Reflections on the Daily Readings

November 29 - December 5, 2015
The Season of Advent - The First Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 29:          The First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 24; 1Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
In the first reading today from the prophet Jeremiah we read that the Lord is about to fulfil the promise which he had made to the Houses of Israel and Judah. He is about to raise up the great successor to David which he had promised and whose kingdom shall last for ever. In the second reading from his first letter to the Thessalonians, St Paul urges us to grow in love as we await the coming of Christ. In the gospel, Jesus tells us to always stand ready for the moment when he returns. If we are ready and attentive to our Christian duties then we will have nothing to fear. Many people are waiting for the second coming of Christ at the end of time and often miss the rebirth of Christ at Christmas. Each Advent we await this rebirth of Jesus in our lives and we must prepare for that wondrous event by making love a greater part of the way in which we live.

Monday 30:         Feast of St Andrew the Apostle*
Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 4:18-22
In the first reading from the letter to the Romans, St Paul speaks of the importance of spreading the Good News because if the Word is not spread then people will not hear of Christ and so will be unable to believe in him or to call upon him. In our gospel text for today’s feast we read of the call of St Andrew by Christ. Andrew responded generously to the Lord’s call and without hesitation and he spread the Gospel among the peoples even to the point of giving his life in martyrdom for Christ. His example of spreading the Good News is set before us today and we are reminded that we have all been called by Christ to do the very same in our own day.

Tuesday 1:           Of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10, 11-14; Psalm 71; Luke 10:21-24
The reading today from Isaiah speaks of an offspring of Jesse who will be king and who will rule with God’s blessing. In his time there will be peace and prosperity for all and the kingdom will be sought after by the nations. On this king will rest the Spirit of the Lord who will bring him wisdom and insight, counsel and power, knowledge and fear of the Lord. The Psalm continues this theme and says that ‘In his days justice shall flourish.’ In the gospel from St Luke we see that Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims that everything has been entrusted to him by the Father and that the only way to know the Father is through the Son. This means that the birth of Christ at Christmas is not a mere nicety or an excuse for a celebration – without getting to know Christ and accepting him into our hearts we cannot really know the Father. If we are to enter eternal life then we need to strengthen our relationship with both which we do in these days of Advent.

Wednesday 2:     Of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 22; Matthew 15:29-37
In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we see the Lord inviting us to a banquet on his holy mountain. At that banquet the Lord will bring peace to our lives, he will remove all mourning and all embarrassment from our lives. Most importantly, he will destroy Death itself. In the gospel from St Matthew we see that many people have come to Jesus bringing their sick who he cures. In the second part of the text we see him feeding this multitude of people from very meagre resources. In both readings the Lord feeds his people and changes their lives, giving them hope for the future.

Thursday 3:         Memorial of St Francis Xavier, Priest*
Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 117; Matthew 7:21, 24-27
In the text from the Prophet Isaiah today we read that the Lord has set up a strong city for his people. Those who lived in the high citadels have been knocked from their thrones so that even the poor trample on them. The Psalm reminds us that ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men [or] princes.’ In the gospel passage we see Jesus teaching the people and telling them that it is very easy for people to call out his name and seek his help but this does not win entry to heaven. We must have faith in Christ but we must put that faith into practice and carry out the will of God if we are to enter heaven. While faith may be a personal thing to each one of us it is something which must be lived out in a communal way in that what we believe must be seen by others in the way in which we live. If we haven’t been living out our faith then we need to look at that carefully and make a change if we are to worthily receive the gift of Christ in our lives in a few weeks’ time.

Friday 4:              Of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 26; Matthew 9:27-31
Our reading from Isaiah continues to speak of how things will be different in the day of the lord when the Messiah shall come among the people. Those who are lowly will be raised up, those who plot evil against the good will be silenced, shame will be removed. The Psalm asks the Lord that we live in his house for ever. In the gospel we see Jesus restoring sight to two blind men but only after they had affirmed that they had faith in him and his ability to cure them. This is the sort of thing which the first reading spoke of and so we can see that Jesus is the one to whom the first reading refers. It is now time for us to affirm our faith in Christ as we move towards the celebration of his birth.

Saturday 5:          Of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Psalm 146; Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1, 5-8
Our first reading speaks of the people being punished and how miserable life will be. But it also speaks of the Lord healing his people and how he will be gracious to them when he hears them cry out to him. In our gospel passage we see that Jesus has been travelling throughout the countryside and teaching people in various towns and villages. He feels sorry for them because they want the message he has but he has not enough time to get around to them all. So he sends out the Twelve to preach in his name and to heal the sick. There is a reminder here that we too should preach the Good News wherever we go and we can do this very effectively by the way in which we live our lives. A good life demonstrating the Gospel values can speak more than a good sermon for actions speak louder than words. The harvest today is still vast and we each have a role to play in the building up of the kingdom so that the celebration of Christmas may have greater meaning for all of us.

Memorials this Week:
November 30:     Feast of St Andrew the Apostle
Like so many of Christ’s apostles very little is actually known about Andrew. He was the brother of St Peter, a disciple of John the Baptist, and was the first to be called by Christ. In St John’s Gospel he tells his brother of Jesus with the words – “We have found the Messiah.” He is also mentioned in the gospels as the one who brought the Gentiles to Jesus and the one who pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes. He is said to have preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and Greece and to have been martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Achaia. He is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia.

December 3:        Memorial of St Francis Xavier, Priest
Francis Xavier was born in Navarre in 1506 and was one of the original seven companions of St Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits. He was one of the greatest missionaries and concentrated his efforts on India and the Far East. He organised his newly-founded communities in such a way that they were well able to survive after he had moved to new territories. He died in 1552 on his way to China. He was named Patron Saint of the Foreign Missions and of all works for the spreading of Christianity by Pope St Pius X.

© 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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