Reflections on the Daily Readings

October 26 - November 1, 2014.
The Season of Ordinary Time - Thirtieth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 26:          The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 17; 1Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus the Lord is telling the people how they should behave towards the poor and the stranger. If they are not honest and upright with the poor and less fortunate then the Lord will be angry for he hears the cry of the poor and will answer their cries for justice. In the gospel, the Pharisees are still trying to trick Jesus and yet again they fail. He answers their question regarding the greatest commandment and goes on to tell them that they must love their neighbour as themselves – something they were not happy to do for they saw themselves as being greater than the majority of their neighbours. These readings challenge us to look at ourselves and to see how we treat our neighbours and particularly the poor.
St Paul continues to encourage the Thessalonians to remain faithful to God in our second reading by telling them of how the reputation of their faith has spread to other places and so is an example for others.

Monday 27:         Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 4:32-5:8; Psalm 1; Luke 13:10-17
Our first reading this week is again taken from St Paul’s letter to the Christian community at Ephesus and in today’s passage Paul encourages us to love others in imitation of the Father and the Son who both love much. Only in this way can we build up the kingdom of God and live righteously. The Psalm speaks of how a good person lives. In the Gospel, Christ heals a woman on the Sabbath which infuriates a synagogue official who tells the people to come to be healed on any day of the week except the Sabbath. The Lord answers and says that none of those present would hesitate to untie his donkey on the Sabbath in order to water the beast and therefore it is right to untie a fellow human from their bonds on the Sabbath. His words leave the officials confused while the people are happy to hear him.

Tuesday 28:         Feast of Sts Simon and Jude the Apostles*
Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 18; Luke 6:12-19
Our first reading from the letter to the Ephesians speaks of the Church being founded on the Apostles. St Paul speaks about the role the Apostles played in the establishment of the Church and of how their lives can give a sure foundation to the faith of each of us. The gospel passage recounts the naming of the Twelve Apostles by Christ. What is significant about his choice is that they were ordinary people who believed in him and acknowledged their sinfulness and need of grace. More importantly, Jesus spent time in prayer before he made his choice. We too should pray before we make our own important decisions and try to live as the Apostles did – completely faithful to the Lord.

Wednesday 29:   Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 6:1-9; Psalm 144; Luke 13:22-30
Today’s first reading is a continuation of yesterday’s text from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and sees great emphasis being placed on respect for one another. Today he speaks about the relationship between children and their parents and between slaves and their masters. Paul lived at a time when slavery was a way of life and his underlying principle is that all men and women should live in respect and love following the example of Christ. Jesus tells his listeners in today’s Gospel that everyone is invited to the kingdom where many will enter but not those who fail to do the will of God. Saying we believe in God is not enough unless we put that faith into practice.

Thursday 30:       Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 6:10-20; Psalm 143; Luke 13:31-35
St Paul tells us in our final section from his letter to the Christian community in the port city of Ephesus that it is the devil we must fear and not our fellow men and women. To combat the devil we must allow God to clothe us in spiritual armour and to pray constantly while spreading the Gospel. In the Gospel text some Pharisees come to warn Jesus to leave Jerusalem or he will die at the hands of Herod. However, he tells them that it is his destiny as a prophet to die in Jerusalem. He then weeps at the fact that Jerusalem has rejected both him and his message.

Friday 31:            Of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 110; Luke 14:1-6
Today we begin reading from St Paul’s letter to the Christians in the northern Greek town of Philippi. This was the first Christian community Paul had founded in Europe about the year 50 AD, this letter being written about six years later when Paul was in prison. In our opening section, Paul tells the people that the work they have begun – that is, the spread of the Gospel – will be completed by Christ when they are called home to heaven. Paul writes in glowing terms about the people and prays that their virtues may increase and that they may be blessed by the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus is again under scrutiny on the Sabbath as he goes to a meal in the home of a leading Pharisee. Before acting he asks if healing on the Sabbath is really against the Law given that those listening would unhesitatingly pull their ox from a well on the Sabbath if it fell in. His argument goes unanswered by those who were present.

Saturday 1:          Solemnity of All Saints*
Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
In the reading from the Book of the Apocalypse the author speaks of the faithful who have died and are now radiant in the presence of God in heaven. They are radiant because their robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb who is our redeemer. Before the final judgement all those who have been faithful will be given a seal on their forehead as the Jews sealed their doorposts on Passover night. In our second reading St John asks us to think of the love which God has lavished on us – a love which allows us to be called the sons and daughters of God and therefore grants us a place in heaven with God. For John, this means that anybody who thinks of this would automatically try to purify themselves and try to live up to this great gift and grace. In the gospel, we have Christ’s tremendous blueprint for Christian living – the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount – which has the power to transform our world but only if people live out that teaching in their lives. These readings are apt for today’s feast because the saints did live out the Beatitudes and did recognise and appreciate the great love which God lavished on them and so lived their lives in such a way that people could see the love of God in their midst. As a result, the saints – who were living, breathing human beings like each and every one of us – now enjoy the beatific vision in the eternal kingdom.

Memorials this Week:
October 28:         Feast of Sts Simon & Jude, the Apostles
Very little is actually known about these two apostles. Simon, known as “the Zealous,” is named in the list of the Twelve. Jude (Thaddeus) is believed to be the brother of James the Less and also the author of the epistle which bears his name. Tradition holds that Simon and Jude were martyred together in Persia but there is no proof for this.

November 1:       Solemnity of All Saints
Today we celebrate not only the publicly canonised saints but also all those who have reached eternal life with the Lord, including our deceased relatives and friends who have died and are counted among the Communion of Saints.

© 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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