unclean spirits. What strikes the people about him is the fact that he speaks with such authority – authority that even the unclean spirits obey. As a result his reputation quickly spreads.
1Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20; Psalm 39; Mark 1:29-39
We read today of the call of Samuel and of his “yes” to the Lord. His “yes” meant that he became an important prophet and military leader for the people. The Psalm takes up this theme of answering the Lord’s call. The Gospel recounts some more of the miracles worked by Jesus. It also tells us that he was keen to move about the towns and to preach to as many people as possible. In the Old Testament, Samuel is called to act on God’s behalf, while in the New Testament, God himself is present among us and trying to lead as many people as possible to the Kingdom through his own words. We too must share the Good News with as many people as we can for we are the successors to Samuel and to Christ. The Gospel also reminds us that even though many people were coming to Jesus he still had time for prayer with his Father.
1Samuel 4:1-11; Psalm 43; Mark 1:40-45.
The reading from Samuel recounts a battle from the history of Israel in which the Israelite army are facing up to the Philistines. Realising their weakness the Israelites bring the Ark from Shiloh and while this strengthens them it is not enough for them to overcome their adversaries. The Israelite army is heavily defeated and the Ark taken from them while the shrine at Shiloh is destroyed. Our Gospel passage is a continuation of yesterday’s text and again we see Jesus curing the sick, this time a man with leprosy. After he has cured him he warns the man to say nothing of who cured him but the man tells everyone. As a result Jesus has to move around quietly but crowds still come to him. Those who went seeking Christ after they heard of him believed in him even though they did not know who he was. The Israelites in the first reading are given a lesson that everything they have is dependent on God just as the leper’s health is dependent on his mercy. When we are at our weakest we learn the true power and mercy of God.
1Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22; Psalm 88; Mark 2:1-12.
The theme of trusting in God alone is continued in our first reading from Samuel. In the passage, set about the year 1020 BC, we see the people of Israel rejecting God and seeking a human king. Samuel tells them what a king would do to them but they still want one and so God instructs Samuel to give them what they want. In our Gospel passage Jesus cures a paralytic by forgiving him his sins which appals the scribes who were listening to him. For them, only God has the power to forgive. But Christ tells them that the Son of Man has such authority. We too are asked to believe in God and his Son and their authority and to have faith in them at all times even when it may seem difficult.
1Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1; Psalm 20; Mark 2:13-17.
Today’s excerpt from the Book of Samuel sees the prophet appointing a king for the Israelites as they had requested. The one he anoints is Saul who was out looking for his father’s she-donkeys which had strayed. The anointing symbolises that Saul is now set apart from other men and has been given authority by God – a symbolic ritual which exists to this day in the ordination of priests and bishops and some royal coronation ceremonies. Our passage from St Mark’s Gospel shows us Jesus sitting down to dinner with tax collectors and sinners – people whom polite and strict Jewish society rejected. The message and example for us in these readings is that God does not judge by our standards but accepts all people and even calls them to high office. The challenge for us is to likewise accept all people – regardless of race, language, colour or religion – as Jesus did.
Memorial of St Ita, Virgin
Ita (whose name means ‘thirst for holiness’) was born in the sixth century in the Deise near Drum, Co Waterford. She left home and went to Limerick in order to devote her life to God. She gathered a community of maidens around her and also ran a school for boys. Many miracles were said to have been worked by her. She died in 570.
January 16 – January 22, 2022
Ordinary Time – The Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 95; 1Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11
A common theme in our readings today is that of marriage. In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah we see that the Lord will marry his people. As a result they will never be abandoned by him but he will always delight in them. In the gospel text from St John we have the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. It was Our Lady who noticed the potential embarrassment which the family were about to suffer and she asked her Son to intervene – one of only two occasions that are recorded when she interceded with her Son for anything. Despite the fact that Christ’s hour had not yet come he answered his mother’s request and, as a result, we are told that the apostles believed in him – they finally had proof that he was somebody great.
In the second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul tells us that we each have gifts and that these gifts have been given to us by the Holy Spirit. No matter what the gift is or who has been given it, the gift is always given “for a good purpose.” We come before the Lord today knowing that he is always with us and that he will answer our prayers and particularly the intercession which his Mother makes on our behalf.
1Samuel 15:16-23; Psalm 49; Mark 2:18-22
We continue our readings from the first Book of Samuel and today we see that Saul – the people’s king who succeeded in driving the Philistines from the central valley – has failed as God predicted that he would. Saul did not listen carefully to the word of God and displeased God in the battle against the Amalekites so now God has rejected him as king. The Psalm takes up God’s displeasure with Saul and says that offerings are not enough – love of the law and word must also accompany sacrifices. In today’s Gospel we see that while others are fasting, Jesus’ disciples are not fasting and this causes trouble with the Pharisees. When asked, Jesus tells them that wedding guests do not fast when the bridegroom is present. We too are called on to love God’s law and to live according to that law but not grudgingly. We too must realise that Christ is always with us in all things.
Memorial of St Antony, Abbot
Antony was born to a wealthy family in Upper Egypt in 251 but lived a life of solitude and prayer in the desert. He is regarded as the Father of Christian Monasticism because he was the first hermit to form communities of hermits. He was much sought after by kings, bishops and crowds of people seeking advice. He died in his hermitage on Mount Kolzim near the Red Sea at the age of 105.
1Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 88; Mark 2:23-28
Having rejected Saul as king over his people, God now sends Samuel out to find another king. However, Saul remains as king for the time being as the people were unwilling to lose their first king. Samuel goes to Jesse and from among his sons anoints the boy, David, as king to replace Saul. In so doing, God again shows that he does not judge by the standards of humans but appoints those who appear to be unfit for high office. God’s spirit rests on David who will rule when the right time comes. In the passage from the Gospel we see Jesus again being questioned about the actions of his disciples, this time for picking corn on the Sabbath. In reply he says that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Risen Lord has made the Sabbath a holy day, one which unites all Christians. It is a day to celebrate the freedom won for us by Christ’s sacrifice.
1Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51; Psalm 143; Mark 3:1-6
In our first reading from Samuel we see that Saul’s army has been in battle for some time with the Philistines and have not been able to overcome them. The battle field is not far from Bethlehem and the time is about the eleventh century before Christ. David now arrives and we read the familiar story of how he alone – with very little weaponry – slew Goliath. He is able to do so because God’s favour rests on him but also because he did it in the name of the Lord. The Psalm is in praise of God who helped him in battle. The Gospel reading continues yesterday’s theme of the Sabbath day. Today we see Christ healing a man even though any form of work was prohibited. Even though he was doing good and healing an invalid the Pharisees now seek to silence him permanently.
1Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7; Psalm 55; Mark 3:7-12
In our first reading we see that Saul has now become jealous of David because the boy is now more popular than the king, and so Saul seeks to destroy him. Saul’s own son, Jonathan, however, intercedes on behalf of David and brings reconciliation between Saul and David. Our Gospel tells of the popularity of Jesus everywhere he goes and of his many cures. Whenever he casts out demons he always stops them revealing who he is – his time has not yet come to fully reveal that he is the Son of God, because the people are not ready for that. Like the unclean spirits, we too know that Jesus is the Son of God but do we always acknowledge that as did the unclean spirits?
1Samuel 24:3-21; Psalm 56; Mark 3:13-19
In our first reading today we read that Saul is again looking for David because he has heard rumours that he meant to do the king harm. However, David is in a position to kill Saul but does not take it because Saul is God’s anointed. Instead he turns the occasion into another reconciliation between them. Now Saul acknowledges that David will be king and that the sovereignty will be secure under David. Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus appointing the Twelve who were to be his closest companions and commissioning them to preach in his name and to cure others. As these twelve were commissioned so too are we, as their descendants, and we too are called to proclaim the kingdom of God in our lives by what we do and say in keeping with our baptismal promises to be the Lord’s disciples.
Memorial of St Agnes, Virgin & Martyr
Agnes was a girl of about 14 or 15 years of age when she was martyred and buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome during the final years of the persecutions by the Emperor Diocletian (early fourth century). Near her grave a basilica was erected and a series of large catacombs excavated and which can still be visited today. Nothing definite is known about her martyrdom other than the fact that she died for believing in Christ. On this day lambs are blessed, whose wool is used to make the palliums for new metropolitan archbishops.
2 Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 17, 19, 23-27; Psalm 79; Mark 3:20-21
We now begin reading from the second Book of Samuel and today we read that Saul and Jonathan have been killed in battle. David, who at one time was at the mercy of the king, mourns greatly for the father and son and we see his pain in today’s text. David now becomes King of Israel and at the same time one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Our Gospel reading today is very short and a little unusual. In the passage a large crowd has gathered around Jesus and his family receive word of this. So, convinced that he is mad, they set out to bring him home. However, we must remember that Mark has a habit of portraying those around Jesus in such a light because they didn’t always support him or believe in his message. Even today, Christians are sometimes considered mad because of the message they preach in his name.
January 23 – January 29, 2022
Ordinary Time – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Psalm 18; 1Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
In our first reading today from the Prophet Nehemiah, we see Ezra reading the Law to the people. They had assembled for the purpose of the reading of the Law so that they might know it and through it know how to serve their God in fidelity. As the Psalm tells us – “The law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul.” In the gospel we read from the opening chapters to St Luke’s gospel in which he sets out why it is that he is writing the gospel. We also read of Jesus preaching in his home synagogue in Nazareth and telling the people that he is the fulfilment of the text. He came to bring the Good News to all peoples and he gave that message and mission to us. We do this by living according to the Law of God and by living as members of Christ’s mystical body here on earth.
In the second reading St Paul tells us that we are all parts of the one body which makes up the Body of Christ. For a body to function perfectly it needs all the parts to work together in harmony. So it is with the Body and family of Christ here on earth: if the Church is to grow and be the true presence of Christ on earth, then all of us must do our share for that body.
2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10; Psalm 88; Mark 3:22-30.
On Saturday, we read of the death of King Saul and of David’s grief. Today we see the tribes coming to David and asking him to take up the kingship and to lead the country. This he does and reclaims the city of Jerusalem as it stands on the border between the two halves of the kingdom and which stood as an impenetrable fortress. We are told that in all he did, the Lord was with David, a theme which is continued in the Psalm. In the Gospel passage, Jesus has been accused of being Beelzebul and that this is how he can cast out unclean spirits. In reply he tells the people that a kingdom which is divided cannot stand for very long. The kingdom of God is here with us but if Christians do not stand together in unity and peace then that kingdom too will be in trouble in our time. We have a duty to help build up, in our own small way, the kingdom of God.
Memorial of St Francis de Sales, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Francis was born in Savoy in 1567 to a noble family. Having studied law at Padua he gave up the legal profession and was ordained priest in 1593. He was made a bishop only six years later and was Archbishop of Geneva by 1602 – home of John Calvin (who broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1530 and founded Calvinism). He founded the Visitation Nuns with St Jane Frances de Chantal and was noted for the great way he preached which brought many people back to the Catholic Church following the Reformation. He died at the age of 56 in 1622. He is the patron saint of journalists and other writers.
Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Apostle
Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22; Psalm 116; Mark 16:15-18
St Paul had been the great persecutor of the early followers of Jesus and had put many of them to death. Today we celebrate his conversion and the readings show how he has changed and become one of the greatest preachers in the Church. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we hear Paul himself speak of his former life as a persecutor of Christianity and of his calling by Christ himself. The alternative reading from Acts gives a second telling of the event from a historical perspective. What is important in both accounts is that as Christ appeared to the Eleven in today’s gospel and sent them out to spread the news of the Kingdom, so too Paul has been commissioned by Christ for that same task. We are asked to convert daily to the Gospel and to take its message to others following the example of St Paul and in fulfilment of our own baptismal promises. Our gospel text is a post-resurrection encounter between Christ and the Eleven in which he commissions them to out to the “whole world; proclaim the Good News.”
About St Paul the Apostle
Paul (also known by his Jewish name Saul) was born in Tarsus in Cilicia in modern-day Turkey. He was educated and was a Pharisee which meant that he was well acquainted with both the Law and the Scriptures which is evident in his writings. As a faithful Jew he persecuted the early Christians until he was struck down on his way to Damascus to arrest some Christians. In this incident, the Risen Lord appeared to Paul and from then on Paul becomes the greatest champion of the faith and is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. He met with St Peter and the other Apostles in Jerusalem on a number of occasions and undertook three great missionary journeys to spread the faith. These journeys took him through Palestine but also through Syria, Turkey, Crete, Greece and Malta. During some of these journeys he funded himself through his work as a tent maker. Eventually Paul ends up in Rome where, even under house arrest, he spreads the faith and writes some of the letters found in the New Testament to the churches he had founded on his travels and also to individuals to bolster their faith. These letters also contain Paul’s understanding of who Jesus Christ is and the importance of the death and resurrection of Christ. He was beheaded during the persecutions in the reign of Emperor Nero.
Memorial of Sts Timothy and Titus, Bishops
2Timothy 1:1-8; Psalm 95; Luke 10:1-9
In our first reading today from St Paul’s second letter to Timothy we see Paul describe Timothy as someone who was sincere in the faith. Paul is writing to him to encourage him to work to increase his faith, to “fan into a flame the gift which God gave” him. That gift was something powerful with which to spread the faith. That gift has also been given to us and so the example of Timothy and Titus is placed before us as an encouragement to follow their example and the example of the Apostles. Our gospel text from St Luke sees Christ sending out the seventy-two to preach in his name and to bring his healing power to others.
Very little is known about these two saints who were companions and disciples of St Paul who is said to have written three letters to them and which are part of the canon of sacred scripture. Timothy was made bishop of Ephesus while still very young and is said to have been beaten and stoned to death in 97AD for fighting against heathen worship. Titus was made bishop of Crete though he still went on missions for Paul from time to time but always returned to Crete where he eventually died.
2 Samuel 7:18-19, 24-29; Psalm 131; Mark 4:21-25.
In our reading today from the second book of Samuel, Nathan has told David that his house is to be blessed for ever and David goes and sits before the Lord in prayer in a quiet room in which is kept the Ark of the Covenant. David makes a hymn of praise to God for the gifts which God has bestowed upon him. St Mark in his Gospel today, recounts some of the short sayings of Christ. One line from the passage says that what we give is what we will receive. If we show mercy and help to others then we in our turn will also receive mercy and help. In other words, if we do not reach out to others as Christians then we cannot expect anything when our time comes.
2 Samuel 11:1-10, 13-17; Psalm 50; Mark 4:26-34.
Today we have the beginning of the downfall of David. Having been promised great blessings by the Lord, David now breaks one of the commandments and commits adultery and leaves the wife of one of his generals expecting his child. He brings home Uriah the general – the woman’s husband – to make it look like the child was conceived by him, but when this fails he sends Uriah into battle and ensures that he dies there so that he may have the woman for himself on a permanent basis. The Psalm is a song of lament by those who have sinned. Two more parables are recounted in the Gospel from St Mark today. They are reminders that all we have and do and are come from God. There is also a reminder that the kingdom of God is secretly growing in the world.
Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Thomas was born in 1225 and was educated by the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino before joining the Dominican Order. He spent his life teaching and writing in France and Italy and his two major works – the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologica – are still studied today for the quality of their theology and philosophy. He died at the age of 49 while on his way to the second Oecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274. He is the patron saint of universities and schools.
2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17; Psalm 50; Mark 4:35-41.
In our reading from the second book of Samuel we see that David is confronted by Nathan for the sin he has committed. As a result of his sin the child he is about to father with Bathsheba is to be struck down and his kingdom is also to suffer. David repents of his sin following the telling of Nathan’s story and as a result the sin is forgiven by God though the trouble which David will encounter with his sons will serve as a reminder of his actions. In the Gospel text, Jesus shows his power over nature. He and his disciples are out on the lake and a storm blows up which he calms. The disciples are frightened because they do not yet realise exactly who he is. As his presence brought peace and tranquillity to those who were with him on the boat so too it will bring us peace and harmony when we are in trouble and turn to him in prayer.