Reflections on the Daily Readings

July 20 - 26, 2014.
The Season of Ordinary Time - Sixteenth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 20:          The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 85; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43
Our readings today speak to us of the mercy of God and of his judgment. God knows all things and he knows the secret thoughts of our hearts and of our prayers, though we are not always able to express these. He is merciful to the repentant and his Spirit is always with us to help and guide us. The Word of God has been given to us but we must be wary of those who seek to stifle that presence and that life. What God seeks is honesty, integrity and faith. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks of the sovereignty of God and of his power but also of his great lenience for his people. The gospel sets three parables before us today – that of the darnel sowed among good seed, of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast. Upon hearing the gospel we should ask ourselves whether we are the good seed or the weeds and whether or not we help in the growth of the kingdom.
The second reading, from the letter to the Romans, reminds us that the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. If we allow the Spirit to work in us then we will be able to live the gospel precepts but also to give true glory and praise to God. This is the Spirit, the Advocate, which Christ promised us before the Ascension.

In Carmelite Churches only:
July 20:                Solemnity of St Elijah the Prophet*
1Kings 19:1-9a, 11-14a; Psalm 15; 1Peter 1:8-12; Luke 9:28b-36
In our reading from the first Book of the Kings, we read that, having slain all the prophets of Baal, Elijah is now threatened by Queen Jezebel who seeks his life. In fear, he flees into the wilderness but is supported by the angel of God. When he reached the mountain he stood before God who made himself known to Elijah in the form of a gentle voice. When asked why he was there Elijah replied – “I am filled with a jealous zeal for the Lord of hosts.” St Peter tells us in the second reading that what the prophets had been looking forward to was the presence of Christ on earth – his grace which has now come to us. In the Gospel, we read St Luke’s account of the transfiguration of the Lord. During the transfiguration he is joined by Moses who represents the Law, and by Elijah who represents the Prophets. In this way we are shown that Christ’s authority is greater than these two pillars of the Jewish faith. Elijah is a shining example of one who answered God’s call and gave his life in the service of God. Even his name bears witness – Elia (Hebrew) means ‘Yahweh is my God.’

Monday 21:         Of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Micah 6:1-4, 6-8; Psalm 49; Matthew 12:38-42
Our first reading today comes from the Prophet Micah who lived in the eighth century before Christ. In it, we see God charging the people with the crime of abandonment – they have abandoned him. As witnesses he calls the mountains which have stood in silent watchfulness for centuries. At the end of the text we are told exactly what the Lord asks of us. In the Gospel, Christ likens himself to Jonah who spent three days in the belly of the whale. Christ too was to spend three days in darkness before restoring the people to righteousness. If we wish to be worthy of God, then, we too, must “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with [our] God.”

Tuesday 22:         Memorial of St Mary Magdalene*
Songs 3:1-4 (or Corinthians 5:14-17); Psalm 62; John 20:1-2, 11-18
The first reading from the Song of Songs tells of a person seeking the one whom they love. Today we can understand it as Mary Magdalene seeking the Lord. In the gospel from St John we see Mary at the empty tomb and been greeted by Christ himself, now risen from the dead. For her faithfulness to him she has been rewarded by being the first person to see the Lord after his resurrection and also by being the one to proclaim that news to the apostles.

Wednesday 23:   Feast of St Bridget of Sweden, Patroness of Europe*
Galatians 2:19-20; Psalm 33; John 15:1-8
The first reading from St Paul to the Galatians speaks very much of the life of St Bridget of Sweden. She gave what she had in the service of the poor and of Christ and the life she lived was not hers but Christ’s. The gospel speaks of the vine whose branches bear much fruit if they remain pure and part of the vine tree. We are called to be like Bridget and to give of what we have in the service of the Lord and of his people. If we do so then we will produce much fruit for the kingdom.

Thursday 24:       Of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13; Psalm 35; Matthew 13:10-17
In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah is speaking on behalf of God and reminds the people of how good God has been to them. Yet they have turned their backs on him and walked away from him, preferring instead to put their trust in man-made alliances with foreign groups. The Psalm reminds us that God alone is the fountain of life. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that he speaks in parables so that those who are open to him will understand. Those who are not open to him do not want to hear his message because they know that it would force them to convert. We are called today to conversion of heart and lifestyle. We are called to acknowledge what we have received from God and to be grateful for it and, in giving thanks, to be worthy of what we have received.

In Carmelite Churches:
July 24:                Memorial of Blessed John Soreth, Carmelite Priest*

Friday 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.

Saturday 26:        Memorial of Sts Joachim & Anne, Parents of Our Lady*
Jeremiah 7:1-11; Psalm 83; Matthew 13:24-30
In our reading from Jeremiah today, the Lord is telling the people how they must behave towards God and towards others. If they act according to his will, then he will stay with them. This is about the year 609 BC and Jeremiah is warning the people that the fact that the Temple is in Jerusalem will not mean that Jerusalem will stand against their enemies – God will only be on their side to protect them if they are faithful to him. In the Gospel, Jesus uses another parable – that of the seed and the darnel which grow side by side – one useful, the other useless – but the farmer leaves them both to grow until the harvest. In our world there are both good people and bad people and both grow and live side by side. The good should not worry that the bad grow and appear to prosper better than they, for the Lord will weed the good from the bad on the day of judgement. We must continue to live good lives converting ourselves more and more to the Gospel.

Memorials this Week:
July 20:                Solemnity of St Elijah the Prophet
The prophet Elijah is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets and, with Moses, is one of the two great figures of the Hebrew Scriptures who represent the Law and the Prophets. In Hebrew his name means ‘Yahweh is my God,’ and this he lived out in his life and work. He defended God as the one true God on Mount Carmel against the prophets of the false god, Baal, and for which he was hunted by Queen Jezebel. He is a key figure for the Carmelite Order whose early members lived beside the spring on Mount Carmel which was used by the prophet himself. His devotion to God, his prayer life, his intimate union with God are examples for Carmelites as they strive to bring God’s presence alive in the lives of others.

July 22:                Memorial of St Mary Magdalene
Mary of Magdala was one of the followers of Christ who is mentioned in all four Gospels. She stood by the cross of Christ as he was dying and she was the first to see the risen Lord. Because she was the one who told the apostles that the Lord had risen, she is often referred to as “the apostle to the apostles.”

July 23:                Feast of St Bridget of Sweden, Patroness of Europe
Bridget was born between 1302 and 1304 in Sweden and in 1316 was married to Ulf Gudmarsson and together they had eight children. She became the chief lady-in-waiting at the royal court of King Magnus II in 1335, possibly due to her father’s post as a provincial governor. She was widowed in 1344 and from then on devoted her life to the poor and destitute. She travelled to Rome for the Jubilee Year in 1350 and spent the rest of her life there. She also established the Bridgettines though it never received official approval in her lifetime. She died in Rome in 1373 and her remains were returned to her native Sweden, to the Bridgettine monastery she had founded. Catherine – her fourth child – followed her mother and dedicated her life to the poor and to the strengthening of the Bridgettines. She too was widowed at a young age and she too was canonized.

July 24:                Memorial of Blessed John Soreth, Carmelite Priest
John Soreth was born at Caen in Normandy and entered Carmel as a young man. He studied at Paris and pre-dated Teresa of Avila in his attempts to reform the Order. He was Prior General from 1451 until 1471. He was responsible for the Constitutions of 1462 and he introduced nuns into the Order in the Netherlands in the early 1450s. He also promoted the Third Order. He died in 1471.

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.

© 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....