Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
April 30 – May 27, 2023
April 30 – May 6, 2023
Easter Season – The Fourth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 22; 1Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10
In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter is teaching the people about Christ, and they are so moved by what he says that they ask for baptism – 3,000 of them. The Psalm, the text from Peter’s first letter and the gospel passage from St John, use the image of the shepherd. Christ is the good shepherd who looks after his flock and keeps them all in view. Like a shepherd, he protects his people from evil and keeps them safe in his care. This protection is given to all those who believe in him, listen to his word and put that word into action in their lives. Today is also designated Vocations Sunday – a day when we pray in a special for vocations. We must remember, though, that the word ‘vocation’ is more than just a call to serve the Lord in the ministerial priesthood or religious life. By our very baptism we are all called to serve the Lord in whatever way we can. While we pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life we also pray that we may all have the strength to live out our Christian vocation in the married or celibate state, as parents and teachers, and simply as Christians.
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 41; John 10:11-18
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 – a continuation of that for the Fourth Sunday of Easter – Jesus speaks to the people and likens himself to a shepherd, but a shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Christ tells us that many shepherds run away at the first sign of trouble but that the Good Shepherd, the true shepherd who has concern for his flock, freely lays down his life to save those entrusted to him. There is also the suggestion that others outside the Church will also be saved by Christ.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 13:44-52; Psalm 97; John 14:7-14
In our passage from the Acts of the Apostles we read that many more people are now coming to the synagogue to hear Saints Paul and Barnabas and the message they bring. The Jews are not happy at this but the people are because not all of them are Jews and yet the message is being preached freely to everyone regardless of their current beliefs. In the gospel, Jesus continues to teach his disciples that he and the Father are one and that in believing in him they are believing in the Father. St Philip is slow to believe or to understand that God the Father and God the Son are one and the same person though he has heard this many times from Christ’s own mouth. We have heard these words all our lives and must ask ourselves whether we believe them or whether we’re a little hesitant. True faith is when we accept such mysteries without waiting for proof.
May 7 – May 13, 2023
Easter Season – The Fifth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 32; 1Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12
In the first reading we see the Twelve calling a meeting. This was in response to a complaint that some of the people in the early Christian community were being overlooked when it came to charity. At the meeting, the Twelve prayed and appointed seven men – the first to fulfil the role of deacons – to help minister to the people. In a very short space of time the Church has begun to evolve to meet the growing pastoral needs of the flock. The second reading exhorts us to place our trust in Christ because he is the cornerstone of everything we have and do and are. In this passage, St Peter also tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart” and so we must live in this way. In the gospel from St John we see Jesus teaching his disciples and telling them that he is the way to the Father and to eternal life but that we must put our trust and belief in him if we are to succeed along this way.
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.
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.
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 14 – May 20, 2023
Easter Season – The Sixth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 65; 1Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles again tells us of the spread of the Church and the message of Christ. The people of the Samaritan town have little difficulty in believing all that they have been told about Christ. The second reading from St Peter’s first epistle calls on us to treasure Christ in our hearts and to have an answer ready for those who do not understand why we believe in him, even if this may bring trouble our way. In the gospel, Jesus is promising his listeners the gift of the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen them. Those who love him love the Father and so will be able to keep the commandments and gain eternal life.
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.
Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 17:15, 22-18:1; Psalm 148; John 16:12-15
In the first reading St Paul is now in Athens, the artistic and spiritual centre of Greece in Paul’s day. Paul’s first impression of the city is not a good one and he resolves to bring about change in the hearts of the people. He preaches at the Areopagus and uses the philosophy of the ancient Greeks in his arguments. Some laugh at his teaching while others believe and follow him. Jesus, in the gospel text, continues to talk to the disciples about the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit we too will be led to the complete truth but only if we truly believe and are open to that truth and are willing to listen to the Spirit in our midst. If not, we will be no better than those who laughed at Paul in Athens.
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.
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.
May 21 – May 27, 2023
Easter Season – The Seventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 46; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20
The first from the Acts of the Apostles tells us of the Ascension of Jesus when he was taken up into heaven in the sight of his followers. Those who were with him continued to look into heaven because they had not realised what had actually taken place. They had to be told by two strangers that the Lord had returned to heaven. The reading from Ephesians tells us that Christ, now he has ascended into heaven is seated at the right hand of God and that everything is now subject to him. The reading is in the form of a prayer that the Holy Spirit will come to guide the people so that they can see the glory of God and his plan for his people. The gospel text sees Jesus meeting the disciples and giving them the great command to go out and to preach the good news to all nations and peoples. This is what we too are called to do in our day and to help make the kingdom truly visible here on earth knowing that the Lord and Holy Spirit are always with us.
Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 19:1-8; Psalm 67; John 16:29-33
In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles today we see St Paul on his third missionary journey in what is present-day Turkey. Paul arrives in the port town of Ephesus, where he will remain for almost three years – the longest he stayed anywhere. Today we learn from him that baptism in to the Christian faith does not complete our lives. Only the gift of the Holy Spirit can do this. In the gospel, Christ tells the disciples that they are about to leave him and be scattered. They will do so in order to spread the Gospel throughout the world. He also tells them that this will not be an easy task. We, as heirs of the first disciples, have a duty to help spread the Gospel and we should have no fear in this for Christ, as he says in the text, has already conquered the world.
Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 20:17-27; Psalm 67; John 17:1-11
Today’s reading from the Acts sees St Paul bringing his time with the Ephesians to a close after almost three years. He is leaving to go to Jerusalem though he does not know what lies in store for him there. The parting is sad and emotional. In our gospel today, Christ is praying to the Father and making an account of his doings on earth. His work has finished but those who are left behind must now continue the spread of that work.
Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 67; John 17:11-19
Today’s first reading continues St Paul’s emotional farewell to the Ephesians. He warns them that they will face trials of faith after he has gone but he commends them to God’s protection. The reading also reveals the affection the Ephesians had for Paul. Jesus is praying to the Father in the gospel and asking that his followers be kept faithful and unified in their work and belief. He then calls them together so that they may dedicate themselves to the work he is leaving them.
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.
Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 25:13-21; Psalm 102; John 21:15-19
In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see that following his unfinished trial before the Sanhedrin a group of Jews conspire against St Paul. He is now in Caesarea but knows that he won’t get a fair trial in Jerusalem and so asks that, as a Roman citizen, he be tried in Rome itself. In this Paul is complying with Christ’s vision for him to go and preach the Gospel in Rome from the end of yesterday’s reading. Today’s gospel text is a well-known one in which Christ asks St Peter if he loves him. He also gives Peter a hint as to how Peter is to die. Peter, having denied Christ three times, now affirms three times that he does indeed love him. While it is easy for us to say we love Christ, would it be easy for others to see it by how we live our lives?
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.
Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; Psalm 10; John 21:20-25
St Paul has now arrived in Rome in our first reading, and quickly sets about teaching about Christ while still under house arrest. This is the conclusion of the Acts of the Apostles and St Luke ends it here to show that the fledgling church has now spread well beyond Jerusalem and has now reached Rome – the centre and capital of the world as they knew it. In today’s reading from St John’s gospel we have the closing verses of that gospel. The author tells us that though a lot has been written about Christ there is so much more that could be written. What we have is all that we need for our faith – if we are willing to accept it.