Reflections on the Daily Readings

June 26 - July 2, 2016
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Thirteenth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle C; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 26:          The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1Kings 19:16, 19-21; Psalm 15; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62
In our first reading from the first Book of the Kings we see Elijah appointing Elisha as his successor as God had instructed him. Elisha was ploughing the land when Elijah found him and – having initially asked to say goodbye to his people – he leaves his men and his fields and follows the great prophet. In the gospel passage from St Luke we see Jesus heading resolutely for Jerusalem and his impending Passion and death. Along the way he meets three men: one who promises to follow him but is dismissed by Christ, and two others who are unable to follow him just then. Because of their conditions they are sent home by Christ. This is a reminder to us that following Christ is a wholehearted and total commitment – one which can have no conditions on our part.
In the second reading we are told by St Paul that the Spirit brings us liberty and so we should act accordingly. With the Spirit in us we will not act in any self-indulgent way but will give ourselves completely to the Lord. We should pray, therefore, that we may have this Spirit in full measure so that we may answer the Lord’s call to follow him with our whole heart, trusting in him alone.

Monday 27:         Of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Amos 2:6-10, 13-16; Psalm 49; Matthew 8:18-22
Our first reading today comes from the Prophet Amos who served the Lord about the year 760 BC. In our text, the Lord is recounting some of the many sins of his people. He reminds them of what he did for them and tells them how he will deal with them in a way that nobody in Israel will be able to escape. The Psalm continues the accusations against the people. In the Gospel, Jesus is calling the people to follow him, though some do not wish to come right away. The message in the readings for us today is that we are called to follow the Lord and to respond to that call immediately and not when we fell like it. Secondly, those who have been called are expected to live a life worthy of the Lord, one in keeping with the Gospel values.

Tuesday 28:         Memorial of St Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop & Martyr*
Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12; Psalm 5; Matthew 8:23-27
Today’s reading from the Prophet Amos continues yesterday’s theme of reminding the people of how much they have sinned against God. They are also given warning that the Lord means to punish them for their sins. Today’s Psalm could easily have been the words on the lips of the Prophet Amos. In the text from St Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus command the forces of nature and calm a storm. The readings remind us of the infinite power of God and that, in Jesus, he has made a covenant with us which we must honour.

Wednesday 29:   Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles*
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 33; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the release of St Peter from prison before Herod could put him to death as he had St James. In the second reading, St Paul tells Timothy that he has been able to preach the Good News because he had God at his side to give him power and to guide him. In the gospel, Jesus makes Peter the head of the Church and tells him that nothing will ever prevail against the Church. Our readings show us how we should live – by being faithful to God and not fearing what may come for God is always with us. They also remind us that even those who consider themselves to be ‘ordinary’ can become ‘heroes’ of the faith for these men were quite ordinary and quite unremarkable before they received the Holy Spirit – the same Spirit which we too have received. We are also reminded that they were old men when they were martyred because even in old age they witnessed for Christ. Regardless of our age or our standing in society we should always publicly acknowledge Christ as our Saviour.

Thursday 30:       Of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Amos 7:10-17; Psalm 18; Matthew 9:1-8
In today’s first reading Amos is confronted by King Jeroboam and Amaziah, his royal priest. They do not like what Amos prophesies but in reply, Amos tells them that his words do not come from a group of prophets, like Amaziah, but directly from God. He then tells them how the kingdom will end. In the Gospel, Jesus forgives a paralytic man his sins which outraged the scribes. He tells them that he has the power to forgive and heals the man to prove his authority. The people are amazed and pleased to see this. We are reminded that not everyone, such as Amaziah, speaks the truth but that the words of Jesus are truth and life.

Friday 1:              Memorial of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop & Martyr*
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12; Psalm 118; Matthew 9:9-13
In the reading from the Prophet Amos the Lord tells his people that the punishment they will receive will be in the form of a famine. A spiritual famine is to fall upon them for their sins against the Lord in which they will not hear the word of the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus is scorned by the Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners but, in reply, he tells them that their sacrificial ways do not please him. What the Lord seeks is true mercy. Those who are virtuous are not called to conversion for their hearts are already set on God, but those who are still in need of conversion are the ones who are being called. If we in our day turn our backs on God then we live without his word, but if we seek God then his word will take root in our hearts and we will live the life he seeks.

Saturday 2:          Of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Amos 9:11-15; Psalm 84; Matthew 9:14-17
In the first reading from the Prophet Amos, the Lord tells his people that he will revive their fortunes and re-establish the kingdom of David. We know that this will happen in the person of Jesus, the Messiah. In the Gospel, Jesus tells John the Baptist’s disciples that his own disciples do not fast in his presence because they have the Lord of Life with them. When he is gone from them then they will fast and mourn. We have the Lord always with us and so we should rejoice and live by his precepts so that we may never be abandoned as were the people of old when they sinned against God.

Memorials this Week:
June 28:               Memorial of St Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop & Martyr
Irenaeus was born about the year 125 in Asia Minor and was a pupil of Justin Martyr and was influenced by St Polycarp. He came to Gaul as a missionary and was later made Bishop of Lyons. He is counted as one of the Fathers of the Church because of his writings and is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. He died sometime around the year 203, possibly by being martyred for the faith.

June 29:               Solemnity of Sts Peter & Paul the Apostles
Today’s feast celebrates the two founders of the Church in the city of Rome and has been observed in Rome since the fourth century. This date was traditionally considered the foundation day of the city of Rome by Romulus and Remus.

July 1:                  Memorial of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop & Martyr
Oliver was born in Meath in 1625 and ordained priest in Rome in 1654. Soon after he was made professor at the Propaganda Fide College and in 1669 was created Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. It was a difficult time for the Church in Ireland and even though he was on very good terms with the Protestant bishops, he was forced into hiding in 1673. Following his betrayal he was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. His trial in Dublin collapsed due to lack of evidence and he was sent to London where a grand jury said there was nothing to answer for. Following a third (fixed) trial he was sentenced to death. He was hung, drawn and quartered in 1681, the last Roman Catholic to be martyred at Tyburn, London. He was canonized in 1975.

© 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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