Reflections on the Daily Readings
March 9 - 15, 2014.
The Season of Lent - The First Week.
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.
Sunday 9: The First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 50; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
The first reading from Genesis reminds us of the creation of the world and of the first humans – Adam and Eve. Having reminded us of the beauty of Creation and of all the good that was in it, it then recalls the great sin of Adam and Eve as they gave in to temptation. The Psalm asks for forgiveness from God for our sins. St Paul tells the Romans that sin came through one man (Adam) but that all people have been redeemed through another man – Christ. As man brought separation from God so the unity has been restored by Man because whatever sins were committed God’s freely given grace is always greater. In the gospel we see Jesus – truly man like us – being tempted by the devil while fasting in the wilderness. He resists these temptations because of his adherence to the word of God and because of his faith in God. We are called on in the readings to be faithful to God, to trust him at all times, and to call on Christ who knows what it is to be tempted.
Monday 10: Of the First Week of Lent
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 25:31-46
The readings today show us how to make our lives more holy during Lent by treating other people the way we should treat them. The Lord speaks to Moses in the reading from Leviticus and through him gives the people instructions for living properly in his sight, particularly how to act towards members of our family, friends and neighbours. The Psalm sings the praises of God’s law and reminds us that this law gives wisdom and refreshes the soul. In the gospel, Jesus gives a further instruction for proper living: we must reach out to others and help them in any way we can because God dwells in them just as much as he does in us. At the start of this first full week of Lent we are reminded that good works – as well as faith in God – are necessary in life.
Tuesday 11: Of the First Week of Lent
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 33; Matthew 6:7-15
In the reading from Isaiah, God says that his word goes out and achieves what it was sent to do. This reminds us that God’s will is perfectly carried out in heaven and that we pray for this to happen here on earth. In the gospel, Jesus gives us the most perfect prayer – The Our Father. It is perfect because it is past, present and future. It is perfect because it gives praise to God for what we have received; it asks for what we need to continue living; it seeks forgiveness for the wrongs we have done; it asks for the strength to forgive; and it asks for protection. The whole Gospel is summed up in this one prayer and as we pray it the Word of God is fulfilled.
Wednesday 12: Of the First Week of Lent
Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 50; Luke 11:29-32
Today’s readings remind us of the importance of penance and of its reward. In the first reading we see Jonah has been sent to Nineveh to warn the people of God’s wrath at their wrong-doing and of God’s intention to punish them. When they hear the warning they repent and when they repent the punishment they were to receive is set aside, and their friendship with God is restored. The Psalm takes up this theme of repentance and the plea for forgiveness. Jesus, in the gospel, is giving the same warning to the people of his day as Jonah gave to the Ninevites. The message is given to us in our day also. We must turn away from sin and return to the ways of the Lord if we are to be saved.
Thursday 13: Of the First Week of Lent.
Esther 14:1, 3-5, 12-14 (Vulgate); Psalm 137; Matthew 7:7-12
Today’s readings remind us of just how important a life of prayer is and that we should cultivate this during the Lenten season. In the first reading we see Queen Esther – a Jew – whose husband, King Ahasuerus, had just been tricked into destroying the Jews. In our passage today from Esther, we see that she has just received word of this and pleads to the Lord to be with her in this time of great peril as she attempts to save her people, and in which she is ultimately successful. In the gospel passage, Jesus speaks of the importance of prayer and the fact that no prayer goes unanswered. While we may not always be happy with the answer we receive, we do still receive an answer to our prayer, an answer which God deems to be best for us in our situation.
Today is the anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Church. A prayer for His Holiness should be included in Masses today.
Friday 14: Of the First Week of Lent.
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 129; Matthew 5:20-26
The readings today remind us of the importance of interior conversion. In the reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we are told that God does not rejoice in the death of a wicked man but rejoices to see that person converted. More distasteful in his sight is a righteous man turning to wicked ways than a wicked man living wickedly. In the gospel, we are told that our virtue must be more than the mere lip-service of the Pharisees – we must live and act from a deeply held conviction and faith and not just go through external emotions. God sees the inmost heart and judges accordingly. Jesus also reminds us to be reconciled with our family for any wrong we have done to them or they have done to us. Where we fall short on this we must take concrete steps towards conversion.
Saturday 15: Of the First Week of Lent.
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 118; Matthew 5:43-48
In the reading from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, we see that God has promised life to his people but only if they keep the Commandments – those simple instructions and rules for living which make life so easy and happy. The Psalm tells us that those who do keep the Commandments and the law of God will live in happiness. Jesus reminds us in the gospel that we must love all people – good and bad alike. For him, this is a simple extension of the Commandments and something we should have no problem doing if we are truly living out the Commandments. We must always act perfectly in the same way that God is perfect and we are seeking to become one with him.
Memorials this Week:
© 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.