Reflections on Daily Readings 2023
October 29th - November 25th, 2023
October 29 – November 4, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Thirtieth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 17; 1Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus the Lord is telling the people how they should behave towards the poor and the stranger. If they are not honest and upright with the poor and less fortunate then the Lord will be angry for he hears the cry of the poor and will answer their cries for justice. In the gospel, the Pharisees are still trying to trick Jesus and yet again they fail. He answers their question regarding the greatest commandment and goes on to tell them that they must love their neighbour as themselves – something they were not happy to do for they saw themselves as being greater than the majority of their neighbours. These readings challenge us to look at ourselves and to see how we treat our neighbours and particularly the poor.
St Paul continues to encourage the Thessalonians to remain faithful to God in our second reading by telling them of how the reputation of their faith has spread to other places and so is an example for others.
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 8:12-17; Psalm 67; Luke 13:10-17
St Paul reminds us in today’s extract from the letter to the Romans that we must live by the Spirit if we are to be saved. We must give up our unspiritual and sinful ways and turn to the Lord, otherwise we will be lost. In the society in which Paul lived, to be adopted into a family was to receive all the rights and privileges of that family. He extends this to remind us that we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God and that we, therefore, share the same rights and privileges of Christ, who is our brother. The Psalm further reminds us that the Lord saves us. In the Gospel we see Jesus healing a woman on the Sabbath which infuriates the officials in the synagogue causing one of them to speak out against Jesus. But Jesus’ reply shows that there is nothing in the Law which forbids good deeds being carried out even on the Sabbath. The officials had failed to see that adherence to the Law alone could not save them – they missed out the teaching on faith. It also shows that while salvation is in their midst, some Pharisees have been too blinded by the Law to see that salvation.
Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 8:18-25; Psalm 125; Luke 13:18-21
In the letter to the Romans St Paul acknowledges that we do suffer in this life but he goes on to say that those sufferings are nothing compared to the glory which is to be revealed at our resurrection. That glory is in the next life and we must be patient for it will not be revealed to us in this life, though it is there for each one of us. The Psalm supports Paul’s teaching – “Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap.” In the Gospel passage for today, we see Jesus talking about the kingdom of God and his message is that it is something which has the power to transform society. It may start with humble beginnings but it has the power to be a great transforming and growing force which can bring peace, beauty and shelter to our modern and often way-ward world. However, it can only grow if each member of the Church plays their role in the building up of the kingdom, otherwise the kingdom will remain very small.
Solemnity of All Saints
Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
In the reading from the Book of the Apocalypse the author speaks of the faithful who have died and are now radiant in the presence of God in heaven. They are radiant because their robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb who is our redeemer. Before the final judgement all those who have been faithful will be given a seal on their forehead as the Jews sealed their doorposts on Passover night. In our second reading St John asks us to think of the love which God has lavished on us – a love which allows us to be called the sons and daughters of God and therefore grants us a place in heaven with God. For John, this means that anybody who thinks of this would automatically try to purify themselves and try to live up to this great gift and grace. In the gospel, we have Christ’s tremendous blueprint for Christian living – the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount – which has the power to transform our world but only if people live out that teaching in their lives. These readings are apt for today’s feast because the saints did live out the Beatitudes and did recognise and appreciate the great love which God lavished on them and so lived their lives in such a way that people could see the love of God in their midst. As a result, the saints – who were living, breathing human beings like each and every one of us – now enjoy the beatific vision in the eternal kingdom.
Solemn Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 26; Romans 5:5-11; Lk 7:11-17
In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we read that the Lord of hosts will destroy Death for ever. We know that Christ has triumphed over death and yet people still die. What is important for us to keep in mind is that while our earthly body may die our soul does not. It lives on and the banquet which Isaiah speaks about takes place in heaven. In the second reading St Paul tells us that we have been saved by Christ who died for us even while we were still sinning. This is the hope that we should have and if we live according to that hope then we will all be reunited in the kingdom where death has no power.
Any of the readings from amongst those from the Lectionary for the Dead may be used today.
Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 9:1-5; Psalm 147; Luke 14:1-6
In today’s text from the letter to the Romans we see St Paul speaking honestly about the Jews – the people with whom he had shared his faith for so long. He doesn’t speak negatively about them but speaks about them in a very Christian manner and also with a note of sadness. Over the next three chapters of his letter he tries to explain the place of the Chosen People in salvation history. He is sad because the Jews have rejected Christ: they heard the message of Christ as he heard it and yet they have rejected it and decided not to follow him. The Jews were always the Chosen People and in the life of Christ they were offered the Good News first but rejected it. We again see in the Gospel that Jesus is being watched closely by the Pharisees on the Sabbath. Again he cures someone and again the Pharisees and some of the witnesses fail to hear his teaching that it is not against the Law to do good for another human being on the Sabbath. For them, any act which appeared to be work or servile was strictly forbidden on the Sabbath. We must ask ourselves whether we simply go through the motions of fulfilling the commandments or do we live our life because we believe in the Word of God.
Memorial of St Malachy, Bishop
Malachy O’More was born in 1095 at Armagh. He was known for his zeal and vigour and was Abbot of Bangor, Bishop of Connor and then Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. When the Irish Church was reorganised in 1139 he resigned and went on pilgrimage to Rome. On the way he stayed at Clairvaux where he became friends with St Bernard and arranged for the Cistercians to come to Ireland where they established their first monastery at Mellifont. On his second journey to Rome he again stayed at Clairvaux where he died in St Bernard’s arms in 1148. He was the first Irish saint to be formally canonized.
Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29; Psalm 93; Luke 14:1, 7-11
In the closing section of today’s text from his letter to the Romans, St Paul tells us that the love which God has lavished on each and every person will not be taken away from them. That love is given for all time but it is up to each individual to accept that love and they can do so whenever they wish. By way of example he tells us that the Jews were the Chosen People and that while they may have rejected Christ they are still the Chosen People and can accept Jesus whenever they want and so really feel the love of God present in our world. The Psalm reminds us that the Lord does not abandon his people. In the Gospel we see Jesus giving the Pharisees a lesson on humility. He tells them that they must be a humble people because if they try to exalt themselves they could end up being very embarrassed when their true standing is exposed. So too with us: in the eyes of God we are all equal and so we should live lives of humility if we are to truly please the Lord.
Memorial of St Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Charles was born in 1538 to a privileged background – his mother was a Medici. Though he was ordained a priest in 1563 he had been made a cardinal three years earlier by his uncle, Pope Pius IV. He was responsible in part for reassembling the Council of Trent but his greatest achievement was in sorting out his own diocese and improving the liturgy there. He was also the first to begin what are known as “Sunday Schools.” He was selfless during the plague and was one of the greatest churchmen of the Counter-Reformation. He died in 1584 and was canonized in 1610.
November 5 – November 11, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Thirty-First Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10; Psalm 130; 1Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13; Matthew 23:1-12
In the first reading from the Prophet Malachi, the Lord is admonishing the priests for having strayed from the right path and for having taken the people with them. He will now deal with them harshly unless they amend their ways. In the gospel passage we are reminded to be a humble people and servants of the Lord and of each other. The scribes and Pharisees said and instructed the people in the right things but they themselves did the wrong things and so Christ encouraged his followers to be a humble people always doing what is right.
In the second reading, St Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians in their faith by reminding them that what they believe in is God’s message and not some human thinking. This message of God is a living power among the Thessalonians. He also reminds them of the example he himself was when he lived among them – he worked quietly and was a burden on nobody.
Feast of All the Saints of Ireland
Ecclesiastes 44:1-5; Psalm 14; Luke 6:17-23
The first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes calls on us to praise illustrious men and then lists those who have held positions in society and who are remembered for their great and noble works. But in the last section it speaks of generous men and those who kept the covenants and handed them on to their children. Today we praise those Irish people who kept the faith which was handed on to them and for which they are now counted among the Communion of Saints, though their names have long since been forgotten. In the gospel, we have Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in which Christ is promising the kingdom to those who are poor in spirit. Those who live by the Beatitudes are those who will inherit the kingdom and be counted among the Communion of Saints.
Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 12:5-16; Psalm 130; Luke 14:15-24
As we move into the closing sections of St Paul’s letter to the Romans we see Paul giving some little gems of advice. Today he tells us that we are all part of Christ’s mystical body but each with a particular role to play. He also tells us that our love for others and for God should be genuine and not pretence, and that we should treat everyone with kindness. The Psalm asks God to keep our souls in peace – if we live according to Paul’s instructions then we will have peace in our souls. In the Gospel we see Jesus as a guest at a meal but very quickly he becomes the host and begins to teach those gathered. He tells them that the Chosen People were the first to be told the Good News but as they have rejected it, the message is to be given to others who are just as worthy as the Chosen People. The use of force at the end should not be seen as against people’s will for in Middle Eastern custom it was polite for rich and poor alike to refuse hospitality until the host took them gently by the hand to show that the invite and the hospitality were genuinely offered. Those who reject Christ and his message will have no place in the kingdom.
Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 13:8-10; Psalm 111; Luke 14:25-33
Love, St Paul tells us today, is the answer to all the commandments. If we live from the well-springs of love then we will have no problem in keeping the commandments and in drawing closer to God and to our neighbours. In the Gospel we see Jesus speaking in parables and laying out clearly what discipleship means. We are each called to be disciples of Christ but that discipleship requires certain commitments on our behalf. Ultimately we must place Christ at the very centre of our lives and before all other things, including family. Becoming a disciple is not an easy thing and so we must weigh it up very carefully but, ultimately, if we do take up the call then the reward will be great indeed.
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 45; 1Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22
In the first reading from Ezekiel we read how a stream flowed from the Temple and gave life in abundance wherever it flowed. If we look at the distance from the Temple as a timeline then we see that over time the river grows to become a great torrent with the Temple being Christ. What is in the river could be seen as the members of the Church and what is on the banks as those who come into contact with members of the Church. Whether the people be in the river or on the bank, all receive life from the river. In the second reading St Paul reminds us that we are all God’s temple through the Spirit which has been given to us and therefore we must preserve this temple and strengthen it in the faith. The Temple is not just a stone building but it is each and every one of us who has God within them. In the gospel we see Jesus driving out of the Temple those who had dishonoured it. The Church is the house of God and it is the source of life for us and that is what we celebrate today. It is our duty to build up the Church of God – the church within each of us and the church as the unity and gathering of all who believe in Christ.
The Church commonly known as the Basilica of St John Lateran is actually dedicated to the Most Holy Saviour and St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist and was first dedicated in 324 AD. It derives its importance from the fact that it is the “Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head” (Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput – from an inscription on the front wall of the church). This basilica is also the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy – the Pope (St Peter’s in the Vatican is a basilica but not a Cathedral Church). In celebrating its dedication we celebrate the dedication of our own local churches also for they are all joined together.
Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 15:14-21; Psalm 97; Luke 16:1-8
As St Paul concludes his letter to the Romans he again reminds them that what he does he does for Christ and not for his own glory. Paul is but an instrument for Christ and goes where the message has not been preached so as to bring the Good News of salvation to as many people as possible. Today’s passage from St Luke’s Gospel is an odd one because on first reading it appears that Christ is suggesting that we should imitate the wrongly-accused steward who sought to get even with the master who was about to punish him. But if we read it at a different level we see that at the end of the passage the master praises the steward and does not punish him even though the steward’s actions to protect himself meant that his master lost some of his due. The parable therefore is one about loving one’s enemies because the master praised rather than punished the servant. We too are called on to love our enemies though this is not always an easy thing to do but it is what is required of those who wish to be true disciples of Christ. There is also a reminder that we will often do whatever we can to ‘save our neck’ in this life but will do little to save our salvation for the next life until it is too late.
Memorial of Pope St Leo the Great
Leo I was elected pope in 440 at a time when there were several heresies regarding the person of Jesus Christ prevalent in the Church. Nestorianism held that the two natures of Christ – the human and divine – were two completely separate persons while Monophysitism held that Jesus only had one nature as the human nature was replaced by his divine nature. Leo fought against these two maintaining that the human and divine natures of Christ are both present and inseparable. This he laid out in his ‘Dogmatic Letter’ to Flavian of Constantinople and which became a key discussion at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Leo prevailed and his teaching is part of our faith to this day. At a time when civil order was breaking down in the Roman Empire he gave the Church an important role in civil and political society when he negotiated with Attila the Hun and Genseric the Vandal. He died in 461.
Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27; Psalm 144; Luke 16:9-15
Today we conclude our reading of the letter to the Romans and we see St Paul ending in typical fashion – by greeting the people and giving glory to God. We also hear the names of some of those people who looked after Paul in Rome and made their homes available for the work of spreading the Gospel. The Psalm too gives glory and praise to God. In the Gospel we see Jesus telling his listeners to use money and possessions to gain friends. In this he means that we make friends with the poor and destitute by sharing our wealth with them. In this way we fulfil the Gospel imperative to share with others and so prove that we can be trusted with the riches of the kingdom for the possessions we have come from God and therefore we must share with our fellow brothers and sisters.
Memorial of St Martin of Tours, Bishop
Martin was born about the year 335 to a Roman officer and was himself drafted into the army. However, he believed that Christians should not take part in war and he refused to take part. He was a disciple of St Hilary of Poitiers and founded a community of hermit-monks which later became a Benedictine monastery. Reluctantly he was elected Bishop of Tours in 371, though he continued his monastic lifestyle as much as possible. He brought monasticism to Gaul and had a considerable influence on the Celtic churches. He died in 397.
November 12 – November 18, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Thirty-Second Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 62; 1Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks about wisdom and how it is to be found by those who seek her. We know that Christ is the Wisdom of God and those who seek him will find him. As the first reading speaks of seeking wisdom so the Psalm speaks of seeking God. The gospel reminds us that we do not know when the Lord will call us from this life and so we must always be ready, not like the foolish bridesmaids in the parable who forget to bring extra oil for their lamps and who were left out of the banquet.
In the second reading, St Paul tells us that those who have died in Christ have gone to God and therefore we should not grieve for them. This promise is also made to us but only if we die in Christ.
Monday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1:1-7; Psalm 138; Luke 17:1-6
For the final few weeks of the Church’s year we return to the Old Testament and this week we read from the Book of Wisdom which was written about the year 50 BC in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and attributed to King Solomon. In the opening section we are told that Wisdom is a friend to man but will not make itself known to those who try to test it or seek to outsmart it. Neither will it be found by those who devote their lives to sin. Wisdom is the Spirit of God who moves throughout the world. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we must forgive those who have done wrong to us if they come back and seek forgiveness. No matter how often someone may wrong us if they come seeking forgiveness then we must forgive them. In the same way we too should seek forgiveness of those whom we have hurt, and that includes God. We cannot go to God to seek forgiveness if we do not forgive others and we cannot expect others to forgive us if we do not seek their forgiveness and acknowledge that what we ourselves have done is wrong.
All Carmelite Saints
Romans 8:28-35, 37-39; Psalm 23; Matthew 5:1-12
Today we remember all those members of the Carmelite Family whose heroic lives have pointed the way to heaven for us and who have been recognised as saints and blesseds. Our first reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans speaks of how God wants all people to become true images of his own divine Son. All those he intends for this have been called by him and with them he shares his glory. If we too believe then we will follow the example of how the saints lived their lives, in fidelity to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. In this way, we too will share the Father’s glory in eternity.
The Gospel text from St Matthew gives the account of the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the Beatitudes. The text reminds us that the Lord is with us and that those who suffer rejection, or humiliation, or even death, for the sake of the Kingdom will enjoy life in the Kingdom. Far from being downcast at being ill-treated for the sake of the Gospel, the people are to be happy because they will be rewarded for their faithfulness. The saints would have been aware of this text and would no doubt have taken great courage from its message and so have won the crown of righteousness.
All Carmelite Souls
Romans 14:7-9, 10c-12; Psalm 114; Matthew 25:31-46
Today we commemorate all those members of the Carmelite Family who have gone before us to their eternal reward. In our first reading from the letter to the Romans, St Paul reminds us that when we are called from this life each of us will have to stand before the Lord and give an account of our lives. We belong to the Lord and so we must live life accordingly, because in doing so we secure our entry to the Kingdom.
Our gospel today sees Jesus teaching his disciples about the judgement of God and takes up the same theme as the first reading. He tells them, as he tells us today, that those who do the will of God will enter and inherit the Kingdom of heaven, while those who refuse to reach out to their brothers and sisters in their need, will not enter the Kingdom for they have rejected God by their very rejection of others. If we too want to be part of the Kingdom, then we must reach out to others every day. There is a powerful reminder that Jesus Christ is to be found in every person we meet or encounter regardless of what we think of them or how they are presented to us.
Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 7:22-8:1; Psalm 118; Luke 17:20-25
In the opening part of today’s first reading we read of some of the qualities of Wisdom. This passage gave rise to many others in the New Testament and also gave rise to Wisdom being identified as the Son of God because of the qualities described here. In the second part we read that Wisdom moves through all things and through all generations leading people to the knowledge of God. The Psalm tells us that the word of God stands unchanging and for ever. In the Gospel passage, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the coming of the kingdom will not be something that can be seen, in fact it has already arrived. The kingdom of God is already among us and we should waste no time looking for signs but should live as members of that kingdom. We are reminded not to be as blind as the Pharisees who failed to see in his teaching and preaching the presence of the kingdom among them.
Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 13:1-9; Psalm 18; Luke 17:26-37
The author of the book of Wisdom questions how men of learning and science can understand so many things and yet fail to understand or come to know God. God is in all the things that they study and understand and yet they fail to see him. The author of Wisdom, while saying that the pagans are misguided for their worship of nature, does say that unlike the Jews of their day, the pagans do actually worship God in his creation though without realising it. The Psalm also tells us that the heavens proclaim the glory of God. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that the glory of the Son of Man will be revealed suddenly. He reminds us of Noah and Lot who heeded the Lord’s word and were saved while those who did not, perished. We do not know when the Lord will call each one of us to give an account of our stewardship so we must always be ready for that day.
Memorial of St Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Andreas II of Hungary and niece of St Hedwig, was born in Bratislava (in modern-day Slovakia) in 1207. At the age of fourteen she married Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia (Blessed Louis of Thuringia) and they had three children. Six years later, in 1227, her world was shattered when Louis died in a crusade. Eventually she gave up her finery and became a Third Order Franciscan and devoted her life to the poor – work which she had begun when Louis was alive and for which her in-laws were not happy but unable to do anything about while Louis lived. She died in 1231, aged 24.
Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 18:14-16, 19:6-9; Psalm 104; Luke 18:1-8
In the first reading today we are reminded of the flight of the Israelites from Egypt and how they passed through the Red Sea in safety. This was done because the Lord was faithful to his people. It also reminds the people how nature can be controlled by God to bring good thing to those who fear him but punishment on those who do not carry out his will. The Psalm continues this theme and calls on us to remember all that the Lord has done for his people. In the Gospel we are told by Christ that those who call to the Lord and who seek justice will be helped by the Lord even if that help appears to be slow in coming. No matter what happens we must never lose trust in the Lord but must continue to make our prayers known to the Lord in trusting confidence.
November 19 – November 25, 2023
Ordinary Time – The Thirty-Third Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle 1.
The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 127; 1Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30
The first reading from the Book of Proverbs speaks about the perfect wife and what a treasure is to be found in her. This comes from the closing section of the book and the woman, or wife, can be seen as Wisdom in everyday practical living. The gospel parable tells of a man who entrusted his property to others and went away. When he came back some of his servants had improved on what he had given them while another just hid it away. It is not enough for us to simply say that we believe in God – we must put that faith into practice and live it out in our lives so that we may give glory to God and help others to come to know him. In this way we will have taken what he gave us and improved on it and helped build up his kingdom.
In the second reading from the first letter to the Thessalonians, St Paul reminds us to be always ready for the Lord’s coming because we do not know when it will happen. But when it does happen, we must not be found wanting.
Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64; Psalm 118; Luke 18:35-43
This week we read from the Old Testament books of the Maccabees which deal with the revolt led by Judas Maccabeus in 167 BC against the Seleucids. While a historical work it shows God’s salvific plan at work in the Maccabean revolt against the pagans. In our opening passage today we see the background to Judas’ revolt. Many of the people had taken up the pagan ways and rejected God preferring instead to do as the king dictated. But a few did remain faithful and even gave their lives for that faith. The Psalm takes up the theme of the downfall of those who reject the law of God. In the Gospel text from St Luke we see Jesus restoring sight to a blind man. He did this not because he had to but because the blind man asked for it and because Jesus wanted to help him. The third important ‘ingredient’ in the story is that the blind man had faith. God wants to help us but he can only do so if we have faith and if we ask.
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Zechariah 2:14-17; Psalm – Luke 1:46-55; Matthew 12:46-50
As is so often the case on memorials of Our Lady, the readings focus very much on her Divine Son. Today’s memorial is no different for the first reading sees the Lord telling us that he is coming to dwell in the midst of his people, and that he will make Jerusalem his very own. This reminds us of Christ who lived among the people and for whom Jerusalem was so important. In the gospel text we have the familiar story of Jesus being sought by his family. He tells the people that whoever does the will of God are his real family.
Today’s feast has been observed in the Church since the eighth century. We know that Mary said ‘yes’ to the message of the Annunciation but today’s feast commemorates that Mary had a relationship with God before that – if not then the message of the Annunciation would not have been given to Mary. The feast of the Presentation of Mary recalls the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and suggests that Mary’s life was, in some way, consecrated to God from her earliest years.
Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31; Psalm 16; Luke 19:11-28
Today we read of the slaughter of seven sons before the eyes of their mother. They had been arrested for not carrying out the pagan king’s profanities but for standing by their faith. The mother is implored to save the lives of her sons but she too stands by the faith and so they die the death of martyrs. She is the last to die having watched each of her sons – from the eldest to the youngest – put to death before her eyes. The Psalm is a prayer of the faithful before God. In today’s Gospel passage we have the parable of the man who went abroad to become king and left his possessions with his servants. In this parable Jesus is talking of himself and when he returns he will ask each person for an account of their stewardship. Those who have been faithful will be greatly rewarded. Those who have refused his kingship will be punished. It is a reminder that being a true Christian will involve a certain amount of risk-taking in this life – but there will be no reward without risk-taking.
Memorial of St Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr
Very little is actually known about Cecilia. Tradition has it that she was married at a young age to Valerian, who later converted to Christianity, and was martyred with his brother, Tiburtius, both of them being later canonized. Cecilia was later martyred by beheading in her own home after the attempt to suffocate her failed. However, there is no proper record of this. It is thought that perhaps her following comes from the belief that she founded a church in Rome. She is the patron saint of musicians though for reasons unknown. She is named in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
1 Maccabees 2:15-29; Psalm 49; Luke 19:41-44
In our reading today from the first book of the Maccabees we read of a revolt against the pagan king Antiochus and his acolytes. Mattathias protects the integrity of the altar erected for lawful sacrifice offered to God by slaying the one who was attempting to commit a pagan act. He then goes on to slay the king’s commissioners and to rally the people. With the help of his five sons and some of his neighbours, his act of defiance lasted about three years in the small town of Modein, about 24 kilometres northwest of Jerusalem. In our Gospel text we see Jesus arriving at Jerusalem and he pauses before going in to the city. He pauses to weep at the stubbornness and the blindness of the people who have heard his teachings and seen his miracles and yet fail to see that he is their Messiah. Despite their rejection of him, Jesus still loves the people as he loves each one of us whether we wish to acknowledge that love or not.
Memorial of St Columban, Abbot
Columban was born in Leinster in the mid-sixth century and became a monk. He left Bangor for France and founded the famous monastery of Luxeuil in the Vosges. In 610 he was exiled from France by Queen Brunhilda and went to Italy where he founded the equally famous monastery of Bobbio. He defended and maintained Irish customs and his strict Rule was very influential on European monasticism during the sixth and seventh centuries. He died in Bobbio in 615.
Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59; Psalm – 1 Chronicles 29:10-12; Luke 19:45-48
In our first reading today we see that Judas Maccabeus (whose surname is the Hebrew word for hammer) and his followers have been successful in their revolt and have liberated the people about the year 165-164 BC. The first thing they set about doing is cleansing and re-dedicating the Temple in their joy at being free to worship the true God. This rededication is recalled in the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) which coincides with our Christmas. The Psalm is a hymn of praise for God. In our Gospel we see that Jesus has entered Jerusalem and now takes possession of the Temple. As Judas Maccabeus and his followers cleansed the Temple so Christ drives out from the Temple all those who were defiling it. Christ is now moving closer to his crucifixion as the officials become worried about his preaching and seek an opportunity to be rid of him.
Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions, Martyrs
Andrew Dung-Lac was a Vietnamese priest who worked to spread the Gospel in what was formerly known as Indo-China (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand). Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many Christians were martyred in Vietnam and the region for their faith – the first being Vincent Liem, O.P., who was beheaded in 1773. Today’s memorial commemorates 96 native Vietnamese men and women, 11 Dominican missionaries from Spain, and 10 French missionaries. Andrew Dung-Lac was born in 1795 and was beheaded on January 21, 1839.
Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
1 Maccabees 6:1-13; Psalm 9; Luke 20:27-40
Today’s first reading sees the pagan king Antiochus returning to his home having found out about the fall of his forces in Jerusalem. He takes to his bed and soon is at death’s door where he realises that he is dying as a result of his greed. In the Gospel, Jesus is quizzed by the Sadducees about life after death. He tells them that God is a God of the living, that there is life after we have died and that our earthly marriages are of no consequence there. Some of those who were listening only accepted the Torah as being authoritative and quote Moses against Jesus and so he quotes Abraham and others to show that he is right in what he says. What is important is that we live in such a way that we will be worthy of heaven.