Reflections on Daily Readings

September 26th - October 30th, 2021

September 26th to October 2nd, 2021

Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Sixth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.

Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 18; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

In the first reading from the Book of Numbers we see that some of the people want Moses to stop Medad and Eldad from prophesying because they were not at the Tent of Meeting when the Lord sent his spirit on the people. But Moses will not stop them because they have received the spirit of God even if they did not go to the Tent. What is important is that they have received the spirit and prophesy on behalf of God. In the gospel, as in the first reading, the disciples want to stop those who are not of their group from preaching but Christ will not stop them. God gives his spirit as he sees fit and we must work with the Spirit wherever he reveals himself.

St James gives us a reminder in the second reading that wealth can corrupt and that it cannot be taken with us to the next life. If we lay too much store on our wealth then we can become greedy and so fail to live the life to which the Lord is calling us.

Zechariah 8:1-8; Psalm 101; Luke 9:46-50

In the first reading today from Zechariah we see that the Lord has now decided that the time of exile for the Jewish people is to come to an end and he is going to bring them home to Jerusalem. There are a number of prophecies about the future of the Jewish people contained in this book. The Lord tells the people that he will fill Jerusalem with both young and old which symbolise both prosperity and peace. The Psalm speaks of the Lord rebuilding Jerusalem. In the Gospel, we see the disciples arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that all are to be servants – servants of God who holds everyone equal in his eyes.

 

Memorial of St Vincent de Paul, Priest

Vincent was born in France in 1581. He became a priest in 1600 and, on a visit to Paris, he met with Fr Bérulle and Mme de Gondi who changed his heart forever. He then became totally immersed in the plight of the poor and destitute. In 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Missions (the Vincentians) and, in 1633, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul to carry on his work. He died in 1660 and is the patron saint of all charitable societies and in particular the society which bears his name.

Zechariah 8:20-23; Psalm 86; Luke 9:51-56

In the first reading we see that when the Lord has rebuilt Jerusalem the renown of the city as the dwelling place of God will spread far and wide. On that day people from other nations and creeds will seek the city to draw close to the Lord. This is about the year 520 BC and is an encouragement to those who are rebuilding the Temple to continue in their work. In the Gospel, Jesus now turns resolutely towards Jerusalem and his impending death. On the way some people and villages do not accept him and the disciples want to destroy them but Jesus stops them. This is a reminder that nobody will be forced to believe in Christ or in his way. It is for each man and woman to make up their own mind and to follow their own path in life. The first reading puts it before us that if we are truly living Christian lives and giving a perfect example to our fellow men and women then they will come to us and ask us to lead them to the Lord. However, unless we give the example they will never see the path to salvation.

Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, the Archangels

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or Apocalypse 12:7-12; Psalm 137; John 1:47-51

Michael is traditionally regarded as the chief of the Archangels and a special protector against the attacks of Satan. Gabriel is the special messenger of the Lord who visited Mary at the Annunciation. Raphael is known as “The Healer of the Lord” because he brought healing to people as found in the Book of Tobias and St John’s Gospel.

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 18; Luke 10:1-12

In our first reading today we read of the people gathered in the square to hear the word of the Lord read by Ezra and explained by the Levites. They are told that the day is sacred to the Lord and that they are to be happy and not sad. Ezra had spent time in exile with his fellow Jews and only returned to Jerusalem because he felt called to help the people rebuild their faith according to the Mosaic Law. Much of the faith of the people after this return from exile is shaped by Ezra. The Psalm reminds us of the importance of the Law of God in our lives. In the Gospel we see Jesus sending out seventy-two of his followers to preach in his name. We are their successors and therefore we have a duty to bring the Gospel message to all people wherever or however we meet them.

 

Memorial of St Jerome, Priest & Doctor of the Church

Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius was born in Dalmatia between 340 and 347. He is regarded as the most learned Father of the Church in matters concerning the Bible. In 385 he retired to Bethlehem where he continued his great work of translating the Bible into Latin and also wrote several Biblical commentaries. He could be quick to temper but also very quick to remorse. He referred to those who sought to amend the Bible as “presumptuous blockheads.” In his Prologue to his commentaries on the Prophet Isaiah he wrote that “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” For his services for Pope St Damasus he is depicted as a cardinal though he was never elevated to the College of Cardinals. He died in 420 in Bethlehem. Jerome is the patron of librarians.

Feast of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Virgin & Doctor of the Church

Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin – popularly known as ‘The Little Flower’ – was born in Alençon, northern France, in 1873, one of nine children born to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin. While still young (at the age of 15), and despite opposition, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Lisieux. By word and example she taught the novices the virtues of humility. Following a difficult illness (tuberculosis) she died on September 30, 1897. Thérèse was canonized in 1925 with successive popes referring to her as ‘the greatest saint of modern times’. She became famous for her ‘Little Way’ which is found in her remaining letters and her biography. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. She is co-patroness of the Missions and secondary patron of France.

 

Readings:

Isaiah 66:10-14 or 1John 4:7-16; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:25-30 or Matthew 18:1-4

In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord is telling Jerusalem and its inhabitants that they are to be comforted as a child is looked after by its mother. To Jerusalem he will send peace flowing like a river.

Our alternative reading from the first letter of St John tells us that we must love one another because God loves us. Not alone will God love us, but he will also live in us. Despite the poor health and trials Thérèse suffered in the final years of her life, she continued to love and trust in God and this was lived out in how she loved her sisters in Community, even when their odd habits and eccentricities caused her distraction. She was devoted to Christ whose life, death and resurrection were the embodiment of God’s incredible love for us and which inspired Thérèse.

Both gospels which can be used today carry the same theme – that of becoming like little children in how we trust God. In one we see Jesus praising God for having revealed his truth to mere children, and in the other he tells us to become like a little child for they are the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Often the most learned in the world miss God’s message because they want to analyse and rationalise it. However, those who look at it with a child’s mind, as did St Thérèse, will find the true meaning in its hidden depths. At times, Thérèse’s writings are very much in line with those of a child and yet the message is very simple but also profound, demonstrating that she had grasped the message of God which she tried to live that out in her own short life.

Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29; Psalm 68; Luke 10:17-24

In the first reading the Prophet Baruch reminds the people that God, who punished them by bringing disaster on them, will redeem them and make them a nation again, but only if they themselves call on God. It is a reminder that the punishment by God is not a permanent thing but something which only lasts for a time and which can be ended if those who are being punished repent of their sins. In the Gospel we see the seventy-two return to Jesus rejoicing that they have been successful in his name. He tells them to rejoice – not because they were able to cast out spirits – but because their names are written in heaven. Those who do the will of God have their names written in heaven and so they can rejoice. We too will have our names written in heaven if we live according to his commandments and let others see Christ present in their midst through our lives.

 

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

It is our belief that each of us has a guardian angel from birth who is there to help us in all things. It is also the belief that homes, cities and states also have guardian angels. A Votive Mass to the guardian angels has been in practise since the ninth century and, in 1670, Pope Clement X made October 2 an obligatory commemoration.

October 3rd to October 9th, 2021

Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Seventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.

Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 127; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

The readings for today speak of the importance of the unity of the family of God. In our first reading from the Book of Genesis we have the creation of woman from the second account of Creation. Woman is created from the rib of man as his equal. In the gospel we have Christ’s teaching on divorce which went against the norms of his time for Moses had allowed divorce into Jewish life. Christ overturned that practice and gave a greater sanctity and status to this great act of union between a man and a woman. Though this is not easy for everyone to live it is something towards which the world must strive if is to remain faithful to the teaching of Christ.

For the remainder of this liturgical year our second reading comes from the Letter to the Hebrews which is written to an unknown group and is attributed to St Paul though it is accepted that he did not actually write it. In today’s passage the author tells us that we are all of the same stock as Christ – we are all sons and daughters of God and Christ is our brother.

Jonah 1:1-2:1, 11; Psalm – Jonah 2:3-5, 8; Luke 10:25-37

Today we begin reading from the Book of Jonah and in the text we see the Lord calling on Jonah to be his messenger to the Ninevites. Jonah does not want this work and so tries to escape from the Lord by taking a ship to Tarshish. While on the voyage the ship encounters a storm and the others on the ship throw Jonah overboard in order to save themselves. The story is thought to represent the Jewish attitude to foreign nations from about 539 to 333 BC when the Jews held that other nations and particularly the pagans could never be recipients of God’s mercy. In the Gospel we see a lawyer trying to outsmart Jesus but instead he gets the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable was told to point out that our neighbour is not simply the person who believes what we believe or who lives in the same district. Our neighbour is anyone we encounter. Not alone must we acknowledge them as our neighbour, we must treat them with the respect that a son or daughter of God deserves. Only then can we truly be their neighbour and be worthy of the kingdom of God.

 

Memorial of St Francis of Assisi, Deacon

Francis was born in Assisi in 1181. After a pleasure-filled youth he left home and founded the Order of Friars Minor in 1209. Ten years later he went east to convert the Muslims but was unsuccessful either with the Crusaders or the Muslims. In 1224 he received the stigmata, the first recorded incident of the stigmata in history. With St Clare he established the Franciscan nuns in 1212. He died a deacon in 1226 and was canonized just two years later.

Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 129; Luke 10:38-42

In our first reading we see God again calling Jonah to be his messenger and this time Jonah answers positively. This reminds us that there is no getting away from God – we cannot hide from him especially when he has work for us to do on his behalf. Jonah goes and preaches to the Ninevites and they believe in his words and renounce their ways. It was a reminder to the Jews that all people are worthy of hearing the word of God and that those other nations could easily respond far more positively than the Jews themselves. If we go and proclaim God’s word at his request then he will be with us and will bring success to our endeavours. At the same time, we should not place ourselves above others because of our beliefs. In the Gospel we see Jesus visiting the home of his friends Martha and Mary. There Mary sits down and spends time with the Lord while Martha fusses over being a good hostess. When she speaks to Jesus about this he tells her to be more like her sister – to take time with the Lord. It is all too easy to become pre-occupied with other things and not to give the necessary quiet time with the Lord each day. It is Mary’s example which we are called on to follow today.

Jonah 4:1-11; Psalm 85; Luke 11:1-4

In the first reading from the Book of Jonah we see Jonah very annoyed with God because the Lord has relented and allowed the Ninevites to live. He reminds Jonah that he has put much effort in to creating the world and all it contains and so he has every right to be angry when part of that creation turns sour but also every right to be merciful when that misguided part decides to change its sinful ways. Jonah was aware that God was going to be merciful and, like the Jews of the fifth century before Christ, he didn’t want God to show mercy to anyone but the Jewish people. In the Gospel we see Jesus praying. His disciples, wishing to be like their master, ask him to teach them how to pray and so he gives them the ‘Our Father.’ This one prayer sums up all of life – past, present and future; it asks the Lord for forgiveness while asking for the strength to forgive others and it asks the Lord to protect us from all temptation.

Malachi 3:13-20; Psalm 1; Luke 11:5-13

Today we turn to the Book of Malachi, written about the middle of the fifth century before Christ, for our first reading and in it we see the Lord comforting those who are not pleased that the sinful seem to prosper as much and sometimes better than those who are God-fearing. But the Lord consoles them by telling them that the day of judgement for the sinful is fast approaching and that when it arrives it is those who have been God-fearing who will have the sun of righteousness shining on them. Our Gospel text today is a continuation of yesterday’s passage in which Jesus taught the disciples to pray and today we are told that those who pray to God will have their prayers answered. He doesn’t tell us that we will get what it is that we are asking for but he does tell us that our prayers will be answered especially if we are consistent in our prayers.

 

Memorial Our Lady of the Rosary

This memorial has been observed since 1571 when the Christians gained victory over the Turks through the intercession of Our Lady at the naval Battle of Lepanto.

Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2; Psalm 9; Luke 11:15-26

In our first reading today from Joel, written sometime between 400 and 350 BC, the author is calling on the people to repent for the day of the Lord is at hand. The prophets called the people to repentance and to the observance of the covenants and this is what Joel does in our first reading. The people are being punished by the Lord with a locust plague but if the people repent then they will be saved. In the Psalm we are reminded that while the Lord will judge his people he will do so in justice and fairness. In the Gospel we see Jesus asserting before the people that he is not Beelzebul – the prince of devils. He can cast out devils because he has authority over them – not the authority of the prince of devils but the authority which comes from being the Lord of Creation. He also tells us that those who wish to enter the kingdom must always be on their guard so that they are not distracted from the right path to the kingdom.

Joel 4:12-21; Psalm 96; Luke 11:27-28

In today’s text from the prophet Joel we see the Lord telling the people that their sins are more easily harvested than a full and plentiful harvest. But he is soon going to deal with his people and on that day he will weed out the good from the bad. In addressing Jerusalem, Joel addresses the nation for Jerusalem stood for and represented the country. Afterwards the just will flourish. In the Gospel, a woman calls out to Jesus and comments on how fortunate his mother was to have borne such a son. He replies that those who listen to the word of God are even more fortunate than his mother. This was not to denigrate his mother but to show the great importance for all of us to listen to God’s word and to live that out in our lives.

October 10th to October 16th, 2021

Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Eight Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.

Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 89; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

In our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom, the author is speaking about Wisdom as the greatest possession of all. He compares gold, silver and other precious objects to Wisdom and finds them to be insignificant. Christ has often been seen as the personification of Old Testament Wisdom and so in the first reading we can see that Christ is the greatest possession of all. In our gospel we have the theme of possessions. Christ tells the rich young man who comes to him that he must give up all he has if he is to inherit eternal life. We all need certain possessions and material goods if we are to live a relatively comfortable life but we must never place them before the Lord because they too will prove to be a block to Christian living and to eternal life. Christ is the greatest possession of all and he must be the only possession that we may strive for. The text also tells us that we must give to the poor because all of our possessions are a gift from God and should be shared with those who are less fortunate so that they too may realise the presence of God in their lives.

In our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author tells us that the word of God is alive and active. Many people feel that religious belief and the Scriptures are a collection of old, dry words but not for the author. Christ is the Word of God and is very much alive and active in the lives of those who believe in him.

Romans 1:1-7; Psalm 97; Luke 11:29-32

We now return to the New Testament and over the next four weeks will take our first reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans which was written to the Church in Rome (though it was not founded by Paul) between 57 and 58 AD. In today’s passage we have Paul’s opening comments in which he tells the people that he was called by God to be a disciple and to preach about Jesus Christ. The opening, or salutation of the letter, contains many of the truths of the faith held by the early Church. In the Gospel we see Jesus teaching the people and he reminds them of Jonah who was sent to the Ninevites to bring them back to the right path, which we read of last week. He tells them that there is something greater than Jonah in their midst and that their generation is in more need of conversion than were the Ninevites. Unlike the Ninevites, however, their generation will not listen or repent and so will be lost. We each have a duty to preach the good news as Paul did and to bring the message of salvation to all people so that they may change their ways as did the people of Nineveh.

Romans 1:16-25; Psalm 18; Luke 11:37-41

In today’s passage from the letter to the Romans, St Paul reminds us that the everlasting power and divinity of God are visible in his creation. Even if God did not speak to his people directly they could still know him through his creation. In the letter Paul also points out what sort of lives people lead when they don’t have faith in God. In the Gospel, we see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees because they are too concerned with external things and are not at all concerned with what is to be found in the heart of a person. He reminds them that God made the inside and the outside of everything and that therefore both inside and outside are clean. However, what is within a person is of far more importance than what is on the outside. The Lord also tells us that giving to charity is one way of cleansing the heart.

Romans 2:1-11; Psalm 61; Luke 11:42-46

St Paul tells us in the first reading that God will reward all those who have been good and who keep to his ways. Those who refuse to repent and continue in their sinful ways will always receive their reward but each person’s reward depends on what it is they have done in life in terms of faith and helping their fellow men and women. The response to the Psalm reminds us of this. We again see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees in the Gospel and he does so today because they have failed to be just or to love God – they have been too interested in the minutiae of the Law. He reminds them that they too will die but that they will be quickly forgotten because of their example. He admonishes lawyers (theologians of the day) because they heaped burdens on the people instead of helping them.

Romans 3:21-30; Psalm 129; Luke 11:47-54

In the first reading St Paul tells us that we are justified by faith and not by mere observance of a Law. Keeping the Laws of God are important but if they are not done from a faith-driven desire then they are worthless. Faith is all important if our actions are to be seen as Christian and Christ-like and so bring us to eternal life. Paul also tells us that we do not earn faith because of our good works and so should never use our good deeds as a way of showing off our faith. In our Gospel passage for today we again see Jesus admonishing the Pharisees for their lack of honesty before the Lord. They build the tombs for the prophets who their own forefathers had killed and so their generation will now pay for the slaughter of the prophets. The Pharisees then begin a ‘furious attack on him to try to catch him out.’

Feast of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church

Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. She entered the Carmelites and made great progress in the way of perfection and was granted mystical revelations. At this time religious life in Spain, and across Europe, was in much need of reform and Teresa began this work with the monastery in which she was living. She also founded other monasteries under her strict reform and enlisted John of the Cross to reform the male branch of the Order of Carmelites. After her death, the reform she began eventually separated from the Carmelite Order to become the Order of Discalced Carmelites. She wrote a number of books which brought her to the attention of the Inquisition but which she persevered in writing and which demonstrate her profound insight into prayer. For Teresa, prayer was a conversation with a close friend, and this can be seen in her many references to Christ. Her letters also show a tremendous humanity while gently bringing people back into line. Her best-known works are The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle. She died at Alba in 1582 and was canonized in 1622. Her writings have earned her the title of Doctor of the Church.

 

Readings:

Wisdom 7:7-14 or Romans 8:14-17, 26-27; Psalm 83; John 7:14-18, 37-39a or John 4:5-15a

There are two possible first readings for today and both speak about prayer. The reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks about praying for and receiving understanding, and about the importance of wisdom and the goodness which wisdom brings. St Teresa of Jesus had a very close relationship with the Lord which she developed through an incredible life of prayer with him. Through that she gained an insight into the life of prayer for each of us and taught us that prayer is simply a conversation with a close friend – a phrase which makes prayer easier for so many people.

The alternative text from the letter to the Romans speaks about the Holy Spirit being there to help us in our weakness, a Spirit which has been given to each of us by God. At times prayer is difficult for us but with the Spirit moving in us we are able to pray and to speak personally with God.

In the gospel text, Jesus tells us that the words which he speaks and uses to teach are not his own words as a human but come from God in heaven and can therefore be trusted. The Jews had expressed astonishment that Jesus could say such things given his apparent lack of education. Many said the same of St Teresa in her day, and yet she is a Doctor of the Church and the teaching she has left us was inspired by God. The key teaching for us is to listen to God in the silence of our hearts and the words of scripture, and to live out the life of faith at every moment.

In the alternative gospel text, we see the encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well. She listens to Jesus despite the obstacles which society had placed between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman, and through that listening she came to believe in Jesus.

Romans 4:13, 16-18; Psalm 104; Luke 12:9-12

St Paul again uses the example of Abraham in our first reading today to point out that Abraham was justified because of his faith and so too are all those who are his sons and daughters in the faith if they too believe in God. Again, Paul is ‘correcting’ a belief among the rabbis of the time that Abraham was justified because of the Law of Moses rather than because of his belief in God. They are justified not because they are his biological descendants but because of their faith in God as Abraham had faith. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that those who openly opt for God will have Christ on their side before the throne of God but that those who openly opt against God will have no one on their side. Christ will support those who believe in him but those who do not believe will be on their own. Those who do opt for God will not just have Christ on their side in heaven but will also have the Holy Spirit with them to guide them in all that they do and say.

October 17th to October 23rd, 2021

Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Nineth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.

Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 32; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

Our first reading today comes from the “Suffering Servant” section within the book of the Prophet Isaiah. In the passage we see that the servant of God will suffer for the people in order to justify them. We know that the servant is Christ and through his passion, death and resurrection he has justified all human beings. In the gospel we see Jesus reminding the apostles and us also that those who wish to do the will of God and enter into eternal life must be the servants of all people. We cannot dominate people but must help all people to achieve perfection and this is done with a great deal of humility on our part and with an example of true Christian living. Most of us will not be called to suffer for our faith as Christ did but the suffering servant is the example which we must follow.

In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the author tells us that we can confidently approach Christ with our weaknesses because Christ was human and knows our faults. Because of this, Christ will be merciful and gracious with us.

Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

2 Timothy 4:10-17; Psalm 144; Luke 10-19

Luke was from Antioch and was a physician when he met St Paul and joined him on his travels. He wrote the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel which bears his name but beyond that nothing is known of his life.

Romans 5:12, 15, 17-21; Psalm 39; Luke 12:35-38

In the first reading from his letter to the Romans, St Paul tells us that as sin entered the world through one man so also the world is redeemed through one man. The first man is Adam and the second is Christ. No matter how many sins people may commit the grace of God is ever more abundant and salvation awaits every human being if they have the courage to accept it. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us to be always ready for we do not know when the master will return. He uses the analogy of the servants waiting for the master to return from his wedding banquet. No matter what time he returns he will want them to be waiting for him. However, he will expect more than to find them waiting but to also find his house in good order. We are the stewards of God’s creation and so he will expect to find his house in good order when he comes to visit us.

Romans 6:12-18; Psalm 123; Luke 12:39-48

St Paul tells us today that we must not let the ability to sin reign in our lives. We all have the ability to sin and in today’s world the great temptation is to follow ways which are not God’s ways and to do whatever it is that we want to do. We must resist this and instead become enslaved to righteousness, which does not mean living a dull life. Again in our Gospel passage for today we are reminded by the Lord to be always ready for the moment when he calls us to give an account of our lives, and not just of our lives but of our stewardship of his creation and as witnesses of his Gospel. Those who have been faithful to the Covenant sealed in the Blood of Christ will be rewarded. The important point to note is that the Lord does not tell us when he will come to visit us. For most of us there are many years to come, yet, for many others, tomorrow could be the day they meet the Lord.

Romans 6:19-23; Psalm 1; Luke 12:49-53

We continue reading from the letter to the Romans where we are told that we have been freed from the slavery of sin by Christ and that now we have the ability to live lives of righteousness. In so doing we will achieve eternal life with the Father. In talking about ‘wages,’ St Paul is referring to the wages a Roman soldier would have received and the ‘gift’ reminds the people of the gift the emperor gave out to people. Both remind us that our sins bring us closer to death or separation from God and that our sharing in eternal happiness is due entirely to the love of God. The Psalm tells us of the happiness of the people who place their trust in God and live by his ways. In the Gospel we see Jesus telling the people that he has brought division with him. This may seem odd but when we look at it we realise that he is talking about division between those who believe in him and those who do not believe in him. The divisions which we see between those who do believe in Christ are at odds with his message. But in the world we see a very clear distinction between those who accept Christ and make every effort to live Christian lives faithful to the Gospel and those who do not accept him and continue in their own ways. Unity can only be achieved when we show others that belief in Christ is the right way to live and that it is not a dull and boring way to live but a path of joyfulness and fulfilment.

Romans 7:18-25; Psalm 118; Luke 12:54-59

In today’s passage from the letter to the Romans we see St Paul openly speaking of the struggle taking place within him – the struggle between living the Gospel values and living the easier and more carefree life which so often leads to sin. He knows what the right thing to do is and yet he struggles. In this, any of us could replace Paul’s name with our own. The Gospel message is not always easy to live but with the help and the grace of God, who is always at our side, it is very possible. In the Gospel passage today from St Luke, we see Jesus admonishing the people for not being able to read the signs of the times. They can make many other predictions regarding what they see and yet they cannot read the most obvious things before them, such as the presence of the Messiah. We have the Messiah in our midst always and yet we too fail to read the signs of the times and follow him in complete sincerity.

Romans 8:1-11; Psalm 23; Luke 13:1-9

We are told in today’s text from the letter to the Romans that we are saved because of the incarnation. In Christ’s taking human form he destroyed the power of death over us and restored us to God. In taking human form he gave us the perfect example by which to live. The man who lives by the ‘flesh’ is the man who lives by his own devices and who is, therefore, somewhat weak. The man who lives by the ‘spirit’ is the one who allows the Holy Spirit and the message of the Gospel to rule in his life and guide all his actions. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that unless we repent and amend our lives in conformity to the Gospel, we will perish. The traditional Jewish belief was that whatever evil befell people was a result of some sin they had committed. But Christ says that this is not so – God does not punish us in this life for whatever sins we commit. We can live life on this earth as we desire and will not be punished for it in this life. However, we will have to answer to God in the next life for whatever we do in this one.

October 24th to October 30th, 2021

Ordinary Time – The Thirtieth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.

Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 125; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

The book of the Prophet Jeremiah was written just before the Babylonian captivity and in it the prophet predicts the downfall of the Jewish people because of their iniquities. In our passage today we see the Lord telling the people that he will bring them back to their home. Despite all they have done he will heal and cure those who are sick and will comfort the people as he guides them. The Psalm continues the theme of bondage in Babylon. In the gospel we see Jesus restoring sight to a blind man. As with all the miracles worked by Jesus the blind man had to ask for healing which reminds us that nobody will be forced to accept the love of God. Jesus is also the fulfilment of the text from Jeremiah because he is the one who is leading us to our true homeland – which is the kingdom of God – and he comforts us as he does so.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks today of the priesthood. He reminds us that nobody chooses to be a priest but is called to that service by God himself. Priests come from among the people – they are not born into a special class with superhuman powers – they are regular human beings with the same faults and failings as everybody else and because of this are able to intercede for us and to minister to us on God’s behalf.

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.

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.

Romans 8:26-30; Psalm 12; Luke 13:22-30

In the first reading today from the letter to the Romans we are told that the Spirit of God is with us and helps us to communicate with God and to do his will. With such an advocate and guide always with us to help us become true images of Christ, how can we fail to live Christian lives? There is a sad reminder in the Gospel for us today. We are told that there are two paths which we can follow in life – the path outlined by Christ or the path which allows us to do what we want to do. The sad reminder is that the majority of people opt for the latter which may make them happier in their own eyes in this life but which ultimately will not lead to eternal life. Jesus tells us that in fact fewer people follow his path and yet they are the ones who gain eternal life while the others are turned away. The challenge for us today is to look at our own lives and to consider honestly and openly whether we are on the narrow path of righteousness or the broad path which ultimately takes us further from God. It is our Lord himself who reminds us that there is an alternative to heaven and that some people are refused entry to heaven.

Feast of Sts Simon & Jude, the Apostles

Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 18; Luke 6: 12-19

Very little is actually known about these two apostles. Simon, known as “the Zealous,” is named in the list of the Twelve. Jude (Thaddeus) is believed to be the brother of James the Less and also the author of the epistle which bears his name. Tradition holds that Simon and Jude were martyred together in Persia but there is no proof for this.

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.

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.

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