Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
June 25th - July 29th, 2023
June 25 – July 1, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Twelfth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 68; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33
In our first reading we see the Prophet Jeremiah speaking of all those who are looking to bring him down. Yet in the second half of the reading he says that God is on his side and therefore he has nothing to fear. Our Psalm could easily have been the words spoken to God by Jeremiah as he asked for help. In the gospel passage from St Matthew, Christ tells the Twelve that the soul is far more important than the body and it is the soul which they must be concerned with for the body is but a passing thing, the soul an eternal thing. The Lord is always at our side and therefore we must always be on our guard against anything that would lead us away from him. We must listen carefully and believe in his opening words: “Do not be afraid.” We must let go of all that holds us back and become the people he wants us to be.
In the passage from the letter to the Romans, St Paul tells us that sin has always been in the world – even before the Law was set out. What is more significant than the presence of sin in the world is the fact that we have been redeemed by Christ’s gift of his own life.
Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 32; Matthew 7:1-5
We return to the Book of Genesis which we will read from over the next three weeks. Today we begin at the twelfth chapter where we see Abram being called by the Lord and told to move with his family to a land that the Lord would point out. Even though he did not know where he was going, how long it would take or what sort of welcome he would find there, Abram went without question because he believed in the Lord and knew that the Lord would look after him no matter what lay ahead. Our Psalm tells us that those who have been chosen by the Lord will be blessed. In our Gospel today we are reminded by Jesus not to be hypocrites but to remember that as we judge others so too we will be judged by others. Quite often the things we see in others which we don’t like are only seen because we ourselves do the very thing we are giving out about. Therefore we should not judge others but should leave the judging to God and strive to make our lives perfect for the day when he will judge us. If we respond to the Lord with the same trust as Abram did, then we will not go wrong.
Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 13:2, 5-18; Psalm 14; Matthew 7:26, 12-14
In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis we see disputes breaking out between Abram’s people and the people of his nephew Lot because the land is not able to provide for their combined numbers. Rather than fight over things the two sit down and decide on a strategy and both go to live in peace – Lot to the good lands of the south near the Dead Sea, while Abram to the poor lands of the north. It is Abram’s unselfish consideration for his kinsman that is placed before us. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us to protect and defend what is holy and not to give it to unbelievers. We must always treat others as we would like them to treat us and to settle arguments as quickly and amicably as did Abram and Lot. We are also told that the road to eternal happiness is the narrowest of roads because so many people take the road to perdition or hell. We should do all we can to ensure that we are one of the ones on the narrow road when our life comes to an end, and we do this by placing the needs of others before our own needs.
Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 104; Matthew 7:15-20
In today’s first reading we see the Lord reward Abram for his faithfulness and his willingness to go into the unknown for his Lord and God. Despite the fact that Abram has no children the Lord promises that he would be the father or a great nation. Part of the covenants of old was a ceremony which sealed the covenant. In the case of Abram, he and God were to pass between the animals prepared for sacrifice as a reminder that this lay in store for whoever broke the covenant. The Psalm speaks of this covenant and of the “children of Abraham” showing that the covenant has been fulfilled. In the Gospel, Jesus is warning us about false prophets who pretend to come from him. He is telling us that there is only one kingdom and one Good News and it is the only door by which we may enter. Others may come with promises of immortality but we must listen to what they say because in their speech we will know whether they are true or false prophets. How we act shows clearly the sort of person we are at the heart of our being. Through everything we must remain faithful to Christ and to his Gospel alone.
Memorial of St Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop & Martyr
Irenaeus was born about the year 125 in Asia Minor and was a pupil of Justin Martyr and was influenced by St Polycarp. He came to Gaul as a missionary and was later made Bishop of Lyons. He is counted as one of the Fathers of the Church because of his writings and is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. He died sometime around the year 203, possibly by being martyred for the faith.
Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 33; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19
Today’s feast celebrates the two founders of the Church in the city of Rome and has been observed in Rome since the fourth century. This date was traditionally considered the foundation day of the city of Rome by Romulus and Remus.
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the release of St Peter from prison before Herod could put him to death as he had St James. In the second reading, St Paul tells Timothy that he has been able to preach the Good News because he had God at his side to give him power and to guide him. In the gospel, Jesus makes Peter the head of the Church and tells him that nothing will ever prevail against the Church. Our readings show us how we should live – by being faithful to God and not fearing what may come for God is always with us. They also remind us that even those who consider themselves to be ‘ordinary’ can become ‘heroes’ of the faith for these men were quite ordinary and quite unremarkable before they received the Holy Spirit – the same Spirit which we too have received. We are also reminded that they were old men when they were martyred because even in old age they witnessed for Christ. Regardless of our age or our standing in society we should always publicly acknowledge Christ as our Saviour.
Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22; Psalm 127; Matthew 8:1-4
There are two aspects to today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis. The first is that every covenant had some form of sign or seal – for Noah, for example, it was the rainbow following the Flood. For Abram and his followers it was to be circumcision and which was replaced by baptism for us. The second aspect is the promise made to Abram that Sarai would bear him a child. Abram laughs quietly at this because of his great age and yet the Lord proves that he has authority even over creation by allowing Sarai to give birth at such an advanced age. Not alone does the Lord say this but he names the child who will be born to them a year from now. It is also part of the covenant that their names now change to Abraham and Sarah. In the Gospel passage from St Matthew we see Jesus curing a leper not because he had to but because he wanted to and because the leper too wanted it. The Lord will not force us to do anything against our will but he is always ready and willing to help us in any situation if only we would ask.
Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 18:1-15; Psalm – see Luke 1; Matthew 8:5-17
Quite often when we read the books of the Old Testament we find that we are reading the same incident twice but from two different perspectives. This is a reminder to us that several of the works were written by more than one person or group. We see that today as we have the second telling of the conception of Isaac by Sarah but this time from Sarah’s point of view. It is now Sarah who does not believe, and even though she is not beside the angel when she laughs he knows exactly what she is thinking because nothing is hidden from God just as nothing is impossible for him. In our Gospel today we have a passage containing several cures by Jesus. The important aspect to each one is that those who are cured are cured because they have faith or because those who sought the cure on their behalf had faith. One of those cured is the servant of a Roman centurion who is cured because the centurion himself had faith. The second was the cure of St Peter’s mother-in-law. If we have faith then we can stand before the Lord and make our requests knowing that he will answer.
Memorial of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop & Martyr
Oliver was born in Meath in 1625 and ordained priest in Rome in 1654. Soon after he was made professor at the Propaganda Fide College and in 1669 was created Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. It was a difficult time for the Church in Ireland and even though he was on very good terms with the Protestant bishops, he was forced into hiding in 1673. Following his betrayal he was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. His trial in Dublin collapsed due to lack of evidence and he was sent to London where a grand jury said there was nothing to answer for. Following a third (fixed) trial he was sentenced to death. He was hung, drawn and quartered in 1681, the last Roman Catholic to be martyred at Tyburn, London. He was canonized in 1975.
July 2 – July 8, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Thirteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2Kings 4:8-11, 14-16; Psalm 88; Romans 6:3-4, 8-11; Matthew 10:37-42
In our first reading from the second Book of the Kings, we see the prophet Elisha rewarding a Shunemite woman for her kindness to him by telling her that she will bear a son within a year. She and her husband had made him welcome whenever he passed and had even built a small room for him. Being childless was a great stigma at the time and so he lifts that stigma as thanks for her kindness and hospitality to him. Christ echoes this in the gospel passage in that he tells us that we must always show kindness and hospitality to others. In this way we are living out the gospel precepts and will be rewarded. There is also a reminder that in welcoming others awe are welcoming Christ himself who is to be found in the hearts of others. We must be worthy of the life Christ won for us and be prepared to defend it and nourish it, otherwise, in our case, Christ’s sacrifice will have been for nothing.
St Paul tells us in the second reading that we have already died with Christ in baptism and now live a new life with him. As Christ was raised from the dead so too will be raised we for living a life worthy of that great gift.
Feast of St Thomas the Apostle
Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 116; John 20:24-29
The first reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us that we are all part of God’s household and that that household has the Apostles and prophets for its foundations. In the gospel, we see St Thomas doubt the words of the others when they say that Jesus has risen and appeared to them. When Jesus appears to them again eight days later, Thomas is in the room and believes once he can physically touch the Lord. In this way Thomas represents all peoples down through the centuries who have not personally seen the Risen Lord. Thomas’ great declaration of faith – “My Lord and my God” – should be all the proof we need.
Very little is known about Thomas other than what is found in the Gospels. Also known as Didymus (The Twin) his questioning of Christ’s teaching and his disbelief in the resurrection show that even the closest followers of Christ had doubts and that, even in doubting, the Lord is there to give strength and guidance. Tradition holds that he brought the faith to Southern India where he is said to have died. He is the patron saint of architects, builders and India.
Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 19:15-29; Psalm 25; Matthew 8:23-27
In our previous section from Genesis we read that the Lord wished to destroy Gomorrah because of the sinfulness of the people but promised Abraham that he would spare it if he found ten just men living there. Today we see that only Lot, his wife and his two daughters were found to be just and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed after the angels had saved Lot and his family. In our Gospel we see Jesus out on the lake with the disciples when a storm blows up and the disciples panic. Jesus calms the storm showing them his power and authority even over nature itself. This is a reminder of just who Christ is – the Lord of Creation – and that we should always strive to live out the Gospel values unlike the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. While we might feel as though we are alone in this, like Lot and his family, when all is said and done it is the Lord whom we must serve and not our fellow mortals.
Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 21:5, 8-20; Psalm 33; Matthew 8:28-34
Today we read from the book of Genesis of Abraham’s rejoicing at the birth of his son Isaac. His wife, Sarah, grows jealous of his first son, Ishmael, who was born to Sarah’s servant-girl, and so she tells Abraham to send the servant-girl and her son away. Abraham is saddened by this but he does as she wishes. At the end of the reading we see that Ishmael too will be a great nation because he was the son of Abraham. In the Gospel, Jesus heals two demoniacs and casts out their demons who enter a herd of swine and are destroyed. The local people implore Jesus to leave the area not because they had lost the herd but because they had little faith and did not want to change their comfortable lives. Faith in Christ calls for a radical change in our lives and one which we must make no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel for that is the only way to enter heaven.
Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 22:1-19; Psalm 114; Matthew 9:1-8
Today we read of the sacrifice by Abraham of his son Isaac. What is remarkable about the story is that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son because he believed in and trusted God so much. This is the faith to which each one of us is called. While this may seem a difficult thing to do we should not fear or worry for the Spirit is with us to help and strengthen us. The image of Isaac carrying the wood on which he was to be sacrificed reminds us of Jesus carrying the wood of the cross on which he became a sacrifice which saves us all. In our Gospel passage we see Jesus at odds with the scribes because he has forgiven a paralytic his sins and told him to walk again. He did so not to show off but because the people who came to him had faith in him. The people are delighted to see this and they are filled with awe. Christ forgives our sins too if we turn to him in faith and he will help us in all our trials.
Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 23:1-4, 19, 24:1-8, 62-67; Psalm 105; Matthew 9:9-13
Our first reading today recounts the finding of a wife for Isaac. Sarah has died and Abraham is anxious that Isaac marry a woman of his own tribe so as not to contaminate the line chosen by God through marriage to a local Canaanite. Abraham’s senior servant therefore travels back to Mesopotamia and is guided by the Lord who leads him to Rebekah. Upon returning to the land of Canaan they are met by Isaac who weds Rebekah. We again read in the Gospel of Jesus coming into conflict with the Pharisees, this time because he was eating with people they considered to be sinners. He reminds them that healthy people do not need a doctor and so he has come to call the sinners to repentance because the virtuous are already on the right path. It is a reminder to us that even those who consider themselves to be virtuous are sinners because they have judged others by their own standards and have not been merciful in their consideration of others. When it comes to faith we must not consider others to be inferior to us but must always realise that we can be better than we currently are.
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29; Psalm 134; Matthew 9:14-17
We read in the first reading that Isaac is now an old man and calls his eldest son, Esau, to him to give him the blessing which belonged to the first-born son according to tradition, even though Esau had surrendered his birthright to Jacob. Rebekah, however, overhears the conversation and sends Jacob in to get the blessing. Isaac is fooled by the disguise and blesses his second son rather than the firstborn. Despite Jacob’s deception in obtaining his father’s blessing, the Lord chooses Jacob and so we are reminded that God’s ways do not always fit the pattern we expect. Jesus is questioned in the Gospel by some of John the Baptist’s disciples about fasting. Christ’s disciples did not fast while the others did and Jesus tells them that this was because he was with them. He uses the example of a wedding banquet at which people do not fast as long as the bridegroom is present, for he is the reason for the rejoicing. When Christ is taken from them they will then fast but not as long as he is alive.
July 9 – July 15, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Fifteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 144; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
The first reading from the prophet Zechariah tells us that the Lord will come in victory but he will also come very humbly and riding on a donkey. This reminds us of the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Passion Sunday – the fulfilment of this prophecy. In the gospel, Jesus says that his way of life can be discerned by little children, so simple is his way. His way is one of humility and gentleness and if we live as he did then we too will inherit everlasting life. There is also a reminder that little children trust their parents and that this is the way in which we should approach the gospel and faith in God. If we act too much like adults and try to scientifically explain things then we run the risk of missing the message itself. We need to trust God and his Son in a child-like way.
In the second reading St Paul tells us that we already have the Spirit of Christ living in us and that, as a result, there is no reason why we should not live the life Christ wants of us. Our spiritual selves are far more important that the unspiritual side and we must allow the spiritual side to dominate our lives. Were we to do this then we would very quickly transform our world.
Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 28:10-22; Psalm 90; Matthew 9:18-26
We read in our first reading today about ‘Jacob’s Ladder.’ Jacob had been travelling to Haran to find a wife and to get away from the wrath of his older brother, Esau. As it was night he stopped to rest and slept on the ground. As he was sleeping the Lord appeared to him in his dreams and promised him that his descendants would be great – the same promise he made to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather. The ladder of angels which Jacob saw symbolises the communication between God and man. The stone which Jacob had used as a pillow he sets up as a monument to the Lord. In the Gospel we see Jesus curing two people. A woman in the crowd touched his cloak and the bleeding disease she had suffered from left her. In the second he raises a girl to life after her father had asked him to come to the house to save her. The key in these two miracles is faith. The woman didn’t ask to be cured but believed that even if she just touched his cloak that she would be healed. The little girl didn’t ask to be restored to life but her father had faith in Jesus. We too are called on to have faith in Christ because, for people of faith, anything is possible.
Feast of St Benedict, Abbot & Patron of Europe
Proverbs 2:1-9; Psalm 33; Matthew 19:27-29
The first reading from Proverbs exhorts us to apply ourselves in seeking the truth for there is a great treasure to be found in the truth. When we discover it then we will “understand what virtue is, justice and fair dealing.” In the gospel, Jesus assures Peter that those who have left everything for him will receive a great reward, that reward being eternal life. The readings are quite appropriate for the feast of St Benedict for they recount exactly the sort of life Benedict lived. We too are called to seek truth and to give up everything for the sake of Christ and the kingdom.
Benedict was born in central Italy in 480. He was sent to Rome to study but left the city for the life of a hermit in Subiaco, not far from Rome, about the year 500. So many gathered around him that he founded twelve communities of monks, but in time left them because of their lack of discipline. He moved to Monte Cassino and established the famous monastery there on the site of a pagan temple to Apollo. He wrote a Rule for the monks which has become the foundation of spirituality and monastic life though it is not believed that he intended starting a religious order. He is the spiritual head of monks in the Western Church as St Basil is spiritual head of those in the Eastern Church. He died while at prayer in March 547 and was made Patron of Europe by Paul VI in 1964.
Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 41:55-57, 42:5-7, 17-24; Psalm 32; Matthew 10:1-17
In our reading from Genesis we now move ahead several years and see Joseph in Egypt as the pharaoh’s main steward. Israel’s sons had sold Joseph into slavery because they were tired of his perfect ways and the fact that their father appeared to love him more than all of them put together. So they sold Joseph as a boy to some traders and Joseph ends up in Egypt where he becomes one of the chief stewards to the Pharaoh. Years later his brothers come to Egypt to buy grain for there is a famine in their own country. They do not recognise Joseph but he recognises them and has them detained for some days. In our Gospel reading we have the naming of the twelve apostles and these Jesus sends out to proclaim the Good News. We are the successors to the Twelve and it is our duty to proclaim the Good News in all that we do and say.
Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29, 45:1-5; Psalm 104; Matthew 10:7-15
In our reading from the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis we see Joseph finally revealing himself to his brothers. Despite the way they had treated him he forgives them and welcomes them with open arms. In some ways the scene reminds us of Christ who, on the cross, forgave those who rejected him and treated him shamefully. In the Gospel we see Jesus instructing the Twelve before he sends them out in his name. We received the faith for nothing and so should pass it on to others for nothing. We should also welcome those who come in Christ’s name and listen to their teaching.
Memorial of St Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes
Juana (Juanita) Fernandez Solar was born on July 13, 1900, in Santiago, Chile. Academically gifted she excelled in school and was awarded her school’s prize for outstanding student. She enjoyed sports and had a talent for music and, after leaving school, helped orphans and the poor and taught catechism. From the age of fifteen and at the request of a Carmelite nun in Santiago, she kept a detailed diary which gives great insight into her faith and prayer life, as do the many letters which survive. She was very much inspired by the biography of St Thérèse of Lisieux and by the writings of St Elizabeth of the Trinity, St Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) and St John of the Cross. She entered Carmel in May 1919 taking the name ‘Teresa of Jesus’ and died of typhus on April 12, 1920, having been given a dispensation in periculo mortis to make her profession of vows as a Carmelite nun. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1993, the first Chilean saint.
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30; Psalm 36; Matthew 10:16-23
In the first reading from the Book of Genesis we read of the moment when Israel (Jacob) is reunited with his long-lost son Joseph. Israel also takes his whole family and settles in Egypt at Joseph’s request where they enjoy peace. Before moving to Egypt, the Lord appears to Israel to tell him that he will be with him and make him a great nation in Egypt. Jesus continues instructing the Twelve in the Gospel before sending them out in his name. He reminds them that it will not go as smoothly as they might think and that they will be harassed from time to time and have to suffer for him, but through it all the Holy Spirit will be with them to guide and strengthen them. The Holy Spirit is also with us and so we should take up the mantle of the Twelve and preach the kingdom of God to all whom we meet.
Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 49:29-33, 50:15-26; Psalm 104; Matthew 10:24-38
We read of the death of Jacob, now Israel, in our reading from Genesis today and of his wish to be buried in his native Canaan – the Land of Promise – rather than Egypt. Jacob’s sons now fear Joseph’s wrath for what they did to him as a boy now that their father is dead, but Joseph forgives his brothers, reminding them that a great good has come of their evil intent. Joseph too dies and before he dies he instructs them that, when they leave the land of Egypt, they are to take his bones with them. We continue reading in the Gospel from the instruction Jesus gave to his apostles before they went out to preach on his behalf. He again reminds them that a difficult road lies ahead and he tells them not to fear what people may do to their bodies but to fear what the prince of darkness may do to their souls if they do not trust in Christ alone. That same warning is given to us. We quite often spend far more time worrying about our physical body than we do about our soul even though the soul is far more important and is the immortal part of us.
Memorial of St Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Giovanni di Fidanza was born between 1218 and 1221 in Tuscany, Italy. He joined the Order of Friars Minor and rose through the ranks becoming the Order’s seventh Minister General in 1257, devoting much time to the unity of the Order. He was approached with a view to making him Archbishop of York in northern England, but this he refused. Eventually he was made bishop of Albano, Rome, and a cardinal in 1273. One of the key mystical theologians and scholars of his time he attended the Council of Lyons in 1274 at which he died. One of his tasks at this council was the re-unification of the Latin and the Orthodox Churches which seemed to begin well but failed soon after his death. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1588.
July 16 – July 22, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Fifteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 64; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23
Today’s first reading and the gospel are linked by seeds. In the first reading Isaiah tells us that both rain and snow water the earth and cause the seeds to grow and provide us with food. In the gospel, Christ speaks of a sower sowing his seed and of the different places where the seed fell and grew. We are the seed and Christ the water which nourishes us and causes us to grow. The reading today should prompt us to look honestly at our own lives and see which seed we happen to be – fruitful or fruitless.
St Paul, in the second reading, tells us that no matter what happens to us there is a glory awaiting us which is beyond compare. In order to attain the glory which has been promised us we must nurture the seed within us and listen to the word of God and put it into practice every day. Only then will we become a successful harvest and help others to grow also.
Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Carmelite Order had its formal beginnings among a group of crusaders on Mount Carmel in Israel beside a spring used by the Old Testament prophet Elijah. In the centre of their compound they built a chapel dedicated to St Mary of the Place, which was Mount Carmel. This devotion to Mary continued and became stronger as the centuries passed and is best exemplified in the full title of the Order: The Order of the Brothers of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. This particular feast was first celebrated in the fourteenth century and became the patronal feast of the Order early in the seventeenth century. It was recognised by Pope Paul V (1605-1621) as the feastday of the Scapular Confraternity.
1Kings 18:42b-45a; Psalm 14; Galatians 4:4-7; John 19:25-27
In the first reading we see the holy prophet Elijah instructing his servant to keep watch on the sky, for the drought which had plagued the land was soon to end. When he saw the small cloud, the servant was told to go and tell King Ahab to prepare for the rains. The unnamed servant symbolises the Carmelite who is attentive to his master, who awaits his master’s word and then brings that word to others, the master being Jesus Christ. The Psalm reminds us that only those who seek after purity will be admitted to God’s house.
In the second reading, St Paul wrote to the people of Galatia that the One who redeemed them was born of a woman and was therefore subject to the Law as all humans are. Yet it was by his life, death and resurrection that the people are redeemed because, for Paul, only someone born under the Law could redeem the subjects of the Law and free them from its slavery so as to live the true life God had intended. Our Lady is the woman who gave birth to the Saviour and, through the motherhood bestowed on her at the foot of the Cross, we are all her children. We also share in the gift of the Holy Spirit which binds us in adopted sonship.
In the gospel, we see Jesus on the Cross with very few close family or friends to support him. Before he died, he looked after his mother by placing her under the care of John, the Beloved Disciple. But Mary didn’t simply become a guest in John’s house or someone for him to look out for: she became his mother and John became her son. It is a powerful reminder that we are all the children of Mary, brothers and sisters to one another and to Jesus Christ, and that we must have a care and concern for others. Mary is also seen in her sorrow as one who is silent but who still trusts in the wisdom of God even in what must have been a very dark moment in her life as she watched her Son die without dignity. For Carmelites, these readings are important for we are the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and therefore we are servants of the Lord and of his Word.
Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 1:8-14, 22: Psalm 123; Matthew 10:34-11:1
Today we begin reading from the Book of Exodus which continues where we finished in the Book of Genesis last week. Almost 200 years have now passed in Egypt since the death of Joseph and his brothers and a new Pharaoh comes to power who knows nothing of the history of the Israelites in Egypt. He therefore has the Israelites enslaved and begins killing their sons out of fear that they may not be as loyal as he would like. Our Gospel passage today from St Matthew seems at first a little odd because Jesus tells his disciples that he did not come to bring peace but the sword. We know from bitter experience that this is correct for there are many places in the world where long and bloody battles have been fought because of religion and because of different views within Christianity, even within our own country. But Christ tells us that we should welcome all people regardless of their religious beliefs because, if we welcome those who are holy and help those who come to us, then we will bring peace to our world and the Gospel of Christ will spread throughout the world.
Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 2:1-15; Psalm 68; Matthew 11:20-24
To help stamp out the Jewish race the Pharaoh had decreed that all Jewish males were to be killed at birth but today we read in Exodus that Moses was not killed but was hidden by his mother. Eventually she placed him in a basket in the river because she could no longer conceal him. The child is found by the Pharaoh’s daughter who takes him home and entrusts him to his own mother. He lives in Pharaoh’s house and flees when he kills an Egyptian for striking a Hebrew. From here on, Moses will be central as we read about the return to the Promised Land. In our Gospel text we see Jesus admonishing those towns in which he had worked miracles because, despite all they had seen, they still refuse to change their ways and to live according to the Law of God. This is a reminder to us that we must be converted daily to the Gospel and play our part in the building up of the kingdom of God. It is also a reminder that Jesus had been busy in other parts of the Holy Land but that not all of it is recorded in the Gospels – again showing us that in fact we know only small though significant parts about his life on earth.
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:25-27
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus we read of the first encounter between God and Moses in the burning bush. The Lord has heard the cry of his Chosen People in Egypt and he appoints Moses to be his instrument in delivering them from their slavery. Moses is unsure about this but the Lord tells him that he will be with him. This promise to be with Moses is heard time and time again throughout the Old Testament and also in the promise of Jesus to his apostles – “I will be with you always.” In the Gospel, Jesus praises his Father for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children. All too often today people scrutinise their faith so much that they destroy it. The mysteries are called mysteries precisely because we do not have the capacity to understand them and yet that does not mean that they are false or to be ignored. A child accepts what he or she is told and believes in it and that is what we are asked to do. If we truly believe in Jesus and his word then no further proof should be necessary for the Lord will not deceive us as he only seeks our good.
Solemnity of St Elijah the Prophet
The Prophet Elijah is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets and, with Moses, is one of the two great figures of the Hebrew Scriptures who represent the Law and the Prophets. In Hebrew, his name means ‘The Lord is my God’, and this he lived out in his life and work. He defended God on Mount Carmel as the one true God against the prophets of the false god, Baal, and for which he was hunted by Queen Jezebel. He is a key figure for the Carmelite Order whose early members lived beside the spring on Mount Carmel which was used by the prophet himself. His devotion to God, his prayer life, his intimate union with God are examples for Carmelites as they strive to bring God’s presence alive in the lives of others.
1Kings 19:1-9a, 11-14a; Psalm 15; 1Peter 1:8-12; Luke 9:28b-36
In our reading from the first Book of the Kings, we read that, having slain all the prophets of Baal, Elijah is now threatened by Queen Jezebel who seeks his life in retribution. In fear, he flees into the wilderness but is supported by the angel of God. When he reached the mountain, he stood before God who made himself known to Elijah, not in the form of great and wonderful power, but in the form of a gentle voice, a quiet breeze. When asked why he was there Elijah replied: ‘I am filled with a jealous zeal for the Lord of hosts’.
St Peter tells us in the second reading that what the prophets had been looking forward to was the presence of Christ on earth. That presence has now been revealed to the people who have now received the Holy Spirit for their good.
In the gospel, we read St Luke’s account of the transfiguration of the Lord. During the transfiguration he was joined by Moses who represents the Law, and by Elijah who represents the Prophets. In this way, we are shown that the authority of Jesus Christ is greater than these two pillars of the Jewish faith, and we are also reminded that their teachings pointed to his arrival. Elijah is a shining example of one who answered God’s call and gave his life to the service of God. Even his name bears witness – the Hebrew ‘Elia’ means ‘The Lord is my God’.
Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 11:10-12:14; Psalm 115; Matthew 12:1-8
We now move ahead in our reading from Exodus to the instructions for the first Passover. The Pharaoh has still not agreed that the Hebrews may leave Egypt so the Lord is going to smite the firstborn of both man and beast in the land. The Hebrews are told how to prepare and how to avoid the death which is about to come for only those who prepare properly will be saved. This meal became an annual remembrance of how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. From this meal comes our Eucharist which reminds us that, through Jesus, the world has been delivered from slavery to sin. In the Gospel we see Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees for apparently breaking the Sabbath, though in fact it was the disciples who committed the crime and not Jesus. Christ was not against observing the Sabbath but he was against the Pharisaic over-development of Sabbath legislation. He reminds them of what happened in the past and tells them that man is greater than the Sabbath and not the other way around. He does not suggest that the Sabbath should not be observed but to keep a perspective on things and not kill off the day completely.
Feast of St Mary Magdalene
Songs 3:1-4 (or Corinthians 5:14-17); Psalm 62; John 20:1-2, 11-18
The first reading from the Song of Songs tells of a person seeking the one whom they love. Today we can understand it as Mary Magdalene seeking the Lord. In the gospel from St John we see Mary at the empty tomb and been greeted by Christ himself, now risen from the dead. For her faithfulness to him she has been rewarded by being the first person to see the Lord after his resurrection and also by being the one to proclaim that news to the apostles.
Mary of Magdala was one of the followers of Christ who is mentioned in all four Gospels. She stood by the cross of Christ as he was dying and she was the first to see the risen Lord. Because she was the one who told the apostles that the Lord had risen, she is often referred to as “the apostle to the apostles.”
July 23 – July 29, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Sixteenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 137; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13
In our first reading from the Book of Genesis we see the Lord speaking with Abraham about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their sins. The Lord decides to wipe them off the face of the earth but Abraham asks the Lord to relent for not all the people are evil. He begins by asking the Lord to spare them if there are fifty just men in the town and finally persuades the Lord to spare the people if there are but ten just men found there. The Lord listens to the pleas of Abraham and relents each time. The Psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for listening to the cries of his servant. In our gospel text we see Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray and he gives them the ‘Our Father.’ He goes on to tell them – through an example – that if anyone calls on God their prayers will not go unanswered. All too often people forget that ‘no’ is also an answer, as is silence. In answering our prayers the Lord does not always give us what we want because what we want might not be what we need or for our good.
St Paul tells us in the second reading that all our sins have been wiped away because they have been nailed to the cross with Christ whose sacrifice sets us free. No matter what we do we always have the Lord on our side and he is ready to forgive our sins and to answer our prayers whenever we turn to him in faith and trust.
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 14:5-18; Psalm – Exodus 15:1-6; Matthew 12:38-42
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus we see that the Passover has taken place and the Israelites are now marching out of Egypt. The Pharaoh, regretting his decision, changes his mind and goes after the Israelites who immediately question Moses for freeing them. Their old life of servitude was what they wanted in the face of danger because they still did not trust the Lord but Moses leads them on and the Egyptians follow. The Psalm tells us what happens when the two groups reach the Red Sea. In our Gospel text we again see Jesus at odds with the scribes and Pharisees who still do not believe him and, despite all the signs they had seen, ask for more extraordinary signs so that they might believe. Jesus rebukes them and reminds them of Jonah who was thought to be dead for three days and also Solomon whose wisdom is well known. He is greater than all of these because he is the absolute revelation of the Father. Many today do not believe because they have never seen Jesus and want a sign before they believe. Only when they open their eyes to the message of Christ will Christ become visible to them.
Feast of St James the Apostle
2Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 125; Matthew 20:20-28
In our passage from the second letter to the Corinthians St Paul tells us that, because he believes and proclaims the word of God, he will be raised to life with Christ. The death and the life of Christ are at work in him in a very powerful way. There is also a reminder that there will be trials in witnessing for the Lord. In the gospel we see Zebedee’s wife coming to Jesus to ask that her sons sit at his right and left in heaven. Jesus can grant them places in heaven but only if they suffer for him through the spread of the Gospel. We too are called to live lives worthy of the kingdom no matter what trials may come our way. We are to carry our cross every day for Christ and to proclaim the Gospel by the example of how we live.
Also known as James the Greater, he was the brother of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Not much is known about him other than what is to be found in the Gospels where he has a special place among the Twelve with Peter and John. In Spain it is believed that he preached the Gospel in the Iberian Peninsula and that his relics were buried at Santiago de Compostela, but this is not maintained outside of Spain. He was the first of the apostles to die having been martyred by Herod Agrippa between 42 and 44 AD.
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15; Psalm 77; Matthew 13:1-9
In our first reading from Exodus we see the people again complaining about how good it was back in Egypt where they had all the food they could eat. The Lord hears their complaints and gives them food – meat in the evening and bread in the morning. The text is a reminder that we all have a little ‘Egypt’ in us – we all have a comfort zone which we do not want to relinquish even for the sake of eternal life. However, we must give it up and if we make the effort to do so then the Lord will be with us to help us achieve perfection. St Matthew presents us with the parable of the sower in our Gospel and it is a story which we are all familiar with. The seed is, of course, the Word of God and the ground represents each of us. The seed is useless if it finds no nourishment just as the Word of God will be dead in us if we make no effort to practice the faith or to live out the Gospel values. We are called to renew ourselves daily and to nourish the faith which was given to us at baptism.
Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady
These are the names traditionally given to the parents of Our Lady, though nothing is known about them. Anne is the Patron Saint of Canada, women in labour, miners, cabinet-makers and home-makers.
Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20; Psalm – Daniel 3:52-56; Matthew 13:10-17
In the text from Exodus we see the Israelites reach the mountain of Sinai and there the Lord comes to meet them on the mountain. In several places in the scriptures God comes to meet his chosen ones on mountains and they are sacred occasions. In today’s text we see the people preparing for three days before they meet the Lord. In the Gospel, the disciples question Jesus’ tactic of teaching through parables. He tells them that those who have faith will understand what he is saying but that those who do not believe, or who do not wish to believe, will not understand. The message of Christ is a simple one but only for those who wish to inherit eternal life by following Christ.
Memorial of Saint Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Anno Sjoerd Brandsma was born at Bolsward, The Netherlands, in 1881, joined the Carmelite Order in 1898 taking the name ‘Titus’, and was ordained priest in 1905. Following studies in Rome he lectured in philosophy at the Catholic University of Nijmegen from 1923 to 1942, where he also served as professor and Rector Magnificus. He was also a journalist and was involved in a number of publications, being appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists in 1935. During the 1930’s he visited Ireland and stayed in Kinsale with the Carmelite Community there – to improve his English – before giving a series of lectures in the United States. Throughout the 1930s Nazi propaganda was on the rise but Fr Titus refused to support or print anything in support of the Nazi regime, working instead to maintain the freedom of the Catholic press and education in the Netherlands. By 1942 it was required that the press in the Netherlands print articles in favour of the Nazi regime but, continuing to refuse, Titus was arrested by the Gestapo on January 19, 1942, and imprisoned in his native country before being sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners. In Dachau he was experimented on in the medical wing and was finally put to death by lethal injection on July 26, 1942. Saint Titus was canonised on May 15, 2022.
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 18; Matthew 13:18-23
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus we see Moses with the Lord on Mount Sinai and there the Lord gives him the Ten Commandments. These are the most basic instructions on which our Christian moral code is founded. The Psalm tells us that these instructions are perfect and to be trusted. In our Gospel text for today, Jesus explains the parable of the sower to the disciples. He explains the different types of people in the world: those who do not understand Christ; those who initially receive the Word but do nothing about it; those who receive it but who worry about the things of this world; and those who receive the Word and live it out in their lives. The question for each of us today is – which one am I? If we are honest about the answer what are we going to do to make the Word grow even more in and through us?
Memorial of St Martha
1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from St John’s first letter speaks of love – love for God and love for others. Love was also a characteristic of Martha. We have two images of Martha presented to us in the gospels. The first is from St Luke in which we see Martha rushing about the house when our Lord arrives. She becomes annoyed because her sister, Mary, is sitting listening to Christ rather than looking after him. When she complains about this, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and to sit in his presence and listen as her sister is doing. In the second image, this time from St John’s Gospel, we are presented with the arrival of Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Martha greets him while Mary stays indoors. Martha says that if Christ had come sooner her brother would not have died but that whatever Christ asks of the Father will happen. When asked if she believed that Christ was the resurrection and the life, Martha answers that she does and that she believes him to be the Christ, the Son of God. This is the faith to which we are all called to profess and to show in our lives through love of God and neighbour.
Little is known about Martha other than what is recounted in the Gospels. She was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and a friend of the Lord. She is the sister who frets over the guests while her sister sits and listens to Jesus. She is also the one who addresses Jesus when he arrives following the death of her brother, Lazarus, and who makes her declaration of faith (“I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”).