Reflections on the Daily Readings

November 18 - 24, 2018
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Thirty-third Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 18:          The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Daniel 12:1-13; Psalm 15; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32
Our readings today look to the end times. The Book of the prophet Daniel is the earliest statement of belief in the resurrection of the dead in the Old Testament. The author speaks of those who have been ‘sleeping in the dust’, that is the dead, coming back to life. Of those who come back to life, some will go on to everlasting life while others to eternal shame. The passage refers to the end times and suggests that this will be a time of great turmoil and suffering, but the faithful will come through it and receive a great reward. The Psalm asks God to keep us faithful to him.
In the gospel, Jesus tells us that the Son of Man will come in his glory at the end of time and will gather to himself all those who have been faithful to him. The text reminds us that this will be at a time that we do not know and so we must always be prepared and learn to read the signs of the times. Jesus also tells us that his words will never pass away but will always be there to remind the people of the true faith and of the importance of faith. This comes just before Jesus’ crucifixion and calls to mind that the Sanhedrin thought they could silence him and kill his message by executing him, and yet we know that this plan failed. No matter what might happen in our world the message of Jesus Christ will never be silenced because it is the only message that can lead us to salvation. As we come towards the end of the cycle of Ordinary Time it is worth thinking back over what we heard on these Sundays and to ask ourselves who Jesus Christ is for us; what kind of Christians are we; am I worthy of the Lord’s sacrifice; would my current life see me admitted to the Kingdom?
In the second reading, the author again contrasts the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ against those of the Temple priests. There is a contrast between the line of priests going back to the origins of the priesthood, who stand before God, and the lone Jesus who is seated at God’s right hand. There is a contrast between the annual sacrifices in the Temple and the single sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice is the only one that is effective and it wipes away all sins so that they are not called to mind again by God. We no longer have to make offerings for sins, for Christ has made the one eternal offering which was himself. To enter heaven therefore, we need only believe in Jesus Christ, confess our sins, and live out our faith as we are called to do.

Monday 19:         Of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Apocalypse 1:1-4, 2:1-5; Psalm 1; Luke 18:35-43
For the final two weeks of the Church’s year we turn to the last book of the Bible – the Book of Apocalypse or Revelation – attributed to St John and put together between 70 and 95 AD. The book is written in a style common at the time of Christ and which the author addresses to seven Churches in what is today Turkey. In today’s text the Church in Ephesus is told that even though it worked hard for the faith it does not love as much as it did in the past. We are reminded that we cannot slip back to our old ways but must keep striving forward towards heaven. In our Gospel text Jesus gives sight to a blind man because the man had faith and asked to be cured. This is a reminder that if we have faith then we can ask anything of God and he will answer us.

Tuesday 20:         Of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Apocalypse 3:1-6, 14-22; Psalm 14; Luke 19:1-10
In our first reading from the Book of the Apocalypse we see the Lord telling the Churches of Sardis and Laodicea that he knows them well. He recounts their good points but also points out their flaws – for those in Sardis it is their lack of perfection which displeases the Lord, while he accuses the Laodiceans of being lukewarm in the faith. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that he came to save those who were lost but, like Zacchaeus, they will only be saved if they wish to be saved. Were the Lord to look closely at each of us what flaws would he point out? More importantly, we must ask ourselves if we are willing to do what we can to eradicate those flaws and so enter the kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday 21:   Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary*
Zechariah 2:14-17; Psalm – Luke 1:46-55; Matthew 12:46-50
As is so often the case on memorials of Our Lady, the readings focus very much on her Divine Son. Today’s memorial is no different for the first reading sees the Lord telling us that he is coming to dwell in the midst of his people, and that he will make Jerusalem his very own. This reminds us of Jesus Christ who lived among the people and for whom Jerusalem was so important. For our Psalm we have the Canticle of Mary in which she praises God for all that he has done for her and the honour he has bestowed on her.
In the brief gospel text we have the familiar story of Jesus being sought by his family. In his response he is not belittling his family but reminds us that we are all members of his family but only if we follow his teachings and carry out the will of God for us. If we do this, then we will inherit the Kingdom.

Thursday 22:       Memorial of St Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr*
Apocalypse 5:1-10; Psalm 149; Luke 19:41-44
We read in today’s passage from the Book of the Apocalypse that Christ – the Lamb who was sacrificed – has, by his blood, redeemed us from death and opened the way to salvation for us. In our Gospel text we see Jesus arriving at Jerusalem and he pauses before going in to the city. He pauses to weep at the stubbornness and the blindness of the people who have heard his teachings and seen his miracles and yet fail to see that he is their Messiah. Despite their rejection of him, Jesus still loves the people as he loves each one of us whether we wish to acknowledge that love or not.

Friday 23:            Memorial of St Columban, Abbot*
Apocalypse 10:8-11; Psalm 118; Luke 19:45-48
We continue to read of St John’s vision of heaven in our first reading from the Book of the Apocalypse. In eating the scroll given him by the angel, John is indicating that he has fully understood the message he has received (similar to the Prophet Ezekiel centuries before). The sweet taste of the scroll signifies the glory of heaven which awaits us, while the bitter taste represents the trials that we must go through before entering into the glory promised us. In the Gospel, Christ drives the money changers from the Temple and cleanses it. He then teaches the people every day in the Temple which infuriates the elders who wish to get rid of him. The people on the other hand, are so captivated by Christ’s preaching that the authorities are unable to act against him for the time being.

Saturday 24:        Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions, Martyrs*
Apocalypse 11:4-12; Psalm 143; Luke 20:27-40
We continue our readings from the Book of the Apocalypse in which St John speaks about two men who witness for God – one who brings famine and the other who brings plagues – which could remind us of Elijah and Moses in the Old Testament. The two men are attacked by a beast who kills them. However, they are restored to life showing that God is more powerful than the powers of evil. This was a reminder for the people that, even though they may have to suffer for the faith, the power of God is greater and the promises he made to them will be fulfilled. In the Gospel, Christ tells us that God is the God of the living for after this earthly life is over our soul goes to a place of never-ending life, as we have been reading from John’s vision of that life in our first reading. Perhaps we could ask ourselves today if we are worthy of that never-ending life and, if not, to resolve to make ourselves more worthy.

Memorials this Week
November 21:     Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today’s feast has been observed in the Church since the eighth century. We know that Mary said ‘yes’ to the message of the Annunciation but today’s feast commemorates that Mary had a relationship with God before that – if not then the message of the Annunciation would not have been given to Mary. The feast of the Presentation of Mary recalls the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and suggests that Mary’s life was, in some way, consecrated to God from her earliest years.

November 22:     Memorial of St Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr
Very little is actually known about Cecilia. Tradition has it that she was married at a young age to Valerian, who later converted to Christianity and who was martyred with his brother, Tiburtius, both of them being later canonized. Cecilia was later martyred by beheading in her own home after the attempt to suffocate her failed. However, there is no proper record of this. It is thought that perhaps her following comes from the belief that she founded a church in Rome. She is the patron saint of musicians though for reasons unknown. She is named in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).

November 23:     Memorial of St Columban, Abbot
Columban (Columbanus) was born in Leinster in the mid-sixth century and became a monk. He left Bangor for France and founded the famous monastery of Luxeuil in the Vosges in eastern France. In 610 he was exiled from France by Queen Brunhilda and went to northern Italy where he founded the equally famous monastery of Bobbio. He defended and maintained Irish customs and his strict Rule was very influential on European monasticism during the sixth and seventh centuries. He died in 615 in Bobbio where a basilica is dedicated to him.

November 24:     Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions, Martyrs
Andrew Dung-Lac was a Vietnamese priest who worked to spread the Gospel in what was formerly known as Indo-China (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand). Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many Christians were martyred in Vietnam and across the region for their faith beginning with Vincent Liem, O.P., who was beheaded in 1773. Today’s memorial commemorates ninety-six native Vietnamese men and women, eleven Dominican missionaries from Spain, and ten French missionaries. Andrew Dung-Lac was born in 1795 and was beheaded on December 21, 1839.

© P. Breen, O.Carm. 2011, 2013
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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