Reflections on Daily Readings 2024
September 29th - October 26th, 2024
September 29 – October 5, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Sixth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Job 1:6-22; Psalm 16; Luke 9:46-50
This week we turn to the Book of Job which dates to about the beginning of the fifth century before Christ. In its opening section we see how Job was afflicted by Satan who wanted to prove a point to God. Job represents all those who serve the Lord faithfully and yet endure suffering in their lives. Despite his great misfortunes, Job still praises God and refuses to do or say anything wrong. In the Gospel, the disciples have been arguing about who is the greatest but Christ tells them that the greatest is actually the least. We are challenged today to be a humble people and to accept everything that comes our way – whether we see it as good or bad – with dignity and with praise for God.
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.
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.
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.
Exodus 23:20-23; Psalm 90; Matthew 18:1-5, 10
In our first reading we read of the Jews who have just left Egypt on their journey back to the Promised Land. As the journey is a long one the Lord is granting a guardian angel to them who will guide and protect them and speak God’s word to them. For their part, the people must honour and respect the angel. In the gospel, Jesus tells us that we have guardian angels and that, particularly in the case of children, our guardian angels are in the presence of the Father in heaven and speak directly to him on our behalf.
Job 19:21-27; Psalm 26; Luke 10:1-12
In our first reading Job is talking to his friends and still he does not condemn God for what has happened to him. Instead he knows that he will look on God. The Psalm could easily be words spoken by Job – “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness.” In our Gospel Jesus sends out seventy-two of his disciples to preach in his name and to heal the sick. We are again reminded that we are heralds of the Gospel, each in his or her own way, and that we too must bring the healing presence of Christ to all whom we meet.
Job 38:1, 12-21, 40:3-5; Psalm 138; Luke 10:13-16
In our first reading for today, we come to the high point in the Book of Job. The Lord himself speaks with Job and questions Job about the world of nature because Job has told his friends that what has happened to him has its source in God and not in nature. At the end of the conversation Job declares that he has been frivolous and will not speak of this again. In the Gospel, Christ tells his followers that those who reject their teaching of the Good News reject not just those who proclaim it but also Christ and the Father. We know that those who reject the Good News will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom.
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.
Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Psalm 118; Luke 10:17-24
In the first reading we see Job repenting for having questioned God’s reasons for acting and for his own pride. Because he has been faithful, God rewards Job beyond his earlier fortunes. In the Gospel, Christ’s disciples come back rejoicing for they have had authority over the devil. They have been given power by Christ for the spreading of the kingdom. We too have a duty and a responsibility to pass on the message of the kingdom to those whom we meet by word and deed. Like Job, we will receive a great reward if we have been faithful to the Gospel.
October 6 – October 12, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Seventh Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
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.
Acts 1:12-14; Psalm – Luke 1; Luke 1:26-38
The readings and the Psalm today focus very much on Our Lady. In the first reading we see the apostles and a number of others gathered with Mary in the upper room between the Ascension and Pentecost. They are gathered together in prayer. The Psalm is Mary’s beautiful prayer, the Magnificat, in which she praises God. In the gospel, we see the archangel Gabriel greeting Mary at the Annunciation. She says ‘yes’ to God in complete trust and confidence. Today’s memorial reminds us to be steadfast in prayer and to always trust in the Lord for he will be with us to strengthen and to guide us.
Galatians 1:13-24; Psalm 138; Luke 10:38-42
In our reading from the letter to the Christian community in Galatia we are told how St Paul used to persecute the early Church. This all ended, however, when he answered the call of God to serve the Gospel. Paul had been forced to defend himself because of Jewish teachers who had visited the area and told the people that Paul had no authority to teach. In the Gospel, we see Jesus visit the home of his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He is welcomed and Martha plays the host and fusses over food and other niceties while Mary sits at his feet. When Martha complains that Mary is doing nothing, the Lord tells her to relax and to take a leaf out of Mary’s book because Mary is spending time with her Lord and listening to what he is saying. It is very easy for us to neglect quality time with the Lord in prayer and the reading of Scripture but these are the things which make our relationship with him stronger.
Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14; Psalm 116; Luke 11:1-14
In our first reading St Paul continues to tell the Galatians of the work he has done in the name of the Gospel, even to the point of disputing with St Peter – an acknowledgement of the foremost position of Peter among the Apostles. All this is to show them that he is trustworthy and that his message is the truth. In the Gospel from St Luke, the disciples ask Jesus how they should pray and he teaches them the “Our Father.” This one prayer covers every aspect of life and is a prayer we should use every day with sincerity and understanding.
Galatians 3:1-5; Psalm – see Luke 1; Luke 11:5-13
St Paul is admonishing the Galatians in the first reading for they believe that they have received the Holy Spirit because they have kept the Law. Paul tells them that it has nothing to do with the Law but with their faith. In the Gospel, Christ teaches us to ask the Father for whatever we need. All our prayers are answered by God if only we would ask, though we might not always like the answer we receive. We are called on today to believe in God and to trust in him for if we simply keep the Commandments but do not believe it will count for very little.
Galatians 3:7-14; Psalm 110; Luke 11:15-26
In the first reading, St Paul tells the Christian community of Galatia that those who do have faith receive the same blessing as Abraham – “our father in faith” – whether they be Jew, Gentile or pagan. Paul says that Christ came to free people from the Jewish Law and to give us the path of faith instead. Faith is what is important and it is a gift of God made available to all people. In our Gospel, Jesus tells the people that he is not Beelzebul, the prince of devils. His power and authority over unclean spirits comes from God and not from the devil. In this way his kingdom is greater than that of his foes.
Galatians 3:22-29; Psalm 104; Luke 11:27-28
St Paul tells us in the first reading that because of our faith in Christ we are all sons and daughters of God. In fact we are all either son or daughter because such distinctions do not exist in the sight of God. To Paul, the Law of Moses was no more than a ‘guide’ until such time as the people were mature enough to accept the path of faith. For Paul, that time has now arrived and the path has been given to the world through Jesus Christ. In the Gospel we are told that those who are happiest are those who hear the word of God and keep it and live by it. We are challenged to hear the message of Christ in the Scriptures and to live by that message every day of our lives and to participate in the spread of that message.
October 13 – October 19, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Eight Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1; Psalm 112; Luke 11:29-32
In our first reading from the letter to the Galatians we continue St Paul’s explanation of how we have been freed from the Jewish Laws and given the path of faith by Christ. Paul talks about Abraham’s slave wife, Hagar and her child, Ishmael, who – for Paul’s purposes – represent the Jewish people, and Abraham’s free wife, Sarah and her child, Isaac, who represent Christians. Paul says that we have been born free in the waters of baptism because our slavery to sin has been broken by Christ. In the Gospel the people are asking Jesus for a sign to prove that he is the Messiah. He doesn’t give them a sign but reminds them of Jonah, telling them that they have something greater than Jonah in their midst.
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.
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.
Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1; Luke 11:42-46
In our last section from his letter to the Gentile Christians in Galatia, St Paul tells us that we should always live with the Holy Spirit guiding our lives. If we live by our own will then we only fall into sin. Paul tells us of the vices found in living by the flesh and the contrasting virtues found in living a life in the Spirit. Jesus, in the Gospel, admonishes Pharisees and lawyers for putting obstacles before the people so that they cannot truly worship the Lord, especially when those things place the Pharisees themselves in elevated positions before the people.
Ephesians 1:1-10; Psalm 97; Luke 11:47-54
We begin reading from St Paul’s letter to the Christian community at the large seaport of Ephesus which he wrote while in prison in Rome between 61 and 63 AD. In today’s passage Paul tells us that God had a secret plan from the beginning of Creation and that that plan has now been revealed. It is a plan for all things to be united under Christ who shed his blood that we might be saved. Again in the Gospel from St Luke, Jesus is rebuking the officials for their hypocrisy because it prevents the people from reaching closer union with God. That union was destined from Creation and set in place by Christ.
Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr
Not very much is known about Ignatius except that in old age he was sent to Rome to be martyred with other Christians. On the long journey to Rome he wrote several letters to various Churches as did St Paul, and these letters are among the most important documents of the ancient Church. He died in 107 when he was thrown to the lions.
Feast of St Luke the Evangelist
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.
2Timothy 4:10-17; Psalm 144; Luke 10:1-9
In our first reading from his second letter to St Timothy, St Paul tells Timothy that he has nobody with him now except Luke. The evangelist was a companion of Paul in the latter’s second and third missionary journeys. Paul also tells of an occasion when he had to defend himself and only God was there to support him. In the gospel, the Lord sends out seventy-two disciples to preach and cure in his name. We are all reminded that we each have a role to play in the spread of the Gospel. Tradition at one time thought Luke was a member of this seventy-two.
Ephesians 1:15-23; Psalm 8; Luke 12:8-12
In our first reading St Paul speaks to us today of the glories which lie in wait for the faithful. All of this is in Christ who has been made head of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that if we reject him in the presence of others then he will reject us in the presence of the Father. To help us to stand faithful he has given us the Holy Spirit to be our strength and protection. To deny Jesus is not simply done in word but also by failing to act as Christians in the sight of others. The rejection of Christ is also the rejection of our hope.
October 20 – October 26, 2024
Ordinary Time – The Twenty-Nineth Week | Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle 2.
The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Alternative Gospel for Mission Sunday – Twenty-ninth Sunday, Year B:
Mark 10: 42-45
In the gospel for today we see Jesus reminding the apostles of the importance of service. Some had thought that being his followers would give them special places and privileges among the people but he is telling them that this is not case. The Mission of the Church is to spread the Good News of the kingdom and this can only be done through humble service. If we too serve our fellow men and women following Christ’s example then they will see the Body of Christ visible among them and we will have answered the Lord’s call to us as baptised Christians.
Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 99; Luke 12:13-21
In the letter to the Christian community at Ephesus on the western shore of modern-day Turkey, St Paul reminds his readers that humans were sinners who were ruled by their physical desires. Despite still being sinners God loved them greatly and sent his own Son to restore them to life. In the Gospel, Christ reminds us of the folly of storing up material goods here on earth. They only serve to distract us from the true treasure which we should be seeking – that is a place in the kingdom. Considering the great love of God and the sacrifice he made for us we should always keep the kingdom as the sole goal of our lives.
Ephesians 2:12-22; Psalm 84; Luke 12:35-38
St Paul tells us in the first reading that before Christ there was only the Law and only Jews could worship God. Through Christ we all now have the means to salvation because we can all become Christians regardless of our birth. He goes on to speak about a household and how we are now all part of that household through the saving power of Christ. In the Gospel we are told to be always ready because we do not know when the master will return to visit us. If we are living good Christian lives then we will be always ready and will not have to worry at the Lord’s return or our call to heaven.
Ephesians 3:2-12; Psalm – Isaiah 12; Luke 12:39-48
We read in our first reading from the letter to the Ephesians how the grace of God is meant for all peoples – be they Jew, Gentile or pagan. With this grace we can confidently draw closer to God. We are reminded again in today’s Gospel that we do not know the hour when we will be called to give an account of our stewardship and of our lives. When the Lord does return he will want to know if we have done all that he has told us to do which includes being full participants in the spread of the Good News.
Ephesians 3:14-21; Psalm 32; Luke 12:49-53
Today’s first reading contains the prayer which St Paul prayed for the Ephesians – that their faith would grow strong through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel we read an unusual passage in which Christ says that he came to bring division rather than peace. However, when we consider that he was talking about believer and unbeliever we can understand what he is saying. We are challenged to look into our hearts to see which category we fall into knowing that faith calls for action in our lives rather than simply reciting words.
Ephesians 4:1-6; Psalm 23; Luke 12:54-59
St Paul reminds us in the letter to the Ephesians that we all form part of the Body of Christ and that we should do all we can to build up the unity of that body. He also tells us how that should be done – through charity, selflessness, gentleness and patience and by believing in God as the head of all. Jesus admonishes the people in the Gospel for being able to read the weather but not being able to read the signs of the times and realise that he is the Messiah. We are challenged in our own day to read the signs of the times and to realise that we need Christ now more than ever before.
Ephesians 4:7-16; Psalm 121; Luke 13:1-9
In our first reading for today, St Paul again uses the analogy of the body to say that we each have our own role to play in the Body of Christ. Each person’s role is different but ultimately each is for the spreading of the Gospel and the building up of the kingdom and we must do all we can to fulfil that role. In the Gospel passage from St Luke, Jesus calls us to repentance in order to be saved. We should not put off our repentance until tomorrow but we should begin today for we do not know if we shall live to see tomorrow.