Reflections on the Daily Readings

January 25 - 31, 2015
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Third Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week III.

Sunday 25:          The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 24; 1Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
Our readings today call on us to repent and to change our ways. They remind us that the pleasures of this earthly life are constantly changing and that only the Word of God can bring us everlasting happiness. In the first reading we see the Prophet Jonah being sent to Nineveh to preach the Word of God there. The people realise their folly and change their ways returning to the Lord once more. In the gospel from St Mark we see Jesus begin his public ministry with the words “The kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.” He then goes on to call his first disciples. By virtue of our baptism we are each called to serve the Lord as did the people of Nineveh and the first disciples. We are challenged to say the words of today’s Psalm with conviction – “Lord, make me know your ways . . . make me walk in your truth.”
St Paul tells us in the second reading that the world as we know it is passing away. While the world is now a great age and does not appear to be coming to an end any time soon, the life of each of us on this planet is extremely short and rather insignificant. Therefore we should dedicate ourselves to the Lord so that we will inherit eternal life.

Monday 26:         Memorial of Sts Timothy and Titus, Bishops*
2Timothy 1:1-8; Psalm 95; Luke 10:1-9
In our first reading today from St Paul’s second letter to Timothy we see Paul describe Timothy as someone who was sincere in the faith. Paul is writing to him to encourage him to work to increase his faith, to “fan into a flame the gift which God gave” him. That gift was something powerful with which to spread the faith. That gift has also been given to us and so the example of Timothy and Titus is placed before us as an encouragement to follow their example and the example of the Apostles. Our gospel text from St Luke sees Christ sending out the seventy-two to preach in his name and to bring his healing power to others.

Tuesday 27:         Of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:1-10; Psalm 39; Mark 3:31-35
We again read from Hebrews and about the Law of the Torah, which the Jews obeyed, but which did not win them life for they had to make sin offerings regularly. However, the law of Christ’s Gospel will win us life because we have been reconciled with God. If we live by the will of Christ then there will be no need for sin offerings because we will not sin. Today’s Gospel text is quite short and yet very profound. Jesus’ family come looking for him and those with him tell him this. In reply he tells them that those about him are his mother and brothers and sisters. Those who hear his message and follow it, obeying the commandment of love and avoiding sin, are the true family of Christ.

Wednesday 28:   Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church*
Hebrews 10:11-18; Psalm 110; Mark 4:1-20
Speaking of the priests of his day, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us in today’s reading that the sin offerings they made were insufficient for taking sins away. Christ’s offering of himself on the other hand, is perfect and does redeem us, making us perfect in the eyes of God. No more sin offerings are necessary because all sins have been forgiven. Today’s Gospel text contains the story of the sower whose seed fell in various places. Some of the seed died, more of it produced a great crop. The seed, of course, is the word of God being planted in our hearts – in some people it will take root while in others it will be ignored. We are being challenged in this text to look closely at our own lives and our own response to God and we are asked to make a better effort in order to produce a harvest worthy of the redemption Christ won for us.

Thursday 29:       Of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:19-25; Psalm 116; Mark 4:21-25
We are told in the first reading that now that our sins have been wiped away we can enter into the sanctuary ourselves. We do so through the door which is Christ himself. However, in order to be fit to enter, we are reminded that we must be pure and with a clear conscience. Our sins may have been washed away but we must still be on our guard and keep our souls spotless. Jesus tells his listeners in the Gospel that nobody lights a lamp and then hides it away: they light the lamp to give light to themselves and to others. The readings challenge us to realise that we too are like lamps – if we hide away our faith then the kingdom of God will not be seen. By letting others see that we are Christians we will be helping them to grow in the faith and we will also be making ourselves more worthy to enter the sanctuary.

Friday 30:            Of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:32-39; Psalm 95; Mark 4:26-34
The Hebrews are reminded in today’s first reading that when they first accepted the Good News they suffered for it, but they got through the suffering. They are told that having come through this suffering they must still remain faithful even when there is nothing to challenge the faith. They must remain faithful for ever. In the Gospel we see that Jesus continues to use parables to teach the people. Today he tells them that the kingdom grows silently and without ceasing, just as seeds grow silently and constantly in the ground. From small beginnings, the kingdom will grow like the mustard seed which, being the smallest of all seeds, grows to be the biggest shrub of all. Both readings challenge us to keep watch over our soul and to strengthen our faith. If we live a life of faith then our own faith will grow and with it the kingdom of God and the faith of those around us.

Saturday 31:        Memorial of St John Bosco, Priest*
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Psalm – Luke 1:69-75; Mark 4:35-41
Today, the author of the first reading uses the example of Abraham and Sarah to teach us about faith. Abraham was told that he would be the father of a great nation even though Sarah was barren. Sarah too believed that she would give birth because God had said it. They also moved to a different country at God’s command. They did so because they believed and because they believed they were rewarded and the promises made to them were fulfilled. In the Gospel, we see Jesus and the disciples out on the lake when a storm blows up. The disciples, terrified, waken him and he calms the storm, showing that he has power over the forces of nature. Both of our readings today challenge us to live by faith. Because the disciples had weak faith they were terrified in the boat even in the presence of their Saviour. Abraham and Sarah on the other hand, lived by strong faith and received a great reward. We too will be rewarded for living by faith and for helping to strengthen the faith of others.

Memorials this Week:
January 26:          Memorial of Sts Timothy & Titus, Bishops
Very little is known about these two saints who were companions and disciples of St Paul who is said to have written three letters to them and which are part of the canon of sacred scripture. Timothy was made bishop of Ephesus while still very young and is said to have been beaten and stoned to death in 97AD for fighting against heathen worship. Titus was made bishop of Crete though he still went on missions for Paul from time to time but always returned to Crete where he eventually died.

January 28:          Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Thomas was born in 1225 and was educated by the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino before joining the Dominican Order. He spent his life teaching and writing in France and Italy and his two major works – the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologica – are still studied today for the quality of their theology and philosophy. He died at the age of 49 while on his way to the second Oecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274. He is the patron saint of universities and schools.

January 31:          Memorial of St John Bosco, Priest
Don Bosco was born in 1815 to a peasant family in Piedmont, Italy. After being ordained he established several boys’ clubs and schools in Turin which very quickly flourished. He was also well known for his preaching and fund raising skills and he built several churches. In 1854 he founded what became the Salesian Congregation to educate and look after boys, and with St Mary Mazzarello he founded the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians  in 1872 to educate and look after girls. He died in 1888.

© 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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