Reflections on Daily Readings 2024

February 25th - March 30th, 2024

February 25 – March 2, 2024

Lent – The Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.

The Second Sunday of Lent 

Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Psalm 115; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Today we read of Abraham’s sacrifice of his only son, Isaac. He did so out of love for God and out of a desire to do the will of God even if that appeared to negate the earlier promise of being a father to a great multitude. In the second reading from the letter to the Romans, we are reminded that God gave up his only Son for our sake so that we might have eternal life once again, and that this Son now sits at God’s right hand to plead for us. In the gospel, we read St Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of the Lord. For a moment Christ was seen in dazzling white robes and it is a foretaste of what we too can be – pure as Christ. Our readings put before us the need for this penitential season as we move towards the great festival of Easter. We will become pure as Christ and enter heaven through our own purification which we must carry out as willingly as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son.

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.

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.


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.

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 3 – March 9, 2024

Lent – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.

The Third Sunday of Lent 

Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 18; 1Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

In our first reading today we are presented with the Ten Commandments – the most basic law for moral living. The Psalm tells us that “the law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul.” In the second reading St Paul tells us that while others may scoff at the notion of a crucified Christ, we as Christians, know that Christ is the wisdom of God and that, following his law, we too will enter into the Father’s glory. In the gospel, we see Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple and predicting his own death and resurrection – the very folly that Paul spoke of. Yet we know that through Christ’s death and resurrection we are given the supreme example of love – the love of God for us who died that we might have life. In the light of this we are challenged to really look at our lives in the light of the Ten Commandments – which are very short indeed – and to live by them in order to win the glory promised us.

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.


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).

Friday of the Third week of Lent

Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 80; Mark 12:28-34

In the first reading from Hosea, the Lord is calling his people back to him and reminding them that when they seek help that it is he who gives it. God assures them that he loves them freely and that he will shower his blessings on them despite their transgressions. The Psalm continues this theme of God calling his people. In the gospel, Jesus gives the supreme commandment of love – love of God followed by love of neighbour. He quotes from the Old Testament, or the Jewish Scriptures, from the Book of Deuteronomy, which reminds his listeners of the covenants made with God and of their failure to live by it even in the simplest of things. If we live by the command of love then we will have no problem in keeping all the Commandments.

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 10 – March 16, 2024

Lent – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday 

Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Psalm 136; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

In our first reading from the Book of Chronicles we read how the people had defiled the Temple of the Lord and for this they were punished with deportation. However, the Lord is full of mercy and compassion and so he moved the heart of the king to allow his people to return home and start the Temple afresh in Jerusalem. In the second reading from St Paul we are reminded that we are dead because of our sins but through the grace of God we are raised to life again. In our gospel, we see Jesus speaking with Nicodemus and he tells him that the Son of God must be raised up as a sign for all the people – a sign which, if they believe, will bring them to everlasting life. But part of this believing is that we live as people of the light and allow others to clearly see that we are believers and that we play our part in the spread of the Gospel. Lent is about purifying ourselves of sin but also about strengthening our resolve to be heralds of the Gospel of Christ.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent 

Isaiah 65:17-21; Psalm 29; John 4:43-54

God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that he will establish his kingdom on earth and it will be one of happiness because he will be with us. In the text we have God tells us that those blessings will mean that the sound of weeping will no longer be heard and that infants would no longer die after a few days. In the text from St John’s gospel we see Jesus fulfilling the text from Isaiah as he cures the son of a court official which also removes the mourning veil from over the official’s house. The official had wanted Jesus to come to the house and cure the boy but Jesus would not go, preferring instead to tell the man his son was saved. The man believed and went on his way. We are asked to have faith in Christ as this official did and to live according to his ways. If we do so, then we will inherit the kingdom God spoke of in the first reading. Christ’s message is not just for the Jews or the poor, but for all people be they rich or poor, powerful or powerless.

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.

Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time 

James 3:1-10: Psalm 11; Mark 9:2-13

In the first reading we are given a warning by St James to be very careful about what we say – the tongue is a dangerous instrument and needs be watched vigilantly. He talks about how loose talk can destroy a person and suggests that idle gossip and chat is the mark of a fool. Today’s Gospel account tells of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. The passage has a number of meanings and one of these meanings is that the transfigured Christ is an image of what each of us can be and what we will be like when we join him in the next life. But we must be careful because our shining robes are easily discoloured if we stray from the right paths.

March 17 – March 23, 2024

Lent – The Fifth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.

Solemnity of St Patrick, Patron of Ireland

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).


The Fifth Sunday of Lent 

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 50; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-30

In our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah we see God telling his people that he will make a new and everlasting covenant with them which will be unlike any of the previous covenants. With this covenant he will wipe away their sins and not call them to mind. St Paul tells us in the second reading that Christ obeyed the Father and suffered for us and in that suffering he became the source of eternal salvation for all people. We as Christians know that Christ is the everlasting covenant spoken of in the first reading and so we must believe in him with our whole hearts. If we believe in him then we will give up our selfish ways and live only for him so that we may yield the rich harvest which Jesus speaks of in the gospel. He died so that we might all be drawn to him and we will only be drawn to him if we spend time in prayer and living the life to which we are called. When we suffer, we do not do so alone because Christ is with us and so our suffering is not for nothing.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Psalm 22; John 8:1-11

Our readings today remind us that God himself defends those who are innocent, particularly when they cannot defend themselves. In the reading from Daniel we see that two judges have become infatuated with Susanna and have lied to save themselves, condemning her to death for something she did not do. She is only saved by asking God for help. He heard her cry and sent the boy Daniel to save her. In the gospel we see another woman about to be stoned for committing adultery. She is saved by Jesus who forgives her her sins and tells her to sin no more. In both cases, those who had themselves sinned were quick to condemn others while covering up their own wrong doings. We often find ourselves in the situation of the women in today’s texts – we find ourselves in need of Jesus’ healing and compassion. During this time of preparation we are called on to acknowledge our own sins and to ask forgiveness for them while resolving to do better in the future.

Solemnity of St Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Protector of the Child Jesus

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.



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.

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28; Psalm – Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42

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, part of which we read two weeks ago. 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. At the end of the reading, the king too praises the true God. The reading reminds us that when we are truly free in heart, nothing can trouble us or separate us from the love of God. The Psalm continues this theme. In the gospel, Jesus tells his listeners that they will only be free if they listen to his word and live by it, because only then will they be free from the slavery to sin and so be his true disciples. God’s word is available to us but it is up to us to accept it and to let it take root in our lives.

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Genesis 17:3-9; Psalm 104; John 8:51-59

In the reading from Genesis we see God making his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. This covenant was fulfilled in the person and life of Jesus. In the gospel, Jesus is speaking of Abraham and telling his listeners that Abraham longed to see Christ’s day. He reveals himself to his listeners with the words “I Am,” which is the name God used for himself when he spoke with Moses. Jesus is telling them that the God of Moses, Abraham, and Isaac is the same person who is now speaking to them. He goes on to tell us that even though we may suffer and die in this world, that suffering and death has no power over us if we believe in him alone. That which was promised to Abraham has come to pass in the person of Jesus and it is a saving covenant for us who believe it.

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 17; John 10:31-42

The Prophet Jeremiah is being persecuted by the people but he still places his trust in God and still praises him. It is a reminder of Jesus who is soon to be arrested and who will also pray to the Father for guidance and strength while never abandoning faith in the Father. The Psalm is a prayer of confidence in God by one who is being persecuted. Our gospel reading shows Jesus being persecuted by some of the Jews. He, like Jeremiah, is under God’s protection and so is saved from them until the hour of his glory. We too will be saved and supported if we praise God all our days and turn to him in confidence. But we must not forget him when things are going well for us.

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Ezekiel 37:21-28; Psalm – Jeremiah 31:10-13; John 11:45-56

In our first reading we see the prophet Ezekiel looking forward to a day when the Lord will unite the people under a new leader as a redeemed nation. In the gospel, we see the Pharisees taking the decision to kill Jesus. They did so in order to save their people because they feared that Jesus’ talk of a supreme power and authority would cause a revolt which the Romans would crush as ruthlessly as the previous ones. While their motives may have been honourable it was they who were misguided because they had closed their minds to the word of God and believed the Messiah to be a political and military leader. The words of Caiaphas also suggest that the death of Jesus might unite the people – an echo of the first reading. They never thought that the Messiah would free them in spirit which is a far greater thing. If we truly open our hearts to God then the unity which the gospel speaks of will take place as the kingdom takes shape in our world.

March 24 – March 30, 2024

Holy Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.

Palm (Passion) Sunday 

Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

The readings today all point to the person of Christ. Isaiah speaks of Christ as one who came to preach but who was beaten and insulted. St Paul speaks of the divinity of Christ and what he gave up in order to become one of us. The gospel from St Mark recounts the Passion and Death of Christ for us. While Palm Sunday recalls the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem it is also the beginning of the end of his earthly life and gives us a contrast which helps us to focus on what is to happen later this week. It begins the week on a sad note and sets a very sombre tone for the days to come. Mark’s text very much highlights the fact that while Christ arrived in triumph he ended the week in abject abandonment – abandoned by those who turned out to welcome him to the city, abandoned by his closest friends. However, there is also a note of victory because we have the benefit of knowing the full story – that story being that Christ triumphed over death and won for us our salvation.

Monday in Holy Week

Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 26; John 12:1-11

Our first reading from Isaiah points to the person of Christ who is the fulfilment of the covenants made so long ago. We could in a way see the reading as God dedicating his Son for the work he is about to accomplish. The Psalm speaks of the Lord as our light and our help. The gospel passage is leading up to the Passion at the end of this week. Today we see a woman named Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and he tells those with him that she will need this ointment again for his burial. While Judas was indignant at the ointment being used in this way Jesus sided with Mary because the intention in her heart was pure and well placed. The reading also prepares us for the betrayal by Judas later this week. Meanwhile, the chief priests continue to plot his death.

Tuesday in Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 70; John 13:21-33, 36-38

The Prophet Isaiah today speaks beautifully of the servant of God, one who will be the light of the nations. Each of us is called to witness for God before men and women so that this passage may be said of each of us. We could in a way see the reading as Jesus speaking about his destiny as redeemer of the world. The Psalm is the prayer of a man persecuted by his enemies and who seeks the help of God. In the gospel we have the scene at the Last Supper. We are confronted with the fact that Judas is about to hand Jesus over to his accusers while St Peter will fail to stand up for Christ despite his vow. We too can fail God when the crunch comes but if we believe in his power and pray to him as the psalmist does in today’s Psalm, then he will stand by us and we will be the light of the nations.

Wednesday in Holy Week

Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 26:14-25

The reading from Isaiah takes up the theme found in yesterday’s first reading – that of answering God’s call and witnessing for him before our fellow men and women, which may at times bring suffering and persecution. The Psalm is of a man in great distress who calls on God for help against his enemies. The gospel reading sees Judas accepting thirty silver pieces for handing Jesus over to the Jewish authorities – hence the name “Spy Wednesday.” We all have the ability to be like Judas at times and to deny Christ for the sake of our other gods. Judas realised too late that what he was doing would not work and in his sorrow he repented in the only way he knew how. How often do we truly feel sorry for having betrayed the Lord for the ways of this world and if we did feel sorry, when did we last truly do penance for it? We are called to rely on God’s help and believe in the reprieve Christ gained for us so that we will become the witnesses Isaiah speaks of.

Holy Thursday 

Chrism Mass

Isaiah 61:1-3, 6a, 8b-9; Psalm 88; Apocalypse 1:5-8; Luke 4:16-21

This celebration takes place in the Cathedral in every diocese on the morning of Holy Thursday and is presided over by the bishop as head of the diocese. During this Mass the sacred oils (the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens) are blessed and the Oil of Chrism consecrated. They are then distributed to the churches throughout the diocese for use in the coming year. Also at this Mass, the bishop is joined by clergy from throughout the diocese which represents the unity of the diocese and of the universal Church. The clergy renew their commitment to priestly service before the bishop and the people.

The first reading for this celebration from the Prophet Isaiah speaks very much of the presbyteral order – of those ordained to sacred ministry and who will carry on the work of God following the example of Christ. The second reading from St John’s vision in the Apocalypse speaks of what Christ has done for us by washing away our sins with his blood. It also says that those who pierced him will now see his glory. The gospel text from St Luke echoes the first reading and in it we see Jesus preaching in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. Through baptism we all have a common priesthood – that of spreading the gospel of Christ across the world beginning in our own small corner of that world. While this morning is a celebration of the ordained ministers gathered with their bishop it is also a celebration of the commitment we each have to work for the building of the kingdom of God.


Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 115; 1Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

The Lord’s Supper is celebrated in the evening time – just as the Passover Meal was celebrated in the evening to recall the first Passover in which the Jews left Egypt. As the blood of the lamb saved the Jews, so the blood of Christ brings salvation to the whole world. The first reading from the Book of Exodus recounts the instructions given to the people regarding the Passover meal. The letter of St Paul tells of the institution of the Eucharist when Christ gave his disciples bread and wine as his very own body and blood. The gospel shows us the scene in the upper room and in it we see Jesus washing the feet of those who were with him. In this way he showed that they were to be servants of all. After the gospel is read, the washing of feet takes place as a reminder to us today of the instruction Christ gave us. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle to the Altar of Repose and the altars stripped and crucifixes covered. This gives us a stark reminder that the Lord has been taken from us.

Good Friday 

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 30; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42

This celebration should take place in the mid-afternoon as this corresponds to the time when Jesus went to Calvary to be crucified. The Prophet Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant, of the one who died for our sake. It gives an account of the terrible suffering he underwent and the fact that it was our sins which caused that suffering. The passage from the letter to the Hebrews speaks of Christ as the one who lived a human life like us and, because he trusted in God and interceded for us, brought about our salvation. The gospel of St John recalls the Passion and death of Christ. The celebration begins with a silent procession to the sanctuary – the silence reminding us of the importance of what is happening. The Liturgy of the Word is followed by the Intercessions and then the Veneration of the Cross. The Veneration begins with the presentation of the Cross to the people before each person present goes forward and kisses the Cross – the sign of their salvation. The cross is then placed in a prominent position before the people as a reminder to them of what their sins have bought. The Celebration concludes with the Holy Communion.

Holy Saturday 

The Easter Vigil

The Triduum reaches its climax on this night with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. The vigil begins outside in darkness with the Service of Light in which the Easter Fire is lit and the new Paschal Candle blessed. From this each of the faithful lights a candle and carries it in procession into the church. When the procession reaches the sanctuary the great Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) is sung. This great hymn reminds us of what Christ and God have done for us.

The Liturgy of the Word follows and the readings trace the history of salvation from the story of Creation to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on this night. For this there are seven Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings given but, for pastoral reasons, the Old Testament readings may be reduced in number.

  1. Genesis 1:1-2:2: The first passage taken from the book of Genesis recalls the story of Creation, of how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. A key aspect to this text is that God looked on everything he had created and saw that it was all very good – there was nothing that displeased God or which he regretted or tried to re-mould.
  2. Genesis 22:1-18: The second passage from Genesis recalls the sacrifice by Abraham of his son, Isaac, at the Lord’s command. It is a powerful story of one man’s faith in God because sacrificing his son would have negated the other promises God had made with him, and yet Abraham believed in God so much that even this was not too much for his faith.
  3. Exodus 14:15-15:1: The reading from Exodus is obligatory and tells of the final escape of the Israelites from Egypt. After the Passover, in which the first born of man and beast died, the pharaoh sent the Israelites out of Egypt to be rid of them and their curse. However, the pharaoh immediately regrets this and pursues the Israelites and so the Lord brings an end to pharaoh and his soldiers, and the Israelites are finally free to return in peace to their own land.
  4. Isaiah 54:5-14: In the passage from Deutero-Isaiah, we see that the Lord has abandoned his people for a time because of their sinfulness but he has now taken them back and promises to never leave them again even though they are still sinners. He uses the image of a bride and says that if the people are faithful to him then they will bear offspring, people of faith like them who will pass on the faith to others.
  5. Isaiah 55:1-11: This passage from Deutero-Isaiah exhorts the people to seek out the Lord but suggests that he is not simply found in the sanctuaries but is to be found everywhere, throughout all of his Creation. It is also a call to fidelity and purity of heart before the Lord with the promise of a great reward.
  6. Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4: The text from Baruch was written at a time when the Israelites were again in exile – this time the Babylonian captivity – and they are told by the prophet that this is because they had been unfaithful to God. They are reminded that if they return to the Lord then once again they will live and prosper.
  7. Ezekiel 36:16-28: In the reading from Ezekiel, the Lord says that the people have profaned his name and done that which is wrong and so have been exiled. They have also suggested that the Lord is not the true God because he couldn’t protect his people and prevent their exile. So now the Lord is going to act and will bring the people home to their own land where they will live forever and where the Lord will give them a new heart to worship him both as individuals and as a nation.


The Epistle – Romans 6:3-11: St Paul tells us in the New Testament epistle that, through baptism, we are bound in a very special way to Jesus Christ who died that we might have life. Because of that baptism, death has no power over us just as it has no power over Jesus Christ any longer and, if we keep his commandments and live up to our baptismal commitments, then we too shall live for ever.


The Gospel – Mark: 16:1-7: In St Mark’s account, we see the women enter the opened tomb where they encounter a young man who tells them that the Lord has risen, and that they are to go back and tell the disciples the news. They are then to go to Galilee where the Lord had said he would meet them.


Where possible, the Sacrament of Baptism now takes place. If there is no one to be baptised then Easter Water is blessed and the faithful renew their baptismal promises before being sprinkled with the Easter Water. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is now celebrated for the first time since Holy Thursday and for this the altar is again covered with a cloth and burning candles are placed on or near it. The whole feeling of the Vigil is one of great joy and celebration for our salvation has been won for us and Christ has been glorified by his Father. The liturgy begun on Holy Thursday evening now concludes.

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