Reflections on the Daily Readings

August 30 - September 5, 2015
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Twenty-second Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle B; Weekday Cycle I.
Divine Office - Psalter Week II.

Sunday 30:          The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 14; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
In the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, we see that Moses has given the people the Ten Commandments and he encourages them to be faithful to them. By the people being faithful to them, non-believers will come to see that there is indeed a God to be followed – a God who is close to his people. In the gospel we see Christ admonishing the authorities for over-emphasising the letter of the Law and not adhering at all to the spirit of the Law. Our readings today remind us that the Commandments and the Law of God are there, not to make life difficult, but to give life, to improve the quality of life which we already have. Only by keeping the Commandments of God as he intended them can we grow and inherit eternal life.
Our second reading for the next five weeks comes from the Letter of St James and in today’s passage he is calling on the people to be faithful to the Lord and to follow the Word of God without making any changes to that Word for it is already perfect. The Word contains instructions for living under the law of God and inheriting eternal life.

Monday 31:         Of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Psalm 95; Luke 4:16-30
In our first reading today St Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians to remain faithful to God and he tells them that those who are faithful will be taken up to heaven to be with Christ. Some in Thessalonica had been worrying about their dead relatives and were beginning to despair like some of the pagans. Paul reminds them of how non-believers mourn when people die but that as believers there is no need to mourn: full union with Christ is what we seek and that with this thought we should console each other and remain in hope. For the remainder of this liturgical year we read from St Luke’s Gospel and in today’s text we see Jesus returning to his home town of Nazareth for the first time. He reads from the prophet Isaiah and then instructs the people, telling them that he is the fulfilment of the text he had just read. They were enraged because they thought they knew him from his childhood, and so they took him to one of the high ridges on which Nazareth is built and tried to kill him, but he slipped away. The text is a reminder that the message of God is not dependent on the messenger for its validity and that Christ is present in each person no matter how well we think we might know them. We must always be open to seeing and hearing the Word of God in others.

Tuesday 1:           Of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11; Psalm 26; Luke 4:31-37
St Paul in the first reading for today is encouraging his readers to remain faithful to God and to the Good News which they received from Christ. He refers to ‘the day of the Lord’ which is a phrase found in the Old Testament and which was used by the prophets to indicate that a new phase of human existence was about to begin as God cleansed the world. He says this because the new phase had just begun with the resurrection of Christ and so the people were to change their way of life in keeping with Christ’s sacrifice for them. They are also to encourage one another to remain faithful so as to receive the reward which God has for all who believe in him. The Psalm echoes Paul’s sentiments. In the Gospel passage from St Luke we see Jesus in Capernaum where he heals a possessed man whose demons recognise him as the ‘Holy One of God.’ The people are impressed by Jesus not simply because of his teaching but also because of the authority with which he teaches.

Wednesday 2:     Of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Colossians 1:1-8; Psalm 51; Luke 4:38-44
Today we begin reading from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians which he wrote while under house arrest in Rome (61-63 AD) following news of a crisis in Colossae. The purpose of this letter was to bolster the faith of the community but also to correct errors and heretical tendencies which had been introduced into the community’s faith. Paul begins by giving thanks for the people and their faith and telling them about how the Good News is spreading throughout the world. In our Gospel text we see Jesus healing people and casting out devils. He then tries to go to a quiet place while the people try to stop him because they want to keep him to themselves but he tells them that his message is for all people and so he has to go and sow the seeds in other towns and places. The message is for all people and we have a duty to help in the spread of that message wherever we may find ourselves.

Thursday 3:         Memorial of St Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church*
Colossians 1:9-14; Psalm 97; Luke 5:1-11
St Paul continues to praise the people of the small town of Colossae today for their faith and in this way to encourage them to grow ever deeper in the faith. He reminds them that, through Christ, God has taken them out of darkness and forgiven them their sins. In today’s Gospel text we see Jesus calling Simon Peter and his companions to be his followers. They do so after they make a huge catch of fish on the lake, though they had caught nothing in the same place only a few hours before. What is key in this text is the complete and total response of Peter and his companions to Jesus’ call – ‘they left everything and followed him.’ This is in sharp contrast to the people in Nazareth, whom we read about on Monday, who wanted to kill Jesus after they had listened to him. A question for us today is whether or not our response is as total as that of Simon Peter, and, if not, why not.

Friday 4:              Of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Colossians 1:15-20; Psalm 99; Luke 5:33-39
In our first reading today we have a hymn in which the author reminds us of the central role of Christ in creation as its Lord. It is through Christ that all things are created and he is the perfection towards which creation is to move and to which we are being called. St Paul speaks elsewhere of Christ as being the Head of the Church (his Body) and this reaches its high point in this text. The Pharisees in the Gospel are questioning Jesus as to why his disciples do not fast like so many others. In his reply he tells them that as long as he is with them they will not fast. He also goes on to speak about new and old wine. The implication is that the new wine stands for the Good News and the old stands for the Mosaic Law. He doesn’t do away with the old because God’s will is also to be found in the old but the old is completed by the new. Jesus is showing how the Jewish people of his day preferred the old wine of tradition to the new wine he was offering them.

Saturday 5:          Of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Colossians 1:21-23; Psalm 53; Luke 6:1-5
In the first reading St Paul reminds the Colossians of what they used to be and what they are now through the death of Christ. He wants them to continue on the path which brings them to greater union with God rather than the path which will take them further from God’s love – he wants them to go forwards rather than backwards. Again in today’s Gospel we see the Pharisees quizzing Jesus about the actions of his disciples who are breaking the Sabbath by picking corn. In reply Jesus tells them that in fact he is Lord of the Sabbath – he is not there to decide over Sabbath disputes but is the Lord of the Sabbath. In this way he is also telling them that as the Sabbath is subordinate to him then so too is the Law which they follow and use against the disciples. It is a reminder to us that Christ is Lord of all and it is to him that we owe our homage.

Memorials this Week:
September 3:       Memorial of St Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church
Gregory was born about the year 540 to St Sylvia and her patrician husband who was a Roman senator. He first became a monk and was later appointed papal legate to Constantinople. He was elected pope in 590 – the first monk elected to this office. He was tireless in his defence of the primacy of Rome and in his encouragement of monasticism and the spread of Christianity. Much of his work still has an effect on the Church today in terms of the liturgy and the discipline of the clergy which he enforced. He is the fourth of the Doctors of the Western Church. He died in 604.

© 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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