Reflections on Daily Readings
May 30th - June 26th, 2021
May 30th to June 5th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Ninth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
The Most Holy Trinity
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 32; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20
Today we keep the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity when we acknowledge in a very special way that, while there is only one God, there are three persons in that one God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. While we do not fully understand how this can be it is a cornerstone of our faith. Many have tried to explain it such as St Patrick with the shamrock, but understanding is not necessary for faith. The readings are also ‘trinitarian’ in that the first reading from Deuteronomy sees Moses speaking about God the Father, while in the second reading St Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit, and in the Gospel we have Jesus instructing his disciples. In his instruction Christ commissions all of us to spread the Good News and for people to be baptised in the name of the Trinity – a very clear indication that God is one but with three persons.
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Zeph 3:14-18 or Romans 12:9-16 ; Psalm Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke 1:39-56
This feast celebrates the visitation of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth. She had been told at the Annunciation that Elizabeth was also to give birth and Mary goes to be with her.
Tobit 2:9-14; Psalm 111; Mark 12:13-17
In our reading today from the book of Tobit we see that Tobit loses his sight through a simple accident. The treatments only make his condition worse and yet he says nothing against God who could have prevented this from happening, even when his own wife says that there is no point in remaining faithful to God. As the Psalm says – “With a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.” In our Gospel passage we see the chief priests and scribes at odds with Jesus and trying to catch him out. They ask him whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar and he tells them that as it is Caesar’s head on the coin that they should pay. He tells him to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.” We owe everything to God and we should thank and praise him for all that he has given us. He is the Lord of creation and is to be given true praise and acknowledgment at all times, even when things are not going our way.
Memorial of St Justin, Martyr
Born to pagan parents in Nablus, Palestine, Justin became a Christian when he was about 30 years old. He was a well-known philosopher and was known as “the Philosopher.” He wrote many works in defence of the faith and some of these – the Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho – survive today. He also wrote our earliest account of baptism and of the Sunday Mass. He was martyred in Rome in 165, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, by being beheaded along with five men and a woman.
Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17; Psalm 24; Mark 12:18-27
In our reading today from Tobit we see that Tobit is downhearted at the lot that has fallen to him and so he begins a prayer of lamentation to God. At the same time there is a woman named Sarah who has been married seven times but all of her husbands have died before they came together. She too begins a prayer of lamentation to God and like Tobit, she too prays for death as a deliverance from her problems. Their prayers are answered and the Archangel Raphael is sent to them. This is an example of how we should trust in God and pray to him with confidence. In our Gospel text we see Jesus being questioned by the Sadducees and he tells them that God is not a God of the dead but of the living. In other words, when we physically die in this life part of us lives on forever. The Sadducees denied this because they had not fully grasped the teachings in the scriptures and did not believe in resurrection. Their story of a woman with seven husbands reminds us of Sarah in the first reading. We have Christ’s word for life after death and also the promise of eternal life to those who trust in him and believe in the promise he has made to us.
Tobit 6:10-11, 7:1, 9-14, 8:4-9; Psalm 127; Mark 12:28-34
In our first reading today we see the marriage of Sarah to Tobias after Tobias has been sent to Persia to collect a sum of money for his father, Tobit. Sarah’s father warns Tobias of the fate of those who marry his daughter yet Tobias goes ahead with the marriage regardless. The passage ends with the newly-weds in fervent prayer before God. We again see the scribes questioning Jesus in the Gospel but this time his answer silences them. He tells the scribes, and us, that we must love the Lord our God with our whole being and we must also love our neighbour. These are the two greatest commandments and on these two all others hang: if we can live by these two then we will have no trouble in keeping the Law of the Lord and living righteously before him as his sons and daughters.
Feast/Memorial of St Kevin, Abbot
Kevin (Coemgenus) was one of the great sixth-century Irish saints. He grew up in Kilnamanagh and later went to Glendalough to become a hermit and settled in Disert Caoimhghin, by the upper lake. In time, several other hermits joined him and soon the great monastic settlement of Glendalough grew up by the lakes and continued to spread after his death in 618.
Tobit 11:5-17; Psalm 145; Mark 12:35-37
We read today of the answering of Tobit’s prayer in the first reading and again, like Sarah’s prayer yesterday, the answer is not what he asked for but is far better than he wished. Tobias is central to the story again today and again he goes and gives praise to God as soon as his father’s sight is restored. This happens because he follows the instructions of his travelling companion who happens to be the Archangel Raphael in disguise. The Psalm is a hymn of praise which could have been the words used by Tobias. In the Gospel we see Jesus upsetting the scribes by questioning their beliefs. He asks them how the Christ could possibly be the son of David when David himself refers to the Christ as his Lord. Again they fail to understand his teaching mainly because it would mean a conversion on their part and they did not wish to change their cosy lifestyle. He also tries to get them to understand that the Messiah will not be a political saviour. We must question ourselves from time to time to make sure that we are living according to the real word of God and not to what we would like him to be saying. The example for us today is Tobias who carried out God’s will but was never slow to praise and thank him for his favours.
Memorial of St Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
Charles Lwanga was in charge of the servant boys of King Mwanga of Buganda (Uganda). The king opposed both Christians and Muslims which led to an attempt by the British to remove him from power. During one persecution the king ordered his Christian servants to be executed. Some of the boys were quite young and only preparing for baptism at the time but, despite the pleas of their families to obey the orders of the king, they remained faithful to Christ. They were martyred by being burned to death at Namugongo in 1886 and canonized in 1964.
Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20; Psalm – Tobit 13; Mark 12:38-44
In our first reading the Archangel Raphael reveals himself and tells Tobit and Tobias that he was sent to test their faith and they have been found righteous. Before he leaves them he reminds them – and us – to always praise and thank God. He also tells them that while it is right to keep certain things secret it is always right to proclaim the works of God to all people. The Psalm comes from Tobit’s beautiful song of thanksgiving after Raphael has left them. In our Gospel we have the story of the widow who put in very little to the offerings when compared to the money given by others and yet hers was the greater offering because she gave from what she needed while the others gave from their surplus and so would never miss it. We too are challenged to give as much as possible from what we have and not just from what we have over and above what is needed to live. We are reminded today to praise God and to give charitably to others.
Memorial of St Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
Known as the ‘Apostle of Germany,’ Boniface was born in Devon, England, about the year 680 and christened Winifrid. He became a monk and left England in 716 to preach the Gospel in Germany and was given the name Boniface by Pope Gregory II. He travelled throughout Germany and established monasteries and dioceses before carrying out an ecclesiastical reform in Gaul. He was consecrated bishop in 722 and was later Primate of Germany. In his seventies, he retired as bishop and travelled about the country again. He was martyred for the faith in Friesland in 754.
June 6th to June 12th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Tenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 115; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
In today’s solemnity we celebrate in a very special way the real presence of the body and blood of Christ under the appearance of the bread and wine and which is reserved in the tabernacles in our churches and chapels. Christ made a new and everlasting covenant with us which brings eternal life to all who believe in him and this covenant was sealed in his blood. In our first reading from the Book of Exodus we see Moses sealing the covenant between the people and God with the blood of animals but, as we know, the people did not keep this covenant. In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews the author speaks about the blood of Christ which not only brings eternal life but also purifies us. In the Gospel from St Mark we have the institution of the Eucharist in which Christ gives his body and blood to his disciples. Christ is really, truly and substantially present in the bread and wine after the consecration and these remain forever his body and blood which we receive at Mass or return to adore in the Eucharistic presence in the tabernacle. There is no greater possession in the world than the body and blood of Christ but it is worthless to us if we do not believe and live the life to which it calls us.
2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Psalm 33; Matthew 5:1-12
In the first reading St Paul writes to the people of Corinth to strengthen them in their faith. This letter was written by Paul about the year 57 AD while on his third missionary journey to the Gentiles. Today he tells about the compassion of God who comforts us and helps us along the way no matter what happens to us. Having received God’s consolation we are to go out and console others so that they too may feel God’s presence and consolation through us. In our Gospel reading for the next sixteen weeks we read from St Matthew’s Gospel and we begin with the Beatitudes – the radical blueprint for living which Christ left us. Matthew likens Jesus to Moses who gave the people a law for living while on another hilltop. If we can live out the Beatitudes in our lives then we will give true glory and praise to God while allowing the world to see that there is a better way than the way it offers and that the peace of God is the true path to happiness and eternity.
2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Psalm 118; Matthew 5:13-16
St Paul tells us in the first reading today from his second letter to the Corinthians that the answer to all our prayers and God’s promises are found in Christ. God assures us of this and has sent us the Holy Spirit who is present in us always. In our Gospel we are told by Christ himself that we are the light of the world. Our world is in need of the true light that will guide it out of conflict and the darkness of sin into the true radiance of the Father’s glory. We are that light but if we don’t let our light shine then the world will never be saved. We are called on today to say ‘yes’ to the Lord, as Paul tells us Christ did, and so bring the world to him.
St Columba, Abbot and Missionary
Romans 12:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 33; Matthew 8:18-27 or Matthew 19:27-29
Columba was born about the year 521 in Co Donegal of royal stock and having completed his studies spent 15 years founding churches and preaching in Ireland. In 561 – for reasons still not clear – he left Ireland for Scotland and arrived on the island of Iona with twelve companions. He preached the Gospel far and wide while returning to Ireland occasionally. His monastic rule had a great influence on Western monasticism. He died in 597.
2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1, 3-6; Psalm 84; Matthew 5:20-26
In our first reading today from his second letter to the Corinthians, St Paul tells us to remove the veil from over our minds which prevents us from listening to, understanding and accepting the word of God for what it is – the true word of God and not some human invention. In the Gospel Jesus reminds us to be reconciled with our brother – that is, all those with whom we live or meet. He tells us that we sin even by thinking negatively about others and so we should make reparation for that before approaching the altar of God. We must lay aside all anger and resentment and live by the Law of the Lord in harmony and peace with one another and with God.
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9; Psalm – Isaiah 12:2-6; Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19; John 19:31-37
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart calls to mind images of the Sacred Heart in which the heart of Christ is emblazoned upon his chest for all to see. In the images Christ points to his heart which on the one hand invites us to draw closer to him and on the other reminds us that he has been rejected and his heart has been pierced because of that. In the first reading from the prophet Hosea we see that the Lord recoils from doing harm to his people even though those people have turned against him. In the second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, St Paul reminds us that the love of Christ is beyond all knowledge but also means that we can ‘approach God in complete confidence.’ The Gospel text from St John recounts the death of Jesus and how the soldier pierced his side with a lance. Christ died for us out of his great love for us that we might all be saved. The overwhelming message of this feast is that God loves us and is there to welcome us home with open arms if we have the faith and the courage to believe in him and the saving power of his Son.
The Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Isaiah 61:9-11; Psalm 1Sam 2:1, 4-8; Luke 2:41-51
The Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The contiguity of both celebrations is in itself a liturgical sign of their close connection: the mysterium of the Heart of Jesus is projected onto and reverberates in the Heart of his Mother, who is also one of his followers and a disciple (Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy, 174)
June 13th to June 19th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Eleventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 91; 2Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
In our first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we see the Lord likening his presence and his kingdom to a noble cedar tree. The birds and other creatures who come to shelter by it represent the people of God. In the gospel, Jesus uses similar imagery to show that the kingdom grows quietly but constantly and provides shelter and support to all who come to it.
In the second reading, St Paul regards our current, physical life as being an exile from the Lord – only when we leave this life can we become one with him. Whether we are in this life or the next our goal is to do his will and only by doing his will in this life can we attain union with him in the next.
2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Psalm 97; Matthew 5:38-42
In our first reading today from his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, St Paul is urging us to prove that we are servants of God. God has already given us the grace to do this work and he urges us not to neglect that grace but to work with it and so give glory to God in all things whether we are being persecuted, working or resting. In all things we must let the glory of God shine through so that others may come to believe in him. Paul also tells us that we should never put this duty off until tomorrow because we might not have a tomorrow. In our Gospel for today, Jesus says the same thing but he tells us not just to do as we are told by those who don’t believe or who are testing us, but to do what they have asked and more besides. We must not offer resistance to anyone because through it all we have Jesus with us to strengthen and guide us and to bring us to victory for the glory of God.
Memorial of St Elisha, Prophet
Elisha came from a wealthy family and was appointed by God to be successor to the great Prophet Elijah. Just before Elijah was taken up into heaven, Elisha asked for a double portion of his mentor’s spirit and this was granted and can be seen in Elisha’s placing on himself the cloak mantle of Elijah as he was taken up in the chariot. Elisha is noted in the Old Testament for curing the leprosy of Naaman and for raising a dead child to life, both of which were referred to by Jesus Christ in his preaching.
2 Corinthians 8:1-9; Psalm 145; Matthew 5:43-48
In a very gentle way in the first reading St Paul is reminding the community at Corinth of their duty to live the Gospel and also to aid in the spread of the Gospel. He is in Macedonia and building up the Church there and he tells the Corinthians of all that is happening there so that they will feel, perhaps, a little envious and will work all the harder themselves to keep the faith. He also reminds them that Jerusalem is the focus of the faith. In our Gospel we are called on by Jesus to be perfect just as our Father is perfect. This is not an easy thing to do and in particular he tells us that we should love our enemies which many people shy away from. But given God’s law of love we are not asked to like our enemies which is very different from loving them. In loving them we pray for their salvation and for an increase in them of the grace which has been poured out into the whole world. Nothing can disarm our enemies more than our prayers for them.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Psalm 111; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
In our first reading today St Paul urges us to be cheerful givers. If we give to others out of charity it will mean nothing if we do so simply to fulfil the commandment to look after one another. However, if it is done out of genuine concern for the receiver then we will receive many graces and favours ourselves and will move a step closer to full union with God. Paul speaks of this because he was organising a special collection for the community in Jerusalem – the birth place of the faith. In our Gospel reading today from St Matthew we see Jesus instructing us on how to give to others and on how to pray – we are to do both without any show or arrogance. God alone sees all that we do in secret and God is the one we must please. Putting on an act for our fellow man is mere folly if it is simply done to win his approval. This doesn’t mean that we don’t make a special effort and dress appropriately when coming to church but it does mean that our reason for attending church must be of far greater importance than how people see us.
2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Psalm 110; Matthew 6:7-15
At the time that St Paul was writing to the Corinthians they had begun to fall away from the true faith and disunity was creeping in among them. Paul’s letter was an attempt to keep them in tune with the correct Gospel as is seen clearly in today’s passage. He is telling them that the message which he brought is the right one and that there is only one Good News – anyone who comes with differences from this are not to be followed. As proof of what he is saying he tells them that he taught them for no fee because he did so out of love – love for God and love for the Corinthians. In our Gospel we see Jesus teaching his disciples the ‘Our Father.’ It is a prayer which encompasses all of life – past, present and future and one which we should pray with great reverence and care. At the end Jesus also reminds us that we must forgive others who have hurt us or sinned against us because if we do not forgive others, then we have no right to expect God to forgive us the sins we commit against him and our fellow men and women.
2 Corinthians 11:18, 21-30; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:19-23
Many people boast about their successes in life and the great things that they have done so St Paul in our first reading to the Corinthians today boasts about himself also. But Paul doesn’t boast about the wonderful things he has done or about the amount of travelling he has done, or about the number of times he has been in prison and punished by the civil authorities. He boasts about the occasions when he was in dangerous situations and in all his boasting he comes across as being weak or naïve. And yet all of this was done at the Lord’s command so that the Good News might spread throughout the land and because Paul’s greatest treasure was Christ. In the Gospel Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be found. On the last day there is little point if our treasure is in a bank vault and our heart with it, or in the jewels in our trinket box, because they are not the keys to heaven. If we wish to enter heaven then heaven must be our treasure so that our heart will always be there – in life and in death.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:24-34
We have that great line in our first reading today from St Paul – “For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” It is not always easy to see what Paul is saying here but when people are doing very well in life they tend to forget about God and all that they have received from his bounty. When people are at their lowest ebb it is then that they turn to God and are most open to his mercy and generosity. So in a way Paul is telling us that we are the best Christians when things are not going so well for us. While this is true it is a reminder to us that we must always give thanks to God for what we have received whether it be family, material wealth, good health, or even the things which we regard as ‘bad’ – only then can we be true Christians all the time. Christ takes up this idea in the Gospel and tells us not to worry about tomorrow but to live for today and leave tomorrow in his care. Everything else in creation does not worry and still it all continues to work smoothly. So we too should not worry about anything but live Christian lives in keeping with the Gospel and in so doing give glory and praise to God.
June 20th to June 26th, 2021
Ordinary Time – The Twelfth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Job 3:1, 8-11; Psalm 106; 2Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41
In the first reading from the Book of Job the Lord reminds Job that it is the Lord who has power over the elements. Job has suffered tremendous loss and suffering and has begun to question how things happen. In the gospel we see Christ exercise this power by calming the storm when the disciples grew afraid. This also serves to remind us that amid the turmoil and difficulties of everyday life the Lord is always with us to smooth things over and to give us the strength to endure them.
St Paul reminds us in the passage from his second letter to the Corinthians that those who believe in Christ are a new creation and that Christ is always with them.
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.
Memorial of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
The patron saint of Youth, Luigi Gonzaga was born in Castiglione in northern Italy in 1568. Born into high society he refused to allow corruption and worldliness take hold of his life, preferring instead to become a Jesuit. He joined the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1585 but after six years of tending to the sick he too became ill – probably with the plague – and died in 1591.
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.
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.
Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist
Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 138; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80
John was a cousin of Jesus and was just a few months older than him. In the gospel, John is the fore-runner to Christ and is known as ‘the Baptist’ because he was the one who began baptising with water for the forgiveness of sins. He suffered martyrdom by beheading because of a promise foolishly made by King Herod.
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.
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.