Reflections on the Daily Readings

July 24 - 30, 2016
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Seventeenth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 24:          The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 137; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13
In our first reading from the Book of Genesis we see the Lord speaking with Abraham about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their sins. The Lord decides to wipe them off the face of the earth but Abraham asks the Lord to relent for not all the people are evil. He begins by asking the Lord to spare them if there are fifty just men in the town and finally persuades the Lord to spare the people if there are but ten just men found there. The Lord listens to the pleas of Abraham and relents each time. The Psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for listening to the cries of his servant. In our gospel text we see Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray and he gives them the ‘Our Father.’ He goes on to tell them – through an example – that if anyone calls on God their prayers will not go unanswered. All too often people forget that ‘no’ is also an answer, as is silence. In answering our prayers the Lord does not always give us what we want because what we want might not be what we need or for our good.
St Paul tells us in the second reading that all our sins have been wiped away because they have been nailed to the cross with Christ whose sacrifice sets us free. No matter what we do we always have the Lord on our side and he is ready to forgive our sins and to answer our prayers whenever we turn to him in faith and trust.

Monday 25:         Feast of St James the Apostle*
2Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 125; Matthew 20:20-28
In our passage from the second letter to the Corinthians St Paul tells us that, because he believes and proclaims the word of God, he will be raised to life with Christ. The death and the life of Christ are at work in him in a very powerful way. There is also a reminder that there will be trials in witnessing for the Lord. In the gospel we see Zebedee’s wife coming to Jesus to ask that her sons sit at his right and left in heaven. Jesus can grant them places in heaven but only if they suffer for him through the spread of the Gospel. We too are called to live lives worthy of the kingdom no matter what trials may come our way. We are to carry our cross every day for Christ and to proclaim the Gospel by the example of how we live.

Tuesday 26:         Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady*
Jeremiah 14:17-22; Psalm 78; Matthew 13:36-43
In the reading from Jeremiah we read that the southern kingdom of Judah has been stricken with a drought because the people were unfaithful to the covenant. The people need food and call on God to be merciful to them and to end the drought. The people gather in Jerusalem for a penitential service in which they acknowledge that their sins have caused the drought. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that on judgement day those who have not lived according to the will of God will be weeded out just as the darnel is weeded out and burned. Unlike the people in the first reading, we are called on to be faithful to God in good times as well as in bad.

Wednesday 27:   Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; Psalm 58; Matthew 13:44-46
The Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading realises that the message he preaches is a difficult one, one of dissention and one which has separated Jeremiah from his people and given him a sense of isolation. God however, tells him to be faithful and he will strengthen him against those who do not wish to listen to him or his message. It is a reminder that, even in our day, following our Christian vocation is not always an easy one but that God is always with us to strengthen and guide us. Christ tells us in the Gospel that the kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond all price. We are called on to be like the prophet Jeremiah, to preach the Gospel of Christ no matter what the personal cost to us, knowing that there is nothing more valuable in this life than eternal life with God in the next.

In Carmelite Churches:
July 27:                Memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Priest & Martyr*

Thursday 28:       Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 145; Matthew 13:47-53
We have the allegory of the potter in today’s reading from Jeremiah. As the potter gently reshapes something which goes wrong and starts it afresh, so we are like clay in the hands of God who can restart creation whenever he wishes. Jeremiah realises that the sufferings the people are put through by God, are simply God’s way of remoulding the people and coaxing them back to the covenant and their promises to him. Christ again tells us in the Gospel that the good and the bad will be sifted on judgement day and only the good will be allowed in to the kingdom. We must allow the word of God to mould us each day in to a new people just as the potter moulds his clay.

Friday 29:            Memorial of St Martha*
1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from St John’s first letter speaks of love – love for God and love for others. Love was also a characteristic of Martha. We have two images of Martha presented to us in the gospels. The first is from St Luke in which we see Martha rushing about the house when our Lord arrives. She becomes annoyed because her sister, Mary, is sitting listening to Christ rather than looking after him. When she complains about this, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and to sit in his presence and listen as her sister is doing. In the second image, this time from St John’s Gospel, we are presented with the arrival of Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Martha greets him while Mary stays indoors. Martha says that if Christ had come sooner her brother would not have died but that whatever Christ asks of the Father will happen. When asked if she believed that Christ was the resurrection and the life, Martha answers that she does and that she believes him to be the Christ, the Son of God. This is the faith to which we are all called to profess and to show in our lives through love of God and neighbour.

Saturday 30:        Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24; Psalm 68; Matthew 14:1-12
The authorities wish to kill Jeremiah in the first reading because they did not like his message. He had predicted that God would destroy his own Temple in Jerusalem because of the sins of the nation. He tells the people that even if they kill him the message will be carried by others and it will never die because the message he brings are God’s own words. In the Gospel, we read of the beheading of John the Baptist for the sake of a foolish promise. The truth of the message and its constancy is put before us today and we are called on to believe it as the people did in the time of Jeremiah after they heard him speak.

Memorials this Week:
July 25:                Feast of St James the Apostle
Also known as James the Greater, he was the brother of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Not much is known about him other than what is to be found in the Gospels where he has a special place among the Twelve with Peter and John. In Spain it is believed that he preached the Gospel in the Iberian Peninsula and that his relics were buried at Santiago de Compostela, but this is not maintained outside of Spain. He was the first of the apostles to die having been martyred by Herod Agrippa between 42 and 44 AD.

July 26:                Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady
These are the names traditionally given to the parents of Our Lady, though nothing is known about them. Anne is the Patron Saint of Canada, women in labour, miners, cabinet-makers and home-makers.

July 27:                Memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, Carmelite Priest & Martyr
Anno Sjoerd Brandsma was born at Bolsward, The Netherlands, in 1881, He joined the Carmelite Order in 1898 taking the name ‘Titus’ and was ordained in 1905. Following studies in Rome he lectured in philosophy at the Catholic University of Nijmegen from 1023 to 1942 and where he also served as professor and as Rector Magnificus. He was also a journalist and was involved in a number of publications and in 1935 he was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. During the 1930's he visited Ireland and stayed in Kinsale with the Carmelite Community there to improve his English before giving a series of lectures in the United States. Throughout the 1930s Nazi propaganda was on the rise but Fr Titus refused to support or print anything in support of the Nazi regime and he worked to maintain the freedom of Catholic education and press in the Netherlands. By 1942 it was required that the press in the Netherlands print articles in favour of the Nazi regime but, continuing to refuse, Titus was arrested by the Gestapo on January 19, 1942, and imprisoned in his native country before being sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners. In Dachau he was experimented on in the medical wing and was finally put to death by lethal injection on July 26, 1942.

July 29:                Memorial of St Martha
Little is known about Martha other than what is recounted in the Gospels. She was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and a friend of the Lord. She is the sister who frets over the guests while her sister sits and listens to Jesus. She is also the one who addresses Jesus when he arrives following the death of her brother, Lazarus, and who makes her declaration of faith (“I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”).

© 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.

Related pages....