Reflections on the Daily Readings

May 24 - 30, 2015
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Eighth Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week IV.

Sunday 24:          Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 103; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27, 16:12-15
In our first reading we read of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and how they immediately went out and began preaching to people about the Risen Lord. Not only did they preach but they were able to do so in many languages so that everyone who heard them that day could understand what they were saying, such was the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. St Paul urges his readers in the second reading to live by the Holy Spirit because if we don’t then we cannot inherit the kingdom which has been promised to us. The Spirit is life and so we must allow ourselves to be directed by the Spirit. In the gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that he will send them the Holy Spirit and he tells them that the Spirit will help them to come to the complete truth. They will then be his witnesses before the whole world and what they proclaim will be Christ’s message.

Monday 25:         Of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 17:24-29; Psalm 31; Mark 10:17-27
Our first reading today comes from the Book of Ecclesiasticus which was written by Ben Sirach who encourages his students to turn away from sin and wrong-doing and to return to the Lord for he is merciful and takes back those who seek him. Our Psalm takes up this theme and speaks about the happiness of the man who has had his offence forgiven by the Lord. In our Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we must make him the first person in our lives at all times. Material wealth may make our life comfortable but it does not bring the happiness which Christ offers to those who believe in him. We still need material things to live but we must never hold a greater affection for them in our hearts than we hold for Christ. True happiness lies in dedicating ourselves to the service of God and of others for the sake of the kingdom.

In Carmelite Churches:
May 25:               Feast of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin*
Songs 5:4b, 8:6-7; Psalm 17; Luke 10:38-42
The first reading from the Song of Songs speaks about love and the fact that love is as strong as death. In the Gospel we have the familiar story of Christ’s visit with Martha and Mary. As we know, Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he had to say while Martha fussed over the small details of hospitality. The Lord tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part because she gives time to the Lord and listens to his word. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi’s love for Christ was a love which could not be quenched and for which she underwent many acts of penance and purification. With the example of this Carmelite saint before us we are challenged to look at our own lives and to see if we truly love Christ even unto death.

Tuesday 26:         Memorial of St Philip Neri, Priest*
Ecclesiasticus 35:1-12; Psalm 49; Mark 10:28-31
Today, our first reading calls on us to “honour the Lord with generosity” and to keep his laws. What we have has come from the Lord and therefore we should share it with others so that they too may feel the love of God through us. The author – Ben Sirach – also tells us that those who give will be rewarded, but that our generosity must not be for any show of piety but must be genuine. In the Gospel passage we are reminded that the reward promised to us is nothing short of eternal life. If we place Christ before all else then he will reward us but he also reminds us that fully living the Christian way of life will bring persecutions from those who are against the kingdom of God and against his believers.

Wednesday 27:   Of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 36:1, 4-5, 10-17; Psalm 78; Mark 10:32-45
Ben Sirach, in the first reading, today calls on God to let the nations see that there is no God but our God – the true God. He asks the Lord to witness to those he created in the beginning and bless those who wait for their reward. He is writing at a time when Palestine had just come under Greek rule in the second century before Christ, and is asking for freedom for the Chosen People. The Psalm asks that the Lord not hold the sins of our forefathers against us but that we be judged on our own merits. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples of his impending death and they are greatly disturbed. He also reminds them that as he came to serve the Father and not to be served, so too we should serve the Father in our daily life and also serve our fellow men and women in helping them to come to the Father and so enter eternal life. He is reminding them that authority is really about service rather than about power. Christ’s life is the prime example by which we should live.

Thursday 28:       Of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 42:15-25; Psalm 32; Mark 10:46-52
Our first reading today comes from the final section of Ben Sirach’s book of wisdom and so is a hymn of praise for all the works of God. We are told that the glory of the Lord is to be found in creation which is all around us. Everything that the Lord has made is perfect for “he has made nothing defective.” And whatever has been made compliments something else. In this way Ben Sirach was hoping to keep the Jews from being distracted by the new Greek culture which had just taken over control of Palestine. The Psalm praises God for all that he has done. In the Gospel we read of the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight by Jesus. Bartimaeus was healed because he asked to be healed and because he had faith in Christ. If we too ask for something and are people of faith then our prayer will most certainly be heard and answered.

Friday 29:            Of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 44:1, 9-13; Psalm 149; Mark 11:11-26
In our first reading today we are told to praise illustrious men. But the men we are to praise are not those who were wealthy or powerful but those who did good deeds, who kept the covenants and who passed these on to their children – these are the ones who are truly illustrious and worthy of praise. Ben Sirach, in writing about these men, is trying to show his readers and listeners that those who live God-fearing lives have already achieved wisdom and therefore do not need the philosophies and culture of foreigners. In the Gospel we are reminded of the importance of the house of God as a house of prayer and how it should be kept sacred through Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. We are also reminded of the importance of faith and of forgiveness – not just the forgiveness we receive from God but the forgiveness which others receive from us. If we come before the Lord to seek forgiveness then we must be willing to forgive those who have wronged us.

Saturday 30:        Of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 51:12-20; Psalm 18; Mark 11:27-33
In the first reading, from our final passage from Ecclesiasticus, the author speaks of seeking wisdom and of following wisdom’s instruction. As Christians we know that the wisdom of God is his Son, Jesus Christ, and that if we seek him we will find him and, having found him, he will guide us, through the Holy Spirit, in all things. In the Gospel we see Jesus being confronted by the chief priests and the scribes because they are not happy with the way he teaches and what he teaches. They ask where his authority comes from but when they fail to answer his question he does not answer theirs. We know that his authority is from God because he is the Son of God who was sent to redeem us.

Memorials this Week:
May 25:               Feast of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Mary Magdalene was born in 1566 to the famous Tuscan noble family Pazzi who were influential bankers in Florence throughout the fifteenth century. She entered the Carmelites in Florence in at the age of sixteen and held various offices within the convent. Throughout her religious life she was devoted to prayer and experienced many visions which were recorded by others in the convent. She died in 1607 and was canonized in 1669.

May 26:               Memorial of St Philip Neri, Priest
Philip was born in 1515 in Florence and spent most of his life in Rome. He became known as ‘the second apostle of Rome’ because of his untiring work for all those in the city whether they be Pope or servant boy. After his ordination (1551) he founded the Congregation of the Oratory and was particularly well known for his ministry in the confessional. He died in 1595.

© 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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