Reflections on Daily Readings 2024
May 26th - June 29th, 2024
May 26 – June 1, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Eight Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
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.
1Peter 1:3-9; Psalm 110; Mark 10:17-27
This week we turn to the first letter of St Peter and in our first reading for today Peter is preaching to the people about Christ and the kingdom. He is reminding the people that they believe in Christ even though they have never seen him and so their faith will bring them to everlasting happiness. The Jewish people regard the Promised Land as their “inheritance” and so Peter uses this word deliberately to show that the new inheritance – the new Promised Land – is to be found in heaven rather than here on earth. This inheritance is something which cannot be taken from us except by God. In the Gospel from St Mark, we see a young man go away sad because he did not see that faith is a far more precious treasure than the gold he possessed. We are called to be like the people in the first reading – who believed though they had not seen Christ, unlike the young man in the Gospel.
1Peter 1:10-16; Psalm 97; Mark 10:28-31
In our first reading again today St Peter is telling us how we must believe – with a completely free and open mind in imitation of the holiness of God himself. In that way we will truly come to know God and be united with him. He also encourages us to do all we can today to believe in God rather than putting it off until tomorrow. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of yesterday’s passage, and in it we see the disciples worrying about how they will enter heaven. Christ reassures them and tells them that whoever gives up all they have for him will receive a great reward in this life and in the next – though they will suffer for it. We too will share in that promise if we put Christ and the Gospel before everything else in our lives.
1Peter 1:18-25; Psalm 147; Mark 10:32-45
Today, St Peter reminds us of what Christ did for us – a sacrifice we should never forget for it was paid in his precious blood. Peter also uses the image of a ‘spotless lamb’ which is seen so often in Christian art. In today’s Gospel, Christ tells his disciples of his impending death, when the ransom will be paid for us. Christ also tells them that they are to be the servants of all, not masters. We too are called to serve others just as Christ served us and redeemed us. Service is far more important and life-saving than power.
1Peter 2:2-5, 9-12; Psalm 99; Mark 10:46-52
St Peter continues to tell us in the first reading how to believe and act as children of God. We must set ourselves close to Christ and always act honourably among those who denounce us. We must hunger every day for the food that will feed us spiritually and so show to those around us what it means to follow Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus cures a blind man on the road to Jericho because the man asked for the cure and because the man had faith and trust in Christ. This is the sort of faith we are called to have – complete and total, even when others are trying to keep us down.
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin
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.
Zephaniah 3:14:18 (or Romans 12:9-16); Psalm Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke 1:39-56
In the first reading from Zephaniah we are told to rejoice because the Lord, the king of Israel, is in our midst and has come to repeal our sentence. In the alternative reading from Romans, we are told to make the needs of our fellow men and women our special care. This is what Mary did when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the final stages of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The gospel tells us of the encounter between the two women when Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house. It gives us the beautiful Magnificat – the hymn of Mary. We too are called to think of our fellow men and women in their need and to praise God for all that we have been given in life, even if it is not what we expected. Mary is often seen as the Ark of the Covenant as she bore Christ within her for those nine months and Elizabeth rejoiced when she stood in the presence of that human ark, as did the child within her. Having received the Holy Spirit and also Christ at communion, we too are arks of God’s word and so should act accordingly and bring his message and his peace wherever we go. A small point, but an important one, is that the child carried by Elizabeth (John the Baptist) leapt for joy in her womb when he heard Mary – he recognized who and what she was, and he also recognized the immense importance of the child she herself carried. Today also reminds us of the great part John would play in the spread of the Gospel.
Jude 17:20-25; Psalm 62; Mark 11:27-33
Today we read from the letter written by St Jude who tells us that our faith is to be our foundation and we are to build upon that foundation. This is done by helping others who are weaker in faith than we are while all the time praying for a stronger faith for ourselves. Jude is also warning us to be careful about the instruction we take from some who appear to be preaching the Gospel but who are preaching a tainted version. The Psalm gives us a good example of what our prayer could be. In the Gospel, Jesus is questioned by the scribes and elders about his authority. He poses a question for them and when they refuse to answer this he does not answer theirs. His authority comes from God but they will not accept this.
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.
June 2 – June 8, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Nineth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
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 Peter 1:2-7; Psalm 90; Mark 12:1-12
St Peter tells us in the first reading for today that all we need for living has been given to us by Christ. It is all to be found in his words recorded in the Gospels. The author also sets out certain virtues which we should all have as Christians and which reinforce our own faith and the faith of others. In the Gospel from St Mark, we have the parable of the vineyard in which Christ tells a story about his Father and his dealings with humankind. The two readings today call us to be faithful and totally committed to Christ and to say, with conviction, the response to today’s psalm – “My God, in you I trust.”
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.
2 Peter 3:11-15, 17-18; Psalm 89; Mark 12:13-17
In our first reading, St Peter is telling us that we must be living lives worthy of God while waiting for his Day to come. Even though we have been redeemed we must still live lives worthy of that redemption. The author also warns against listening to those false preachers who may preach in such a way so as to delay or prevent our entry into the kingdom. In the Gospel, the scribes and elders are trying to catch Jesus out and ask him about paying tax to Caesar. He tells them that they should pay money to Caesar because his head is on the coin, but they must give to God what belongs to him – faith and praise – for everything we have is his and from his bounty.
Memorial of St Charles Lwanga & 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.
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12; Psalm 122; Mark 12:18-27
St Paul is writing to St Timothy in today’s first reading to strengthen Timothy in the faith and to encourage him to build up the faith he has already received. He is also telling him that the Spirit he has received is not to be kept quiet, but is to speak out through him and proclaim Christ and his message. At the time he was writing the letter, Paul was in prison in Rome and was unable to proclaim the Good News and so had to encourage others like Timothy to continue the work in his place. In the Gospel text, Christ is telling his listeners that God is the God of the living and that those who have died – such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – are alive with God. This is the great promise which awaits us. We have a duty to tell the world of this promise so that more people may become worthy of it and receive the promise themselves.
Memorial of St Boniface, Bishop & 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.
2 Timothy 2:8-15; Psalm 24; Mark 12:28-34
Again today, St Paul is encouraging St Timothy (his successor in Ephesus) in the faith and helping to strengthen him by explaining some of the mysteries about Christ and about our redemption. Though a prisoner in Rome, Paul is aware that he can still live out his vocation as a messenger of the Gospel by encouraging others, like Timothy, by providing them with inspiration through his writings and by explaining key passages in the life of Christ and of the Christian. In the Gospel, Christ gives us the great commandment to love one another, which is second only to the commandment to love God above all else. These are still the greatest commandments for us today and from them all other commandments and precepts for living flow.
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.
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Isaiah 61:9-11; Psalm 1Samuel 2:1, 4-8; Luke 2:41-51
The first reading speaks of rejoicing in God for what he has done for the speaker. It could so easily be the prayer of Mary in thanksgiving for the great honour which God has bestowed upon her in making her the mother of his Divine Son. The Psalm continues this theme. The gospel text tells us how Mary stored up everything about her Son in her heart as a truly loving mother. No doubt Mary thought about these things from time to time – something which we too should do regarding Christ and his place in our lives.
June 9 – June 15, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Tenth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 3:9-15; Psalm 129; 2Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis we read of how the serpent successfully tempted Adam and Eve and caused them to break God’s law. God visits the garden and discovers their wrong-doings. In the gospel we see the scribes looking upon Jesus as Satan and attributing his powers to the Prince of Darkness. We also see Christ’s mother, Mary, referred to in the text. As sin entered the world through Adam and Eve so through Jesus (the new Adam) and with the help of Mary (the new Eve) sin is wiped away. Those who believe in God and carry out his will are the ones who will be regarded as the mother, brother and sister of Christ.
In the second reading St Paul assures us that he who raised Jesus from the dead will raise us from the dead and give us eternal life Ecclesiasticus but only if we believe in him and live a life worthy of that faith.
1 Kings 17:1-6, Psalm 120; Matthew 5:1-12
We turn back to the Old Testament for our first readings for the coming weeks and in today’s reading from the first Book of the Kings we see Elijah answering God’s call and doing God’s will. This takes place about the year 850 BC when Ahab and his pagan wife, Jezebel, ruled the country. The queen persecutes the Jews and Elijah warns the king that there will be a drought unless he relents. Elijah leaves his home and goes east for refuge. In the Gospel from St Matthew, we have the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. These short phrases give us the perfect blueprint for living and for serving God. Elijah, even though he never heard Christ’s sermon, lived out the Beatitudes in his life and in his dealings with people. We are called to be like him and to put our trust in God, serving him alone.
Memorial of St Barnabas, Apostle
Little is known about Barnabas but, like St Paul, he is always counted as an apostle because he was divinely called to spread the Gospel with Paul. He is the one who was sent to Paul to ‘bring him into Christianity’ after Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus, and is the one in Acts 4 who sold his land and gave the money to the common fund. He also attended the first council of the Church in Jerusalem with Paul. He is said to have been martyred in Cyprus.
Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3; Psalm 97; Matthew 10:7-13
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts some of the work done by St Barnabas in spreading the Gospel of Christ in various communities. The gospel today sees Jesus sending out his Apostles and telling them how they should act. We are called to be like Barnabas and to give our life to the service of God and the Word.
1 Kings 18:20-39; Psalm 15; Matthew 5:17-19
We read in the first reading today of the slaughter of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel by Elijah and how he won back the people for the Lord, even though he was the only true prophet left alive in Israel. The event takes place about three years into the famine brought on the people by the actions of King Ahab and his pagan wife, Jezebel. The Psalm for today could quite easily have been the prayer on Elijah’s lips as he called on God for strength and guidance. Today’s Gospel tells us that the Law and the Prophets are still to be obeyed because Christ did not come to abolish them but to complete them, for they contained some inaccuracies which had crept in over the years. It is not enough to observe the mere letter of the Law but also the broader interpretations of the Laws. We are called on to be like Elijah and to stand up for God in the midst of adversity and to obey the Law and the teachings in all things.
1 Kings 18:41-46; Psalm 64; Matthew 5:20-26
In the first reading from the Kings, Elijah foretells an end to the drought which Ahab’s land had endured. He could do this because God’s favour rested on him and he served the Lord alone. The Psalm speaks to us of God’s care for his earth and he provides what is necessary to make the land fruitful. The Gospel passage reminds us that we must hold no grievances against our fellow men and women but must be reconciled with them before approaching the altar of God. It is not for us to judge others and, for the sake of the kingdom, we must forgive others and in that way people will see that we are true witnesses for Christ. Again we see that the strict interpretation of the Law is not always right as Jesus tells us that anger is also to be avoided just as murder is also to be avoided.
Memorial of St Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He first joined the Augustinian canons regular but later left to become a Friar Minor of St Francis and preached in Italy and France. He was known to his contemporaries as “The Hammer of Heretics” for his dedicated preaching of the true faith. He has a reputation for retrieving lost objects of careless people. According to a story he received a vision of the Child Jesus and this is why statues of Anthony show him holding the Child Jesus. He died in 1231, was canonized a year later in 1232, and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1947.
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16; Psalm 26; Matthew 5:27-32
In today’s text from the first Book of the Kings, Elijah stands on Mount Horeb (also known as Sinai) and is visited by God. God does not come with great power but in the gentleness of a light breeze. When asked why he has come there, Elijah says that he is filled with a jealous zeal for God and because all other servants of God have been killed. The meeting with God on Sinai reminds us of the meeting between God and Moses on the same mountain when Moses was given the Ten Commandments. Elijah is now instructed by God to return to Palestine for the Lord has work for him to do and from which he cannot shy away. In the Gospel, Christ speaks about divorce and adultery. This is often used to portray the Church in a negative way as being oppressive and uncaring but in this passage Christ is setting an ideal for us to strive towards. He also reminds us that we must keep the oaths we swear. Living out the values of the Gospel is not always going to be easy but the standards are always necessary to guide and strengthen the people. We are called to be like the Prophet Elijah because people like him are needed to stand up for God and his Word, especially in today’s world.
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.
1 Kings 19:19-21; Psalm 15; Matthew 5:33-37
In our first reading from the first Book of the Kings we see Elijah travelling to central Palestine in search of Elisha who has been marked out by God as Elijah’s successor. When he sees him, Elijah places his cloak over Elisha who understands this as being the call of God to serve him. Without hesitation, Elisha bids farewell to his family and his former life and becomes the servant of the one true God. In today’s Gospel, Christ tells us that if we live truly Christian lives then there will be no need to swear oaths in order for others to believe us. If we are Christian then we will always live by the truth and others will recognise this in us. We are called upon to become servants of God just as Elisha became one and to always live in honesty and uprightness.
June 16 – June 22, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Eleventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The 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.
1 Kings 21:1-16; Psalm 5; Matthew 5:38-42
Today’s first reading sees Naboth – a just man – being stoned to death so that the king can have himself a vegetable garden. Naboth refused to hand over what had been handed down to him by his forefathers and even Ahab acknowledges this to be right. However, Queen Jezebel arranged for false accusations to be made against Naboth so that he could be tried as a traitor and the lands confiscated. In the Gospel from St Matthew, Christ tells us to always turn the other cheek to the wicked. Naboth could be seen as a forerunner to Christ for both were wrongly accused and wrongly put to death. We are reminded of what lies can do and how they can destroy lives.
1 Kings 21:17-29; Psalm 50; Matthew 5:43-48
Our reading today from the Kings is a continuation of yesterday’s text, and in it we see Elijah confronting King Ahab. He accuses Ahab of killing Naboth and of doing what was wrong in the eyes of God. Having heard the predicted doom, Ahab repents. The Psalm is one of pleading for mercy and would have been quite fitting if spoken by the king. Christ, in the Gospel, tells us that we must love our enemies no matter what they have done to us. Only when we love them are we living truly Christian lives.
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14; Psalm 30; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Today’s first reading sees Elijah being assumed into heaven – his work on earth now completed. In his place, Elisha takes over from his master as the foremost prophet in the land. In our Gospel text, Christ is telling the disciples that they should not parade their religious practice in front of others or use it to show off. They should pray and fast quietly because God sees all that they do. Christ did not do away with prayer and fasting but changed how it should be done. We are called on to fast and to pray to our Father in heaven but without drawing attention to ourselves.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 48:1-14; Psalm 96; Matthew 6:7-15
Today’s reading from Ecclesiasticus is a hymn of praise for Elijah and Elisha and their service for the Lord. The author emphasises how the two prophets never tired of bringing the people back to God’s way of living even when that work brought them great danger. The text from St Matthew’s Gospel sees Christ teaching his followers how to pray and in it he gives them the “Our Father” – the Lord’s Prayer. We are called on to pray to the Father and to serve him as did Elijah and Elisha. We are also asked to think carefully about the words of the Lord’s Prayer and to try to fulfil each of its phrases.
Memorial of the Irish Martyrs
Between 1579 and 1654, seventeen Irish people were put to death for the Catholic Faith during the persecutions in Ireland. Of the eleven clergy: nine belonged to religious Orders, four were bishops (three Religious), four were priests (one secular). Of the six lay people: one was a woman (Margaret Ball), three were sailors, and one – Francis Taylor – was Lord Mayor of Dublin. These seventeen were canonized in 1992.
2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20; Psalm 131; Matthew 6:19-23
The reading from the second book of the Kings sees Queen Athaliah seizing power by slaying her grandsons. However, one male heir – Jehoash – is hidden by his aunt and survives the queen’s massacre. Eventually the people revolt against her tyrannical rule and Jehoiada, the priest, has her removed from power and establishes a new covenant with God while destroying the temple of the Baals which Athaliah had built. In the Gospel, we are told that we should not store up treasure for ourselves on earth for they are worthless. Rather, we are to store up treasure in heaven and this is done through upright living in the sight of God.
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.
2 Chronicles 24:17-25; Psalm 88; Matthew 6:24-34
In our reading from the second Book of the Chronicles, Jehoiada the priest – who had crowned Joash as king and who had made the covenant between God and the king – dies and quickly the people abandon the faith. King Joash has Zechariah – son of Jehoiada – put to death in Jerusalem about 796BC because he spoke out against the king and the people for their transgressions and abandonment of the true faith. As a result, the land is taken over and plundered by the Aramaeans who are small in number, and the king himself dies at the hand of his own people for his murder of Zechariah. The Psalm is a reminder to be faithful to the covenants made with God. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that we cannot serve two masters – we can only serve one. That master should be God. If we serve him faithfully then we will never have to worry about anything or even about tomorrow, for the Lord will look after us in all things. We are called to put our complete trust in God and never forget the Covenant he has made with us in the blood of his Son.
June 23 – June 29, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twelfth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The 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.
Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist
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.
Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 138; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80.
Our readings today speak to us about St John the Baptist and his life. John was the last of the prophets – those people who were called by God to remind the people of the covenants and to point out to them when they were straying from the Law of God. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of the messenger who would prepare the way for the Lord. In the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Paul speaking about John and his life’s work. The gospel recounts for us the birth and how it was that John got his name. It also indicates the great destiny which lay before him as the cousin and herald of the Messiah. We also remember how some saw him as Elijah or one of the other great prophets come back to life.
2 Kings 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-36; Psalm 47; Matthew 7:6, 12-14
Despite being attacked by a more powerful nation in our reading from the second book of the Kings, Hezekiah prays to the Lord for deliverance for his people and, as a result of his trust in God, is delivered safely. The Assyrians – who had over-run the northern kingdom – were now attacking the southern kingdom and only one city remained free – Jerusalem. One could easily imagine today’s Psalm being sung following the defeat of Sennacherib. In the Gospel, Christ tells us to treat others as we would have them treat us. We are reminded to always remain faithful to the Word of God and to always put our trust in him.
2 Kings 22:8-13, 23:1-3; Psalm 118; Matthew 7:15-20
King Josiah is shown the Book of the Law in our first reading today which his people have just rediscovered in the Temple. He immediately orders that all it says is to be obeyed and makes a new covenant with God before the people. The Psalm asks the Lord to teach us his statutes and that we may be careful to observe them. Christ warns us in the Gospel today about listening to false prophets. In our day there are many false prophets with ‘quick fix’ solutions and easy ways to get into heaven. However, we must remember that there is only one way to enter heaven and that is through Christ – the Gate of the Sheepfold, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
2 Kings 24:8-17; Psalm 78; Matthew 7:21-29
The city of Jerusalem and the people go into exile in Babylon in our first reading from the second book of the Kings. This is about the year 597 BC – 125 years after the northern kingdom had been over-run for the same reason, which was that the people and their king had turned from God and no longer trusted him. The magnificent Temple built by King Solomon is stripped of its glory. Our Gospel tells us that we must build our house on solid ground if it is to remain standing and we are to be safe. The solid foundation is the Word of God in which we must place all our faith and trust. If we walk away from it, we will be no better than King Jehoiachin and his people who fell to the Babylonians.
2 Kings 25:1-12; Psalm 136; Matthew 8:1-4
Today we read of the total destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The once magnificent Temple of Solomon lies in ruins as do the city walls. The countryside becomes a barren wasteland – all because the people abandoned their God. The Psalm is quite appropriate for this reading. Jesus cures a leper in our Gospel text and what is important is that he did so because he wanted to. Christ always wants to help us but he will not force that help on any of us. He will give us his help only if we believe in him and ask for his help.
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 Sts Peter & Paul the Apostles
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.
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 33; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19
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.