Reflections on the Daily Readings

May 3 - 9, 2015
The Season of Easter - The Fifth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 3:            Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 21; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8
Our first reading sees Saul after his conversion on the road to Damascus. The disciples still feared him but Barnabas speaks on his behalf and they accept him. However, his time with them is short lived because he has to flee from those who wanted to kill him because of his positive preaching about the Risen Christ. In the second reading, St John reduces the commandments to two basic instructions: belief in Christ and love of neighbour. This is nothing new for Christ had said this himself but John is reminding us to keep these two commandments knowing that if we do then God will live in each of us. In the gospel, Christ tells us that he is the true vine and we are the branches. Those of us who believe in Christ will be looked after but those who ignore him will wither and be gathered up for burning as rubbish. Only if we believe in him can we achieve eternal happiness and bear much fruit and thereby give glory to God.

Monday 4:           Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:5-18; Psalm 113; John 14:21-26
In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are forced to flee because the authorities wish to kill them for preaching about Christ. They travel to Laconia – in modern day southern Turkey – and are very well received there. According to legend, the gods Zeus and Hermes visited here and were rejected by the people who were in turn destroyed by the two gods. Having witnessed what Paul and Barnabas can do the people fear that if they don’t treat these ‘gods’ well that they will be destroyed like the old tale. In the gospel text, Jesus tells his disciples that after he has gone they will be given the Holy Spirit who will teach them everything and remind them of all he had said. This Spirit is the one who caused Paul and Barnabas to work as they did. That same Spirit has been given to us and will work in us only if we allow him to and, in so doing, bring glory to God.

Tuesday 5:           Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 144; John 14:27-31
In our first reading today we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are still suffering for their preaching but they continue to preach and to give strength to the Christian communities which they visit. Paul also reminds the faithful that believing in Christ will cause hardship as he himself can testify but the reward is worth the suffering. In the gospel, Jesus gives his peace to the disciples before he leaves them. It is a peace which is not of human origins and therefore is greater and more liberating. It is a peace which this world badly needs but does not want to try. It is for us as Christians to convince the world that this is the only way to true happiness and fulfilment.

In Carmelite Churches:
May 5:                 Memorial of St Angelus, Carmelite Priest & Martyr*

Wednesday 6:     Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 121; John 15:1-8
In today’s first reading we see that Saints Paul and Barnabas are now back in Antioch following their first missionary journey to the Gentiles. We see them in a debate with other Christian preachers and Pharisees about circumcision and are being sent to Jerusalem to speak with the Apostles on the matter. In the gospel, Christ says that he is the true vine and that we are its branches. If we believe in him then we will bear much fruit, but if we do not believe, then we are good for nothing and will be pruned away. If we believe in him he will grant all our prayers especially if that prayer is a prayer for an increase in our own faith so that we can do his will.

Thursday 7:         Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 95; John 15:9-11
Today’s first reading marks a key moment in the early Christian Church. The first Council of the Church is held in Jerusalem at which the practice of preaching to the Gentiles without them having to undergo circumcision is approved. It is a turning point also because the new Church has now broken away from the Jewish faith and laws and begins making its own laws and traditions. It is also the last time that St Peter and the Apostles are mentioned as St Luke now concentrates on the growth of the Church among the Gentiles which is the particular ministry of St Paul. In today’s gospel text, Christ tells his listeners that they are to love one another in the same way that he has loved them. To love like Christ is to make our decisions in a Christ-like manner and so overcome the hurt that others may have inflicted upon us. To love like Christ is not always easy, but when we realise that Christ is present in each one of us, then we also realise that what we do to another person we do to Christ.

Friday 8:              Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:22-31; Psalm 56; John 15:12-17
The Council in Jerusalem now sends Saints Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with chosen helpers to strengthen the people and to inform them of their decision which was guided by the Holy Spirit. The letter which Paul and his companions carry to the new communities to explain the decision of the Council of Jerusalem is a prototype of the official documents and encyclicals which have been issued by popes ever since. Continuing yesterday’s theme of love, today’s gospel passage sees Christ giving his followers the commandment to love more forcefully than in yesterday’s text. In the Old Testament, Moses and the prophets were known as ‘servants of God’ but Jesus calls us his friends which implies a far more personal relationship which is available to each and every one of us. Christ was willing to give his life for his friends so we should be willing to give our lives for Christ – our brother and our friend.

Saturday 9:          Of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 16:1-10; Psalm 99; John 15:18-21
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles sees St Paul setting out on his second missionary journey to the Gentiles which will take him as far as Corinth in Greece. He has a vision from God who tells him to spend time bringing the faith to what is modern day Greece. He is joined by St Timothy and also, scholars believe, by St Luke the Evangelist and author of the book. This is suggested by the use of the word ‘we’ in the last paragraph which tells us that Luke was a witness to part, at least, of what he records in the Acts. In the gospel, Christ tells his listeners that they will be persecuted for the sake of his name just as he too was persecuted. We all suffer in some way – from broken relationships, bad health, financial difficulties. But how much, if any, of our sufferings are a result of our being Christian? The world rejected Christ 2,000 years ago and, in truth, it hasn’t improved much since but continues to reject that which shows up its own weaknesses and shortcomings. As Christians we should be willing to be rejected by the world but that will only happen if we are brave enough to be real Christians. Paul was persecuted for Christ but it did not stop him carrying out his work for the Lord, and look at the legacy which he left. What sort of a legacy could we collectively leave were we to openly follow the path of Christ?

In Carmelite Churches:
May 9:                 Memorial of St Georg Preca, Priest*

Memorials this Week:
May 5:                 Memorial of St Angelus, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Angelus was one of the first Carmelites to leave the Holy Land and settle in Sicily. In 1220 he was killed by someone whose wickedness Angelus had apparently denounced. Little else is known about him but his cult spread throughout the Carmelite Order and he is an important saint on the island of Sicily.

May 9:                 Memorial of St Georg Preca, Priest
George Preca was born in Valletta, Malta, and was ordained priest in 1906. The Carmelite Family and spirituality had always been close to his heart and he became a Carmelite Tertiary in 1918, referring to himself as a Carmelite on many occasions. From 1907 he gathered around many young men in their twenties and taught them an awareness of God’s love for humanity and to help in the spread of the faith. This Society of the MUSEUM is to be found in many places across the world. In 1957 he created the ‘Mysteries of Light’ which were formally incorporated into the Rosary by Pope John Paul II in 2004. He died in 1962 at the age of 82 and was canonized on June 3, 2007.

© P. Breen, O.Carm. 2011
The Reflections above are available in printed form in:
Reflections on the Readings for every day of the Church's year.
Patrick J. Breen, O.Carm. Dublin: Columba Press. 2011. ISBN 978 1 85607 732 3.

And direct from the publishers: Columba Press, Dublin.

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