Reflections on the Daily Readings

September 14 - 20, 2014.
The Season of Ordinary Time - Twenty-fourth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 14:          Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross*
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 77; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17
The first reading from the Book of Numbers recalls how the people in the wilderness had complained against God. For their ungratefulness, the Lord sent serpents among the people to punish them. Moses fashioned a bronze serpent to save those who were bitten by the serpents. The second reading from the letter to the Philippians is one of the most beautiful passages in scripture for it tells us of how Christ humbled himself to become one of us in order to save us. Through his humility he was raised above all other creatures and won our salvation.
In the gospel, Jesus tells us that he had to be raised high, just as Moses raised the serpent, so that all peoples may be saved and brought to eternal life. In the cross is our salvation and the salvation of all peoples and it is this redemption which we celebrate today.

Monday 15:         Of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33; Psalm 39; Luke 7:1-10
In our first reading for today St Paul is admonishing the Corinthians for the manner in which they celebrate the Eucharist. They had not been doing so in a fitting manner, but, as they moved from house to house, the parties had become more lavish while the Eucharist was an almost “by the way” happening. He reminds them of the true significance of the Eucharist. This passage is also the earliest record in the New Testament of the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday night. Jesus meets a centurion in our Gospel today whose faith is far stronger than many of those who follow him. He does not need Jesus to come to his house for his servant to be cured but only wants Jesus to will it or say it. This is the faith which we are all called to have – complete trust and belief in the Son of God no matter what.

Tuesday 16:         Memorial of St Cornelius, Pope, & St Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs*
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31; Psalm 99; Luke 7:11-17
In our first reading today St Paul uses the analogy of the body to speak about the Church. The body is made up of many diverse parts and yet they all work together to form a seamless and organic unit. So too with the Church – we all make up the Church which is the Body of Christ and of which Christ is the head. Though we are many people we still make up the one Body of Christ, each with his or her own part to play. In our Gospel we read of Jesus restoring a young man to life in the town of Nain for he had pity on the man’s mother who was a widow. It also demonstrates Christ’s power over death ahead of his own resurrection.

Wednesday 17:   Of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Psalm 32; Luke 7:31-35
Today’s first reading is St Paul’s beautiful passage on love from his first letter to the Corinthians. The greatest force we have is love and if we act and do everything from the principle of love then the kingdom of God will be ours. If we fail to act with love then nothing we do will matter at all. Paul writes about what love is not and then tells us what love is. In the Gospel, Christ is rebuking the people because they do not listen to him because he does not act as they would have the Messiah act. John the Baptist did and they did not listen to him either. Christ has taught us to love one another following his example and that is the challenge for us today.

In Carmelite Churches:
September 17:     Feast of St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem & Lawgiver of Carmel*
Ephesians 6:11-18; Psalm 118; Matthew 20:25-28
The first reading from the letter to the Ephesians is one which was quoted from by St Albert in the Rule of Life he left for the first Carmelites. Today’s passage reminds us to put on God’s armour in order to be able to stand up to the devil. The Gospel text reminds us that we are servants and are not to be served. We are servants of God, servants of the Gospel, and servants of one another. These readings are particularly important for us as Carmelites.

Thursday 18:       Of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Psalm 117; Luke 7:36-50
The message that St Paul preaches is the true message of Christ and he reminds the Corinthians of what it is he is preaching. He preaches about Christ crucified but also Christ risen from the dead. This latter part he backs up by talking about Christ appearing to himself but also to others following the resurrection – in some cases these accounts are found nowhere else in the Bible. In the Gospel we read of Jesus forgiving a woman her many sins because of the way she treated him. The woman acknowledged her sins and bowed before Christ while the host who was giving the dinner failed to treat Jesus with such respect and reverence but continued to judge others according to his own standards and, in so doing, ignored his own sinful ways and his own need for conversion. We are called to repent of our sins, to forgive others and to love much.

Friday 19:            Of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Psalm 16; Luke 8:1-3
Today, St Paul reminds the Corinthians that Christ has in fact risen from the dead and that this is a pillar of the faith. It is also our salvation for if it did not take place then our faith would be in vain for there would be no hope and no salvation. In our Gospel, Luke speaks of some of the women who followed Jesus on his travels and who had been cured by him. These women also witnessed to the events on Calvary, were present at his burial and saw the Risen Lord.

Saturday 20:        Memorial of St Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest & Martyr, St Paul Chong, Martyr & Companions*
1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Psalm 55; Luke 8:4-15
We are reminded by St Paul in the first reading today that in order for us to rise with Christ we must first die to ourselves. In other words, those things which hold us to the ways of this world must die and we must be reborn as true Christians. Then we will rise with Christ and share his glory. Paul tells the Corinthians that just as a seed remains in the ground when the plant grows, so too our heavenly bodies will be unlike our earthly bodies which will remain here when we enter heaven. In our Gospel we read the parable of the Sower, the Sower being Christ himself. We are challenged today to look honestly at ourselves and see which type of soil we are according to the parable. The challenge is for us to make ourselves the rich soil which will yield a rich harvest of faith and help others to reach the kingdom.

Memorials this Week:
September 14:     Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
St Helena was, for a time, wife of Emperor Constantius and was the mother of Emperor Constantine I – the first emperor to become a Christian. With her son’s approval she travelled to the Holy Land in search of the sacred places and relics associated with our Lord. Among the relics she discovered was the True Cross which she is said to have discovered on this day in 320 and in 335 had churches dedicated on Calvary and the True Cross venerated there. This annual feast is a chance for us – outside of the Easter Season – to reflect on the significance of the cross in our lives and of the redemption which Christ won for us by his death and resurrection.

September 15:     Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Today’s memorial recalls in a particular way the sorrows which Our Lady underwent as the mother of Christ.

September 16:     Memorial of St Cornelius, Pope, & St Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Cornelius was elected pope in 251 and was martyred two years later under the persecutions of Emperor Gallus. During the persecutions under the Roman emperors many Christians left the faith to save their lives eventually returning to the faith before they died or when the persecutions eased. Cornelius and Novatian clashed over this with Novatian saying they should not be re-admitted and Cornelius being more pastorally sensitive and forgiving. Part of this clash saw Novatian have himself elected as pope in opposition to Cornelius (Novatian was anti-pope from 251 to 258). Caecilius Cyprianus was born in North Africa at the start of the third century and became a lawyer before converting to Christianity and became a bishop in 249. He is remembered with Cornelius because he supported Cornelius in the struggle against Novatian and was beheaded on 14 September, 258, on the instruction of Emperor Valerian. Both of these men are named in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).

September 17:     Feast of St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem & Lawgiver of Carmel
Albert Avogadro was born in the middle of the twelfth century in Castel Gualteri in Italy. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross at Mortara and was elected their prior in 1180. He was appointed Bishop of Bobbio in 1184, Bishop of Vercelli in 1185, and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1204. For nine years he was also a papal legate. Given the troubles in the Holy Land at the time he spent his time as Patriarch living in the northern coastal town of Acre where he was murdered by an unhappy Hospitaller on September 14, 1214. He is an important figure for the Carmelite Order because during his time as Latin Patriarch he wrote them a Rule of Life which formally constituted the hermits into the Order of Carmelites.

September 20:     Memorial of St Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest & Martyr, St Paul Chong, Martyr & Companions
Andrew and his Companions are known as the Korean Martyrs for they were martyred in that country. Andrew was born in 1821 and ordained in 1845, just one year before he became the first Korean priest to be put to death for the faith. In all it is thought that up to 10,000 Koreans were martyred for the faith between 1791-1867, many of whom were lay-people. Pope John Paul II canonized a representative 103 martyrs in Seoul Cathedral on May 6, 1984.

© 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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