Reflections on the Daily Readings

July 27 - August 2, 2014.
The Season of Ordinary Time - Seventeenth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 27:          The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 118; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
Our first reading today comes from the first Book of the Kings and shows us Solomon who has just succeeded his father, David, as King of Israel. The Lord comes to Solomon and tells him to ask for whatever he wants but Solomon asks for just one thing – “a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil.” And this, the Lord grants him. In the gospel, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to fine pearls for which a person will give up everything else to attain them. The message is that the way to the kingdom is through wisdom and not through riches. We are also told in the second half of the passage that the Lord will separate the good from the bad at the end of time.
In the second reading, St Paul tells us that the Wisdom of God is the Word of God and by taking it to our hearts and living according to its values then we will share the Lord’s glory.

Monday 28:         Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 13:1-11; Psalm – Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 13:31-35
In our first reading today from the Prophet Jeremiah, we see that the Lord is dissatisfied with his people because they have not been faithful to him. He likens them to a rotting linen cloth which is good for nothing and which eventually decays to nothing. It is possible that Jeremiah is referring to the Babylonian captivity where the people would go into exile near the river Euphrates. The Psalm, taken from Deuteronomy, continues this theme – “You forget the God who fathered you.” Again in the Gospel we see Jesus speaking to the people through parables because there are those who do not want to listen to his message and understand it. Those who do want to hear the word and believe will easily understand the meaning of the message and conform their lives to the truth, unlike the people in the first reading.

Tuesday 29:         Memorial of St Martha*
1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from St John’s first letter speaks of love – love for God and love for others. Love was also a characteristic of Martha. We have two images of Martha presented to us in the gospels. The first is from St Luke in which we see Martha rushing about the house when our Lord arrives. She becomes annoyed because her sister, Mary, is sitting listening to Christ rather than looking after him. When she complains about this, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and to sit in his presence and listen as her sister is doing. In the second image, this time from St John’s Gospel, we are presented with the arrival of Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Martha greets him while Mary stays indoors. Martha says that if Christ had come sooner her brother would not have died but that whatever Christ asks of the Father will happen. When asked if she believed that Christ was the resurrection and the life, Martha answers that she does and that she believes him to be the Christ, the Son of God. This is the faith to which we are all called to profess and to show in our lives through love of God and neighbour.

Wednesday 30:   Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; Psalm 58; Matthew 13:44-46
The Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading realises that the message he preaches is a difficult one, one of dissention and one which has separated Jeremiah from his people and given him a sense of isolation. God however, tells him to be faithful and he will strengthen him against those who do not wish to listen to him or his message. It is a reminder that, even in our day, following our Christian vocation is not always an easy one but that God is always with us to strengthen and guide us. Christ tells us in the Gospel that the kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond all price. We are called on to be like the prophet Jeremiah, to preach the Gospel of Christ no matter what the personal cost to us, knowing that there is nothing more valuable in this life than eternal life with God in the next.

Thursday 31:       Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest*
Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 145; Matthew 13:47-53
We have the allegory of the potter in today’s reading from Jeremiah. As the potter gently reshapes something which goes wrong and starts it afresh, so we are like clay in the hands of God who can restart creation whenever he wishes. Jeremiah realises that the sufferings the people are put through by God, are simply God’s way of remoulding the people and coaxing them back to the covenant and their promises to him. Christ again tells us in the Gospel that the good and the bad will be sifted on judgement day and only the good will be allowed in to the kingdom. We must allow the word of God to mould us each day in to a new people just as the potter moulds his clay.

Friday 1:              Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church*
Jeremiah 26:1-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 13:54-58
We see Jeremiah in the first reading preaching the word of God in the Temple. He tells the people that if they are not more faithful to God that God would destroy the Temple built by Solomon. This was blasphemous for the people, who nearly rioted, but Jeremiah reminds them that this happened before at Shiloh when the Lord allowed that most sacred of places to be destroyed by the enemies of Israel. In the Gospel, we see Jesus being rejected by his own people because they think they know him just because he is from their district. In both readings the people had little faith and so the word of God could do no work in them. If we are not open to the word of God then it will not work in us either.

Saturday 2:          Of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24; Psalm 68; Matthew 14:1-12
The authorities wish to kill Jeremiah in the first reading because they did not like his message. He had predicted that God would destroy his own Temple in Jerusalem because of the sins of the nation. He tells the people that even if they kill him the message will be carried by others and it will never die because the message he brings are God’s own words. In the Gospel, we read of the beheading of John the Baptist for the sake of a foolish promise. The truth of the message and its constancy is put before us today and we are called on to believe it as the people did in the time of Jeremiah after they heard him speak.

Memorials this Week:
July 29:                Memorial of St Martha
Little is known about Martha other than what is recounted in the Gospels. She was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and a friend of the Lord. She is the sister who frets over the guests while her sister sits and listens to Jesus. She is also the one who addresses Jesus when he arrives following the death of her brother, Lazarus, and who makes her declaration of faith (“I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”).

July 31:                Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Born in 1491 in Loyola of noble stock, Ignatius became a soldier. Having been wounded in battle against the French, Ignatius began reading sacred texts while he was recovering from his injuries and then went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He became a priest and began founding the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1534 and whose members are ready to serve the Church wherever needed. He died in 1556.

August 1:             Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Born near Naples in 1696, Alphonsus became a lawyer before becoming a priest, being ordained in 1726. He created the Redemptoristines in 1730 and founded the Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – C.Ss.R) in 1732 to work among the country peasants. By the time of his death in 1787 however, the Redemptorists were in a terrible state though he was no longer at its helm to help heal the rifts. From 1762 to 1775 he was bishop of the small diocese of Sant’Agata dei Goti.

© 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....