Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
February 26th - March 25th, 2023
February 26 – March 4, 2023
The First Week of Lent | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 50; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
The first reading from Genesis reminds us of the creation of the world and of the first humans – Adam and Eve. Having reminded us of the beauty of Creation and of all the good that was in it, it then recalls the great sin of Adam and Eve as they gave in to temptation. The Psalm asks for forgiveness from God for our sins. St Paul tells the Romans that sin came through one man (Adam) but that all people have been redeemed through another man – Christ. As man brought separation from God so the unity has been restored by Man because whatever sins were committed God’s freely given grace is always greater. In the gospel we see Jesus – truly man like us – being tempted by the devil while fasting in the wilderness. He resists these temptations because of his adherence to the word of God and because of his faith in God. We are called on in the readings to be faithful to God, to trust him at all times, and to call on Christ who knows what it is to be tempted.
Monday of the First Week of Lent
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 25:31-46
The readings today show us how to make our lives more holy during Lent by treating other people the way we should treat them. The Lord speaks to Moses in the reading from Leviticus and through him gives the people instructions for living properly in his sight, particularly how to act towards members of our family, friends and neighbours. The Psalm sings the praises of God’s law and reminds us that this law gives wisdom and refreshes the soul. In the gospel, Jesus gives a further instruction for proper living: we must reach out to others and help them in any way we can because God dwells in them just as much as he does in us. At the start of this first full week of Lent we are reminded that good works – as well as faith in God – are necessary in life.
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:7-15
In the reading from Isaiah, God says that his word goes out and achieves what it was sent to do. This reminds us that God’s will is perfectly carried out in heaven and that we pray for this to happen here on earth. In the gospel, Jesus gives us the most perfect prayer – The Our Father. It is perfect because it is past, present and future. It is perfect because it gives praise to God for what we have received; it asks for what we need to continue living; it seeks forgiveness for the wrongs we have done; it asks for the strength to forgive; and it asks for protection. The whole Gospel is summed up in this one prayer and as we pray it the Word of God is fulfilled.
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 50; Luke 11:29-32
Today’s readings remind us of the importance of penance and of its reward. In the first reading we see Jonah has been sent to Nineveh to warn the people of God’s wrath at their wrong-doing and of God’s intention to punish them. When they hear the warning they repent and when they repent the punishment they were to receive is set aside, and their friendship with God is restored. The Psalm takes up this theme of repentance and the plea for forgiveness. Jesus, in the gospel, is giving the same warning to the people of his day as Jonah gave to the Ninevites. The message is given to us in our day also. We must turn away from sin and return to the ways of the Lord if we are to be saved.
Memorial of St David
David is the patron saint of Wales. He founded the monastery of Menevia (Mynyw) in the far west of South Wales and was bishop of those parts. His monks followed a very austere rule which brought David into conflict with other Christian leaders. David lived in the sixth century.
Thursday of the First Week of Lent.
Esther 14:1, 3-5, 12-14 (Vulgate); Psalm 137; Matthew 7:7-12
Today’s readings remind us of just how important a life of prayer is and that we should cultivate this during the Lenten season. In the first reading we see Queen Esther – a Jew – whose husband, King Ahasuerus, had just been tricked into destroying the Jews. In our passage today from Esther, we see that she has just received word of this and pleads to the Lord to be with her in this time of great peril as she attempts to save her people, and in which she is ultimately successful. In the gospel passage, Jesus speaks of the importance of prayer and the fact that no prayer goes unanswered. While we may not always be happy with the answer we receive, we do still receive an answer to our prayer, an answer which God deems to be best for us in our situation.
Friday of the First Week of Lent.
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 129; Matthew 5:20-26
The readings today remind us of the importance of interior conversion. In the reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we are told that God does not rejoice in the death of a wicked man but rejoices to see that person converted. More distasteful in his sight is a righteous man turning to wicked ways than a wicked man living wickedly. In the gospel, we are told that our virtue must be more than the mere lip-service of the Pharisees – we must live and act from a deeply held conviction and faith and not just go through external emotions. God sees the inmost heart and judges accordingly. Jesus also reminds us to be reconciled with our family for any wrong we have done to them or they have done to us. Where we fall short on this we must take concrete steps towards conversion.
Saturday of the First Week of Lent.
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 118; Matthew 5:43-48
In the reading from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, we see that God has promised life to his people but only if they keep the Commandments – those simple instructions and rules for living which make life so easy and happy. The Psalm tells us that those who do keep the Commandments and the law of God will live in happiness. Jesus reminds us in the gospel that we must love all people – good and bad alike. For him, this is a simple extension of the Commandments and something we should have no problem doing if we are truly living out the Commandments. We must always act perfectly in the same way that God is perfect and we are seeking to become one with him.
March 5 – March 11, 2023
The Second Week of Lent | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 32; 2Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9
Our first reading for today is from the Book of Genesis and recounts the call of Abram and the promise made to him by God – the promise to make of him a great nation if he answers the call of the Lord. St Paul reminds us in the second reading that God has saved us and has given us his grace, a grace which had been granted before the beginning of time but which has only appeared with the Incarnation. He also reminds us that there will be hardships to bear because we are Christians but that the reward is immortality. The text from St Matthew is that of the Transfiguration of the Lord before the three disciples. The glory of the Lord is already being revealed to his disciples though they are not allowed to reveal this until after his resurrection. The disciples are encouraged and strengthened for what is to follow by what they have just seen. We are called to believe like them and to have faith and confidence in God as Abram had. This time of penance and transformation is about making ourselves ready for that great day when our true glory will be revealed as was Christ’s glory on the mountain top – a glory which is ours if we but strengthen our faith and remove sin from our lives.
Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 78; Luke 6:36-38
In our first reading we see Daniel speaking to the Lord and contrasting the goodness of God with the wickedness of the people. The reading reminds us that while we may sin and rebel against God, he never fails to forgive us when we seek forgiveness. The message is that as we are forgiven so we must forgive those who we perceive to have wronged us. The Psalm continues this theme and asks God not to treat the people according to their sins. In the gospel reading from St Luke, Jesus tells us to forgive others and we too will be forgiven; if we give to others we too will receive. When we judge others we should be careful that the yardstick we use on them is the same which we apply to ourselves. There is often a difference between judging and justice and we must err on the side of the latter.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 49; Matthew 23:1-12
In the Prophet Isaiah we are called to turn back to God but we must do more than just repent of what sins we have already committed. We must resolve to do good from now on and to commit no wrong. We must put into practice the words which we ourselves speak. Christ takes up this theme in the gospel text and tells us that we must practice what we preach. If we have authority over others then we should not ask them to do what we ourselves would not do but should help others to carry their burdens rather than piling more burdens on them. There is no point in doing good acts if we do not believe in the reason for them or if we are simply doing it for the praise of others. We must be a humble people before others and before our God.
Memorial of Sts Perpetua & Felicity, Martyrs
Perpetua was a young married woman and Felicity was a slave when they were arrested in Carthage in 203 AD during the persecutions of Septimus Severus. Along with four men – Saturus, Saturninus, Revocatus and Secundulus – they were thrown to the beasts and thus martyred – those who did not die were killed by the sword. Their “stories” are amongst the greatest writings of the martyrs and were written by two of the martyrs themselves. Perpetua and Felicity are named in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I).
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Jeremiah 18:18-20; Psalm 30; Matthew 20:17-28
In our first reading we read that the people have turned against Jeremiah and he prays to God for his safety. The plotting against Jeremiah reminds us of the plotting that will take place against Christ as we near Holy Week and, ultimately, the outcome of that plotting. The Psalm continues this prayer for help reminding us that in God alone is our safety and our salvation. In the gospel passage from St Matthew we have the first prediction by Christ of his coming death. Zebedee’s wife asks that her two sons be closest to him in heaven but he tells them that they will have to suffer first and they reply that they are happy to do so. Turning to the others he tells them that places at table are insignificant because he came to serve rather than to be served. We too must serve if we are to be fit for heaven.
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent.
Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; Luke 16:19-31
Both the first reading and the Psalm today tell us that man must put his trust in God alone for only God is our saviour and salvation. In the gospel, Christ tells the story of the poor man, Lazarus, and the rich man outside whose house Lazarus used to sit. The rich man is not condemned because of his wealth but because of what his wealth had made him, that is, indifferent to the plight and true dignity of others. We are all given choices in life and the readings today implore us to make the right one: that is to live by the law of God and to believe in him alone while treating others as he wants us to, seeing Christ in each person.
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Psalm 104; Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Today’s passage from the Book of Genesis recounts the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. There is an echo in the story of Joseph – whose brothers rejected him, plotted against him and tried to kill him – of the story of Jesus who was also rejected, plotted against and eventually put to death. In the gospel, Jesus uses a parable to speak of himself to the people. He tells the story of a vineyard owner whose workers have rebelled and killed his messengers. In the end he sends his son and they kill him too. The kingdom was being offered to the Jews first but they would not produce the harvest so it was offered to the gentiles who accepted the task and have produced a harvest. We are now heirs of those gentiles and are reminded of who our vineyard owner is. The story is also one of missed opportunities, a betrayal of trust, and ingratitude in the face of the vineyard-owner’s overwhelming generosity. It is a reminder to us to examine our lives and to ensure that we are not like the bad tenants, and, if perchance we are, to take this opportunity to make up for the opportunities which have already passed us by.
Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20; Psalm 102; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The reading from Micah asks God to lead us in the right path and to remember his covenants. There is a reminder that God does not remember our sins for ever but that he forgives us and casts our sins away. The gospel recounts the well-known Parable of the Prodigal Son. The father in the story represents God and each of us is represented by the younger son because we all turn from God and try to hide from him at some time or other. As the younger son was welcomed back with open arms, so too will God welcome us back. We must also be careful not to be like the eldest son, who failed to forgive and so distanced himself from his loving father which made his sin all the more grievous. The readings challenge us to look at how we have lived and to return to the Lord seeking forgiveness for whatever we have done that is not in keeping with his will. Whether we return to him sooner or later, he will always be there waiting with open arms for us to return.
March 12 – March 18, 2023
The Third Week of Lent | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 94; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42
Our reading from Exodus shows the Jewish people in their wanderings in the wilderness having fled from Egypt. However, they are now complaining and Moses has to intercede for them before God. St Paul reminds us in the second reading that we have all received God’s love and grace through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. That love and grace is not a lie but is very real: Christ did not wait until humankind stopped sinning to die but did so while humankind was still sinning. The story of the Woman at the Well is found in today’s gospel passage. Christ speaks to her of the ‘living water’ which is himself. She believes and brings many others to the well and they in turn also believe in Christ and his message. It also shows how important it was for Christ to bring his message to all peoples because, in his day, the Samaritans were not considered ‘proper Jews’ because they did not worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Christ knew her life story and wanted her to be whole again. He spoke with her and showed her the way to true life through acknowledging her past and letting her see his love and concern for her. Her experience of the Messiah brought many others to experience the Messiah also. We have a duty to follow the example of the Samaritan woman by actively seeking after the living water and to bring that refreshment to others.
Monday of the Third week of Lent
2Kings 5:1-15; Psalm 41; Luke 4:24-30
In the text from the second book of the Kings we see one of the King of Aram’s commanders – Naaman – being cured of leprosy by the Prophet Elisha. At this the commander declares that only in Israel is there a true God. In the gospel passage, Jesus refers to the text from Kings and Naaman the leper and tells his listeners that he, like Elijah and Elisha, was not sent only to the Jews but to all peoples. The story of Naaman also reminds us of Easter baptism: there is a link between Naaman’s cleansing in the Jordan and the baptism of Christ in the same waters. We have a duty not to keep the Gospel message to ourselves but to bring it to others. Christ brought his message to his people first but they failed to see in his simplicity and ordinariness, the true power and presence of God. They sought something spectacular but did not see it. If we are looking for something spectacular then we too will be disappointed for the message of Christ is profound while still being simple.
Tuesday of the Third week of Lent
Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 24; Matthew 18:21-35
In the Book of the Prophet Daniel there is recounted the story of three young men – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – who refused to abandon their religion for King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had them bound and thrown into a fiery furnace but the angel of God joined them there and they walked through the furnace unharmed. Our passage today from Daniel sees Azariah speaking to God from within the furnace and asking God to look kindly on them and on their people and to forgive the sins of the people which have brought them such torment. The Psalm continues this theme. In the gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that prayer on its own is not enough – we must also forgive our neighbours whenever they wrong us. And that forgiveness must come from the heart and not just from the lips. If we do not forgive others how then can we stand before God and expect him to forgive us when we withhold forgiveness?
Wednesday of the Third week of Lent
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Psalm 147; Matthew 5:17-19
In the first reading, Moses has given the people their laws and tells them to be careful to observe them because they come from God. It is a reminder of the importance of the command of God in our daily lives. Christ, in the gospel, tells us that he came to complete the laws given to us by Moses and that they are to be obeyed. While some use Jesus as an excuse to be a rebel we see him today upholding the tradition and Law of the Jewish people, but what is important is that Jesus wants us to live the spirit of the law and not just the mere letter of the law, and while this at times is harder to do it is infinitely more rewarding and more pleasing to God. The Ten Commandments may have been given many centuries ago but they are not outdated and are still to be obeyed by all.
Thursday of the Third week of Lent
Jeremiah 7:23-28; Psalm 94; Luke 11:14-23
In today’s reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, God tells us what commands he had given the people. The people, however, have abandoned the Lord and his commands. It is a reminder to us not to harden our hearts to God but to always be receptive to his ways no matter where they lead us or what they may ask of us. In the gospel some of the people are afraid of Jesus and believe that he can cast out devils because he is one himself. He tells them that this is not the case because the kingdom would soon die if that were so. He goes on to tell them that if they are not for him then they are against him. We know that being for Jesus is not just something we say but is a complete way of life and one which we cannot shy away from because when we refuse to make the commitment to live this way of life then, at that moment, we put up a barrier to closer union with God.
Solemnity of St Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland
Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 138; 1Thessalonians 2:2-8; Luke 5:1-11
In our first reading we see the Prophet Amos and his message being rejected by Amaziah and told to go home. Amos, however, refuses to go away stating that it was God who appointed him to this work and he will be faithful to that. The second reading continues this theme and in it the author is saying that his preaching was not done to flatter others or for his own personal gain but to serve God alone – which is what Patrick did in Ireland. Our gospel text from St Luke recounts the call of the first disciples and how small Peter felt in the Lord’s presence. Yet, they left all they had and followed him. Having escaped slavery and returned to freedom St Patrick gave up that freedom to become the Lord’s servant and returned to Ireland to spread the faith. The readings remind us of our national saint but they are also a reminder to us to protect the faith we have received even though that may mean rejection from those who do not believe in the presence of the Triune God.
About St Patrick
Patrick was born between 385 and 389 in Roman Britain, probably Wales. About the year 403 he was taken as a slave to Ireland by pirates who used to raid the Welsh coast, and he remained there for six years before escaping back to Britain. However, he could hear the call of the Irish people to return to them so he studied and became a priest. He was consecrated bishop by St Germanus at Auxerre before returning to Ireland as a missionary and Bishop of Ireland in succession to St Palladius about 432AD. He travelled the country preaching the Gospel of Christ and baptising the people and established what was to become the primatial church of Ireland at Armagh in 444. He is said to have died at Saul in northeast Ireland about 461 and his remains are, according to tradition, buried at Downpatrick with St Brigid and St Columba (Colmcille).
Saturday of the Third week of Lent
Hosea 5:15-6:6; Psalm 50; Luke 18:9-14
We read in the prophet Hosea that what God wants from us is true love – not sacrifices and fleeting emotions when we are in difficulty. We must always love him and seek to do his will with sincerity. We must never be superficial people when it comes to God. The Psalm echoes this. In the gospel, Jesus tells the story of two men in the Temple – one who went to the front and told God how good he was, believing that his goodness and righteousness was of his own creation; the other who stayed at the back and asked God for mercy acknowledging that he was a sinner. We are called to be like the second man – to be honest before God and to acknowledge that we do wrong. We are also reminded that all goodness comes from God and not from ourselves and this is what the tax collector realised and which made him righteous before God – God has no time for insincerity. The lesson put before us today is that true love for God is genuine and humble.
March 19 – March 25, 2023
The Fourth Week of Lent | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday
1Samuel 16:6-7, 10-13; Psalm 22; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
In the text for our first reading today from the book of the Prophet Samuel we see Samuel out looking for a successor to Saul – Israel’s king. He goes to Jesse of Bethlehem who presents each of his sons except the youngest who is out minding the herd. However, the Lord chooses none of those presented but instead singles out the youngest boy – David – for service as the anointed King of Israel. St Paul reminds us in the second reading from his letter to the Ephesians, that, as Christians, we are children of the light (that is, of Christ) and that we are to live by that light in all things. Only by right living can we really be children of the light and know what path the Lord is marking out for us in this life. In our gospel text for today we see Jesus on a Sabbath day giving sight to a man born blind. The miracle itself receives little print but the reaction of the Pharisees and officials receives a lot of print as John records for us that reaction. The Pharisees maintained that the man had been born blind because of sins committed either by his parents or by himself, though Jesus tells us that this was not the case. They question the man and his parents and the man answers back quite strongly and so receives a rough time from the Pharisees. This incident began to drive a wedge among some of the Pharisees and between the Pharisees and the followers of Christ. The first reading and gospel remind us that how we perceive the world is not always how God perceives it and that often times God chooses those whom the world rejects (such as the boy David) to lead his people.
Solemnity of St Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Psalm 88; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
In the first reading from the Prophet Samuel, we see God telling David that his throne will stand secure for ever through one of his line. The Psalm repeats this promise. The passage from the letter to the Romans assures us that we are the spiritual children of Abraham and that we must have faith and belief like him. The gospel recounts the narrative of the vision Joseph had which told him to take Mary as his wife though she was already pregnant. In this way Jesus was born of the line of David and everything that God had promised to David and to Abraham was fulfilled. As Joseph trusted in the Lord, so we are called to that same trust and belief. The key element for us is that Joseph was a man of faith just as Mary was a woman of faith. Both had annunciations and both accepted what must have been quite troubling but they did so without hesitation. In this way they ensured the prophesies and promises of the Old Testament while giving the child a strong faith-based family unit in which to grow up.
Little is known about Joseph except that he was of the line of David which was essential in order for Jesus to be legally of the house and line of David in fulfilment of the Scriptures. What is more important for us is the example which Joseph left us. He was a man of faith who played his role in God’s salvific plan for us; he was obedient to the will of God; he had a love for the Law and its fulfilment; he showed piety and fortitude in times of trial; he had a chaste love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and he exercised his paternal authority with due care. He is therefore a true example of Christian living and is the Protector of the Church. Joseph is also the patron of carpenters and manual workers.
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 45; John 5:1-3, 5-16
In the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we read of a stream of water coming from the Temple which gives life to everything it comes into contact with. This reading reminds us of the new life that the waters of baptism bring to our souls. In the gospel, Jesus is at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem which was believed to have curative powers. Jesus cures a man by simply telling him to get up and walk. The authorities are annoyed because he did this on a Sabbath. They failed to see that what was at work was the power of God, something which does not rest even on a Sabbath. Jesus is the Temple of the first reading, and the stream of water is the water of baptism. We are represented by the trees and fish and other things that are nourished by the water.
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 144; John 5:17-30
The text from the Prophet Isaiah for today comes from the second Song of the Servant of God and in it the servant is told that he is the covenant of the people who has been appointed to bring the people back to God and to rescue them from wherever they have been scattered. We are reminded that the love of God is far more tender than a mother’s love for her child. In the gospel passage, we see that Jesus is the covenant of the people – the one who was sent to redeem the people. He also makes it quite clear that he and the Father are one and they both act in the same way: as Jesus is merciful to those who come to him, so too is the Father. As Jesus was tender and compassionate, so too is our Father.
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 105; John 5:31-47
The people, in the reading from the book of Exodus, have turned against God and God is about to punish them. Moses, however, pleads on their behalf and reminds God of the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Psalm tells of the sins of the people and for which God was about to deal harshly with them. Jesus is speaking to the Jews in the gospel text and telling them that if they truly believed in Moses then they would believe in him too. The authorities had become too set in their ways to realise in whose presence they stood. They had shut their eyes and ears to the truth. We are challenged today to really look at our own lives and ask ourselves if we have shut ourselves off to the real Jesus. If we have shut ourselves off from him then we need to resolve to do something about it today, rather than waiting until tomorrow.
Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22; Psalm 33; John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
The reading from the Book of Wisdom is prophetic in that it speaks of the death of the virtuous man – which we can understand as being the death of Jesus. Everything that is said in it speaks of Jesus and how the people did not wish to follow him because his way was different and challenging and he pointed out their sins and transgressions. The gospel continues this story and we see that some of the people have decided to be rid of Jesus. Jesus tells us that he came not for himself but for God and for his people. He came not just to tell us about God but to show us God. We too should make every effort to get to know God personally and not just talk about him.
The Annunciation of the Lord
Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Psalm 39; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
The readings for this solemnity all point towards one very important word – “Yes.” They each speak of doing the will of God with open hearts. The gospel text recounts Gabriel’s visit to Mary to tell her that she is to bear the Saviour of the world. Mary answers “yes” to God and we too are called on to say “yes” to him every day of our lives and to trust in his goodness as completely as did Mary. Our gospel today also reminds us of Christ’s “yes” in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was faced with the prospect of dying for us. Yet in that “yes” which caused his death he also secured our salvation. Now is the time for us to say “yes” to him and to truly gain that salvation.
Today is celebrated as a solemnity as it recalls the day when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that God had chosen her to play an important role in the plan of salvation – that of bearing the Christ-child. Key for us is Mary’s acceptance of this task even though the whole episode must have terrified her.