Reflections on Daily Readings 2022
April 24th - May 28th, 2022
April 24 – April 30, 2022
Easter Season – The Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 117; Revelations 1:9-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31
In our first reading today we see that the apostles have continued to preach about Christ and his resurrection. This teaching has had a great effect and many people have now come not just to listen to their teaching but to seek cures for their illnesses. All that the apostles do is done in the name of Jesus and it is Christ who grants healing through their actions and words. The Psalm reminds us that the love of the Lord has no end. Our second reading comes from the opening chapter of St John’s Revelations in which John tells us that he has been imprisoned for having preached the word of God. During this imprisonment he had a vision from God in which he is visited by Christ who tells him that he has not died but lives for ever. In our gospel we see Jesus appearing to the disciples where they have locked themselves away for fear of the Jews. He gives them his Spirit and sends them out to preach in his name. Of particular importance to us is the absence of St Thomas. When the others told him that Jesus had appeared he refused to believe and only believed when Jesus appeared eight days later. Thomas represents all of us who find the idea of resurrection difficult to grasp and the reading also reminds us that the first apostles were also slow to come to full belief. He also represents us when he makes his great declaration of faith – ‘My Lord and my God!’ This is the declaration which we too must make if we are to inherit eternal life through the Lord’s resurrection.
St Mark, the Evangelist
1Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 88; Mark 16:15-20
In our first reading for this feast, St Peter gives instruction to the people on how they should live with one another. In the letter he makes mention of St Mark, who is one of his companions. The gospel account from Mark tells of Christ’s commandment to his followers that they are to go out and spread his Gospel everywhere. Mark himself did this through his travels with St Paul and later with Peter and particularly through the written word of his Gospel.
There is not very much known about St Mark. It was thought that he was the young man referred to in Mark 14:51-52 who fled at the arrest of Jesus, though there is no proof. He was a companion of St Paul on his first missionary journey as noted by Paul in his writings. Later he joined St Peter, on whose teachings his Gospel is based and which was written for Christians who were being persecuted in Rome to show them that Christ too suffered but never gave up. According to tradition, he founded the Church in Alexandria and was probably its bishop when he was martyred about the year 74. The symbol for St Mark is the winged lion.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 91; John 3:7-15
In the first reading for today we get a glimpse of the early Christian Church at work and we are told that the disciples continued to proclaim Christ while those who believed looked after each other and saw to it that none of the community was ever in need. This strong community life enables them to live fearlessly and to give strong witness to the Risen Lord. One person in particular is mentioned for his Christian values – Barnabas. Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus is continued in today’s text from St John’s gospel and again Jesus tells us that faith in him is essential for salvation – faith and belief like that of Barnabas.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:17-26; Psalm 33; John 3:16-21
We read today that St Peter and the apostles are again imprisoned for speaking about Christ. This time, they are miraculously set free and go immediately to the Temple where they again preach openly about Jesus. The text for today ends with Peter giving witness in the Jewish supreme court to the resurrection of the Christ. In the gospel, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he was sent into the world because of the Father’s great love for his creation and that salvation awaits those who believe in him. We are called on to have belief in the Lord just as Peter and the apostles had but also to let that faith be seen by those with whom we come into contact.
Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 33; John 3:31-36
Our first reading today from St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles continues St Peter’s trial before the Jewish supreme court and he speaks so strongly about Christ that they wish to kill him but are unable to do so. In the gospel, John the Baptist is speaking to his own followers in the passage from St John and he is telling them that belief in Christ leads to eternal life. No one else can bring us to the kingdom or offer us what Christ has offered to each of us through his blood on the cross.
St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Europe
1 John 1:5-2:2; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:25-30
The first reading from the first letter of St John calls on us to live in the light, just as St Catherine of Siena did. If we live in the light we will not go wrong and we will live in truth before God and our fellow men and women. The gospel passage too can be applied to today’s saint for she brought comfort to many who were poor through her gentleness and humility of heart. We too are called to look after others and to share our belongings, our time and our life with them.
Born in Siena in 1347, Catherine became a Dominican Tertiary and lived a life of charitable works. She became involved in politics and was instrumental in getting Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon for Rome. She died in 1380 leaving behind more than 400 letters and a great mystical work, Dialogue. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and Patroness of Europe in the Jubilee Year, 2000.
Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 32; John 6:16-21
In the Acts of the Apostles today we see that the number of believers has grown and with it a conflict between two different groups of Jewish-Christians – the Hellenists and the Hebrews. To help settle the dispute and to make sure that there are enough ministers for the minor matters to allow the disciples to look after their role, they institute the diaconate. They spend time in prayer and then choose seven men on whom they lay their hands to invoke the Holy Spirit – a gesture which is central to the Ordination Rites of the Church today. In the gospel, Jesus walks on water to the disciples out on the lake demonstrating that he is Lord of creation and can overcome the natural world and its rules as he wishes.
May 1 – May 7, 2022
Easter Season – The Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Psalm 29; Revelations 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
In our first reading we see St Peter and the apostles being reprimanded by the authorities for preaching in Christ’s name. But far from being cowed by them they are happy to have suffered for the sake of their Lord and continue to speak about him. Our second reading comes again from St John’s vision and in today’s extract we see all living things giving praise and glory to the lamb of sacrifice. This is not the lamb that was offered up regularly in the Temple or even the lamb that secured freedom for the Jews in Egypt. It is Christ, the true Lamb who was sacrificed for all people and through whom all people are redeemed. In our gospel text we read of another meeting between the disciples and the Risen Lord, this time while they are fishing. When they come ashore the Lord is there with breakfast ready and, when the meal is over, he asks Peter three times if he loves him. Peter replies that he does and becomes upset that the Lord asked him the same question three times – no doubt his triple denial of Jesus on Holy Thursday still worries him. But in response Jesus instructs Peter to look after and feed his sheep – he is to be a spiritual guide and leader for the faithful. The passage ends with Jesus giving an indication to Peter that Peter’s life will not go as smoothly as he might like. Unlike Holy Thursday however, Peter will not turn his back on the Lord this time but will, ultimately, give his life for his Lord.
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 118; John 6:22-29
Today’s first reading sees the arrest of St Stephen for proclaiming the message of Christ and the Gospel. Stephen is undaunted because all that he says is being guided by the Holy Spirit and Stephen is content – so much so that “his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.” In the gospel, we have the continuation of the sixth chapter of St John and in it we see the people following Jesus because they want more of the bread that he had given them. He tells them that the bread they must work and long for is the bread of eternal life and that they must believe in him. We are called to believe in Christ even to the point of suffering for him like Stephen did.
Memorial of St Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Athanasius was born in 295 or 297 in Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea as a deacon in 325 and impressed the Council Fathers with his defence of the divinity of Christ. He became Bishop of Alexandria in 328 and served as bishop for forty turbulent years. He fought against the heresies of the time and particularly that of Arius (that Jesus is not co-equal with the Father but created by him) and, as a result, was exiled from his diocese on five occasions for a total of seventeen years. Yet he never ceased to defend Christ and his Church. He died in the year 373. He is one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Universal Church.
Feast of Sts Philip & James, Apostles
1Corinthians 15:1-8; Psalm 18; John 14:6-14
In our first reading for today, St Paul tells us of the resurrection of the Lord and of his first appearances to his followers, among them James. The gospel tells us that we must believe in Christ in order to have eternal life and that the message of Christ is the message of God. We are called on to believe just as Saints Philip and James did and to put that belief into practice in our lives.
Very little is known about St Philip beyond the few mentions of him in the Gospels. According to tradition, he preached the Gospel at Phrygia and died at Hierapolis, where he may have been martyred. Philip was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. The St James we celebrate today is the son of Alphaeus, also known as James the Less (that is, the Younger). He was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and the author of the epistle in the Bible which bears his name. He was martyred in 62ad either by stoning or by being thrown from the top of the Temple.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 8:1-8; Psalm 65; John 6:35-40
Our reading today from the Acts of the Apostles shows that the persecution of the early Church did not end with the death of the first martyr – Stephen. It increased and we are now introduced to one of the greatest of those persecutors – Saul of Tarsus. Many now leave the area but as they travel they spread the Gospel wherever they go. In the gospel text for today, Jesus speaks of himself as the bread of life and that those who believe in him shall have eternal life. Again, the readings this week remind us of what took place during the Triduum and of what has been won for us: salvation and eternal life. We are reminded to believe in Christ and in him alone.
Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 65; John 6:44-51
The Acts of the Apostles today tells of St Philip and his work of preaching and baptising in the name of Christ as he travelled. On one of his journeys he meets an Ethiopian official who is having difficulty understanding some of the texts from the Prophet Isaiah. Philip travels with the official and begins to tell him about Christ as the suffering servant the official has been reading about. The official then asks for baptism. The Psalm could have been used by Philip as he travelled and preached. Today’s gospel continues the theme of yesterday’s text – Christ is the bread of life and we are all called to believe in him in order to have eternal life.
Memorial of St Angelus, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Angelus was one of the first Carmelites to leave the Holy Land and settle in Sicily. In 1220 he was killed by someone whose wickedness Angelus had apparently denounced. Little else is known about him but his cult spread throughout the Carmelite Order and he is an important saint on the island of Sicily.
Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 116; John 6:52-59
Today we read of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, an event of major significance for the early Church. The event had such a profound effect on Saul that he became a firm believer in Christ and became a fearless preacher of the Good News. The gospel is from the sixth chapter of St John’s gospel in which Jesus is clarifying all that he has said so far about being the bread of life which brings eternal life to the believers who receive him into their hearts. With the image of the conversion of St Paul before us today we are challenged to look closely at our lives and to accept Christ as our Saviour and so spread the Good News of the kingdom wherever we may go.
Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 115; John 6:60-69
As we continue reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see that with the conversion of Saul (who now goes by his Roman name of ‘Paul’ rather than the Jewish ‘Saul’) the Christians are now free to preach and to proclaim the Risen Christ. St Peter continues his travels and in the name of Christ he cures people and restores the dead to life. In our gospel text for today we come to the end of our reading of St John’s sixth chapter and we see that many who have been listening to Christ are unable to believe or to accept what he has been saying about being the bread of life. When he asks the apostles what they think, Peter replies that there is nobody else to go to for he is the one who has the message of eternal life. This is the faith that we are called to profess.
May 8 – May 14, 2022
Easter Season – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 99; Revelations 7:9, 14-17; John 10:27-30
In today’s first reading we see Saints Paul and Barnabas teaching the people about God after they themselves had faithfully attended the synagogue. Some of the Jews however, are not happy with their presence and their teaching and so they have them driven from the synagogue. No longer welcome, the two apostles turn to the pagans and proclaim the Good News to them and the pagans happily receive the word and become believers. In the second reading we read that the Lamb of Sacrifice, who is Christ, will shepherd his people and he will lead them to living water. Those who have been redeemed by him now sing his praises in his presence in the kingdom. This theme of shepherding is found in the gospel in which Christ tells his followers that those who listen to him and follow his word will receive eternal life from him. No one else can give us eternal life no matter what they say and only those who believe in Christ as their Lord and God can receive this most precious of gifts. This gift is ours if we have the courage to teach like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, even if that means making ourselves outcasts in the eyes of the world.
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter (Year B &C)
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 41; John 10:1-10
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter is being criticised for associating with uncircumcised people. He tells those who are criticising him that what he did was instructed by God. Clearly, the message of God is meant for all people to hear and to believe regardless of their current beliefs. In the gospel text Jesus speaks to the people and likens himself to a shepherd: when the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd they follow him, they do not follow those they do not recognise. It is also important to note that the good shepherd leads the sheep – he does not drive them but leads them and they follow. We are also told that there is only one way to enter heaven and that is through belief in Christ as the Son of God. Therefore Christ is our shepherd and we are called on to listen to his voice alone and to trust in that.
Memorial of St Georg Preca, Priest
Georg Preca was born in Valletta, Malta, and was ordained priest in 1906. The Carmelite Family and spirituality had always been close to his heart and he became a Carmelite Tertiary in 1918, referring to himself as a Carmelite on many occasions. From 1907 he gathered around him many young men in their twenties and taught them an awareness of God’s love for humanity, encouraging them to work for the spread of the faith. This Society of the MUSEUM is to be found in many places across the world. In 1957 he created the ‘Mysteries of Light’ which were formally incorporated into the Rosary by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Fr George died in 1962 at the age of eighty-two and was canonized on June 3, 2007.
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 86; John 10:22-30
Our continuous reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a constant reminder of the sort of life we are called to – one which proclaims Christ and his Gospel in word and deed. Today’s reading notes that the name “Christian” is used for the first time. It also notes that the Good News is deliberately preached to the Gentiles for the first time thanks to the teaching of St Philip in Samaria and St Peter’s contact with Cornelius, a Roman centurion. In the gospel, the theme of sheep and shepherd is used again today. Despite all that Christ has said to this point, many of those who have heard him have failed to understand what he has been saying. They have failed because they are not the sheep of his flock but follow another shepherd.
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 12:24-13:5; Psalm 66; John 12:44-50
Saints Paul and Barnabas have just completed their work in Antioch (one of the largest cities in the world at the time) in today’s first reading. However, they are again called by the Holy Spirit and so resume their travels in the name of Christ once more, this time travelling to the Gentiles in Cyprus and southern Turkey. In the gospel, Christ proclaims that he is the light of the world who has been sent by the Father to bring all those who believe in him to eternal life, and that to believe in Christ is to believe in the Father.
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 88; John 13:16-20
In our first reading today St Paul begins teaching about Christ in a synagogue, something which would not have gone down too well with his former colleagues in the Pharisees. In the sermon, Paul traces salvation history from the Old Testament up to John the Baptist. Our gospel passage today sees Christ and the disciples at the Last Supper where Christ has just washed their feet. He tells them that they must accept those who will be sent by him and they are not to turn them away. We too must listen to those who have been sent by God and accept what they say as the message of God. First and foremost they are to serve God through their love for and service of others following his example.
Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2; John 14:1-6
St Paul, in our first reading, continues teaching the people in the synagogue in Pisidia and tells them that when the Jews in Jerusalem had Jesus put to death, they did no more than fulfil sacred scripture. In the gospel, Jesus tells us – in response to a pessimistic remark from St Thomas – that he is the way, the truth and the life and that if we believe in him, we too will have life. Christ is the only way to the Father – as we heard earlier this week – there is no other and any other which appears to suit us better and be more in line with our own views will not bring us to eternal life. Christ is the embodiment of the truth he speaks about and he is the one who gives life to our Eucharistic celebration.
Feast of St Matthias, Apostle
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Psalm 112; John 15:9-17
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us of the election of Matthias as one of the Twelve to replace Judas Iscariot. We hear of St Peter’s speech in which he says that Judas’ fate had been foretold. He goes on to say that Matthias had been with them for a long time so that his testimony of the Resurrection will be a first hand witness account. Of the two nominated, Matthias was the one elected. The gospel reading from St John reminds us that Christ has chosen us to be his own and to fulfil his work. If Christ has chosen us, who are we to say ‘no?’
Very little is known about St Matthias except that he is the one who was chosen by the Eleven to take the place of Judas Iscariot. He appears to have spent time working in Judaea before going east to Cappadocia. He is believed to have been martyred at Colchis and his relics later brought to Rome by St Helena.
May 15 – May 21, 2022
Easter Season – The Fifth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 144; Revelations 21:1-5; John 13:31-35
In the first reading we see Saints Paul and Barnabas going back to some of the places where they had earlier visited and brought the Word of God. As they travel they encourage the people to remain faithful to the message they had given them. The news of the faith of other groups encouraged the faithful and they in turn remained faithful. In the second reading from St John’s vision we are told about the New Jerusalem. It will be a place of peace and happiness for all eternity, will be created by God and he himself will live there. This is the new kingdom towards which we are all striving and about which Christ taught us. In our gospel text we go back to the scene on Holy Thursday night just as Judas leaves the upper room. Christ declares that the time for his glorification has now come and before he departs he gives the disciples a new commandment and tells them that they must love one another in imitation of his love for them. If we are to be the Lord’s disciples and if we are to be worthy of heaven, the New Jerusalem, then we too must love one another. If we live a life of love then others will see that we really are Christians and, through our example, their own faith may be renewed and strengthened as in the first reading.
Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:5-18; Psalm 113; John 14:21-26
In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are forced to flee because the authorities wish to kill them for preaching about Christ. They travel to Laconia – in modern day southern Turkey – and are very well received there. According to legend, the gods Zeus and Hermes visited here and were rejected by the people who were in turn destroyed by the two gods. Having witnessed what Paul and Barnabas can do the people fear that if they don’t treat these ‘gods’ well that they will be destroyed like the old tale. In the gospel text, Jesus tells his disciples that after he has gone they will be given the Holy Spirit who will teach them everything and remind them of all he had said. This Spirit is the one who caused Paul and Barnabas to work as they did. That same Spirit has been given to us and will work in us only if we allow him to and, in so doing, bring glory to God.
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 144; John 14:27-31
In our first reading today we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are still suffering for their preaching but they continue to preach and to give strength to the Christian communities which they visit. Paul also reminds the faithful that believing in Christ will cause hardship as he himself can testify but the reward is worth the suffering. In the gospel, Jesus gives his peace to the disciples before he leaves them. It is a peace which is not of human origins and therefore is greater and more liberating. It is a peace which this world badly needs but does not want to try. It is for us as Christians to convince the world that this is the only way to true happiness and fulfilment.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 121; John 15:1-8
In today’s first reading we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are now back in Antioch following their first missionary journey to the Gentiles. We see them in a debate with other Christian preachers and Pharisees about circumcision and are being sent to Jerusalem to speak with the Apostles on the matter. In the gospel, Christ says that he is the true vine and that we are its branches. If we believe in him then we will bear much fruit, but if we do not believe, then we are good for nothing and will be pruned away. If we believe in him he will grant all our prayers especially if that prayer is a prayer for an increase in our own faith so that we can do his will.
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 95; John 15:9-11
Today’s first reading marks a key moment in the early Christian Church. The first Council of the Church is held in Jerusalem at which the practice of preaching to the Gentiles without them having to undergo circumcision is approved. It is a turning point also because the new Church has now broken away from the Jewish faith and laws and begins making its own laws and traditions. It is also the last time that St Peter and the Apostles are mentioned as St Luke now concentrates on the growth of the Church among the Gentiles which is the particular ministry of St Paul. In today’s gospel text, Christ tells his listeners that they are to love one another in the same way that he has loved them. To love like Christ is to make our decisions in a Christ-like manner and so overcome the hurt that others may have inflicted upon us. To love like Christ is not always easy, but when we realise that Christ is present in each one of us, then we also realise that what we do to another person we do to Christ.
Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:22-31; Psalm 56; John 15:12-17
The Council in Jerusalem now sends Saints Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with chosen helpers to strengthen the people and to inform them of their decision which was guided by the Holy Spirit. The letter which Paul and his companions carry to the new communities to explain the decision of the Council of Jerusalem is a prototype of the official documents and encyclicals which have been issued by popes ever since. Continuing yesterday’s theme of love, today’s gospel passage sees Christ giving his followers the commandment to love more forcefully than in yesterday’s text. In the Old Testament, Moses and the prophets were known as ‘servants of God’ but Jesus calls us his friends which implies a far more personal relationship which is available to each and every one of us. Christ was willing to give his life for his friends so we should be willing to give our lives for Christ – our brother and our friend.
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 16:1-10; Psalm 99; John 15:18-21
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles sees St Paul setting out on his second missionary journey to the Gentiles which will take him as far as Corinth in Greece. He has a vision from God who tells him to spend time bringing the faith to what is modern day Greece. He is joined by St Timothy and also, scholars believe, by St Luke the Evangelist and author of the book. This is suggested by the use of the word ‘we’ in the last paragraph which tells us that Luke was a witness to part, at least, of what he records in the Acts. In the gospel, Christ tells his listeners that they will be persecuted for the sake of his name just as he too was persecuted. We all suffer in some way – from broken relationships, bad health, financial difficulties. But how much, if any, of our sufferings are a result of our being Christian? The world rejected Christ 2,000 years ago and, in truth, it hasn’t improved much since but continues to reject that which shows up its own weaknesses and shortcomings. As Christians we should be willing to be rejected by the world but that will only happen if we are brave enough to be real Christians. Paul was persecuted for Christ but it did not stop him carrying out his work for the Lord, and look at the legacy which he left. What sort of a legacy could we collectively leave were we to openly follow the path of Christ?
May 22 – May 28, 2022
Easter Season – The Sixth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle 2.
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 66; Revelations 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29
We read in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that some people have been preaching in Christ’s name but they have been adding certain practices to Christ’s teaching and insisting that the people comply. Saints Paul and Barnabas and the community are not happy with this and so send Paul and Barnabas and others to speak with the apostles in Jerusalem about this matter. They do not want the basics of the faith lost or muddied by unnecessary laws. The apostles in Jerusalem write a letter to the faithful explaining their decision which they entrust to Paul and his companions. Again today, our second reading speaks of the new Jerusalem which God has created. The new city will not have any temples because God himself will live in the midst of the city. There will also be no need for sun or moon because ‘the radiant glory of God and the Lamb’ will be its light. In our gospel text we see Jesus preparing the disciples for his departure but comforting them with the knowledge that when he has gone he will send the Holy Spirit who will be their guide and their strength. This same Holy Spirit was given to each one of us and is always with us to guide and strengthen us if we but ask for his help. The Spirit will bring us to the new Jerusalem where we will live in God’s presence for ever.
Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149; John 15:26-16:4
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Paul on his second mission to the Gentiles to preach the Gospel of Christ, this time in the area of Macedonia. He begins preaching in Philippi and is well received by the people. His preaching is so powerful and full of the Spirit that people readily accept Jesus as their saviour. In the gospel, Jesus is assuring his followers that he will leave them a strong witness to assist them after he has gone from them. The witness is the Holy Spirit. Christ is fully aware of the trials and persecutions which are to befall his followers but he is equally aware that with the aid of the Holy Spirit they will be able to endure and so be victorious. We too will be strengthened if we allow the Spirit to work in us.
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 137; John 16:5-11
Today’s first reading tells us of the imprisonment of St Paul and his companion Silas. They had freed a girl of an evil spirit which now meant that she was useless to her masters. These same masters had Paul and Silas imprisoned because of their lost earnings now that she was freed from possession. However, this is turned into an occasion of teaching and conversion when they are freed from their chains and the gaoler sees this. As a result, the gaoler is converted to the faith. In the gospel, Jesus tells his followers that if he were to remain with them they would not receive the Holy Spirit. By his going all is accomplished and the reign of the Spirit in the hearts of all humankind can begin. The Spirit is always with us but unless we undergo personal conversion – like the gaoler in the first reading – the Spirit’s presence will be lost to us.
Feast of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Catarina de’ Pazzi was born in 1566 to the famous Tuscan noble family who were influential bankers in Florence, Italy, throughout the fifteenth century. She entered the Carmelites in Florence at the age of sixteen, taking the name Mary Magdalene, and held various offices within the convent. Throughout her religious life she was devoted to prayer and experienced many visions which were recorded by others in the convent. She worked for reform within the Church, a task she did not want but realised that it was essential to do so in order to secure the salvation of souls. She died in 1607 and was canonized in 1669.
Songs 5:4b, 8:6-7; Psalm 17; Luke 10:38-42
The first reading for today from the Old Testament Song of Songs speaks about love and the fact that love is as strong as death. The image is of a deeply powerful and abiding love which can never be purchased for it is genuine and everlasting rather than transient.
In the gospel we have the familiar story of Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary. As we know, Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he had to say, while Martha fussed over the small details of hospitality. The Lord tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part because she gives time to the Lord and listens to his word – hospitality is not dismissed but it does not replace time spent with the Lord and listening to his word. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi’s love for Jesus Christ was a love which could not be quenched and for which she underwent many acts of penance and purification. With the example of this Carmelite saint before us we are challenged to look at our own lives and to see if we genuinely love Christ, even unto death.
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:1-8; Psalm 97; John 16:16-20
Today we see St Paul in southern Greece, in the city of Corinth, a city well known for its sexual immorality. Paul goes several times to the synagogue to persuade the people about Jesus but when they refuse to listen to him he goes instead to the Gentiles. Again his Spirit-filled teaching wins over many new believers. The gospel passage from St John sees Jesus preparing the disciples for his Ascension which quickly approaches. While they will be sorry to lose his physical presence they will rejoice in his glory and in the spread of the Gospel. So too, we should rejoice in the Gospel and its message to all peoples.
Memorial of St Philip Neri, Priest
Philip was born in 1515 in Florence and spent most of his life in Rome. He became known as ‘the second apostle of Rome’ because of his untiring work for all those in the city whether they be Pope or servant boy. After his ordination (1551) he founded the Congregation of the Oratory and was particularly well known for his ministry in the confessional. He died in 1595.
Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 46; John 16:20-23
Today’s reading from the Acts sees St Paul being assured by Christ himself in a vision, that those in Corinth who speak against him will never be able to silence or hurt Paul. With this knowledge Paul preaches all the more earnestly. A group of Jews even bring him before the civil courts because of his preaching but Paul is allowed to go as the proconsul refuses to get involved in religious matters. Paul now heads for Antioch. Again in the gospel, Christ is assuring his followers that their sorrow at his departure will only be temporary and that soon after they will rejoice as the kingdom of God spreads across the earth. We have a duty to help spread that kingdom as did the first followers of Christ.
Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:23-28; Psalm 26; John 16:23-28
In the first reading from the Acts we see St Paul visiting the Christian community in Antioch. From here he sets off on his third missionary journey, this time to Galatia in modern-day Turkey. We are also introduced to Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, who openly teaches about Christ and helps the believers. In the gospel, Christ is again reassuring the disciples as he prepares to leave them. He tells them that we should pray earnestly to God with full confidence while making all our prayers in the Lord’s own name.