Reflections on the Daily Readings

February 15 - 21, 2015
The Season of Lent - The First Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 22:          The First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 24; 1Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
As we begin our Lenten preparation for the celebration of Easter we are reminded of the reason behind this time. In the first reading we see God talking with Noah and making a new covenant with him, and not just with him but with all of creation right down to our own time. The rainbow in the sky is a reminder of that covenant. In the second reading St Peter reminds us that the waters of baptism save far more than were saved by the ark in Noah’s time. We read very briefly in St Mark’s gospel of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness and how he did not succumb to Satan’s promises. After this episode Jesus begins preaching repentance for the sake of the kingdom. We know that what awaits us is a much greater promise than awaited Noah and so we should use this time well by examining our own life and making sure that it is in keeping with the covenant.

Monday 23:         Of the First Week of Lent
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 25:31-46
The readings today show us how to make our lives more holy during Lent by treating other people the way we should treat them. The Lord speaks to Moses in the reading from Leviticus and through him gives the people instructions for living properly in his sight, particularly how to act towards members of our family, friends and neighbours. The Psalm sings the praises of God’s law and reminds us that this law gives wisdom and refreshes the soul. In the gospel, Jesus gives a further instruction for proper living: we must reach out to others and help them in any way we can because God dwells in them just as much as he does in us. At the start of this first full week of Lent we are reminded that good works – as well as faith in God – are necessary in life.

Tuesday 24:         Of the First Week of Lent
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:7-15
In the reading from Isaiah, God says that his word goes out and achieves what it was sent to do. This reminds us that God’s will is perfectly carried out in heaven and that we pray for this to happen here on earth. In the gospel, Jesus gives us the most perfect prayer – The Our Father. It is perfect because it is past, present and future. It is perfect because it gives praise to God for what we have received; it asks for what we need to continue living; it seeks forgiveness for the wrongs we have done; it asks for the strength to forgive; and it asks for protection. The whole Gospel is summed up in this one prayer and as we pray it the Word of God is fulfilled.

Wednesday 25:   Of the First Week of Lent
Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 50; Luke 11:29-32
Today’s readings remind us of the importance of penance and of its reward. In the first reading we see Jonah has been sent to Nineveh to warn the people of God’s wrath at their wrong-doing and of God’s intention to punish them. When they hear the warning they repent and when they repent the punishment they were to receive is set aside, and their friendship with God is restored. The Psalm takes up this theme of repentance and the plea for forgiveness. Jesus, in the gospel, is giving the same warning to the people of his day as Jonah gave to the Ninevites. The message is given to us in our day also. We must turn away from sin and return to the ways of the Lord if we are to be saved.

Thursday 26:       Of the First Week of Lent.
Esther 14:1, 3-5, 12-14 (Vulgate); Psalm 137; Matthew 7:7-12
Today’s readings remind us of just how important a life of prayer is and that we should cultivate this during the Lenten season. In the first reading we see Queen Esther – a Jew – whose husband, King Ahasuerus, had just been tricked into destroying the Jews. In our passage today from Esther, we see that she has just received word of this and pleads to the Lord to be with her in this time of great peril as she attempts to save her people, and in which she is ultimately successful. In the gospel passage, Jesus speaks of the importance of prayer and the fact that no prayer goes unanswered. While we may not always be happy with the answer we receive, we do still receive an answer to our prayer, an answer which God deems to be best for us in our situation.

Friday 27:            Of the First Week of Lent.
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 129; Matthew 5:20-26
The readings today remind us of the importance of interior conversion. In the reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we are told that God does not rejoice in the death of a wicked man but rejoices to see that person converted. More distasteful in his sight is a righteous man turning to wicked ways than a wicked man living wickedly. In the gospel, we are told that our virtue must be more than the mere lip-service of the Pharisees – we must live and act from a deeply held conviction and faith and not just go through external emotions. God sees the inmost heart and judges accordingly. Jesus also reminds us to be reconciled with our family for any wrong we have done to them or they have done to us. Where we fall short on this we must take concrete steps towards conversion.

Saturday 28:        Of the First Week of Lent.
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 118; Matthew 5:43-48
In the reading from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, we see that God has promised life to his people but only if they keep the Commandments – those simple instructions and rules for living which make life so easy and happy. The Psalm tells us that those who do keep the Commandments and the law of God will live in happiness. Jesus reminds us in the gospel that we must love all people – good and bad alike. For him, this is a simple extension of the Commandments and something we should have no problem doing if we are truly living out the Commandments. We must always act perfectly in the same way that God is perfect and we are seeking to become one with him.

Memorials this Week:

© 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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